Kit Mix #164: Zach Phillips (OSR Tapes, Blanche Blanche Blanche, Fievel Is Glauque)
And I want to already be enjoying something by the time I start enjoying something else, so rhyme fits like a Glove. Then something bad happens to me, and it doesn’t even get better until it starts to happen again. “I’m listening for the pre-initiated voice” — Carol Gilligan. Sometimes I think the right word is “articulation,” “recognition.” And: this isn’t a bunch of songs that are examples of something, but ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛. “Psyche is extended and knows nothing about it,” they say Freud said.
For example, the miracle G# Joe South hits when he sings the ‘y’ of ‘melancholy’ in “Rose Garden”: this ‘extended’ concord floors me, and I refuse out of superstitious admiration to say anything else about it. ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ the impossibility of the verification of the unconsciousness, ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ a kind of willful blindness, spawning my avatar again and again in this windy cage. Suspicions develop, ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ "I know that you know that I know that you don't know that I don't know," et cetera. But per South: “bumming people out is one level of unfoldment I just don’t want to vibrate.” ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ agile tail.
Bernadette’s Princeworld mindvoice: as in Kerr’s “Masquerade is Over”: incomplete/complete self-audit, “too much,” too bent = sheer accuracy. The viciousness of all this assonance, the urgency of the representation of all points in ostensible opposition: this is definite “writing,” but still also a non-contrivance predating the possibility of its calculated “composition” (⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛). Laura Riding says “necessitous.” On the flipside, you know Hamsun was not thinking of “expression” when he wrote to his publisher, “I hope there are no ‘characters’ in my book.” And with one more flip in the conceptual blur, Wittgenstein’s “a confession has to be part of your new life.” I told Hanna the governing criterion for life-material to be incorporated into her new play seems to be “that she didn’t have to mean it.” But of course one can, of necessity, steer, so long as you didn’t fill the car up yourself (bad gas kills engines, and dogs die in hot, read: stolen, cars).
Gamble Rogers as “abstract expressionist” Tom T. Hall: color song always a shortcut (c.f. Freshies) ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛. Check how the active title plucks up the poem: a clue to all the boiling sex of that outhouse/rattlesnake-talk, the burn of that sung “grasses.” Terre Roche talks about practicing without hope of fruition but I do love that which fruits without hope for practice. There is no time to “write,” it must be already done or we are stuck with “composing” it, which is at cross purposes with my own Hunger. I demand integrity of identity — even especially if false, fractured, certainty-abrogating — or its abeyance in grace. When the spirit’s ambitions slacken, when it no longer aims at gentrifying the void: then can it often pull a little honey from the tomb.
But this can sound constructed, “writerly.” Like: “Cuss the Wind,” a huge victory for Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams Jr., who overwrote it with unimaginable blatancy for Freddie North in ’75. It rewards attention with ridiculously developed assonance and sandblasting internal rhyme effects three places in every line: “Cuss the stuff that plows the clover, and then is gone again: that’s where you threw your caution, cuss the wind,” where that ‘then’ and “again” are inflected to rhyme with ‘wind’ (Peter Perrett does this a lot). All these pulls, like ‘lend’ and ‘been’ in the insane diction of “now you can’t own my kind of love, but like the wind I lend; cuss your own imagination, for that’s all my love has been.” It’s maniacal! Perversely, the singer realizes he’s earned something through the text and is able to represent what that is. But the text is so agile it outpaces the performance, and everything feels dead once the text is over, the end confected (but check that Sharrockish figure) — probably it would have been too dramatic to fade quick after the last lyric like a ‘talking’ country song.
