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Archive for the ‘space music’ Category

night:hotelAs previously reported, I’ve completed the final polish of my next Black Dog Press release, a short story collection called Sex & Other Acts of the Imagination.

In the week since I’ve wrapped up work on Sex, I’ve been in kind of a “transition” phase, as I prepare for another edit of my novel-in-progress.

I couldn’t just dive back into the novel after spending several weeks tinkering with a batch of really dark, harrowing short stories—I needed a break, a way to ease into it.

I go through these periods every so often and it’s during these times that I create some of the strange short films and ambient musical pieces that you’ll find under my Films/Music” tab. It’s also when I’ll retreat to my cold, damp basement and slap some acrylic paint on canvas for a few days. Experimenting. Playing.

And I’m prone to sudden attacks of poetry, as well.

Which is what happened this time around.

For the past 7-10 days there’s been a lot of scribbling going on around here and much of it centers around a suite of stanzas I’ve put together under the title “Sixteen Rites of Deconditioning”.

To explain:

For at least fifteen years I’ve kept a couple of notebooks devoted to…I’m not sure what you’d call it. Automatic writing? Free associations? Visions?

When I’m in a certain mindset I feel a compulsion to scrawl words, disjointed sentences, dream sequences, snippets of verse. The spell only lasts a few hours, a day at the most, but I’m often surprised by what these sessions produce. Recently I decided to go through both notebooks and write down certain key words or lines or themes that stood out. Once I assembled a roster of these bits, I began to shape them, dividing them up, juxtaposing certain parts, creating fascinating fusions, collisions and cross-fertilizations.

I was delighted with the end result and just posted “Sixteen Rites of Deconditioning” on my Scribd page–I encourage you to zip over there and cast you eyes over a mind-blowing poem, by far the longest and most complex I’ve written to date.

I welcome your comments and reactions—the poem is certainly subject to a variety of interpretations and I’m interested by how people experience “Sixteen Rites”, if it strikes any familiar chords.

Am I plugged in to the zeitgeist…or spending far too much time alone in my office?

Let me know what you think.

splatter

 

 

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I’m a space geek, a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool fanatic when it comes to anything to do with making the stars our destination.

I think it’s a complete drag how we seem to have stalled here in near-Earth orbit. Sending tourists up to the International Space Station at twenty million bucks a pop, while dispatching robot drone ships to the far reaches of the solar system, letting them do the work for us. No need for boots on the ground, expensive manned programs, grand visions…

I’ve loved science fiction all my life. Bradbury, Dick, Matheson, Beaumont, Ellison…those were my boys.

I’m also crazy about cinema.

Put it all together and you’ll (perhaps) understand what went into the making of “Planetfall”:

 

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surfaceThese days I’m toiling away on a rewrite of the concluding novella of my short story collection in progress Exceptions & Deceptions.

While I’m otherwise occupied, feel free to enjoy two of my recent ambient tunes.

The second, longer piece is an extended version of the soundtrack music for my new short film “Exoplanet”.

WOW Signal

The Zone

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Taking a break from writing, concocted and edited a new short film.

“Exoplanet”…a love letter to science fiction.

Dedicated to Ian Sales and other bringers of wonder:

 

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I’m a lifelong fan of science fiction. A space geek and proud of it.

Here’s my latest short film, “First Contact”, and, as the title suggests, this piece is about a close encounter with a distant, alien world, evidence of advanced, intelligent life. Abstract, indisputably odd…with accompanying ambient music.

A tip of the hat to Stan Kubrick…

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Feeling giddy and celebratory of late and who can blame me?

I’m got a brand new book on the way, the most important people in my life are healthy and reasonably happy…oh, and I mustn’t forget that the fifth anniversary of this blog is rolling around. St. Patrick’s Day marks the unofficial birthday of Beautiful Desolation—raise a pint of Guinness in honor of a site that’s managed to beat the odds. Five years and still going strong. Surely that’s worth a toast or two, innit?

Today I put the finishing touches on a CD’s worth of ambient material and added it to my Audio page. Forty-six minutes of my oddball offerings; “Emanations” features some genuinely whacked out and trippy music. I’ve posted a 3-song sampler below. Check out my audio page for several hours of music and spoken word pieces, all of it available for FREE listening:

Emanations II

Vertiginous

Seventh Sense

And while I’ve been waiting for the proof of The Last Hunt, I’ve been cleaning up my office, prepping it for the next project on my plate. Finally settling down and doing some reading as well, including a novelette by the great Jim Shepard.

Attended “Silence is Golden” at the Roxy Theater in Saskatoon and posted about it on my film blog. I’ve vowed to go on a reading and movie watching binge now that my book is done. My wife and kids are skeptical but I truly intend to ease up on the workload for awhile. Kick back and relax. Surely a few hours of leisure won’t kill me…will it?

Bit of sad news today as I was trolling through headlines.  Ralph McQuarrie has passed away. Serious “Star Wars” fans will know exactly who I’m talking about. I remember seeing some of his production paintings in science fiction magazines like Starlog long before the film came out. George Lucas gives McQuarrie a good deal of the credit for the eventual look of his movie. Let’s hear it for ol’ Ralph. He helped imagineer a whole franchise. There aren’t many who can say that…

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One of the activities that’s given me the most pleasure in the past couple of years is creating music.

When words no longer suffice, I click on Garageband and commence work on some atmospheric, ambient melange, usually employing at least a dozen tracks before I’m satisfied the result is sufficiently whacked out and spacey.  I’ve posted the best stuff on my Audio page and you’re welcome to listen to it, download…have at it.

A couple of years ago I got it into my head to write a murder ballad.  I was raised on Johnny Cash and Hank Snow—one of the first tunes I can remember hearing is Johnny’s spooky version of “The Long Black Veil”.

I think I had that song in the back of my head as I sat down and wrote out the words to “Poor Mary”.  The song wrote itself very quickly—I recall there were only two or three drafts.  But once I finished, it was head-scratching time.  What in the name of God was I going to do with the bloody thing now?  I can’t read or write music, can’t play an instrument.

Ah, but I’m fortunate enough to have a pal who can pick and strum and carry a tune.  So I handed the lyric sheet over to Laird Brittin and asked him if it was possible to create an actual song out of the few lines of poetry I’d composed.  He liked the lyrics and came back with an arrangement that is nothing less than stunning.  If you like “Poor Mary”, the vast majority of the credit goes to Laird, who truly found the perfect “sound” for the piece.

To give the tune a listen (it’s only three minutes and some long), click on the following link:

01 Poor Mary

This happens to be my 200th blog post and I can think of no better way of commemorating that milestone than releasing “Poor Mary”.

Special thanks to Laird for recording, arranging and mixing this version.

My appreciation, as well, to the many, many folks who still make a regular habit of stopping by this blog and checking out my take on “the writing life”.  It ain’t a particularly rewarding or empowering existence/vocation, but I’ve never regretted my decision to go the “indie” route.

It takes its toll but if this approach allows me to fully express myself as an artist, as someone with a unique perspective on the multiverse, I’ll accept the consequences, come what may.

And, hey, if I get to occasionally turn my hand to songwriting, come up with something as fun and enjoyable (and good) as “Poor Mary”, then all I can say is fucking bring it on.

“Poor Mary”  © Copyright, 2010 by Laird Brittin & Cliff Burns  (All Rights Reserved)

No commercial use of this song is permitted.

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