WARMER MIXTAPES #867 | by Michael Edward Szewczyk [Textbeak/Nixt/TXT] of Bath, 1954, Body Release and Zoa Zoa

I had a hard time getting started committing this to actual text because, even though I do these kinds of lists in my head all the time, it becomes a whole other beast when you go to make it a concrete object. I had to choose between absolute favorite songs and ones with more of a story behind them. I mean how do you describe why you enjoy Coil’s Blood From The Air without sounding like an absolute maniac? OK, so here’s the list of some important songs to me and the stories of why they are as such. The list was 32, but I whittled it down to 15 until Vlad was nice enough to tell me that I could make it as long as I wanted. I settled with a solid 19 songs that had fairly interesting bits behind them. I warned Vlad that this would probably not be a fun read and it would mean me talking about a lot of things that I have a hard time bringing up in general and he said he was all for it.

I am sad to not include about a million songs, but hey, to share is to split.

(These are in chronological order.)

1. The Beat Box Boys | Yum Yum (Eat 'Em Up)
When I was in Elementary School, my mother and I lived in apartments near the Rec Center. There was forest, a swamp, and railroad tracks nearby which made for a wonderful adventure land for kids. Thinking back to it, we probably should not have been playing on the railroad tracks, but being young and adventurous goes with a certain form of Deafness and Ignorance. Speaking of Defness (sic), my friends were all into Break Dancing when I was a kid and we'd always be looking for massive pieces of cardboard to spin on. I was never any good at floor moves LOL, but it was still a fun time to reflect back on. Of all the Music we listened to back then, The Beat Box Boys stand out in my mind for Eat 'Em Up and Einstein (which I taped off the Radio). I was drawn to Music that sounded Alien, Futuristic or otherworldly. Maybe I'm just an escapist, but these far out sounds stuck with me and influenced my later taste.

2. Kate Bush | Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
80's Music was quirky and bizarre, but most of it still felt somewhat normal to me. It must have been because I lived on a steady diet of Jacques Cousteau, Godzilla, dinosaurs, and Science books as a child. Being interested in odd things I am thinking made me more interested in things that were odd or shocking. The first time I heard Running Up That Hill on the Radio as a child, my arm hair stood on end. This is generally a sign that I am deeply connecting to a song. The second major sign is that whole body shiver (which I am getting at this very moment just from the memory of the song). The song resonated in me in a preserved tone like an image of Bionic animals leaping on rendered blue platforms. I think it was the Synthetic barking synth that got me first (even though it sounds just like the one in New Shoes - I Can’t Wait).

3. Public Image Ltd. | Careering
PIL was the soundtrack of my teens. Picking one song was difficult because of so many memory attachments; summer sunsets to Cassette (Compact Disc/Album), haunted evenings in the basement listening to Flowers Of Romance, Second Edition (Metal Box), on repeat all the time as a grey soundtrack. I think the icing on the cake was seeing Pigface for the first tour (Gub) and the finale was Chris Connelly singing a cover of Careering which made total sense. I always knew he was a big PIL fan from the plaid coat, the dreads, and The Cannibal Song.

4. The Cure | New Day
I've had two good friends names Jason that I have written Music with and have passed away. Jason Motil wrote Music under several pseudonyms including DECOHERE and we used to collaborate as TXT and DECO. I will talk more about Jason DECOHERE later. Jason Adams was part of 1954. 1954 was the street address of a large house in Lorain, Ohio where several of my friends lived. Later, Jason, Rob Voctave, myself and several others rented an office floor of a building above a wig shop and set up a studio in there under the heading of 1954. Jason made all of us 1954 hoodies and we'd wear them around when we all hung out. We recorded a ton of Music in there, a lot of which has still not seen the light of day. One strange night, Jason, Rob, and I recorded a track called Redshot that we released under the artist name 1954 on my friend and Body Release bandmate Charles Noel/Archetype's 21/22 Corporation. It featured spoken sections by Eric Alleman and Bath vocalist Christie. It feels claustrophobic and almost submerged with the howls, growls, grunts, breaths, and cat sounds. The song seems to purr and bellyache at the same time.

