The End of the Vilewood Road (Augmented)

The End of the Vilewood Road (Augmented) is the fourth track from the new Cynicism Management release Tit Augmented, planned for about a year from now. Although it is the final track on the 2011 album “Tit” by Cynicism Management, it is also the fourth song to appear in the book that it has actually been written and recorded for: Cynicism Managment (A Rock & Roll Fable), to be published by River Boat Books in a few months.

I must say this was not really my favourite track on the Cynicism Management’s 2011 debut, nor was I particularly keen on performing it while the band still had a live line-up. Quite unexpectedly, however, the recent process of “augmentation” was loads of fun and far less tedious than I expected: I laughed out loud more then once while rediscovering all the fine kazoo and guitar contributions by our guitarist at the time, Aljaž Tulimirović. The mix and the overall “dramaturgy” of the track is therefore significantly different from the original: I pushed Aljaž’s contributions and many details forward, made it “move” more, and reworked the whole thing. Everything sounds much better and more interesting now, if I may say so myself. The track thus transformed from an “album filler” to the distinctively psychedelic final diatribe it is supposed to be. Admittedly, it is still a wee bit longwinded… But it will be the final track on the Tit Augmented album when it’s released, so I let it be.

CONTRIBUTORS:
Monika Fritz – vocals
Aljaž Tulimirović – guitar, e-bow guitar, kazoo
Jan Urbanc – guitar
Borut Praper – drums, keyboards, additional bass & guitar

Music by Borut Praper
Lyrics by Borut Praper
Recorded, produced & mixed by Borut Praper
Vocals co-arranged by Monika Fritz
Mastered by Andrej Hrvatin

Track artwork by Matej Peklar
(Upcoming) album artwork by Matevž Praper

 More info about the whole project (and the reasons for it) is here.


THE END OF THE VILEWOOD ROAD

Go to the end of the Vilewood road
Where kids end up as food for foxes
Right to the end of the Vilewood road
Where garbage dreams of metal boxes

Come to the end of the Vilewood road
Let old knotted pines lure you astray
Here at the end of the Vilewood road
You’ll peacefully blow your mind away

Away

Cobwebs peeling your eyes out
As you miss a roundabout
Murders crimes and tyres cut
Titties of your test drive slut

All along those Vilewood lies
Whispered by the cat’s corpse eyes
Titties of your test drive slut
Complement her naked butt

Come to the end of the Vilewood road
Let old knotted pines lure you astray
Here at the end of the Vilewood road
You’ll peacefully blow your mind away

Away away

Devious Rock ‘n’ Roll Ditties: An Interview with Bori Praper


(Reposted from THE COLLIDESCOPE with permission from George Salis)

George Salis: What was the impetus for your upcoming novel Cynicism Management?

Bori Praper: Actually, the novel is not new–it just took more than ten years for a serious publisher to even consider it. In fact, it’s been eleven years since the birth of Cynicism Management–I mean the novel as well as the band. I don’t have any fancy origin myths to tell, though. I remember sitting in my home studio tinkering away at some piece of music for no good reason until I happened to think: well, some bands live in cartoons, but ours will live in a book. That’s how this particular scheme was hatched.

You see, not long before that, our relocation to another city had forced me and my wife Monika (the voice of Cynicism Management) to disband our previous band. Neither of us wanted to form another one. However, I couldn’t–and wouldn’t–turn off the music, so it kept coming. Reluctant to chuck anything in the bin and regret it later, I kept recording the basic sketches as they’d pop into my head. Naturally, the unfinished drafts soon piled up. Then the pile started nagging at me until I finally figured: why not just make a fake band and have all the pleasure and fun with it and none of the obligatory pain. Everyone was doing it by then, thanks to all the handy new technologies, so that was far from original. What might have been a bit original, though, was that since neither Monika nor I happened to be conveniently proficient at shooting videos, making animations, drawing cartoons, or creating anything visual to represent our ‘band,’ I decided to write about it. Everything else–the plot, the characters, the novel’s genre or the relative lack of it, all the real music eventually created in this context, the live band members and the actual concerts, even the very decision that whatever I was writing might become a novel at all–all of that came later.

