The novels Cynicism Management and Pendulum Pet have both been updated and released in most e-book stores. Pendulum Pet, previously exclusive to Amazon, has now been removed from Amazon out of solidarity with my new U.S. publisher River Boat Books, and both novels are now available, in electronic form, in most e-book stores except Amazon. The price of both books has been set to $ 3.99. Find the universal book links that will take you to the lists of all the stores the novels are available in below each cover.
Touring My Backyard (Augmented), the first track from the new Cynicism Management release planned for about a year from now, has been released on SoundCloud. Head here for detailed information about the project (and the reasons for it).
When I was just a boy I yearned to rock n’ roll
But I didn’t realize I was living in a hole
Then I grew a tiny bit, my vision kind of cleared
I popped a beer, caressed my cage and never really feared
Now I’m the coolest guy around, the only god with such a sound
I sell my twopence sermons every day
My nails are black my eyes are lined my pants are tight oh I’m so fine
I gloat in dismal dismay and decay
I rented the only touring bus in this godforsaken place
And published in every goddamn paper I was touring my own space
Oh wow yippee my gosh and gee
I’m tourin’ my backyard
Rolling over my own mower
Bellyfolds o’ lard
Mounted mirrors on the walls
My backyard’s looking big
I’m bouncing reeling falling over
My excessive concert rig
In the mornings my head hurts, my double visions spin
But I know well that I’m the One so I embrace my sins
My proud dadland needs me to flash her stardom smiles
Distract the nation with pretence, wallow in shit piles
From the mountains to the sea
I sing my three-chord symphony
Nameless crowds beneath my feet
Look up at this astounding deed
My hair receding down my spine
But I still make these corpses mine
Dancing deaf to shit I spout
I dread what I have figured out
I must admit I’m normally not a big fan of music album reissues, remixes, remasters, reboots, reduxes, super duper deluxe editions, and so on, as they – at least to me – often feel like money grabs that don’t have much “added value” to offer. However, for quite some time, I’ve nevertheless been itching to do exactly that with Cynicism Management’s first album, Tit: eventually release a new version of it, because it was originally recorded in painfully annoying “no-budget” and “no-decent-equipment” circumstances that, at the time, prevented me from recording “real” acoustic drums and forced me to resort to electronic drum pads instead. For me as a drummer, this was the most disappointing aspect of the project, quite difficult to put up with, even though it was just one of the many annoying compromises we were forced to come to terms with as a band due to the lack of resources. Additionally, my own musical equipment as well as expertise and experience as a music producer have improved significantly in the last decade (or, at least, that’s what I like to believe). Consequently, I’ve been having a hard time listening to Tit, regardless of how happy I was when the project was completed in spite of all the obstacles. Don’t get me wrong: I still think that the songs are pretty good; I still like them and stand by what they represent even today; but, unfortunately, I’m unable to enjoy them very much the way that they are. Instead, I can’t help imagining how they could and should be. Therefore, eventually “remaking” these tracks and reissuing the album, maybe in some convenient circumstances, has been one of my (admittedly vaguer) ideas that’s been gathering dust on one of the more forgotten shelves of my mind for years. In fact, predicting that I might eventually decide to go through with this, I took the opportunity to record the coveted “real” acoustic drums for this album already when my wife and I still lived in Izola, Slovenia – while we had the fortune of rehearsing in a friend’s fully-equipped music studio that allowed for such a thing. I then shelved these recordings and let them gather dust as well.
Fast forward almost a decade… And here we are: I have recently found myself in a situation that actually warrants such an album re-release, and I have finally started working – for real, now – on a thoroughly “renovated” version of Cynicism Management’s first album, Tit. From here on in, we shall call this reissue Tit Augmented, simply because the new version of the album will be much more than a simple “remaster”; it will also not be a “remix” in the usual sense of the word; it will definitely not be an extended release with any new (or live versions of) tracks; and the collocation is sort of fitting. The artwork will be different as well: this time we’ll use an illustration conceived by my nephew and budding artist in his own right, Matevž Praper, which toys around with the record’s title a little:
The reason behind the decision to start working on this project now is extremely simple, but in order to explain it, I need to recap a little.