5. Siouxsie And The Banshees | Happy House
Kaleidoscope is definitely my favorite Siouxsie album. I can listen to it front to back over and over (and literally used to for days on end). Although Lunar Camel is my favorite song on the album followed closely by Tenant, Happy House holds special significance to me as a symbol of my teen years. When I was in High School, all my Punk Rock friends would hang out at my house. My mom was super awesome and would make us calzones and egg rolls (my friends still ask Hey, when’s your mom making calzones???). We would skateboard all day long, even to and from School and after School all over town and anywhere we could find awesome loading docks or terrain. It all felt so connected. I guess in my young naïve mind I imagined we’d all stay connected. My friend Todd Sines and I moved to Columbus and everyone just kind of drifted apart, some to opposite coasts. We just had a cool reunion at my friend Ben Hartman’s house and it was great to see some of my friends that I hadn’t seen since High School. I actually still feel very connected and it was neat because it kinda felt like time actually hadn’t passed, but still we all have our private futures.

6. Skinny Puppy | God's Gift (Maggot)
My friend Rob/Voctave got me into Skinny Puppy. He was into Skinny Puppy from Diana (more on Diana later). A favorite activity of Rob and I from High School was watching Sesame Street with the volume turned all the way down with Skinny Puppy blasting to see The Muppets miming along. The song Church was a perfect soundtrack to visits by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Several of my friends and I went to see Front Line Assembly at Peabody’s Down Under For The Caustic Grip tour. There was a massive blizzard and the room full of people waited inside the venue in hopes that Front Line would make it. Sadly the blizzard won that evening and the show was cancelled. Even without Front Line making it, there was still much craziness including a fight and some stealthy (and unstealthy) moves to get home through an obstacle course of Security and snow drifts. When I got home I put on Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse on vinyl. The album always sounds so stark then cluttered, but also crystalline and clear and altogether very much like the Steven R. Gilmore cover artwork. It’s so amazing how the bright red/Fuchsia letters seem to hover over the blue Lunar landscape seabed background and the nude in the image box seems to have depth and extrude somewhat while still hovering above the seabed/moonscape.

7. Einstürzende Neubauten | Fiat Lux: A) Fiat Lux B) Maifestspiele C) Hirnlego
My first exposure to EN was Todd Sines playing me Drawings Of Patient O.T. on vinyl at very high volume. Later, Fiat Lux became sort of morning ritual for getting up and ready for School. I love how the first part of it is beautiful, melodic, and soaring and quite unlike most early Neubauten. Of course, I actually don’t like a lot of later Neubauten as much as the early works for this same reason.

Side note #1: Other 2 favorites - Armenia for the lyrics Are the volcanoes still active?... Are the volcanoes still active?... Please don't disappoint me!... I believe in Voodoo again... Stick needles in telephone books... Please don’t disappoint me! and Blume with the lyrics For you, I am a Chrysanthemum/Supernova, urgent star.

Side note #2: Blixa Bargeld in the 1980’s from scream to hair gets *****

Side note #3: Brainlego, Brainlego

8. Alien Sex Fiend | Katch 22: I. You, II. Along Cums Reality, III. Hubble Bubble, IV. Goodbye To Space
OK, in the list of insane concerts I have been lucky enough to see, the Curse tour at the Empire in Cleveland would be number two. Nik looked like a reptile, a giant iguana of sorts, in his question mark robe, white make-up and had black around his eyes and mouth. He moved in a very slow and deliberate almost Zombie meets Claymation Dinosaur style and the whole stage was lit with blacklights so everything had a weird glow to it, including the stage which was decorated like an old Haunted House. ASF started the show with the perfect track, Katch 22. The tempo changes in the track worked to instigate the crowd into a pogoing mess. About half way into the show, Nik just placed his drink (which was in a plastic cup) into his mouth and put his arms out Jesus style. I cannot explain why this was so awesome, but it was. I guess you just had to be there.

9. Ministry | The Angel
When I was a teenager, my friends and I had neat places we’d like to hang out. There was Trash Banks (a parking lot with awesome banks and curbs near a set of medical offices that we’d skate) and various other parking lots of businesses that we’d skateboard at. We always thought of Skateboarding as one of the better activities for teenagers, but it always seemed to make us targets for kids in gangs that were looking to start fights. Sometimes we’d just climb up on the railroad tracks near downtown. I guess this is how it is in a town where there’s nowhere for teenagers to go except a shopping mall (and the mall was about as impossible to go to because of gang activity and fights as School was). I had the biggest crush on a girl named Diana. One night we went up on the railroad tracks and were talking. It started raining and we started making out in the rain. We climbed down under this giant metal grate and watched the silver metallic rain drops collect on the underside of it and drip down. It looked awesome. (Eventually, when I first heard Silver Rain Fell by Scorn, this was the picture I thought of.) Diana and I left the tracks and spent the rest of the night just hanging out and talking. I told her that the whole night The Angel by Ministry was going through my head on repeat. At Diana’s funeral in 1992, Rob and I listened to The Angel over and over in the car before, after, and on the way to the cemetery.

10. Cabaret Voltaire | Fourth Shot
Cabaret Voltaire, like PIL, was another constant Musical influence from High School days. Cab influenced one of Todd and my earliest bands, Dirge, and we would listen to Live At TRhe YMCA regularly on the way to band practice. A perfect flavor mélange I would recommend from experience is listening to Cabaret Voltaire’s Mix-Up album on repeat while reading Bill Sienkiewicz’ most excellent and most Psychotic Graphic Novel Stray Toasters. The bizarre themes and Mixed Visual Media combine quite well with the dinosaur rhythms, dead bass, and brain rattling high-frequencies on Mix-Up.

+11. Chris & Cosey | Gardens Of The Pure
When I needed time to myself to think, I'd take a drive (normally at night) in my first car which was an old Dodge Aspen and listen to Songs Of Love & Lust on cassette. This was escape for me and the album created created an Alien Dream World in my head that contrasted against the doldrums of Reality. On summer evenings in my first car along with à;GRUMH...’s A Hard Knight's Day I would find peace. When I first got this cassette I admired the artwork for many hours. It was the version with the layout adjustments by Steven R. Gilmore and I thought the font and the swirls looked wonderfully juxtaposed above the green background and the wonderful painting from the original art. I slept to it when I first got it and remembered waking up in complete confusion to Gardens Of The Pure thinking Why the hell is an animal in my room?

+12. In The Nursery | Workcorps (Fist Style)
It was summer 1991 and I remember it for the brightest fireflies ever. Rob and I decided to climb up on the railroad tracks as usual and hang out up there. We were looking over the edge of this massive drop off next to the tracks that went down to the Black River. It was so high and dark that it was pretty terrifying up there. Rob snuck over and grabbed a massive rock without me knowing. He then hurled it over my head down to the water way below with a massive crashing splash sound. It scared the shit out of me. I was all like Duuuude, that was sooooo loud!!!... Just as I said that we were totally lit up with spotlights. Rob exclaimed RUN! so we ran. We ran as fast as we could all the way down from the tracks through the alleys to the square where the car was parked. Rob started the car and we sped away. I put on Counterpoint by In The Nursery to calm down. While driving to my grandparent’s house near the county airport, the airport's massive sweeping lights felt like they were searching for us as they swept over the tops of the tall corn.

+13. Coil | Dark River 
I had a bad dream that Diana was yelling. I was in a massive garden or park. I found her lying down, screaming, with an owl on her head. Her eyes were missing and there was blood on her face. I wrote a song based on this dream and called it The Garden Of Stone, constructed out of pitched bells. Later that year, Todd Sines and I moved to Columbus to attend School. When I first saw Mirror Lake, I felt an eerie déjà vu, like it was the place in the dream. I came back up North for Christmas and New Years and spent New Years Eve in the driveway in, with Diana in her car, talking and listening to Dark River by Coil on cassette, rewinding and playing it over and over. A week after I was back in Columbus. It was late at night and I was listening to The Garden Of Stone on my Roland workstation when I received a call at my aunt’s house where I was staying in Columbus. It was Diana’s mother and she said Diana was dead. I tried to leave, but my family wouldn’t let me. I think they knew that I just wanted to go drive my car into something at a high rate of speed. I shut myself into my room, closed my eyes and curled up on the bed. I’m not sure if I slept, but I think I had a dream. I had a vision of Diana falling down a deep chasm into the Abyss through rings of fish bones, almost like down a massive throat with the cartilage rings around. This was endless and she kept screaming. The screaming was the same as the other dream. I wrote a song about this called I Thought I Heard You Screaming about this dream. I then rewrote The Garden Of Stone and wrote lyrics to it about the first dream. It was released on the Bath album Fools under the name #66 Traps And How To Use Them. Years later, my friends Autumn and Joanne asked me to DJ at their wedding at the outdoor Pagan site, Tredara. I DJ’d most of the night and when the Sun rose I played Dark River by Coil. It was the perfect moment for a perfect song as the dew turned to fog over the field.

