Tear out of school and take the solid orange Chuo line to Kichijōji. Shin, Emi, Chris, Shungo, Andrew, Brett, they nickname you “New Kid” and say you look like the bassist from Green Day. Skate down to the studio, just a few minutes from the station exit. Before heading up to hang out and take a turn behind the kit for 20 minutes, stop by a record store to browse the newest Fat Wreck Chords and Caustic Resin CDs in between Japanese grindcore 7”s. Was this the record store called Warszawa? Or was Warszawa in Shimokitazawa? Wherever it was, of one thing your memory is sure: you all pronounce the name “Wor-ti-zow-wa.” Then on to the teenage pop-punk jam with Dan and Adam moshing in the corner. The studio practice rooms all have huge racked drums with tons of cymbals and toms, you are just learning to play and don’t even know how to keep the kick in time. When you tell Shungo maybe you’ll just not use the kick at all, he says calmly, “you should try to learn, cause it’d sound better.” Amps crunch and squeal, covers of Propagandhi, NOFX, and Lagwagon for a couple hours. The drumming continues round your head well after you sit down to a quick pork tonkatsu and then go skating in Shinjuku.
One recording of recent drums + resonators + delay = extension of drum memory to recent Ohio past.
One drum rack constructed out of snippets from recording above + random MIDI pattern generator = memory of learning to play the basic teenage punk beat.
One additional drum kit + random MIDI pattern generator = half-memories of all those years learning to play drums.
Another additional drum kit + random MIDI pattern generator + resonator = half-memories of Tokyo.
West down the Lincoln Highway, then hit 71 South: no Ohio State football home game this weekend, so a smooth ride and quick. Haven’t taken this route since 2002: when Bean’s grandfather landed his single-engine prop in Wooster to pick him up and took you, Marco, and Mark Outlaw along to fly slow and steady down to Columbus. After some doughnuts and coffee, Bean drove you all back in his 1986 Dodge station-wagon with wood paneling and an America sticker on the back window.
From Wooster to Columbus is a straight route of memory: back and forth to see shows at the Legion of Doom and the Fire Escape (Hot Water Music, Golden, Inept, Mid Carson July); to open up for Puritan and some other band (was it Franklin, out of Philly?) at the Legion when you and J were in Rockefeller; to practice with the Anchor Baby and go record shopping at Used Kids; to watch everything at More than Music Fest (Charles Bronson, Four Hundred Years, the Locust); to visit Damien, Jimmy, and Jerome. A route best soundtracked by Modest Mouse: “Ohio” going south, “Dramamine” coming back north.
This time it’s the Startup podcast for most of the way down: then a quick nap underneath a few pages of Unamerica. Welcome to Delaware – but Ohio, Ohio. Park in the driveway till J pulls in with suit and briefcase: load the gear in and set up, Fritz barking and a good presence. Jam a few riffs for 20 minutes to gauge the levels and the neighborhood shake: good, good, but you shouldn’t start before 10 AM Saturday.
Take off for a “Macedonian Burger,” onion rings, and a Hoppin’ Frog at Son of Thurman: after a Trappistes Rochefort right next door. Catching up: Poland, Ohio, Kraków, North Canton, Barbertucky, Akron rowdiness, jobs, the crew. Back to J’s to watch the Cavs beat the Celtics: 122-121.
Next morning coffee, eggs, bacon, jalapeno cream cheese on a bagel: adjust the drum levels, plug everything in. A quick convo after a set of guesses: set the mics up and hope for the best. Put on your Zildjian drumming gloves: first time to feel that need, but your hands are uncalloused after a year of virtual no-playing, the blisters imminent. Start jamming the riffs, adjust your parts and fills, keep it big: your cymbals up high, visions of Mario Rubalcaba playing in Earthless. Plenty of back and forth on song structure, take down the notes: let’s switch part C with A, and B should go for eight not just four, and what about doing the “Fugazi part” again at the end? You think about starting the song with some noise/free-jazz drumming at the beginning, as you had in a never-recorded Hobo Codes song (“Guns and Caviar”): then launching into the heavy. Cast that idea aside to pare the drumming down and get it done: written and recorded in about three hours.
Break for a snack: dates and water, cheese and crackers. You rest in that non-verbal mode that comes on like a bright cloud after drumming: exhausted and full of adrenaline. All will, commentary, theorizing: subsumed to the percussive. All discursive potential: drowned by focus behind the kit. Palms already getting torn up, blisters on the rise: gloves getting shredded. So you keep washing your hands with the pumpkin spice soap J’s wife has in the downstairs bathroom: smells like America, like Ohio, a sweet rural peace. You will go for two more in the remaining hours: a cover of Sebadoh and a Midwestern-gothic slow one. It’s Saturday afternoon by now and the suburbs of Delaware are full of sun: you and your friend of twenty years are bashing out the doom jams in his basement.
For recording a short sound to be set on repeat with the new Soundcloud “repeat playing track” feature, start with a slightly altered melody from another song you are working on, a song you almost completely dismantled and squashed Thursday night before receiving notice of this Disquiet Junto project.
That night, you fed the melody through a certain favored synth which you ultimately decided not to use, as the tone was too different, darker. But for a “groove lock,” looping the melody on this synth was the first thing that came to mind.
Add some effects to bring out the hazier edges, set up Ableton’s Granulator for the bass tone. Finally, add the sample from a video in the Tate Modern recorded on your phone in Autumn 2013, something about a manuscript (or is he saying “that worries me”?), seemingly lost, and an inability to talk about it.
With the sample and the earlier dismissal of the synth, forgetting recurs as a theme. Forgetting: locked and repeated. And as the piece loops, do you go deeper into its layers (as long as you remember to pay attention), or do you forget it to the background of your room? Is the manuscript forever lost?
Track made for the 153rd Disquiet Junto project — “Record a short sound intended to be set on repeat” — more information can be found at:
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