The Cynicism Management scheme was hatched more than ten years ago, towards the end of 2008. Disillusioned by our previous musical endeavours, we (my wife Monika and I, I have to admit) devised a “literary musical” experiment, initially just for fun: the idea was to write a novel featuring a fictional band called Cynicism Management and record music to go with it. Both parts of the project were eventually completed successfully. Cynicism Management went so far as to become a real band (even a live act – initially a six-piece line-up and later a quintet – for a while); and it released its first album, poetically titled Tit (a small bird of the Paridae family) back in 2011, well before the novel. Meanwhile, Cynicism Management – the novel was first published published by a UK e-book publisher that vanished a couple of years later, and subsequently reissued as an e-book on most e-book platforms.
The last live incarnation of Cynicism Management – the live line-up was disbanded in 2012, when my wife and I decided to leave our native Slovenia and move to Berlin, Germany. Nevertheless, we kept working on the musical part of the project, though mercifully without the exasperating complexities of struggling to maintain a rather large and complicated high-tech prog rock act in the morbid quagmire that passes for today’s music and concert scene. Thus the band once again reverted to its studio-based form, and it currently consists of only three members: Monika Fritz on vocals; the first-rate Slovenian blues/jazz/fusion guitarist Jure Praper, who’s in charge of all those pesky odd-time guitar solos; and myself. (Yes, I have a large family that even sort of gets along most of the time, and in some ways we are like the Cosa Nostra, I suppose.)
Cynicism Management – the band went on to release the single Opus 0 in 2012; the EP Shadow Chasers in 2013; and the second full-length album Pendulum Pet in 2015. On the other hand, Pendulum Pet – the novel was published in 2016 as well – as the second book in what was gradually turning into a sort of a (loose) series. What ties the novels together is the actual music by the band Cynicism Management, referenced in the novels, while the stories are – in spite of certain characters appearing in both novels – self-contained and can easily be read independently.
In 2017, while I was still writing my third (and at this point still unfinished) novel titled Dog Days and composing the music to go with it, Monika and I decided to raise anchor once again and move to the Canary Islands, the remotest part of the European Union that we could think of and much more pleasant than the ever more expensive and increasingly gentrified Berlin with all its hustle, bustle, and six-month winters featuring eternal darkness, constant drizzles, bone-chilling Siberian winds, and hence an overabundance of doom and gloom. The move resulted in my two-year hiatus from writing and music, as I focused on other things, mainly flat renovations, chilli pepper cultivation, and nature. This sabbatical has recently been interrupted by my unwavering friend Rick Harsch, who has kindly invited me to contribute to his experimental “communal” novel The Assassination of Olof Palme. Shortly after that, when I had already started writing again, I was utterly honoured that the publisher River Boat Books saw fit to include my debut novel Cynicism Management: A Rock & Roll Fable in its list of new releases for the summer/autumn of 2019. Due to this remarkable development, I can now once again envision finishing my third novel as well, because nothing could motivate me and spur me on as thoroughly and decisively as an outstanding publisher and a marvellous community of fellow writers.
The book’s publication, ultimately planned for February 2020, is also an excellent opportunity to “pre-release” Tit Augmented, which will initially be intended for the readers of the book exclusively: for a while, the new version of the album won’t be downloadable anywhere else but a password-protected sub-page on my official author website, and the songs will only be streamable from our SoundCloud page. The password will be stated in the introduction to the physical, paper version of the book only. Roughly a year later, in 2021, the album will finally be – on the tenth anniversary of the original Tit – released for the general audience as well. In the meantime, the new and improved (augmented) versions of songs will be appearing on the password-protected page, one by one, until the whole album consisting of twelve tracks is done… After which the whole collection will be made available to the River Boat Books readers free of charge.
