Episode #3: “The Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice”

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erick mertz, book release, episode #3, the lies and truth of doctor desmond briceMy first order of business is to wish everyone out there a Happy Halloween. The song tells us that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. For me though, nothing feels quite as good as the crisp late-October air out here in western Oregon.

Doctor Desmond Brice is back. “Episode #3: A Deception” will release later on today to all of my loyal and patient email subscribers.

Thank you to all of those who have already signed up. As a long time devotee of spooky stories, I am grateful that, in a small way, my little story will find a way into their “spooktacular” evening.

Be safe tonight. Be silly. Let the ghosts in.

How Do I Get The Novella?:

Did I mention that this eBook is free?

Getting your eBook copy of The Lies & Truth of Doctor Desmond Brice could hardly be easier. Just fill out the form below to subscribe to my email list.

Once you subscribe, I’ll send you “Episode #1: The First Lie”. Every one of my subscribers will receive this plus each of the following episodes in this serially published novella.

When this novella is complete, it will stand as the prequel book to The Mask Of Tomorrow (tentatively scheduled for release January 2019… more on that) the first full-length novel in my series.

What Happens In Episode #3:

We know Desmond Brice has a very special gift. He can hear things no one else can.

In “Episode #3: A Deception” we find our main character far away from Canyon County, Oregon at school in Upper Michigan University. Desmond is a studious young man and he wants nothing more than to keep focused on his studies.

But a young student has her sights set on him. Sarah Schofield Taylor is every bit Desmond’s intellectual equal and by the end of “Episode #3” she will begin to threaten his most tightly held secret.

Sound interesting? Sign up today and receive this mailing list exclusive.

emertzEpisode #3: “The Lies & Truth Of Doctor Desmond Brice”
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Erick Mertz Author – Max Kutner

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erick mertz author oregon portland supernatural mysteryAs an author, I am attuned to the title of a thing. If you happen to be able to get past this album’s peculiar title then you will discover that Max Kutner’s ten-track guitar experiment Disaffection Finds Its Perfect Form makes for one of the more intriguing new writing compliments of 2017.

This album is not comprised of ambient music. At least it’s not ambient music in the traditional sense of sanguine tones, lush layers and a beautiful crescendo. Kutner’s work is more striking than that. If I close my eyes and try to visualize the music, I see it as a series of angular strokes and slashes.

The tracks on this album are not named. They gradually build into one another. Each one acts as a movement within a greater cycle of ever deepening guitar chords with heavier layers. By the end everything crashes into a wall of exquisite and disorienting noise. Round about the time when Kutner has dragged his listener toward that tenth and final movement, the whole structure has fallen apart in a crush of feedback and noise.

In spite of the noise there is something meditative in Kutner’s ambient style. His sound isn’t so much chaos as threatened chaos. Rarely do any of the songs overwhelm. They simply involve. Like a reader in the hands of a master author there is a lot left to the imagination.

Tip of the hat to North Carolina’s Silber Records for putting out a wonderfully ponderous album. You can get Kutner’s album at their site, or on their Bandcamp page for just $5.00.

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Are you an author with a favorite album to listen to while writing? Have you given this album by Max Kutner a listen? What do you think?

Leave comments below or suggest a writing album & I’ll cover it in a “Music For Writers” column. Meanwhile check out my book page to see updates on the latest Oregon mystery I’m writing.

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emertzErick Mertz Author – Max Kutner
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Erick Mertz Author – Fabersan

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erick mertz oregon mystery authorFabersan is a rather obscure London based musician with five hefty full-length records to his credit. Recently, I was fortunate to stumble across his Bandcamp page while digging around on a few “best of ambient” blogs and its provided a touch of shadow for my latest Oregon mystery.

While Fabersan’s science and philosophy informed ambient recordings are brimming over with depth and beauty, the production on his tracks tend to be voice heavy. For example, many of the songs on his Selected Ambients 2017 feature vocal samples, usually of the high concept/dystopian science fiction variety. Often vocals distract my writing process, so I shied away from writing with his other work (though it is of a very high quality).

