Everything posted by Mystified
Fame: Remember My Name
An Essay By Thomas Park
So, you want to be famous?
I shared that dream. For nearly two decades I composed literally thousands of pieces of music in an effort to become a famous artist. I tried using new ideas. I tried top notch production techniques.
I never really sacrificed my muse to the notion, but I did appear on several monied releases, as well as a set of compilations and other projects that were large and involved lots of press.
In 2017, I abandoned my main music projects, and in 2018, I essentially retired from music. I did this having achieved some notoriety in certain circles, but without having become famous from music.
My desire to be well-known gradually subsided over the years. I began focusing on the art itself. I tried hard to find and maintain my own style, my own voice. When I retired, I felt satisfied, in spite of my lack of success-- I felt that I had achieved great things in the aesthetics department, and that the efforts were worth the time and energy spent.
In my opinion, fame-- particularly fame in music-- is largely fictitious. The rock and roll lifestyle is something that was invented. Very few people ever could or would live that lifestyle. Those who do would come face to face with risks such as chemical dependency, exhaustion, and exposure to a possibly dangerous public.
The dream of rock and roll seems to suggest that one should master a musical instrument, and leave home at a young age. The artist is to meet a number of people involved with music-- other artists, an agent, and so forth. A constant process of recording and touring is to begin, and great amounts of addictive substances and sex are to be had.
This is 2018, not 1950, and I trust that people realize that living for pleasure has its downsides. There was never a high without a low, that is just human nature. It’s how the mind and body work. And sure, sex with groupies sounds fun. How about S.T.D.s, some perhaps being deadly? The difficulty of committing to a spouse? The hardships of raising children while on tour? Not to mention the exhaustion that could come from always being on the road making music.
I recently watched a recording of Elvis Presley singing “Suspicious Minds”, during one of his later tours. When he hit the high note, he seemed to be appealing to us (and perhaps to his wife Priscilla), to trust him, to believe in him. He was an honest man, and did not want to go on living in a shadow of suspicion.
The effect of that piece was somehow lost knowing Elvis’ true lifestyle. In fact, meditating on the life and death of “The King” provides an excellent study for why a person would never, really ever want to be famous.
As for myself, I remain “Mystified”-- a successful netlabel artist. I am known by some, largely not by others. As a result, I can easily walk out of the front door of my modest, affordable home, and not get mobbed by a crowd of people holding cameras or shouting my name.
I can tweet without causing ridiculous controversies.
Best yet, I can work a steady, fulfilling career that helps people, and come home to my wife and our two cats, where I can peacefully drift off into sleep.
You ask about fame? You can have it. I will take security and fulfillment anytime.
I have just published 2 important documents to archive.org.The first contains a list of resources I have made available, in various media, with a public domain license. Public domain means the material is available for use, without restriction:The second contains a list of many scores of sample sets, available for free for listening or for use in compostions:
This mini-documentary describes my troubled relationship, both with H.P. Lovecraft's fiction, and with related projects on the dark ambient music label "Cryo Chamber".
Please feel free to visit, and bookmark this hub for Thomas Park's various artistic activities:
Hear a reviewer's increasing frustration as Mystified continues to release similar music on different albums and labels throughout the 2000-'oughts. In this video, Thomas reads reviews of his music as posted in Vital Weekly, followed by comments on the reviews by Thomas himself.
In this comic exploration of a reviewer's mounting frustration with an musician's redundancy, Mystified Reviews Vital Weekly Reviews Mystified:
For some reason, I keep feeling myself pulled back again and again to a certain time in my life. This was the years 2000-2012, when I lived alone in a low rent apartment in the South Side of Saint Louis.
Life asks us to pay attention to our loved ones, to our jobs, and to our obligations. This was a period of time when I had few obligations, and no spouse.
It really was just me, all day, every day, in this shabby place.
Chippewa And Brannon was where mystified was born.
Part of mystified's development involved the harvesting of field recordings. My collaborator Chris McDill at one point suggested that I stop using purchased sounds in my pieces, and start harvesting my own.
As a result, I was able to capture the atmosphere and vibe of my little apartment in the city.
I tried to convey this atmosphere in many ways. I would use the field recordings as samples, mixing them together. Sometimes there were conscious compositions. Other times, sounds were mixed fractally in a freeware program.
Last night, I dug into my archival drive and posted all of the phonographic recordings I had from that period-- all of them that had not been digitally effected. I released them on archive.org.
Having posted them, I went back to listen. I must admit, these field recordings are indeed the best record of the years 2000-2012 for me. They most accurately capture the vibe of living in poverty in the city. My compositions stretch, mold and exaggerate. The recordings do not.
This was living low and these field recordings capture it exactly.
