All things must end

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Time

So, it’s that time of the year again. 2014 is coming to an end. Another year is done and I just realized I haven’t posted anything here since May. 2014 has been a hectic, strange and tough year. And I’ve been doing the only thing I know how to: keeping busy.

2014 saw the release of Fall Into Fire (n5MD), my first solo album as Dag Rosenqvist. An album that I am immensely proud of. Sadly the album sort of disappeared off the radar after its release. But sometimes that’s the way things go. It’s still available form the label though if any of you missed it. I also released the cassette Music In Three Movements For When The World Fall Apart on Dauw. The music on Music In Three Movements was culled together from things I had been playing around with during fall 2013 and features three lengthy drone pieces. I made this because I needed calm and warmth around me, because I needed something I could rest in. 2014 also saw the re-release of the long out of print self-release Vintermusik that Rutger Zuydervelt and I released back in 2007. This new edition was released by polish label Zoharum and featured the 24-minute bonus track Feberdröm, also released in 2007 on Odradek. I made music for the dance performance Alina by Gothenburg based choreographer and dancer Astrid Boons and I also created an albums worth of music for the dance project The Forest Diaries by Swedish choreographer and dancer Jenny Larsson. I made a few remixes and other contributions here and there and I’m sure I’ve done even more things, but memory fails me.

As for 2015 we’re finally getting ready to release the next From The Mouth of The Sun album. Don’t know when yet though, but will try and keep you updated about this as we go along. I also have a solo album entitled Vowels that will be sent to the printers in January. Vowels will be released by Awkward Formats some time during spring 2015 if everything goes according to plan. We’re currently getting the first The Silence Set album ready for release on Edinburgh based label mini50 records as well, more on that to follow. In addition to this I also have two solo albums done (well, almost) that are basically just sitting on my hard drive at the moment and I have no idea where or when they will be released. The albums sort of mirror each other and they both revolve around people I’ve lost during the last couple of years. Will let you know more when I know more.

I’ve worked a lot and I’ve traveled a lot this year, and I’m sure that, in the midst of all this, I’ve neglected some of my friends and for that I apologize. I’m not always that good with people, sometimes I just need to shut the world out. I try to be a good person but sometimes I fail and for that I also apologize. I sincerely hope 2015 turns out better than what 2014 did because I’m tired of saying it’s been a bad year…

See you on the other side.

Dag

Fall Into Fire

When I started working on Fall Into Fire, my father-in-law had passed away just a few months earlier. And in the mess of work, grief, touring and making music I didn’t see it coming. I thought it was just a phase, something she had to go through to deal with it all, something that would pass. I thought that it was just the vastness of life and sorrow. But now I know first hand how grief can profoundly change people.

This album is an aural diary of a break down. It is escaping into a haze of alcohol, it is the emergency psychiatric ward in the middle of a cold winter’s night. It is broken and fragmented, it’s medication and depression. It’s defeat, sorrow and the sleepless nights. It’s the will to go away and it’s life as the inevitable consequence of actually getting out of bed every day. It is a life that somehow stumbles on. The black lump of coal in your chest that weighs a ton and that’s light as smoke. A cavity and a void. It is the loss, the mourning and the emptiness. It is the realization that you’ve lost what used to be your best friend. You are nothing but ghosts to each other. It is a life forever broken that can’t be fixed.

I started this album in the aftermath of one death and as I write this only a few months have passed since my own mother passed away. Death is all around us, it is the circle that binds us, the fear and the certainty, that which keeps us alive. And somehow, in the midst of all this, life goes on. I know this because I see it all around me. I just don’t feel part of it anymore.

I wish I’d never had to make this album, but life wanted differently. So here it is, with all its flaws and imperfections. It’s my life, the only life I have, the life I somehow lost along the way.

Fall into Fire will be out on vinyl on American label n5MD on May 20th. It has been mastered to retain dynamics, all perceived silence is intentional. There’s a volume knob on your stereo, use it.

You can pre-order your copy right here.
you can listen to it on Spotify here.

Still life?