Sunday Afternoon is among Fabersan’s more recent recordings and is fortunately is light on the vocals. Only one track samples a voice. On this ambitious hour long LP, Fabersan leans on his flair for dramatic songwriting, fusing a beguiling piano and synthesizer. Without vocals the album features more minimal sound. There are traces of psychedelic rock. Although this LP is said to be influenced by the cosmology of Alfred North Whitehead (link provided if you care) the songs do not aspire to instruct about that mindset.

I’ve been through the album a few times already and the flow is transformative.

The best thing about Fabersan’s album? You can find it, as well as the others, free on his Bandcamp page. Kick him a few bucks. It’s worthwhile.

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Are you a writer with a favorite album to listen to while writing? Have you given any of these Fabresan albums a listen? What do you think?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts and I’ll cover it in the next Music For Writers column. While you’re at it, check out my book page to see the latest Oregon mystery working on.

mertz erick fiction supernatural mystery author portland oregon

emertzErick Mertz Author – Fabersan
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Erick Mertz Author – Two Albums by Komiku

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erick mertz portland oregon mystery author music for writersThe discovery of strange new music is one of my true joys. Often, I can be found on the couch with the iPad in my lap exploring the nether reaches of Bandcamp for free ambient and instrumental music.

Out of a recent search, I discovered Komiku. And only a few tracks in, I knew that Komiku required a feature in a Music For Writers column.

The mysterious entity known as Komiku creates music that reminds me of something very important. The finest music for writers has room to meander. It conveys that buoyant sense of adventure the writer tries to create for their reader.

Looking at a couple of their full length albums (it’s time for adventure and Tale on the Late) Komiku fuses a refreshingly juvenile video game sensibility with more traditionally structured ambient music. Each of these albums comes across like a distinct cinematic/arcade inspired score with tracks elevating on new screens or obstacles which the game’s particular hero must overcome on his or her way through the adventure.

erick mertz portland oregon mystery author music for writersBoth albums are relatively similar in the light almost plucky atmosphere that they create. The production is largely amateur though and the tones lack a certain depth and roundness. While the sounds are lively and innovative, they won’t really fill up your speakers in a robust way.

Warning: I wouldn’t turn the volume up too loud.

Regardless of production, Komiku’s meandering feel-good journey offers welcome background music for writers. Distinguishing the two albums from each other, “it’s time for adventure” is more of a guitar-based/mystical exercise, while “Tale of the Late” leans toward a more electronic and may be construed as banking on a more gimmicky or novelty sound.

Komiku’s music is available through a royalty free Bandcamp provider Monsplair: Loyalty Freak Music. Specifically, I’ve provided links to their albums it’s time for adventure and Tale on the Late.

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Are you a writer with a favorite album to listen to while writing? Have you given any of these Komiku albums a listen? What do you think?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts and I’ll cover it in the next Music For Writers column. While you’re at it, check out my book page to see what I’m working on.

mertz erick fiction supernatural mystery author portland oregon

emertzErick Mertz Author – Two Albums by Komiku
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Erick Mertz Author – LUM

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mertz erick portland author oregon music for writersAn avant-garde noise band may seem like an odd source for music to write to, but Lum is hardly typifies the genre.

North Carolina noise trio LUM (stylized with an umlaut over the U) offers willing listeners a labyrinthine blend of ambient and chamber music, backed by a what can only be described as an ethereal human voice. After repeated listens though, what becomes increasingly clear is that the most splendid and inspiration moments on The Stairwell Sessions are none of those.

Among the elements I count as necessary for music as writing accompaniment is an ample use of negative space. When I’m writing one of my stories, hints and suggestions are far more powerful elixirs than revelation and LUM’s sound is all about exploring that subtlety.

Clocking in at nearly two hours in length The Stairwell Sessions album has the potential to fill up a lot of space in your writing routine. The eight improvisational tracks bleed into one another. They drift back and forth between awe inspiring string sections, deep esoteric chants and suggestive drone.

