Brian M. Clark is a peculiar yet all too familiar figure in the experimental music world whom somehow manages to maintain an artistic and social appearance that is both hopelessly solitary, like the “empty places” that his music here inhabits, and prolific in the sense that his written craft has certainly made its rounds through relative social circles and beyond. While the more apparent ties that he has to the art world have been rehashed ad nauseum by an army of prosaic critics that currently infest the burgeoning bowels of modern music journalism, he also plays host to a wide variety of interests, from the curation and operation of the offensively brilliant Unpop Art website, whose content Peter Sotos himself would likely applaud, to his venerably audacious writing for the Modern Drunkard Magazine, both of which feature such classics as Fuck you & your Stupid, Stupid Cat and Why I Drink (and why Motherfuckers need to Quit Telling me to Stop.) While all of these endeavors, when combined with the theme found here on Songs from the Empty Places…, literally ooze the deliciously thick black sap of nihilism and cynicism that many of us have become accustomed to in the post-industrial genre, he has not been without serious tribulations, the most immediate of which has, in the past couple of years, climaxed into the Creation Books Fraud website. For the sake of “getting on with it”, you can read about the whole mess on the aforementioned website.
I think that it goes without saying that it is the mentioned nihilistic and sarcastic portions of Clark’s personality that are the driving forces behind this record, and if there were somehow any doubt to it before sending your stylus smoothly spiraling towards the center of depravity, despite the all too descriptive track titles, then the melodic and maddened, MIDI-driven circus-waltz of “Suburban Bedroom” should be a bit more than a subtle hint in your direction. “Downtown High-rise Loft” brings in a bit of tenebrously-flavored ride cymbal, piano, vibraphone and bass-driven 70’s jazz to the table, evoking images of olives disembodied from martini glasses and scattered paperwork aimlessly fallen about masses of brain matter and the sharpened edges of skull fragments. A transcendental image marking a release from soul-deforming capitalist enslavement painted in hues of green, white and, mostly, red. “High School Library…” opens up as broodingly as expected, with a slow-motion descent into the mindset of a temporary sociopath as his misguided and fractured perception of the world around him finally collapses into heavily distorted guitar, texturing keyboards and aggressive percussion. The only legitimately morose track to accompany this smorgasbord of suicide is perhaps also the shortest — the closer, “Studio Apartment Bathroom”. The track features piano and minimal guitar that perform dual sullen melodies in an otherwise blank space, adding to the dead air and hopelessness that must accompany coming to terms with being in the depths of the Winter of your life.
The download that accompanies this 12″ LP via a card that directs you to dropcards.com with an access code features two additional “remix” tracks that are not featured on the LP. “High School Grounds” is a disassembled and reconstructed version of the original that features a more rhythmic backbone and thus achieves a slightly more abrasive level of aggression. It also cuts out the “brooding intro” section completely. The “Suburban Bedroom Remix” is even more MIDI-influenced than the original and, while melodically interesting, really serves no definitive purpose, nor does it make much sense considering the purpose of Lithium as a drug to treat bipolar disorder and manic depression. Everything considered, it appears there were no survivors here. In the end, Songs from the Empty Places… is supposed to mimic the memory of the event, not the event itself — a haunting glance into frozen tragedy from the mind of someone whom understands the subtle humor behind the fleeting, temporal nature of existence and can perhaps find some level of comfort within it.
01) Suburban Bedroom (A Pretty Young Girl Swallows a Bottle of Pills for Reasons that would have seemed Stupid in Retrospect, had she Lived.)
02) Downtown High-rise Loft (A Drunken Executive Staggers around his Apartment all Evening, until — in an Uncharacteristic Moment of Impulsive Melodrama — he Blows his Brains out.)
03) High School Library, Gymnasium and Cafeteria (A Fat Nerd Finally Brings his Guns to School.)
04) Studio Apartment Bathroom (A Lonely Old Widow Slits her Wrists in the Bathtub.)
05) High School Grounds (Meth Remix — Available Only via Download)
06) Suburban Basement (Lithium Remix — Available Only via Download)