Soundtrack for the morning:
The Spiraling World of Pop by Bill Doss.
This is the first solo release from the guy who would go on to start The Olivia Tremor Control with Jeff Mangum and Will Cullen Hart.
It's Elephant 6, before Elephant 6 was really even a thing. In many ways, it's the prototype for what that collective would go on to produce. In some ways, it's the Doss's Neutral Milk Hotel.
In all ways, it's loosey-goosey, lo-fi bedroom pop.
E6 is one of those weird things in my mind in that they were very nearly a local phenomenon to me (I mean, I don't live near Athens, GA, but I live near enough to Athens, GA.) and lots of the associated names are friends of friends or people who I used to run in to at coffee shops and shit.
But I also started listening to the stuff they were putting out (other than Signal in the Sky, which aired on television regularly when I was a child) after they stopped putting things out.
It's bizarre, really, to be able to step in to someone else's local music scene and see it so thoroughly documented and recorded.
Nearly every side project and impulse is accounted for. Stuff that was barely distributed in quantities of a few hundred back in the day is Widely available today.
And that's wonderful, because it's wonderful music. I'm glad it's widely available.
But it's also just a little scary for me, because their success was (in large part) down to luck and personal connections.
They appeared to be everywhere all at once because they were a big, inclusive network of talented creatives spread across a couple of mid-sized cities who, when one found success, lifted one another up.
They made a lot of things because they wanted to make them, and they kept making things because they wanted to make them. And they stopped making things because they didn't want to make them anymore, or maybe because too many people were paying attention?
There was an explicit anti-consumerism in their choices, there was a rejection of profit for profit's sake (Jeff released an album when he had something to say, and when he started receiving mainstream attention, he stopped performing. tOTC famously feuded with their little label about titles and covers and just generally releasing things because their label wanted to be successful and tOTC wanted to make art.)
Anyway, I don't want to pretend that what we're doing is in any way equivalent to e6, but I have a network of musicians who bounce around between one another's bands and work out of a weird cheap studio with a couple of house engineers to record music that, while all wildly different, has a common thread to it. We've been working together for a long time, and some of us are finding success in various places, carving out a niche and finding national distribution and international acclaim and ...
And all the while we're making weird TV shows and teaching people to make art, and really just making the most of the whole idea of a creative community where we lift one another up and work together to make art.
My dumb impulses are turned in to big creative works in a few days or weeks. We record audio and shoot video all the time.
"I appreciate SDF but it's a general-purpose server and the name doesn't make it obvious that it's about art." - Eugen Rochko