Today I buried my mother. It was the most painful thing I’ve ever had to endure. And people tell you you’ll always have the memories. They tell you she will always live on in our minds and in out hearts. They tell you she’s now at peace. And sure, on an intellectual level I know all of these things, I really do. But knowing all of these things isn’t the same as accepting them on an emotional level.

Going through her books, her DVDs and her records. Her life. Choosing what to keep and what to throw away. Choosing what music to play at her funeral, choosing if we want a birch or a pine casket. It all comes down to the practicalities, about tiny choices that will forever define a fraction of the memory of her in the eyes, the ears and the hearts of those who attended her funeral. I don’t think I can ever listen to those pieces of music the same way again.

People tell you “yeah I know 2012 was an awful year, but trust me, 2013 will be better in every way”. They tell you “yeah I know 2013 turned out bad as well, but trust me, 2014 will be the best year ever”. And they tell you time heals everything, and they tell you things will get better and they tell you to try and move on. But truth is things won’t get better. People will still die, people will still leave you and break your heart.

I’m angry all the time these days. I’m angry because she didn’t deserve this, because it’s just so brutally unfair. Because she deserved more, she deserved to live a life without illness and pain, without medicines and constant visits to the hospital. She turned 65 this summer and in a way I always knew she wouldn’t ever get to become old, but I hoped so much we could still keep her for a few more years at least. But I know that’s a vain and selfish hope and I know she’s better off now when she’s not in pain. But I’m still angry because I think life is just so unfair, because I kind of figured I would be due for some happiness soon. But I guess that hope was just as vain and I guess this is just how life goes. But I’m still angry.

Today I buried my mother. She’s gone and I have to live the rest of my life without her.

Eulogy

You gave me books. My dad gave me music, but you gave me books. And I don’t just mean the physical, actual act of giving me books, although you did plenty of that, I mean the act of giving me literature as an art form, as a way of letting the mind wander and expand. I remember how you would bribe me into reading books, how you would even force me to read books. I remember reading books in English at the age of 14, books that was way beyond my age and scope. I remember afternoons that disappeared in the pages and in the stories. Days lost but days still living in me.

When we helped you and dad move a couple of months back, my brother was complaining about the amount of books we had to move. And yeah, I agreed with him, you had too many books. But to be honest, I’m the same. I love books. It makes me feel at home to be surrounded by books. And I know you felt the same. You can never have enough books right?

When I make music, I don’t get inspired by music, I get inspired by books. By sentences, by word. By images the words produce, by a phrase or a silence between words. Somehow that opens up my imagination and my creativity in a way that any other art form can never do. And you gave me books. And for that I’m forever grateful.

I don’t believe in an afterlife but I really hope we’ll meet again, because I miss you so much.
I love you, now and forever, mom.

Lena Margareta Sjöström Rosenqvist
1948-06-15 – 2013-12-03

Out of touch

Since I quit the Jasper TX moniker I kind of figured it would be a bit harder to get someone to wanna release my stuff. As Jasper TX at least I had some kind of history, as Dag Rosenqvist I’m no one. I don’t exist and I never have. But I never imagined it would be quite this hard to be honest. A year ago I finished an album called Fall Into Fire. And to be honest I think it’s an amazing album full of broken melodies, huge drums, weird sounds and beautiful, albeit a bit skewed, songs. It was made with the vinyl format in mind: two distinctly separated sides, just under 40 minutes in length. And all the labels I’ve spoken to like it, but they don’t know how to categorize the album because it’s not drone, it’s not noise, it’s not modern classical, it’s not kosmische, it’s not folk… To me it’s a step in a new direction, while at the same time hinting backward to The Black Sun Transmission and the track Days Above The Tide off of An Index Of Failure. But people don’t know what to do with it, so they say “it’s a great album, but I don’t think it fits our label”. I actually have a label interested in releasing it. And it’s a lovely little label, but at the rate it’s going now, the album probably won’t see the light of day until 2016… So what am I really complaining about here?