To sum up this drivel of mine: I’d say that at least initially, the driving force behind the novel was the urge to have lots of drunken fun and record devious rock ‘n’ roll ditties in odd time signatures. At least for a while, the novel served as a vessel to contain this urge, but then the literary aspect took precedence and became much more serious than initially envisioned. Gradually, the whole thing attained a life of its own, as such things will, until it became something I no longer fully understood, which is precisely what I love best: I can now look back on it and think, hell, I have absolutely no idea how we’ve managed to pull this one off.

GS: Considering you’re in a band called Cynicism Management and your book is of the same name featuring such a band, do you think the boundaries between fiction and reality are porous?

BP: I like to think that they are. That’s why I like to poke holes in them if I possible. But then again, don’t we all? I mean, every idea is fiction until it isn’t, and when all is said and done, what’s real about any life apart from its carbon footprint?

In case of Cynicism Management, the band started out with disembodied members, and Monika and I recorded the first outlines of ‘their’ songs ‘in their stead,’ so to speak. Real people joined the effort, and in time we even formed a live line-up, contrary to our original intentions and better judgement. We had quite a few gigs around Slovenia. Then Monika and I moved again. The live band dissolved and, as the focus finally shifted, its music ended up supporting the book rather than the other way around. Currently, we are once again a studio-based group with only two tangible members apart from me: Monika Fritz on vocals and my cousin Jure Praper, an accomplished Slovenian jazz/fusion guitarist. Long-distance work of this sort is no longer a problem nowadays.

By now, the band–I consider both of its manifestations, corporeal as well as incorporeal, as two sides of a very ‘real’ coin–has released several albums and continues to make music. Its fictional members have appeared in two novels, and I’m currently working on the third. The one we are presently discussing–my literary debut–contains references to the first album and a few other tunes, recorded specifically as a ‘soundtrack’ for the story. However, the music is in no way necessary for following the plot, so you will miss nothing if you cannot or will not listen to it.

After more than ten years of toying with this concept, I like how the characters from my novels can, especially through music, leave evidence of themselves online and so on. One of them–Ray Kosmick, the uncouth brute–is a particularly relentless example. He even has his own music albums by now. These things can then serve as ‘Easter eggs’ for the potential readers to find, should anyone bother to check. The internet can be about as much fun as it can be obnoxious. Too bad I have barely any time for the fascinating lives of my characters.

GS: “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” In the context of the rock and roll that is written about in your novel, what do you make of this quote by Elvis Costello? Does actually being a musician help you write about music?

BP: Oh, I’ve seen people dance about things far worse than architecture. You see everything if you make music for contemporary dance theatre for a few years. But, to answer your question: maybe being a musician doesn’t help me write about music per se, but it definitely helps me write about musicians.

The novel does indeed touch upon the subject of music, I suppose: I’m pretty sure that there’s some whining and wringing of hands in it about how it has all gone down the drain. Which it has, in many ways…. But, of course, that’s especially been the case since–as Finnegan Frotz, the protagonist of the novel and bandleader of the incorporeal version of Cynicism Management would put it–“our hair’s started to recede down our spines.

However, meditating on the myriad mysteries of music is by no means the focus of the novel. Instead, I am far more interested in musicians: the deranged, insufferable people that they–I mean we–are.

GS: What bands have influenced your music and have they also influenced your writing? Do you listen to music as you write?

BP: My musical influences are far too many and too diverse to list. I wouldn’t want to bore anyone to tears. Musicians and their works have influenced my writing in the sense that some of them are mentioned in the novel (in contexts that I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t mind). Music is also an integral part–albeit an optional one–of the story, so it has undoubtedly been an influence in that sense. Other than that–in some more philosophical or even “synesthetic” manner, if that’s what you mean–no.

I usually listen to instrumental music while I work–usually jazz or fusion–because lyrics tend to distract me. When I write in one of my usual hangouts on or near the beach, though, I don’t have much say in the music, of course. So nowadays it’s mostly either reggae, which is fine, or reggaeton, which isn’t fine by a long shot, but fortunately I’ve learned how to tune it out. As sound engineers will know, it’s just a matter of phase cancellation.