I would hereby like to thank my dear friend Rick Harsch and writer and publisher Peter Bellis, who gave me the well-measured kick in the butt I desperately needed to go through with this… As well as Matevž Praper, who has envisioned and drawn the augmented tit. The other contributors to this project are as follows:
Monika Fritz: vocals
Jan Urbanc: guitar
Borut Praper: drums, keyboards, programming, bass, guitar
Aljaž Tulimirović: guitar and bass on Iniquity; guitar on Herbal Haze; guitar, e-bow guitar and kazoo on The End of the Vilewood Road
Stojan Kralj: guitar on Herbal Haze
Jure Praper: lead guitar on Four-Circle Penile Substitute
All tracks written and arranged by Borut Praper, except Iniquity co-written by Aljaž Tulimirović
All lyrics by Borut Praper
Recorded, produced and mixed by Borut Praper
Vocals co-arranged by Monika Fritz
Mastering by Andrej Hrvatin
Recorded in Studio S.U.R., Izola (http://sur.si/)
Additional material recorded by Stojan Kralj in Juice Plant Studio, Maribor
Drums recorded in Yan Baray’s studio in Izola in 2013
And now, without further ado, here is the first “renovated” track as well as the first song that’s referenced in the novel: Touring My Backyard (Augmented):
As of this month, the “main” albums (but not soundtracks for theatre performances and audiovisual works – those are available from our Bandcamp page) by one of our former bands, SUR, should be available on almost all streaming platforms like Deezer, Spotify, etc., as well as in most digital stores. The first album by SUR, “Na jug” – which also happened to be the first time that any of my music was published on a “real”, tangible, physical CD – was 15 years old this May! Holy crap, how time flies…
A few days ago I pulled my books off Amazon in solidarity with my new publisher’s anti-Amazon campaign, which you can read about – and possibly contribute to – on GoFundMe. Tilting at windmills? Possibly, but I believe it is still a good cause, and all the reasons for it are explained in the River Boat Books Anti-Amazon Statement, so no need to repeat them here.
For me personally, the decision to join the boycott was not particularly difficult: after all, Amazon has single-handedly destroyed bookstores and publishers all over the world as well as literature in itself, or at least completely polluted its e-book segment: rabidly profit-driven, it has ensured the global domination of an endless deluge of cloned (pseudo-)fantasy, (quasi-)sci-fi and romance scribblings of the pulpiest kind, as everything that doesn’t get consumed instantly by vast numbers of readers – thanks to aggressive (and expensive) advertising, paid reviews, marketing tricks and schemes, etc. – is sentenced to instant oblivion, ensured by algorithms that keep pushing only what sells best and burying everything else under mile-deep piles of dregs. While that is perfectly understandable and completely unsurprising in the world ruled (and ruined) by rampant capitalism of the worst kind, it is also exactly what I so frequently rant against in my own novels. Therefore I had already felt like a hypocrite for selling (or, rather, attempting to sell) my books through such a malignant transnational corporation even before my publisher, River Boat Books, initiated their openly anti-Amazon campaign.
However, the last and most hilarious straw for me was that some time ago, Amazon arbitrarily and with no explanation or warning at all categorised my debut novel Cynicism Management as erotica – probably because some tender soul, possibly belonging to some terminally-embittered housewife, complained about the couple of rather explicit sex scenes that the novel indeed contains. Fine, so in Amazon’s opinion, any book containing a (semi)vivid description of anything carnal automatically means that the book is porn. Classifying my novel as “erotica” might not even have been so detrimental if it, in fact, was erotica… But, as it happens, it is actually a sci-fi satire with elements of cyberpunk, and the cover displays a cyborg cockroach. I doubt that anyone in their right mind would find that particularly sexy, and the actual sex scenes in the novel probably take up about five to maybe ten pages out of approximately 450. I dread the potential review by anyone who’d buy this thinking that it truly is erotica, but (fortunately?) the book had been concealed under a million of books about witches, fairies, werewolves, and sexy vampires already before this fiasco, so it hasn’t seen any sales whatsoever for ages, anyway.
