Even for a politically active artist, sometimes an album is just about a chick. "Felix Culpa," a Latin phrase meaning "fortunate fall," was written and recorded in 1998 after Mark's first significant long-term relationship ended, in his words, "in a fairly dramatic and unnecessary way."
Mark had independently released a mellow spacemusic album in 1995, his first, called "Mother of Invention," and wanted to continue doing music of that kind going forward. ("Mother of Invention" is currently out of print.)
The young woman who inspired the album's story was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A generally good, smart young woman who wanted the traditional life - a big marriage, 2.5 children, two SUVs in the driveway - was also being courted and manipulated by the 90s feminist revival. "She was torn between these two things, the traditional and the progressive, and she wanted both, but that doesn't work," Mark recalls. "Every argument we had, I was 'emotionally abusing' her; I was a predator because of my gender and she was a victim because of hers... she was raised very liberal and when she went off to college she was surrounded by people who fed her more of that stuff. Eventually we just hated each other. But at the time I didn't know how to deal without her in my life."
So, Mark turned to the studio. Having use of the production facilities of a radio station at his disposal, he spent late nights learning the equipment from a coworker and recording music as he went. The mellow tones of his previous album became soaring highs and screaming lows, trying to capture what it felt like in his head for a naïve, "raised Catholic, raised conservative, virginal Christian boy" to lose the woman he intended to marry.
In 1998, there was no social media, no "Web 2.0," and the only outlet for independent music like his was a new upstart called MP3.com
, but shortly after the release of "Felix Culpa," MP3.com
shifted suddenly to posting songs from established industry artists in the then-new audio format, after promising independent and off-the-beaten-path artlists like Mark that they would have a voice.
Fast-forward to 2007. With digital music retailers as far as the eye can see, and "Don't Wait" on iTunes, Mark turned back to "Felix Culpa" to consider putting it out there again, but found some of the performances lacking. "I was really still learning how to play at that point," Mark says, "and I would've been embarrassed to have it out there as it was. Still having access to the radio station in which it was recorded, Mark went back and dumped all the multitrack tapes and re-assembled the album from scratch on his laptop, entirely re-recording two of the weakest tracks. With the help of assistant producer David Nezelek, with whom he shared a studio at the time, Mark went further, expanding the original release with two extra tracks recorded after the release (that were originally meant for the album that became "Don't Wait"), and more than an hour of bonus tracks, including "commentary" tracks illustrating the story behind the creation and production of the album, with bonus tracks, alternate versions, demos, and a live acoustic version of the album's original closer, "Summer Came Without Her."
"It was a great way to expand the album and correct some things nobody would ever miss, take the original album out of print and give people something better," Mark says of the Remastered Special Edition. This is the definitive version of Mark's breakout ambient album.