Letters from Somnolescent January 21, 2020

The mtlx Chronicle

by dotcomboom

“Is it even real?”

As real as you want it to be.

I was looking through archived copies of mp3.com one night, a site that hosted a whole ton of music that had blip.tv-ed out of existence in 2002. Sifting through the different genres and pages, I spotted something peculiar. The #1 on the Alternative charts was “Another Deserted Urban Complex”, made by an artist, or band, named mtlx. Something about that name and the context drew me in with intrigue, and I decided to fiddle around to see if there was anything left.

And surfing the site, I had also noticed this: apparently, mtlx’s discography was popular enough that it had the #1 selling D.A.M. CD on the site in December 2000.

You might know that mp3.com, like a bunch of sites at that time, would serve downloads through some CGI script that required you to enter your email in order to download an mp3. This was a stumbling block that meant the Internet Archive never got any of the actual files.

On top of that, the artist page never got archived. In fact, I found nothing of the sort doing a quick search across the whole site in the Wayback Machine.


I thought, well, since this was the #1 DAM CD in the entire genre, surely there’d be something left, right? Given the popularity, you would think there would be a copy floating around somewhere.

No trace. Zero. Zip. Nada.

After checking eBay twice, it was pretty clear an actual copy wouldn’t be easy to find.

Discogs had several last summers, but not Last Summer. Not the one I was looking for.

I wasn’t ready to give up. I had to go deeper. I looked in every search engine, news source, and digital storefront I could find and turned up.. nothing.

Anyone need transmission fluid?
Absolutely nothing.

Here, I was lost. It’s how you just know something exists, but you can’t find any mention of it past a couple archived pages of a music distributor that went under years ago. Common first-world problem, I’m sure.

I then looked at the last place I thought I’d look: the library.

Is this it?

It was there, not only with the cover art but in physical! But what really got me is that someone had checked it out. Not one to admit defeat, I placed a hold on it. Waited a fortnight and went to pick it up.


One dirty glance from the librarian later (not sure what that was for, I think it was because I accidentally parked in the handicap area), there it was, in my hands.

It exists!

Or, so I thought, because when I cracked the jewel case open there wasn’t a disc there. It was completely empty. Whoever had borrowed it last had to have taken the disc with them.

So… off to you. If you have any information, or heck, a disc from mtlx.. let me know. I want to hear it.

– E

Tags: mtlx, music,

About dotcomboom

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Software developer, photographer and tinkerer from Minnesota. Author of AutoSite and Windows Live Messenger fanatic.


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