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ALMOST DONE: LA MANO HISTORY PART 5

since this is the post about the last 2 releases on La Mano, one would think that, after 12 months and 10,000 words (and counting), this would be the final installment. but, nope: there’s one more after this, leading up to some site revamping (including my taking down the “sale” prices, so take advantage of my sluggishness before its too late) and the release of Recidivist  volume 4. anyway, what we have here are the last 2 La Mano releases, from 2011 and 2012 respectively.

i know i said the last thing was the crown jewel of La Mano, but this next one is too:

LMOO7: THE KIM DEITCH FILES

kim2

so, one time (in the mid nineties i guess?) when i was aimlessly wandering around and crashing on floors (and in bookstores) in NYC, i walked by some fancy-pantsy art gallery, and the doors were open and there looked to be a pretty serious art opening going on inside. i learned very early that art openings mean FREE FOOD and maybe booze, so i went in. i was really surprised to discover that it was a Robert Williams opening (also, free food); there was film crew there and all kinds of stuff. and i think he’s a great painter & cartoonist, so i was happy in a couple of ways.

I’m walking around, looking at the stuff. and i turn my head and there’s a knot of people and one of them looks like Kim Deitch. and i think “HOLY SHIT”. and even though i’ve had a few drinks i still walk up, real nervously, and sit there in a fanboy sweat until, finally, the woman with him (who now know to be his wife pam) says “uh, kim; i think this guy wants to talk to you.” and i say yeah, but “ARE YOU KIM DEITCH?!”

sure it’s embarrassing, but who wouldn’t. i mean, Robt Williams is great, but this is KIM FUCKING DEITCH.

so i talked to him a bit and he was nice and i even gave him one of my comics.

strangely, after that we became friends. i was in Low in those days, so we were going through and playing NYC at least once or twice a year, and i’d give a Kim a ring and he’d invite me over and show me what he was working on and we’d just hang out. and every time, it was pretty wonderful; not only that i got to see and paw over whatever he was working on, but just to witness the guy’s dedication and work ethic. and aside from that, he’s a really… generous guy. i don’t know how else to put it. generous of spirit. great stories, a lot of good advice about how to keep doing this comics thing.

Kim seems to be one of those guys: within comics, his body of work inspires considerable awe, with good reason. he’s slowly created this puzzle, this ongoing world that is constantly expanding. there’s nothing else like it. and, after a while, i thought it was sort of criminal that i was one of the only people seeing this whole other part of his work– these pencilled “story” pages that were 100% Kim, but completely different from what people “know” of his work. and so i pitched it to Kim and he said okay.

i cannot describe how honored i am that Kim did this with me. and i also cannot say how proud i am of the way this particular project ended up, in both its forms.

but this one, it was a hard lesson. and kind of a depressing one. look at this photo, circa december 2013:

kim

those are unsold Deitch Files. this is not how things should be.

and look– it sold just fine. enough to make its money back and send Kim a couple ok checks; and for the people who love Kim’s work, i think they are all, to the one, happy i/we did this and happy with the result.

but on this one, i finally thought i’d GOT IT RIGHT: a smaller edition, 300ish of the “regular” and 110 of the “deluxe”. i honestly thought these would be sold out in 4 months. because it’s KIM DEITCH. he is a MASTER CARTOONIST. don’t ask me, ask Dan Clowes (i did, and he sent me a nice quote for the folio), ask Chris Ware (he bought a deluxe version from me), ask Crumb, ask Jaime Hernandez, ask Sammy Harkham for pete’s sakes…anyone who loves comics. 400 of these? they should sell in a heartbeat.

and, they didn’t. you know what that means? that means something is wrong. it sure as heck isn’t Kim’s work, and it’s not the folio i put out, because the former is top of the heap art with a capital A, and the latter is a pretty beautiful, hand printed and assembled expression of the former. so what the heck is going on here?

again, it sold pretty ok, and both Kim and myself are good with it, for all the reason mentioned above.

a big part of this sale/ history was to try and draw some attention to a couple La Mano things that i feel didn’t get the attention they deserve. #1 on that list would be the Deitch Files. but maybe that’s just the world we live in, you know? and that, folks, is the part of this that depresses me.

