Closing the Floodgates: 5 Days and Counting Down

So, the 29 days of February are inching to a close.At midnight on the 29th, my 29 Days of February project will be terminated, and the pamphlet / ebook containing the short stories ‘Something Must Break’ and ‘Dream of the Flood’ will be deleted. There will be no republication, so the number of copies in circulation will be limited to the number of copies sold during the 29 days.

Here’s a brief excerpt from ‘Dream of the Flood’. Purchase links are at the bottom.

 

As the car alarms squealed and wailed outside under the cover of darkness and following earlier reports of power outages, the lack of contact with the outside world began to gnaw at me in ways I had not anticipated. I was ok, my home was safe, as was my immediate family, but my family and friends further afield had nothing to go by but the news media, and had no means of reaching us, nor I they.

I made my way out, for the second time that day, into the street. It was unusually quiet, although I had to remind myself that Christmas often brought a strange silence to the streets. The traffic was minimal, and I passed but a handful of pedestrians as I took my circuitous route to the river, rediscovering a mobile phone network on the way. It wasn’t until I drew near the approach to the river than I encountered any density of people: groups were hovering at the end of the road, and they had clearly made their way there with the intention of observing the floods, just as I had. Clusters of three or four, all wearing wellington boots, stood at the edge of, or even waded into, the water which had crept beyond the point at which the road ended and the fields began: the bollards, with their reflectors, were largely submerged, and the famed Millennium Bridge, opened in 2000, began some 30 metres away from the edge of the expanded river edge.

 

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The blurb:

‘Something Must Break’: A dissonant tale of mental fragmentation and duality.

‘Dream of the Flood’: A meditation on climate change and possibilities of the near future, of human interaction and solipsism.

Together, these two pieces represent Christopher Nosnibor’s more literary side as he continues to explore narrative forms and voices.

The links:

Purchase the print edition here.

Purchase the e-book here.

Something Must Break (Excerpt)

Did he jump or was he pushed? The suicide continued to play on his mind. Not because he cared, but because he couldn’t help but wonder. What could possibly drive a man to take his own life? Could things really be that bad? Steve opined that this question was an absurdity, knowing full well that they could, and often were. Ever since university, Steve’s perspective on self-immolation were subject to a questioning, a cynicism that he didn’t like to rationalise. Back in uni, he’d shared a house with some dropout waster who’s succeeded in becoming a raging alcoholic by the second semester of their second year. They’d started out as friends in the first year, but Adrian had become increasingly erratic in his behaviour, and at some point entirely gave up on sobriety. Before long, he had almost ceased being human. He had probably needed help, but Steve was in no position to offer sympathy. He had his own troubles, for starters. So when Adrian went into the self-pitying mode, sobbing about how no-one loved him, about how he was a loser and a waste of space, and how he might as well be dead, Steve hadn’t bothered to contradict him.

‘Why don’t you just fucking kill yourself?’ he had hissed venomously.

‘You’d fucking love that, wouldn’t you?’ the twat had spat through a veil of tears and saliva during many of his drink-induced crying jags. ‘One day, I will, and it’ll be on your fucking conscience.’

‘Fine. As long as I don’t have to look at you in this state, or listen to any more of your self-absorbed, wallowing, self-pitying bullshit or step in any more of your fucking puke around the house, I can live with the guilt,’ Steve had replied on more than one occasion. He’d been ice cold in his delivery. He’d fucking meant it.

Eventually, after repeated instruction to fuck off and die, Adrian had done as he had been bid. It had been Steve who had discovered him, slumped in his room, a bloated mess of vomit and early decomposition. The housemates had all gone home for reading week. Steve had been the first to return and was perplexed to find the front door unlocked. Everything had seemed normal, other than the house being vacant, or so it had appeared. Shrugging, he had unpacked, prepared himself some food and watched television for a while, before growing curious.

On discovering the corpse, he had been fascinated and repelled in equal measure. Pity hadn’t entered his emotional range, and the sadness he felt in his chest was no more than a fleeting pang. He had called the police, and then poked a boot into the dead fucker’s ribs. Waster. He was no real loss.