"The Art Life" is what you just described. I just watched this doc on David Lynch. Its really worth seeing if you can get get a copy.
Thank you, Jack! Small world-- my wife recently had a big Lynch kick (we both watched the Return together), and she shared this documentary with me. Very cool.
I was astonished to see he's still an avid painter, and it really impresses me he's not sharing it with the world. He's a real hands-on kind of guy. Not someone with assistants doing things, like we often see with other well known artists.
A Single Hub For All Of Thomas Park's Media: "Benchmark: Hub": https://archive.org/details/ThomasParkBenchmarkHub
Any djs or broadcasters out there interesting in audio copies of my project documentaries? If so, here they are:
A Documentary Of The New Industrial Movement-- Short But Active:
A mini-dcoumentary about my netlabel, "Treetrunk Records", with some examples of the music there:
The documentary is available for streaming now, and is scheduled to appear in downloadable form in the forthcoming 400th Release on Treetrunk Records.
Special thanks to all who have contributed and listened over the years.
Now and then, someone asks me, "What kind of music do you make"? I have taken some time to create an 8-minute documentary detailing many of my main achievements as mystified, my 15-year ambient drone project. What can be accomplished in 15 years of hard work? Have a watch and a listen:
A brief documentary of Thomas' musical development, covering some of the pivotal recordings he made over a decade ago, and depicting his transformation from early mystified into Grid Resistor:
Given that my posts today are often about mental health, I'd like to add another. A label that released a "Grid Resistor" album (Grid Resistor being my musical act in which I use only machine sounds) wrote something like-- it provided a window to an "obsessive and sterile world".
With schizophrenia came a fear of intimacy, I am afraid, of any kind. My music evolved into an often seamless expression of coldness-- solitary, isolationist, and not at all intimate.
For better or worse, humans need contact, and it's taken years of a kind of deprogramming to combat this sense that it is wrong to touch people or be touched. I know this is a trait that is not uncommon in our society, and I feel bad for the many who suffer from it. I am learning that I can't ultimately put nature off-- nature is powerful, and should be respected.
Is there a connection between my schizophrenia and my music? There are many connections.
When I was struggling with my illness, and living in isolation, I stayed in a shabby, low-rent apartment in the South Side of Saint Louis.
A frequent thing was to record the sounds of that place, including the constantly leaking pipes. For some reason, I waited months to report the leaks, choosing instead to record the sounds and use them in music.
There were quite a few pieces that emerged from these pipes recordings. One, "Altercus" (Webbed Hand Records), combined heavily processed versions of the sounds (the tones you can hear) with slightly reverberated versions of the actual sounds.
"Altercus", incidentally, was a plant that was deemed to have hallucinatory qualities, that was known back in the days of the Roman Empire, but has been lost to history.
Can you hear the sounds of an isolated schizophrenic, living day to day in his gritty apartment?
Now that most of Thomas Park's solo audio projects have been officially closed, including Mystified, Mister Vapor, AutoCad and others, Thomas has embarked on a multi-phase archiving process.
First, Thomas amassed and created copies of his complete collection of files-- nearly 1 TB of data.
Second, Thomas has made available in one convenient place high-quality selections of his various works. Thomas calls these "Archival Selections". They are available at the site that was so pivotal to his career-- The Internet Archive. Archival Selections 1-28 appear as a sub-collection of Treetrunk Records, a netlabel at The Internet Archive.
You can access these selections at the online hub for Treetrunk Records:
Here are direct links to the selected releases:
Aluminum Fly (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections001
AutoCad Reclaimed Disc One (AutoCad): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections002
AutoCad Reclaimed Disc Two (AutoCad): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections003
Cereal For Dinner (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections004
Coming Days (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections005
D-Program (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections006
Eldritch Steps (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections007
Elemental Dub (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections008
Fragment, Compress (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections009
Haiku 01 (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections010
Knowing Memphis (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections011
Machines 2 (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections012
Night Wheel (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections013
Overtone Drones (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections014
Skywatchers 2 (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections015
Stellar Fugue (Thomas Park): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections016
The U.F.O. Hoax (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections017
Tropical Depression (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections018
Urbscape (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections019
Urgent Cells (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections020
Endless Flutter (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections021
In A Haze (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections022
Moonshine (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections023
Still Dreaming (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections024
The Luminous Deep (mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections025
The Murk (Digital Mass): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections026
Constant (Mystified): http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections027
Thomas Park and Various Artists- Full Album Videos: http://www.archive.org/details/ArchivalSelections028
Especially of note is this last selection, number 028. Number 028 contains a large set of high-definition videos that each contain an entire album. These are not all of Thomas' albums or videos, but they represent a good portion of the releases that featured Thomas as composer-in-chief.
