RGMS End of Year Retrospective: 2020

Last Light in the Forest by Michael Handt

 The wilderness is gathering up all its children again, beckoning psyche become still as an iced over pond - a reflection before dawn. 

With hardened soil and leafless trees, sounds of the winterscape reverberate in these freshly bare lands. Ears to the ground, we might catch a glimpse of the stirring Spring, mycelium matrices underneath, or even thoughts in a new light. 

Before long the mild sun sets beyond frozen hills, making way for ethereal hosts. Looking out into the midwinter night one senses something - something metaphysical, subtly placed, layered beneath time...

...Here we are again, at the edge of the year, where death feeds into birth. A stillness permeates the landscape, seizing us - and if we are attentive, it invites us to turn inward.


RGMS not only commemorates its inaugural year, but also the vast and varied spirit of the season. From the yulefest toast with holy ale, to the unadorned aluminum Festivus pole - new threads of religious syncretism stir. To say the least, we recollect the beginnings of Rhineland Christmas firs, the spectral procession of Odin’s Wild Hunt, and the boreal spruce trees sprouting troops of Amanita Muscaria at their roots. 

Cyclic workings would tend to escape us, yet present themselves in plain sight. Cyclic workings, which overlap and coil concurrently. Such cycles as the lunar phases and this month’s December Cold Moon, but even so on greater time scales, with the recent sightings of the ‘Christmas Star’ on the winter solstice, marking an 800-year cycle in the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn...and yet, a human lifetime is allotted, experienced in default view, alas, grasping just a bit further. 

Among such a mindset, a practice, and a settling down for the passing of a momentous year, RGMS reflects on our work published and the work to come. We present a playlist featuring our selected works this year aimed to construct a new, cohesive experience. We invite you to listen with us, to start new conversations, and become a part of future endeavors. 

RGMS End of Year Retrospective: 2020 (spotify playlist)

Polaris, a guiding light, sits upon the sacred tree. Axis mundi, the world ash - center of the cosmos and the structure of the universe - turns again between the celestial poles. During this season such imagery surrounds us. We find it’s reference wherever we look. A reminder, in a way, that is seemingly mystifying and mundane altogether: we are of the same substratum that encompasses throughout, as far as light can reach. Our action in alignment with these ideals is a gesture of universal workings, and we can only hope that from these most sacred of months that we hold fast to these customs as a new year is borne, bathed in cyclic time. It is a cycle longing for a retrospective in the face of the immanent wheel. A cycle, which is nothing without reprise, yet desires to corkscrew towards some seeming linearity, first convolves in upon itself before springing forward into uncharted territories. As the RGMS coils, we hold our collective breath at such potential energy; here we are my friends, anticipating the daredevilish leap over the abyss, pilgrims on the vessel 2020 reaped, ready to sew new forms to prepare for any and everything. To 2021, and many years to come! 

RGMS Releases in 2020: 

RGMS Publications in 2020: 


Scylla / Charybdis [RGMS-007]

Released December 29, 2020

Musings: Here we are, venturing into uncharted waters, betwixt the whirlwind of Dionysus and Apollo, searching for an unknown shore, a new route homewards. Steering as Odysseus, out of reach from Scylla, the fallen nymph, lusus naturae of the sea. She is the looming threat of Dionysus, poised to swallow us whole into undifferentiated collectivization, while Charybdis, progeny of Poseidon and Gaea, the personified whirlpool, awaits just across the way. She, like Apollo, impends upon our psyche, coaxing us down the proverbial rabbit hole of the solipsism. Yet – despite such hazards, like Odysseus, we maneuver clear, holding fast to such temperance both in our hearts and actions. A liminality, which pervades all domains. Between this performance of the automaton and the human being, between cacophony and harmony, between the ring chaos and ring cosmos, between solemnity and ecstasy, between Scylla and Charybdis, we continue unwaveringly, towards some ineffable home.