The coroner had concluded a verdict of suicide on account of there being no sign of forced entry or anyone else present, and vast quantities of alcohol and barbiturates residual in the bloodstream of the deceased. Steve had snapped a handful of photographs before the services had arrived and removed the body from the premises.

 

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Something Must Break / Dream of the Flood are available in print and e-book format from 1 February 2016 to midnight on 29 February 2016.

The blurb:

‘Something Must Break’: A dissonant tale of mental fragmentation and duality.

‘Dream of the Flood’: A meditation on climate change and possibilities of the near future, of human interaction and solipsism.

Together, these two pieces represent Christopher Nosnibor’s more literary side as he continues to explore narrative forms and voices.

The links:

Purchase the print edition here. (Enter code LULURC at checkout to receive 25% discount and free priority shipping on qualifying orders)

Purchase the e-book here.

The 29 Days of February Start Here

February 2016 has a bonus day. The month has already arrived in the southern hemisphere, but I’m marking the arrival of the extended leap-year February in GMT and celebrating with the publication of a pamphlet and e-book containing a brace of short stories which will only be available for the 29 days of February.

At Midnight on 29th February, Something Must Break / Before the Flood will be deleted and will not be republished.

 

Cover Version 2 copy 2 TEXT

 

The blurb:

‘Something Must Break’: A dissonant tale of mental fragmentation and duality.

‘Dream of the Flood’: A meditation on climate change and possibilities of the near future, of human interaction and solipsism.

Together, these two pieces represent Christopher Nosnibor’s more literary side as he continues to explore narrative forms and voices.

The links:

Purchase the print edition here. (Enter code LULURC at checkout to receive 25% discount and free priority shipping on qualifying orders)

Purchase the e-book here.

Incoming! New Year, New Project

Yes, it’s 2016. I don’t make new year’s resolutions, for a number of reasons, but I do like to set myself targets and challenges for the year, and this year is no exception.

Back in 2008, I ran a project entitled ‘The 29 Days of February’, and with 2016 also being a leap year (I was busy with other things in 2012), it seems like a good idea to resurrect the project, at least fundamentally.

I toyed with the idea of publishing a new story on-line each day for 29 days, but it simply isn’t going to happen, and besides, I rather liked the original project concept better, whereby I simply published a long short story in pamphlet form and only made it available for 29 days as a means of celebrating the ‘extra’ day in the month. It might seem like an odd use of a bonus day, but like the amp that goes up to eleven, 29 days is one more than 28. Or something.

To use a music industry analogy (I’m fond of those: literature is, after all, the new rock ‘n’ roll), the project takes the ‘limited edition’ concept in a slightly different direction. To unpack that: bands and labels release limited edition pressings in the hope of generating a buzz, a clamour, and selling out a set – usually comparatively small – quantity of units quickly. It makes for good promotion and when demand exceeds supply, there’s an almost instant future collectible, and there’s a certain appeal in owning something scarce.

With the 29 Days of February concept, the number of units in circulation is determined by the market, meaning that while it can’t ‘sell out’ in the first three days, if only six copies sell in the 29 days the product is available, then only six copies will exist – ever.

I vowed never to republish ‘A Call for Submission’ after it was deleted on 1 March 2008, and I’ve adhered to that promise.

This year’s ‘29 Days’ project will be published as a back-to-back A5 saddle-stitched pamphlet (hopefully) and an ebook. The chosen formats mean it will be affordable, accessible and immediate. And why not?

Full details and relevant links to follow…

Albums of 2015

I’m not really a fan of list blogs, and never agree with any of the end of year lists for anything. I was reluctant to post my own ‘albums of the year’ because, well, frankly, who gives a crap?

Because I haven’t heard every album released, or even all of the big’ albums of the year because I’ve been busy discovering new and emerging acts independently, my list doesn’t feature our favourite band or album, and I make no apologies for this. During 2015, I penned some 622 music reviews, which probably accounted for a third to a quarter of the material I was sent. I attended some 40 live shows (and invariably saw all of the support acts), including two all-day cosmopolitan festivals: at each of these I packed in some 13 bands on each day. I covered most of them, however briefly. I can’t remember a fraction of the artists I’ve heard or seen, but I’d like to think my commitment to supporting live music and new artists is self-apparent.