Kim’s body of work is an american fucking treasure.

 

LM008: SAMMY THE MOUSE BOOK 1

sammy3

this one, too, is the culmination of everything.

Sammy The Mouse was the thing i decided to do after Recidivist #3. i wanted to do Tintin, not Waiting for Godot. and i toyed with the idea of doing Sammy as a pamphlet comic, on La Mano. small, cheap, 2 colors. but at that point i knew what it took to make and sell and distribute etc etc a comic, and the thought of all that filled me with dread. i just wanted to MAKE the comic, and let someone else deal with all the other stuff. someone GOOD at it.

and then i heard about the Ignatz line, being administered by an italian cartoonist named Igort, published simultaneously in 6 languages (and by Fantagraphics here in the US). 2 colors. gorgeous format. in the company of some astounding cartoonists. i pitched it and Igort took it. only thing is, like a lot of awesome, beautiful ideas, the timing was bad, or something. i don’t know what because the quality of that line overall was fantastic, but by the time the first issue of Sammy came out, all but 2 of the international publishers had jumped ship. and by the time i did issue 3, the writing was clearly on the wall. sad, it was a beautiful experiment.

but the question for me was: what now?

so, this was it: if i was ever going to do a book of my own stuff, fully printed etc etc by me, this was it. i had to do it.

anly problem was, but this time La Mano was not only broke, it was in the hole. and i’d learned some things. the sad truth is that my idea of “i’ll have my own printing press, so everything will be CHEAP” was not the reality i’d hoped it would be. i’ll say this now, because this is the place to do so– after i’d priced everything on my little book, doing everything myself, it was still more per book than quotes from Asia. JUST FOR MATERIALS, that’s without paying myself to print it. and this is me buying paper at 1/2 off closeout rates. rather than go into a long anti-capitalist screed here (which is actually what this situation warrants), i just want you to take a moment to think about that (i’ve certainly spent MANY moments with it). to me, that is a really chilling situation.

so, i’d heard about Kickstarter, and thought i’d give it a shot. and, thanks to a lot of folks, it worked out. i could try doing this thing without going into crazy debt. so i did.

pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. i’ve described printing on other books as nightmarish, and at the risk of sounding like the little boy who cried wolf, i can say with great conviction that all the other La Mano printing “nightmares” were like gentle naps compared to Sammy.

i honestly thought the machine was trying to kill me. i developed a pavlovian fear of my press: the thought of turning it on sent me into panic mode. because every damn time i turned it on something went haywire.

press

and i will also say with full conviction that there is nothing i have done in my life that is as frustrating as…when things aren’t going right, printing. there was not 2 weeks that went by where i did not find myself so angry and frustrated that i was just… broken. so angry i’d throw a trash can across the room. so angry that i was crying, because there was nothing to smash with my fists. now, you might say to yourself “SOUNDS LIKE YOU GOT SOME OTHER ISSUES GOING ON THERE, SONNY JIM”, and you could be right, but generally, NOT THESE ONES. i do not scream and cry and throw shit in my normal life, at all. but here i was, doing it on a regular basis, on a book that i could not screw up. because people had already paid for it.

there’s plenty of reasons for this but again, i’ll spare you the details (except for the ones that are funny). basically, even after all this time i was still an inexperienced printer. and also, i bought the “new” press for $500, and as it turns out, there were damn good reasons it was that cheap. the previous owners had run the thing into the dirt. so every time something went wrong, i would assume i was doing something that made the machine, say, start to pull sheets up into it, creating a pulpy mess that would take an hour to clean up and then do it again. it was my inexperience. but sometimes it WASN’T that, and there was something out of whack with the press. the problem was, i never knew which was which, for certain. and every time i thought it was one thing, it was the other. so, honestly– it took me 6 months of this shit to print that book.

