“No artist is pleased … There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

MARTHA GRAHAM, MODERN DANCE PIONEER

“I’m a music producer because I’m such a music fan,” says Oakland-based musician Dax Pierson. “Since I like…


Prolaps’ Ultra Cycle Pt. 1: Vernal Birth is music to asphyxiate to.

A collaboration between Bonnie Baxter of Kill Alters and Matt Stephenson of Machine Girl, Ultra Cycle Pt. 1: Vernal Birth is the first of four seasonally-driven installments. …


“We titled our album Plague Notes easily a year before COVID exploded in Wuhan,” says Marc Kate, San Francisco-based composer known for his conceptual solo projects and production in electronic post-punk band Never Knows. “It’s more about our obsession with all things apocalyptic. Who knew it could be so prescient?”


“Popular Monitress” isn’t exactly a solo venture. Jon Leidecker, who has been releasing music under the pseudonym “Wobbly” since 1990, has captured communion with the machine.

The San Francisco-based multimedia artist, known for his involvement in legendary experimental group Negativland and the Thurston Moore Ensemble, released “ Popular Monitress” in February, a follow-up to his 2019 release, “ Monitress.”

Both albums toy with the concept of machine listening, and its warped replication of human tuning. Using…


San Francisco, it seems, is starved for poetic mobilization, an enlightened whisper in a withered ear bent by time and the bludgeoning of bureaucrats, those who have too long lined their pockets at the expense of the city’s purveyors of art, culture, and joy.

Tongo Eisen-Martin is a bracing answer to the technocratic pall, a social landscape he observes to be “an open air corporate campus.” Or, put another way, “This police state candy dispenser that you all call a neighborhood” (“ The Course of Meal “).

To speak with Eisen-Martin, I found, is to engage with a galvanizing spirit. His is a generous mind, one that reduces fatalism to a murmur in retreat. During our exchange, Eisen-Martin discussed the proletariat potential of the poet laureate position, the redefinition of education as a liberatory practice, and the…


“There’s this book called ‘The People Could Fly,’” says Tongo Eisen-Martin, San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate. “It was a book of Black folk tales, and in the title story of the book, there’s some Africans, so-called enslaved on a plantation, and the assertion of the narrator is, ‘The people could…


Negativland is a chronic cultural carnivore. Since 1980, the experimental sound collage group has been sampling offal from the corporate culture machine and repackaging it with subversive hilarity. Their latest album, “ The World Will Decide,” was released on Nov. 13.

Today, the group consists of Mark Hosler, David Wills (a.k.a. “The Weatherman”), Jon Leidecker (a.k.a. “Wobbly”), and others. Whether their subject of critique is the omnipresence of corporate advertising or the reign of technocracy, Negativland has proven audio collage to be a wickedly effective means of exposing cultural hypocrisy.

As…


“I still think it would be fun to talk to a robot,” a disembodied female voice bleats as a series of drone strikes hammer the earth in a spectacular display of yellow flame and thick, caustic smoke. “He can help you find the right product, or show you the way into the hospital,” a male voice chimes in, with the self-assured air of a practiced salesman. It’s the parting sentiment in Negativland’s latest music video, “ Don’t Don’t Get Freaked Out,” at once a deliciously cruel joke and measured critique of both the wonders and horrors of technological advancement.

Negativland is a chronic cultural carnivore. Since 1980, the experimental sound collage group — which was founded in Concord and still has a couple of Bay Area-based members — has been sampling offal from the corporate culture machine and repackaging it with subversive hilarity. Their latest album, “ The World…


“What the fuck am I doing?”

I’m almost certain I said this aloud at 3 A.M. in my cloistered studio apartment, which is, in fact, just a small bedroom with a modest bathroom attached. If I did, it was likely heard in the next room over, as the dividing walls are wafer-thin. I know this because I’ve been made privy to much of my neighbor’s shower crooning, and, more recently, a nasty hack of a cough that leads me to suspect that The Virus has entered the building.

Let me explain. I promise that it won’t be especially illuminating or interesting.

My blog was only recently conceived. I’m still figuring out what I’d like to do with it. More than anything, I’d like it to be a kind of rummage bin for ideas, somewhere to air thoughts that…


The price that great writers pay for cursing convention and soiling the milquetoast ranks, it seems, is braving an inflamed collective that refuses to acknowledge the filth at its feet. At best, such artistic confrontation is met with a wince. At worst, literary banishment. And so writers who present an unvarnished societal mirror, history reveals, risk hostile dismissal by our loudest puritans and patriarchs.

Too often we’re seduced by the sleazy maw of the snake-oil salesman, in the form of artificially inflated headlines and embellished cliché. We ingest aimlessly, sampling uninspired writing as we would a soured breakfast buffet, searching for nourishment among the likes of rotting oranges and stale, brittle biscuits. We are…

Lydia Sviatoslavsky

Lydia Sviatoslavsky is a San Francisco-based writer and research assistant. Find her latest work on her arts & culture blog, thought-rot.net. @rot_thought.

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