It's Sunday again, and that means "chill music". Today, we enter the world of jazz. For this episode, chillmeister Marc picked five of his favorite soothing jazz tunes and Serge added five of his favorite dark jazz anthems. The rest of this intro is useless. Enjoy...
Death. Even the word is dreadful, but in our lives we will not always have the choice, when something so terrible – the death of someone beloved – unfortunately happens. One thing is for sure: human existence is uncertain, and tragedies can happen suddenly, in a blink of eyes. And when someone in our life dies – especially if it is someone close to us, like a relative – it is impossible not to grieve, after all, was someone we knew, someone that has in most cases been there for our entire lives, someone we loved for so much, and will keep loving it, even in the condition of the beloved person’s absence. But how can we deal properly with the pain and the suffering that usually follows death? There is no guide, nor known manual for dealing with such a terrible thing. But one thing is certain: we can choose how to deal with it, and it is in our capacity to deal with this negative force in a positive way, although this certainly has its difficulties.
One thing will always follow the grieving person: amazing memories, whether be the ones in the memory, or the photographs kept in an album, for that occasional look, sometimes to relieve the distress of the loss. But a human being can never blame oneself for things whose control is far beyond its circumstances, nor carry the weight of the world on its shoulders, for it is a burden too heavy to carry on, and this kind of torment will only make things worse. The scar will take more time to heal, and it will generate no benefits at all, in any way. The grieving person has to take care for oneself, remembering that, unfortunately, human beings simply can’t control it all. They never did, as a matter of fact.
Of course, some deaths can be more traumatizing than others. One thing is to lose your father when he is 90 years old, and has lived a prolific and producing happier existence. A very different situation is to lose your beloved four-year old child, from a tragedy, or a disease. It is a kind of pain way more difficult to deal with, and the existence itself can turn into a nightmare of depression, affliction, melancholy and despair, with no light at the end of the tunnel. This kind of pain, besides being difficult to deal with, turns normality in daily life difficult to repair, and, literally, only time can restrain some damages, although, in almost situations of this kind, doesn’t repair much. There’s no known cure for such a tragedy. Time may turn things into a more static, bearable, lethargic state, but can’t repair all kinds of pain.
Several persons turn to religion, and God, for answers and consolation in such a difficult moment in life. You may not be a religious person, but this kind of help can improve your life, although that will highly depend on your set of beliefs.
Human beings usually don’t think about death until it happens. The idle and inherently indolent human nature never compels the vast majority of human beings about wondering the onset of their own mortality, until sometimes it’s too late. If more people were able to have thoughts of these kind, they will certainly make a real effort to do more significant things in their lives, like helping the poor and the destitute, the less fortunate, taking care of abandoned and mistreated animals, setting up charities, giving their time and money for valuable causes, since the greatest thing we can achieve in life is helping our fellow human beings, that suffer, grieve, cry and agonize, a lot more than we think they do. I like very much of a saying by American president, Ronald Reagan, that once said: It is impossible to take care of everybody, but everybody can always help somebody. And if everybody in the world could take care of one person? Wouldn’t the world be a lot different than it is?
This is the conclusion several persons who suffered terrible losses suddenly came up with: Why do not help people who are in the same condition of suffering, which I am? I would have liked so much to have had the help that nobody gave me, but I can give to people in similar circumstances the help I never had. I will never forget a documentary I saw recently, about missing persons. One old man whose daughter mysteriously vanished more than twenty five years ago set up a foundation that helps people in searching for their missing loved ones, and he helps everybody that goes to him directly, in their search efforts. Someone commented on the documentary that this man turned his grief into a cause, to sincerely help others. Another one remarkably said that “a psychologist will certainly say that he is still searching for his missing daughter”, which is probably true. But feeling this kind of pain, and still find in his inner self the strength to get out of bed every morning, and search for other people’s daughters makes this man even more incredible, amazingly persistent, fiercely strong and a lovely human being, than a lot of other ordinary persons, more occupied and busy living exclusively for themselves.
In his case, we learn specifically that his pain made the difference in others people’s lives, and this can be a great example for all of us. He built from the ashes and the misery of his existence a reason to live for, and to help others. You can transform pain into hope for others, and that hope certainly can make the difference in the lives of desperate and depressed people. We all can do the same, although this takes, for sure, a lot of determination and perseverance, that we can’t always find in ourselves, no matter how hard we try. Sometimes, we just want to sit down and cry. And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s part of being human.
We know that disappearances, in the great majority of cases, are deaths without the body ever being found or recovered. More recently, I saw another documentary about a Canadian teenage girl that went missing, four years ago. The almost one hour documentary featured mostly her parents, talking about the circumstances on which she vanished, the searching that immediately followed, their dealing with the terrible and painful absence of their daughter, and the ongoing searches in the present day. The part on which the mother of the missing girl talked about the unbearable pain that she and her husband has undergone for the past four years are the most emotional, and you are not human if you’re throat are not twisted at her painful speech. A great suffering sometimes can be unbearable, and the amount of strength you have to reclaim for yourself in order to keep living can be painstakingly inhuman.
The death of someone we love can be a terrible experience, for a lot of reasons. Death doesn’t come alone; sorrow, grief, pain and despair usually follow, and having to deal with the absence of the person can be a difficult task, hard to endure. How can you deal with the absence of someone that – in the case of a wife or a husband, for example – was part of your daily life? That was always eating on the same table, sharing the same bed, talking to you every night – especially those couples that lived long lives together, after 25, 30, 40 years of marriage, sometimes even longer? For old couples, it is not rare the surviving one dying not long after the partner, since a lifetime together creates somewhat a codependency on one another, of a psychic, mental, emotional and physical nature.
So, one more time we hit the unbearable question: There is a proper way in dealing with the loss of a beloved person? There is a correct way to deal with death? Unfortunately, there is not. And even if there was a magical formula in dealing with such a terrible thing, human beings are so diverse and respond to death in so many different ways that such a formula would be rendered useless in just a matter of seconds.
Death can be a test to our strength, our patience, our life, our routine, and life as we know it, to the personal will of keep living it. And, although there is no magical words that will make you feel good, one thing you can never do: blame yourself, even if you remotely think that the tragedy was your fault. Guilt and denial only makes an already terrible and dark situation even worse, so you have to fight hard to think clearly, and not descend into deep depression, since this feature is common in someone who experienced a terrible loss.