and also, there was this: due to a pagination program glitch, 2 of my 14 signatures ended up being printed incorrectly (and i was too furious to notice it. TWICE): which means 1/7th of the book’s paper stock was gone. which would normally just be a NORMAL $$$ suck catastrophe, but the bigger problem was this: since i’d purchased all my stock at Twin Cities Paper, a) i’d bought everything they had and b) it was, again, a stock that had been discontinued. there WAS no more. actually i scoured the internet and found ONE PLACE, somewhere in ohio i think, that had a case of it, but that still didn’t make up for what i’d lost. so then i had to find a stock that looked close to what i’d been using, and that’s when the piano dropped: since i’d purchased stuff exclusively at TCP, i had no idea what paper cost “normally”. and i was shocked.

i could keep going, but i won’t. i will say that it put a fear of the press into me that i still have not shaken entirely. and when it was over, i could see that it…was not good for me; coming home to my wife and kids covered in ink and so pissed off i could barely speak  for the remainder of the evening on a semi-regular basis…don’t matter the hows or whys of it, it’s just not how i want to be. and this, mind you, is after i’d been stone cold sober for some years. booze or printers ink, something that does that to your life can’t be good. and booze did not make me scream and cry and throw shit. i was a sultry, witty, sophisticated and charismatic drinker.

eventually, though, it got done. spent the Kickstarter $ and then some.

and i thought “good god: some guy writes, draws and publishes his own work, THEN DOES ALL THE PRODUCTION AND PRINTS THE WHOLE THING HIMSELF?”. that’s amazing. I think it’s amazing– who’s ever seen a book like that? i thought it was a real interesting thing; it’s a “mass produced” object, but still sort of follows the ideas of a zine, or some other hand made object. to me, that was (and is) a really cool idea.

but guess what– putting the book out at the table, at shows or whatever, you know what it looked like?

it just looked like a regular book that was…not normal; not what people are used to. it DOES feel like something somebody MADE, some of the printing is wonky as hell, and its just… not what people are expecting when the pick up a perfect-bound “trade paperback”. in short, it weirded people out. and i’d explain to them what it is and all that and they generally just looked at me like a crazy person. there’s a story in that book beyond the story in that book, and it takes some digging beyond the face of it to find to what that story is. And some folks were interested, but for the most part…as i said, it just looked like a normal book, but “off”, somehow.

and i’m not really the type to go “sell” that story, to say “look what i did, isn’t that special!?!”

somebody once made the comparison to the whole “artisan bread” deal– what the heck is going on with these, weird, lumpy, craggy looking things? where is my SLICED LOAF OF BREAD TO MAKE A PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH WITH?

sammy

but, you know– that shit sometimes tastes real good.

and, one more interesting thing: the price point. i’ve always been depressed by the psychology of selling stuff: why is it $13.95 and not $14? because it’s a time-honored tradition of marketing and sales. it tricks your brain into thinking $13 instead of $14. we’re so used to it that it barely even registers. but, again, it’s just a slight of hand that, when you think about it, is really patronizing and unnecessary if you respect whoever’s buying your “product”. from the first La Mano release, i decided i wasn’t ever going to do that. it’s gonna be $13, or it’s $14. and i thought: cheap. who the heck doesn’t like cheap?

but Sammy was a 2-color perfect bound “Graphic Novel”, 104 pages, printed by the author. and it was $14. 104 page “graphic Novels” routinely sell for $16-$20. and i thought making it cheaper than that would be a cool thing, an act of good faith for all involved.