Archive.org, and these collections, represent the best available set of archived material by Thomas Park over the last 2 decades.
There are a few other collections to note:
YouTube features 2 archival playlists, the "Full Albums" Playlist, and the "Longform Videos" Playlist:
Another site useful for finding Thomas' music is his Bandcamp Page:
Finally, looking up information or release links on Discogs.com and/or Google.com can be very useful.
Thank you for your interest in Thomas' creative projects! It is appreciated.
Technology is advancing at an exponential rate. Cities are beginning to resemble the Byzantine monstrosities depicted in Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner". We now can communicate with nearly anyone in the globe, with great immediacy-- often with visuals. We can kill thousands, even millions of people using unmanned weaponry. We have become better and better at treating illnesses and disease, often using medical technology.
What to say? Some suggest we have entered a new paradigm-- a "Second Machine Age". Others cling to the notion that machines are unnecessary-- avoiding computers, the internet and cell phones. The future of people may depend on what side of the technological divide they stand-- those who use tech and those who avoid it or can't afford it.
I conceived of "Grid Resistor" in 2017, upon retiring my act "Mystified". I thought of a music that reflected today's (and tomorrow's) technology-- containing only the sounds of machines. I used a contact microphone and other means of capturing to record dozens of machines in the highest audio quality possible. Some sounds were treated with random effects processing, while others were dubbed directly into pieces.
Each track was named after the date of its composition and the number within the various tracks that day that were written. Very little reverberation was added, in order to emphasize texture and avoid distortion and sound loss. Songs were comprised of many layers, usually using sounds collected from different devices.
To what end? Here, in "Omega", we have the sum total of solo Grid Resistor tracks. MP3s of the highest quality were uploaded (lossless files would have been too cumbersome). These mp3s are all on one release page so that listeners can move through the totality of Grid Resistor tracks, or cue them up in a playlist and set them on "shuffle" and "repeat"-- and so for your ears, the future is here, or quickly approaching. Do you accept the assistance of machines? Use them as tools? Or destroy them, sending them to the trash heap?
From the debut release of Model 201, a musical act by Thomas Park that only uses sounds extracted from old analog cassettes as source material. Get the audio here: https://mystified.bandcamp.com/album/series-1-model-201
Here are some samples I have collected and/or created, which I offer for free. Most are cc-licensed, for use with attribution.
Enjoy, and remember please to attribute (give credit).
Spoken Word Samples:
Shortwave Radio Outtakes:
Machine Sounds Outtakes:
Shortwave Radio Sounds:
Various Early Sound Experiments For Free Use:
Urban Industrial Sounds Outtakes:
Urban Field Recordings:
Fractal Noise Samples:
Space Sounds Outtakes:
Urban Industrial Sounds Outtakes:
Urban Industrial Sounds Outtakes:
Treated Field Recordings:
Fractal Drone Segments:
Home Made Rhythm Samples:
Various Wind Instrument Drone Samples:
Pan Pipes Drone Samples:
Flute Drone Samples:
Longform Recording of the a Rural Night:
Trombone Drone Samples:
“A Machine Music Manifesto” by Thomas Park
Earlier in 2017 I brought up some ideas for a “New Industrial Music”. A main component of this music involved using field recordings made of urban locations as sources. Rather than guitars and drum machines, actual recordings of the city were to be the source of sound. This idea has been further developed into a notion of ‘Machine Music”. Recordings of machines can be used as source material for this kind of composition, and the use of machines found in an urban setting makes Machine Music both its own variety and an extension of the New Industrial category.
I have made this observation, and my wife recently mentioned this of her own accord, that music on the radio follows certain formulae. She noticed that there were similarities between songs that went deeper than style, and got into using singers whose voices closely resembled one another, or the same technologies and instruments creating the same sounds (such as a use of “autotune”, which forces sounds, and especially vocals, to comply to a specific pitch). In a certain way, the mainstream music business is itself mechanical—methods and designs are used quite abstractly to generate products, much in the same way that factory machines do. Why not, then, simply express what is essential and make a music of machines?
Many forms of music already use or involve machines. Instruments are or resemble machines, as do devices used to record, including microphones and mixing decks, computers, and so forth. We master our sounds using software, on a computer. Files are burned to disc, or distributed online, passed from one machine to another and eventually to a mobile device or stereo.
Machine sounds themselves can be found in some music, especially in industrial music. A band might mix in a recording of factory equipment, or use power drills or similar devices as sonic sources, whether live on in the studio (such as the band Einsteurzende Neubauten). The machines create a supplemental voice in the mix, or are used as one or a few elements. I would propose that machines should become the dominant, or perhaps the only, sound source in a new type of music. How often do we need to hear a guitar, flute, or bongo? Why not explore and convey a new set of sounds made by mechanical devices?
