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October 2011

Announcing Creative Commons release of "Victory in a Landlocked Sea" (podcast episode)

Click the gray box below to listen to the podcast discussing the album.

Abscondo Podcast - 39 - New Album Release

Click the album cover to listen to and download the album for free.

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 “Victory in a Landlocked Sea” is music for an ambitious generation in an uncertain era.  Ours is a generation of dream-seekers, adrift in a landlocked sea of limited possibility, but in search of the victory we have promised to ourselves. 

Each track on this album examines questions of love, place, and meaning within the context of a quest for beauty and happiness.  We want that more perfect, fulfilling life just as the systems we depend upon are beginning to fail us.  But rather than offering easy answers, the album sets out only to examine those never-ending struggles between planning and being, between commitment and freedom, and between practicality and desire.

The first track, “I’ll Die Smiling”, lays out the album concept both lyrically and sonically as it describes a search for that place of belonging, a search for the truth and bliss that can only be found in love, and a hunger that lasts until the day we die.  “I’ll Die Smiling” presents Abscondo’s radical stylistic departure from his successful 2008 acoustic release, “Midnight Snow.”  The album “Victory in a Landlocked Sea” is lush with piano, layers of weeping acoustic and electric guitars, nostalgic synths, ample sampling from Abscondo’s own life in Europe, and percussion sounds that were recorded in places around the world.

The next track, “I Created”, playfully manages to ponder the meaning of life within the context of religion and love.   “Running Wild” features Abscondo’s more acoustic style with a song that was written hours after his daughter was born.  “Different Future” describes the positive future that will eventually follow the financial and systemic crash that has already begun.  The album’s metaphorical title track, “Victory in a Landlocked Sea”, illustrates the insignificance of both our fear of the unknown and our desire for security by offering up the simple idea that “each moment is the only thing that ever means anything to me”.  As if to prove this point, the album’s next few tracks sweep us away from ideas and into the moment.

“Consciousness” describes an uneventful Saturday that is filled with the comforts and joys of love.  “86 Reasons” goes on to extend that Saturday well into the evening by describing the scene at some Abscondo solo performance in a smoky bar. 

“Truth Is” is a more upbeat rock song celebrating the unique bliss that can only be found in a relationship that achieves both full honesty and unconditional acceptance.  “Forbidden Curiosities” reminds us that, even in the best relationship, this state is often temporary.  It is easy to slip into moments of misunderstanding and loneliness.  “Lost in this Town” further acknowledges the feeling that we are all alone in a world where we don’t always belong.  “The Frost” offers a dark, dreamy soundscape that explores the pain felt by an artist who vividly perceives art and beauty just as real life relentlessly attempts to cloud that perception.  Finally, the book-end to the album is “Books Fall Apart”, which is a playful, melodic song celebrating how rare moments of beauty, love, bliss, and sunshine can so quickly and easily change all of our life structure and all of our life plans.

This is an album for an ambitious but uncertain generation.  Yet this recording project, itself, acknowledges the unique possibility of our times.  Even while our legacy institutions and systems are beginning to crash, we are empowered by new technological possibilities that are changing our content and our relationships.  We are only beginning to tap into the extraordinary intelligence of the networked collective.  One example is the extraordinary, unrealized potential of Creative Commons. 

Creative Commons isn’t just about releasing content for free; rather, it is about the idea that talent, hard work, and intelligence can produce better content than that which is well-funded and commercial.  Just like the folk music that existed long before the music industry came into being, good songs should live and evolve.  This album represents one artist’s vision for these songs, but we might all be curious to hear yours.  All of the source material has been made available to other artists here: http://www.abscondo.com/source.  If these songs inspire you, then make them your own!  Re-release them on Jamendo or work with me to find the right commercial channel for our creation.  The best version of each track on the album will be selected for the commercial release of the album on February 28th, 2012.  Enjoy!

 

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

#occupylondon protest pics and first-hand account

Sofia and I made it down to the protest in London's Financial District on Saturday and took a few pics. 

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A reporter from The Independent approached us for an interview.  His lead-in was, "Looking at the way you two are dressed today, I can't help but notice that it looks like you have some money.  What are you doing here?"  I told him that 99% is a big number that includes us and him too. 

He was right, Sofia and I weren't exactly dressed for protest, as I was in London on business.  But, as he continued, his biases became clear.  He had assumed that we were maybe confused passers-by and he was probably looking for a counter-protest story.  So we proceeded to educate him about the cause, about how the world's top elite use finance to enslave us as individuals and plunder nations.  He diligently took notes in shorthand. 