I’m complaining because something has happened. Since virtually no one buys CDs anymore there’s no point in making or releasing them. So then we’re basically left with three options: vinyl, cassette tapes or digital or any combination of the three. Vinyl is of course the first choice for artists and labels alike. Vinyl records have amazing sound quality, big format so you can really go all out with the packaging. But vinyl records are expensive to produce and therefore the labels run a risk with every album they make. And with increasing shipping rates, it’s become harder and harder to ship vinyl records over seas. Cassette tapes on the other hand are cheap to manufacture and cheap to send. It’s a lovely format in every respect. But the sound quality just isn’t there. It’s amazing for some music, but if you want transparency and clarity, this is definitely not the way to go. And then we have digital. Digital is cheap, there are no postage costs and it’s instantly accessible everywhere. It also has no soul.

You know that vinyl album that has a scratch about a minute in on the third track? It’s really not supposed to be like that you know? But to you that is the way the album sounds, the way it’s supposed to be. So when you hear it on Spotify for the first time, something is missing. Something that was yours is missing and something is lost in translation. One might argue that digital distribution and digital streaming sites are the only way to go, that we are already there and that I’m fighting a struggle I can’t win. One might also argue that the digital format sounds way better than the other formats. And yes of course, digital is crisp, flawless and completely perfect. And that’s the big problem really. The truth is, we don’t want perfection in things. We think we do, but really, we don’t. Symmetry only works if there’s something that breaks the symmetry, something out of place, something that triggers our imagination. Perfection is never perfection, it’s your idea of perfection and your idea will differ from mine. What you perceive as beauty, I think is mundane. What you see as art, I think is amateurish. What you discard, I cherish.

When it comes to music, I’ve always loved the physical thing; the vinyl, the cd, the cassette tape. It’s something tangible. More than that, it’s something that you can actually touch, hold in your hand. And you can sit and look at the covers, at the booklets and inlays. Read about who wrote what, who mixed what and where it was recorded. You get the full artistic vision and at the same time you get the background. The who, the when and the where, the full scope. Digital is just a file on your computer or in your iPhone. You can never tell if the cover was supposed to have a glossy or uncoated surface, if it was presented in a thick cardboard box or in a thin, hand sewn paper slipcase. Gold, copper, silver embossing won’t translate to the digital domain. Neither will braille.

Digital music has no history, it will never be worn or get surface noise or pops. It will never get stained from that time you and your girlfriend got really drunk and spilled red wine all over it. It’s the modern equivalent of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. It never ages, because it doesn’t really even exist. But you do. You age, you get stained and worn but the music stays the same; crisp, bright, perfect. And the fact that it doesn’t exist makes it easier to steal without considering the consequences of your actions. Who cares, it’s not like it’s a physical thing you steal, it’s just data and it’s a victimless crime right? The only one’s who get affected are the major, blood sucking, money greedy records conglomerates right…

So, what am I getting at here? What I am getting at is the simple fact that, due to the changes in the music “industry” over the last couple of years; the decline in CD sales, the whole Spotify/digital streaming thing, if I want this album to see the light of day any time soon, I will have to swallow my pride, go against everything I believe in and release it digitally through my Bandcamp page, and it fucking sucks. On the other hand, I could just make music the labels would wanna release, but that’s a different discussion altogether… The bright and shiny future is here and I love it.

Hail and kill!

Continental drift

Time is a funny thing. We tend to think of time as a straight line but there really is nothing straight about it. It staggers, twists and turns. Pause, fast forward, complete stop. All that is certain is that you can never go back. Time moves mercilessly forwards and all of a sudden you realize a year has gone by, just like that, in the blink of an eye. The world rushes right past you and you’ve just turned 35. Seen in a bigger perspective, 35 years is nothing, it won’t even register. In another 35 years I will be an old man, if I get to live that long. My body will have started breaking down in preparation to enter the big black. In another 35 years I will just be a memory and a name on a headstone. And the world will go on, as though I’ve never even been here to start with. Days will turn into years, years will turn into eons and the earth will keep circling the sun until, far off into the distant future, the earth will be abandoned, scorched by the dying sun. Another eon into the future and all that remains is a dead and cold planet in an endless dark universe. And the rest is silence.