Over the last week or so, I have had the record on an almost constant rotation and found in that exploration an array of both chilling and inspiring passages. Some might find the jazz infused moments distracting, but for me the improvisational vibe is definitely worth the overt verve.

Finding the right music for writers can be tough. Maybe something like this is best for brainstorming? Maybe a writing session that requires energy?

If you’re interested in checking out LUM’s latest The Stairwell Sessions you can purchase it for $5.00 directly from Silber Records, or dive into the band’s Bandcamp page where there are further recordings.

Are you a writer with a favorite album to listen to while writing? Have you given The Stairwell Sessions a listen? What do you think?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts and I’ll cover it in the next Music For Writers column.

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emertzErick Mertz Author – LUM
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Erick Mertz Author – The Seven Fields Of Aphelion

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mertz erick oregon portland fiction authorA good writing session can straddle a thin line dividing reality and dream. If you write fantasy or science-fiction and that state becomes something of a necessity.

Out of the fabled confluence of the three rivers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania comes The Seven Fields of Aphelion and their new full length ambient LP, Keep The Ocean Inside. This is one of the most cosmically gorgeous and interesting recordings of 2017 or any year for that matter. Having been sent this album as a promo for review, I was surprised to find that this is the first album in seven years (since the band released  Periphery in 2010) a span of time that seemed to signal a band that had come and go.

Well, thank goodness The Seven Fields of Aphelion did not as Keep The Ocean Inside tempts a crystalline beauty rarer than rubies. I keep coming back to that word — beauty — because, as simplistic as it may seem, beauty is the most apt description of the “new classical” tones I can come to. I have put this record on over and over while working on “The Widow’s Tale” a short story from my The Strange Air world as I have found myself getting lost in its many lush swells and watery ebbs.

While “The Widow’s Tale” doesn’t necessarily touch those genres, it has thrived under the influence of these moods. Each time my ear drifts and finds a soft and riveting synth signatures, my creative juices seem refreshed. Beauty is not always the pre-requisite for music as writing accompaniment. Sometimes though, beauty is precisely what is necessary and Keep The Ocean Inside is that in awe inspiring spades.

The album is available on the Seven Fields of Aphelion’s Bandcamp page for $10 download.

Are you a writer with a favorite album to listen to while writing? Have you given The Seven Fields of Aphelion a listen? What do you think?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts and I’ll cover it in the next Music For Writers column. While you’re at it, check out my book page to see what I’m working on.

mertz erick fiction supernatural mystery author portland oregon

emertzErick Mertz Author – The Seven Fields Of Aphelion
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Erick Mertz Author – Tim Hecker “Ravedeath 1972”

erick mertz fiction author supernatural mystery portland oregonIf Dropped Pianos is Tim Hecker’s yin album then  perhaps Ravedeath, 1972 is the yang. However simplistic that theory might seem it feels strangely apt.

Managing to remain tonally sparse and minimalistic, the eleven compositions featured on Hecker’s sixth album elevate beyond mere musical sketchbook. While his sound stays indelibly tethered to his gorgeous sense of melody, a fetish for discordant progression and a mastery of piano, on Ravedeath, 1972 Hecker goes for greater conceptual flair and a far deeper explorations of the artist’s core themes of bleakness and sorrow. This may pin the album down as “depressing” but all one needs to listen to is the coda track, “In The Air III” to know that is far too easy. On this record, Hecker evokes a genuine sense of solitude, a far flung idea in a distracted, multi-media universe.

Recorded in Frikirkjan Church in Reykjavik, Iceland the wildly popular production location offers more than name recognition (I’ll admit, I want to bring my fiction author road show up that way). The album’s funeral motif provides a tangible influence on the overall feel. The opening song, “The Piano Drop” with its shivering synthesizer sequences and dreamy tempo evokes still shots of an otherworldly, treeless expanses of black sand and volcanic landscapes.

Picture a lonely fiction author laying under the Auroras. Touch twelve inches of white snow that is still pure. Envision his fixed gaze looking up. Feel his breath stolen away.

