A milestone that's been approaching with steadily increasing speed has arrived: in the short time it has been active, this blog has received over 500 visits, and I am proud and relieved. I'm proud of the work that has gone into each post, each piece of writing, and each piece of my music that has been put on display here, as well as the work I've put into promoting my art and this blog in particular. There have been days where I have been working from the moment I woke up until I finally give myself permission to shut down and drift off for only two-to-four hours of sleep before I start again. An impression that many have of working artists is that they kick back having fun and messing around with their friends and then get paid a disproportionate amount for little work. While I would agree that most artists consider their work "fun," it is not without its toils and exhaustion. It can be a full-time job that can kick your ass as much as any nine-to-five, and artists can never really leave their work behind until the drudgery begins again. Many, many a sleepless night is spent frantically trying to capture ideas and emotions onto a canvas, and that's only part of the act of making the art itself. To be a working artist - to try and make a living at it, to make it your job - is to also work yourself to the bone promoting your art, to keep people interested and in some cases entertain them. This can involve hours of driving from venue to venue or, in our wonderful new age of wireless connections and social media, to be glued to a gadget every moment your eyes are open.
I am relieved just to have this number, these 500 visits, to tell me that maybe, just maybe, I'm not running myself ragged until my fingers are cramped and my eyes feel like they're going to bleed for nothing. My art is being received. It isn't floating around being ignored. People are listening, people are reading; when I put up a blog post, I see an immediate reaction in numbers. When I post a new song on SoundCloud, the little bell icon symbolizing notifications is constantly turning red for a few hours, and I continue to see my number of "listens" climb.
There's still a long, long way to go before I could even scratch out the most minimal living doing this. While I consider this my job and I am working at it full-time, I'm still just trying to gather a consistent audience, never mind finding people who will actually pay me. As encouraging a number as 500 is, it's still just a milestone along the way toward making art that can sustain itself. But everyone has to start somewhere and 500 is a milestone along the way. It is cause for celebration, however, there is no champaign in my near future. I'm not kicking back and taking a week off, confident that my art will continue to generate interest in my absence. No, I'm celebrating by letting myself be encouraged to work harder. Instead of feeling as though I've earned some leisure time, I feel as though I have to generate more art to mark this occasion and to tell everyone, "Look at what I did! And look what I did to show you."
Which brings me to my newest release. Over the course of the past day-and-a-half, I've put together a new EP that says, in it's title and in it's existence, "500, yo! Fuck yeah!" That's not literally the title, of course. I'm calling this Pentacental which, as far as I know, is not really a word, but I'm claiming that it means "Five-hundredth." Now combine the "penta" in the title with the image of H.R. Giger's art on the cover, and this is clearly the kind of recording your parents warned you against. We're getting into virgin-sacrificing, Satan-worshipping, black metal here...
In seriousness, this is the darkest release I've put out so far. That's not to signify that I'm in a particularly trying period of my life; in fact, I was in a much more desperate state when I wrote "A Determined Snail." It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't have the same affinity for what others consider "dark" that it's not purely a state of being sad, angry, or hurting. I'm frequently amused by things that a morbid, I'm fascinated by things that frighten others, and I tend to see beauty where others see horror. And I don't think it makes me a twisted individual or necessarily marks me as a victim of past trauma. I think I just maybe have a wider lens when observing reality. This release, though frequently strange and often turning on a dime into minor keys, is just a reflection that death isn't every person's worst enemy, Giger's work is fascinating and beautiful even when it's trying to be repellent, devils are funny little imps, and a Goth is someone having fun aesthetically the same way as a drag queen.
So here's a collection of my Dark, Gothic works. You won't find any pot-smoking snails here. For this release, I spent nearly the entire day hammering out details of "Giger's Lullaby," which I have never quite felt was finished. After listening to it countless times today while working on it, I can already think of something else I'd change, but I'm 90% satisfied with it and that's enough for me to put it on a record. I've also gone back to "Introducing..." to tweak one section of it that's been bothering me since I released the second version on The Alternate Spin. This release is also an excuse for me to make "Dusk Devils" available for download, which makes me happy, because I'm really quite fond of that song, even if it's not suited for European pop. Fitting these three together with my beloved expanded version of "Winter's Salve" and material from the debut of Progress Report has created a lovely playlist that ranges from piano ballads to industrial-and-trip-hop infused dance rock and blues.
I give you Pentacental: my gift to all of you for this milestone you've helped me reach.