But we can always remember that even in these situations we can do useful things: be the strength to others, who are feeling the same pain and dealing with the same loss. We can be the support others need, we can be strong for the ones who aren’t. And, in this kind of situation, such a help is always useful, and cannot be minimized. It can be painstakingly difficult, but we can find strength in pain, and be, in the face of death, the shoulders on which other people can cry upon, while being the arms holding and relieving them of their grief, at least a little. As strange as it could feel, we can have a positive, beneficial and lovely attitude in relation to death, making from our own grief a bridge to help others.
Death is probably the most difficult thing to endure in life, and, with no existing guideline or textbook about dealing with it, it will always impose its hardships. It is at this precise moment in life that the ones involved should swallow their pride if they have differences, and find consolation in one another. Death is hard to endure when you have family and friends, but it is almost impossible to overcome if you’re completely alone, and will turn eventually into an extremely corrosive feature.
So, if you’re going through this horrible ordeal, ask for help, talk to somebody, ask for a hug. Speak up about everything you are feeling. Death is no child’s play. It’s a sad and serious personal injury, invisible to the world, but very apparent in your soul. But the size of the scars it will leave depends entirely on your attitude, behavior and response towards it. And you can be a strong person, even if you think you can’t.
Do you really know well your body clock?
Do you know what circadian rhythm disorders are? The circadian rhythm – your body clock – is what regulates your entire life. In healthy human beings, it does have an intrinsic time that it is equal to a day – approximately 24 hours – and it is submissive to the day and night cycle. So this is the main reason why you go to sleep during the night, sleep well for eight or nine hours, and are perfectly fine when you awake, in the morning. But there are disorders that break this pattern, and turn the life of those suffering from it a very difficult task: Non-24-hour sleep–wake disorder (non-24) and Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS). Well, I really know what I’m saying, given the fact that I suffer from DSPS, for a long time. Since these disorders have very complex clinical definitions, I always do my best to explain those diseases in a simple manner. People with non-24 and DSPS have an intrinsic body clock with a period probably longer than 24 hours, and besides that, with an independent time of its own, it is not submissive to the day and night cycle.
There are a lot of other syndromes and disorders involving sleep, like Narcolepsy, Idiopathic Hypersomnia and Fatal Familial Insomnia. These conditions are all problems in the sleep mechanism, they are not circadian rhythm disorders. People with circadian rhythm disorders, if allowed to do their own body clock schedule, generally sleep well, if they don’t have another disorder, or the most severe form of their respective illness. Since I am not a doctor, I tell what I know from personal experience.
Suffering from the most severe and inflexible form of DSPS, it’s disastrous effects in life sometimes are hard to deal with, since impacts directly in the social, personal and professional life of a person, which is a direct consequence of the precarious ability in doing even minor daily tasks, that are easy for healthy people to do it. People with severe DSPS have to deal with chronic fatigue, perpetual tiredness, motor coordination problems, excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), headaches, physical and mental distress and indisposition, progressive decline of cognitive skills (memory, attention and concentration), and a lot of other symptoms, like irritability to sunlight, or daylight in general. The physical and mental health of the individual suffering from the disorder progressively deteriorates. People with circadian rhythm disorders are frequently called night owls, since they all appear to function better at night. Unfortunately, they can develop a lot of other comorbidities as well, like acute anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder or clinical depression. Nevertheless, severe impairment impacts the daily lives of people suffering from these conditions. Though not necessarily related, in some cases, DSPS can evolve to non-24, a disorder in which the circadian rhythm goes completely out of alignment, having no reference point of its own. Non-24 is a disorder more common to blind people, since they don’t fall under the direct influence of the sunlight during the daytime, and neither the darkness during the nightfall, to guide their intrinsic body clocks.
Treatment is very individual to each person. The medication that functions well for someone may be insufficient to another. But with the proper medication, and a good adherence to the discipline of sleep hygiene, people who live with those disorders can have a decent degree of quasi normality in their lives. Full normality will never be achieved, but with a good disposition to accept the person’s own limitations, admit to yourself that you can’t do everything that a normal person does, and come to terms with the fact that you have an invisible disability, a somewhat plausible quality of life can be obtained! But treatment is necessary for life improvement. Those diseases going untreated can lead to extreme suffering, severe mental distress, and a severe degeneration on physical condition, with the chronic fatigue worsening and disabling the person for good, to the point that the individual doesn’t get out of bed anymore. Since suicidal tendencies are a common symptom, in some cases, despair can lead to suicide, as severe and constant fatigue can be a source of great physical distress.
Unfortunately, circadian rhythm disorders and sleep disorders in general are very little known. 99% of humans are completely ignorant about those diseases, and since most of them are, to a certain extent, very rare conditions, and also invisible to the human eye, this contributes to the widespread general ignorance. Unfortunately, this impacts directly in the person’s professional life. People with circadian rhythm disorders find difficult to wake up in the morning, and they are usually chronically late for work, if they manage to go to work at all. This is one main reason why people suffering from those conditions lose their jobs frequently. One recent research conducted in the United States concluded that almost 50% of narcoleptics are unemployed. With a very poor performance at work, they are regarded as lazy and incompetent people, and the ones surrounding them fail to perceive those individuals as human beings struggling with a chronic illness. Sadly, most of them don’t know acknowledge the fact themselves, and often the disorder goes undiagnosed, and consequently, untreated.
Another heinous disease, one of the most rare sleep disorders, is Fatal Familial Insomnia, that inevitably kills those suffering from it. People who develops the condition can’t sleep, even taking sleeping pills. Being a disease with no cure, it kills a person generally in seven to eighteen months. Three years is the longer life expectancy for someone who develops FFI. And yet, it is way better to die fast, since it is a very terrible and conspicuous death in slow motion.
People with sleep and circadian rhythm disorders can find a little consolation in the vast communities online, where all those suffering from these conditions gather together, share problems, experiences, and learn that they are not alone in their personal misery. Recently, I’ve read the case of a woman suffering from Advanced sleep phase disorder (ASPD), a disease very much like DSPS, but with the opposite timing. While people with severe DSPS – untreated – fall asleep generally at 5am, this woman complained that at 6:30 – 8:00 pm, she is dying to sleep, being hard for her to stay awake. She wakes up – fatigued – at 2 or 3 am, and she spoke about her condition, saying how difficult it is for her to participate in professional or social gatherings during the night.
