Letters from Somnolescent

 

December 25, 2021

Back to Basics: 2021 in Review

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Remember this one?

I couldn’t write a traditional year recap for this year because it just hasn’t been a traditional year for Somnolescent. I can’t lay out four seasons of what we all did together–too much has changed, my mind’s elsewhere, I’m ready to do something different and simpler, right now and next year.

Here’s what we’re doing instead: I’ve gone back through the old recaps, picked one thing per person I liked, and I’ll ramble about it some. Art highlights follow, as always, then I’ll talk about what exactly has changed and what the gameplan for Somnolescent in 2022 is. Less to write, less for you to read.

Oh, and Caby drew my favorite thing in the world for the occasion. Let’s review!


December 21, 2021

How to Reconcile Your Friends at the End of the World

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I often think of Somnolescent as an island, but we’re a rather interconnected bunch. We span the United States through Eastern Europe, and so, what goes on in a big chunk of the world is likely to affect at least one of us. Given the past two years, it goes without saying that Somnolescent didn’t make it out unscathed, though better than most, thankfully.

Though the world’s in a weird, precarious, unstable spot right now, given the 20th marked three years of Somnolescent (I wasn’t able to get this done in time, but I started it in time at least…), I figured I would write about a bit of an epiphany I had, and something of a silver lining while everyone heals: how social stress can cause good friendships to sour, and how pushing forward with that in mind can help mitigate the damage.

Tags: Somnolescent,

November 20, 2021

Hiraeth

caby

Hi! Bet you forgot this blog even existed. I personally haven’t posted on here in a long, long time. But I had a bit of a rant about a word, and I think it deserves a spot on the blog.

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July 29, 2021

Nostalgia vs. Wistfulness vs. A Productive View of the Past

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I’m not really a nostalgic person. I don’t tend to look back at the things I’ve been through or the experiences I’ve had very positively. I’m a much happier person than I used to be. I have better friends now. I have the skills to take on what I want to now, or I’m rapidly developing them. I’ve taken my first stabs at proper digital art recently. I don’t have much reason to be properly nostalgic.

Of course, when you’re dealing in the kinds of things Somnolescent does–hand-built websites, vintage computers, analog aesthetics, 90’s period pieces–there comes with it the assumption that this is all based on nostalgia, or more often “false” nostalgia. It’s not hard to find 14-year-olds who fixate on cassettes, fixate on VHS tapes, or in its most artificial form, are in love with the “vaporwave” thing. Of course, they weren’t around to see those things when they were in vogue, and overall, it can be a bit of a joke.

False nostalgia is misguided, but I don’t think misplaced. Here’s a bit of a meditation on where nostalgia ends, wistfulness begins, why the young folks get swept up in it, and the more practical side of bringing the past with you.

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June 30, 2021

Spring 2021 — A Change of Pace

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Yeah, been a bit, hasn’t it? I was pretty good for over a year about doing these on a monthly basis, but so far this year, I’ve skipped the first three months! What madness! I can’t handle such out of left field changes to my schedule, Cammy…

Too bad, because now, they’ve gone seasonal. Click along, I’ll explain why, and then we, well, recap! Got three months to go through and about 3,000 words and Lord knows how many pictures. It’s a work-in-progress, yeah?


June 24, 2021

The Absurd Netherworld of Internet Archive Tape Transfers

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A sampling of the Internet Archive's batch of cassette transfers

For a period of time after Sound of Dentage’s release, I was pretty keen on digging through archive.org’s Cassette Audio section to see what strange, forgotten things I can find. It’s ostensibly only non-copyrighted audio, but that’s a crock of shit. The flood of content makes policing it with anything other than automated bots a non-starter. And even then, I think the Internet Archive is too busy with me wgetting Somnolescent’s old sites to run them.

In any event, I found something rather fascinating, and the kind of collection that no one but me would be interested in: over 1,300 amateur-recorded cassette tapes, transferred and stored in lossless. We’re not simply talking releases (though there’s tons in there). We’re not just talking demos (though they’re in there too–everyone from Dave Grohl to Coheed and Cambria to Juicy J). In a lot of cases, we’re talking mixtapes. Often recorded off the radio mixtapes! (And nature sounds. That’s what 90s kids did for their ASMR.)

Now, invariably, a lot of this is probably just noise and ambient stuff, same sorta thing that has always flooded the avant-garde experimental underground scene, same stuff the netlabels put out now, and the same stuff I’m not really interested in. However, the hand-dubbed tapes? Are where, well, strangeness lies. I’ve picked out three amateur ones for us to go through, recorded from various sources by regular people on cheap equipment. Download links are provided for each.

Tags: 70s, music, technology,

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