Anathematization of the World is Not an Adequate Response to the World

by Howard Stelzer

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"For me, my "best" (ahem) albums sound like me opening up my mouth and having the music emerge forcefully from my lungs. "Brayton Point" felt like that, and so did "Across the Blazer". Not precious or fragile or austere, not a display of technique or process, but emphatically corporeal and human... reaching out with open arms, filling up a large space with a manifestation of expanding joy. I had a dream once and it stuck with me: I had to play a concert, but forgot my gear... so I got on stage intending to sing. I remember it very well: I took center stage and belted out a single full-throated note for as long and loud as I could, holding a steady tone with my voice long past the point of comfort, unchanging volume or density... it felt great! Though my eyes were fixed on the back wall of the theater, out of the corner of my eye I could watch my friends in the audience stand up, shake their heads and walk out. But for me, that experience felt like happiness. I've attempted to capture the feeling of it ever since. "Across the Blazer" came close, "Anathematization..." gets closer still.

I once planned to cover a Richard Youngs song, "Nineteen Used Postage Stamps", at an art gallery in Lowell MA, by trying to enact the song from my dream. It felt fantastic and sounded horrible. One must, I suppose, practice singing before attempting something as athletic as what I had in mind. My rehearsal took place in the car a few times while going to the supermarket and then again on my way to the gig, certainly not enough to do Richard's song justice. The recording of that gig is buried somewhere on this album, though I forget exactly where. The way that I work, everything gets jumbled. Cassette tapes all over my studio, nothing labelled particularly well...

Y'know, it's not enough to say "the world stinks, everything is dark, I'm gonna retreat into abstraction and solipsism and gloom and avoid awful truths"... even though, yeah, times are dark right now. But humans are real! And most of them are not horrible! As a public school teacher, I cannot believe that the future is grim... heck, all I see every day are children full of curiosity and hope and good ideas... and engagement is more productive than sulking solitude. So: singing. By singing real words and inviting people to join me, I'm looking outwards... collaboration is affirmation that interaction is worthwhile. It's an intentional drawing in, bringing people closer and allowing them to be part of one's experience of being alive. Words are real evidence of humanity, meaning, communication. Of looking at the news and thinking, "Nah, this isn't an accurate description of most people I know. No way. We're better than this, and the insanity of corrupt power will pass and give way to something better. I'm going to sing." Negativity is laziness, a cop-out, surrender. That's not how I'm comfortable interacting with humanity or of declaring my own. I'd rather express monumental joy and make it public. Not naive, but ecstatic waves stubbornly grounded in actual life.

Maybe my music sounds the way I intend it to... I truly hope that it does... but maybe it doesn't! People bring their own lives to any experience of music. All I can do is make the stuff. I've no intention of telling anyone else what, if anything, to take away from it. I just hope they play it loud." - Howard Stelzer


released November 15, 2019

Cassette music composed/recorded by HS at the Hotel Amnesia (Lowell, MA) 2018 - 2019.

HS - tapes, some singing, etc.
Peter Hope - words and singing on “Chaos is Handsome…”
Jason Talbot - turntable on “The Drawing Near” & “A Double-Minded…”
Richard Youngs - words and singing on “The Drawing Near”
Lê Quan Ninh - percussion on “A Double-Minded…”
Jesse Kudler - piano on “Stop!”
Frans de Waard - Casio on “Stop!”

Art & design by Edward Sol.

Published as a limited edition 2xCDR by Chocolate Monk

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Howard Stelzer Lowell, Massachusetts

Stelzer's music is assembled out of cassette tapes, tape machines, and a stubborn refusal to admit defeat. By day, he teaches middle school in Lowell MA, where he and his family live in a really big room behind a power plant. At night, he hunches over stacks of tapes and makes this stuff. No one knows why. ... more

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