Axis Mundi “Popular Music We All Love” and other tracks…

After hearing me mention it in an interview, someone on Facebook asked if my music was available. I’ve performed in two bands proper – URILLIAsekt and Axis Mundi. There isn’t much from URILLIAsekt available but Axis Mundi was sort of my solo project and I do have a few tracks from that. I admit, I cringe a bit on listening to some of these, but for what they are and the time I was doing them, it works decently well. Here is a bit of history I wrote some time around 2002:

Kevin

Axis Mundi was formed as a solo project in 1998 after Joe Morgan and myself dissolved URILLIAsekt. URILLIAsekt has a bootleg video that has been passed around infrequently, but there was no official releases.

I first recorded under my own name “Kevin I. Slaughter”, releasing a cassette tape limited to 9 copies. These nine copies were given out and I think that I’ve lost my own version of it. Shortly after this Heather Fraser began wirking with me on music and in performances, and I released “Popular Music We All Love”

Heather

“Popular Music…” is a compilation of tracks from the first 4 years of Axis Mundi’s musical work. It has been the only full length release to date, and currently we plan on it being the only one.

The CD has been released 4 times in an “official” capacity (whatever that may mean), with each version being slightly different. I have my own very convoluted “artsy-fartsy” reason for doing this, and if you ever meet me and don’t know what to say, you can bring this up and that’ll be good for at least a few minutes of conversation.


I uploaded the tracks to Soundcloud.com so they are available once again (warts and all), and they’re in the last known order/arrangement.

Even the most doltish listener will quickly pick-up on the fact that I stole existing music and sounds with impunity. Most of the work present is more of a collage than song-writing, and at no point do I make the claim of originality or talent for that matter. My most frequently used equipment was a couple of tape decks and a primitive sampler.

The track “Transitional Pulse” is just that, a marker between older tracks and newer (at the time of release).  Some of the tracks are effectively soundtracks to films unmade, some only make sense when they were performed live. There was always a heavily visual aspect to my performances. “Man Sun” is literally a soundtrack to a video, it was a school project where we had to manufacture our own “creation myths”, so I chose the concept of Helter Skelter and produced a psychedelic video montage and the audio that appears here.

“Brocken” was a live performance of Matt G. Paradise’s “A Night on the Brocken” ritual, published originally in his magazine “Not Like Most.”

“Frustration” is a recording of a Dorothy Parker poem, with guitar by Erin C. It’s followed by a sort of remix from a performer I worked with at the time.

The last track is a recording I made of reading an excerpt from a Barnaby Conrad book on bullfighting. .

Axis Mundi “Popular Music We All Love” by Kevin I. Slaughter

Flyer for my 24th birthday show.

I also found a review penned by Tracy Twyman, and I believe it ran in her magazine Dagobert’s Revenge:

Popular Music We All Love
review by Tracy Twyman

Joseph Campbell defined the Axis Mundi as, “the imagined axis linking the Earth’s surface with the lower world (Hell) and the upper world (Heaven) at the metaphoric center of the Earth.” And that is exactly what this CD does, taking you on a trip from the depths of infernal madness and obsessive compulsion, on through the profane and unhallowed mire of our mundane, temporal existence, across the vast, chaotic chasm of Choronzon known as the Abyss, and on into that ineffable and sacrosanct region which we call the Divine, all done in a process of three stages which can be interpreted to represent those three levels of being which I have just described. And yet, oddly enough, the songs on this CD were never meant to be together. As the liner notes explain, “Popular Music’ Is a compilation of tracks derived from live performances and home taping sessions… This is not intended as a standard album, but merely a reflection of an ongoing process.” It is mostly the work of one Mr. Kevin Slaughter, known for his program on the Radio Free Satan broadcast network, along with some help from Heather Fraser and unnamed others.