+14. Psychic TV | I.C. Water
Lucas, James Mango, and I were in Columbus and we met up with the Mythical green mohawked creature known as Eclipse at Mean Mr. Mustards. We went back to where Eclipse was staying to hang out. Eclipse decided to play Towards Thee Infinite Beat, which is a great idea except that Eclipse’s CD was scratched to shit. When the CD got to I.C. Water, it stayed there all evening. The song would almost finish, but it would skip all the way back near the beginning to a chorus of groans and that was just the way Eclipse liked it. Other wonderful festivities of the evening involved Lucas’ wonderful gecko covered shirt (James said that we were all just lizards on Lucas’ shirt) and random basement dwelling housemates that would poke their heads up and make odd sounds before rumbling back to their underground lair...

+15. The Legendary Pink Dots | Our Lady In Cervetori 
My friend Heather and I were sitting in the basement listening to The Golden Age and discussing scary things. You know, the kind of conversation that is disturbing enough to give you the chills? Like telling Ghost stories, but instead talking about your lives. So we reached a very disturbing pinnacle in the conversation and were both about to say the same word, but hesitated because of what it was. You know that moment? At that moment, the tape deck just mysteriously stopped while playing Our Lady In Cervetori. We were both pretty much like Fuck this! and ran out of the house and spent the rest of the night hanging out on the pier at the lake.

+16. Cocteau Twins | Grail Overfloweth  
When I moved back home from Columbus, Rob, Christie, and I would hang out all the time. We would go out a lot and it was a very strange time in general. Garlands was a major soundtrack for this time along with Tired Eyes Slowly Burning by Tear Garden. Garlands always felt comforting to me. I think it was because the Guitar always reminded me of riding on a swingset as a child.

+17. Moby | Lean On Me 
In the mid 90’s there was a point in my life when I felt hopeless. I took 2 bottles of Unisom Sleep Gels, put on Tear Garden’s Tired Eyes Slowly Burning and laid face down in the bathtub hoping to drown. I tied inhaling the water, but I found myself becoming so relaxed physically that I was finding it hard to drown. As the medication began to work more the Music became more and more disturbing and The Center Bullet drove me to a point of turning it off. I put on Moby’s Ambient album from 1993 on track 2 Heaven. Instead of playing Heaven it jumped to track 7 Bad Days. This totally sent me over the edge and I ran to my bed and tried to go to sleep. I remember the last track Lean On Me seemed to go on forever as the first seizure set in.

+18. The Glove | Mouth To Mouth
In 1998 I was taking care of my Grandparents when my Grandfather was dying from Cancer and Parkinson’s Disease. I was listening to a lot of The Glove, The Creatures, He Said, Wire, Scala, and Cindytalk at the time and was having a lot of connected dreams. In one dream I was in a massive old house during a horrific windstorm. The old house was just barely held together and had massive holes in it. There were many people in it, but everyone seemed to be just wandering around alone or in groups of two. I eventually climbed to the top floor and there was Gordon Sharp of Cindytalk singing out into the storm, standing above massive holes that went down multiple floors. I had listened for years to The Glove on cassette, but this was when I first bought it on CD and so had never heard Mouth To Mouth until then. It was always such a wonderful and calming song in such a sad time. During this time, I tried to make a list of some of my favorite songs and why they were important to me (just as this list I am now making) on big piece of posterboard, but it turned into a rant and was just too real so I tore it up. I reassembled the random pieces of posterboard into lyrics and then wrote an album around it called Pis*Freak which I then recorded at the 1954 studio.

+19. Nurse With Wound | Rock 'N Roll Station
My friend Jason Motil (Decohere) had a habit of always trying to find new Music that would blow my mind. Many times he succeeded. One night I was DJing a big fetish event and a bunch of people came back to our house for the afterparty which was a pretty standard thing. Every piece of furniture was covered with people and there was some craziness going on on the floor also. Jason sat me down and put in a CD with Rock 'N Roll Station on it. I don’t know what else was on the CD because the violet wand in the room was disrupting everything with the field of Electricity. Everything was totally weird and charged up and the Stereo was just digitally cycling numbers and the CD only played one track over and over again. What a strange story.