i hate to say it, but our brains are hard-wired for capitalism, and its a tricky thing to navigate. price something too high and it’s snooty and insulting. price it too LOW, and…it’s suspicious. it really is. my story about that is the Wipers CD box set that came out some years ago: first 3 Wipers records, with extra tracks. Greg Sage (the main Wipers guy) himself released it, and it was like the Sammy book– it looked like somebody without design/ marketing chops put it together…it looked odd. like some weirdo put it together. and it was stupid cheap, $18 or something. i remember picking it up at the record shop, then some part of me thought $18 for all these? looks weird. this must be some kind of fly by night scam deal, something must be dodgy here.

and then i got home and thought what the hell is wrong with me?

and eventually i went back and picked it up, and god i can’t tell you how i treasure that stuff. but yeah, the unexpectedly low price made me question the quality of it.

and i think that’s the case with the Sammy book: low price plus weird printing plus rough around the edges? with a zine, that’s part of the territory, part of the charm. a book, not so much.

i wasn’t thinking about any of this when i made it, of course. i just thought it was cool, and that that’d show through. and i’m not crying about it now. i’m just saying: it’s interesting. and it didn’t sell shit poorly or anything: it did ok.

oh yeah: the work? Sammy is now halfway completed. book 2 was released by may pal Tom K via Uncivilized books. somebody else printed it, which was great. i think it’s real good stuff.

the fact that i’m only halfway through the completed work, and 7 years have gone by…that is depressing. but fuck it, i’m not getting into that now.

next one is the wrap up.

–z.

 

THE DREAM IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE DREAM

for the past week, i’ve been working like a maniac to get 20 or 30 copies of the new Recidivist done for SPX; and if nothing went seriously wrong, i was on track to do it. up until about 2 hours ago it was going to be 48 hours of nuts, but still doable. then something went wrong. then another thing. nothing serious, but enough to throw out the bathwater (the baby is fine). but look at me– i’m calm and collected. maybe even relieved. being an adult is great.

so, no books for SPX. that’s that. i was starting to do some dumb shit to hit that deadline, anyway. that’s the bad news. the good news is, this thing will be done and done and done by the end of the month. at which point you can order it from me.

did i say 8 colors? try TEN. i’ll put up a video, or something.

i have never seen anything like this thing i put together. both content and production wise, it is something else entirely. i hope it doesn’t make people cry.

–z.

 

RECIDIVIST 4: 91.58% done

i’ve learned my lesson on going to presale too early. with that said, i printed 20,000 impressions in 5 different colors on the riso this past weekend. it was pretty nuts. as many of my friends know– this new Recidivist started off as a “bang it out quick/ don’t think too hard” experiment.

it has since turned into the most complicated thing i’ve ever done, production-wise. see, look:

recid

a couple of the strips are single color, a couple 2- color, and one of them is in 3 colors, all printed on the risograph. then the whole thing is going through the offset press for a pass of metallic silver. i did a count last night and so far i have done FORTY NINE passes through the machine, 1000 sheets each. and it’s going to have a cd in it…a noise/ drone piece i did that you can listen to (or not) while you’re reading the thing. i know, it’s…kind of over the top. 56 pages, printed in 8 colors. stapled not bound because that’s the way i want it (would have made my life a hell of a lot easier if i’d bound it, actually….).

as always, i didn’t set out to do something so involved. i just kept on having cool ideas, and i’m able to do them, so there you have it. with the way the world is going, why the fuck not. pretty sure you’ll never see another book (zine, actually…) like it. ever.

usually i regale with a epic story about how horrible the process was. not this time. it was fun.

(then again i haven’t done the offset part yet, so….)

there’s a slim chance ill be able to send some to SPX, (but that’s also what i said about CAKE 3 months ago). but the end of the tunnel is in sight now. when i can be sure it’s not a train, i’ll put these up for sale on the site (either $15 or $16, we’ll see).

best,

–zak

WE RELAUNCHED AND RECONFIGURED SCHOOLHAUS, WITH A KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN TO FUND TUITION.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2049768676/schoolhaus-a4

i would think this is a great thing even if i WASN’T one of the guys starting it.

but i am.

please donate, share, spread the word.

thank you.

best, zak.