The first track, “Sound of Music”, is a good example of what it would be like to play your Fisher Price Tone-a-Phone in the sewer. The next track, “Her Muse”, is one of those “depraved ravings” pieces in the vein of Sisyphus Autopsy, written from the point of view of a stalking ex-boyfriend who has captured his prey and is now trying to convince her, probably at gunpoint, that they belong together. On “Thanks for the Memories”, someone mumbles incomprehensibly over an instrumental of “A Kiss is Still a Kiss”, an over-modulated version of “Funky Cold Medina”, and a soup of various static-filled samples. “Popular Media” is perhaps the most wry in its humor, an actual recording of Kevin Slaughter calling up a radio talk show to discuss “racialist music”, including the moronic comments made by the host of the program. And in “Mi Amore”, women scream as their bodies are cast into the flaming pits of Hell. The last track, “Man Sun”, is very interesting, as the narrator explains concepts of infinity, eternity, God, Abraxas, dualism, unity, and equilibrium, mixed with reenactments of speeches made by Charles Manson and his followers. As more of a “stream of consciousness” piece than an act of premeditation, this compilation works very well. I’d like to see what they do when they plan it out ahead of time. A more standard full-length CD entitled, Love Songs, is scheduled for release in the coming months.

 

In addition, while I was at it at least, I’ve uploaded some miscellaneous tracks that were never released properly. First is an unfinished recreation of a novelty album first released on 78 titled “Hard to Get“. I don’t know the orig. artist name or anything at this point, but the female voice is my dear friend Erin:

Hard To Get by Kevin I. Slaughter

And finally (unless I find other junk on my hard drive to append here), this is a track created for an HP Lovecraft tribute compilation CD that was cut from the final release. The title of the track is “Invocation Inebriation“:

Invocation Inebriation by Kevin I. Slaughter

 

“What is Satanic” and art in Detroit…

I’ve posted a short excerpt from my lecture on Wednesday, and made a post on Underworld Amusements. Please go there to view the video and see a few related photos.

Here I will post  a few photos from the Detroit Institute of Arts. I was very impressed with the collection, and was able to spend quite a few hours there yesterday. I had used up nearly all of my 16 gig memory card with video from the lecture, so I was using my backup 1 gig card forcing me to be very selective in taking photos. Either way, these are some of the works that I wanted to look at again when I got home….

#phonar | task1 | “It just ain’t nachural, I tells ya.”

I spent a little bit of time this morning completing my first task for #phonar. Details can be found in a previous blog post.

Below is the copy I wrote for the spread. It’s a wee bit heavy handed, but it’s better than lorem ipsum. Also, I proofed as best I could… full refund if not satisfied.

IT JUST AIN’T NACHURAL, I TELL YA.
IT AIN’T RIGHT

WILLIAM MORTENSEN, WEEGEE, DIANE ARBUS, AND
THE ANONYMOUS PHOTOGRAPHERS OF LOW-END NUDIES

Written and Edited by Kevin I. Slaughter

The styles and processes couldn’t be more different. The motivations varied from a desperate bid to make quick cash to cultivating a truly unique and painstaking artistic vision. And yet, there is something familiar in all of these photographs, something most people don’t want to see.

People often have a visceral response to these images. They often evoke one of our strongest instincts – disgust. We see the “other”, the thing outside of ourselves that we want to keep away. From ugliness to retardation, from morbidity to degeneration.

And yet, we look. Maybe after some initial reflexive response, where we turn away or close our eyes, but we still look and often stare.

Possibly an evolutionary response, knowing one’s enemy.  A gazelle will watch the cheetah, because if the cheetah comes to close, it means death. The same can be said about degeneracy, though in a more abstract way.

It is natural to hate and fear the “other”. People deny this aspect of nature because they want nature to behave how they think it should, instead of how it is.

It is also natural to fool one’s self, to live a lie that what you have is good, even when it’s flawed or ugly or broken. Objectivity is always elusive in the human mind, and being presented with an uncomfortable objective truth sparks an irrational mental war on that truth.

There is a constant struggle in the public sphere to take control of “nature”, of what it means. A constant push of this priest or that politician to couch their beliefs into a frame that is on the side of nature, be it one that “god” created, or one that evolved.

The one objective truth about nature that we know is that it works completely independently from our wants and needs. What is good, or right, or beautiful has nothing whatsoever to do with what can and will occur.
Nature is what is.

Craft Project :: DIY Lightbox

I’ve been meaning to build one of these for a while, but upgrading my camera and my wife starting her etsy store and needing me to photograph stuff for it gave me the impetus.

