“Bury the Machines”
Bury the Machines is born from the flames of a February tragedy. The proclivities of a mind gone to rot. Cold stirred ashes, reinvigorated from the burning remnants of life, destroyed in heinous depravity. Endings swallowing endings. A terrible and hopeless act of desperate violence. Unbearable waves of grief and unanswerable questions. John Bomher, in one phone call, found out that his long-time, road brother had put a decidedly definitive end to their friendship.
John grew up in the outskirts of Chicago’s South Side. He traveled by streetlight and oil spill, his footsteps reflecting off the walls of concrete and steel buildings. A young soul pacing against the whistle of midnight trains and the fading exhaust of traffic’s dying breath. Perpetual twilight of the moth and the city rat. Even then, in those early cold days, he could feel the low rhythm of the machine thumping. Hollow resonance in the drain pipes, the throats of the city.
His mother picked him up by the scruff of his neck and promptly plugged him into the system. John was sent to private schooling where bells announced when to begin and when to end. He wore a tie and a button-down shirt. The institutional learning of young men. A Petri dish of aggrandized hormones, pitted against one another and tempered with limitless immaturity. An operating manual if you will. Early instruction on how to function within the machine. How to ignore the faceless rumblings below.
But John was a mutt, and traveled in packs of coyotes. He and his brothers sniffed among the gutters without apology. Hunters and scavengers, broken toothed, searching out meals among the detritus of society’s waste. Streetlights raised perpetual suns over their heads and receding, headlight-shadows were friends.
After classes and the last bells, and the shuffling, marching feet of soft-soled shoes on tiny ceramic tiles they strove to find the remaining vestiges of wilderness. Escape the day. John and the coyotes ran together and among these wild ones, he found many other like-minded brothers. Those who also felt the vibrations underfoot. Musicians in arms. Together they sought the thrill of the hunt. Haunting record stores, fingertips on plastic-wrapped music and paper billfolds. Tracing words, lyrics, credits and liner notes. Delving into the minds of wordsmiths and poets, twisting dials through the static. Trying to find the deep channels among a cacophony of radio-pop monstrosities. A quest for elsewhere. Dark moody passages in the undercurrents. Those lesser-traveled paths. The holy temple where the sibyl sits and mumbles her sacred messages to the blind prophets. Solace for the pains of life and a boon for the tribe. Sharing and discovering with his fellow brothers. They found the dark riffage. The metal music wrapped in chains floating on a sunken barge at the bottom of it all.
And with new knowledge came madness. John’s friends formed bands. John formed bands. They picked up instruments, clutched them to their chests and cried, “Me too!” Plucking chromatic strings to find the vibrations tingling behind the stars. To catch the chords singing in the waves of the ocean which give praise to the heavens. Jamming in sweaty basements with their triumvirate brothers and sometimes falling in with other like-minded nomads, these warriors drew initiation into the local mysteries. An ancient fraternity reaching out to strike a chord at humanity’s soul. Those early days of discovery and brotherhood were seminal building blocks for years to come. Early roots that grew life-long bonds. More groups formed, more bands were born. Songs spewed forth and filled tight-packed practice spaces and soon haunted the halls of legends. John leaped onto stages and writhed with the evolving sounds. He imbibed the rhythm of savage origin. The oneness of it all.
Chicago’s shoulders loom large out of the ground; they grow tall like the skyscrapers rising above the green waters of the lake. Too opaque to reflect their own hubris. The streets are straight and flat, they cut a grid across the land. Concrete embodied, asphalt and steel. The mortar which bonds this city together is tough but rigid. Cement cracks from the annual saltings and perpetual cycles of freeze and thaw. The people are like the roads. Roughshod, but solid. Real. Concrete. Set into molds. They dig deep roots in the earth like the basements under their houses. However, concrete does not give, it cracks and sometimes crumbles.
