Members: The part of mr. Harten was played by Clark Crawford
By the time FLiCK wound down, the majority of my creative output was electronic music. My biggest influences at the time all had very high-tech sounding names (Autechre, Cylob, Aphex Twin, Photek, etc.) As such, I wanted a pseudonym that was the complete opposite... something that didn’t sound remotely cool or futuristic.
One day, inexplicably, I recalled an old nursery rhyme that an old family friend taught me and my brother when we were little kids. It went a little something like this: Mr. Brown went to town on a load of hay, Mr. Harten came a fartin’ and blew it all away. mr. Harten... That will do just fine.
Creatively, 1998 was one of my most prolific years. I was incredibly focused on honing my craft and produced a ton of stuff, averaging an album’s worth of songs a month for much of that year.
Tragically, after getting mixed up with some bad folks, namely Angel Reyezzz, mr. Harten was shot and killed during a press conference on November 22, 2000.
Bigga Than Deth (2000)
A joint release with PorkBoNes Records, this is one for the history books...
I met Brent Fariss in our Music Theory I class at Southwest Texas State University in late 1995. We were both a few years older than the average freshman music student and became friends. One afternoon we were hanging out at my apartment and out of nowhere, he sort of casually remarked, “Man... I can’t wait until Halloween 1999... it’s gonna be insane.” After what most would describe as an awkward silence, I took the bait and replied, “Really? Why?” With complete sincerity, he said, “Because that is when my gangsta rap album, Bigga Than Deth, drops.” It was that very moment that I knew we would be friends for life.
Well... Halloween 1999 came and went and the album never materialized. In early 2000, mr. Harten’s people contacted Angel Reyezzz’s people and offered production services to help get the “Bigga Than Deth” project off the ground. Reyezzz, a 13-year-old Hispanic runaway, is one of Brent’s pseudonyms (some would day multiple personalities) and comes out when the situation calls for something incredibly inappropriate. Anyhow, she agreed and the two started work on the project the following week at The Harten Center for Underprivileged Sounds. For the most part, the programming (synth and drums) was handled by mr. Harten and the live instruments were tackled by Reyezzz.
“Overture” fulfilled the “dramatic intro” requirement of every good gangsta rap album.
“Apropapo” was based on a made-up word Brent would repeat over and over again in order to annoy his wife, Cathy. The track introduced a number of the melodic lines that can be heard woven throughout the entire record.
The title track, ”Bigga Than Deth,” featured mad MC skillz by both Harten and Reyezzz. It also features the first of several samples from the film, “Throw Momma From The Train.”
“Fuck tha Millennium” was Reyezzz’s way of letting the world know that she didn’t give a shit about anything, not even the millennium. We had agreed to let our friend, Afshar, bust a rhyme entitled “Y2Gay” during the middle section of this track. However, after half a dozen attempts to get him to come over and lay it down, all we got were excuses. Reyezzz finally got fed up and wrote a little rap busting Afshar’s balls and threatening his life. For me, this is the highlight of the album. After recording these vocals, we drove by Afshar’s house and gunned him down in his front yard. The track eventually dissolves into a house party that hopefully contains something to offend anyone and everyone.
“Smoove Soul 2000” was a mr. Harten remix of Brent’s “Smooth Soul Singer” track which he wrote for his wife, Cathy.
By this point, the album had taken a serious detour with the appearance of a seriously unusual cover of the Pixies’ “Debaser” which was conceived entirely by Reyezzz.
“Prison Rulezzz” refers to the art of “anything goes” fighting, and was based off an acid loop I put on a floppy disk and left on Brent’s front doorstep several years earlier.
“Bigga Than Deth (Reprise)” was an alternate version of “Bigga Than Deth” and is almost certainly the only mix of black metal and Supertramp in existence. Oddly, the two work really well together.
The closing track, “Pop Song (Coda),” was a love song and an apology to Cathy for the entire album.
Emerge. [Volume:001] (1999)
Between 1997 and 1999, I had a number of my tracks selected to appear on various compilations. This is the only one that actually made it to pressing and distribution. 1216 Records was based out of Houston and run by a guy named Liam Ross. The release of the CD was delayed numerous times (I think someone kept scoring 8-balls with the CD money) but eventually saw the light of day.
“Monkeys Fear Tigers (Edit)” was selected from a number of my existing tracks, and I sped the tempo up by 5 BPM and remixed it for the compilation.
Unreleased Trax Vol. 1 (1998)
A compilation of four tracks written and recorded in late 1998.
“A Contemplation of Sorts” was centered around a J. S. Bach choral piece that I sampled and ran through an Alesis Microgate so it would pulse. A slightly different version ended up on the Conspiracy Project.
“Milton Land” and “Milk Is Funny” were two vignettes that I never got around to fully fleshing out and expanding into proper tracks, but I liked them enough to not scrap them. They also made me consider the possibility of writing an album of short pieces. Maybe someday.