Sleep disorders are a very important part of a ramification of medicine called chronobiology. The study of the intrinsic body clock of every human being, and the way it negatively impacts one’s life, when it is disrupted out of alignment.
For a happy life, one thing is really important for someone with a chronic circadian rhythm disorder: never think about tomorrow. Living one day at a time is a great contributing factor to achieve some degree of happiness. Anxiety over tomorrow causes considerable distress, and terrible emotional convulsions over “the things that I have to try to be able to do… oh my God, will I be able to do it?” No! Live fully your today, tomorrow will bring its own challenges. Let tomorrow’s challenges be a tomorrow’s concern. I know it is easier to say than do it, I have problems following my own rules myself, but this rule is a golden rule, generally regarded as very helpful, to put life back on track.
Strict adherence to sleep hygiene can also improve the quality of life. Though it is hard following it, – together with the proper medications – you can create a routine and a discipline that deceives your body clock. Nonetheless, patience is a necessary virtue for the struggle. Eventually, several times, no matter how hard you’ve trained, the circadian rhythm will inevitably relapse to its intrinsic late schedule (in the case of DSPS). But you can do your best, and start over again.
Another secret for happiness is to understand that we – DSPS people, and circadian rhythm disorders people in general – live in a very personal world, with rules and timing completely different from the rest of human society. And outside people almost always will never be able to understand that. Acknowledge the fact that they are incapable of understanding our peculiar situations, having patterns and behaviors incompatible with our condition, and subsequently, with our life systems, is also a major point to achieve happiness. Healthy people – with some rare exceptions – will never fully understand night owls or invisible disabilities. Get used to that! Learning to live with a condition like DSPS is for the strongest, but it is possible to do it. Fighting with it day and night. And more night than day, certainly.
A while ago, I was chatting with drone/ambient experimentalist Barst about these series. At one point, he mentioned "all that research must take hours". He was right about that. I often spend a lot of evenings searching through Wikipedia and all kinds of websites specialized in Belgian music. However, although the research is the most work, the hardest part of writing these series is finding a decent intro. So, this time, I'm not going to write an intro. Oh, wait....
"Oh, a photo of a carillon instrument, that must be Belgian too", you might think. And guess what, you are twice right.
A carillon ('Beiaard" in Dutch, 'Glockenspiel' in German) is a musical instrument that is typically housed in the bell tower of a church or municipal building. The instrument consists of at least 23 cast bronze, cup-shaped bells. The first carillon was built in Flanders, where a carillonneur performed music on the bells of Oudenaarde Town Hall in 1510 by using a baton keyboard.
In recent years, the sound of the carillons still wanders through the Belgian landscapes (as well as Dutch and French). Quite often, people use these instruments to play local or international hits, including K3, Yevgueni and this version of Gorki's 'Mia'.
Oh, and the second time you were right? Well, apparently, the JPEG conversion is a Belgian invention too, courtesy of physicist and mathematician Baroness Ingrid Daubechies.
For many people around the globe, noise music is something to be frowned upon, not to be taken seriously. People don't understand it, throw it aside as useless spielerei but here, we are damn serious about it.
Our most notable avant garde noise creator was Henri Pousseur, who was born in Malmedy in 1929. He studied at the Academies of Music in Liège and in Brussels from 1947 to 1952. He worked along Boulez & Stockhausen on dodecaphonic and serial music in Cologne (1954) and Milano (1957) before founding his own studio in Bruxelles (1958).
His most popular composition is probably the 'Scambi' project, released in 1957, a strange piece of electronic noise. During his career, Pousseur created countless of the otherworldly compositions. He became an influence for avant garde, musique concrete and noise artists all over the world.
These days, our underground music scene is teeming with these uncategorizable projects. Many of our cities harbor these often gritty and raunchy venues where noise in all forms barks through speakers. In Antwerp, Club Moral has been making industrial noise for over thirty years, here and there featuring guest appearances by Mauro Pawlowski, Aldo Struyf, and many others. On the other side of the language border, we find Bruital Orgasme, a harsh and uncompromising duo that celebrates its tenth birthday this year. And then there are hundreds, if not thousands of bands and projects dwelling in the caverns of noise, dark ambient, drone, musique concrete and avant garde. Some build walls on noise on their own, others come together for extreme improvisation sessions. In many cities in Belgium (much like many other country), harsh noises and everything related blasts through speakers and living rooms, small venues and obscure festivals.
A country resonating on beats
There is a lot to say about the Belgian electronic music scene. If you look at the line-up for one of the world's most exciting dance festivals, Tomorrowland, you will get a decent overview of our electronic history, or at least the mainstream version. After Telex (see previous edition), thousands of Belgians have been experimenting with synths, computers and drum machines. Neon Judgement, Snowy Red, A Split Second, Nux Nemo, Fatal Error, Praga Khan, Zolex, Stromae, the list goes on and on.
If you want to know more about Belgian dance music, you might want to check the movie 'The Sound Of Belgium', which beautifully illustrates this history. But don't think it stops right there, on the very contrary. In every street in this little country, someone is producing music. For example, somewhere in Antwerp, there is an Ableton-guru who operates under the moniker Boatman. With straight-on techno and house music, he is perfectly capable of filling dancefloors everywhere. So are many others.
Once you take a look into our EDM-history, you will notice that our alternative scene is just as loaded with bands and projects as the commercial, mainstream one. Of course, we will look deeper into our electronic scene in future editions of these series.
We are brilliant cooperators
If you go to Boatman's soundcloud and scroll down a little, you will find a track by The Fitz. This track brings me to the final part in this edition of 'Belgium...', our flair for cooperating with other artists and the stunning results it produces. Maybe one of the best known musicians and cooperators is Toots Thielemans, who started performing with Benny Goodman's band when they toured Europe in 1949 and 1950. Throughout his career, Thielemans cooperated with an incredible amount of people, including Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, James Last, Julian Lennon & Paul Simon.
On to the heavier side of things, we find Christian Olde Wolbers. Wolbers was born in Antwerp in 1973 but gained fame when he started playing bass (and later guitars) in one of the world's most influential industrial metal bands, namely Fear Factory. Today, Wolbers is active in a band named Arkaea, formed out of former Fear Factory and Threat Signal members. Dirk Verbeuren, also from Antwerp, is well known for his prominent role behind the drum kit of Soilwork and, since 2016, Megadeth.
