Pittsburgher Jordan Decay (a.k.a. Jordan Harris) has seen the fortunes of the dark music he loves rise and fall over the years. The current state of the goth-industrial scene, he acknowledges, is rather fragmented, spawning subdivisions such as terror EBM, dark cabaret or powernoise, alongside more mainstream bands. But in the end, he says, it really boils down to goth-industrial.
"It bugs me when bands go through contortions coming up with some name to avoid using those two terms," Decay says. "You should be honest with yourself. There should be no shame in those words."
And Decay knows a thing or two about words.
He moved to Pittsburgh from York, Pa., in 1996 to join his brother Randall in deathrock band Carmilla's Dress. In grad school, the dark muse compelled him to craft a solo project of spoken word and apocalyptic ambient music, which he still performs today, and to spend the better part of a decade opening for acts like Wolf Eyes, Sunshine Blind and Acumen Nation.
In 2004, he launched a four-page pamphlet called Anger 13, recalling the '90s glory days of dark-music zines (such as Industrial Nation, Propaganda and local efforts Third Nail and PMS). Four years later, the zine's name changed to The Burnt Library, and every two months, you'll still find 70 to 80 copies distributed at concerts and in businesses around town that cater to goths, such as Slacker, Wicked Discs and Eide's Entertainment.
The format is simple: After a brief editorial, he plunges into a couple of pages of reviews (CDs, live shows, books, DVDs) and occasional original verse. The March/April 2009 issue also contains a fond memorial for Cramps frontman Lux Interior.
But despite Decay's quality prose (which blog Neu Futur called "short and sweet ... the strength is the level of description he puts into each sentence"), the centerpiece is the back page of show listings. "I do the research, talking to people and paying attention to Web sites," he explains, "so people can determine if they're into a band. It's primarily goth and industrial, but I take a broader view on esoteric stuff."
Why publish The Burnt Library on paper when everyone else these days has a blog? "I'm a bit of a Luddite," he says. "I like the physicality of folding it, putting in your pocket and reading it when you have a chance, or posting it on your fridge. Also, it encourages people to support brick-and-mortar stores and venues and to support local bands."