Some cheap wood, a scrap of PVC sheeting, a $4 white sheet from the thrift shop and here’s what I’ve got so far:

I’m not getting enough light, and since I’d broken a few bulbs in the past few days I had 3 different types of bulbs in the 4 lights.

I clamped the sheet on because I’m not sure of the best way to secure it, or even if that’s the right kind of sheet to use. The point is to diffuse the light, but I don’t want to block too much of it either.

I may need to partially cover the front of the box  to bounce some of the light back in.

Raising the dead…

Background HERE. Post informed guesses as to years/location in comments below.

 

UPDATES/OBSERVATIONS:

Coop thinks the Model T’s are from 1915-16 and 1917-18. I hadn’t realized they were even different cars.

Picture 2 of 28 – “This is a 1915 or 1916 Model T.”

Picture 3 of 28 – “This one is at least a ’17 or ’18 Model T, but I’m not schooled enough to spot the minor differences, and they were pretty similar year to year. The main difference from the earlier T in the other photo is the embossed grille shell, stamped fenders and the rounded hood.”

Scott Huffhines “digs up” the following:

Re: the graveyard shot. Definitely from Maryland since she was referenced in a 1944 Sun obit (which I didn’ want to pay for).
http://tinyurl.com/claraditman
My guess the obit was for one of her children or relatives but not for her.

Rob Sherwood:

Number 3 has a license plate, which reads “OHO 256825 1920” I think. I’m researching that, assuming that OHO refers to “Ohio” and 1920 is a date.

Looking at “http://www.worldlicenceplates….“, the OHO is common in ohio but a 6 digit plate number is only listed on the 1921 license plate.

Christopher Mealie:

What a great find. Nice scans too. From clothing and autos they seem to be 1910s.

 
A reader named “Jack” that wasn’t able to post for some reason peels a sharp eye on the scenes:

I’m sorry to get this to you via email, but I was unable to post comments when I logged in. These are interesting. You may have already noticed these things, but…

I think the woman in photo 20 is the same woman years later in photo 23 who is sitting on the right. She has the same mouth and the same hairdo. Although the hairdo was probably common back then, the facial similarities seem convincing.

The dog in photo 23 appears to be the same one sitting next to the boy in photo 19. The boy in photo 19 looks like the toddler in photo 27.

The man sitting on the left with the woman’s arm around his shoulders is the same guy standing in the middle in photo 24. Judging by that dimple on his chin and his overall looks, he is also the same guy wearing the hat in photo 11. That could also be him on the horse in photos 13 and 15.

The same little boy appears in photos 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 12. There may be some more repeat subjects but I’m not sure.

The rustic wooden bench in photos 20 and 21 is interesting. That would be a cool heirloom to have, eh? This isn’t really important, but the bench seems to have moved when you compare it’s position relative to things near it on the ground such as twigs, holes in the dirt, etc. Based on the way the man and the woman are dressed in those two shots, I’m thinking they may have gone to church that day. If so, then the paper leaning up against the leg of the bench may be the program for that day’s service. I’m not enough of a historian to know if churches could afford to do that back then though.

 

Nerd Project No. 1920 :: Analog + Digital = <3 (scanning glass negatives)

It’s been a little while since I posted a project. The last one might have been my Accordion Box that I refurbished. Yesterday I found three boxes of 5×7″ and 4×6.5″ glass negatives at a local junk shop that I stop in at least once a week. The place mainly deals with estates, so you never know what’s going to come in the door.

Being, well, me… I looked quickly at a few of the slides, asked for a discount on all three boxes (they were marked $4 each, but they gave ’em all to me for $9) and then spent my Saturday morning scanning them and then doing a small amount of color correction in Adobe Lightroom, and now this afternoon putting them online.

The photos themselves will go into a post by themselves, but I did document the process a bit for here.

I WOULD like some assistance, if you’re inclined, in dating and locating these images. There are a ton of clues in the images for the keen observer. Please use the comments section to make suggestions (and give reasons).

Being the weirdo I am, I own a few bags of cotton gloves for occasions just like this. I also have a few other things laying around that I used in the process, as I’ll detail below.

Two of the negatives were broken, and many had deteriorated  or had some decay going on. I did my best to wipe off the dust and smudges on the glass side, and did a gentle wiping of the emulsion side. I suppose I could have looked online to see what should be done to clean these properly, but I didn’t. I did quite a bit though.

