Let's Get Light (soon)

Cold House E.P. (+) (2008)

The first Mystery Moose album, the Cold House E.P., was, in my estimation, an ambitious failure. I don't fault my ideas; at the time, the technology that would have allowed me to fully realize them simply didn't exist. I had to make too many compromises and the result was a little too focused, a little too... normal. Eight years later the world has finally caught up to my visionary genius, and I've decided it's time to reach back in there with my greasy fingers and turn those flashlights into guns.

A Week of Kindness (2007)

This album was inspired by the Far Stairs album The Long Afternoon and by the songs of John Linnell of They Might Be Giants fame. No one else can write a song that is as funny and whimsical and at the same time as dark and sad as he can. Flood was the first cassette tape my brother bought (I believe mine was Meatloaf's "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" single), and we have had a love affair with their songs, especially Mr. Linnell's, since then. So this is a tribute to his music and lyrics, and also to the difficulty of maintaining your humanity in the modern world, the ease with which the desperate are exploited for unscrupulous political purposes, self-love, and the frustration that every supervillain experiences as he watches his elaborate plans come crashing down around him thanks to some nigh-invincible, dandy ponce of a well-coiffed superhero. The immediate impetus for this album, however, was the song, "Computer Culture," on The Long Afternoon. Jesse sent me the video he made and it opened a door on my childhood, much like the piece of cake that some guy eats in In Search of Lost Time (which I have never even attempted to read, but which I've heard about frequently in lit classes). So, I started trying to write songs that would have appealed to the ten-year-old me, and the ten-year-old me wanted to be John Linnell. So there you go. Lyrics here.

October's Argument E.P.

Ah... October's Argument, Mystery Moose, 2005. "Int'l. lang. love" leads you in with this confusing, grand, swirling thing. You're all pumped up for something that will really take you places. Up next is a song featuring an atrocious rap that sounds a little bit like Robert Del Naja but somehow more monotone. Then comes "Sucking dog." The vocal starts off with a line from "Song For Obsolete Actors" and then quickly begin shouting about feeding live seals and maximum burniiiioooouuuu..... whatever that means. The whole thing is seemingly intended to amuse and disappoint at the same time. And then comes 5 minutes of bullshit that clearly was just thrown in as a "fuck you" to anybody who a) liked the previous albums or b) was giving this one a fair chance. I'm almost tempted to call it by its original title, "I caught you a delicious bass." It's both a pun AND an incredibly passé Napoleon Dynamite reference. And then "Active life," which, in sort of a hall of mirrors of self-abuse (not the good kind), is pathetically self-parodic and is ABOUT being self-parodic. Then comes "I don't want to be alone," which is warmly ridiculous, as if saying, "sure, the entire back catalog was a joke at your expense, but it was all in good fun." And then all of a sudden there's the musical equivalent of a handshake, a sad smile, a "sure, you failed, but it's okay, so has everyone else," and a whistlin' on down the road, leaving the listener with this heart-wrenching guilt and emptiness, like when your puppy kills itself and leaves a note saying it was because you didn't love it enough. If I had been smarter back then, I would've just handed this E.P. to any girl who was interested in me and said, "you can stop wondering, it's pretty much like this."

Mr. Good Time (2004)

Ahh...Mr. Good Time, Mystery Moose, 2004. And they were good times. The plains moved under our feet and thickets sprouted--stands of trees we had never seen before. On T.V. they talked about, "a changing landscape." Hoo boy, they never get much right on TV but they did then. Those little pockets of forest, they were so dark and crawling. There was more of it every day, and at night you could hear all kinds of frogs and birds and other things you'd never heard before, so many, like there was a box with all the sounds in the world in it but it had been kept closed and hidden and then someone found it. And so many insects. We were terrified at first but we didn't have a choice; our houses were in it and then it was in our houses. We saw it up in the trees sometimes walking like it was on patrol, wearing our clothes and bowing so formally to the girls as it passed by, like it was a Victorian gentleman. It was a real cutup! I went walking with it a few times. It got me drunk and borrowed my arms and let me watch the war on T.V. while it was away with them. But my attention always drifted to the peepers and stuff outside. All those noises made you sleepy and we got real comfortable in there--come to think of it, I couldn't tell you if it grew thicker or if we just curled up tighter inside. And the insects!  They were the size of utility knives and they reflected light in your eyes like a rainbow that made you blind. They sang in rounds and choruses and it was all you could hear. They flew at our faces and smashed into our windshields and immolated themselves inside the porch light, and screamed and screamed in our ears while we were trying to sleep. And they burned the fucking forest in patches and built their hives, and when even that wasn't enough they sent us away with their children, even though we didn't want to go and we begged and we pleaded and we killed a few of them (but they sent us anyway) and we heard later we were lucky because they only come once every 17 years and they're all dead now and we're still alive. The forest got chopped down and there's a memorial there now, but I never knew their names so I don't know which stone is which.

