I find myself yearning for sonic texture paintings. Stoneburner/Carrion/eHpH

Lately I have really been immersed in music that takes me somewhere. A picture of sound that swirls and shakes me. Something where I don’t focus on the words or melody but drown myself in the image from 1000 miles away. Trying to see it all. Here is some of what is taking me there.

Stoneburner – (Beauty Is Terror) I feel like watching this project from Steven Archer is like seeing a blacksmith always sharpening a blade with a whetstone. Each album just keeps getting cleaner and sharper. You really can see the sound itself gain more technique and mastery with every release. It builds on itself and takes new shapes. In particular the vocals on this album are both more of an instrument but also crisper and more distinct.

Beauty Is Terror – Title track slams hard out the gate. I’m hit first by the construction. The efficiency of every sound there. Nothing overpowers or takes away. Keep yourself from fucking up. The cymbal crash sounds seem to strike at just the right moment to feel like the sound is cooking but the tempo is in reality a steady medium groove. This song feels like the early moments of an origin story. Someone just coming into their power in defiance.

Are You There The Way I’m Here – This his me like a concrete brick sledge hammer. It’s so different from everything Stoneburner. It’s smooth, sleek, sexy, it’s almost like Peter Gabriel doing triphop industrial. Again I love the connected story of this record. It isn’t so much the lyrics as the natural progression of each songs sound. Two stars synchronized across the black.

London – I love when songs are places. When you hear a song and are immediately been to a place you have been. Wet old brick walkways in a dark city full of tight alleys. The doubled vocals here, one electric and buzzing. Another chanting and organic to make a glorious effect. This song is a reflection, both the puddles on the street and the way it leaves you thinking about actions.

I know I often gush about Steven’s work, but I really believe this is the best music I have ever heard him produce to date. Take my recommendation and buy it. You won’t be sorry.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

Carrion – (Testament Ov The Exiled) If Stoneburner was a hero’s journey rising then Testament ov The Exiled is the hidden horror lurking in that alley. It drones and stalks, but with the smoothness of a predator you never see. Whispering to you. Just the quick glimpses of Flashing yellow eyes in slashing distortion. It’s the atmosphere that builds the horror here. Like an old Vincent Price movie that never needed to show you the monster to scare you. This is music to test your bravery against. Light a single candle. step outside the comfort of your door, and test the strength of your courage.

https://officialcarrion.bandcamp.com/

eHpH – (Infrared) – This is a turbulent time, you can taste it in the air. Division and fear are everywhere in the soul of America. This album takes that tension and spins it into thread. Weaving a tapestry. Heavy use of samples and thick pad sounds. Who says you can’t dance and think at the same time. This is a sound hungry for revolution. Fernando’s vocals come from behind a distorted shadow but ring clear. The fighters of freedom wear masks and carry an axe. I love challenge and FLA dance beats.

https://ehph.bandcamp.com/album/infrared

Steven Archer Rants: Writers Block

One of our most popular segments the thoughts and musings of Artist, Writer, Musician Steven Archer (Stoneburner/Ego Likeness). This time discussing writers block. A topic that has surely plagued me the last two weeks.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

The Creative Block

This is for those of you who identify as artists. You know who you are.

Maybe you do it as a hobby, maybe full time. But that is how you see yourself.

“But Steven I don’t see myself as that.”

Then don’t fuckin worry about it. You’re either saying that because you really mean it, and that’s totally fine. Or you’re saying that as a way of staying safe, so that if someone calls you on something that you make you can say “well I’m not really an artist.” In which case, you are correct. You’re a student, (totally fine, we are all students) someone who just doodles for fun (also fine if you enjoy it) or a coward (much less fine, commit to the bit, let yourself get hurt.)

The medium you work in, or the tools you use are irrelevant. They do not define your job. They might from a marketing standpoint, but not internally, inside you’re just one of the tribe.

The physical act of making the thing, it’s a just a small part of your real actual job which is… ideas.

Playing ,”what if,” or “make believe,” or whatever you want to call it.

“But Steven I do photorealistic illustrations.”

Good for you, it’s still the same thing, because you are drawn to specific things to do those illustrations of. What you put out into the world is still influenced by you and your aesthetics if not ideas.

Why am I talking about this?

Because some of you are running around saying “I have a creative block! I can’t come up with new ideas!”

Shut up.

Of course you can.

You already have.

You have tons of ideas, and if you don’t, then you may want to reevaluate how you see yourself.

Because, again, it’s your job.

Here’s the situation.

It’s not that you don’t have ideas.