 

 

NEW PRINT NOW FOR SALE

the one i kicked out for CAKE. this one.

you can now buy it at the La Mano site for $14 (+ $3 postage and handling in the us). anywhere from 3 to 7 colors, depending. shipped in a tube and signed if you say so.

gonna put more stuff up soon, as well.

–z

head

CAKE: PRINTS

i got 2 of them, and i’ll be selling them this weekend at CAKE:

head

yeah. I’m not sure how many colors it is. 5, maybe? (it’s a manipulation of the cover i did for the japanese edition of Brian Evenson’s Fugue State). virtually every print is different, and ‘ll be selling these, for money.

also this:

ghost

i did this drawing for a “ghost” anthology some years ago (after looking at a a lot of Charles Adams), and have always really liked it. now you can too.

–z

CAKE: GOOD NEWS/ BAD NEWS– RECIDIVIST 4

so, the bad news: i had planned to premiere the new Recidivist at CAKE this year. i’ve been busting my ass, but it’s just not going to happen. in light of that i cancelled the La Mano table.

the good news is, i’m still going to CAKE. and while it’s not DONE, it’s pretty damn close. see?IMG_1354

so i’m going to have a pretty darn near copy of the final book, in all its insane glory. and i’ll be taking preorders, on the spot.

it’s 52 pages, printed on the risograph; some of the strips are in 2 colors, some 3 (which means that some of the sheets get fed through the machine ELEVEN SEPARATE TIMES). they look like this:revenge

and this:flat

and then when all that is done, i’m sending the entire book through the offset press for a pass of metallic silver (this is what i’m not going to have time to complete, but I’m going to try to print a sample page before i leave for chicago). it also will come with a 25 minute sound piece i did for the book, in the form of a CD. it’s $15.

as fancy as all that sounds, its folded and stapled, like a zine. which is just how i want it. i swore i’d never do another Recidivist, but here i am. it sort of reads like…if Black Flag wrote songs about…love, instead of the other thing. you’ll see.

i’ll be doing a web direct sale on the book real soon: anyone who orders it from me direct gets a fancy riso print. but if you preorder the book at CAKE, the poster is yours on the spot. otherwise, they’ll be $10 or something and i’ll be selling those. i’ll also have some of these 7-color tour posters i did recently for the Cloud Nothings (but not many, so get em quick).cn

maybe some other stuff too. i’ll be crashing tables– mostly with John p, but i’ll also do a couple signing things at the Uncivilized Books table.

see you there,

–z

 

 

 

 

 

ANNOUNCING SCHOOLHAUS/ A4 (we made an art school)

Schoolhaus-A4_promo-LGwe’ve been working on this for a couple of months now. Dan Ibarra is an old friend, and he is one of the 2 awesome sob’s behind Aesthetic Apparatus. not only are they some of my favorite designers around, they are also great guys, and we share a lot of the same ideas about how and why art gets made, and how you get it done. we spent many, MANY long hours talking about what kind of different educational models there could be for making art: not “designing” or “making comics”, but just the lifelong practice of needing to do stuff, regardless of the discipline you ascribe to. what would WE want from a program? what kind of things are common across the board for creative types, regardless of what stage their “career” is at (or even if they want a career) or how they apply that need to make stuff (commercially? not at all? somewhere in the middle?). we pulled as many of those ideas as we could into this summer program we’ve concocted, and tried to think of some ideas outside of the normal academic “we teach you, you learn” model. it is really really exciting. read the whole thing in the link.

–z.

CAN’T STOP NOW: LA MANO HISTORY PART 4

LM005: DEAD RINGER

5

as i said: the Centaur book was something else, and something new. but the next project was, in some ways, La Mano’s crowning achievement. enter Jason T Miles.

my friendship with Jason– how we met, became friends, etc, is too convoluted to write about in here: it does give credence to the fact that there’s a bunch of weirdos that drank the same Kool-Aid as you somewhere down the line, and you’re eventually going to meet them when you go back to the well to get more. by and large, it’s a pretty goddamn great well.