Hecker breaks his songs into sequences. The three parts of “In The Fog” are constructed around a drab ambient tone, shot through in spaces with shrill guitars which are then calmed by sublime piano melodies. On “Hatred of Music” Hecker goes a little colder with sparse key drops and a satisfyingly awkward crescendo in the midst. Throughout the closing triptych (his “Into The Air” sequence) an elevated feeling of moving through atmosphere courses through the body.

Hecker’s objective going into Ravedeath, 1972 was to run the fine line between live/studio album. He wanted to seize on music that projected both boldness and vulnerability in the same moment. He sought an album of anti-music and in only the most curious ways, he achieved those lofty goals.

Here is a link to Ravedeath, 1972 in its entirety on YouTube.

Are you a fiction author with a favorite album to listen to while writing? Have you given Tim Hecker’s Ravedeath 1972 album a listen? What do you think?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts and I’ll cover it in the next Music For Writers column. While you’re at it, check out my book page to see the latest Oregon mystery working on.

mertz erick fiction supernatural mystery author portland oregon

emertzErick Mertz Author – Tim Hecker “Ravedeath 1972”
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Erick Mertz Author – Tim Hecker’s “Dropped Pianos”

erick mertz supernatural mystery author portland oregon2011’s Dropped Pianos by Tim Hecker is, quite simply, a beautiful record to behold. It is filled with haunted beauty. Isolated droplets of crystalline beauty. It is a beauty fraught with the tension in a dulcimer string.

Delving into hyperbole, or a string of fancy adjectives, would not do the album justice.

Hecker is a Los Angeles based musician (by way of Chile and Montreal, Canada) with over a dozen critically acclaimed recordings over the last decade plus to his credit. He is notably virtuosic on keys, peerless with arrangements, and Dropped Pianos is a stirring example of that acumen.

For those who haven’t listened to it yet, the record is brief and minimalistic. The nine tracks weigh in at a spare thirty-five minutes in length (as a note, Dropped Pianos has a companion record, Ravedeath 1972). The songs are titled chronologically as a sequence of sketches and they tend to come across as parts, scattered thoughts, and little bits of something else.

That sense of incompletion proves worthy fuel for the writer’s imagination. One can delve anywhere into Hecker’s song sketchbook and wander a few steps forward from the fade; you can just as easily reel back, anticipating what may have built to the lovely crescendo.

Sometimes simple beauty is what a supernatural mystery author needs to advance the narrative.

For a copy of Tim Hecker’s record, Dropped Pianos check out your local library. On Hecker’s Bandcamp page, you can stream all of the tracks to this album.

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Are you a writer with a favorite album to listen to while writing? Have you given Tim Hecker’s Dropped Pianos a listen?

What do you think?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts and I’ll cover it in the next Music For Writers column. While you’re at it, check out my book page to see the latest Oregon-based supernatural mystery working on.

mertz erick fiction supernatural mystery author portland oregon

emertzErick Mertz Author – Tim Hecker’s “Dropped Pianos”
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Erick Mertz Author – Max Richter’s “24 Postcards In Full Color”

erick mertz portland oregon authorA feeling of convergence is one of my favorite aspects in electro/acoustic composition. When done right, the primary elements, seemingly opposed to one another, blend organically.

German born/British composer Max Richter crafts a unique brand of electro/acoustic, placing him as one of the most exquisitely gifted composers in contemporary classical music. Accomplished in the post-modern, multi-media songwriting realm (Richter explores stage, opera ballet) it’s no surprise that his minimalistic sound palette has also become instrumental for use in modern cinema as well. Richter has worked with Haruki Murakami texts and utilized Tilda Swinton reading Franz Kafka, to name a few.

In Richter’s work, the convergence is threefold: electronic, acoustic music along with narrative.

The fourth album in his vast discography is 2008’s 24 Postcards In Full Color, a collection of miniatures, songs styled after ringtones. If that modern delivery mechanism seems at all off-putting at first, that would be natural. Writing for ringtone hardly seems like fertile ground for creative inspiration, but Richter’s sublime instrumentation and peerless studio acumen brings an abstract concept together into one of the most haunting and evocative records in the recent neo-classical movement.