It’s that you are scared to implement them because you are worried you will get laughed at by…. someone?! Who, dunno.
But for some reason you just don’t see yourself as the type of person who does ,”X.”

Too bad.

The world needs more ,”X.”

And if you are reeeeeeally really stuck, and just can’t produce something you’ve already done, the problem isn’t the ideas, it’s you.

Garbage in, garbage out.

If you keep rehashing the same shit, it’s because you aren’t feeding your brain new information. Pick up a book. Pick up ten, twenty, five hundred, live other people’s lives, write their songs, paint there stories, look through their eyes.

You need to be fascinated by things.

And the more things that you are fascinated by, the wider the range of ideas you have to draw from.

Otherwise you’re not making art.

You’re performing a trick.

It may be a good trick, but if it’s the only one you know, then that’s all it is.

It’s a craft.

A series of actions that anyone can do that will eventually yield a similar result.

Like basket weaving.

Which is, again, totally fine.

If you want to weave baskets, fuckin do it.
But don’t run around expecting applause.

Because in the end, art is as much about the person that the work is filtered through as it is about the work itself. And the wider the width and breadth of your interests and knowledge the larger the vocabulary you will have available to express your ideas about a wider range of subjects.

“But steven, all I do is paint the same thing over and over with vaguely different permutations.”

That’s not art.

Even if people put it up on their walls.

Now, the fact that you have convinced people that your trick is worth spending money on and putting on their walls… that could very well be art. In which case, well fuckin done.

*Yes yes, baskets can be art.

Look, I get it, you vaguely feel attacked, so you want to try to pedantically find little shit to bitch about, because if you can tear down one aspect then hopefully the rest will fall down and you don’t have to take it seriously and you can keep just farting around and blaming other shit for your shortcomings. But that is just Soooooo fuckin tedious. If you used the time and effort you put into your defense mechanisms to pop a few humility pills and just got to work, we wouldn’t even be having this hypothetical conversation.

Really. Try it.

Or keep making excuses while knowing down in your secret heart that you’re just a coward.

Steven Archer Rants ” Getting the Word Out”

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

This was my advice to a friend who is frustrated that his new band hasn’t been getting the attention he feels it should.

And he’s right, it’s good shit, he’s an established musician. It should be getting out there more.

“The best results I have had are by doing advertising.

It’s not particularly expensive and it does work.

You know, for fans of “x,y,z”!

It’s gonna be hard during all of this, to start a new band. Since there’s just no way to get a foot hold.

Were i you, I would do a few things.
1. Pay for advertising. Do a slow burn type thing. Spend $200 for a month of Facebook advertising directly fans of similar acts.

People who see something over and over are more likely to click it. Because it seems familiar.

2. Focus on making videos. Get creative, I shot that video I did for Inertia creeps in about two hours. Same with the light.

3. Don’t let your frustrations out in public. It’s just a bad look. The last thing you want is people checking out your band because they feel pressured to.

Regardless you gotta post about that shit all the time.

When I have something new out, I try to talk about it every day.

But people are gonna miss it anyway.

I did a bunch of videos for Belligerence and posted them everywhere for months.

A few weeks back I posted one, and a good friend and fan reposted it saying “new material from Stoneburner!”

It’s easy to get locked into the idea that everyone sees everything. But most people don’t. There’s just too much information out there to keep track of.

Particularly now with all of the bullshit going on. Every day there’s a new thing to talk about that isn’t your band.

So you gotta werk, gurl! “

Steven Archer Rants #9 Ten Rules For Artists

I’m a full time artist.
I have been for the last 10 years.

But I’ve been doing it my whole life.

My wife is a horror author (look up Donna Lynch on amazon if you’re curious).

We have multiple music projects that have run the last 20 years. Touring, releasing records etc.

I have a children’s book and a few others books out there, I do cover art for our publisher and used to do illustration for weird tales.

I make the majority of our money by selling art to customers directly through Facebook. And do commission work that runs from 300-17,000.

If you’re looking for advice it’s this.

1. If you really want to do the thing you have to build your life around that idea. You have to be willing to sacrifice your comfort and sometimes relationships in order to get there.

By which I mean, you have to want to do it enough to be willing to stick with your hopes and dreams and not become part of someone else’s.

And by build your life around it, I mean exactly that. We live in the middle of nowhere to keep costs down. We don’t and won’t have children for the same (among many other reasons.)

2. It will take infinitely longer than you feel like it should.

I’m pushing 50, we have managed to stay above the poverty line for the last 6-7 years or so.

3. And I can’t stress this one enough.

You have to put in the work.