Composed and Performed by Davis Connors and Sean Kiley
Produced by Davis Connors 

Performed by Sean KileyTimo Pehkonen. and Colin Malloy
Composed by Sean Kiley and Davis Connors
Produced by Sean Kiley


Morning Bells [RGMS-006]

Released December 21, 2020

Musings: This circular quest, from such mystic labyrinthine annals to deep within the canals of Mars. Awakening to some sort of journey, a Grail vaguely articulated passes briefly through the imagination. A vertical memory of those bells, which bind some ineffable tradition. That which breaks the silence of the dawn, marking transition from reflection into memory, wherefrom word and writing will soon be born. An Apollonian form, which seems to wander in the fields of Eleusis, beckons concentration without effort. The reward is kairosis; solemnity transfigured into ecstasy. Dionysus has been revealed by the infinite unfolding. From first light (Luce Prima), to a prolonged awakening from dreams (A Somno Somnia), which swirl before thine eyes foreboding the dark night of the soul (Nocte Animam), so that one may transform exaltedly (Transfiguratione), for no tree can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.

“No sleep yet cools my eyes; 
day is already beginning 
outside my chamber window. 
My troubled senses rummage still 
here and there among my doubts, 
creating nightly visions - 
Alarm and rack yourself 
no longer, my soul. 
Be blithe. Already, here and there, 
morning bells are awakening.”

Morning Bells Composed and Produced by Sean Kiley
Mastered by Davis Connors


Early Studies in Sound [RGMS-005]

Released November 30, 2020

Musings: This aural mythology, an augmentation of environment  - just as the deeds of the heroes of old reach fantastical heights in ever evolving portrayals, musique concrète beckons us to see the world in a new fiction. Every act of the soundscape center-stage and glorified. Imaginal conversations between cave water drops and radio transmissions, between Socrates and Christ, leaping across the barriers of time. It is said that God may be likened to the principle of attraction, and that eternity is no more than the perpetual attraction of matter in space so as to compress beyond time. As our sonic environments condense and convalesce into the whirlwind of musical experience, undergoing transmutations from isolated temporal event to musical motif birthed anew into the present. Each sound attracting, closer than ever before heard, gradually escaping the bounds of temporality, precipitating on eternity. 

"During our lives we reflect on what we create, how we act, and how we present ourselves. For some who consider themselves artists, reflection upon one’s craft is the way that craft may evolve and become something unique. That is what this album Early Studies in Sound is, a reflection of my artistic journey during my early time studying and experimenting with sound, in particular my fascination with Pierre Schaeffer’s research and work on the sound object and musique concrète."


Meditation Objects, Supplements, and Sequences (MOSS Vol. I) [RGMS-004]

Released November 17, 2020

Musings: Somewhere in between background noise and a symphony, in between the ocean and your open vein… an object, or new furniture of sorts – a supplement, which opens the room for the breeze to come in – a sequence, guiding you through new land. Straddling the four cardinal directions, earthly meditations, to dive deep into the waters of the unconscious, in search of the eternal flame, glowing like a scarlet lotus on the ocean’s floor, oh to breathe in the depths through consummated eucharist in harmony with the logos. Moss, the great mother, welcomes us unto it to soothe our wounds, then gently guide us back towards the path. Here we are, taking a moment to lay in its bed, amidst a journey which fractures into ten thousand directions, spiraling always towards the mandate of the heart. 

Meditation Objects, Supplements, and Sequences or MOSS, is a curated collaborative album from members of rgms consisting of tracks designed for meditation. This album was inspired in response to the seemingly rather monotonous tone of most meditation music found online today. Here, the aim is to explore a wide variety of states of being possible within the meditative posture. Herein, we have tracks, which lilt us in a gentle state of at onement, others which guide us through strange lands and circular quests, yet others still which take us to that part of ourselves we have not visited in a while, and while our initial urge may be to resist, the vibrations coax us to stay and have a look around for a little while, until we might find this once unfavorable place not at all too unbecoming.