But we're not only great cooperators with foreign artists, oh noo. We also do quite well when asked to do something special. In 2016, the Trix venue in Antwerp asked a bunch of rock and metal bands to enter the studio with some of our most prominent hip hop acts. The goal was to commemorate Aerosmith & Run DMC's 'Walk This Way' and the legendary 'Judgement Night' soundtrack. The result was a blast of an album and apparently an unforgettable evening at Trix, proving that rock and rap still work quite well together. Here and there, some of the bands and acts did some performances afterwards but we're still waiting for a full-on album by some of these acts. I think that would be cool....
I'll leave you with that, a carillon instrument, some jazz, a bit of techno, some metal and a dash of rap. That should do with this edition of 'Belgium, The Capital Of The Underground Music Scene'. We will be back soon(ish) with more interesting stuff about that little country at the North Sea. Perhaps, next time I will finally write about that new beat thing, but I also might just elaborate on our awesome venues, or on how foreign artists love playing here, or about a thing called "Mincecore". See you then...
It's Sunday evening and that means it's time for another slab of soothing sounds. Today, we list fifteen tracks from the electronic downtempo scene. So this time, it is allowed to tap your feet and shake your head with these ten fine tunes...
E.V.A. - 0100
Boards Of Canada - Seven Forty Seven
Plaid - Kortisin
Bonobo - Black Sands
Tycho - Awake
Helios - Every Passing Hour
Lassigue Bendthaus - Molecular Modelling
Sounds From The Ground - Triangle
The Future Sound Of London - Cascade (Part 2)
Ott - The Queen of All Everything
Several days ago, I’ve received an e-mail from Avaaz. It was a petition collecting signatures with the purpose to protest against whale hunting in Iceland. The petition, as a matter of fact, was reuniting signatures for the flag of the small Caribbean nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis to be removed from an Icelandic ship, something that would deliberately compromise one thousand and seven hundred tons of whale meat to reach their destination, which was Japan. According to the document formulated by Avaaz, that in three days was hoping to collect one million signatures for the cause, if the small Caribbean nation agreed to remove their flag from the Icelandic cargo ship – which would be the equivalent to renounce their condescending nature concerning the brutal slaughter of those poor innocent animals – the whale meat industry in Iceland would suffer an irremediable blow, that could force them to suspend their activities, and to cease for good the horrendous and brutal massacre.
International environmentalists, besides organizations like the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, reacted intensely to the brutal and unscrupulous slaughter of the animals, killed for the purpose of satisfying the frivolous and insidious human commercial greed. According to ipcdigital.com, Norway and Iceland were the only countries in the world openly engaged in violating the rights consolidated exclusively for the whales’ protection, formalized by a decree established as a statute in 1986 by the International Whaling Commission. Nonetheless, Japan is another country that seems to be predisposed to disrespect the international regulations, since they take advantage of a constitutional gap existent within the law – that allows the hunting for scientific purposes – to hunt down and kill the animals, justifying their acts by claiming that they do what they do for the sake of biological studies. But its common knowledge that the meat processed from the slaughtered animals ends up in the table of the costumers, to be eaten as a meal. In Iceland, Kristjan Loftsson, one of the authorities of whaling fishing in the small insular nation, has tried to justify his position, claiming that, according to domestic policies, he was not disobeying any law. Nonetheless, it seems that saving the poor animals’ life’s hasn’t been the priority of anybody, except for a small group of people, numbering in the hundreds, that openly defies the financial interests of an insidious capitalist industry, that, besides being completely indifferent to the fate of the poor animals’, doesn’t mind at all the terrible and painful suffering inflicted to them, in the moment of the hunting and the slaughter.
Unfortunately, this is a dispute that has yet to stand by the side of the environmentalists, even less the true victims of the whole story, the poor targeted animals, given the fact that a great number of countries in the world still actively practice the sport and the predatory fishing. In the Faroe Islands, a constituent country of Denmark, there is an annual festival, which the local inhabitants called Grindadráp, upon which hundreds of Long-finned pilot whales and Atlantic white-sided dolphins are brutally slaughtered, although this tradition is severely attacked by organizations that fight for environmental justice and animal welfare. Recently, scientists and scholars protested against the hunting of pilot whales in particular, claiming that, given the extremely high levels of mercury in their system, the meat is inappropriate for human consumption. This became another major contributor of irremediable importance for the hunting of whales to stop for once and for all. Nonetheless, this insidious and lucrative market will fight until the end for their desire to exhaust and deplete the natural resources of the planet, and keep the slaughtering going on, against the poor and defenseless whales.
Unfortunately, it seems that there are no limits for the brutal and hideous human malevolence, that, blinded by its unscrupulous arrogance and acerbic lack of humanity, empathy and common sense, reclaims for oneself, as the sovereign legitimate owner of the universe, everything that exists in the world, with the power to exercise the right of life and death over the poor and defenseless animals, protected by all means, in each and every possible way, only in theory, by laws and regulations without any practical value, constantly violated at all times, for the sake of the degrading and ignominious gears of the capitalist machinery, that on its voracious and deranged hunger, wants to swallow everybody and everyone, especially the poor animals, the greatest victims in all of this terrible and perfidious – to say the least – environmental tragedy.
As an individual that deals with DSPS (Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome) for so many years, I can positively affirm with authority, knowledge and personal experience how hard can be for someone to live with such a condition. In its most severe and inflexible form, it’s considered a permanent disability. Sleep disorders are irreversible, doesn’t have a cure, and people who are forced to live with such debilitating conditions – like this one, or others of a similar category, like Non-24 (Non-24-hour sleep–wake disorder) – certainly deal with a great amount of consternation and despondency, given the fact that all aspects of their lives – social, personal and professional – are invariably affected and compromised by a deficient level of accomplishments, and an inefficient ability to perform daily tasks. This came as invariable consequences of these conditions, which has, as main symptoms, chronic fatigue, excessive daytime sleepiness, tiredness, headaches and cognitive disorders (a deterioration in the capacities of memory, attention and concentration), to name just a few. And everything becomes progressively worse as time pass by. People who suffer from such a terrible dysfunction are invariably affected by a permanent process of physical and mental deterioration.
