structural sketches, Sanctus for 19 voices, 1990
This summer, after nearly eleven years of utter musical abstinence, I broke down and purchased an acoustic/electric 12-string guitar. This was shortly joined by an acoustic/electric classical guitar, and since then I have successfully resurrected a great portion of my old Americana repertoire and added maybe 30 songs that have burrowed their way into my life since returning to the United States. I have occasionally been performing solo here in Slab City, and during November spent considerable, very enjoyable time collaborating with singer/songwriter/pianst Natasha Duchene. I entertain the idea of forming a band with 4-6 local musicians and fleshing out some of the material I've been chewing on - songs by Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, Michael Gira, Laurie Anderson, Bruce Springsteen, Einstuerzende Neubauten, Pearls Before Swine, Nick Cave, Tom Waits...
Natasha and I sing Leonard Cohen's Famous Blue Raincoat live:
THE THINGS AS THEY WERE (2007)
From the time I build my first electric guitar, around 1980, until I left behind an elaborate home studio and collection of musical instruments in Germany when returning to the United States in early 1997, music can be said to have been my reason for living. This is sad, considering I created nothing worthy of much interest. Completely autodidactically, I learned to play the guitar, then bass, then drums, then synthesizers, violin, junkyard instruments, and what have you. I played in a few bands and did some solo musical performance art, which I would say was the high point of my creative output. I released solo work (in which I played all instruments, all voices, all recording, mixing and treatments) on my own HARMLESS label. Collaborations included work with Johnny 23 (bass, vocals), Health & Beauty (guitars, percussion, garbage, vocals), and the Strip Miners (drums, electronics, violin). I also composed dance scores for choreographer Lelis Brito, and through her acquaintence wound up studying music under John Ronsheim at Antioch College in Yellow Spings, OH from 1987-1991. During these years my musical output was reduced to almost nothing: only two long electronic/collage works and a few unfinished multitrack bits recorded during an internship at the Public Access Synthesizer Studio in New York emerged. These are, to the best of my knowledge, lost.
During my seven years in Germany, I sang Gregorian chant and some early polyphony with the Tuebinger Choralschola under the direction of Stefan Kloeckner. I made my living as a sound engineer and slowly acquired an impressive collection of microphones, recording gear, mixers and effects, the results of which are largely still listenable (see UNPUBLISHED RECORDINGS below.) I also sang for a very brief time with an impressive mutant rock ensemble called Octafish, and my live mixing abilities can be heard on albums by several of the acts I toured with as FOH mixer: Parish Garden, Ultra de Gaulle, and the Mothers of Invention (yes, *those* Mothers.)
One lovely evening, while camping in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge about 30 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada, I comitted my seventh and last homemade electric guitar to the fire, bidding a ritual farewell to an era I finally acknowledged was already gone. You can love music, but it doesn't necessarily love you back. Perhaps someday I'll build another guitar, but I promise nothing.
Below is an index of all recordings of mine theoretically in existence. Those with active links are downloadable in MP3 format. If anyone reading this is in posession of either HARMLESS 1, HARMLESS 5 (His Master's Voice) or HARMLESS 6 (>>crack<<), please contact me with the good news. The masters were destroyed in Stuttgart - Bad Cannstatt under somewhat tragic circumstances.
ALL WORDS AND MUSIC BY CHASTERUS EXCEPT AS INDICATED - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
UNPUBLISHED RECORDINGS (Germany, 1990-1997)
- State Trooper (Bruce Springsteen)
- slow dance
- untitled i (birkenau)
- untitled ii (dachau)
- untitled iii (auschwitz)
- meditation on self-imposed exile
- Trois Gymnopedies, N. 3 (Erik Satie)
- half his head
- sketches for synthesizer (part 1) (part 2)
- homage a satie (part i)
- stahlrohr zum dritten auge
live with OCTAFISH at LKA, Stuttgart-Wangen, Germany 1995 (chasterus: vocal & live effects processing)
Bat Chain Puller (Don Van Vliet)
Octafish (Octafish, Don Van Vliet)
HARMLESS 6 - >>crack<< (NYC, 1990) - presumed lost
HARMLESS 5 - His Master's Voice (NYC, 1989) - presumed lost
HARMLESS 4 - Synapse & the Irresolution Effect (Rochester, NY 1987) [The Three Types - Synapse - Last Words Of... - Am - Victim - I Love You - The Control - The Giving - Follower - Stretch - The Irresolution Effect, parts i-iii - African Death Mask - All Tomorrow's Parties (The Morning After) - Bokoru - Who Am I To Be Critical? - Gotta Have It]
HARMLESS 3 - Daddy's Gun (Handful of Nails) b/w All Tomorrow's Parties 7" 33-1/3 (Rochester, NY 1987)
- Daddy's Gun (Handful of Nails) - WFMU archive stream from 2004.07.05 (opens with RealPlayer)
- All Tomorrow's Parties (Lou Reed)
HARMLESS 2 - No Dancing (Rochester, NY 1986) [Leave My Head Alone - Intro - The Good Dude Patrol - The Film - Man, Newsstands - Paging Planet Three - Boo Boo Dies of Cancer - I am not Blue - The Lesson (Book of Love) - Psalms - Conflict of Interest - Have You Noticed He Drinks More Power Chord? - Splits Baby - I Woke Up... - Keeping Stable at the Speed of Light - Church of Eternal Hopelessness - Incredibly Sad Melodrama Kills Fifteen - Two-Headed Boy Found In Jungle - Helpless - Burning in Stereo - Trilogy (Night Crawler, Snarling Beasties, This Horse Will Bite) - The Big Guys - Loosie Came Home at Last - Mrs. Smith - Schedules - Why? - I Woke Up (Satori) - The Little Drummer Boy - Wrecker Unaffected - No Dancing (part i) - Born in a Garbage Can - Keeping the Issues Alive - No Backbone - Greensleeves - No Dancing (part ii) - End With a Bang - I Feel Fine (remix)
HARMLESS 1 (Rochester, NY 1985) - presumed lost