MOSS #1: on the invisible lips of the dark (by Sean Kiley)
MOSS #2: Oceanographic (by Natalie Dzbik)
MOSS #3: Sein Blick (by Iminah Amal-Hill)
MOSS #4: Loading Dock (by Davis Connors)
MOSS #5: Field Propulsion (by Timo Pehkonen)
MOSS #6: Sounds of the Worker Drone (by Chris Chraca)
MOSS #7: Slidetracked (by Aaron Stearns)
MOSS #8: jean, you forgot to pay the electric bill! (by James Layton)


American Ozymandias [RGMS-003]



Released October 30, 2020

Musings: The arm of the record player gazes into the grooves of its patient. Today's procedure will be another extraction, a lobectomy or a lobotomy of sorts, but not so much in the physical sense. Dr. T. Arm received his doctorate in depth psychology from the University of Shellac. He is renown for his shamanic like ability to draw out the unconscious of his subjects. An avid practitioner of hypnotherapy, Dr. Arm induces a state of music; he enters the mind of the patient and travels concentrically towards the ego, peeling back the layers of the unconscious self to reach the identifying agent, the name tag, the 'credits' around which the 'self' orbits. There are scars and traumas and impassible rings within this great tree of the mind, so Dr. Arm takes a less linear, more intuitive approach; leaping like a frog from lily pad to lily pad, occasionally going for a swim in some deep scar tissue to test the waters, Dr. Arm will have us humming everything we never thought and unearthing the delicate orchestrations upon which our very own identity rests. Let's have a look at his latest case study shall we? 

~side effects may include dizziness and the urge to disintegrate~

Here, Patrick steps out from behind the shadows of his many projects such as The New Pollution and Chinese Hackers to bring forth a record that speaks from the subconscious. American Ozymandias is a series of meditations on memory, melancholia, tranquility, and American society. The source material used on the album is a combination of old WWII era vinyl records retrieved from a dusty family basement. The sounds were created as Patrick "played" the turntable, speeding it up and slowing it down, using certain objects to disrupt playback, and using the tonearm to create odd noises. Current American society full of its materialism and politics can be likened to the setting of a certain famous poem, proclaiming its great might and power. Yet one day it may be the ruins that stretch far and away...

American Ozymandias Performed and Recorded by Patrick Jessop


Music for Sine Waves I [RGMS-002]

Released October 23, 2020

Musings: Staring into the color blue, one begins to see a barrage of shades infiltrate the once seemingly monotonous space. Listening to a rushing river, the echoing whitecaps begin to play tricks on the ear. Was that an airplane I heard? No, it was the river. Who is it that comes this way? Oh, it’s just the river.
The sine wave, a mathematical purity, the limitation of all limitations, a painted white canvas, in which we observe the brushstroke patterns more acutely than ever. or - an entirely white room, yet unlike the mono-brushed drywall, here there are four completely distinct microcosms within the realm of whiteness. We are standing on the blueprints, always slightly obscured by our feet, we are ourselves the veil to the composer’s process, but if we crane our heads towards the ceiling, there is the spirit supreme; the fumes of the paint rise and mingle in the air of our experience. we become intoxicated, no longer desiring any other color. this new world has swept us off our feet and we find ourselves at the behest of its stream. 

Music for Sine Waves I is a full-length album and compositional experiment in reduced orchestration in order to achieve an alternative appreciation for basic sonic relationships. It is music created by a human and executed by a computer. It is then experienced by humans. This process in particular has been done before. However, these three definitive steps are carefully considered for the undertaking of this project. 

Music for Sine Waves I Performed and Recorded by Timo Pehkonen


A taste of future RGMS visuals: "Speaking in the Back Seat" by The Knees

Associated act of RGMS via co-founder Tony Goldberg - The Knees - appointed the directorial services of one co-founder Bobby Goldberg, for the new release of a music video for the group's single, Speaking in the Back Seat

As a taste for RGMS visuals to come, watch the, 'artfully disorienting' (Treblezine) video below:

The visuals for Speaking in the Back Seat were derived from a larger, unfinished short film project by Bobby Goldberg. It explores the elusive unconscious content in the mind of an artist, and his endeavor to unearth the song of his unconscious self. 


