Black Hole Zion: 2019

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

What’s holding you back and what are you going to do about it?

Although I don’t really put much stock into New Years resolutions, I think it’s kind of natural to reflect on the year past and the year ahead.  When that comes up in thought, my mind responds with, “What’s holding you back and what are you going to do about it?”

I’ll go first.  What’s holding me back?  I get frustrated, disappointed, and angry at other people, systems in place, and, of course, myself.  That sounds pretty broad, but for me, those are the kind of things that bug me the most.  People can be awful to one another.  The world isn’t progressing fast enough in a positive direction.  I lose my temper or get depressed.  I let all of that and more get to me too much sometimes.

What am I doing about it?  I keep pushing on even when I don’t want to.  I try to be nice to folks that deserve it and sometimes even to those that don’t.  I try to stand up to the bullies of the world or at least don’t let them bully me (calmly if I can). I create things and try to put as much meaning into them as I can.  Making music together in this band.  If I have spare time, I spend it with my wife, dogs, friends, and family.  I donate money to good causes and try to help people and animals.  I do yoga, other exercise, reiki, meditation and all that kind of stuff.  I don’t do any of this enough, and I continue to work on it.

This should not be all about me though.  I’m more curious to know about the folks reading it.  Comment or direct message if you don’t want others to see.  Just the action of you writing it might help someone else.

So, I’ll ask it again.  What’s holding you back and what are you going to do about it?

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Musically Guided Short Meditations

We are doing a series of short and musically guided meditations. This one is targeted towards relaxation and focus while making use of binaural beats. I wrote the music in Pro Tools and created a custom visualization for this using Adobe After Effects. This was originally played live with some explanation from me. The version you are seeing and hearing is just the music and visualizations.

Additionally, here is the livestream where I provided some context and background information.

We will be doing more of these, so if any of you have questions or requests, feel free to reach out to us.


Friday, November 8, 2019

Trapped in the Center of an Unstable Loop

"I'm only happy when I am inside of you" doesn't really mean all you think it does. We set aside some time to practice in our friend, Jackie's, studio.  He's a lighting designer and we wanted to get another rehearsal in with our new keyboard played, Stan.  It seemed like a perfect opportunity to practice together and get some video footage.  We didn't really know what to expect, but it ended up turning out nicely.  It was a really cool and disorienting experience.  The strobes and other lights in our face were way more intense than at a typical show when you have a bit of distance between you and the lights.  This was tight and up close.  I think the intensity of all that came through in the performance. You get wound up doing something like that even without a large group of people to play for. 

We ended up doing maybe 3 takes of the song as a band with a couple of cameras, then another take where I used a handheld to get footage of everyone without me in the shot.  I did all the editing, and it was a bit of a challenge to get all the stuff that was lit for a live performance to play well on camera.  This is also the first video we've done with our new lineup, which I am so happy about.

I quote the lyric from the last line of the chorus, but I don't really explain it.  I kind of like things that way, but I realize some of the stuff I say is out there for some.  What I will say for right now is that one of the things I am happy to be inside of is that unstable loop.  That repeating pattern that is quite irregular.  Like a lot of songs on that album, it's kind of tough to talk about too much.  My friend, Steve, has asked why I don't explain a lot of the lyrics.  I plan to finally do some of that soon.  For now, here is the video:

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

What Are The Secrets of Time Travel?

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What are the secrets of time travel? This has become a favorite to play. I (Mark) don’t usually like to talk about the lyrics. I usually give a glib answer about Jar Jar Binks or The Golden Girls when someone asks. After a long conversation with my friend, Steve, I decided to open up a tiny bit more. Imagine feeling so desperate to change things in the world and get something you lost back that you contemplate meditation and suicide as means to travel through time. Then, in these moments of despair, an infomercial flashes on your screen with promises by a man that claiming to have figured out the secrets of time travel. He calls himself a doctor, but not because he is a physician. He has legally changed his name so he can advertise himself this way. He’s recruiting participants for his program and the protagonist in the song follows the words on the screen that say “call now!” He ends up being favorited by this fake doctor during the intake process. Instead of being a participant, he becomes an intern and discovers that our television personality isn’t giving people the secrets of time travel. He’s performing lobotomies. Our protagonist knows this is wrong, but continues assisting. He’s so desperate that he hopes for a shred of truth. He’s also started viewing the doctor as a mentor and religious figure because he’s so broken down and in need of something to believe in. When he finally wises up, we hear it from this perspective in the song. He’s jaded even further about the world he lives in and is angry to have fallen for such a scam. However, he hasn’t given up on the ability to travel through time and live forever by metaphysically dying. He’s still seeking. In the album, I used “The Extraction of the Stone of Madness” by Bosch as the basis for the art and lyrics panel. I ran it through a series of processes related to “glitch art”. The stone of madness supposedly caused dementia or other mental illnesses. The “cure” involved drilling the skull open to release pressure or let evil spirits escape. This served as a kind of inverse parallel to what happens in the song. #timetraveltuesday #industrialmetal #glitchart #hieronymusbosch

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Transdimensional Stellar Autopsy

The video for Transdimensional Stellar Autopsy is out on 3/29/19.  I'll include an embedded link below.

In a dark and complicated album like The Great Repression, this is the most uplifting song you are going to hear.  That's not saying much though.  This is the final song on the record, and the one where I am trying to make the most sense out of all those feelings of desperation, confusion, anger, and loss.  It is an examination of the granting, loss, and regaining of power for a person.  It is the conclusion that no matter what you do, you cannot fix everything in life or with yourself.  You cannot save everyone, and you might not be able to save anyone.  You do the best that you can because in the end it means nothing and it means everything all at the same time.  I had a friend asking me questions and discussing the album who just so happens to be in the mental health field.  He likened the album to stages of grief and this song to the acceptance stage.  This album is definitely written from the perspective of an individual going through loss and also suffering from mental illness, so I feel that is an accurate observation for him to make.

I almost did not release the video because it does not reflect the current lineup of Black Hole Zion.  However, I like this song and I like everyone that has ever been part of Black Hole Zion.  I felt the song deserved a video, so I went ahead with the plan to release.  Visually, this is most certainly an attempt to show how the song makes me feel, what was going through my mind lyrically, and also combine my love of all things science fiction.  At times there are 8-10 layers of visuals happening at once even though you may not see them all consciously.  I hope you dig it.  If not, oh well.  See you on the other side of the multiverse.