Archive for the ‘Torture Memos’ Category

It Takes Time to Cross the Ocean

18/11/2009

I just stumbled over a link to an article written about my band in a UK online magazine called Dilettante. Apparently it was written early this summer but I suppose it takes a while for things to filter across the ocean. Anyway, half of it is a reprint of an article John Terauds wrote for the Toronto Star a while ago and the other half is really good commentary and some info about the Torture Memos project.

It also includes my new favourite quote (describing our first album):

“The resulting music reminds us of a Danish art installation at the Venice Biennale which consisted of a group of performance artists standing on top of a building, randomly picking up instruments to play for a few minutes before pausing to chuck rubber fish at passers by…”

You can read the rest of the article here.

NOTE: Regardless of what it says in that piece, I’ve never called our string section “mousy”.

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The Torture Memos CD Release: December 11 at the Tranzac (Toronto)

16/11/2009

Everyone who’s been stopping by here knows that my band has been working on recording of the Torture Memos set to music. Now we’ve recorded it and we’re having a big concert to mark the official release of the album:

And we’ve decided to donate a good percentage of the money from sales of this CD to the ACLU. Because they’re working on the right side of this issue.

I’ll be writing a bit about this record here in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, if you’re curious about how it sounds there are excerpts on our website.

And if you’re in Toronto, I’ve just set up a Facebook event for the concert.

Accidental Dignity: Torture Memo no.7 and the Challenge of Maintaining Dishonest Abstraction in the Written Word

10/08/2009

Slept too little to attempt very much on the blog today. So I’ll offer up one of my favourite excerpts from the Torture Memos suite in place of the daily personal reflection:

http://www.parkdalerevolutionaryorchestra.com/tm/memo7.mp3%20

Text:

drawing distinctions
between gradations of pain
is not an easy task.
[oh no]
it’s not an easy task.

– John Yoo

This is definitely my favourite lyric from the whole set (and, coincidently, the shortest). It’s such a striking juxtaposition with the cold, technical belligerence of the rest.

Of course it’s lifted from a section in which Mr.Yoo is attempting to establish pseudoscientific divisions between “acceptable” and “severe” levels of suffering. In this case he’s talking about sleep deprivation and how many days it can “legally” go on for.

Extracting this one line and taking it at face-value suggests the hidden possibility of a deep regret and troubled conscience behind the authorship of the torture memos. Of course it’s hard to believe in that possibility as intentional or, looking at in its actual context, genuinely meaningful.

To the contrary, I think it’s more likely that a degree of dignity and sympathy is inevitably built into written language. Regardless of the unlikely context, zooming into the microscopic details of communication brings out these essential qualities.

So I was glad to notice this fragment and include it in the suite. I find it hopeful to see that, with all the ways human beings contrive to fool themselves and manipulate others, the way we’ve constructed our means of communication interferes with completely dishonest abstractions.

Karl Mohr Insanity in Burk’s Falls; the Torture Memos Record is Done.

05/08/2009

Insane days. Catastrophic show with Karl Mohr in Burk’s Falls over the weekend, balanced by beautiful nightswimming. Wary of developing the specialization “plays only with weirdass bands”. Not that wouldn’t be true, but I’m wary of it becoming recognized. Planning a three-act opera based on Karl’s on-stage auto de fe.

The Torture Memo record’s done. Fourteen hours at the studio yesterday with James Paul. Gallons of coffee and massive failure in the recent “stop smoking” policy. But excellent results!

And using a rational process for recording and producing was a very important idea. It’s been a past mistake trying to get a complete thing done in a closed time period. This record is done but still malleable, which makes our mistakes less tragic.

Show tonight = will be under-rehearsed.

Torture Memos Cover