So, yeah: obviously, my decision to pull my novels off Amazon would have certainly been harder had they actually been selling… But since they had already been largely ignored and increasingly “undiscoverable” with each passing day (as they sank deeper and deeper into the bottomless abyss littered with hundreds of thousands of long-forgotten e-books), this boycott is, I admit, no skin off my back. That much is true. Nevertheless, I’d hate to subscribe to my publisher’s “manifesto” and then do the exact opposite behind their back, so I hope this decision still counts as a valid expression of solidarity.
It now appears that the “slight possibility that my first novel might soon(ish) get released on paper, as an actual, tangible, physical book” that I mentioned in my previous (longwinded, as usual) post will become a fact after all. Here’s an inspirational quote for this occasion:
The whole jeremiad that is Cynicism Management (the novel) is going to be published by River Boat Books this summer – where else than on the banks of the Mississippi River. Hell, maybe NOW the devil I keep looking for might appear to me at those fabled crossroads after all, so that I can finally sign the infernal contract…?
The last time I had a good look at my two websites after one of them had been hacked (my fault, I haven’t been updating them promptly enough), I was shocked to realise that it’s been a year and a half since I’ve posted anything here (or on the other site). This wasn’t intentional or planned – it’s just that real life took precedence over all of my “less crucial” interests (which, unfortunately, included all of my ongoing musical and literary pursuits). Due to my relocation from Berlin to the Canary Islands and all of the issues this has involved, what I had once almost thought of as a “calling” of sorts was swiftly downgraded to “hobbies” as soon as reality kicked in. I spent many months fretting over this, especially as the third full-length Cynicism Management album (which had been almost finished by that time) and my related third novel (also well on its way to completion) had screeched to a painful stop. I had no choice but to gradually get to terms with the unplanned hiatus and stop nagging at myself: I figured that music and writing would once again become more important to me once I settled down properly.
The problem is this little adverb, “properly”. While I did set up a small improvised studio in the flat as soon as the renovations had been completed to at least some degree, this did not happen until about a year into the move. There was simply too much to do around the apartment first. However, the improvised excuse for a studio was such a bummer after the relative luxury I had enjoyed in Berlin (where I had been renting a decently-sized room in a highly secure building dedicated solely to rehearsal rooms and studios, and where I had all my instruments including drums and microphones set up and ready to go at all times) that I was simply unable to muster the energy and motivation required to work on anything very seriously. To avoid inevitable frustration with the abysmal acoustics of my temporary workspace, the inability to mix anything at a reasonable volume without headphones, etc., I restricted myself to mere “tinkering”.
Currently I am still at the “tinkering” stage, but at least I can see the light at the end of this particular tunnel now: after many failed attempts to set up a studio elsewhere (rent a basement or a garage somewhere or whatever), my wife and I are now once again resolved to simply build a room in the abandoned basement of our apartment building (a failed attempt at a car garage, don’t even ask) – in spite of some pushback from the neighbours who, obviously, dread the prospect of having someone banging on the drums down there. I’ll clearly have to invest in some serious sound insulation – but that is self-evident, anyway. The place where walls should come up eventually currently looks like this:
The very decision to start cleaning out the mess from the basement and start transforming a section of it into something useful – the place (currently used for nothing but dirt storage) is huge and I only need the part that theoretically goes with our flat – seemed to reanimate at least some of my unfinished projects and bring them back from deep hibernation.
While I still can’t record properly, I’ve decided to finally exhume the material for the potential 10th-anniversary reissue of Tit, the first Cynicism Management album. So I started reworking the songs that are almost a decade old by now (unbelievable…), simply because I still love them and I’d like to finally make them sound as they should have sounded a decade ago. I am not talking about a “remix” or a “remaster” or some “deluxe” version of the album, as is usually the case, but rather about a complete reworking of the songs complete with drum replacement. As it happened, ten years ago, when we were making the original Tit, I was unable to record acoustic drums the way I wanted to… But I managed to record them a few years later, while I had unprecedented access to a suitably-equipped studio. I have stored the recordings carefully ever since precisely for this possibility.