The interview couldn't have gone better.  We effectively made every key point we intended to, and the interview lasted more than 20 minutes.  I think he, as an individual reporter, really wanted to print the story.  He took down my information and we parted wondering whether any of these ideas would show up in Sunday's Independent.  As far as I know, the story did not appear with any of our quotes (I'm not surprised) but I can tell you that...judging by the look on his face in hearing the anti-establishment views of this software entrepreneur...it was a bit of a mind-fuck / re-education for this unsuspecting reporter. 

Here's a picture that Sofia took after the interview.

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The turnout wasn't bad, but it certainly could have been better.  The vibe was good.  It was as much an exchange of ideas or press conference than a protest.  We were surrounded by reporters open to the message and helicopters endlessly swarming above.  The police presence was large but I didn't notice any real problems during the time we were there.  But the real turn-out in London this Saturday was the shopper turn-out on Oxford Street (see pic below).

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Fun fun fun, right?

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

At this moment, in this branded world

At this moment, in this most luxurious hotel in London, I am paid to listen to Antony in the Johnsons on a stereo that is designed as complexity for complexity's sake in a room that I will never understand.  At this moment, after reading but two old poems by Oscar Wilde, I step from that bed in duty to write for writing's sake.  At this moment, in this country of brand-aware yet life-ignorant conformists, I mourn the death of thought, authenticity, and adulthood.

This week, I suffer not for art but for reality.  In my dreams, in this most cherished realm, I create to relieve us of our bleeding consumption.  In my waking, I contribute to that same polluted realm of normalcy.  I hope to succeed in accelerating the ugly so that it becomes unbearable enough to drive us to the beautiful and blissful.  Can we please destroy the ugly by exposing it as even uglier?

After a yesterday spent at Mercedez-Benz World...amongst a sea of brand-believers convinced by the roaring engines of destruction...unaware that "the best or nothing" is nothing but the worst for us...infantalized by the brand-good-time...the brand-are-you-alright?...the-brand-someday-please-buy!...I enthusiastically plant the mind-fuck seed at the feet of the desperate believers.  You sicken me, all of you British with your considerate and legalized infantalization.  I am a man, if perhaps one of the few inhabiting your streets, trains, and motor-ways this week.  I've seen you see me and yet you no longer remember.  Have you forgotten what a man is amongst this branded nightmare of illusion?

So retreat to your iPods, your iPads, your pink-shirted striped suits, your silly games, your .IamaBiggerTwatThanU.co.uk branded barf-bags, your utter nothingness in a life that has become a spectacle of digital fatigue masked with feigned enthusiasm.  I have stood without problem today, mocking dignity on a convention floor aside the Thames and I have spoken to you from the realm of invented absurdity with a lazy position of mockery; yet you saw and heard nothing of it.  You will even pay me for it and I will collect with a smirk.  I do not feel sympathy for your ignorance.  In this life I have seen both children and adults with real problems, with real feelings, and with real minds processing real things.  You're funny to me but not because you are as clever as you think.  You may possess realness, you clearly do not display it.  So I cannot account for it in my account of it.  You rank with the Japanese and the Americans.  You likely even lead this race to nowhere and we can only hope that your nowhere will save us with an illumination of your nothingness.  That is the only hope we are left with.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

The Consequence of Porn

Both men and women have our own varieties of porn, but the consequences of each are equally destructive.  Men like the kind of porn that, quite honestly, involves themes like fucking two hot Russians.  Women, on the other hand, are turned on by an entirely different kind of porn: the Hollywood “chick flick”. 

Of course I’m using the word “porn” loosely; while, at the same time, am absolutely equating these two “art-forms” (for lack of a better word) as the same damn thing.  Both the sex porn and the chick flick tap deep into our fantasy worlds and have the power to change the way we think.  They ultimately define what we think we want from life and subconsciously guide our most foolish of life decisions.  As discussed in the Abscondo Podcast called "Morality of Consequence", my value system is based on Consequentialism.  In this case, the consequence of porn being our collective inability to form healthy, fulfilling relationships and our tendency to destroy the relationships we do have.

Porn taps straight into fantasy…our wildest fantasies.  The recent Hollywood film starring Sarah Jessica Parker (probably the most famous female porn actress of all) is called “New Year’s Eve”.  I didn’t see this movie, but my wife did last night with her girlfriends.  This is a true chick flick, just like the thousands before it.  I asked her what it was about and she described a scene where the “Mr. Perfect” character turns down two younger women to chase after the older woman who has a child.  No scenario could make the point I’m about to make better than this scene (which I, admittedly, didn’t see and hopefully never will see first-hand). 