Jason is one of the most uncompromising cartoonists i’ve ever met; he relentlessly pursues his vision of what he wants to do, seemingly without a single shred of concern regarding “what people will think of it”. he just does it, and he works his ass off at it. he’s fearless and he can’t sit still; he’s just constantly exploring– and exploring some territory that’s got very few people treading on it.

and, to be totally honest, i do not “get”everything he does ( he once wrote me a postcard saying “here’s my new book: all i ask is that you never say you ‘don’t get it’”. but….sometimes i really just don’t. SORRY MAN); i’m sometimes not sure what he was going for, or why he did what he did. but one thing i AM sure of, is that he is not bullshitting me– whatever direction he goes, whether i “get” it or not, there is no doubt in my mind that he is going there for a reason. and not some half-baked art school reason, a REAL reason, one that he’s considered and thought about. whether or not that reason is apparent to ME when i read it is sort of…not the point of Jason’s stuff. i’ve probably said it numerous times in this thing, but guess what everybody: not everything needs to be for everyone.

at some point Jason sent me “Dead Ringer”. it was super fucking odd; each page a single panel on 11x 17 paper, drawn with what looked to be a dying black marker. same dude in a baseball hat, in the same spot, on each page. sometimes he said things. when i was done reading it, my first reaction was…i don’t know what that was, but it was pretty amazing.

and then i had the same reaction as when Nate sent me Centaur: well, we’ve got to do this on La Mano. and Jason said “sure”. i’ll be honest: my thought was, this’ll be a little mini-comic with some extra paper/printing choices that’ll make it look special. but– as with every other La Mano project, it changed. i thought Jason just sent it to me in the big format because that’s the size he drew it at, and was intending for it to be smaller. it wasn’t, and he didn’t: i was surprised when he said he thought it should be BIG. it NEVER would’ve struck me to go that size with it, but as soon as he said it, it made total sense. i had this raw card stock (from guess where) sitting around and a stack of weird interior paper as well. i think Jason was even the one that found the fold/bind we used (ok, what i used, as i  assembled them).

the printing on this was just a total nightmare; i’ve said that before (maybe every time?), but this time i’ve got proof: may of the pages suffered from severe set-off (when the back of the printed sheet gets a “ghost” image, due to the ink on the previous sheet not drying sufficiently), and my sheet counter was broken. also, the card stock was so thick it was causing the machine total conniption fits. i lost a LOT of sheets. a lot. what it all ended up meaning was that we intended to do a run of 500 of these, but the actual number that got made was closer to 250-300.

now, the glory of Twin Cities Paper is that it was so cheap; the downside of that is that they got whatever paper they got, and if you wanted more, you were often s.o.l. they didn’t have it, and what you got from them very well could’ve been discontinued since they got it.

ring2

and, that’s what happened with Dead Ringer. after those got made, there was no more stock. and honestly, it caused me such headaches that i probably wouldn’t have done more even if there WAS stock.

Jason and i hammered out a price. i think i wanted it to go for less, but– not for the first time– the nature of the thing was so weird we had nothing to go on or compare it to. so we called it $14.  i am– and always have been– absolutely terrible with the psychology of pricing things.

why? because it’s bullshit, that’s why.

but… Dead Ringer is something else. i don’t even know what to call it: it was a zine. and a comic. but it was the size of an elephant, and the individual pages were so static that someone probably could’ve taken it for a print folio. but it wasn’t any of those things specifically, either. and it was made by hand (the process for putting each one of these together was that same amount of futzy craziness that went into assembling the William Schaff folio), so it had that quality, as well.  it utterly occupied its own space as a….thing.

this was the La Mano project that garnered the most confusion, the most “what the FUCK”s. some people even hated it. but i know for a fact that there’s a contingent out there that felt like this was (and is) a very, very important book to them. as with every other thing Jason and i were better pals when it was done, and our collaboration yielded something neither of us would’ve done, left to our own lights.

you can’t buy one from me. they are gone. and that’s even sort of great, as well: in this day and age when everything is available at all times…this thing got done. either you got one or you didn’t, but in either case, that’s IT; you had your shot, people. there is no way you could replicate what this thing was in any other format, ever.

such a weird, awesome, singular thing. tip to tail.