GS: What are you cynical about and how do you manage it?

BP: Almost everything and I don’t, at least not successfully. That’s why I’m still in Cynicism Management.

GS: What are you positive about and how do you nurture it?

BP: Many things. I nurture those by getting enthusiastic about them, and I can be rather tenacious once I warm up to something. Even obsessive, which can be dangerous. Getting obsessive about beer will result in a beer belly, you see. Recently, for example, I got sort of enthusiastic about chilli peppers, and soon I ended up taking care of twenty-five of those on what was suddenly an ever-shrinking terrace. Consequently, I also grew to hate the plants a little–all the more so once they started to mess with our usual barbecue operations. Monika helped solve the conundrum by getting excited about them, too. We ended up renting a wee little field for them, so next year we’ll grow 250 instead of 25, and we’ll make hot sauces. I suppose it’s just about finding something that we can get a little crazy about, and we’ll be fine.

GS: When did you begin mastering the English language? You seem to prefer English as the language of your creative output. Why?

BP: I remember being interested in English very early on. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve listening to LPs, staring at the album covers and reading the lyrics, trying to figure them out for hours on end with the help of a small pocket dictionary. My old man had quite a record collection–mostly jazz, lots and lots of rock, some classical, some pop too–to which I added a selection of somewhat more satanic genres of my own during my gentle formative years. Then I got my first computer, a Commodore 64, and picked up even more English before I started learning it halfway through primary school, anyway. I got sort of enthusiastic about it all, fast forward a few decades, and here we are.

The second part of your question is a tough one.

Sure, there’s the cynical view: in comparison with approximately two million people who can speak Slovenian, English is a vast market. Granted, I’ve never realistically expected to earn any taxable amounts with my fabulous artistic endeavours (I won’t say wished, because we all wish we got money for nothing and chicks for free, don’t we). However, to say I have never considered this angle would be dishonest: of course the promise of an audience larger than two or three complete weirdoes with a suspicious taste in literature and music does sound rather fetching.

There’s also the utilitarian aspect. As my profession–the trade I ply, my labour that’s being appropriated–is a freelance translator, almost exclusively from Slovenian to English, I have no choice but to think in English all day long, so it was easier to write in English as well. And, above all: writing in English makes for excellent practice if you want to keep maintaining and improving your knowledge of the language. In this sense, my hobbies have been very beneficial for my ‘real’ job–as in, the kind that pays.

However, after much reflection on this topic over the years, I’d say that, ultimately, English feels safer. Writing in my mother’s tongue feels much more personal somehow, especially when it comes to lyrics. I truly abhor writing those in Slovenian. I was forced to do it on occasion, but it was profoundly uncomfortable and I didn’t like any of the results. Frankly, I suck at writing in Slovenian. When I write in English, though, I feel as if there was this sort of a buffer between me as a real person and this idiot who scribbles in a foreign language. I can keep my distance, have a laugh, and avoid being overly concerned or even preoccupied with the unavoidable criticism. Perhaps I can also more easily play around with English because it’s not my first language.

That’s what I love about living in foreign countries, too, incidentally. I now live in my second one, trying to pick up as much Royal Spanish as I can after the relatively futile attempt to learn Hoch Deutsch in Berlin for a few years, and what I love about it most is that they are not my countries. You can surely imagine why: because when Spaniards or Germans vote for complete and utter mental bankruptees, I don’t feel that it’s my country and that those are my compatriots who did it. When you’re an immigrant, the locals don’t expect you to even have an opinion about anything they might be preoccupied with, so you can get away with feeling exempt from the collective insanity. I could never achieve the same level of Zen “I-don’t-give-a-fuck” attitude back home: there I took the rampant idiocy as a personal affront. It was driving me nuts.

GS: What is your favorite Slovene novel and if it’s not translated into English can you tell us a bit about what English-speaking readers are missing out on?