E.P. to Denver (2001)

There never was a more accurate title for an album than this one. This album is an unfinished love song from an ongoing love affair with my home. At the time it felt like spurned love or unrequited love but it wasn't really--you can't love an inanimate and abstract thing like a state or a city without that love boiling down to the same kind of fascination Narcissus felt looking at his reflection in a pond. And this album's got narcissism in spades! It pretty much set the tone of the Mystery Moose for the better part of the aughts: the songs were bitter, madcap, angry, goofy, misanthropic, cruel, unintelligible, frenetic, and subject to more mood swings than a pony strung out on speed. It also changed my musical direction, taking the Mystery Moose a little bit away from its techno roots and into pop song territory. This marks the introduction of the muttered, shouted, and overlapping vocal cacophony that characterized the M.M. through Mr. Good Time and October's Argument. With this album more than any other I've had people tell me they have trouble believing it's just one dude singing all the parts. Lyrics are here.

Don't Go Digging E.P. (2001)

Probably the shortest recording time for an M.M. album in history, although just how long that was escapes me. I remember it sort of just happened during the spring or summer of 2001. There's very little to say about this one, except that in style and tone it's very different from Cold House that came before it and everything that came after, except for perhaps "Lawyers In Rubble" and a few other tracks on Mr. Good Time. It consists of three variations on the same structure: slow, trip-hoppy drums and swirly synths at the beginning, frenetic middle section with multiple drum tracks, and then a return to the motifs of the beginning toward the end. One of my favorites to listen to since it never bores, grates, or annoys. One trait it shares with the E.P. to Denver, with which it was recorded almost concurrently, is a sense of doom and gloom. I like that. You'll notice that the Cold House E.P., this E.P., and the E.P. to Denver all use quite a few of the same instrument loops. That would be because all three were constructed using Acid Music, then in version 2.0, and I used nearly all the loops from the basic Acid library multiple times. This one uses a lot of free loops culled from internet searches as well to shake things up. There is a progression in the way I use the loops, however, through the first three E.P.s. They were unabashedly unadulterated from their original forms on the Cold House E.P. Here, they're panned, effected, and overlapped in rather curious arrangements. By the E.P. to Denver, I was cutting them all to hell.

Cold House E.P. (2000)

Ahh, Mystery Moose, monkeycamel, Y2K... Where it all began. It began as a joke. I was in an industrial band (another story), and had acquired Acid Music (later, legally). I don't know where the name came from; perhaps it was a Modest Mouse joke. But it was just a bunch of crap, tossed off pretty flippantly.  I had no plans for the M.M. (I'm not a schemer). In fact, the first Mystery Moose track, "Separation," began as an attempt to make a stupid, catchy, dance pop track like the Pet Shop Boys' "Can You Forgive Her?" Seriously. Or not so seriously. But at 2:40 seconds I started fading in that nervous, manic little oud, and by the time that big lumbering synth bass-monster hit at 3:28, the Mystery Moose had become its own thing. It was probably the best way to begin. To this day, I'd like to think everything the M.M. has put out has retained some of that flippancy, that frightening mania, that lumbering darkness, that whimsy, and that little touch of gay. This album has been superseded by the plus version, released at no extra charge (no charge) in 2008 and featuring a bit more awesome. Basically, I never actually got around to finishing tracks 2 and 4 until this August. So, really, this original version isn't even an album as such; it's more of a work in progress that just didn't progress for a while. But if you really must have the original versions of "C.F.F.A" and "Love in the Time of Cutlery," this is the only game in town.