Like the Non-24-hour sleep–wake disorder, the Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome can be described as a disturbance on the circadian rhythm of the biological clock. In healthy persons, the circadian rhythm has twenty four hours (the length period of a day), and is completely submissive to the day and night cycle. In individuals who suffer from such disabilities, the biological clock, besides having an intrinsic period that is probably longer than twenty four hours, is primarily desynchronized with the day and night cycle, so the biological clock steps out of its regular compass, developing its own independent anomalous schedule. So, as an example, it’s normal for people suffering from the most severe form of the dysfunction to feel sleepy only by five in the morning. They will obviously have trouble in getting up early to start their daily activities, even if they use several alarm clocks in their attempts to wake up. To fulfill the demands of a regular day job, from 8 am to 17:30 pm, is certainly an enormous and troublesome challenge. After some time, it’s very common for individuals who deal with this condition to be classified as nocturnal, while it is also normal for them to develop a distinct aversion to sunlight, the blue color of the sky, and everything related to the daylight as well, which comes as a progression to the symptoms of the dysfunction.
To properly fight DSPS, a good treatment, with the proper medications, is fundamental and mandatory. The rules concerning sleep hygiene can be a major source of help as well. If this is your case, don’t be frustrated, if you feel yourself unable to follow these rules right away. The required discipline necessary to follow these procedures, and to develop the habits concerning sleep hygiene, are abilities difficult to acquire, and their daily maintenance can be a greater challenge, since this revolves around drastic changes that you will have to do, regarding your routine. But remember: you are not alone, and a lot of people in the world fight exactly the same condition, and the same difficulties related to the symptoms, and the treatment adaptation. To admit to yourself that you have an illness, and never be excessively rigid, but to maintain a reasonable, prudent and wise mental attitude is fundamental for your wellbeing.
Without medical help, though, DSPS becomes progressively worse, and an individual suffering from this condition can lose completely the control of his life. If you suffer from this dysfunction – or another sleep disorder, since all of them are equally debilitating – medical treatment is fundamental, besides extremely necessary, for you to have a better quality of life, and to regain, at least relatively – since, being a chronic condition, it is for life, so, there is no cure – the happiness, the normality and the joy of existence.
David Parland, better known as Blackmoon, was a celebrated Swedish musician, notorious in the black metal community for being the co-founder of Dark Funeral. He also co-founded black metal groups Necrophobic, War and Infernal. A talented guitarist and an amazing songwriter, David Parland was a predominant and exponentially creative force in all bands in which he became involved, something easy to conclude by virtue of his role as a founding member and a leading figure in all these black metal acts. He was a proverbial influence in shaping the sonorous style, the dynamic visuals and the ideological direction of those musical groups, although more commonly in conjunction with other members, despite the fact that, in some of his projects, David Parland did most of the work all by himself.
Born in Sweden in 1970, David Parland first became involved in music in 1989, when he was eighteen years old, and founded Necrophobic with another musician. In 1993, he founded Dark Funeral with guitarist and songwriter Mikael Svanberg – better known as Lord Ahriman –, which would be his best known and most notorious creation in the genre. In a few years, Dark Funeral would rise to become one of the most infamous black metal bands in the world, and a reference in the history of the genre. Initially reconciling his two bands perfectly, David Parland eventually departed from Necrophobic to fully concentrate on Dark Funeral. Despite the fact that his partnership with Svanberg – and the additional cast of musicians that joined them – would marvelously succeed, David Parland remained in Dark Funeral only for three years, leaving the band in 1996, after the release of their debut album, the iconic The Secrets of the Black Arts. The recording process for this album occurred in difficult and troublesome circumstances, being a landmark in the history of the band. Completely dissatisfied with the original product, David Parland insisted with his band mates that the album should be recorded again. Although the other band members were not as disappointed as David, he won the argument, and the album was recorded again, in a different studio, with a different producer. Nonetheless, several facts in David’s life – mainly, the solitary path he underwent musically, sometime after the album was released – suggest that he became profoundly unsatisfied with the sonorous style shaped by Dark Funeral, and that was the most probable reason for him to quit the band. With another two prominent musicians of the black metal scene, David Parland founded another band, simply called War. Short-lived, whilst it was active, the band had delivered three releases: an EP, a full-length and a compilation album, but repercussion of the work was unsatisfying. Sometime before they disbanded, the band had to change their name to Total War, since an American band already had the rights to the War name.
By this time, David Parland also founded Infernal, which started as a band, but eventually, over the years, became more of a personal project, since Parland alone wrote all the songs, and performed and recorded everything mostly by himself. Sometimes he was assisted by occasional session musicians, that usually were friends or acquaintances from his musical circle. Mainly a drummer, or a bassist.
In 2003, after years of a marginal degree of productivity, having released only two EP’s and a split, it became clear that Infernal was going nowhere. As a result, David Parland took a hiatus of almost six years. During this period, although haven’t becoming necessarily inactive, Parland maintained his involvement in music restricted to a minimum.
For little more than a decade, from the mid-nineties to the beginning of the 2000’s, David Parland managed his own record label, called Hellspawn Records. Within his tenure as a small label manager, David Parland printed by Hellspawn ten releases, ranging from his musical projects and bands, as well as other prominent acts within the underground metal community.
After several years of invisibility in the musical scene, David Parland returned in 2009, to fully concentrate on his project, Infernal. Resurfacing with surprising vigor, lucidity and energy, Parland released an EP titled The Infernal Return, under the Infernal moniker. Although Parland was doing mostly everything by himself – like vocals, guitar, lyrics, songwriting and occasional bass playing –, he was being assisted by a revolving cast of musicians – mainly bass and drum players –, and was apparently seriously trying to transform Infernal in a live band, but to hold on a permanent basis by his side the right musicians, with the level of commitment that he wanted, and also on the same musical alignment, proved to be a goal almost impossible to achieve. He also announced the full length debut of Infernal, an album tentatively titled The Infernal Retribution, which was never recorded. Unfortunately, when everything seemed to be fine and going well with David, he mysteriously disappeared again from the musical scene. After some years, he resurfaced, and revealed what was going on in his life. He explained everything in a very long, honest and detailed October 2012 interview, that he gave for Rites of the Black Moon, a webzine that already had interviewed him three years earlier.