BP: Butalci by Fran Milčinski. It’s an old Slovenian bestseller, a classic written in the interwar period. It belongs to the Slovenian canon but is still as topical as it is funny. Only now that you’ve sprung this unexpected question on me has it crossed my mind that it could count as a ‘spiritual predecessor’ to at least one part of my own novel, though I’ve never thought of this before. Slovenians will immediately know what to expect from Cynicism Management if I tell them it’s a sequel to Butalci. I’m afraid Milčinski’s stories haven’t been translated, though, so English-speaking readers are missing out on a venerable yet still poignant satire, not only aimed at Slovenians and the Slovenian society but rather society in general–especially the rampant idiocy mentioned above.

However, I must also admit to the awful, shameful, inexcusable fact that I haven’t kept in touch with contemporary Slovenian literature other than the scientific texts I translate, which are mostly in the field of historiography. Otherwise, I’m predominantly a sci-fi nut. As, unfortunately, barely any of that gets translated into Slovenian and hardly any original Slovenian sci-fi works exist, I’ve done all my reading almost exclusively in English ever since the beginning of the secondary school–so, for nearly thirty years now. No wonder I don’t feel comfortable writing in Slovenian: I don’t have nearly enough practice.


George Salis is the author of Sea Above, Sun Below (River Boat Books). His fiction is featured in The DarkBlack DandyZizzle Literary MagazineThe Sunlight Press, Unreal Magazine, and elsewhere. His criticism has appeared in IsacousticAtticus Review, and The Tishman Review, and his science article on the mechanics of natural evil was featured in Skeptic. He is currently working on an encyclopedic novel titled Morphological Echoes. He has taught in Bulgaria, China, and Poland. Find him on FacebookGoodreads, and at www.GeorgeSalis.com.

Rick Harsch: The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas

I won’t conceal the fact that I know Rick Harsch – the author of The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas – personally. What’s best about that – apart from being able to enjoy Rick’s sunny disposition and roguish good looks first-hand, of course – is that sometimes he lets me read his work before it’s published. So I happened to read Eddie Vegas more than four years ago (judging from my history on Goodreads), but, of course, the lazy slob that I can be, I didn’t bother to write a review. The convenient excuse that I told myself was that I found it just the tiniest bit weird to express opinions about an unpublished book. Which is true, but still: now along comes Eddie, having recently been published by River Boat Books – which is fabulous news, as I’ve always cheered for this novel – and I’ve wound up owing Rick a review all this time later. Which worries me, because I usually don’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday.

I’ve started writing this worried that rummaging through my mind for things I remember about Eddie Vegas would be frustrating – and yet, completely unexpectedly, I find myself remembering all these vivid details for some reason. As this is, sadly, definitely not true of every book I happen to read, apparently Eddie has made quite an impression. So let me see what I can remember from more than four years ago.

The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas is a formidable tome in terms of length and complexity, yet it reads effortlessly, smoothly, and very quickly – especially once you get the hang of Rick’s trademark linguistic stunts. I’ve had the fortune of reading much of what Mr Harsch has written, and I don’t suppose he ever disappoints in this regard – but I found that Eddie was truly on (a yet) another level. Still, I don’t feel that Rick ever crosses that fine line between good taste and gratuitous fanciness: while he is indeed an impressively eloquent linguistic delinquent, he is also as hilarious as he’s unrelenting. And his lists, for crying out loud, the lists! They are poems, really: from dirty, drunken ditties to dazzling diatribes such as the horrendous thirty-page list of moronic, imbecilic, and idiotic names – truly pure-blooded American names – for doomsday devices. What am I going on about, you ask? Well, Rick approaches the rather sensitive subject of nuclear tests with the immediacy of a battering ram: instead of wasting any time yammering about it, he just hands us a list of names of each individual nuclear bomb that Americans have ever blown up on their own soil. There is a truckload of them – the list goes on forever – and seeing so much human idiocy in one place is about as bizarre and disturbing as watching the news or checking out your favourite social media stream.

However, Eddie Vegas is undoubtedly far from being all fancy bells and whistles and no substance. Four years after I read it, I still remember it as a magnificent, intricate, urgent spectacle spanning two continents and multiple timelines, a political thriller, a (noir) crime novel, an absurdist comedy, a love story, a drama, a poetry collection, a dictionary of languages forgotten and newly invented, an epic historical novel, and even a Western (I haven’t read a Western as good as parts of Eddie for a very long time, if at all) – all of this at once.

