My name is Andrew Scott and I play guitar in the duo Metal Rouge with Helga Fassonaki. Jefre from Root Strata passed your contact details onto us, along with an email in which you enquired about our connection to Malachi. A short answer would be to say that we have no personal connection to Malachi; we did not know him, nor his work as an artist and archivist until after his death.
I feel that a longer answer is necessary to explain our motives out of respect to you and your family before you hear the album. It's hard to know where to begin...
I first heard Malachi's death mentioned in 'The Wire' (an experimental music magazine that covers many of the artists that Malachi was involved with) - his story hit me hard, as it would any thinking person, but it wasn't until much later that the true ramifications of Malachi's story became apparent to us.
What really led to the creation of the album were our readings of Malachi's self-penned obituary (and to a lesser extent his mission statement) many months later. There were many phrases that struck me, such as: "He was the modern day version of a 'renaissance man', except instead of attaining success in several fields, he consistently failed, and didn't really worry too much about it", or when he talks about his own art: "Mostly he was just a big fan" and "He wrote poetry that was not published, painted watercolors in a quirky naive style". Given the nature of Malachi's story these phrases may appear inconsequential, but to us they said everything. When, like Malachi, like us, like so many of friends and peers, you choose the path of art (especially the path of the kind art that is seen as a marginal activity at best in a society that equates the worth of an activity only with the financial rewards it brings), you are willingly entering on what is seen by many to be a path of innate failure. Contrary to popular image of bohemian decadence or abandon, it is actually a life path of constant struggle. It requires a commitment and determination that in some ways is in opposition to some of the prevailing trends in social organisation of affluent societies. Out of this struggle strong communities are born, especially in the music world. Malachi was a member of these communities. So there was a shock of recognition when I read his obituary; the hope, the self-deprecation, the idealism, music as life-blood, art in the face of indifference, the rage at a system that cares so little about the fate of so many. The shock of recognition was this: That this letter could have been written by so many of the people I know, maybe even by myself.
I think many of us get involved in art, music, writing because we feel too acutely the senseless violence of this world and know not what else to do. The sharing generosity in the creative community can sometimes even heighten this sensitivity to inhumanity: here are many people coming together to for a common goal - why can this not be done politically, implemented globally? This is our frustration - experiencing the edge of utopia through art - knowing it can be another way. Its the kind of hopeless optimism that can destroy you. It is a savage irony that cynicism shields you from the pain of disappointment. Malachi died because he knew it could be another way. Malachi died because he knew we could be better than this.
These are the kind of thoughts and emotions that Malachi and his actions gave birth to. People were throwing the word 'martyr' around, but I don't think that's right. A martyr is someone elevated, someone holy, above the average man. Malachi wasn't a martyr - he was one of us. A brother in a community that stretches the globe, linked in hopeful hopeless frustration and belief. This is what makes the loss so much greater, the tragedy so much deeper, the implications so much heavier to behold...
The title 'Three For Malachi Ritscher' was directly modeled after Archie Shepp's album 'Four For Trane'. Our purpose was the same as Shepp's: to draw attention to the inspiration for the album in as explicit a way as possible. The track titles are: 'Anger, Awaken', 'Love, Awaken' and 'Sorrow, Awaken'. Helga plays pedal steel guitar, synthesizer, santur and sings. I play electric guitar. There are no liner notes of any kind with the album. We wanted to make it clear that the album was 1% a political statement and 99% a personal one. Although politically engaged, we are not activists of any kind, nor are we using Malachi as a 'symbol' of anything. Like Malachi we too feel acutely the injustices of this world - his death being one of them. This album, like all our albums, was purely a reaction from the nameless pit of our souls to what is happening around us.
We played in Chicago for the first time earlier this year and met many people who loved and missed Malachi. We sincerely hope that we haven't caused you or your family any additional pain, and hope that the our album brings you yet more proof that Malachi's memory lives on.
We very much appreciate your wanting to ensure both us and Root Strata get paid for the release, but we would honestly much rather gift these albums to the family. In retrospect maybe we should have tried to contact you ourselves earlier to offer copies.
Please pass this message on to the rest of the family, if you think it appropriate. Jefre from Root Strata is sending you the CDs shortly I believe.
Sincerely, with much hope and love
- Metal Rouge"
Our first (and only) pro-pressed CD, released on Root Strata in an edition of 500.