Lecture on Nothing [RGMS-001]

Released October 9, 2020

Musings: One has the perpetual option of leaving or returning to Kansas. However many breaths taken between each decision, between each word uttered, Time, the nihilistic prince, reminds us that the continuum remains an open system whose center is nowhere, yet everywhere. Like the oak tree within the acorn that harbors its own acorns, an infinite involution deep within the dna of evolution. For that which is to become whole must first be reconciled with its opposite; therefore, not only stare into the void, but speak its name, for gestalt is the key to that evasive ephemerality we impend upon with such tenebrous kairosis. 

This speech was supposedly delivered by John Cage somewhere at some point in 1959 or so, although no recordings seem to exist. It is written not like that of a mere quotidian speech, but rather, like a piece of music. The deliberate spacing and repetition are intended to stir a musical reaction in the listener, and may be likened to a German Lied (song) turned on its head. Whereas in German Lieder a composer sets the work of poet to music to give it a wider range of expression, Cage ostensibly sets music to a speech (or poem) to mute the range of expression musically, and widen the range of literary expression without crossing fully over the realm of music.  Sean did not like any of the available recordings of this piece, and decided to do one himself. This being the first release for rgms serves to set the tone for releases to come, and Kansases to be passed through. 

For the transcript of the original speech see here: John Cage's Lecture on Nothing

Performed and Recorded by Sean Kiley
Mastered by Davis Connors
Composed by John Cage


Undercover Coroner [RGMS-000]

original release date: March 2, 2019

Long before 'The Great Highway Theft' (see: origins), a mysterious force re-awoke in a time when the gods had returned. In the wake of the rift between Apollo and Dionysus, a deep abyss began to form. Its depths travelled so far down they reached the levels of Tartarus. There, the million pieces of Kronos, Zeus had once cast down, had begun to reassemble themselves. With the abyss ever-widening, the slowing reforming Kronos was able to climb out of the nadir and into the realm of man. While he was still far too weak to challenge the gods for the throne, his subtle influence on the plane of manifestation began to take shape. Kronos, the king who had consumed all his children, he is Time, the world's coroner, could now sow discord in the realm of man. For if the abyss continued to plumb the depths of Tartarus so too could his loyal fallen Titans again rise up. In the shadows, on the horizon in the east at sundown, just out of sight in the corner of your eye, he lurks, undercover, anticipating a moment of weakness to strike. Bifurcation, polarization, nihilism, those thoughts which whisper and whimper through the night, these are the doldrums of Kronos, the coroner, poised to pronounce time of death.

Such a force began to more clearly rear its head in the time of brothers Bobby and Tony Goldberg. At the behest of Athena they conjured a weapon from the divine manuscripts bequeathed by her (see blueprints). Sown into the fabric of the vibrations from this record, a great spell cast upon the earth to combat the undercover coroner; only, yet, the gods do not know the mighty origins of this force, Kronos still steals unbeknownst. Such a spell as this could only do so much to cast down such an indomitable foe. And now, with the manuscript in the hands of rgms, the coroner may again roam unhindered. That is, unless - the rgms may perchance just stumble upon the mysteries imbued within the manuscripts, mysteries which hath the power to mend the Apollonian and Dionysian breach, and thus again seal the ancient gateway from Tartarus. 

Undercover Coroner Composed and Produced by Davis Connors and Sean Kiley

For insights on the complete methodology behind Undercover Coroner, see here


The Visionary Commonwealth - Empiricism of Music

Dark Side (Fire #1) by Guo Hongwie

From The Visionary Commonwealtha bourgeoning new music blog, here we have the foundations of a nascent heuristic of music derived from an intuitive sense. 

(See full Research Publication)


RGMS: Inner Workings

The rgms presents: 

Over the course of the next months, albums by members of the rgms collective will be released.
These include collaborations and solo projects; however, all albums will be released under the name 'rgms'. 
In the nature of the collective, identity is formed from a dynamic relationship with the parts that make up the whole. 
These albums releases will begin to emerge in discrete pairs whose relationship will be either dialectically opposed or directly related. They will be issued either simultaneously or a week apart.