Anyone who says there’s no good new music is wrong. The chances are that they’re locked in a previous era (usually the years between the age of 16 and 30) and are looking in the wrong place. Take it from me: there’s never been more exciting new music than now. Sometimes you have to wade through endless dreck to discover it, but that’s a key part of my ‘job’.

The albums listed here aren’t necessarily the ‘best’ albums of the year, or the ones fans or critics have unanimously frothed over, but they’re the ones which have had the greatest impact and stuck with me over the course of the year. They’re presented in in more or less chronological order or release. Enjoy.

Special thanks got to Lauren Barley (Rarely Unable), Ed Bendorff (Dense Promotions), Simon Glacken (I Like Press) and Andy at Riot Season for providing me with disproportionate quantities of great music over the last 12 months. Here’s looking to another marvellous year for music in 2016.

 

Disappears – Irreal

Disappears truly cast off the last vestiges of their garage rock beginnings with Irreal, dismantling the very structures of rock ‘n’ roll with this sparse art-rock offering. Challenging, but rewarding.

The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave

Almost universally acclaimed, and deservedly so, The Twilight Sad’s fourth album isn’t my favourite by any stretch. But it deservedly provided the band with their commercial and critical breakthrough and scored them a US tour with The Cure. Perhaps more importantly, it’s an album that’s aching with pained emotion and draws together all of the elements of their previous work to powerful effect.

Henry Blacker – Summer Tombs

Released on vinyl for record store day, hey Colossus offshoot power trio Henry Blacker really excelled with Summer Tombs, a grimy, sweaty, grunged-out psychedelic take on the classic rock template. The CD release which followed is doubly cool by virtue of the fact it features debut album Hungry Dogs Will Eat Dirty Puddings as its bonus tracks, and thus features the gnarly masterpiece that is ‘Pullin’ Like a Dray’ and means I can also shoehorn this album into my list for the year.

A Place To Bury Strangers – Transfixiation

New York purveyors of feedback-strewn demolition indie rock certainly didn’t sell out with their eardrum-shredding, tinnitus-inducing fourth album.

Slow Readers Club – Cavalcade

Dark, brooding post-punk / new-wave / electro-infused indie par excellence:Cavalcade is bursting with songs of a rare quality.

New Politicians – Remission

The best Interpol album not recorded by Interpol. Chilling, atmospheric, brilliant.

Prurient – Frozen Niagara Falls

Every element of Prurient’s previous output distilled into a double album of pain and beauty. Perseverance essential.

Sleaford Mods – Key Markets

This is no bandwagon-hopping throw-in: Sleaford Mods are without question one of, if not THE most significant acts going. Key Markets encapsulates everything that makes the Mods ace, and despite their rising popularity, they’ve done nothing to pander to critical or commercial demands on their latest offering, while expanding their scope with tracks like ‘Tarantula Deadly Cargo’.

Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss

Immensely powerful stuff.

 

Primitive Race – Primitive Race

Industrial / goth / 80s crossover mega-collaboration featuring Josh Bradford (Revolting Cocks, Stayte, Simple Shelter), Mark Brooks (Warlock Pinchers, Foreskin 500, Night Club), Mark Gemini Thwaite (Peter Murphy, The Mission UK, Tricky), Dave Ogilvie (Skinny Puppy, Jakalope), and Chris Kniker. Off the back of an EP with PIG (aka Raymond Watts), the debut album proved to be diverse and really rather good.

Blacklisters – Adult

Leeds’ premier purveyors of nasty noise returned with a killer second album. Still making a nod to The Jesus Lizard and Shellac, with gritty riffs in abundance, but with denser production than its predecessor. I’m not messing around here…

Post War Glamour Girls – Feeling Strange

Following swiftly on from their storming debut, Leeds’ Post War Glamour Girls delivered an equally storming second album. At times bleak, at times angry, it proved to be adventurous, daring and accomplished.

