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Planning for Burial – Quietly


[I]t is a relief to have some utterly banal sound pierce the darkness that we lie in, and to jar us out of the hypnagogic terror that would convince us that we are alone with the phantasms of our minds. – Thomas Bey William Bailey (174)


Planning for Burial

Quietly CD reissue (limited, with bonus tracks).

Digital album.

Enemies List Home Recordings

Planning for Burial make an audacious claim – Death to false gloom. The credo firmly asserts the idea that “yes, this is all real.” This is not to be confused with doom. Doom and gloom may go hand-in-hand in some contexts, there are noticeable differences. The former suggests a noticeable reality, a pending and altogether real shift of the inevitable – wide scale and encompassing. Gloom permeates strictly within. A personal melancholy that is experienced by the individual. Though it is something one can identify with, one’s gloom is their own. That is part of the enigma, struggle, and beauty of Planning for Burial.

With contemporaries such as Enemies List artists Have a Nice Life and Giles Corey, or other shoegaze projects such as Sun Devoured Earth, Planning for Burial is a part of a prolific and engaging indie music culture. But, where Giles Corey might eulogize that “No One is Ever Going to Want Me,” the sadness of Planning for Burial seems different. Alfred Tennyson might have proclaimed that “’Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.” Planning for Burial adamantly denies this proposition.

The metanarrative of the band supports this. One need only follow the band’s tumblr in the twilight hours to catch glimpses of haunting pain. Cryptic posts written in drunken hazes alluding to past events, impossible realities, constant hurt, and lost love. While some may only sympathize, being able to identify with the struggle is perhaps what makes Planning for Burial so mesmerizing. The gloom is real. All of our gloom is real.

It is perhaps an odd comparison to make, but I am reminded of listening to Navicon Torture Technologies while wandering around my college campus. While they sound nothing alike, Lee M. Bartow left the same impression on me – this is real. Songs of such inner-hatred echoed in my headphones as one man attempted a form of artistic and noisey emotional revenge. It seemed like the only way he could deal with heartbreak, loss, betrayal, and pain (his “Personal Apocalypse” series of songs really comes to mind). Listening to him back then helped me process my own gloom. I get the same feeling as I listen to Planning for Burial. As the band stated in a correspondence with me in late 2012, “[gloom] to me is about feeling…it’s a feeling that comes through me best through music, I believe.”

Quietly works differently than most PFB releases. The album Leaving often presents a loud, clashing, distorted drone as a sense of gloom. I have tried to share the beauty of “Oh Pennsylvania, Your Black Clouds Hang Low,” with others, only to have them be immediately turned off by the carnal screams within the first few seconds. Even “Humming Quietly” has a sense of immediacy and synaptic anxiety feedback that the album Quietly contrasts against. Herein lies the rather splendid way in which Planning for Burial is able to capture gloom – in noise, in quietness, and in the noise of the quiet.

A series of guitar notes, brushed up against and plucked, loom over frequencies in the background. Mild feedback oscillates between the delicate balances of here and there. The album itself is quieter than others, but “quietly” is an adverb and means more than the presentation of the music. The albums captures, in a sense, the ways in which those who manage the day-to-day, but suffer in the invisible heartbreak of life. The music is able to haunt rather than intrude, lingering in the listener like a memory. Its quietness is no less powerful, emotive, or deafening. The vocals are just within listenable range – there, but not quiet identifiable. The words are there, but you can’t quiet capture them. They drift, like a dream after you wake up, away from consciousness and into a lingering sensation. This is not to suggest that “quiet” is “nice” or “relaxing” or any number of positive connotations.  There can be a violence of emotion that is singular, personal, and hidden. The album forces a pain, luring in one with an aesthetic of ambience but contrasting with distortions, noises, and emotions. Quietly is an ethereal experience, allowing the listener participate with the quietness around them and the emotions muted inside.





Bailey, Thomas Bey William. Micro-bionic: Radical Electronic Music and Sound Art in the 21st Century. [London]: Creation, 2009. Print.


American Juggalo-A Look at a Subculture


American Juggalo from Sean Dunne on Vimeo.

American Juggalo is a look at the often mocked and misunderstood subculture of Juggalos, hardcore Insane Clown Posse fans who meet once a year for four days at The Gathering of the Juggalos.

We went to The Gathering of the Juggalos and let the Juggalos speak their minds.

I hope you enjoy it.

Sean Dunne (a Brooklyn-based director) recently uploaded this short documentary which features interviews of fans of the Insane Clown Posse (and related acts) while they’re attending the annual outdoor event known as The Gathering. These musicians, fans, and events are often heavily mocked by people online and by popular media.

