FM DUST ARCHIVES: fire island, AK- אדם

Sometimes, it takes you awhile to find your way. When I met Thomas Boettner, AKA fire island, AK, in 2006, he was a pronouncedly gentle kid touring much the same circuit as myself (except a little more east-centric, as he was based in South Carolina), given to hushed, pretty shows with occasional bursts of noisy blur. Even though both our approach and outcomes were quite different, I couldn’t help but feel a kinship with Boettner and his desire to upend relatively traditional song structures with the push of chaos.

Still, as with so many touring musician types, we lost touch after awhile. By December 2009, I had heard hardly a word from Thomas in a couple years. I knew he was living in Alaska, but I didn’t know much else.

Our mutual friend Jon Manning (of Lost Sound Tapes) had kept up a little more, and asked me at a show we were both playing if I’d seen Thomas recently. I hadn’t. Jon (whose proclivities lean more unabashedly towards the twee and sweet-natured than Thomas or myself) expressed his surprise as to how much Thomas had changed, at least as a musician: his releases had been given over increasingly to a black-ink sprawl having way more to do with Prurient and NON than, say, Phil Elverum. Not really Jon’s cup of tea, I think, though I don’t remember him being so undiplomatic as to say as much. I was somewhat surprised to hear about this development, but more intrigued.

At my earliest convenience, I checked the fire island, AK Myspace page (hey, remember Myspace?), and sure enough, the featured recordings were infinitely harsher, more expansive, and wilder than anything I’d heard Thomas do prior. He’d dove into harsh noise headfirst, prolifically and aggressively.

I was just starting FM DUST then, and it only seemed appropriate that another noise outsider (what else could you be living in Alaska?) get in on the ground floor for this new endeavor. I immediately contacted Thomas to put out a cassette on my new label, and he almost as immediately (like I say, he’s prolific) sent me אדם.

It’s a SPOOKY tape. Normally, recorded noise doesn’t get under my skin: sure, I might stand in the back at a particularly violent show, but the sound itself rarely vibes me out. This tape, however, did just that: I listened to it in the dark, and I don’t recommend that to anyone (though it’s arguably part of the appeal to do so). I’m not sure what it is, but it got me worried.

Thomas is still extremely prolific, and pretty consistent as far as these sorts of sounds go. I highly recommend peeking around on his bandcamp page… there’s a lot to digest. אדם is as good a place as any to get sucked in.

Dustin Krcatovich is a cartoonist, writer, designer, founder of FM DUST, and a collector of certain curios and ephemera (with a focus on 20th century "junk culture"). His writing and illustration work appears frequently in The Quietus, Tiny Mix Tapes, and Esquire's Culture Blog. He is also a former editor and contributor to Secret Zen Garden,Saagara's illustrated mindfulness/wellness blog for young people. He currently resides in Portland, OR.

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