In this interview, David Parland revealed quite frankly that he was dealing with the consequences of a series of major problems in his personal life. Some years ago, he was involved in a serious car accident, that he suffered when he ran over an elk, returning from a studio in the Swedish countryside. The car was extensively damaged, beyond repair, but he survived without major distress. Nonetheless, he sustained terrible injuries caused by the car crash, and had to deal, from then on, with chronic pain. To alleviate his suffering, he started to use medications, and eventually became addicted. Inevitably, he had to be isolated in a psychiatric facility for an undisclosed period of time for treatment.
Parland also revealed that this problem had brought him bad financial circumstances, since he wasn’t able to work in a regular job by virtue of his pain. Nonetheless, he maintained some positivity, affirming that he was planning to return to music full time. He also disclosed the problem of getting in Sweden the medications that he needed to properly treat his condition, revealing how terrible and restrictive the healthcare system was in his country. Even prescriptions for soft medications could be hard to get, because, in his own words “nearly everything is considered a narcotic here”. Describing how difficult it was for him to properly function without medication, David Parland also addressed his indignation and resentment towards the policy that makes pharmacological substances hard to obtain, and how much suffering these flawed laws brings to people who really needs the medicine to counterattack the aggressive symptoms of their precarious health. David Parland also debated about another points of concern in his life, and meticulously discussed his ambitions towards his work and his music. He was also working on another project, simply titled Blackmoon – that was also called Darkwinds, and Blackmoon’s Darkwinds for a while –, and under this alias, a demo, an unreleased demo and an untitled album was produced.
Unfortunately, things did not go well from then on. In March 19, 2013, David Parland committed suicide. He was forty two years old. Nobody knows precisely what was going on in his life for a fact, or what circumstances specifically drove him to execute such a desperate act. When hearing the news of his death, former band mate, Mikael Svanberg, from Dark Funeral, expressed in a formal statement his grief and sadness. He declared that, although he and David had their differences, they were friends, and David occasionally visited him in his residence, especially when he was dealing with severe difficulties. He also declared that, four days before he took his own life, David Parland called him, and the two spoke to each other naturally. Svanberg told the media that Parland seemed normal and okay, and by what he understood from their conversation, things were going fine. He also pointed out the fact that David knew he could always count on him, and didn’t know why, before considering an extreme act like suicide, Parland didn’t called him again, asking for help.
Apparently, David Parland’s artistic endeavors, goals and aspirations never took the path that he wanted, although he fought hard to be in control of the circumstances, and to react against the terrible situations that constantly affected his life. Struggling endlessly with the difficulties inherent to a musical career – specially in a subgenre of the underground scene, like black metal – he always had to be pleased with little, being forced to deal with an insurmountable succession of adversities, which tormented him with an afflictive chain of frustrations, brought by a spiral of problems that always put obstacles and barriers on his way and compromised his objectives. One way or another, David Parland always had to deal with circumstances whose control was always beyond his possibilities.
An underground icon that achieved cult status in the nineties, and a legendary figure of the Swedish underground scene, David Parland still can be considered an elemental shadow of nature, and a vigorous force of black metal. He will be remembered for the great musician he was. A pioneer of black metal, he always will have a special place within our hearts, our minds and our thoughts! Although we miss him, now that he has been absent for four years, we have a little comfort in the fact that, at least, David Parland finally is having the rest that was constantly denied to him in life.
When I was a child, way back in the seventies, the number of musical genres wasn't as ridiculous as it is today. Back then, there was classical music, jazz, blues, pop and rock/hard rock. Electronic music was still in its infancy, although several interesting albums had already been released, albums I would discover much later. Same thing with metal, that term wasn't as common as it is today. My journey into music began with rock, before the genre gained the prepositions of 'psychedelic', 'noise,' grunge', 'progressive' or 'post'. It was all rock. Here are fifteen rock songs that shaped my musical adventures.
Golden Earring - Kill Me (Ce Soir)
When you play an album for the very first time, you usually start with the first song. Well, the first record I ever spinned was a compilation named '14 Internationale Hits'. The first song was 'Reach Out, I'll Be There' by Gloria Gaynor. I remember not being very fond of that one (although today I find it a lot better than that horrible 'First Be A Woman' thing). But the second song "rocked" my world. Here was a gloomy tune with an immersive rhythm and intense outbursts. 'Kill Me (Ce Soir)' was released a year after I was born, but it shaped my journey into the darker side of music.
Alquin - Wheelchair Groupie
From the same compilation, immediately after Golden Earring, came another Dutch band. Their straightforward rock song 'Wheelchair Groupie' quickly became one of my all time favorites. That drive, that guitar riff. I was sold. It might also be notable that my fascination with music started with Dutch bands. The Dutch would continue to be a constant in my musical adventures. Because of them, I was able to for a decent idea about how music should sound.
The Cure - Love Cats
Where that compilation became my introduction into music, my brother further developed it. For a while I copied everything he did, including his taste in music. One day, I asked him who released a song where the vocalist says "we miss you kiss the lovecats" (remember, I was ten or so). My brother said that there was no such song, on which I decided to write it myself. Only later The Cure would become one of my favorite acts, apparently driving me into making music myself.
The Sisters Of Mercy - Alice
In the end, my brother introduced me to several bands, including Iron Maiden, The Pixies and Lemonheads, but The Cure and Sisters Of Mercy would by far become my favorites in those early days. My predilection for dark music formed early, and years later I plunged into the gothic scene, discovering so many awesome tunes. Six years after first hearing 'Alice', I tried to play it on my own very first guitar. 'Alice' sparked a lifetime of music making, not restricted to the guitar (and not very successful but that never seemed to stop me).
The Ramones - I Wanna Be Sedated
My brother first introduced me to alternative music, but three of his friends ultimately lured me in. Jan, Mario and Bruno got me acquainted to new wave, progressive rock and punk. For a while I often visited any of these three and borrowed some records to copy them on tape. The Ramones blasted so much energy into my life that I immediately adored them. That "1 2 3 4" thing is legendary. Strangely, my adventures is punk began and ended with The Ramones. Even now, I can't find a band that satisfies my punk needs like The Ramones did.
Pink Floyd - Mother
By now, you should have noticed that I don't always pick the big hits. No 'When The Lady Smiles', no 'Lullaby', no 'Temple Of Love'... For some reason, my path has always been a bit different. Take Pink Floyd for example. Today, I realize that 'Dark Side Of The Moon' and 'Wish You Were Here' are two of the most important albums in music history. However, back then, 'The Wall' was the album that introduced me to them, again provided by one of my brother's friends. 'Mother' is probably one of the most beautiful songs they wrote after 'Wish You Were Here'.