24 Postcards is at once a bright and fuzzy album. Beginning with its melodic opener, “The Road Is A Gray Tape” the album lumbers to life, eschewing sharpness and polish for a gorgeously disorienting blur. Richter builds into a drowsy, early morning allure through piano pieces like “Lullaby From The West Coast Sleepers” and “Circles From The Rue Simon-Crubellier”.

There is an aspect of urgency built into the strings of “This Is Us” but Richter manages to controls the image rather than losing grip, spinning us through an evocative interlude instead of a full blown episode. If one seizes on the title concept of a postcard, a moment wrangled from anonymity, a snippet of time from somewhere other than home, Richter has written the bulk of his to capture his arrivals and departures.

Richter alters instruments between piano, cello and violin yet balances their sometimes divergent tones. Everything is soft and gently produced. None of the songs are very long. “A Sudden Manhattan Of The Mind” is the longest at 2:51 and still feels like more of a postcard than a letter.

With a series of emotionally dense, short songs, ones natural impression might be that the material on 24 Postcards In Full Color anticipates larger, more developed pieces; but this is not necessarily the case. At just over a minute, “When The Northern Lights: Jasper and Louie” doesn’t foretell a bigger or necessarily grander movement. Instead, it dwells in that hazy transition.

Don’t bother me. I’m writing. And odds are, I am listening to this record.

Bonanza for You Tube listeners. There is a link to a full stream of 24 Postcards In Full Color. 

Are you a writer with a favorite album to listen to while writing? Have you given 24 Postcards In Full Color a listen? What do you think?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts and I’ll cover it in the next Music For Writers. Or check out my books page if you’re wondering what your resident supernatural mystery author is working on.

mertz erick fiction supernatural mystery author portland oregon

emertzErick Mertz Author – Max Richter’s “24 Postcards In Full Color”
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Erick Mertz Author – Oneohtrix Point Never

Ambient artist Daniel Lopatin was unknown to me. At least he was until Pitchfork magazine listed his collection Riftsas one of the greatest ambient albums of all time.

Now he has become a bona fide staple for the craft of supernatural mystery.

Weighing in at a robust thirty-three tracks, highlighted by exciting, sweeping synths and clever loops, Lopatin’s early work as Oneohtrix Point Never verifies him as a pioneering influence in techno-ambient. The “voice” on this collection isn’t a replicant of nature. It isn’t human. It isn’t space. Nor is it cinema. Instead, these are the busy voices of data transfers. These are machines interconnected. There is a dark and synergistic web of automation yearning not to to succumb and conform.

The three disc, deluxe version of Rifts collects a trio of LPs for the first time (these albums exist separately, but are hard to find and very expensive). Disc One, “Betrayed In The Octagon” is the earliest work. “Zones Without People” is the second, brilliant middle album in the chronology. The last was “Russian Mind” which was the last before Oneohtrix Point Never broke commercially.

The 2012 reissue totals more than three hours. At the same time as it is weighty though, it reveals a coherent arc. A writer setting adrift on this vast trove of music will likely find it too long to negotiate. Bite sized, five to ten song chunks of thematically continuous ambience are easy to carve out though.

I have cordoned off 35-40 minutes segments of Zones (the more new age and psychedelic influenced album) that I like to use while writing supernatural mystery (“Format & Journey North” is a great launch) the same as on Russian Mind which is more spacious (“Time Decanted” and “Memory Vague” bookend a spectacular sequence).

I got my CD copy at the Multnomah County library, and it’s likely available at yours for check out.

If you have trouble locating a copy to check out though, it’s available for purchase at Lopatin’s site and can be streamed in pieces at YouTube as well as Bandcamp.

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Are you a writer with a favorite album to listen to while writing? Have you given Oneohtrix Point Never albums a listen? What do you think?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts and I’ll cover it in the next Music For Writers column. While you’re at it, check out my book page to see the latest supernatural mystery I’m working on.

mertz erick fiction supernatural mystery author portland oregon

emertzErick Mertz Author – Oneohtrix Point Never
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