I tool some thick matteboard and cut a template out so that I could place the negatives in the scanner consistently.  I know I’ve got some plastic templates that they provided, but had no idea where a “cleaned them” to last time (to the spot I’m sure I thought I’d never forget).

 

There are three boxes, but the third wit the smaller negatives had no printing like these.

Here is one of the negatives on the scanner with the template. The template needs to be removed before the scan starts.

Just because, here’s the top of my scanner.

Holding up a negative, in case you’ve never seen such a thing.

Once the negatives were scanned, I took some packing sheets and cut them down to size to insert into the top and bottom.

 

Then I took some archival storage bags and put the boxes in them.

Now that I have everything scanned, I’d be willing to donate the negatives to either a museum, historical society, or the living family. One of the photos is a grave marker, so there’s a name to go on. If I can figure out a region, that’d narrow it down.

Oh, and the “1920” in the post title isn’t really a guess, but it sounds good.

MY FAVORITE PICTURE by William Mortensen

Scanned from Popular Photography, December, 1939.

MY FAVORITE PICTURE by William Mortensen

This brilliant photographer, famed for his spectacular and dramatic effects, selects as his favorite work a picture that achieves effectiveness and charm through simplicity.
THIS, I think, is my favorite picture. Although I made it a good many years ago, my pleasure in it has not grown less, but rather in­creased. Many more spectacular “masterpieces” that excited me tre­mendously at the time have long since found their way into the ash can.
It lasts so well, I believe, because it expresses a universal idea with­out straining after symbolism—the close relationship of the eternal feminine and the fertile earth. One reason that it turned out so satis­factorily was the particular joy that went into its making. There was no especially laborious preparation: “Today we shall make a picture to be called ‘Woman of Languedoc.’ “
Instead we just took a few bits of costumes and went out to get some pictures. Everything was just right. The day pleased me, the light pleased me, the model pleased me very much. I was even pleased with myself. And, finally, the pic­ture pleased me. She looked rather like a French peasant, so we called her “Woman of Languedoc.”
Nietzsche said: “What is good is easy; everything divine runs with light feet.” Lots of hard work may go into a picture, yet it must come off easily. That which is consum­mated in dull drudgery cannot help but be dull.
“Woman of Languedoc” is a miniature shot, made with a Model F Leica camera. It was taken out­doors when the sunlight was con­siderably softened by an overcast sky. The print was made by the bromoil transfer process.

“DE-PERSONALIZE” YOUR PICTURES by William Mortensen

I’ve scanned and converted the following from Popular Photography, Feb. 1941.

——

DE-PERSONALIZE YOUR PICTURES

You can improve your pictures by showing less in them. Fig. 1 (right) is cluttered up with personal detail. Fig. 2 (above), which the author titled "Nemesis of Childhood," is a "de-personalized" version of the same subject. Note how much more interesting it is.

WE all realize that there is an im­portant difference between good photographs and good pictures.
A fine photograph wins our admiration as a piece of work well done. But, having admired it, we are anxious to get on to something else.

A real picture, however, is just as in­teresting a week from now as it is today—even more interesting. A picture brings us satisfaction that is far deeper than the superficial admiration that we ex­tend to mere technical excellence.

In this series of articles we are discuss­ing some of the qualities that contribute to good pictures. Pictorial excellence is not altogether a matter of composition—although sometimes we are assured that it is. Much of pictorial excellence is in­herent in the subject matter itself. In finding a picture, at least 75 per cent of the job is finding your subject and the best way of approaching it with your camera.

Last month I indicated the four qual­ities that subject matter should possess in order to lend itself to the making of good pictures. It must be

  1. unified
  2. impersonal
  3. timeless
  4. essential

Last month we discussed how best to find unity in subject matter. We will now consider ways to steer clear of its purely personal aspects.

fi3. 3 (left) shows the result of too much "expression." To avoid extremes like this, catch your subjects face in repose, as shown in Fig. 4 (above). Fig. 5 (right) is an ordinary picture of an individual. Note how the subject has been "de-personalized" by distortion, used to make his face longer in Fig. 6 (above).

