Said the Gramophone - image by Matthew Feyld
by Jeff
cover of a 1950s science fiction comic

Can - "Future Days"

The worst thing about the outpost was the recycled air. It dried out Paul's hands. There was a tube of moisturizer on the console of his work station, and he splorged it into his palms. It was viscous and cold, and as he rubbed it disappeared into his hands, which were fissured by tiny white cracks.

The botany department of a university Paul had never heard of had an experimental greenhouse set up adjacent to the outpost. The students were the same age as Paul and he made an effort to befriend them. But lately he'd been more reticent. He saw himself as a strange person who was only getting stranger from all this isolation.

Broadband was terrible out here on the outer Ecrustean line, it took forever even to load in his emails. Paul struggled with his devices for weeks after he arrived until one day he found himself pulling volumes off the shelf in the commissary. Their spines had faded from long years of exposure to the suns, the pages dry and brittle. Paul knew how to work a book, of course, but couldn't remember if he had ever actually held one in his hands.

And so his watch shifts began to pass quicker. For twelve hours he drank terrible simulated coffee made with reclaimed water and read books that not only collapsed the long lonely hours of his shift, but also made his life, far away from everywhere and everyone he'd ever known, almost enjoyable. He was alone, but he was learning to like it.

Paul avoided the massive tomes about the war. There were stacks of them, full of gnarly pictures detailing the major battles. The staggering losses of the Union were solemnized in these doorstoppers. Paul knew he should care, but all that was over a hundred years ago now. And although this outpost was set up after the truce with the Pincers as a kind of line in the sand, an early distant warning station for the planets back towards the centre, it was now more like a museum. The alarm that hung over the console Paul sat at for twelve hours every day had never rung once in a century. He wondered if it could even ring, the thing was so old, but the engineer insisted it was primed and ready. "She's a classic," he told Paul when he had expressed his doubts.

Paul was sitting at the console - coffee, book, low-simmering loneliness - when it rang.

Continued in Part Two


by Mitz

Jef Elise Barbara - "Sexe Machin/Sex Machine" [Buy]


Once, someone told me, "your accent is sexy."

So I replied, "lrearey? you lrearey sink so?"

and she said, "Sorry, what?"

it was awkward and funny moment, ill never forget.

by Jeff

Description of image, for blind people

Sam Cooke - "You Send Me"

They fell in love on the telephone. One was an insomniac and even though the other worked early in the morning they'd stay on the phone until four, sometimes six. They'd fall asleep, receivers on pillows still cradled next to their ears. They lived in different cities and racked up huge phone bills in the days when long distance was expensive, transmitting their young lives to each other one word at a time. Voices, late at night.

by Sean

Man Meets Bear - "Odeno".

It's nice, sometimes, to imagine musical artists as varieties of tropical fish. I don't know much about tropical fish but I figure that people who do have clear preferences. They're like: "I'm an angel-fish kind of dude." They're like: "Me I prefer rays." Two lovers of tropical fish may find that they are incompatible because they prefer different sorts of groupers.

Me I like lots of kinds of tropical fish but I have a particularly soft spot for the phylum that comprises weary, careworn rock'n'roll. In this section of the pet-store there would be tanks full of Velvet Underground, Bedhead and Microphones, maybe a fresh shipment of Frankie Cosmos. Lots of the aquariums would have been filled back in the late 90s. You could wander the aisles with a clear plastic bag and water inside, plucking out riffs and tom hits, little squalls of distortion. Mumbled crumbs of fish food. The fish would have names like rambles and shambles and grouches.

This is a roundabout and stupid way of coming to "Odeno." But it is my way of speaking about its silver bands and purple spots, its tiny mouth and jagged teeth. This is a beautiful, noisy song that one ought to find at the darkened back of the tropical fish store, under neon lights, oxidizers, filtration systems. A song that ought to live, alive and swimming, among elaborate processes that do not pay adequate attention to it. Solitary and strong, like a fish in a tank. Surprising, if you observe it carefully. Surprising as any living thing, with a flicker in its tail.

[from Volume 4 of the ever-inspiring Berlin Songs compilations / procure here]

by Emma

Sister Ernestine Washington - "I'm His Child"
1. There was one totally impossible day this past winter where it was somehow 15 degrees and devastatingly sunny, right in the middle of February, like someone had spliced the season out of order and didn't notice their mistake. A gift. This was in the beginning, when C. and I did not yet live in the same place but something was happening. He'd made me a mixtape and sent in the mail; pre-/post-war gospel+blues, the label said. A tape! The mail! Imagine! I had to go into the sunroom and dig out my cassette player to listen. The machine at this point is held together mostly by electrical tape and nostalgia and when I plugged it in and hit play - sun streaming in through my half-open window, trees listing in the small breeze, the whole world outside a dream about the world - these were the first notes I heard. Between the tape-warble and dust-static it sounded like I was tuning into a radio station from another planet. That piano! Those voices! A feeling so enormous and generous and sure of itself it seemed impossible that it could have come from people at all, let alone to me. All of history, recording, churches, choirs, a tangle of wires encased in plastic and me in my bedroom, in the glow of all this dumb luck. A world in which this much joy could make its way through time and space and media, through all these faulty, collapsing channels, and not just remain intact but somehow throw its light on me. In the letter that came with it he said who makes someone they like a tape like this?? but he knew and so did I. The answer right there in the room with me, singing.