After such dense blast, why no desire to schematize verbal consonance? I sense a dense, rich field, a real paleoscience tumbleweeded and ripe for nostalgic makeover as part of the ‘return to technique’: “I was in the New School rhyme program.” On the flip, you can’t reverse-engineer love, so the “Oulipian” thing feels horrible to apply at this point, like unction for some pious soul that can’t grow its own. At any rate, becoming jazz-adjacent (i.e. knowing Billy McShane) has taught me to see claims of objectivity (e.g. this figure is named by this concept) as propositions that could carry the ear, could not, at any rate have their own music, are refractive chambers. A lonely cousin of “Cuss”: Quentin Moore’s relyricization of Chris Weisman’s “Carry On Melting," Google that…
Re: the Blanche raw take, the Fievel: overdubbing = always a problem except when it’s not. I do not know the secrets of presence, but I’ve had luck to be with them contiguous. Self-conscious concern that I’m “introducing” this music, one-sheet huckster-style: always saying goodbye, apparently. But what harm could this do? I heard “Write Me a Song” by T. Rex today, from Billy Super Duper: that repetition effect that stultifies sense achieved on the first iteration, instant sense-alienation through wordshape, already-repeated before repetition, like Kendra’s closed-eye chorus in “Judge Not,” Cooper’s “1 Thing” mantra. Not that “Write Me a Song” is even particularly cool, it’s even kind of a mire, which is also to say spacious, generous!
Like: the expanded gameboard in “a Boogie”, a Four Thing where monk, lion, book, and eagle get guitar symboled. Hardcore annunciative, not didactic: ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛. Maybe I’m undercutting but I think Tori knows how quick all these affective positions reverse, and if this song’s schematization fundamentally slows things down I am wiling to call it “compositional” without denigration: ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛. and by constraint I mean only something explicitly enabling a certain set of discrete relationships. And this is how to play Four Thing (c.f. Martyr Group “Prey”).
Artistic “risk” always risks being cosseted and/or actuarial, I mean preciously demonstrative and/or socially calculative. And then there are ways that a kind of mania for risk can bowdlerize what might be valuable weeds: revealing boringnesses or simply glorious inoffensive detail, among which may number the glintingest sequins of from-beyond assonance, for example. What is the Carpettes song “about?” Its bravery is openly revealed to be a pose, a ruse, a rose, a useless loop, and so “just because I was wrong” becomes a victorious statement, even getting a Buzzcocks finish. The album is called: “Frustration Paradise.” Maggie’s song, its question an exhausted feint, records the “observing ego.” I hear it as pointillist summary of one flashing momentary endlessness in frustration paradise. And what is gained is given in such quick transit that it is possible this is nature. Expository flood or not, I am just in nature with this music.
But oh yeah: “the hiss.” Much ado about supposedly “new” entropies, c.f. that flaccid third-gen-dub ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ that is the Eng-lang “hauntology” rap. We are for sure concerned with a kind of “new” (though still the same old Adorno/Benjamin “new”) relational dimensionality attendant to the development of various recording technologies — technologies infinitely more various than customarily portrayed, because process is itself quintessentially technological. Anyway, human “error” is more musico-temporally accurate than metronomic machinations, “change my mind,” and musicians like those “Quixotic” wooden metronomes best: no long jump to see why you/I “love the hiss,” this ‘random’ medicinal balm quavering up top so nice. Anyway, in something like “Diamond Love” by Lewin or whatever Ariel Pink botched mix you heard courtesy of the pitfalls of Animal Collective’s digital utopianism, you are not dealing with phenomena different in kind from the apparently “clean,” in-the-box studio recording of “Dispatch Box” with that clear front vocal. The joke is that while the current paradigm of clean digital representation passes for “neutral,” the sonic worlds associated with various kinds of media degradation have become coded as rugged, “glauque,” something to appropriate with digital imitations, et cetera. In actuality it’s all dirty with so much contingency, which is itself an omnipresent form of distortion endemic to the work of representation. Forget that and it forgets you: behind facsimiles of “lo-fi decay,” a kind of down-is-up gentrification logic operates as the perfect corollary of the typical up-is-up lack of long-range perspective you can hear in ample examples of high-level musicianship applied to scantily developed, flat-representational hyperrealism, kinda like there are painters around the world who can blow your eyes out with a waterfall but fail themselves to do anything with the paint, and not even because they’re trying to erase it. The alibi of the one-to-one realist live-to-record “translation” is as dubious as the myth of the “lo-fi” accidentscape. Plied at all turns with alibi upon alibi — alibis, even, for the revocation of conspicuously stale alibis as a kind of maintenance on still others — our artist, ‘you’/‘me,’ seems principally tasked with their removal.