Machines can make interesting and often rich sounds. A normal microphone can pick them up, but even better is a contact microphone. A contact mic is a small disc that is attached to a surface. It picks up the vibrations running through the surface, passing along the sounds manifested in its target. Contact mics are great for recording the various sounds that machines make as they turn on or off and run through their many cycles.
An excellent example of a machine as audio source is a washing machine. A washing machine produces literally dozens of sounds, as it moves from cycle to cycle. Each part of the washing process has its own sound, from the percolating sound of water filling the tank to various speeds of grind as the clothes are spun about. These sounds can be captured and further processed using audio software—excellent methods are to try various forms of granulation, or to add distortion or reverberation effects.
Composing using machine sounds can be as simple or as complex as needed. Many machine sounds are variations of noise (or noisy drones), and therefore they do not need to be tuned, and can be mixed together and layered freely. Occasional machine sounds have a pitch, which can be used as a source of tonality, or adjusted to match any other pitches using basic audio software.
What is the effect of such compositions? This may vary, but generally by using machine sounds, though some amount of noise exists within the pieces, it is quite easy to create a regular, repetitive, precise and meticulous kind of music. I would generally call these kinds of pieces “soundscapes”, as they are ambient drone collages of sound. The sounds in the pieces seem to come from the same sonic family, and indeed they do, having been recorded from similar sources. This effect is heightened if the same recording method is used throughout (for example, the same contact microphone, recording at the same fidelity). It is the case that machines provide their very own new category of instrumentation, and can harnessed to craft music with a very distinct aesthetic.
I hope that readers will consider furthering the New Industrial idea and developing a music of machines. It is a more honest approach to music, I feel, than regarding contemporary mainstream music as being anything other than mechanical itself. If a music is essentially of a machine, why not make it to sound that way? Machine Music provides a direct and authentic aesthetic of pragmatic, exact, and repetitive sounds, without using classical instruments or the human voice. Machine Music paves a clear path ahead in the world of music, and it is a good time to establish and explore this path.
"Gamma" by Grid Resistor-- music made using only recordings of machines:
Free at Bandcamp.
And don't miss the "Grid Resistor Playlist", steadily growing:
Three essential playlists, in retrospect of Mystified:
2. Vintage Mystified: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9TuK-wqyd1QDHftgnft8K1EwwIjRL9cj
Follow my channel to bookmark these and other videos, plus to follow new "Grid Resistor" material. Thanks!
2 new High-Fidelity sample collections, for listening or using in music:
1. Machines By Contact Microphone:
2. Shortwave Radio In High Fidelity:
Why all of these "Robin Storey"-related posts? A bit of explanation. When I first started writing music, I was trying to figure out what directions to take. I was searching for genres on a site called "Epitonic", and I ran across a category called "Drone" music. Drone music? What in heaven's name? Well, I began listening to some samples, and really got into the stuff, appreciating the uncanny and visceral qualities of this type of music. Robin's act Rapoon was listed as an example of drone, referencing several tracks from his album "Raising Earthly Spirits".
I wanted to create my own drone music. Not sure where to find sounds, I bought samples, and found that Robin had created two excellent, imaginative, somewhat non-linear loop sets, and that the guy who set up loop sets for what was then Sonic Foundry was also a fan. A lot of my earlier musical attempts used sounds crafted by Robin. About this time, I asked Robin if he would be willing to make a mix using some of his own "Acid Loops", and he agreed. He created the "Robin Storey Transit Remix", using sounds I had assembled for my own piece, "Transit". So, in a way, the "Transit" remix was really Robin remixing himself.
Years went by, and we lost touch. There were some reissues of his remix, I continued using his loops. At one point, I bought a painting of his, from his own "Tarot" deck.
A couple of years ago, I wanted to make a point of what a great influence Robin had been, both on my music and the scene as a whole, so I created the "Loop Messiah" tribute netrelease, which is a great collection of tracks by various artists that pay tribute to the music of Rapoon. This was an unofficial tribute, but it did quite well, with thousands of downloads on archive.org.
For a reason I can't describe, I felt that I should try contacting Robin once again. I found that the Abraxas project, and its loop30 series, curated by Gerald Fiebig, covered some historical and cultural themes that Robin had addressed in his music. When I opened a chat window to Robin, it was almost as though he knew why I was approaching him.
Several months later, and we have "Grasslands Dream of Electric Sheep"-- the current iteration of Robin's influence on my career, and itself a wonderful and authentic piece of music, touching on themes of growing up in Cold War England, and daring to access an emotional range not often found in current music.
So, there is the answer to the "Why all these Robin Storey" posts. I hope that i explained that well.