In short, Rick Harsch’s newest novel is not only a treasure cove of language porn – it is also a narrative rollercoaster, artfully fashioned by a whimsical narrator you simply can’t help admire even when he gets intentionally annoying. In times somewhat different than the current age of Twitter tweets and rampant split-second attention deficit disorder I can easily imagine this becoming a part of the canon. Kids in secondary schools and universities all over the English-speaking (or English-learning) world could easily be pestered with this instead of Finnegan’s Wake, for example – only that in case of Eddie, they might even be interested in making it further than the cover.

 


 

The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas is NOT available on Amazon. It can, however, be ordered directly from the publisher, River Boat Books, which kindly offers two links: head here for U.S. purchases; and here for international orders (everywhere except the United States).

Iniquity (Augmented)

Iniquity (Augmented), the third track from the new Cynicism Management release planned for about a year from now, has been released on SoundCloud.

It is still one of my favourite tracks from the first Cynicism Management album, Tit, (i.e. a small bird of the paridae family, of course), which I am “renovating” for its 10th anniversary re-release, titled Tit Augmented, planned for about a year from now.

I have no idea why I was under the impression that this one would be easy to mix. Instead it was excrutiatingly tricky to get it where it is now, and it ultimately turned into an epic monstrosity with tons of automation as I tried to squeeze every ounce of dynamics out of these ten-year-old tracks while fitting in the new drum takes and making everything sound better (and more audible). In the process, I ended up changing the “dramaturgy” of the song considerably in comparison with the original track, and I must admit I’m very happy with the result. That, of course, is a subjective opinion. More realistically speaking, I hope it’s pretty decent now and that I won’t have to rework it yet again in another ten years.

Monika Fritz – vocals
Aljaž Tulimirović – guitar, bass
Jan Urbanc – guitar
Borut Praper – drums, keyboards, additional bass & guitar

Music by Borut Praper & Aljaž Tulimirović
Lyrics by Borut Praper
Recorded, produced & mixed by Borut Praper
Vocals co-arranged by Monika Fritz
Mastered by Andrej Hrvatin

Track artwork by Matej Peklar
(Upcoming) album artwork by Matevž Praper

 More info about the project (and the reasons for it) is here .


INIQUITY

Put me up and put me down
Mercy fuck me then turn around
Ready-made as I serve any whim
Then I’m disassembled
Limb from limb

Sometimes when I snap
I turn on you
You cross the line
I cross it too
I feel disdain
You feel the pain
Again

I’ve been had you took the piss
But made me feel I have been amiss
I’ll just leave you to bleed to death
And you’ll thank me as you
Gasp for breath

You are lying
So I keep prying
I swear
I will hunt you down
Won’t make a sound

Abruptly I can see this might be iniquity

Maybe we could all agree
that this might truly be iniquity

This might be iniquity

Life Malignant (Augmented)

Life Malignant (Augmented), the second track from the new Cynicism Management release planned for about a year from now (for – blimey! – already the 10th anniversary of the original Tit), has been released on SoundCloud. Vocals: Monika Fritz. Shitstortion™ guitar: Jan Urbanc. Mastering: Andrej Hrvatin. Track artwork: Matej Peklar. Album artwork: Matevž Praper. More info about the project (and the reasons for it) is here .

LIFE MALIGNANT

Every day and every weeknight
I get more cancerous
Each endeavour every stage fright
Gets me cancerous

Every weeknight
Every stage fright

Every time I close my eyes
I get more cancerous
Sometimes I get caught by surprise
And get more cancerous

Every weeknight
Is the same plight

Sleeping pills say let go
But reason murmurs don’t know
It’s out there stalking me
And it wants me cancerous

I’m complaining whining pining
Pondering this curse
But I go on, although declining
Shitting long-shat turds

Every weeknight
Everyday plight

E-book update & release

The novels Cynicism Management and Pendulum Pet have both been updated and released in most e-book stores. Pendulum Pet, previously exclusive to Amazon, has now been removed from Amazon out of solidarity with my new U.S. publisher River Boat Books, and both novels are now available, in electronic form, in most e-book stores except Amazon. The price of both books has been set to $ 3.99. Find the universal book links that will take you to the lists of all the stores the novels are available in below each cover.