Kanye West - "Ultralight Beam"*
2. When it came out, I listened to The Life Of Pablo straight through about 5 or 6 times. Now I can't listen to it ever again, I don't think. Something about the darkness running under even its brightest moments, something intuitive and intangible and too bright and too dark that maybe matches up too well with the contours of my own sadness, too out-of-control to listen to with anything but fear and disdain. It is an album for people who are mentally healthy enough to not notice or care about that feeling, or for those who are just far more comfortable with the skips in their own structure than I am. That said, when I am feeling low I turn, over and over again, to "Ultralight Beam." Specifically, I skip about halfway through the song and listen to Chance's perfect verse; those tiny scratches in his voice as he spits the first few sentences, the sweet urgency, sincerity, the joy of it, the speed and build held perfect in his steady pace. When he finishes I pull my phone out of my pocket, pull that little bar back, listen again and again, letting the feeling move through me as clear as a bell, struck and giddy and glowing.

Chance the Rapper - "Blessings"*
3. "Colouring Book" is the happiest album I've heard in a long long long time, and I'm so grateful for it I could cry. Not happy as in saccharine or corporate or aspirational or ignoring the truth of the world as it is, but as in pure joy conducted by a person who exists just to arrange it, the rarest kind of real. Every song on this album is just fucking brimming with love and happiness and pure excitement and you cannot help but be swept up. Chance somehow always sounds the most in control of his shit that a human could be and also like he just sprinted ten blocks to get here and give you the good news. Gospel, church. Whether you go in for the God-side of these things could not possibly matter less; if you believe in the possibility of being caught up in a feeling so otherworldly it can only possibly have come of the physical materials of everyday life, these songs will lift you all the way up. (One of my favourite lines of Chance's is in "Sunday Candy," a love song for his grandmother where he praises her hugs: "You smell like light, gas, water, electricity, rent.") There is an impossible kind of pleasure in watching someone so involved in their element, in the pure pull of the magic they're making, that they can't help but lift off the ground. A dream, a gift. Real joy.

[buy buy buy buy]

*(Linking to videos isn't the usual move around here, but I wanted to show you guys these songs without getting in copyright-related trouble.)

by Mitz
(photo source)

Wishkaah - "Too Early to Say" [Buy]
Spiritualized - "I Think I'm in Love" [Buy]

My mom is here. She came to visit.

Her English is quite well except sometimes, there is misunderstanding. You know, even fluent in the language, there is a misunderstanding. Like the time, when I thought my friend was talking about Nick Drake but he was actually talking about Drake. Things happen.

Last week, my friend gave me a credenza so my girlfriend told my mom, "we are going to pick up a piece of furniture." But my mom replied with enthusiasm, "I love pizza!" and she kept going on how much she loves pizza. What kind of pizza she likes and how expensive pizza is in Japan for about 10 minutes. I think she heard "piece" as in "pizza."

My girlfriend didn't want to correct her to embarrass her. So she replied to her, "Yep! pizza is going to be great tonight!" and we got pizza that night.

I love them both.

by Jeff

print works by Mathieu Trudel including drawings of mom and pop storefronts in Ottawa and two issues of Hulltramar zine

Union of Uranus - "Circumstance"

I'm a slow writer. It takes me ages of mulling things over before I can express how I feel. Nights like tonight I wish I was quicker and could just write some magical words that would adequately honour or even do justice to the amazing Mathieu Trudel, my friend for twenty years.

I'm sure the first time we met was out on the sidewalk in front of an all ages hardcore show when we were both teenagers in Ottawa. Mat and I were never involved in each other's day to day lives, but we had an amazing twenty year conversation. We loved punk, and art, and zines. As we got older we hung out at garage shows at the Dominion Tavern when the room was thick with blue cigarette smoke. He was always a fucking joy to talk to, so full of excitement.

I loved his illustrations and his amazing Hulltramar zine about place and community, and ... I don't know. This isn't an obituary, or even a eulogy, just some thoughts after a long day under a dark cloud.

For a few years I worked as a night watchman overnight in Strathcona Park and Mat worked the same shift at the parking garage in the Byward Market. Sitting in my security trailer writing all night I loved knowing that fifteen blocks away Mat was in the booth of the parking garage, working on his drawings. We were in different parts of the city, but somehow together.

Much love to everyone who knew and loved Mat.

(image: works by Mathieu Trudel)