A musing on disquiet and simple acts of psychic upheaval

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It occurs to me — over and over again, because I never learn, and usually at the least opportune moments, but I digress — that the primary reason I procrastinate and stall and make excuses and put off trying or fucking doing anything (besides being rooted, as all things are, in Fear) is that I get caught up in the percieved or apparent enormity/entirety of a thing, I overwhelm myself with obsessive monolithic dissection, I let loose the mental patients in my head, and we fucking bathe in the feces encrusted misery of our own paranoid compulsive immersion. The thing becomes an uncontrollable beast in the china shop of my perception before I even have a chance to move.

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Take the act of meditation, for example. On a logical level, I understand and have even experientially witnessed the spiritually, emotionally, and physically healing properties of meditation. I know that practicing zazen would be the first best thing for me to be doing in this time of psychological disquiet and uncertainty. But, I am automatically consumed by the entire Universal scope of the idea of Enlightenment and peace and unity and understanding and nirvana and sublimely perfect cosmic alignment. And so I can’t see the forest for the trees. I am too caught up in obsessiving anxiously over the details of neurotic insignificance and distractifying minutia, and I am blinded to the simple, obvious beauty and wonderfully flawed delicate perfection of each magical moment.

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So, today, an experiment. An exercise in detached observational experience and willful, conscious presence. I read something that, as with all of the most profound truths, seems so obvious now. Meditation doesn’t have to be the ritualistic, solemn, esoteric act of spiritual perfection that I sometimes picture it to be in my muddled mind. The simple act of observing and experiencing one’s thoughts without reaction to them is an act of meditative contemplation. My intention for today is to attempt to allow my thoughts and emotions to flow freely through me, but rather than react to them and allow them to direct my behavior and feelings, I will practice at simply observing these thoughts and emotions, analyzing and attempting to understand them, and in this way perhaps I can arrive at a deeper understanding of myself and my place in these moments.

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And when I inevitably step off and engage and allow myself to become consumed with some neurotically poisonous snowballing wreckage, I must simply acknowledge, reset, and try again! This all seems so simple on paper…or LCD screen, as the case may be.

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© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Manic Conversations By The Ryan, With The Ryan

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– I have that Thou song stuck in my head again.
– It’s a Nirvana song.
– Sure, but it’s the version Thou recorded that’s stuck in my head.
– Our head.
– Right. OUR head.
– Always is. Nirvana is catchy shit, even when DOOMED the fuck out.
– Hell, especially when DOOMED the fuck out!

– Blackened DOOM, they call it. DOOM sludge. Muck metal. Motherfucking swamp grind!
– Yeah…you ever wonder what would have happened had we gone to Tulane?
– We’d be dead. Just like every other scenario that isn’t this one. You always think this is the darkest timeline, but really it’s the best one.
– What if we’re dead now? Maybe we didn’t beat the train.
– Now don’t start that again!
– Hahahaha! Jungle Book is awesome…

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© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A musing on restlessness and complacency, with Apes of Gloom

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Every time I find myself, I get complacent. And then, of course, parts of me get restless. They wander off again and get lost. This time I want to do a better job of putting me all together and moving forward.

#TimeToChange

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”

– Siddhārta Gautama Buddha

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© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Catastrophic Purge of Torment Into Oblivion: The Body & Thou Lay Burden Upon Existence

The Body Thou Hatred Collab CD Cover

I awoke this morning with a powerful craving for fresh vinyl. I knew not why; I knew not for which specific piece of pressed wax I was searching. I knew only that there was The Calling, and that I needed to, once again, comb through my personal back-catalogue of music and film, identify some long-suffering hangers-on with which I could be convinced to part, and run that shit on down to the local Zia Records. STAT. This was a mission from the gods, that much was certain — but WHICH ONES?!

As it would turn out, the answer to that question had been heralded by the semi-apocalyptic swath of late winter/early spring storm weather to blanket the landscape of our scattered and scarred homelands. For our purposes here in SoAz, that storm manifested itself in a weighted, churning torrent of DOOM clouds, oppressive blankets of humidity, and the merciless, cleansing deluge brought down in tears from the heavens. So. Much. GLOOM. The relatively sunny disposition of the morning which greeted me this day would belie the terrible discovery I was soon to make.