I mean all the fuckin time.

I’ve done thousands of paintings, even more sketches, dozens of sculptures, released 50+ records, written hundreds of songs, played shows without number, curated art shows, owned a gallery, written music for NASA. And on and on.

Even now, I get up every day and I go into whatever studio makes the most sense and I work. I take a break to eat at some point, and then I work until I pass out.

It took a long time for my wife to really get that what I do is more important than everything, including her. I love her very much and I am always there for her when she needs me, but I am not always going to be around.

After 20+ years of this, touring together etc we have a pretty good system.

4. Make as much work as possible and give it away. Just get rid of it and move on to the next.

Learn to work fast and fluid. Don’t make your work precious.

Make it, get rid of it, forget about it.

When I put an album out, I do the standard promotional stuff, videos, whatever, but I’m already working on the next one, and probably thinking about the one after that.

5. We live in the future, take advantage of that.

A few years back I did a tarot deck, each card hand drawn. It took two and a half months to do all 78 cards.

It was worth it, they look great and it’s sold well.

A year or so later I got an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil. I did an 60 something page illustrated book on it in two weeks.

Or, I blocked out the majority of a record for one of my projects while on tour for another by writing it on my iPad in the van. When I got home I dropped all the pieces into the studio and finished the rest in a week.

Take advantage of other shit too.

I block my paintings out in my iPad. Set up my projector and spend a few hours laying out a dozen pieces with graphite directly on the canvas to paint later.

I could do it the old fashioned way, but why bother? It ends up the same and this saves me time.

6. Read.
All the time.
Working in a painting? Listen to an audio book.

The more information and ideas you have in your head, the larger variety of ideas you will have to put into your work.

Human brains are connection machines. Learn to use yours.

7. See a therapist, if you need to get on meds, get on meds. The idea that artists need mental illnesses to be creative is ridiculous.

And the idea that meds make you less creative is also ridiculous.

If you go on meds and that happens you’re on the wrong ones. Talk to your doctor and find the right ones. It may take time and multiple tries. But it will be worth it in the long run.

My wife and I are both mentally Ill, and we have worked our asses off to get well enough that we are able to do what we do without year long gaps caused by depression or worse.

As she says “I am not creative because of my mental illness I am creative in spite of it.”

8. Don’t fall into the idea that drugs make you creative.

By all means, experiment, do the thing. I’ve done plenty and I don’t regret it.

But drugs aren’t bringing anything new to the table. All they are doing is scrambling your brain chemestry. You can get there on your own.

Though you may learn a thing or two from your explorations.

9. I said reading, but I also mean keep working on your education. Learn constantly. Be curious.
I am forever fascinated by how things work. And I spent a lot of time learning about that kind of thing, because it’s interesting and you never know when it might be useful.

And finally
10. Know thyself.

Really.

Spend a lot of time thinking about your motivations. What gets you off? What do you love about art? Why do you want to do it? Why do you do it? Why do you love your life? How can you contribute to the world? What makes your voice special? (And believe me, you better find something or you’re not going to work hard enough to get your work out there.)

You have to deeply love being you, or at least believe on a fundamental level that what you are bringing to the table matters.

Otherwise, why bother doing it?

If you need my bonafides, here’s a link to a bunch of prints so you can see my painting chops.

https://egolikeness.bigcartel.com/category/prints

You can look up “ego likeness” or “stoneburner,” (the electronic industrial band not the sludge metal band from PORTLAND with the same name) if you are interested in the music.

And if you want to know more about my other shit, you can hit my personal page, it’s all there.

Steven Archer Rants #8 Choosing A Band Name

Hear once again the words of Steven Archer of Ego Likeness, Stone Burner

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

“On picking band names.”

Band names need to do a couple of things to function.

1. The main one is be memorable and easy to say. Ego Likeness is not the best people are always like “eagle kindness?”

2. Not be a common search term. Don’t pick a piece of technology like “router” or some shit.

3. Not limit you. “Fetal death exposition,” won’t be doing many ballads, where as both Stoneburner and Ego aren’t limited by the names themselves.

4. Be easy to abbreviate or simplify.
It took us years to figure out how to put “Ego Likeness” on a square sticker in a readable size.

For those keeping track.

Big E G O little Likeness below.

This is important because if it gets projected on the wall behind you on stage you want it to use all the space and be readable in the back.

5. It helps to have good concepts behind them. All of my bands, Ego, Stoneburner, QueenNeon, Oscellus, and Hopeful Machines have cool concepts or ideas.

6. Listen to this before you make a final choice.