Sweater - Write Your Own Song
In the late eighties, my musical preferences started shifting towards the extreme. My cd-player spent hours and hours of spinning Metallica, Anthrax, Sepultura and Overkill. At the same time, I started going to concerts and festivals and thàt turned everything around. Not only did I become interested in more styles of music, I also started loving and respecting Belgian acts. Sweater was one of them, and their concert in Genk caused me to buy my very first band shirt on a concert. I had a few, store bought but this one started an obsession.
Paranoiacs - Song For Debbie H.
When I wrote that The Ramones began and ended my adventures is punk, I lied a little. On the other hand, I never really considered The Paranoiacs to be a punk band. Yes, their music was simple and yes, people called them "The Belgian Ramones" but for me they were just a rock band, and a damn good one too. Although I stopped following them after their 1992 album 'ThirTeen', I still consider their old albums favorites.
Gorki - Engel Red Mij
In my stubborn metal era, I despised everything that was Flemish. Flemish music was something for "stupid idiots" who watch 'Tien Om Te Zien' or go to folk fairs. But then this guy popped up, winning Humo's Rock Rally and releasing this gem in 1992. Luc De Vos is a legend in this country and with good reason too. His success caused the art of Flemish music to become interesting again.
Noordkaap – Een Heel Klein Beetje Oorlog
Gorki was not the only one who made Flemish music interesting again. The early nineties saw several bands pop up on charts and on festivals, including De Mens and the big breakthrough of Belgian Asociality. For me personally, it was always a battle between Gorki and Noordkaap (or Monza or Meuris, whatever Stijn Meuris likes to call his band). Today, I think Gorki wins but Meuris still made a massive impact on my musical history.
The Levellers - 15 Years
Those early nineties showcased an explosion of bands, festivals, genres and favorites. In 1993, Rock Werchter turned out to be the best festival ever (up until then...). Headlined by Metallica , Neil Young and Lenny Kravitz and also billing Faith No More and Sonic Youth, this was a festival never to be forgotten. However, as good as that festival was in its entirety, the most fun I had there was when The Levellers blasted this gem through the speakers.
Red Hot Chili Peppers- The Greeting Song
Again, I'm not picking their greatest hits, I'm pinking the most important song. This one goes out to Tim, a friend from back in the days who I spent a lot of hours on festivals with. We had some great times and we experienced tonnes of bands together. Red Hot Chili Peppers were his favorite band back then, and 'The Greeting Song' is still one of my favorites, along with 'Breaking The Girl' from the same album.
Foo Fighters - Monkey Wrench
For millions of people, Nirvana is the absolute pinnacle of alternative music. For me, caused by an absolutely chaotic concert at Pukkelpop in 1991, they have always been a so-so band. They became world famous mere weeks after that gig but by then I was so drenched in rock and metal that Nirvana was just one of the few. But then came Dave's own project, Foo Fighters. That energy, that intensity. I never understood why Tiamat played metal festivals and Foo Fighters didn't. Then again, Grohl rocks!
Therapy? - Nowhere
Speaking about the thin line between rock and metal, here is Therapy? I saw them live at Rock Herk and then three times in a row in Werchter and I must say, the Rock Herk show is still one of the best ones I have ever seen. I was pummeled by the sheer energy of a young Therapy? And even today, when this or many of their other songs appear on my playlist, I go into party mode.
Ween - Buenos Tardes Amigo
And since I mentioned some of my friends in this article, let me end with a fun story about this masterpiece by Ween. I know this song since it was released in 1994 but suddenly it popped up about a year ago when Marc asked me to play it on YouTube. Bart, another friend of mine was here and immediately adored the song. The same happened with Wouter, who quickly learned to play it on the guitar. It's great to see how one song can bring people together, from jazz fans, over reggae, punk and ska fans to metalheads. That's what good music does...
We already reached the end of this article, or at least the fifteen songs limit I restrict myself to. Of course, rock music goes a lot further than these fifteen songs but we can't extend these lists into eternity. So the only proper solution is keep on writing these Rerooting articles and find tiny variations on the rock theme. Next time, we might take a look at the experimental and progressive scene, but then again, we might also just make up a list of reggae songs.
Being a music reviewer sure is a lot of fun, but being entangled in the world of music also shows the other side. A side where artists, not restricted to musicians, scratch and claw for every penny they can make, just so that they can buy a bread at the end of the week. I know, most musicians also have a day-job, an often useless and mind numbing activity, just like most jobs these days. They have to, their creativity does not bring food to the table, and guess what, it's partially your fault, unless of course you are one the few people who actually respect artists and show that respect.
Now, don't get me wrong, from a logical and humane standpoint, respect has nothing to do with money. However, the world we live in today is almost completely void of logic, let alone humanity. In this world, you and I have to pay for our food. We need money to buy or rent a roof over our heads. We need cash in order to buy clothes so we don't run around naked. Running around naked is illegal too, so we need money to be legal, to be accepted as human beings. Is that logical? No, it is not. But it is the world we live in and we have to either overthrow that or accept it and I don't see many attempts to overthrow the money-driven society...
So we live in a "Moneyarchy", one where we are governed by numbers on a computer screen and by metal coins or sheets of paper that determine what we will eat tonight. I'm not calling that good or bad (that is your decision to make). I'm just stating the fact. Artists live in the same world, but for some reason people treat them differently. Many music fans have absolutely zero respect for the artists. In this article, I would like to go over a few of these so-called "fans". I will write down some cringe worthy quotes and conversations I've heard and I will expose them all for what they are: hypocrites, liars and opportunists.
"Play For Exposure"
There are two types of people who can ask a band to "play for exposure":
1. The band's manager or agency who wants to set up a festival in order to promote the artists he is working with.
2. The members of the band when they want to organise a gig.
If you do not belong to any of these two categories, you have no right to demand this, let alone that dreadful 'pay-to-play' thing. Yes, that is true. Apparently, there are venues, bookers and other numbtwats who ask bands to pay an amount of money so they can appear on stage. It should be the other way around, I know. But then again, some people are opportunistic hypocrites. So if you ask bands either to pay or to play for expose, you are not a music fan and you have no right to call yourself one.