Release series #1 is comprised of albums born to the minds of all current rgms artists before the inception of the collective itself. It may be considered the 'Primum Mobile' of the unspoken centre. 
The reason for this unspoken centre is that we do not wish to precipitatley impose an aesthetic or meaning upon the rgms. Instead, the rgms must be approached as a symbol with its own desires, allowing it to flower by its own volition. 
By nature, creation is limitation, consciously or unconsciously we create a structure within which a symbol may begin to take shape. Without this form, a symbol (or an idea) escapes back to the realm of pure abstraction. This limitation (or structure) of the rgms is that of the Apollonian and Dionysian dialectic. (more on this)

With this in mind, the rgms has devised a heuristic to begin to understand the desires of itself. 
This method of self-reflection makes use of a Release Code Chart consigned to a Cartesian plane:

RGMS Release Code In-Depth

Due to the nature of the collective, there will be a wide range of aesthetic output within the rgms. 
Despite this variance, each artist strives to remain true to the unspoken centre between that of Apollo and Dionysus. 
Every release will therefore be labeled with coordinates from the essential rgms Cartesian plane. 
The two poles of identifiability within rgms releases thus include, density (x) and anticipatability (y). 
The latter pole concerns not only density of the occupied spectral band, but also that of the sonic and structural complexity. 
The former pole of anticipatability, which also may be considered 'convention', is far more nebulous. 
This is due to the fact that each individual possess a distinct and highly personal set of protentions when engaging in a music. 

The artist places their respective brainchild on this graph then in accordance with their own predispositions balanced with that of pre-existing content relative to the collective itself. 

Our four cardinal directions may be further classified as the following: 

maximal immersions 
minimal deserts 
avante-garde tessellations 
traditional re-workings. 
And at the center, meditative canopies attempt to delicately straddle the four directions. 

Note that all coordinates must be integers, and may not include a zero. 
All zero coordinates are reserved for collective wide collaborative efforts, which focus on cultivating a meditative landscape.


An Introduction: Rube Goldberg Machine of Semiotics (rgms)

Greetings RGMS reader - 

Welcome. The Rube Goldberg Machine of Semiotics is excited to share with you it's many inner workings, that include, but are not limited to: a wide range of exploratory musics, detailed methodologies, research publications, and a labyrinth of entwined mythic themes waiting to be unraveled. 

We've planned a steady stream of album releases for the remainder of 2020 with the intention of keeping the machine running indefinitely. 

Without further ado, rgms presents an Autumnal Equinox promotional video as a taste of what's to come. 

Consigned to the minds of Tony and Bobby Goldberg, RGMS originated from an ambient performance in Chicago, 2017, hosted at the DIY Third Floor, referred to internally as the July Fridge. The artifact below, a concert poster for the performance, is the first sighting of the Rube Goldberg Machine of Semiotics documented:


And finally, on a concluding note, here's a word from Joey Campbell and the document known as the Power of Myth:

"Jean and I are living in Hawaii, and we’re living right by the ocean. And we have a little lanai, a little porch, and there’s a coconut tree that grows up through the porch and it goes on up. And there’s a kind of vine, plant, big powerful thing with leaves like this, that has grown up the coconut tree. Now, that plant sends forth little feelers to go out and clutch the plant, and it knows where the plant is and what to do– where the tree is, and it grows up like this, and it opens a leaf, and that leaf immediately turns to where the sun is. Now, you can’t tell me that leaf doesn’t know where the sun is going to be. All of the leaves go just like that, what’s called heliotropism, turning toward where the sun is. That’s a form of consciousness. There is a plant consciousness, there is an animal consciousness. We share all of these things. You eat certain foods, and the bile knows whether there’s something there for it to go to work on. I mean, the whole thing is consciousness. I begin to feel more and more that the whole world is conscious; certainly the vegetable world is conscious, and when you live in the woods, as I did as a kid, you can see all these different consciousnesses relating to themselves."
- The Machine, impersonally - a unrelentingly process of nature