2016 – I Can’t Complain…
I know, everybody’s complaining about how 2016 was the worst year ever. Apparently I’m an anomaly.
Last things first… Celebrity deaths. I never met any of these people. We all die eventually. I certainly respect and value the contributions of musicians, actors, etc. but I don’t feel or think that I personally “lost” David Bowie. I can still listen to his music. The Beatles are very close to the top of my list of favourite music ever to come from planet Earth and make an impression on my tiny little life, but George Martin’s passing did not leave a hole in my heart. His gift to the world will last forever, and death cannot take that away. People’s reactions seem selfish in a way… Prince gave us all this amazing music, and we have the nerve to complain that we now can’t have more? We each have only so much to give.
The deaths that truly affected me are those closer to home… my Mum died 7 years ago. Death can feel so unfair and confusing. No amount of wishing can bring someone back, but we have our memories to be thankful for – memories of the person and their influence upon us.
It’s not that I’m completely uncaring towards the deaths of celebrities specifically, or strangers more generally. I guess my caring is mostly mental rather than emotional. Yesterday was a turnaround moment for me in this regard. I suddenly joined the club of celebrity mourners when Carrie Fisher died. This is not only a mental sadness for me, it’s emotional. I feel like I knew here even though she never knew me. Strange, huh? It makes me wonder if there’s something inherently twisted about televised entertainment, the way there’s a one-way connection that happens.
I’m sure it’s simple but I can’t explain it and I guess I don’t want to. Explaining is brain stuff, crying is heart stuff. I’m surprised to feel so strongly about it. I guess I’m a big baby. I was 6 when Star Wars was brand new, and of course I was swept up by all of it – including Princess Leia! I guess I was always prone to looking up to powerful, beautiful women. Some images impress the heart and never go away. I never met Carrie Fisher so I can’t really justify it, but I’ve been close to tears almost ten times in the last day-and-a-half. I just figured it out: on some unconscious level, I felt like Princess Leia was my older girlfriend even though she wasn’t. Haha – I was only 6!
I’m a real tough guy, so I know that the heart is inferior to the brain. This world is a hallucination.
For twenty years now, I’ve been using my own little record label, Ulusulu Music, to organize my original musical creations and present them to anyone who might get to hear them. This might sound vain, but I love my music. And so I should. Why would I make music that I don’t even enjoy? That would truly be a waste.
I love being meticulous about the technical details of my music, at the same time keeping aesthetic concerns paramount. So my procedure includes fine-tooth combing on the headphones and fixing any tiny little detail that grates on my nerves. The end result is that Lex Plexus is sometimes the only thing I can listen to. No arrogance intended. New album scheduled for 2017. Space-themed.
2016 saw the release of several albums on Bandcamp:
- “Sleepcaster EP” by Lex Plexus & Nix Nihil – This is a 2-song collaboration. Nix applied some very interesting wordage to a Lex Plexus instrumental called “Sleep, Cerberus” which then received an aesthetic re-working and became rather dark and epic. The other song, vocal industrial drum-and-bass, is called “Path of the Lightning Caster.” High energy stuff.
- “Cloaking Fog EP” by Crushing Complex – Sometime in approximately 2014, Craig McKay and I started jamming some metal stuff for fun. Then Justin Perfilow joined and we started writing a bunch of awesome riffs, then added a bassist and a vocalist. It was decided this was turning into a Crushing Complex reunion. We managed to pump out this little 3-song smasher before we all kind of drifted our separate ways.
- “Drone Day 2016 DJ Mix” by Sean Luciw – May 28 was “Drone Day.” I was going to organize an event but was too disorganized as usual. Luckily, Lorelle from Barnacle Records was kind enough to organize a nice little celebratory event, so I showed up and spun a bunch of my Solfeggio music and some other ambient Lex Plexus stuff. Technology allowed me to capture the moment and make it available.
- “Turn Down The Quiet” by Skullfinger – This is my big ambitious rock album, five years in the making. For a guy with no fans, I sure like to make a big deal about nothing. Seriously though, I feel like I can kiss my own biceps on this one.
- “Holographic Sun (beep boop recorded live at Kamloops Art Gallery)” by Lex Plexus – I was invited to play at the opening for an art exhibit of Jerry Pethick, a pioneer in holography at the Kamloops Art Gallery in July. I offered to play down-to-earth acoustic music, but the curator indicated that my experimental side is more than welcome. No complaints here! So I gave my Ableton rig an overhaul and prepared some tweaky space music… Yes!
- “Phi Day The 13th (beep boop recorded live at Barnacle Records)” by Lex Plexus – A few weeks later, Barnacle Records had their 1st birthday celebration on August 13, and I was invited to play more beep-boop. So I did! The bass was gargantuan.I performed with my back to the record-shopping audience so they could see what I was doing. A strange feeling, not being able to see the audience. It reminded of this one time about 15 years ago when I played as Lex Plexus in the kitchen at a house party, and I also had my back turned. Except that time was by accident, I hadn’t really thought clearly about how to set up my equipment. Ahhh. It’s kinda fun being weird sometimes. When I was telling Rónan from Barnacle about how the date August 13 divides the entire (leap) year exactly in the proportion of the Golden Mean, he pointed out something amazing: that makes it “Phi Day The 13th.” I flipped my lid, of course. I know the rest of the world celebrates Phi Day on 6/18 for obvious reasons, but my way is better because Phi is a ratio.