The fantasy being presented in any chick flick is that of the unrealistic man – the man who looks perfect, has the right profession, has the right apartment in Manhattan with the right view, and doesn’t rush sex until she’s ready.  His only purpose in the film is to ultimately please the female lead and make her life complete.  This is a guy who has no individual needs other than to chase the female character (who is usually slightly imperfect but that’s ok) to the airport before she leaves forever.  Music builds as he runs through traffic and jumps over cars without harming the perfect bouquet in his hand.  The end of the film is that ultimate moment when he commits to “forever” and all of her problems are solved.

The male porn, of course, is all about sex.  Lots of sex with unrealistically attractive women willing to do things no women would do if trying to satisfy her own sexual desires.  I’ll just simplify and call this “sex with two hot Russians”.  These two different kinds of porn have a deep influence on our relationships even before they begin.

Women are attracted to men to the extent that they are like Mr. Perfect in the chick flick.  Men know this works on women, and so we play the part in order to attract the girl.  But, in truth, men are attracted to women to the extent that she looks as sexy as the porn actress.  Women also know this, and might even look the part (and play the part in bed) in order to catch the man.  If successful, nature runs its course and our couple becomes obsessed with each other and falls in love.  This stage ends with the perfect like-in-the-movies proposal and the storybook wedding.

Now we have two people who are together mainly because a) they watched lots of porn and it had a huge influence on them, and b) they are each good at playing the part…at being what the other thinks they want.  But where is the authenticity in this relationship?  Who exactly are these two people as individuals?  How can they be happy over the long-term if they have just entered into a life in which they cannot be who they truly are?  If she gains weight, isn’t as exciting in bed, and no longer looks like she did when they met at the club…then she’s not living up to his fantasy.  Furthermore, a marriage based on life-long fidelity cannot possibly live up to his fantasy at all.  So what happens?  Many years go by and, despite progressing levels of disillusionment, our perfect couple has a few perfect kids.  But finally, he gives-in to his fantasy and leaves his family for the promise that he might one day actually have that sex with two hot Russians.  Will he have sex with two hot Russians?  Perhaps, if he goes to Amsterdam and pays for two hookers to act out his fantasy for him.  But then, after that…when he meets a real woman who he doesn’t pay…what does this future woman want?  She wants the same thing his wife does: Mr. Perfect in the movie. 

Similarly, after many years tolerating her husband watching football, drinking beer, getting fat, looking at beautiful women walking by, forgetting anniversaries, ignoring her emotional needs, and refusing to go see chick flicks…she also might decide that she’s had enough.  She’s still young, after all, and there must be a guy out there who more closely resembles Mr. Perfect in the movie.  So she might decide to break up the family for no other reason than her naïve and unrealistic hope that she will meet this other guy…this Mr. Perfect in Manhattan who will (if she’s lucky) succeed at temporarily projecting the same fantasy her husband did originally (at first) but who really wants, deep down, to fuck two hot Russians.

The point is that if we get carried away with our porn-fueled fantasies…if we allow porn to shape our expectations, desires, and life decisions…then what we are left with are lots of beautiful but unhappy children asking what daddy did to mommy or what mommy wants from daddy that he can’t give.  All around us we have lots of otherwise intelligent, beautiful, potentially happy and content people going into their 30’s, 40’s, and into the rest of their lives lonely, watching lots of porn, and wondering when they are going to live the life they were promised in the porn.  They won’t.

Our relationships, instead, should be based on perceiving the other person, accepting loved ones for who they truly are, and being honest with each other about who we really are and what we really want.  In short, our love-life should be an expression of our authentic selves.  It should be so deep and unique that it cannot be understood by the outside world.  This kind of love is not “of” the outside world; rather, it exists in a universe that is created, from scratch, by two people.  It should be an exploration of our deepest feelings, needs, and even fantasies.  It should also involve calling-out the other person when they are full of shit.  It should embrace constant growth and change.  In love, we must never mistake the warm, living-and-breathing person who is giving his or her life and entire being to you…we must never confuse that person for the cliché images on the screen.  

Women: there are no perfect men in Manhattan waiting to meet you just so they can exist only to please you.  Men: there will never be two hot Russian friends willingly kissing each other and waiting for you to enter the room.  Let’s make this work in reality.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

The real rebels

I couldn't agree more with this piece from Adbusters:

"The next real literary “rebels” in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles. Who treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in US life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and hip fatigue. These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naïve, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the “Oh, how banal.”"

David Foster Wallace | Adbusters Culturejammer Headquarters.

Posted by Mark Manney (mark.manney@infobeing.com).