If you are in a band, and some asshole lured you into one of those "exposure gigs", here is what you should do: go on stage, tell the audience that all drinks are free because the venue-owner wants "exposure" for his delicious beverages. Then take a step back and watch the entire event turn into chaos while you load your equipment into the van with a massive grin on your face. Believe me, people will remember you ànd the venue, proving that mutual "exposure" really works.
The coffeeshop incident
One of my friends is named Jeff. He owns a coffeeshop. Jeff can be described as a hipster because he meets the requirements; brown pants, huge beard, thick glasses, Adolf Hitler haircut, plus he owns a coffeeshop. Jeff also claims to be a music lover. Jeff is a liar.
The other day, Jeff was visiting me and I let him listen to a new album, one I had just reviewed. He liked it. He was shaking his head, drumming on his knees and even singing along with one of the choruses. "This is awesome," he said "who is this?'. I showed him the CD. He looked at it carefully, memorizing the band name and title. I also sent him the link to my review, so he could click on the bandcamp or Amazon link and purchase the thing.
A few days later, I needed coffee so I stepped on the bus that took me towards the city centre. In Jeff's coffeeshop, I heard one of the songs from that album. "Oh, cool, you bought it," I said. "Well, no, I torrented it," Jeff answered me. "The artist will not like that", I replied. Jeff looked me right in the eyes, bended towards me and said, "But you are listening to it right now, aren't you? I'm playing this band for all my customers to listen to. So some of them may buy that album".
I sighed and ordered a kilo of coffee. Jeff filled a bag, gave it to me and said "that will be six euros". I looked him right in the eyes, bended towards him and said "But people at my place will drink this coffee tonight and I will tell them where it comes from. Some of them might come over and buy coffee from you". I turned around and started walking away when Jeff yelled "Hey, it doesn't work that way", on which I replied, "You roast for exposure!"
I walked out of the coffeeshop and into a record store across the street. There, I bought that album Jeff was so crazy about. Just for the joke of it, I asked the man behind the counter to gift-wrap the thing. He did. I paid. He thanked me. I thanked him. It was so damn easy. I crossed the street again, went back into Jeff's shop and handed him his little present.
"You're an asshole", he said.
'So are you", I replied.
"I never buy cds but for your band I might make an exception"
That has got to be one of the most cringe worthy excuses for a compliment I've ever heard. As a musician, I can imagine that phrase coming over as utterly insulting. What does that say about the person? Well, let's dissect that sentence.
1. "I never buy cds".
Ok, maybe you are an mp3 man, a Bandcamp fan. Bandcamp is good. I'm not tearing that down. Bandcamp is the best thing that has ever happened to the world of digital music. Compared to Bandcamp, Spotify is like paying your taxes and believing you solved world-hunger that way.
But to be brutally honest, I don't really trust people who don't buy cds, vinyl or merchandise. I'm not saying you have to purchase every single thing a band has ever made but come on. No cds? No vinyl? No shirt? That is like saying, "I really like girls but I don't want to do anything for them". Oh wait, there are a lot of guys like that too.
Besides, why would you say such a thing to an artist? To boost his ego? When an artist hears you say "I never buy cd's", he starts wondering why he's even engaged in the conversation. You are a non-customer, someone who walks into Jeffs's coffeeshop just to the smell the coffee.
2. For your band I might make an exception.
Please god, kill it with fire. Who does this kid think he is? Maybe he should rephrase his sentence to make it more suited to his ego: "So, peasant, if thy kneel to me, perhaps I shall grant thy the majestic joy of being able to make me thy customer. Now kiss that turd I just layeth".
Buying a cd is not 'making an exception'. I'm not saying that it should be an obsession either. Collecting albums and shirts can be an expensive hobby. I know several people who could have bought a house with the money they spent on merchandise (or a small appartment in my case). But if you're not into buying stuff, shut up about it. There is no need to have that conversation. Just say, "good show, well done" and go your own way.
Can we please stop the "Metallica-effect"?
What is the "Metallica-effect?" Well, let me explain with this historic overview.
1. Kill 'Em All
Fans: "wow, yeah, what an album. A genre is born."
2. Ride The Lightning
Fans: "Wooow, Metallica are back with a groundbreaking album, but is that a ballad?"
3. Master Of Puppets
Fans: "Yes, a masterpiece, absolutely brilliant."
4. And Justice For All
Fans: "That's great but where is the bass?"
Fans: "They have gotten soft"
6. Load, Reload
Fans: "Metallica? Oh, I don't listen to them anymore since they sold out. I like the old albums but now they are just rich assholes."
7. St. Anger
Fans: "They're a completely insane shitband now. They should make Master Of Puppets again."
8. Death Magnetic
Fans: "Why doesn't Metallica listen to me? Why don't those assholes make the music I have been telling them about on my facebook page?"
Meanwhile, Metallica has pretty much always been doing what they wanted to. They grew a little older. They lost people in their lives. They became fathers. They had their problems, their influences, their good times and bad times and they simply threw that into their music. Why? Because that is what they have always been doing. That is what made them form a band in the first place.
Fans have a tendency to take dislike to extremes and I don't know why. I mean, I don't like Justin Bieber but I'm not sending his messages saying "I hope you die with a cock in your mouth". Do you know how I show my dislike for Justin Bieber? I don't listen to Justin Bieber. I don't care about Justin Bieber and Justin Bieber does not care about me. It is that easy. You don't have to do anything.
There was a time when I made that mistake, when I uselessly hated on bands I didn't like. Limp Bizkit was one of them. Oh how we yelled, booed and laughed at Limp Bizkit, but oh how we secretly wanted what they had: money, fame, fans and girls. But was it just jealousy? Or was there a part of me that took elitism a bit too serious? Now, I am older and I understand the senselessness of that hatred.
See, a band is not owned by the fans. Metallica are not your property. Music doesn't work that way. But people get so enraged when something they hear is not to their liking, it almost scares me. Bands and artists can do whatever they want and if we don't like it, we are absolutely free to walk away and ignore the whole damn thing. But no, fans want to make a fuzz. They want their voices to be heard.
A piece of advice: want something better than that band that disappointed you? Form a band that is better than that one. If you don't like Jeff's coffee, don't go barging into his coffeeshop, telling him he sold out. That makes no sense. Find your coffee elsewhere, find your favorite music elsewhere. Save that negative energy to protest against the things that really matter, I am damn sure you can find a few things that are far worse than the sound of Lars' snare drum.