But for now, to keep the end of all things at bay, all I can do is live and make music and try to be a good person. Or at least as good as I can. And yes, there is some music on the way. We are now nearly done with the second From The Mouth of The Sun album. There are basically just some finishing touches on one last track and then it’s done. To me the album feels like a natural follow up to Woven Tide and those who liked that album will most certainly like this one, but hey, you never know do you? I’m also working on a full-length album with Matthew Collings. Slow progress on that one but two tracks are finished and many more are in the works. I have no idea how to describe what the album will sound like, but it’s broken, fragmented, harsh… It’s gonna be something really special when it’s done. I’ve also started working with Gothenburg based artist Carolina Falkholt. Musically this taps into my soft spot for that straight 4/4 beat. I wouldn’t call it techno (cause basically I have no idea how to make techno) but it got beats and words and you can probably dance to it. I’ve also just finished making the score for the international performance group sirenscrossings’s coming performance rivercities//dry. The piece is set to premiere during Fallens dagar (Days of the Fall) in Trollhättan at the end of July. And to just give you an idea, here is a video from when they release the water. The performance will take place in the dried up canyon, leading up to when they release the falls and flood everything. This is going to be monumental. The music? A mixture of water turbine sounds and acoustic instruments in the shape of a slowly growing drone, turning more and more abrasive as the piece progresses. I will post the whole thing on my Soundcloud once the performance has premiered. We’ve also taken the first tentative steps toward a new de la Mancha album. It’s going to be a concept album, but that’s basically all I can say about it at this point. Oh, and just yesterday we started working on new The Silence Set material. So, loads of stuff going on at the moment.

As I write this I feel I’ve turned a corner in my life. It’s not lollipops and rainbows, and I don’t think it will ever be with me, but my days are getting brighter and brighter and that’s enough for me at the moment.

Take care

Dag

What we must

I’ve never been one for nostalgia. I generally don’t like looking back on the past. Some people dwell too heavily on the past and end up stuck in a state where they’re never present, but rather in an ever fleeting, unfulfilled longing. A longing back to simpler and brighter times. But those days weren’t actually any brighter. The mind just makes them brighter to keep us from crumbling from the bare weight of all those hours of all those days. If we were to remember everything the way it really happened, we would not be long for this world.

But after closing the book on Jasper TX I started thinking about the music I’ve made over the years, and more specifically, the albums I’ve released over these last eight years. What I came to realize is that all of my albums deal with death and dying. There is the peacefully embraced death and the violent death, there is refusal to accept it and there are those who seek it. There is the total annihilation of the body and the slow decay, the flesh we inherit that crumbles and the mind that vanishes into thin air. Death is ever present. It’s there in all of them.

As a human being you have to come to terms with your own mortality; that one day, not that far into the future all of this will inevitably end. You have your time on earth and during that time you do your best to lead a good life, to respect others, to be responsible and to make good. Well, most of us at least. But any way you spin it, one day this will all end. And you can take nothing with you when you go. I’ve come to realize that doing what I do is my way of dealing with the fact that one day I will die. I will leave this life and wander off into the big black. And I don’t believe in a life after this. There is no divine light, there is no palace of plenty. There is only the big nothingness. And to me that’s a comforting thought. I imagine it as though falling into a dreamless sleep, never to wake up again. No thoughts, no feelings… no nothing. And sometimes life’s just so brutally painful and it takes so much strength to just get by, to just try and function and feel some kind of dignity in your existence, that the big nothingness more resembles a warm, all-consuming and tender embrace.

But we go on. Struggling toward that inevitable end. And we do what we need to do. With the art and music that we leave behind we create our own temples of mortality. We hope that shards of what we are and what we’ve done will live on as tiny flickers of light in an endless dark ocean of space and time. We do it because it is what we are and what we love. We do it for no one but ourselves. We do it because we need to.

Thanks

Dag

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