While I enjoyed this video as a way for this community to express themselves in their own words, the intent of the project somewhat troubling to me. The description states that the director hoped to illuminate a misunderstood subculture by letting them speak and I wonder if it actually addresses how or why they are misconstrued.

Now, unless you’ve been living in a culture-cave for the last decade, you’ve probably developed some sort of knowledge (in one way or another) about ICP and the Juggalos. According the the zeitgeist around them, it is probably mostly negative. But, this particular documentary tends to focus on a particular point – Juggalos are not violent, scary youths. They are a “family” and accepting of everyone (seemingly). If your only knowledge of Juggalos comes from Douglas Rushkoff’s Merchants of Cool documentary from 2001, then perhaps Dunne’s film helped to change your mind on this one particular perspective about the subculture. However, that was over a decade ago, and the perception of these fans has changed. Why is it that the message that is central of the film trying to battle this dated perception? Is it the film maker’s oblivious cultural knowledge? Is it the fans themselves who are compelled to battle a decade old perception? Or is it mere coincidence? Again, the intent of the film is to let “Juggalos speak their minds” in order to “battle misconceptions”. No one is really lambasting ICP for their violent lyrics in the current day and the conception of the Juagglo has developed into something entirely different than it once was. I think it is probable that Dunne simply went to this event looking to score some footage for a quick-and-dirty viral video for his portfolio, without putting in serious research into the Juggalo subculture. Seeing as how documenting the annual Gathering of the Juggalos has become trendy over recent years, it is likely the case.

There is a near-universal cultural detest of Juggalos, but it isn’t really for the reasons that the documentary would suggest. Generally speaking, there is an outsider backlash of all subcultures. So, this idea of them being ostracized isn’t particularly new. The documentary fails to explore the lives of the people in this scene. We know nothing about the people who come to these events that might help to dismiss inaccurate representations, but have gathered that they are all generally easy going and get along.

I don’t think I’m grasping at straws if I were to suggest that a majority of Juggalos are working class, and may not have college degrees. I’m not trying to suggest that wealth and education are important beyond a personal desire for each, but I do believe there are issues of economic capital, education, and (by proxy) cultural capital that are present within the perceptions of Juggalos – and these issues are not at all addressed in the film. Cultural captial, as expressed Pierre Bourdieu can be briefly explained as such: while the artist or the scholar may not have much money, they do have higher cultural connections (art, literature, film, music, etc…). The banker or lawyer may have more money, but perhaps only interested in mainstream, mass produced media and culture. In essence, it is a way to help balance out social power beyond economic aspects. It gives someone a higher status due to their taste. But, the Juggalo has neither economic or cultural capital and this may explain their place as the lowest rung of the cultural ladder.

Juggalos have developed an immensely strong subcultural community regardless of all the blows against them. Their passion for the music is incredibly strong. If people on the outside are judging them based on economic or cultural reasons, the musicians and fans have countered this by building a “family”. Their acceptance of everyone at The Gathering is strong and a prominent element of this documentary. The music and culture is theirs. It is something detested by most, which helps to add to their reason for liking it more. If they are going to be looked down on, they will embrace their culture all the more. In a society where Juggalos are despised because of their economic status, their educations, and their taste, ICP and related musicians represent something in their lives that is their own in terms of creativity, expression, or subcultural transgression. It is all they have in terms of art and culture, and they have developed a strong community around that idea. But, the viewer of this documentary is forced to watch people painting their faces with actual spray paint (which is remarkably hazardous); a woman smoking cigarettes while visibly pregnant; countless numbers stumbling around drunk or high on any number of illegal drugs that are widely available for little cost. This is not helping anyone change their minds on what a Juggalo is, even if they are a passionate “family”.

Any subculture is going to be accepting of their own (with various exceptions…), and any subculture is going to offer a sort of empowerment to the participant. While this seems to be the suggested focal point of the film, it isn’t really explored. Our knowledge of Juggalos can only be gathered by what is immediately visible and the people in the video are mostly white, and mostly men. There are random people of color throughout the video, but the numbers are noticeably less. While they claim full acceptance of others,  it lead me to wonder – would Juggalos be as accepting of homosexual fans? Would they “Woo Woo” two men kissing the same they would two women? There is an overbearing notion of heternormativity throughout the crowds, as they gawk at women’s breasts. Women’s bodies even get used as a replacement of currency by men, who trade glimpses of their girlfriend’s bodies for cash or goods. Men’s bodies are not on display in any similar capacity. The general consensus that I’ve gathered from this film is that it supports the previous ideas of white, heterosexual, misogyny and issues of social class, education, and cultural capital. There is nothing presented in the film to counter these perceptions.