May 1, 2003
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Soft Pink Truth
The Wind-Up Bird
April 30, 2003
Pale Horse and Rider
Stephan Mathieu and Ekkehard Ehlers
April 29, 2003
Set Fire to Flames
Alejandra and Aeron
With every recent release from the San Francisco brain-child of Sue Corstabile and Joshua Krit Crayton—yes, Orthlorng Musork, the label—whole new vistas of sound have opened themselves to appreciative ears (I have this vision: standing on a porch over the African veldt, gazing into the hot heat-waves of limitless expanse, with a coffee in hand...). Not only have artists such as Gold Chains refuxored futuristic hip-hop, and Eight Frozen Modules rimmed IDM a new breathing hole, and—how can I forget—AGF sent scores of laptop geeks salivating over incomprehensible German surrealist lyrics, but the label, with each release, has wheeled and pointed in a different direction. It's not that Orthlorng Musork is directionless—it's just too busy setting the sun on eye openers for entire new scores of sonic exploration.
The current album under consideration, Bousha Blue Blazes, is of no exception—although to what rule, and to what would constitute the exception to the law remains as mystery to me as no doubt it is to the Musorkians (and which is why the label pushes the edges to brinks and abysses). Bousha Blue Blazes is primarily a collection of delicate recordings of Aeron's grandmother, Bousha, singing the pulses of humanity: singing melancholic love; singing of love, of loss, and singing loss: but the culminative voice is not one of despair, but of the joys of sun on tea stirring in the Spanish sun, where this album was recorded; it is of the passing of age—of time—of age itself: of the aging of Alejandra and Aeron and Bousha and Orthlorng Musork. And, if one were to submit it to the critique of love performed by Terre Thaemlitz in his latest album, Lovebomb on Mille Plateaux, one hears not a pure love that has its opposite in hatred and violence, but rather of a conjunctive love: of a love that crosses generational barriers, that nevertheless sings of its own departure: "You said goodbye," sings Bousha, over warm tones and notes not unlike Thaemlitz's own abstract composition.
Bousha's voice is mixed with piano, at times classic, at other times a refrain of notes and tones, slightly warped with software. In-between the moments of voice are field recordings of the sun and the warmth, of dishes and chatter, very quiet—this is a quiet album, where detail work has been pushed to an extreme not in frequency but in the layering of compositional elements. Overdubs of voices and soundscape ambience thus weave themselves into a narrative of Bousha's voice, of a sweetness that transports the mind directly into our ever-aging body. Peace, solitude, and the breathing of my own body comes to be a part of the listening, of the tranquility that is, however, rife with folds of tension (folds so necessary in connecting this "love" with time: with a love that exceeds "pure love," and so, violence—there has been a work of tears performed in the studio upon the editing of this work).
It is said that all philosophy is of death (I don't just say this—this has been explored from Plato on; now, however, after the death of God, death comes to mean and take a form quite unlike that of a dualistic universe of spirit). And these sounds are sounds of death—to death, a welcoming death, death open in singing, death as this album is archive to the moments of the old and a connection to the young, to our post-raver electronic generation comes a woman's voice, a woman who lived the Second World War and the birth of television: the induction of the electronic age itself. Death in the recording, death as the recording of life. Stillness.
And what will we sing of in our lifetimes?
[It is very difficult to judge this album: for whom am I to judge a grandmother? With what age or experience? This album, if anything, has been set out to shame any critic who claims her or his criticism as snide arrogance. Shame not from some moral code but from the depths of illusion, of that final illusion of Man that has us believe we are the centrality of all that and all this. This unsettling tour de force gently lets loose the force from the tour, leaving us turning in erratic cyclic patterns of ceaseless wonder—regarding the remembrance of things past; in search of lost time. This isn't an album that can be classified in some genre. This isn't even an album. This is a memory archive. It requires living. It requires a listening pattern that may result in this album being played at 3am after returning home from another night DJing in a smoky club, a little too drunk; on a cold afternoon in a snowed-in NYC, the city silent; in the summer at the end of a drawn-out dinner potluck, as various friends reminisce over the movement of the sun and the passing of days; after reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez; pondering the Invisible City; setting torch to the pages of Gravity's Rainbow—dazzling in wonder before the immense splendour of ceaselessness; coming to terms with the unsolvable errors of John Cage, and learning not to critique the dead but to live their happiness in sound; the vibrations of the molecules of matter are music, the hum of every refrain in motion; the dips into contemplation found in the serving of coffee; deep-trip moments of intimacy staring, naked, into your partner's eyes and searching for their soul; the gasp of enclosure and incorporation; the stinging blow of a lover's final words—
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