Though guided by the hand of Beelzebub himself, no sooner had I dropped of my trade items to be reviewed and processed than I found myself standing before the looming magnificence of Zia Oracle’s “New Vinyl” stand. There she was, the Virgin Mother of our Megalomaniacal Saviour Herself, Mary “Joe’s Girl” Christ, in stunning portraiture. In one of those innumerable moments of chance and destiny, I nearly turned away disinterested to go peruse some dusty, forgotten corner of the used albums section, when a loathsome, sickly feeling in the very cockles of my loins urged me to halt.

The Body Thou Hatred Collab Front Cover

I had missed something.

There, in the upper left-hand corner of the LP I had glazed over cursorily, just above the Blessed Mother’s somber profile, an unassuming annular adornment.

The Body Thou Hatred Collab Sticker

The Body
Thou
You, Who I Have Always Hated
Thrill Jockey

MOTHER OF GOD.


TheBody-Band

Since their accursed formation in 1999, Portland by-way-of Boston experimental DOOM-sludge titans The Body have been steady straight dropping split LPs, collaborations, EPs, and full-lengths at a frighteningly manic pace, with no less than four massively dense albums released since the dawn of 2014 alone. It was late Summer 2014 that I first became aware of the terrifying, savagely introspective, soul-scarring music that heavily-armed duo Chip King and Lee Buford create. I was researching several bands unknown to me in preparation for an upcoming weekend of riffage and torment at Tucson’s own premier extreme metal festival, Southwest Terror Fest. My expectations were appropriately heightened by the information I had gleaned from online articles concerning the corrosive brand of punishment offered by the impossibly weighty pair, and I have no problem admitting that I was physically and psychologically terrified as I pressed play on that first track.

My expectations were NOT disappointed.

The Body’s primary goal as evidenced by the music they create would appear to be complete psychological catharsis and cleansing through anguish. Vocalist/guitarist Chip King does not “sing” or “scream” in any of the traditional metal, or otherwise musical, senses. Instead, he emits desperate, agonizing wails like those of a feral, tortured beast in the final, bloody throes of a savage death. After looping his guitar through an intricately arranged network of sample machines, processors, and vintage Sunn amps, the final product emitted from his monolithic stack of speakers is the biting, burdensome wall of tone and distortion of metal fragmented, deconstructed, pounded unrecognizable, and then reassembled as something wholly new and terrible. Drummer Lee Buford rises to the task of not only matching but accentuating this indescribably dense patchwork of misery and toil by pounding his percussives with the calculated ferocity of an ironworker forging weaponry from the very molten core of existence. Every seismic beat serves to propel the already catastrophic purge of metallic fury into utter oblivion.

Thou band performing live

I am, admittedly and unfortunately, quite a bit less versed in the history and lore of Southern-Fried, NOLA-bred warlords of DOOM, Thou. This is an oversight that will most assuredly be remedied post-haste. However, hailing from the birthplace of such legendary names in the world of miserable, loathsome, down-tuned riff-laden DOOM-sludge as EYEHATEGOD, Crowbar, Soilent Green, and Goatwhore, the scornful bastards that make up this modern-day harbinger of destruction have clearly paid attention in class, and have most assuredly benefited from rolling up and smoking their homework. Similar to their comrades in Hatred, Thou is likewise prone to a dizzying pace of sonic proliferation, having put out an impressive assortment of DOOM-product since their 2005 inception to rival that of The Body.

Illustration by Megan Acosta, unceremoniously ripped from Meat Mead Metal!

Illustration by Megan Acosta, unceremoniously ripped from Meat Mead Metal!

The Body and Thou first came together in collaboration early last year on the deceptively titled Released from Love EP. This four track work was discreetly birthed into the world as a vinyl-only limited edition album, and is now being included with the digital and compact disc releases of You, Who I Have Always Hated for the first time in those formats. While not a necessary requirement for anyone approaching these two bands with fresh ears, Released does serve as an outstanding introductory work or companion piece to this new full-length. The remaining six hereto unreleased tracks that make up Hated stand fine enough on their own, but the immensely cathartic if exhausting experience will certainly leave any proper extreme metal aficionado parched for more, and Released will do well as a small but welcome offering to that void.

As for Hated itself. There is NONE heavier. Nearly as soon as my turntable stylus touched down between the freshly-pressed grooves of side one, I was overcome with the crushing, monolithic wall of leaden sound that is “Her Strongholds Unvanquishable.” FUCK SAKES. My chest hurts, and I can’t BREATHE… While the four tracks on Released certainly provided worthy evidence of the terrible power at hand through the unity of these two savage forces, it is clear that their horrifying tools of battery were honed to maximum barbaric supremacy for this record.

