Mount Seldom Forever.
by Ryan Najjar
What’s the first thing you would say in your eulogy for a friend? I’m seriously asking. I’ve gone through at least fifty different sentences & none of them work. So I’ll just start talking.
One day we were talking in a group chat & Mikhail told us to listen to an artist by the name of Henry Makobi. He gave us the base context, the genre & whatnot, but mostly made a point of telling us to listen.
At the time of writing, Henry Makobi has 201 monthly listeners on Spotify, and nine out of the ten tracks on New Memories, his only album, haven’t gotten more than 5,253 plays. The project came out in 1993, and a Google search of Henry or his album produce nearly no information (I can’t even confirm whether he’s alive or not.)
How Mikhail found this was absolutely beyond me. But that’s kind of what he did. It could come from any corner of the world, have little to no following, and it wouldn’t matter. He’d find it, and if it was good, he’d post about it like he was a SoundCloud rapper promoting his own mixtape. He put work into making sure we heard these sounds, so I knew it would be a worthy listen.
That was more than a year ago, to my knowledge, and I’ve played one of Henry’s songs at least once a week ever since. To keep it short, the music on New Memories is emotionally soothing, unfiltered, and showers the listener with the warmth of an early spring morning. It made me feel loved & understood, and that’s what Mikhail did for us every single day. Even when he faced more hardship than I’d wish on anyone, he made a point of bringing warmth, understanding and love into a community often prone to cynicism & toxic behavior.
His other grand effort was bringing that community together. To say that Mount Seldom Records was a unifying force would be a comical understatement. Gathered in an offshoot of Patrician Music Chartposting (a large music discussion group on Facebook, for those unaware), he brought myself and a bunch of acquaintances together in a group chat to plan something.
Specifically, we had been banded together to contribute to the first of three Mount Seldom compilations: A View From Mount Seldom. Spanning across everything from acoustic ballads, to field recordings, to noise passages, to everything else under the lo-fi umbrella, it was ambitious to say the absolute least, but by the gods we pulled it off.
To be more accurate, he pulled it off. If you think the final project is expansive with its 24 tracks, you’d probably faint at the sight of the Google Drive with every potential inclusion. He combed through it all, many times over, and fit each piece together in its right place. And that Drive didn’t get filled up by itself, either. Day in & day out, he’d remind our lazy asses that we had history to make, and would even be sure to check in on an individual basis when we needed it. This wasn’t a boss talking with employees, it was a friend speaking with friends. It was a sibling speaking to siblings. A space shogun speaking to his comrades.
This communication strategy, it turned out, was effective. When it was all said & done, his brain child was shouted out by The Best Teeth in the Game, Mr. Anthony Fantano himself, and the community was brought that much closer because of it. We all knew he was capable of amazing things, and that was just one of many instances where he proved it. But even in that moment, he would (incorrectly) insist it wasn’t his success, but that of everyone surrounding the project. I consider Misho a genius, but nobody gets everything right. It would have been nothing without him, and there’s a very simple reason for that.
He cared about us. I wish there was a more eloquent way to put that but there really isn’t. It was only through his care that we got anything done. It was only through his care that AVFMS, and both of the other official compilations (which you can listen to here and here), sound as beautiful as they do. This same quality of showed in the scores of other albums he released & distributed, whether the projects came from underrated powerhouses like Vallow, or titans in the scene like Crywank.He had a deep understanding of what his audience wanted to hear, and an even deeper understanding of what they needed to hear but hadn’t heard yet.
He wanted the best for our scene, he wanted the best for our community, he wanted the best for his friends, and he fought day in & day out to make it happen. Even when he was living out of his car, he’d keep us together with daily interaction, and he’d even keep the label afloat by selling cassettes & merch out of his car.
Name another person you know who fought that hard for something they loved. Not to say you don’t know that person, but if you do, I imagine you respect them more than anything, and I’d suggest you give some of that same respect to Mikhail.
Name another person who’d tattoo the names of his friends’ projects all over his body just to show love. No, it’s not as serious as keeping your label alive from your car (which, again, he also did), but if that isn’t the personification of showing love, the phrase is without meaning. I might sound like a broken record (a broken cassette?) but that was his main mission in all of its forms: showing love. Through work, through conversation, through recommendation, it all came from love.
That love will continue through us. We at Yer Scene share a similar goal to Mikhail, and we vow to ourselves & all of you that the spirit of Mount Seldom, and the spirit of King Misho in turn, will live forever through us. We only request you help us carry that love and let it grow wherever it may land. Go watch a local band. Find some underground tunes & send them to your friends. Love music. Help it grow. Give it to others, and give it to yourself in turn.
DIY Forever. Mikhail Forever. Mount Seldom Forever.