To be of lasting interest, pictures must have universal appeal. This expert tells you how to avoid the personal elements that are not important to anyone but yourself.

First—a warning. It is important to understand that at this time we are not concerned with portraiture. Photographic portraiture, by its very intent, is limited in its appeal. Conventional portraits are made to conform to the subject’s vanity and for the indulgent admiration of friends and relatives. The usual portrait, there­fore, speaks in the most restricted of per­sonal terms. Insofar as a portrait be­comes a picture, it must transcend the limits of personality. It must have some broad appeal that will make it of interest to others beside the subject’s friends and relatives. No matter how good a tech­nical job it is, it must have something more than mere photographic accuracy to make it a real picture.

To illustrate this point, let us consider the case of a man you’ve undoubtedly met; we’ll call him “Joe.”
He corners you on the 8:15 local, at the office, in the locker room, or even on the street. With a fanatical gleam in his eye, he pulls forth a little bundle of prints.

“Hiya, Bill,” he says eagerly. “Want to see some swell pictures? I took them of Junior, on his birthday.”

Interpreting your expression of resig­nation as consent, he plunges ahead. “Now, this one shows him on the front steps. He moved a little, but you can see how big he is getting. Here he is with his birthday cake. It’s a little underex­posed of course, but that’s Junior right there. Now, here’s a really good shot of him riding his tricycle—`tike,’ he calls it. By the way, did I tell you the cute thing he said the other day when I was giving him his bath? . . . Oh, I did? . . . Well, this picture—Oh Boy!—wait till you see this one! It shows him when. . . .”

And so on and on—as long as you can stand to listen to it. Now, Joe is really a nice guy, and a fairly good amateur pho­tographer as well. But when he is in one of his “did-I-show-you-these” moods, people carefully sidestep him. The prints are really not so bad, and Junior is obvi­ously well fortified with vitamins and destined to grow up to be a good citizen and a leading light in his community—but there is not a picture in the lot.. Pa­rental pride and pictorial discrimination rarely go hand-in-hand. It is obvious that Joe is interested in Junior only for Junior’s sake—not as subject matter for real pictures.

Junior’s parents are primarily inter­ested in his personal aspects—matters of profound indifference to the general pub­lic. But—it is important to note—Ju­nior also can be pictorially presented. Note, for example, Roy Pinney’s first-prize print, “Hunger Strike,” which ap­peared in the December issue of POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY.

Of course, the camera does the personal and particular with great ease. When it is well done, we like this sort of thing, just as we enjoy a bit of gossip—what he said, and what she said, and what I heard about her first husband. But mere gos­sip, however amusing, will not make lit­erature—nor will the photographic equiv­alent of gossip ever produce a picture. Nevertheless, we like this photographic gossip. We like it so well, in fact, that the biggest publishing bonanza of the century has been found in various picture magazines that tell us, in thousands of undistinguished photographs, just what he said, and what she said, and give us the very specific low-down on her first husband.

We like these gossipy photographs—but we don’t like them for very long. We must have fresh, more intimate, and more personal items if our interest is to be kept up. To find any sort of perma­nent pictorial interest, we must abandon our quest for the merely personal. We must seek a more detached viewpoint and learn to evaluate subject matter in other than personal terms. In order to make pictures, we must “de-personalize”—if I may coin a word—our subject matter.

Here, I want to outline four ways in which this “de-personalization” may take place. There are numerous other possi­bilities, of course, but the discussion of these four should bring out the general procedure.

The first of these methods consists of avoiding or eliminating personal elements in the environment or background. En­vironment tells us a great deal about the personality of the person who creates it or lives in it—but the things it tells us be­long largely to the category of gossip, which we described above. Life, for ex­ample, is very fond of showing us people —people of all ages and conditions of life, in their completely detailed, native en­vironment. There is no gainsaying the vividness of these photographs as social records, but they should not be taken as pictorial standards. The very complete­ness of their backgrounds destroys their value as pictures.

Fig. 1 might be taken as typical of this sort of fully-realized background. If it appeared in a picture magazine, it might have some such caption as this: “Miss Grace Willoughby, teacher of the third grade in the Avenue A Elementary School.” Here is plenty of environment and background, but it is all particular and peculiar to Grace Willoughby of Avenue A. If there is a picture any­where about, we cannot see it because there is too much Grace.