Swans – The Gate

No need to explain or justify this one. Swan have been going from strength to strength, and while the Filth reissue was also a contender, this collection of live recordings and demos for the next album is all about looking forward. It also captures the immense power of the band’s current incarnation live with remarkable accuracy, although it’s fair to say nothing can fully convey the force of their unassailable volume. You don’t know loud until you’ve experienced Swans. There really is no other band who have ever, or will ever, touch Swans. Yes, I’m a total fanboy.

Killing Joke – Pylon

Killing Joke were always the band of the apocalypse, the angry but articulate voice of dissent to political corruption and cultural greed. Pylon is perfectly timed and absolutely on the money, with some cracking – not to mention fittingly heavy – tunes to boot. With punishing riffs galore, the original lineup are on fine form here.

Kowloon Walled City – Grievances

Post-metal par excellence. By turns delicate and punishing, Kowloon Walled City’s Grievances is the sound of pain, conveyed in a way that resonates to the very core of the soul.

Sunn O))) – Kannon

Krushing.

 

You want more? Auralaggravation.com is a good place to start….

2015: A Year in Books

I spend a lot of time writing – music and book reviews, fiction, blogs rants and all the rest. But when I’m not writing, I’d much rather hunker down with a good book than watch television, and generally favour books over films. Lunch breaks and train journeys and well as the wind-down before sleep will invariably find my immersed in a book. Inevitably, some of the material I’ve read will influence or inspire my own writing in some way or another, immediately or much, much later. These are the books I read in 2015, in chronological order. Some I enjoyed more than others, some I read for research or review purposes, some I’d read previously, others I’d started but abandoned and decided to revisit. Sometimes I read two books at a time, switching between sessions. Regardless of the circumstances, these are the texts which provided the literary backdrop to the last 12 months of my life – for anyone who may be interested. Mostly, it’s a record I like to keep which I tend to make public, just because.

 

Nick Jones – 9987

Ray Bradbury – Farenheit 451

Paul Ewen – Francis Plug: How to be a Public Author

JG Ballard – Running Wild

Chuck Palahniuk – Doomed

Danny King – The Pornographer Diaries

Megan Milks (ed) &Now 3

Ed McBain – Like Love

Ed McBain – Killer’s Payoff

Jim Thompson – The Grifters

Bill Shields – Lifetaker

Jeff Noon – Vurt

Paul Auster – In The Country of Last Things

John Niven – Straight White Male

David Gionfriddo – The Good Worlds are All Taken

Derek Raymond – He Died With His Eyes Open

John J. Niven – Cold Hands

Cormac McCarthy – The Road

JG Ballard – Super-Cannes

Supervert – Post-Depravity

PA Morbid – Gorged on Light

Reuben Woolley – Dying Notes

JG Ballard – Hello America

Mike Meraz – She Poems

Charles Bukowski – The Bell Tolls for No-One

Mark Fisher – Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures

Sue Fox – The Visceral Tear

Chuck Palahniuk – Fight Club

David Peace – Nineteen Seventy Four

JG Ballard – The Kindness of Women

Christopher Nosnibor’s Guide to Being a Music Reviewer – Part Six

It’s been just over a year since I posted the last of the five previous ‘Guide to Being a Music Reviewer’ posts. I’ve been busy, launching my own site – Aural Aggravation – while drowning in emails with downloads and streams, offering interviews and live shows, and wading through endless CD. To be clear, I’m certainly not complaining about any of this. But equally, I’m not getting rich off any of this: my reviews for other sites are unpaid, and Aural Aggravation is ad-free as a matter of principle.

Generally, I keep the CD I get sent if they’re any good, the bulk of the remainder I donate to charity shops. However, occasionally, I will find I’m running out of space and stick a handful up on eBay (though I’m always mindful never to list anything prior to release date, or even until a fair while after so as not to take potential sales from the artist). I tend to start all of my sales with a .99p starting bid, because ultimately, it’s more about getting rid of stuff than profiteering.