The Body Thou Hatred Full Artwork

From the very beginning, it is evident that the collaborative energy conjured by the unity of these two forces of subjugation serves to push both entities together into wholly new, more extreme, and ultimately more savage and unrestrained territory. The demon hordes called forth by Thou, in their sluggish, plodding might, at first may seem to overpower and bury the more atmospheric, expansive framework for which The Body is known. To assume this would be a mistake. More attuned ears will have no trouble hearing The Body’s maelstrom of nihilistic desperation weaving serpentine throughout the massively thunderous plodding surge set forth by Thou.

Throughout most of the album’s six gargantuan tracks, it is clear that the whole is by far greater than the sum of its parts. Even an initially stumbling foray into “covers” territory results in a transformative, revitalized section of creativity that does well to turn the original — NIN set-list mainstay “Terrible Lie” — into a new and largely unrecognizable permutation. While the re-imagining does not quite hit with the same sparse weight of “Coward” (the final track on Released) — itself a complex, forlorn retelling of an emotional bit of songwriting by the late Vic Chestnutt — it nevertheless gives the record a welcome draw-spring for the industrial metal undercurrent that The Body bring to their creations, smoothing the stitches between the two entities welded in hatred on Hatred.

Elsewhere, the two bands make effective use of dissonance and forced coalescence to accentuate their brand of torment on the thunderously severe “He Returns to the Place of His Iniquity,” and make up for the perhaps intentionally pretentious title of “Beyond the Realms of Dream, That Fleeting Shade Under the Corpus of Vanity” by imbuing that track with the ruinous, cataclysmic rage of a vengeful scourge unloosed. By the time we reach the apocalyptic final refrain of “Lurking Fear,” we are so thoroughly pummeled, worn and threadbare, that whatever lurking beast to come next can only be greeted with welcoming arms — if only they had not already been torn from our torso and used to mercilessly beat us into submission.

The Body Thou Hatred Collab Back Cover


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Cobblestone Walkway of Broken Chords: Piecing Together Mine Own History of Music, Part I

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” — Victor Hugo

"Sky Pilot" by Virgil C. Stephens, www.musicalpainter.com

“Sky Pilot” by Virgil C. Stephens, http://www.musicalpainter.com

Anyone who knows me for even a few hours is aware of how ingrained music is in my life. I wish I could say that I meant creating music, but that is another project, and perhaps a discussion for another day. Here, I speak of my lifelong passionate appreciation of, and sometimes fanatic devotion to, the music created by other artists. Lately, I’ve been pondering the paths upon which my musical quests have taken me. My own Mellifluous Origin Story, so to speak. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about my earliest memories as a “fan”, even before I could have known what that meant, and about the way in which my tastes and interests in music, artists, genres, movements grew and progressed. And perhaps, in the end, reflecting on where I’ve come from might give me some insight into where I’m headed, hmmm?

(Origin Stories, You Say?)

My oldest memory is one that has stuck with me since childhood, always stored closely away for quick recollection or quiet reflection. Appropriately so, too, since that is precisely what a memory is, and is For. Time and experience have inevitably shaped and even, with subtlety or not, perhaps altered this memory, but that is not what’s important. With reminiscences, truth and accuracy do well to fall by the wayside of emotion and essential substance.

In this memory — and thereby, of course, once upon a time in my life — I am a toddler, probably no more than two years of age. I am sitting in my car seat, which is resting on the floor of the living room of our first home, a modified mobile home with custom additions and improvements built by my Pops. A Redneck Mansion, if I may.

redneck mansion

It is strange for me to think back to moments like this and remember my parents when they were younger than I am now. Those people were KIDS! And they were raising a human! But not just any human.

Ryan Toddler

ME.

What happened?!  So many things...

What happened?! So many things…

But I digress…

I am sitting in my car seat, staring in awe and wonder at the thick, bowed-glass screen of our giant wooden box of a television. On the screen towers Billy Idol. Blonde, spiked hair. Signature snarl. Punk rock attitude. Rebel Yell. I was enthralled, and I, too, wanted MORE… But, being an infant, I had neither the means nor the experiential knowledge necessary to seek out and acquire more, and so my development fell by the wayside. (Two uses of that expression in one essay! Not bad…)


From here, for a time, I entered a period known as The Dark Ages… Not much is known of The Dark Ages, because it was so very Dark.