How shall we go about dealing with this too-personal environment? One way would be to eliminate it completely and photograph the figure in front of a plain black or white background. This solu­tion is sometimes useful, but it is too simplified and too drastic for most occa­sions. Backgrounds are very valuable pictorial elements, but they must be re­duced to their most simple and important elements.

Fig. 2 shows us one solution of the school-teacher problem. Here we have some of the same elements of environ­ment as those that appear in Fig. 1—the desk, the ruler, the book—but in Fig. 2 they are used as symbols of the “Nemesis of Childhood” rather than as part of the personalized clutter of Miss Grace Wil­loughby.

The personal element has been elim­inated from Fig. 2. It is not any particu­lar teacher in any particular school on any particular day. It is simply an alarmed child’s impression of the “Peda­gogical Presence.” Fig. 2 is, in a word, a picture; Fig. 1 certainly is not.

This, then, is our first suggestion for the “de-personalization” of subject matter:

Reduce personal detail of back‑ground or environment to symbolic elements.

The second method of escaping from the purely personal limits of subject mat­ter has to do with the expression of the model. An excess of expression always limits a picture, because it brings the model’s personality to the fore. A good picture is impossible when the model in­sists on throwing her personality at the camera through her eyes and teeth. There is much more likelihood of getting a pic­ture from a face in repose than from one that is the parade ground for all sorts of emotions. Such transitory expressions are likely to assume a violent or hyster­ical aspect when fixed in glassy perma­nence by the camera.

Even a somewhat standardized theatri­cal expression such as that displayed in Fig. 3 is a bar to pictorial representation. Personality is again insisted upon, even though it is “phony.”

How much better pictorially is Fig. 4, in which the model does not throw her­self at you.

Here we have the second suggestion for the “de-personalization” of subject mat­ter:

Avoid too much “expression” in your model.

The third method of reducing the per­sonal implications of subject matter is the use of distortion by projection control.

Any sort of graphic representation in­volves some degree of distortion. Even a straightforward photograph like Fig. 5 is distorted, for the colors of the original have been reduced to a scale of grays, and the three dimensions have been reduced to two. But a distortion of form, such as the elongation shown in Fig. 6, helps us to attain a much greater degree of de­tachment. Fig. 5 is a very indifferent sort of portrait. Fig. 6, however, is effec­tive as a picture. And it does not owe its effectiveness to the fact that it represents any particular person.

Note that such distortion is effective only when it stresses inclinations already inherent in the subject. In this respect it follows the technique of selective exag­geration practiced by the cartoonist. The length of face noticeable in Fig. 5, for ex­ample, is given pictorial exaggeration in Fig. 6.

Thus, the third suggestion for the “de­personalization” of subject matter is the following:

Make occasional use of distortion as a means of effective emphasis of the qualities of the subject.

A fourth valuable method of reducing the personal implications of the subject is afforded by the choice of the angle from which the subject is photographed.

A child, when he first attempts to draw the human countenance, tries his hand at a full-face representation—an irregular oval with squiggles for eyes, nose, and mouth. A little later he tries a profile—an arrogantly jutting nose, with dashes to indicate mouth and eye. He isn’t con­cerned with ideas of personality; he sim­ply draws faces. It is considerably later in his career, if ever, that he essays the complications of the three-quarter angle.

In like manner, the maker of pictures who is interested in faces rather than personality will do well to cultivate these two primitive angles—the full face and the profile. The faces about us are most familiar when seen in some variant of the three-quarter angle. This is the angle usually favored by conventional portrai­ture, and is most clearly bound up with ideas of personality. On the other hand, the purely pictorial values of a face are most frequently realized in profile or full-face representation.

Another use of angle is shown in Fig. 2. The low viewpoint enhances the impres­sion of detachment, so that the figure of the school teacher looms implacable and as impersonal as the multiplication table.

The fourth suggestion, therefore, is:

Reduce the personal implication of subject matter by careful choice of the angle of presentation.

Wise application of these four sugges­tions is certain to improve your pictures. When you get to working with them, they undoubtedly will bring to light other means toward the same ends. For­get about them when you are taking por­traits, but use them to best advantage when you are after real pictures.