ALABAMA JAMES DARKNESS conceived by and written with great help from Kyle McCulloch

Born sometime around 1910 in Bellamy, Alabama, James Caffey (aka Alabama James Darkness aka James Darkness) is one of the most remarkable and enigmatic figures in the Blues genre. 

While tales abound of bluesmen selling their souls to the Devil in exchange for fame or musical skill, rumors of the day claimed that Darkness had met the Devil at a crossroads and, through a well-timed distraction, managed to purchase the Devil’s soul instead. Darkness himself later claimed the Devil’s soul resided his guitar case, explaining the macabre nature of his songs. While this twist certainly makes a more entertaining legend, it is often cited as a possible reason behind Darkness’ sub-par guitar playing, lifelong poverty, and general lack of success. 

Sixty years before the term Goth was coined, Alabama James Darkness was experimenting with a mix of Delta Blues and startlingly modern supernatural nihilism. His morbid focus and recurring themes (as well as his trademark white face paint and blood-red lipstick) would clearly inspire and inform late-20th-century bands such as Christian Death, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus and The Cure, to name a few. 



A Cup of Salt Tears

Victo Ngai

Besides the fact that Irene Gallo being one of the best ADs, I am always excited to work short story art there’s no way to tell what kind of subject matter will come along. 

This piece accompanies Isabel Yep’s novelette A cup of Salt Tears - an eerie yet beautiful story. You can read it here. The audiobook of IQ84 by Murakami Haruki accompanied the working of this piece, it was quite the perfect track. 

Makino’s mother taught her caution, showed her how to carve her name into cucumbers, and insisted that she never let a kappa touch her. But when she grows up and her husband Tetsuya falls deathly ill, a kappa that claims to know her comes calling with a barbed promise. “A Cup of Salt Tears” is a dark fantasy leaning towards horror that asks how much someone should sacrifice for the one she loves.” 

While I was doing research for this project, I learnt a lot of interesting facts about Kappa (河童 ”river-child”), including their obsession with shirikodama (尻子玉 "Small Anal Ball"). It’s believed that kappa lure their victims into the water and gain power by taking their shirikodama, a mythical ball said to contain their soul which is located inside the anus. Check out the amazing manga by Hokusai titled 同河童を釣るの法 (“How to fish for Kappa”).


Dyingforbadmusic :

Steve Palmer ~ Six Dollar Sunglasses
from the Upcoming album “Unblinking Sun”

The ethos and energy of punk rock first inspired Steve Palmer to pick up a guitar, but it was his discovery of the music of John Fahey in 2012 that renewed and deepened that interest. For his first full-length, he filters krautrock, drone, and psychedelic improvisation through the vernacular of the American fingerpicked folk tradition. Bask in the rays of the Unblinking Sun as summer fades!