- “Ancient Solfeggio Tones” by Sean Luciw – These were actually released six years ago, but I just put them up on Bandcamp a few weeks ago.
If it seems like I’m bragging, I’ll just point out that I don’t push many copies. Like almost zero. Go ahead and laugh. Here’s a link to Ulusulu Music’s bandcamp page. Some of my albums are free download, some are paid.
I started a metal band this year called Volcano Calculator! Parameters: 8-string guitar , 5-string bass, drums – power trio. I write all the music and lyrics & sing. Lots of odd time signatures. Looking forward to gigging in the summer.
Thanks to the support of local businesses, thanks to the teamwork of some fine professionals I’ve been able to collaborate with, and thanks to me for doing my homework, I’ve had a very busy year of live musical performances in 2016 playing cover tunes. I even spun a few vinyls! Props out especially to Justin Bentley, Caitlin Goulet, KCBIA, Kamloops Burlesque, Central Station Pub Open Mic and Barnacle Records.
I also love teaching guitar, and my students are all great. Whoever said “those who can’t, teach” was an idiot. Teaching guitar has improved my musical knowledge, made me a better communicator and brought me the beautiful blessing of plentiful and diverse human interaction.
I’m living the dream over here. Fuck 9-to-5 slavery. Break the chains and live your dream!
I’ve been playing guitar for a long time but fast picking has basically eluded me. I’ve learned a lot of different ways of doing things, a lot of good ways, but this year I made some extra good bits of progress thanks to Troy Grady’s videos.
Accelerando Metronomo R.I.P. …
A few years ago I designed an Accelerating Metronome for PC computer (still available on my website seanluciw.com) and then a few years later, after I became part of the Apple cult by purchasing an iPhone and a MacBook Pro, I used Xcode to design Accelerando Metronomo, the iOS version. As always, it was thrilling and encouraging to be able to create something and put it out there in the world.
Who’s a good boy! I am. I’m a good boy.
In the last four or five years, the app sold just barely enough to cover the cost of making it available. Less than I’d hoped, but still worthwhile. I didn’t do it for the money. I did it because this thing needed to exist, and because, once I realized that it was possible for me to do it, I couldn’t not do it.
Far more frustrating is the fact that Apple issues all these “updates” to iOS. Each update caused some new problem for my iPhone 4S, and some other new problem for the app I made. As the developer it’s my responsibility to ensure the app stays functioning and presentable. Along with iOS updates, Xcode also needs updating. There came a point where my computer could no longer run the required version of Xcode. I do not enjoy this race against obsolescence. I was raised (spoiled, apparently) by a world that built stuff to last. I (probably) can’t afford the money or frustration required to replace everything I own every year or so. Partly on principle, I refuse. It’s fucking bullshit. So, unfortunately I decided to remove Accelerando Metronomo from the App Store.
I’ve been investigating Arduino and it looks very interesting.
I was invited to contribute audio editing to a local independent film, “Amba,” written and directed by Anton Shilka. The theme was dark and subversive and the visuals trippy… I couldn’t resist! It was a pleasure. I’m happy with the results. Also featuring music by Lex Plexus and Plastic Owl.
Gary Faustman and I created this short film called “Osmosis Unbeknownst,” and entered it into this year’s Kamloops Interior Short Short Film Festival. It was fun to make… the script and shooting were all done in a day. The editing seemed to take forever but I’d do it all again. Acting was fun too.
I could have a lot to say about this, but I want to maintain a beautiful mind so I’m going to try and keep it short. Since forever I’ve always bought into the idea that Canadians are less arrogant, less aggressive and less racist than Americans, but a couple of years ago I was disappointed when refugee-related news items were encouraging a lot of previously-hidden racism to bubble to the surface in the form of comments, etcetera, helping to smash some of my romantic notions about how great a place Canada is. Not to mention Harper’s tendency to destroy science and intellectuality, yada yada. I ignored Brexit but apparently it’s the same shit everywhere. Whatever happened to beautiful melting-pot inclusivity? Most people seem pretty cool in person.
So, when Trump won the election, yeah, I was like, this is a fucking embarrassment, what a clown show of a world we live in. Low quality, immature. However, my level of surprise was diminished by my prior disappointments. The world is fucked all of a sudden? Always was, probably is more like it. Some of us have just been lucky enough to live in a bubble, I guess. The bubble is being popped?
No. I refuse to let go of Utopian vision. It should be easy to create a beautiful world. Keep the love alive, people. Maybe Trump is pretending to be a jerk but he’s really going to fix everything. On purpose, or by accident. Wounds need air to heal. Humanity is wounded. We should be past a lot of this garbage. Standing Rock. Corporate influence. Some places are progressing. North America is looking like caveman territory. I’m going to stick my head in the sand and write music for awhile, and ignore the news.
I realize some of you really have had a crappy 2016, for various reasons. I don’t know what to say to make you feel better. A friend of mine, she always says, “This too shall pass.” It becomes more meaningful every time I have to think about it.
End of report.