 

LM006 FEAR OF SONG

1

what can i say. i made this record. back in part 2 or whatever, mentioned Low, and my 12 years in that band, and that the divorce was difficult, messy, and painful. there was the personal stuff, and that was what it was. but there was other, more troubling things; falling ass-backwards into being a working “professional” musician had really done a number on me, in ways it took me years to figure out. i’m again going to restrain myself from getting novelistic on the subject, but i could go on at great length about it. the most important part is that somehow when i left the band i hated making music.

for a solid year after i left the band, i listened to Led Zeppelin and Stevie Wonder exclusively (and usually the same 5 songs, at that). after a while, i realized that i needed to try to figure this out, a little: obviously, i don’t hate music. i love music. and i’d had parts and pieces of my own songs that had been kicking around for a decade or more; not unlike my comics, the idea of finishing those things sent me into a panic that i realized was…pretty fucked up, and i’d find myself doing some pretty absurd things to avoid finishing them. i’d been a part of making quite a few very good records at this point, so what the hell was making me so crazy?

i figured– you’re not a musician anymore; there are no stakes in this. time to get to the bottom of it. you cant live the rest of your life being terrified of this thing you love. so i went in the basement with a 4-track and looked that fucker right in the eye. and it was not fun. but eventually, he blinked.

and once i finished ONE song, i though ah what the hell and finished a bunch of them. and at some point, i also started enjoying it. eventually i called my very old pal Ben Durrant, who’d done an AMAZING job recording Andrew Bird’s Armchair Apocrypha and said “you wanna help me with this?”. and he did. at some very early juncture i decided that every note on this thing had to made/ played/ performed by me.

3

 

this should surprise no one.

at a certain point Sub Pop kindly floated me and Ben some cash…they were intrigued enough by the couple songs i sent that they wanted to see what else came from it. the only problem was, due to my life and Ben’s life, we had to work on it piecemeal and by the time it was “finished”, a lot of time had passed and i was sick to death of it and just wanted it DONE. so when it all wrapped up and i sent it to them, my pal/ good guy/ Sub Pop head honcho Jon Poneman said “well, i like some of it a lot, but some not as much. what i’d like to hear are more songs.” and i didn’t have any, and the idea of sitting on this thing for another year…. again, i just wanted it done; i’d figured out what i wanted to figure out. so i did a couple calls to some labels and they all passed on “Low’s ex-bass player who doesn’t want to tour or play rock clubs”. go figure. so i released it myself, on La Mano. same old same old– had the raw cd’s manufactured, then printed everything else on paper i’d scored at TCP, assembled and signed and numbered them. Sub Pop did a great little 7″, though– one song from the record and one i left off for some stupid reason (because it’s one of the best songs of the bunch), and also a “hidden” track Ben and i had created by stitching together my isolated vocal track freak-outs, creating 4 minutes of me screaming, yelling, swearing and completely losing my shit in glorious stereo (my wife, upon hearing the track said “oh my god. that is terrifying. you sound like someone who is clinically insane.” then “you’re not really going to release that, are you?”).

and my pal Mark Treehouse liked it a lot, and put out a beautiful, thick vinyl version of it (and that’s the Sub Pop single there, too).

both versions were printed mostly on the press, and hand assembled by me. also each one is signed and numbered. perhaps i have problems.

fear2

 

anyways, the thing sold like a box of dead light bulbs.

