I spent a few years destroying my ego and self-observation habits. This involved psychological experiments conducted without the aid of knowledge or supervision. These experiments included the use of chemical and behavioral modifications.
I could tell it would be one of the last days at the cottage. The Bomb Shelter. A small shed converted into a philosophical bunker and nuclei of my practice.
There was nothing special about the day. But I knew it would be the last day truly spent there. Something was happening and this place was disappearing back into the ambiguous ether of the cosmos. I decided to take the last of the Lysergic'diethylamide. I wanted to meditate on this space one last time before it was completely gone.
5 minutes later, Rick calls. Did I want to record those demos now?
Some have described it as a flower opening or the sound of a leaf passing through the air. For me, it was a bottle rocket that didn't exist. But there was no 'pop'.
I replied 'Yep'. He says, "I'll be right over."
For not the first time on that spot, I wept.
I was going on tour. I felt that it, also, would be my last tour. These tours I had been doing for a few years, sleeping in my car. Working from the outside in. My own social anxieties and particular preferences manifesting into whirlwind summers of mania.
My zen was spinning me and I was becoming nauseous.
I had wanted to record some mini "one of a kind" demos that I could hand out while on tour and eventually settled on recording a a bunch of takes of the same song, different songs, or whatever.
These would be burned as single copies with no digital copy other than my backup. So each person would get a singular artistic work. I had asked Rick to call me if he ever had some time to throw something down for it.
He was knocking on the door.
Now I knew what I was going to play.
"What's up dude!?"
We head back to Rick's. The place he lives then is literally right next to a railroad crossing. The telephone pole holding the electronic train whistle, which sounds every seven minutes,sits just outside the front door.
In Nebraska, marijuana grows wild as daises. Rick's yard looked like a hemp field. The train horn was sounding. It sounded like silence.
"I found this EV 664 in storage, it overloads like crazy. Something up with the capacitor or something."
I was intrigued. It reminded me of a Drive-through Bank Teller microphone from sometime before I was born. It had an red on/off switch.
I had mixed AMEN here but this was the first time recording.
He had the mic set up in the living room with the cable snaking back through the kitchen to his tiny closet of a mixing room.
He had it plugged into all kinds of shit ultimately dead ending into the reel-to-reel which had been lugged from here to the cottage and back for AMEN.
I can happily listen to the experts go back and forth all day on tape vs. digital, but there is something to be said for the sound of a specific tape machine and specific tape. I like the sound of tape, but the sound of this particular machine is like the scent of a familiar place.
For the last few weeks at Bomb Shelter I had been experimenting with free form metaphoric story-telling over purposefully iterated sonic frequencies in direct contrast to common convention. If consciousness was capable of being liberated, all theory would be shoved aside and only proof would exist after this moment.
I sat down in front of the mic. Rick from the control room. "You ready?". I did not need headphones to hear him. "Hello. i am an asterix. This song is called Don't Blame Me."
Each song received an introduction. Each song then became a manifestation of reality and a proof of eternal existence.
"OK, I'm out of tape! Nice work dude!"
That Summer's tour was indeed my last. After 2 years of following me around and sleeping at rest stops on reclined Camry seats. My wife had had enough. I cancelled my Southwest dates and we spent some time at the Grand Canyon reclaiming our relationship. I married an angel.
I dropped her off at the next major airport and picked up my dates heading through California. It was this month that I visited a small town in Northern California which subsist almost entirely on the market of things they make with a type of wood called 'Burl'.
I played a very interesting show there in a barn where I was paid in Dried fish and a Burl Sculpture. At an open mic in the nearby town of Eureka, the next night I put down the fictional name "George Burl" for my slot.
It was the following summer. While getting out of my car, a CD fell out. It was a burned CD with marker on the front "Juffage".
Ahh! My Juffage cache!
Juffage is a musician from Chicago that I met in Texas who now makes music out of the UK. I was an instant fan and have been glad to consider him a friend over the years.
He was one of the first people I every met that truly articulated the idea of Hi-Fi Reclusivity. His productions were more like artworks. Hard to find, limited edition and, for me, at least perishable, as I would give them away or lose them frequently.
Before I misplaced or gave away all of my physical merch I made a mix-tape of my favorite tracks. Then I lost it.
But now here it is! Scratched. Even cracked(?). Oh no. I try to put it in my player. Nothing but noise. Some of it, interesting.
That bottle Rocket from the previous year came screaming back around.
"So that's what it's like."
I dial Rick's number.
"Hey dude!" When this guy says "Hey dude!" it is one of my favorite phrases in the world.
"Are you interested in trying something interesting?"
"With you, it's always Interesting."
Rick agrees sight unseen to take his choice of demos recorded from the previous summer and play them over whatever sounds he could get from this damaged CD I was bringing him.
While I was listening to the final mix for the first time, I was scanning facebook and I saw a picture that a friend of a friend had 'liked' it was captioned "A Tiger with a machine gun riding a surfboard made out of tacos." That was the original title of "Noise".
In the comments I asked if I could use the picture as my new EP cover. He agreed. I lost his name. Twice.
After the album was put online, I emailed Juffage and explained to him that I needed permission to use samples from various records on an EP that I had already released. There was a long silence.
George Burl is a songwriter, producer and something akin to a record label. He is not a person. He is a pseudonym. A
philosophical experiment conceived in a small cottage in Nebraska, birthed in the Redwood forests of California and distilled in the hills of Tennessee....more