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, as a band, were forced to come to terms with at the time 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 was having a hard time listening to Tit, regardless of how happy I had been when the project had initially been 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 was unable to enjoy them very much the way that they were. Instead, I couldn’t help imagining how they could and should sound like. 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 while I still lived in Izola, Slovenia – while our band 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, I will 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 eventual publication 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 but on my official author website, and the songs will only be streamable from SoundCloud. Roughly a year later, in May 2021, the album will finally be – on the tenth anniversary of the original Tit – released for the general audience as well.
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 are all the augmented tracks [updated when they were finally finished in September 2020]: