Hello, all. It has been a very long while since I updated this blog. I'm not entirely convinced about the usefulness of doing so. This blog post is essentially just brainstorming and getting my artistic plans for the coming year typed out. Everything is of course subject to change.
Since I started using LSDJ in July of 2012, I have been producing an enormous backlog of tracks. Eventually, themes emerge... and I am surprised and delighted by yet another coherent finished work. Such is the case with my recently completed "Raskulachivanie" EP.
I have always been interested in history. My current area of research has been focused on the history of Socialism, in particular the development of the Gulag system and the terror of Stalinism. It is my personal belief that by educating myself in the processes by which noble ideas can be corrupted, I may have a better understanding of my own political inclinations. While I do not consider myself to be an overtly active political being, every action one makes can be in itself a form of protest or solidarity towards one ideology or another. I am frequently overwhelmed by modern media and politics, so I retreat into history, trying to get my bearings and find the roots to our modern problems. I seek parallels between what we as a nation are going through and the events of the past.
One area of interest to me in the division of labour in society. I often think about our escalating unemployment rate, and the ever-decreasing value of a college education. I imagine to myself how productive and beneficial a mass mobilization of the un/underemployed could be under proper management. The WPA/PWA of Roosevelt's New Deal is one such implementation. However, this effort towards development and economic reform can take a decidedly sinister turn if the labourers are not valued.
Stalin's policies resulted in unimaginable suffering for millions of individuals under his regime. While the goals of increased production and modernization can be viewed as noble, if it results in an increased quality of life for the individual, the policies and methods by which Stalin and his regime carried out these goals constitute one of the greatest tragedies in the history of humanity.
In the interest of memorializing the lives lost, and reminding current generations of 20th century history, I have created an EP based around themes derived from my research. The title of my next EP, "Raskulachivanie", is from the Russian word for "Dekulakization", a policy of terror against peasants perceived to be relatively more wealthy. Starting in 1929, Stalin sought to liquidate Kulaks as a class, resulting in mass arrests, deportations, and executions. Over time, any undesirable member of society could be singled out and punished for being a Kulak. These policies amounted to the death of around 14.5 million.
The title track to the EP begins with a melodic theme representing a journey faced with apprehension. Early on in the Dekulakization program, deported individuals were able in some cases to maintain a bit of hope that their work could result in a sustainable life for their families. At some point in the journey, whether by overcrowded train car or forced march, it must have become apparent that life would never be the same. Not only were homes and relatives left behind, the areas to which these individuals were deported were less than favourable. The breakdown at 2:07 represents the point in this where our protagonist realizes the enormity of their situation. Perhaps it is by turning a corner and witnessing streets littered with bodies of dead or nearly dead starvation victims. It may be when the first person on the train succumbs to disease. It may be the first execution of a close friend.
I am drawn specifically toward telling the story of the horrors of the work camps in the Arctic region of the U.S.S.R. A particularly gruesome event known as the Nazino Affair warrants a brief explanation. In 1933, 6,000 individuals were deported to a 3km long island in the Siberian wilderness. Given only flour to eat, and very little clothing or shelter, around 4,000 died within a few short months. Of the survivors, most were too ill to work at farming or creating shelter. Cannibalism became a dire necessity.
The song "Ostrov Smerti", which translates to "Death Island", is meant to evoke feelings of isolation and desperation... the stifling paranoia and fear one experiences under immanent death, eased by the knowledge that at the very least, death means the abatement of suffering.
"Dokhodyaga" is a term roughly meaning "goner"... one who is beyond hope of recovery. This term was used to describe those in the camps so incapacitated by hunger that death was inevitable. Once again, the song begins with a feeling of constrained optimism; Perhaps a rat or secret potato has been found. I imagine a husband or wife bringing this bit of food to their loved one who is gravely ill. Spirits fall as they realize that while they can attempt to comfort the dying, no amount of food will save them. A decision must be made to withhold food so that others may live.
"Kolyma" is a region in north-eastern Siberia. This area was home to the harshest of work camps. The area is rich in minerals, and workers were forced to mine under hellish conditions. The use of blastbeats and distortion is meant to evoke the grim and frostbitten feeling of traditional black metal. The aim with track was to sound brutal and unrelenting, like the cold of Kolyma.
The fifth track, "Dalstroy", takes its name from the "Far North Construction Trust", the Soviet organization set up to manage construction and farming in Kolyma. Dalstroy created over 80 forced labour camps in the region. The driving beat evokes the ceaseless gears of terroristic bureaucracy that, once turning, do not stop until all opposition is eliminated. This track is from the point of view of those who, from the relative comfort of the cities and administrative centers, signed the death warrants of millions.
The EP ends with the mournful "Monyty Holodom". Soviet policy created a man-made famine in the Ukraine, with distinct genocidal intent. The Holodomor can be viewed as an attempt by Stalin to quell Ukraninan nationalism. The goal of this track is to illustrate how hunger can be used a political tool to terrorize and subjugate whole nations. The track grows progressively more desperate as it goes on, culminating in a release that is explosive and uncontrolled, fading out as a fluttering heartbeat without the strength to carry on.
While instrumental music is subject to interpretation by the listener, I wanted to explain my motivation and composition process so that the reader can have some kind of framework with which to engage the recording.
Other current projects include the following:
"Séadchomharthaí ársa agus caonach" (working title)
-an LSDJ full-length album, primarily written while in Ireland, exploring themes of pagan mythology and religious practice.
-an EP that I have been working on sporadically for over 3 years. Mostly made with Korg DS-10 and cBasicore64. Interest is waning, but I am determined to finish it. Some early tracks have been corrupted or saved in inferior quality formats and need to be re-recorded.
untitled +LET'S DISINFECT!+ DS-10 full-length:
-will feature the following songs: That's For Sure, Contact, Winter, Melted Ice Cream, My Life Hurts, Let's Disinfect!, The Me I Must Protect, and more that I'm forgetting. Once I'm completely over this sickness I can get back to recording vocals.
the "0nan" (working title) project:
-Korg DS-10 biblical bass full-length, based primarily on stories from Johnathan Kirsch's "Harlot by the Side of the Road" .
Concept DS-10 album with storybook.
Another cBasicore64 dance album.
I will also release my solo poppunk/horrorpunk/powerpop 12-song album "Don't Waste the Night!" (recorded 2010) at some point this year.
Additionally, I am also involved in:
Recording the debut EP by "Formidable Witch"...
Recording new Thorazine Unicorn tracks and finishing older ones.
Drumming in Botflies (EP to be recorded soon)...
Revamping my deathpunk band The Cloister Fuck...
Putting together a band to perform my solo powerpop material...
Another LIVE album from THE MONISTATS, plus remastering our unreleased "BACK ALLEY ABORTION EP" and attempting to find label support...
As always, my previous releases are available at seanmonistat.bandcamp.com, and my latest EP "+LET'S DISINFECT!+... in Space!" is available from DATATHRASH RECORDINGS