“Punk in Park Zoo’s (Harten’s Reply)” was my submission to a Skinny Puppy remix contest. As part of the promotion for their Intolerance album, they held a worldwide remix contest. The rules were simple: remix any Skinny Puppy track from any of their albums. The winner would have his remix included on the upcoming album. I never heard back...
Otto Hive vs. mr. Harten: The Listening Circle (1998)
This was the first major collaboration between me and Nathan Wood since Roman Candle took a hiatus and I moved to San Marcos. By 1998, I was fully engaged in mr. Harten, and Nathan was doing the electronic thing as well under the name, Otto Hive. We worked out the details of a remix project and got to work. The plan was that we would each complete two tracks without letting the other person hear the final works. Next, we would make short (4 to 8 bar) loops of all the parts from our tracks and send those to one another. We then had two weeks to generate remixes without having heard the original tracks. It was a really cool way to work and the end result was... well... hear for yourself.
The two original tracks I wrote were “TB4 You” and “Munich Biology”. Nathan’s original tracks were “Onstrate” and “Snort, Spit, Cough”.
My remixes of his tracks were “Onstrate (Kickin’ It Old School),” “Snort, Spit, Cough (Robotussinal Reply),” and “Onstrate (Czechoslovakian Homesick Blues).”
His remixes of my tracks were “Munich Biology (Robo-Tripping Big Boy),” “TB4 You (Regurgitator Mix),” and “TB4 You (Toad Has Regrets).”
“Onstrate (Sample 6 Version) was an alternate take Nathan did of his own track that we included on the album.
The T*A*S Boobie Joint (1998)
The inspiration for this album came from my buddy Afshar’s roommate, Todd Andrew Simmons. Afshar had a penchant for renaming anything and everything and took to referring to Todd as “TAS”. Back in 1998, the majority of internet connections were dial-up. Todd was often on the internet and as a result, when I would call Afshar, I would get a busy signal. Afshar became fond of saying that the reason I could not get through was that TAS was “playing internet” and “surfing for boobies.”
“Girls ‘98” was a remix of the FLiCK track, “Girls Fighting” (it can be heard on FLiCK). It opens the album with a flurry of obscenities. They were left on my answering machine by my younger brother Grant, who was three sheets to the wind.
For me, “The Ballad of Peter Hydrant” is the quintessential mr. Harten track. It encompasses everything I was trying to do with music at the time.
“TB4 Me” was one of two tracks I wrote using TB-303 samples and the “Amen” break. Its sister song is called “TB4 You” (it can be heard on The Listening Circle).
“Tradin’ Fours with Good Ol’ Joel” was my attempt at a little jazz improv with Joel, the announcer for Late Night With Conan O’Brien.
“Rack Jobber Deluxe” is the least frantic moment on the album and is one of my favorite tracks from this time period.
“We Are Back to Rock and Pile You” was an alternate version of “We Have Come To Rock And Pile You” (it can be heard on How I Spent My Summer Vacation ep). Another of my favorites from this era.
Harten vs. Humble Bums (1998)
The Humble Bums were a San Marcos band with a large local following and I knew several of the members quite well. I also assisted in the recording of their album at the Fire Station Studio. At some point in time during those sessions, I was asked if I could take the multitrack from one of their songs, “Alice Underground,” and create a few remixes for them.
“Alice Underground (Into the Darkness)” only utilized one of their actual tracks (Allison’s vocal) which I chopped up and resampled so that the fragments looped in a forward and backward pattern. The synth lines were based on a melodic progression present in the song but the remix was actually more of a new work inspired by their original track.
“Alice Underground (30 sec. Robot Mix)” was just that... two text-to-speech voices mimicking Robert and Allison’s vocals. It was meant as a joke.
“Alice Underground (Harten Hears a House)” was the closest thing to a proper remix and the one they were most pleased with. I used quite a bit of the original recording although I chopped the pieces up. I also weaseled a super cheesy sample from the Spice Girls movie into the mix.
...says “Screw This EP.” (1998)
A couple of tracks written using the same basic sound palette and my first real attempt at writing drum ‘n’ bass music.
The first track, “For Fillip Rotundo,” was dedicated to some guy from Mandy’s high school that tracked her down some 8 years later in an attempt to hook up. She barely knew him and was pretty creeped out by the whole thing. What better way to deal with some stalker going after your fiancee than writing a song for him?
“Monkey’s Fear Tigers” was the better of the two tracks on this ep and featured some great squelchy synth bits courtesy of the Oberheim Matrix 6R. An edit of this track was later chosen to go on the 1216 Records Emerge. Volume 001 compilation.
TB4 Everybody Poster
Release poster for The Listening Circle
T*A*S Boobie Joint release poster
TB4 Everybody Poster