Now, it’s not often I’ll gripe about specific personal matters, but on this occasion, it feels appropriate, given that it ties in with the broader issue of the economics of music reviewing, the music industry and beyond.

Earlier this week I sold an album with a sole bid at .99p. Three days after the auction closed, the buyer paid through PayPal with the message ‘second class post is fine.’ So the following day, in my lunch break, I went to the post office and sent it by second class post (and obtained proof of posting, of course).

Two days later, I received the following message:

so pleased with cd but was about to register my dissatisfaction with postage and system refers me back to you.,,,,i find 1 pound 50p excessive for a 72p stamp and a recycled jiffy….over 100% mark up on postage

I was rather miffed by this. 100% markup on the postage itself, maybe – at least on the face of it – but in context, the complaint seemed, well, just a bit twatty. But of course, the customer is always right, supposedly, and so I elected for diplomacy and replied as follows:

I’m sorry you’re unhappy with the cost of P&P.

I charge a flat rate p&p for CDs, although actual costs do vary. For example, ones in jewel cases etc. tend to come in heavier, and I usually use first class, which is (on average) around £1.25-1.65. I always recycle jiffies, not simply for economy to me, but to keep packaging costs down for buyers, and for the good of the environment.

However, you did advise in your delivery instructions that second class was fine. I therefore used second class as requested, hence the lower cost of the stamp.

I would add that eBay take 15p in fees off the 99p sale price of the CD, and another 10p in fees for my p&p costs postage. PayPal in turn deduct 28p on a transaction of £2.49, meaning I make on average 71p per CD (ignoring the cost of tape, etc, and the time it takes to pack and post it), although granted, on this occasion, I’ll have made £1.41.

That said, I’m willing to refund you 70p if you so wish.

I genuinely believed he would be shamed into making a deal of 70p, given that he’d purchased a fairly recent album, in mint conditions and with a press release thrown in, for £2.49, within 48 hours of making payment.

Instead, he accepted the offer, saying “that would be appreciated”.

It’s more than I can say for his custom. If you want to get rich, don’t become a music reviewer.

ebay-reveals-new-company-logo-7cfa25d9f9

eBay: where tossers shop for bargains and complain that their bargain wasn’t quite bargain enough

Corporate Christmas

This piece was penned with a view to fitting the ‘Black Friday’ theme of December’s Fictions of Every Kind spoken word night at The Wharf Chambers, Leeds, on 30th November 2015 (which, incidentally, was great, with a good mix of writers of outstanding quality, and a brilliant atmosphere in a super venue).

‘Corporate Christmas’ is a part of the ever-expanding and presently ongoing ‘Rage Monologues’ project, and as such, is designed first and foremost as a performance piece. However, as I’m aware my live performances are few and far between, and tend to take place in the north of England, there are may who won’t be able to hear this material. So, in the spirit of the season, I thought I’d share this piece, which doesn’t feature in the tour edition pamphlet of The Rage Monologues, here.

Enjoy…

 

Corporate Christmas

It’s all about the money. But at a certain point, the money becomes theoretical. Top-flight executives, boards of directors, the upper echelons of the corporate hierarchy, I get. No, that’s not true. What I get is that it takes a certain kind of person to become a top-flight executive, a director on the board, to scale the heights and reach the upper echelons of the corporate hierarchy. A sociopath, no more and no less. I will never understand the mindset, the megalomania that drives such criminal disregard for everything other than money. They’re so far removed from the reality of the everyday, so distanced from the shop floor, they’re effectively exempt. They’re wired differently. They don’t see their employees as humans. They don’t see their customers as human. They never hear the voices of the downtrodden, the weary, the world at large. They can’t hear us cry out, fists raised.

You’ve got the money.

You’ve got the status.

You’ve got the power.

You’ve got the control.

You’re fucking us all over.

You don’t see the planet as a finite resource. Everything exists for your benefit. And nothing is ever enough. You have everything already. What more can you possibly want? More… always more. Because money doesn’t just talk. It buys whatever the fuck you want. Want it? Buy it. Because you can.