Available in the following e-book stores


Available in the following e-book stores

Touring My Backyard (Augmented)

Touring My Backyard (Augmented), the first track from the new Cynicism Management release planned for about a year from now, has been released on SoundCloud. Head here for detailed information about the project (and the reasons for it).

TOURING MY BACKYARD

When I was just a boy I yearned to rock n’ roll
But I didn’t realize I was living in a hole
Then I grew a tiny bit, my vision kind of cleared
I popped a beer, caressed my cage and never really feared

Now I’m the coolest guy around, the only god with such a sound
I sell my twopence sermons every day
My nails are black my eyes are lined my pants are tight oh I’m so fine
I gloat in dismal dismay and decay

I rented the only touring bus in this godforsaken place
And published in every goddamn paper I was touring my own space

Oh wow yippee my gosh and gee
I’m tourin’ my backyard
Rolling over my own mower
Bellyfolds o’ lard
Mounted mirrors on the walls
My backyard’s looking big
I’m bouncing reeling falling over
My excessive concert rig

In the mornings my head hurts, my double visions spin
But I know well that I’m the One so I embrace my sins
My proud dadland needs me to flash her stardom smiles
Distract the nation with pretence, wallow in shit piles

From the mountains to the sea
I sing my three-chord symphony
Nameless crowds beneath my feet
Look up at this astounding deed
My hair receding down my spine
But I still make these corpses mine
Dancing deaf to shit I spout
I dread what I have figured out

Announcement: Tit Augmented

I must admit I’m normally not a big fan of music album reissues, remixes, remasters, reboots, reduxes, super duper deluxe editions, and so on, as they – at least to me – often feel like money grabs that don’t have much “added value” to offer. However, for quite some time, I’ve nevertheless been itching to do exactly that with Cynicism Management’s first album, Tit: eventually release a new version of it, because it was originally recorded in painfully annoying “no-budget” and “no-decent-equipment” circumstances that, at the time, prevented me from recording “real” acoustic drums and forced me to resort to electronic drum pads instead. For me as a drummer, this was the most disappointing aspect of the project, quite difficult to put up with, even though it was just one of the many annoying compromises we were forced to come to terms with as a band due to the chronic lack of resources. Additionally, my own musical equipment as well as expertise and experience as a music producer have improved significantly in the last decade (or, at least, that’s what I like to believe). Consequently, I’ve been having a hard time listening to Tit, regardless of how happy I was when the project was completed in spite of all the obstacles. Don’t get me wrong: I still think that the songs are pretty good; I still like them and stand by what they represent even today; but, unfortunately, I’m unable to enjoy them very much the way that they are. Instead, I can’t help imagining how they could and should be. Therefore, eventually “remaking” these tracks and reissuing the album, maybe in some convenient circumstances, has been one of my (admittedly vaguer) ideas that’s been gathering dust on one of the more forgotten shelves of my mind for years. In fact, predicting that I might eventually decide to go through with this, I took the opportunity to record the coveted “real” acoustic drums for this album already when my wife and I still lived in Izola, Slovenia – while we had the fortune of rehearsing in a friend’s fully-equipped music studio that allowed for such a thing. I then shelved these recordings and let them gather dust as well.

Fast forward almost a decade… And here we are: I have recently found myself in a situation that actually warrants such an album re-release, and I have finally started working – for real, now – on a thoroughly “renovated” version of Cynicism Management’s first album, Tit. From here on in, we shall call this reissue Tit Augmented, simply because the new version of the album will be much more than a simple “remaster”; it will also not be a “remix” in the usual sense of the word; it will definitely not be an extended release with any new (or live versions of) tracks; and the collocation is sort of fitting. The artwork will be different as well: this time we’ll use an illustration conceived by my nephew and budding artist in his own right, Matevž Praper, which toys around with the record’s title a little:

The reason behind the decision to start working on this project now is extremely simple, but in order to explain it, I need to recap a little.