So then why this, why that? The answer has to involve the actual processes involved, because in fact on the recording-process end you are dealing with very different phenomena in terms of the encounters these musicians are having with technique, I mean the technics and material of the various approaches. These representational modes are actually themselves dynamic forms of playing, not aesthetic “choices” leading to “results.” As “effects” in and of themselves they are fundamentally only of cheap interest, but as epicenters of procedural activity they demand more attention than non-initiates can pony up. Balance is restored if it is remembered that the correct measure of said attention is private listening, and that the best thing about go-getters is when they go to get something they sometimes stay gone. ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ ⬛ and all I could do was cry.
Little Buster is from North Carolina but he lived in Long Island and cut a lot of records; you can hear his vocal articulation register in his guitar. He coughs in the middle of this song around my birthday 1:29, a magic “recording moment” like the bird whistle (?) at the end of “Crawling Back” by Orbison. The way the language gets crushed up is like the obverse of the syllabic shrinky neoclassical Connie Converse mouthshapery. And Hartley’s recordings start with the vocal, the music formed around that, wrapped “straight, no chaser.” There are so many ways in and out of the bank for the unconscious “Bansky” burglar, for whom giving and taking coincide. I think of how my friend Shandor called Bugs Bunny “chaotic neutral.”
Used to be, or so goes the popular and irrefutable fairytale, that an icon (the ostensible precursor to an art object) could point to a framework vouchsafing a superstructure interpellating and governing our animal chaos into shepherdly order, which is to say a ‘societally’ functional one. And it seems we can only publicly venerate these objects, these arts, as if they belong to this contrived and mysticized history which casts a now-as-then doubtful God as exactly the transcendental hero secularism ostensibly rejects or at least ignores (it’s worth mentioning that today's atheisms are primarily gnostic in their adherence to scientific dogma; religionists and agnostics seem contemporary kin). But the "new" layers of alienation (via the machinations of capital, via the simulacra hyper-replicated by our digital sheaths, which may just be a kind of sentient capital) might be like Townsend’s ADT, hardly maybe flanging the material of human life, the alienation of which was already effected by language itself (and here alienation ceases even to be a pejorative category, but one constitutive of the happy consciousness that would name this predicament). Might. But this is just another origin story, and more than a little dry. So “where’s the love?” In store, in the mix, kept free, freed captive. Would I do better by it to host a wedding? Which could only be of it to itself: our privative loves know the intimacies of separation, they now admit to announcing connective yearnings that cannot be consummated in a proof any more than in a union. And it will take a lifetime to say my own useless "I love you" to what's missing in all that.
Roxy Gordon: “but we love most, the people we resemble most, and I look at you almost, like I’m looking in a mirror,” and one that rhymes well with the void we can’t be sure is reflected in all our hard-won absences. Pat, sure, and I do like better to listen. This has been horrible to write, in its way.
Zachary Constantine Phillips, Brooklyn NY 2019
1. Bernadette Cooper "Born a Sinner"
2. Gamble Rogers "Color Becoming Grace"
3. Freddie North "Cuss the Wind"
4. Paul Haines "Outside the City"
5. Blanche Blanche Blanche "Heart Made of Rust"
6. Maher Shalal Hash Baz "a Boogie"
7. the Carpettes "How to Handle a Woman"
8. Lydia Tomkiw "May I Take Your Order Please?"
9. Maggie Roche "Where Do I Come From" demo
10. Little Buster "All I Could Do Was Cry (Part 1)"
11. Fievel Is Glauque "Crooks Like Children" demo
12. the Freshies "Yellow Spot"
13. Rebby Sharp "Up Jumped Chair Legs"
14. Sonny Blount "Out of Nowhere"
15. Connie Converse "Fortune's Child"
16. James Mason "Angel Eyes"
17. Buraco Incivilizado "Quisiera Despertar"
18. Marie Möör & Barney Wilen "Illusions"
19. the Howling Hex "White Sex"
20. Syd Barrett "Birdy Hop" Peter Jenner mix
21. Roxy Gordon "Smaller Circles"
22. Serge Gainsbourg "Dispatch Box"
23. Hartley C. White "the Checklist"
24. Pressler-Morgan "You're Gonna Watch Me"
25. Marc Bolan "Is It True" demo
26. Eugene Record "Overdose of Joy"
27. Kendra Smith "Judge Not"
28. Barry Schwam "Nothing Did He Save"
29. Lucy "1 Thing"
30. Martyr Group "You Can't Escape Your Prey"
31. Sis Q Lint "Chapel of Memories"