i’m not the greatest self-promotor in the world, and i generally have difficulty “selling” my own work to people, in any form. comics, i’ve grown a bit more comfortable with even liking my own work, and being able to say that sort of thing out loud. but with some years remove, i feel like… this record, along with the Deitch files, are the La Mano projects i feel maybe didn’t get the shake they ought to have. more on Deitch in the next part, but that one’s a slam dunk: IT’S KIM DEITCH.

i’m pretty much the last person to toot his own horn on stuff like this, and while i was making it, i did not have the objectivity to assess the thing reasonably other than a gut sense that some of it was working pretty darn well– enough to keep going, anyway. but with some remove, now… it’s a solid record. some of it is pretty goddamn good, actually. a little closer to the bone than i’d like, in retrospect, but…that’s why you do things like make a record in your basement. it certainly wasn’t safe, i’ll tell you that much.

i don’t even want to start on the current state of music right now. you don’t want that.

next up, Sammy and Deitch. then a big wrap up. it’s taking a while, huh?

–z.

THE DISINTEGRATION LOOPS

i’ll take a break in the “action” from the La Mano history (which i’ve vowed will be completed by the end of this month) to rave for a moment about something i’ve been listening to pretty obsessively: The Disintegration Loops.

some of you know the story, some don’t. i didn’t.

the story is this: minimalist/ avant composer William Basinski pulls out some old tape loops he made in the 80′s– i think i heard it was just pulled from easy listening music; determines that the life of these loops are nearing an end, so begins transferring/ recording them onto cd’s. he fires one up hits record, and goes and does something. comes back in a while and notices the loops sound different. then notices that the iron oxide is slowly eroding and degrading with each progressive loop, gathering in a little pile next to the tape head. the tape is dying, the music is dying, and he’s recording its death. and it’s very, very beautiful. some loops take an hour to fall apart, some 20 minutes.

he continues with the tapes; he’s living in NYC, and during this time (apologies if i’m not getting the timeline correct) the twin towers fall.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xdo1YVZRUrM#t=18

i read a review of the Disintegration Loops on Pitchfork, where it receives the highest marks and is discussed like something everyone already knows about. not me. sounds interesting, and worth checking out, but let’s face it: this sounds like a one trick pony, something academic and “interesting”. something you’d stroke your chin about and say “hm” (which is fine; there’s music and art i like along those lines, that provide more a kick in the head than the gut).

upon listening, this stuff is anything but academic. in fact, this is some of the most beautiful and affecting music i’ve heard in my life: it’s haunting, wonderful, sad and triumphant, all at the same time. i can’t accurately describe what makes these sounds…what they are. there’s no real reason that, essentially, the same 3-second loop playing for 20 minutes should have any real emotional depth at all, much less anything this powerful.

this work makes me proud to be a human being, in (again) some way that i can’t explain. and i think i’d feel that way even if i DIDN’T know the context in which they were created. but i do, and now you do too.

my pal Jeremy put out this elegant, gorgeous box set on his label, Temporary Residence. you should buy it from him as soon as possible (in all honesty, i first heard these Loops on Spotify, and then they were taken off, to which i say: well done. we don’t have time for the Spotify conversation right now, though…). an incredible vinyl set, as well as a more inexpensive 5-cd set.

i want to put in a special recommendation for cartoonists/ artists on this one: listening to music while you work can be a real distraction– you (ok, i do, anyway…) claim it’s “background” but you end up actively listening to/engaging it, instead of…doing that with what you’re actually working on. the movements in the loops are so slow and organic that…it’s great stuff to work to. i don’t use the word “meditative” often, but i will here. you don’t listen to it so much as swim in it.

work on the new Recidivist had come to a grinding, painful, full stop in the past couple months. i got these in the mail, and that is over. consider that a testimonial, in more ways than one.

best, zak.

(and while i’m at it, Tim Hecker’s new record is unbelievable, too. totally different in tone to these Loops, but stunningly good. go buy it from Kranky)