The Cynicism Management scheme was hatched more than ten years ago, towards the end of 2008. Disillusioned by our previous musical endeavours, we (my wife Monika and I, I have to admit) devised a “literary musical” experiment, initially just for fun: the idea was to write a novel featuring a fictional band called Cynicism Management and record music to go with it. Both parts of the project were eventually completed successfully. Cynicism Management went so far as to become a real band (even a live act – initially a six-piece line-up and later a quintet – for a while); and it released its first album, poetically titled Tit (a small bird of the Paridae family) back in 2011, well before the novel. Meanwhile, Cynicism Management – the novel was first published published by a UK e-book publisher that vanished a couple of years later, and subsequently reissued as an e-book on most e-book platforms.

The last live incarnation of Cynicism Management – the live line-up was disbanded in 2012, when my wife and I decided to leave our native Slovenia and move to Berlin, Germany. Nevertheless, we kept working on the musical part of the project, though mercifully without the exasperating complexities of struggling to maintain a rather large and complicated high-tech prog rock act in the morbid quagmire that passes for today’s music and concert scene. Thus the band once again reverted to its studio-based form, and it currently consists of only three members: Monika Fritz on vocals; the first-rate Slovenian blues/jazz/fusion guitarist Jure Praper, who’s in charge of all those pesky odd-time guitar solos; and myself. (Yes, I have a large family that even sort of gets along most of the time, and in some ways we are a bit like the Cosa Nostra, I suppose.)

Cynicism Management – the band went on to release the single Opus 0 in 2012; the EP Shadow Chasers in 2013; and the second full-length album Pendulum Pet in 2015. On the other hand, Pendulum Pet – the novel was published in 2016 as well – as the second book in what was gradually turning into a sort of a (loose) series. What ties the novels together is the actual music by the band Cynicism Management, referenced in the novels, while the stories are – in spite of certain characters appearing in both novels – self-contained and can easily be read independently.

In 2017, while I was still writing my third (and at this point still unfinished) novel titled Dog Days and composing the music to go with it, Monika and I decided to raise anchor once again and move to the Canary Islands, the remotest part of the European Union that we could think of and much more pleasant than the ever more expensive and increasingly gentrified Berlin with all its hustle, bustle, and six-month winters featuring eternal darkness, constant drizzles, bone-chilling Siberian winds, and hence an overabundance of doom and gloom. The move resulted in my two-year hiatus from writing and music, as I focused on other things, mainly flat renovations, chilli pepper cultivation, and nature. This sabbatical has recently been interrupted by my unwavering friend Rick Harsch, who has kindly invited me to contribute to his experimental “communal” novel The Assassination of Olof Palme. Shortly after that, when I had already started writing again, I was utterly honoured that the publisher River Boat Books saw fit to include my debut novel Cynicism Management: A Rock & Roll Fable in its list of new releases for the summer/autumn of 2019. Due to this remarkable development, I can now once again envision finishing my third novel as well, because nothing could motivate me and spur me on as thoroughly and decisively as an outstanding publisher and a marvellous community of fellow writers.

The book’s publication, ultimately planned for February 2020, is also an excellent opportunity to “pre-release” Tit Augmented, which will initially be intended for the readers of the book exclusively: for a while, the new version of the album won’t be downloadable anywhere else but a password-protected sub-page on my official author website, and the songs will only be streamable from our SoundCloud page. The password will be stated in the introduction to the physical, paper version of the book only. Roughly a year later, in 2021, the album will finally be – on the tenth anniversary of the original Tit – released for the general audience as well. In the meantime, the new and improved (augmented) versions of songs will be appearing on the password-protected page, one by one, until the whole album consisting of twelve tracks is done… After which the whole collection will be made available to the River Boat Books readers free of charge.

