This was the first and last album I listened to. I commenced to question how and what subjectively binds us to the listening experience. Thus, the first review was composed on July 31st, 2014. The second review was composed on September 5th, 2014. Both sit completely unedited. Enjoy.
A review of unedited length composed of a Preliminary and Final listening, realized as listened to First and Last over the course of a larger Endeavoring Series.
The question is whether it is possible, and even if not possible, be it a dare worth committing one’s life to, to create a recording that takes on a life commensurate with that of Live Experience. The Danger in this is what makes this album so terribly sexy. There are these tentacular processes at work in this recording that make it something other than a recording. Is this due to the fact that whatever has been recorded here is devoid of a reliable Institutional Structure, (or at least a familiar one)? Current Recorded Methods lack Institutional Criteria (ie. the Death of the Music Industry), therefore making most at-least-halfway-decent-nowadays recorded projects a Product of the Emotional Reality of individual artists. This record captures precisely this flawed potentiality. Here, the musical act is plenty gutted and individuated emotion left and leftover. This is made all the more emphatic by the fact that I am on a million dollar tour bus full of evangelists and someone is arguing about a blanket outside of the 2$ Flying J headphones I am using. And so the album asks us: How do you, exactly, sustain your faith in reality?
This work comes close, very fucking close to revealing the answer to this question. In part because of the absolute necessity of attentiveness to the words and music and the relationship between the two at every moment to even really claim you’ve listened. There isn’t an option of non-listening and so you have to believe all of it and you do. You really can’t make a decision and listen to this record at the same time. I have immense respect for this, as I believe any self respecting artist should.
It is unfortunate that I have to pause this to piss.
I want to return to the grammar of Live/Recorded Experience for a second though. Because the way this record intensifies the nature of to what and how exactly you are listening is really allusive in a way that feels good, and I am starting to wonder if the possibility of making a living record is really more the impossibility of making a Good Record. So yeah, this is a Good Record.
Currently the music sounds a bit like Terry Riley as commissioned to write the German national anthem if the German National Anthem wasn’t previously written.
About a minute into the 5th track I start very seriously, like to the point of tears, fearing for the future of Art, because I want the listening of this to exist-like-outlive-itself like I do my hands. There is a not dissimilar relational bond between flesh and function (hands) happening in the compositional structure of this record, which is also listening to itself, lucidly, and Humanity is again obnoxiously propelled into the dramatic mystery of hearing – is it your ear or is it your brain? How might you possibly build an Institution out of this? I guess you make this record.
There is a violin.
The musical orchestration is so fucking interesting here. There are voicings simultaneously implanted, averted, hidden, distorted, declarative, imploring, destroyed, clear, so many voices, often harmonious but the effect is this overarching Unison. The voices are the quality of a really big instrument, a piano the size of an orchestra, an orchestra inside a piano. The anomaly of any voice or voicing is the equally small and large and possibly small or large space/definition inhabited/explicated, which is the point but there is no point, there is but a Quartet underscoring the Work.
Is it appropriate to read tragedy into the incessant chanting of We Understand in the Final Act? Can modern understanding even remotely match the blind catharsis of Ancient Fatalism? The Quartet has disappeared from the orchestration, surely this implies we are on our own, a dreamt voice, both condemned and lucky to understand ourselves outside of the Institution. Again and Again. Again and Again. Yet fully external to Mythology. Scholars are not Gods. Subjects are not Flawed. The Mythology was only ever the relational binding of the chorus to the language, anyway. It was nobodies fault but our own.
I want to know if a piece of music can relate to itself. If so, the operatic form pursues the most tempting attempt. As a heavenly paradigm, the language singing the language of singing is the language of the musical language of singing language. As a preamble to the gates of hell, the language is but obscured by a singing that never connects to the non-language of music that all but obliterates language. When one encounters a work such as this album, where both music and language are prompted to the absolute extremes of articulation, neither salvation nor subsumption applies, mostly one feels the truth of earthly confusion, which is perhaps the unifying characteristic of art, as observed event.
So this album unfolds as a brain witnessing an artwork performed and digressing. Tension grows between the art that feeds on the potential energy of societal experience, (the Institute), and the alienation of the loudest possible voice, (the Individual). A new kind of artistic experience grows here, dropping the observer back in/on their head but harder this time, with intention, the individual as stalagmite, gradually yet incessantly growing in the darkness.
And there are all these voices; there are all these fucking voices. All of them a product of the lone observer, desiring, desperately, to escape from the refraction of subjective embodiment. This return to oneself, as pure relation to oneself, is not simply an expression of desperation. The return is the only way to develop and divulge the desire of the group (the nexus of the Institution).
And there are all these words, so many words that need be spoken by the observer. Heard and read, again and again, an interminable listing of ingredients. Lined up as an unbreachable system behind the cerebral cortex, almost inside but not quite. Language is a massive web, horrific yet presentable, and also possible to brush away whence trekking through the woods as would a primate. Once upon a time, someone had the brilliant idea of binding this web of words to music. Society found this communion soothing and so we continued the practice and discovered a tradition, we built an Institution out of passing time, out of which language and music continued to synthesize; tenser, holier, slug sex as abstract expressionism.
This album does not allow us a break from this dialogue, to go to brunch with extended family, to binge watch House of Cards. If you have any intention of fully experiencing This Thing you simply cannot leave. You let the plundering stream of words and perpetuation of sonic systems pound the back of your eyes, switching direction, hoping, as only you can, that at some point unity will come. You refuse to leave the listening and this is a form of faith, that you will experience something fully, while fully enclosed in your mind, and depart with it, hold it and speak of it to another and another, a larger and larger statement, until the meaning is exponentially fulfilled, described as every possible direction.
Of course, there is always the possibility that the phone will ring somewhere in the midst of existing in and with this riddle. Will you remove yourself so as to appease your other self, who persistently longs for the future? Might you stop to think that this decision is the very decision necessary for the development of self-referentiality? A self on either side of the opera, questioning the need to inhabit, to stay, when faced with the possibility of inhabiting in and with future. The opera is not going to help you out with any of this. However it is the opera itself that has done this to you.
And with that, I have decided to pause in order to take a piss. It is almost finished, anyway.
P.S. After I peed, I went out for a cigarette on the porch, where I was promptly hit in the head with a nut chucked by a squirrel. I am not a fucking representative. I am but a poor soul, words stained with nicotine.