The avocation of the coyote brotherhood fell prey to the rigors of the struggle, for time grinds even the tallest mountains to dust and nothing stays the same. Having traveled the streets and measured the beats, John grew restless. The patterns were becoming bolder, the grooves a little too familiar. An itch rose on the back of the cold winds blowing across the lake. As time progressed, John watched his brothers stray. Life’s drudgery working over and through all the fresh-faced hope and altruism. Cracks and lines. Bands broke apart, rifts formed, people drifted away. Only the very recalcitrant could hold true to their beginnings, but they clung with a desperate cry and life raked their backs as their souls bled. Very few could continually invoke the call. Lifers.
John took to the road, clutching tightly to the hearts of his brothers as a guiding beacon to light the way of new beginnings. He sought westward and the setting sun. Like so many artists before him, John fled the monotony of his upbringing. He thought to escape the slow sensation of choking that had gripped him since childhood and rediscover the solace which music had brought. His coyote brothers had kept this at bay for a time, but life inevitably gets in the way of those that try to do more than they can. The steady muffled background that was threatening to overwhelm him, and slowly picking off his old cohorts became too much to bear. A journey to the land of bright sunsets and milder weather. Freedom from the claustrophobic winters continually closing in around him. Slowing and freezing his creativity. Escape from the heavy, muggy summers choking the air. Away from the scars of lost artists, buried hopes, and the missed opportunities of his fallen brothers.
He settled in to new territory. Fresh faces, virgin venues. His heart reinvigorated, John honed his craft. Found the heart stone and squeezed until life’s blood began beating again. The background noise of the world’s machinations faded, his resources coalesced. Here there were new struggles and new landscapes. A renaissance of perspective.
Then came the fires of February. He thought he had left all the darkness behind, but the dark waters of the past reached across the western deserts and drowned John. “Death,” they whispered. “Awful undoings and terrible heartache,” they said. “Little is left and everything you thought you knew is gone. The phantoms, the machines have been burned and buried.”
One of the early coyote brothers. A musician and fellow nomad. Gone. The machine’s cold call had eviscerated his brain. Eradicated his soul in red, visceral death. And much worse still. A definitive and complete implosion. With far flung collateral damage and a spiral of perpetual grief. Too awful to contemplate and impossible to comprehend. Leaving only terrible questions. The machine’s pattern looming large—everything spent. Nothing left. John took all this in. Swallowed the grief, hate and pain. All the past flying toward him at once. The beats below. Society’s indifference.
Returning to the beginning, John found the pieces to reassemble himself. A way to navigate all the home-born carnage in this new scene. He reached across the desert and gripped hands with a new friend, Mark Serpico. A drummer. A brother. A fellow lifer. Together they determined to conquer the pain.
Bury the Machines is a binocular vision of twin souls. A dual heartbeat of life’s cry among the tragedy of living. John and Mark bonded over the many miles between them and entrenched themselves with all technology’s circuitry to mete out a phoenix cry. Smash the ruins of yesterday’s tragedy. Piece together the left over bones into weapons and wards against impending ruin. Stake a claim for hope.
In this new DIY culture of viral videos and unfettered access to an endless wash of knowledge, John carved a new niche for himself. He drew a groove among the sonic waves. A bombastic explosion of hardware reacting to the tumultuous undertow of the internet’s noise fest. This group is more than a midi sequencer, more than a laptop or mixing board, more than a backing track. The machines come alive. Cables crawl like snakes in an on stage network, ranging out from full amplifiers like black ships on the sea. All heading in toward the electronic helmsman. John harnesses the digital minions of the machine’s making and repurposes them into electronic life. He channels the soul of all his old pack brothers traveling in this world and beyond. Serpico provides the explosions and the pulse.
Rebel against the patterns and lines. Seek the deep truth of life’s mysteries stirring in the undercurrents and howling in the desert winds. Heed the titans of greatness. Listen for the sibyl. Reject life’s drudgery. Conquer tragedy. Feel pain. Live. Rise. Raise the call, a heretic’s cry, wailing over the fallen warriors. The lost brothers. The lifer’s creed. Bury the Machines.
-Ryan Sean O’Reilly