I would hereby like to thank my dear friend Rick Harsch and writer and publisher Peter Bellis, who gave me the well-measured kick in the butt I desperately needed to go through with this… As well as Matevž Praper, who has envisioned and drawn the augmented tit. The other contributors to this project are as follows:

Monika Fritz: vocals
Jan Urbanc: guitar
Borut Praper: drums, keyboards, programming, bass, guitar
Aljaž Tulimirović: guitar and bass on Iniquity; guitar on Herbal Haze; guitar, e-bow guitar and kazoo on The End of the Vilewood Road
Stojan Kralj: guitar on Herbal Haze
Jure Praper: lead guitar on Four-Circle Penile Substitute

All tracks written and arranged by Borut Praper, except Iniquity co-written by Aljaž Tulimirović
All lyrics by Borut Praper
Recorded, produced and mixed by Borut Praper
Vocals co-arranged by Monika Fritz
Mastering by Andrej Hrvatin

Recorded in Studio S.U.R., Izola (http://sur.si/)
Additional material recorded by Stojan Kralj in Juice Plant Studio, Maribor
Drums recorded in Yan Baray’s studio in Izola in 2013

And now, without further ado, here is the first “renovated” track as well as the first song that’s referenced in the novel: Touring My Backyard (Augmented):

SUR albums now on streaming platforms

As of this month, the “main” albums (but not soundtracks for theatre performances and audiovisual works – those are available from our Bandcamp page) by one of our former bands, SUR, should be available on almost all streaming platforms like Deezer, Spotify, etc., as well as in most digital stores. The first album by SUR, “Na jug” – which also happened to be the first time that any of my music was published on a “real”, tangible, physical CD – was 15 years old this May! Holy crap, how time flies…




Tilting at Windmills?

A few days ago I pulled my books off Amazon in solidarity with my new publisher’s anti-Amazon campaign, which you can read about – and possibly contribute to – on GoFundMe. Tilting at windmills? Possibly, but I believe it is still a good cause, and all the reasons for it are explained in the River Boat Books Anti-Amazon Statement, so no need to repeat them here.

For me personally, the decision to join the boycott was not particularly difficult: after all, Amazon has single-handedly destroyed bookstores and publishers all over the world as well as literature in itself, or at least completely polluted its e-book segment: rabidly profit-driven, it has ensured the global domination of an endless deluge of cloned (pseudo-)fantasy, (quasi-)sci-fi and romance scribblings of the pulpiest kind, as everything that doesn’t get consumed instantly by vast numbers of readers – thanks to aggressive (and expensive) advertising, paid reviews, marketing tricks and schemes, etc. – is sentenced to instant oblivion, ensured by algorithms that keep pushing only what sells best and burying everything else under mile-deep piles of dregs. While that is perfectly understandable and completely unsurprising in the world ruled (and ruined) by rampant capitalism of the worst kind, it is also exactly what I so frequently rant against in my own novels. Therefore I had already felt like a hypocrite for selling (or, rather, attempting to sell) my books through such a malignant transnational corporation even before my publisher, River Boat Books, initiated their openly anti-Amazon campaign.

However, the last and most hilarious straw for me was that some time ago, Amazon arbitrarily and with no explanation or warning at all categorised my debut novel Cynicism Management as erotica – probably because some tender soul, possibly belonging to some terminally-embittered housewife, complained about the couple of rather explicit sex scenes that the novel indeed contains. Fine, so in Amazon’s opinion, any book containing a (semi)vivid description of anything carnal automatically means that the book is porn. Classifying my novel as “erotica” might not even have been so detrimental if it, in fact, was erotica… But, as it happens, it is actually a sci-fi satire with elements of cyberpunk, and the cover displays a cyborg cockroach. I doubt that anyone in their right mind would find that particularly sexy, and the actual sex scenes in the novel probably take up about five to maybe ten pages out of approximately 450. I dread the potential review by anyone who’d buy this thinking that it truly is erotica, but (fortunately?) the book had been concealed under a million of books about witches, fairies, werewolves, and sexy vampires already before this fiasco, so it hasn’t seen any sales whatsoever for ages, anyway.

So, yeah: obviously, my decision to pull my novels off Amazon would have certainly been harder had they actually been selling… But since they had already been largely ignored and increasingly “undiscoverable” with each passing day (as they sank deeper and deeper into the bottomless abyss littered with hundreds of thousands of long-forgotten e-books), this boycott is, I admit, no skin off my back. That much is true. Nevertheless, I’d hate to subscribe to my publisher’s “manifesto” and then do the exact opposite behind their back, so I hope this decision still counts as a valid expression of solidarity.