Dark Ages Artwork by jonasdero.deviantart.com

Dark Ages Artwork by jonasdero.deviantart.com

My next major development, as far as my fragmented memory can recall, would foreshadow a significant coexistence throughout my musical travels between music and film. By fourth grade, my lifelong buddy Brandon and I had met and bonded over mutual weirdness, a proclivity towards the fringe, and a shared obsession with Billy the Kid. At the time, of course, this primarily manifested in a fixation with the Young Guns movies, and by extension the Bon Jovi soundtrack for Young Guns II. As we blasted “Blaze of Glory” and “Dead or Alive” from that sweet, sweet early 90s boom box and fashioned “I’ll Make Ya Famous” pistol stamps and collages in art class, we were convinced that Bon Jovi and the like were the epitome of bad-ass rock musicians. Later, Denis Leary would set us straight, but for now, fuckin’ “Never Say Die” was where it was AT!


From there, Brandon and I discovered music through movies we, occasionally in ignorance and naivety, attached our sensibilities to, such as Cool World and Wayne’s World. (I sense a pattern?) Not all was for naught, however. Because, in the very least, those movies introduced us to David Bowie, Ministry, Queen, RHCP, Ugly Kid Joe, Alice Cooper…actually, the Wayne’s World soundtrack is still pretty fuckin’ good!

But I digress…

None of this could have prepared Brandon and I — or the world at large, as history would prove — for what would happen next in our euphonious lives. The early 90s found us and all of rock ‘n roll on the precipice of something that was never intended to indelibly mark and reshape culture and society the world over. But nothing significant or culturally affluential ever is. I speak, of course, about the tidal wave of social hysteria and upheaval that was Nirvana.

Nirvana

Growing up in the Kirtland/Fruitland area of San Juan County, New Mexico, Brandon and I — and everyone else, really — were always, by default, a bit behind the aesthetic curve from the “rest of the world.” Occasionally, one could discover something “new” and intriguing by accident, or one of us would bring something intriguing back from The City and share it with anyone with a curious disposition. (Did I forget to mention I was raised in a 1940s dust bowl? Just kidding.) But beyond fortune and chance, you really just had to know what to look for and laboriously seek it out. Fortunately, times have changed for the Four Corners and culture. I mean, they got a show from Lamb of God last year, for Christsakes…

(Not to mention MervDezert Banditz, Ill Methods, and any other local musical acts.  Leave a link for your group or project in the comments!)


I vaguely recall the circumstances by which we came to discover Kurt and the Boys. It had to have been sometime in 1992, and I would imagine this was a brisk fall morning before the daily drudgery of our first year in middle school. The cool, dry high desert breeze…the changing of the leaves…the wafting, charcoal scent of smoke as local drunken rednecks set their property on fire doing “landscaping”…Brandon, skinny bean pole of a boy, bristling with frenetic energy, shoving a CD into my stiff, icy fingers. “Hey dude, my sister listens to this. Check it out!”

Subtlety.

Subtlety.

On the cover, bathed in aquatic blue highlights, a naked baby, arms and legs splayed in an awkward floating pose, coaxed by a dollar bill on fishing line. Nobody but no one should have any trouble immediately conjuring their own specific memory of this album at that conspicuously pervasive, instantly recognizable photograph. But, I’ve been surprised by ignorance before, so just to be certain, I speak of course of the watershed landmark album Nevermind. If you don’t know or understand the cultural, artistic, sociological, and historical significance of this album, I would like to introduce you to the internet. Pretty sure you’re using it RIGHT NOW.

This only captures about 30% of the Internet's Awesome!

This only captures about 30% of the Internet’s Awesome!

In any case, I will never forget the ingenuous awe and precipitous exhilaration that overcame me during that first listen. I can barely stand to hear “Smells Like Teen Spirit” these days, a bitter casualty of hackneyed pop culture oversaturation. But, the first time that pervasive and cataclysmic riff hit my ears was fucking LIFE-ALTERING! Who ARE these feral, deranged beasts? Where do creatures like this come from? What is this frenetic sensation arising from my soul? Why are they so…so fervent, so excitedly zealous? And HOW can I get MORE?!


To be continued… In the meantime, sound off in the comments! What was your first significant musical experience, or other formative moment? Did Nirvana and Nevermind carry a significant weight for you? How far back can you remember, or what is your earliest recollection? Let Us hear from you!


© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.