What do you want? World domination!

When do you want it? Yesterday!

Competition? You’ve bought the competition, and shut it down.

Regulation? You laugh in the face of it. You’ve bought the regulators.

Government? You’ve bought the government. The parties are in your pocket, paid off with the money not spent on paying tax. You’re not the law – you’ve bought the law.

But the countless other layers of management, from the cringing petty bureaucrats at the lower managerial levels, to the ones who command payola and power but don’t own a fleet of yachts or several Pacific islands… I get where they’re coming from. And they, they’re the worst fucking scum.

You, you’ve also got the money – not as much, but just enough to think you’re special, to afford the finer things in life, not least of all thanks to the company credit card, the expense account. Like you fucking need it on your salary – pleading poverty while cruising in your Audi, smugging it up, your 2.4 kids in private schools and destined for top universities and to follow in your patent leather footsteps.

You’ve got the status – not as much as the real high-flyers, but club class will do. You’ve got enough to flash it around, to swan off on management away days and three-hour “working lunches”, plotting espionage and tax avoidance on your iPhones while chilling in first-class lounge suites making like your lives are so pressured, while not having the first clue what it’s like to have to worry about the bills – your pampered wives sipping Pinot Grigot from balloon glasses on leather corner sofas in front of a 60” flatscreen while wearing a white fluffy dressing gown, perish the thought they might break a nail in a five-bed townhouse with the heating cranked up to thirty.

You’ve got the power – not world domination, but you’ve got a hotline to the gods of business, and they know people who know people who know people who know people and the next thing, you’ve bought into Europe and you’ve got steer on the TTIP… so you’ve got power enough to throw around, enough to make you feel good while holding others down. You need to hold them down, keep them in their place.

You’ve got the control – just enough to live out your fantasies of power play. Those rebels and potential usurpers… you know how to dispense with them. Dissent? Crush it! Remove it! Yes, there are ways and means to sidestep legislation about unfair dismissal and discrimination… show them the door. No-one’s going to stop your march.

We need to make cuts to boost profit! The shareholders have spoken! The directors have spoken!

So what do you do? What do you do? Front-line staff every time: you’ll never see management voting for a cull of management, a stripping back of the layers of the hierarchy, no. Because it’d be like turkeys voting for Christmas. You’ve got just one interest, and that’s self-interest.

So you stand there in your sharp suit with your company laptop rucksack, your sharp haircut and your buzzwords, making like you actually give a fuck as you apologise for the cuts, the redundancies as you lay off yet more staff, just to protect your own bonus. Cunt.

You think you hold the power, that you have ownership. But you’re all part of the same system. The capitalist system. You’re still climbing over one another to attain material goods, more and more and more, and nothing is ever enough.

You don’t own capitalism: capitalism owns you. You’re still a part of the system, a system the purpose of which is to make people buy shit they don’t need with money they don’t have.

Maintaining Momentum

After a few weeks without performing any live spoken word, I returned to the fray with a segment at the launch for Sue Fox’s debut novel, The Visceral Tear, in Manchester last Saturday. That’s perhaps a whole other story in itself, but it was a successful performance (these things are relative, and I only half-emptied the room during my first piece, and actually sold some books).

While it seems I may not be featuring in the lineup for the Nous Sommes Bataclan event in York on Friday 27th November as I had initially hoped (primarily due to logistical and scheduling issues – the event has my absolute support and I would urge anyone who can make it to attend, because it’s a great lineup and stuff needs to happen, and to keep happening, which is the essential point here), I’m all for maintaining the momentum.

I recently completed a new Rage Monologue, which doesn’t feature in the tour edition pamphlet. I have every intention of performing it for the first time at the Wharf Chambers in Leeds on Monday 30th November.

Details of the event can be found here: 

https://www.facebook.com/events/1043784485632386/

It may only be a five-minute slot, but anyone in Leeds who’d like to see me bring the rage, I’d recommend getting down. It’s a cracking venue, the headliners are great, and what my set will lack in duration, it will compensate in intensity.

See you down the front. Or at the back. Hopefully.