On the other hand, I have also started mixing the upcoming Dog Days album and preparing the material for the last missing ingredient: the vocals, which Monika, the Cynicism Management vocalist upon whom all of the new songs hinge heavily, can record as soon as our real studio is eventually up and running.
On the literary front, Dog Days, my third novel, remains at a standstill (yes, it carries the same title as the album, as the text will contain or refer to audio tracks once again, just like Cynicism Management and Pendulum Pet).
However, my good friend, the US American writer Rick Harsch, has recently invited me to take part in the creation of his next novel “The Assassination of Olof Palme“, which will include contributions from many other writers. The book will be published by River Boat Books and is slated for the summer of 2020. We shall see how the project turns out, but the very prospect of being able to participate in such a nutty undertaking has been enough to make me write again. I must say I like it immensely – especially as I’ll be able to associate and link this work with my own third novel as well as the fourth one (if I ever manage to finish either at all). Ideas abound, but now for the hard part: to make them a reality.
Speaking of literary endeavours… There is now a slight possibility that my first novel might soon(ish) get released on paper, as an actual, tangible, physical book. While I will not reveal anything else until I am sure of it, one of the “byproducts” of the preparations for the potential “paper version” includes the release of a new updated electronic version of my debut novel on Kobo and other e-book platforms. The most recent proofreading/editing run was done by Rick’s friend Larry Riley, who did a fantastic job finding a heap of leftover typos and suggested a ton of much-needed improvements. So even if the book ultimately does not get published on paper, I am profoundly thankful for Larry’s insight – he has contributed a lot to a much-improved electronic version of the novel.
Apart from that, I’ve finally decided to release the three “main” albums by SUR, one of my former bands that would now be 18 years old if it still existed, on the current streaming platforms shortly. While I haven’t seen any reason to do it in the past (as nobody gives much of a damn about such an exhumation), nowadays I don’t see any reason not to do it. These albums will by no means be remastered or remixed or whatever. They will simply be reissued, in their original form, on the new platforms – solely for the sake of making them available to all three potential listeners that may still remember this band at all… But, more importantly, to ensure their continued existence in the form that people, especially the former SUR band members, can actually use. Indeed, we’ve come to the point where CDs have become terminally obsolete. What will I ever do with those boxes full of ’em now that I don’t even own a CD player anymore…?
That’s about it. I probably won’t disappear for a year again after this post, though, because I’ll be releasing Touring My Backyard, the first “augmentation” from the Tit album that I am reworking, as soon as I’m done reconstructing it. Working on that has been all sorts of annoying, I admit… But it certainly brings back memories!
The last bit of “music-related work” I’d had the pleasure of participating in before I packed up my equipment and moved from Berlin had been a field audio recording for the video by Enzo Deiv Caterino (cello) and Orazio Ferrari (double bass), performing excerpts from “Youth”, Enzo’s composition for cello & double bass. The video, announcing a new album that is to be recorded next year, has now been released.
Although we kept complications to the minimum (the duet was only recorded with two overhead mics), I’m happy with the result. The video was directed and shot by Giulio Tarantino, and edited by Sacra Cesana.
My musical endeavours are currently, and until further notice, on hiatus, as in the middle of June the studio in its entirety ended up in boxes and cases:
A few weeks after all the gear had been placed on a truck and then a transport ship container, accompanied with my desperate petitions to the unforgiving universe that it refrain from making someone drop a particularly precious piece of equipment or causing any sort of disaster, everything made it to its destination in one piece:
Now I’ll just have to deal with the trifling matter of finding a suitable place for it all, and then I’ll be able to resume my fabulous career as a studio rat. Hopefully that happens before I’m too old to move on my own, let alone lug all of these damn boxes around…