5 April

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Shit Creek — The Land of the Remember (Crow Versus Crow, 2020).

Listen/Buy [ Nb. I implore you to buy, financial situation permitting. Given the social isolation policies in place virtually worldwide, gigs — often a major source of income for many sonic artists — have all but stopped and many folks are struggling to make ends meet.]


A propitious arrival from Marginal Brevity’s kindred spirits from West Yorkshire, Crow Versus Crow! The Land of the Lost err The Land of the Remember is CVC’s latest limited CD-R/ (not so limited) digital release from an artist who, judging’ by their chosen nom de plume, is clearly tapped into the zeitgeist. Enter: Shit Creek. The Land of the Remember is 14 tunes / 40 minutes of tinkerin’ and sonic skylarking. Think maybe Kurt Schwitters on an Autechre kick. Or maybe a glitchy KLF (Coming Soon: Crow Versus Crow Burn One an imaginary £1,000,000! Oooh conceptual.). Boards of Canada convulsing whilst the tape is rolling (we’re gettin’ desperate here)? Ah yes, Syd Barrett in a punch up with Jimmy Cauty while Hanna Höch talks shit on an Animal Collective record she’s never heard (and is definitely never going to put on). Yes, that well and truly nails it. In any case, Land is a record that seems largely comprised of fragmentary motifs, but never feels half baked and manages to avoid be bogged down by the novel. It’s coherent if not a bit jarring. Sort of like someone shining a light in your face when you’re asleep. Or kind of like this. At times, the pieces are radiant and perhaps even transcendent (‘Happy Skeletonzz’, ‘This is the Trap’); other times, one encounters fleeting moments of nostalgic ecstasy (‘Uhrwerkwald’, ‘Little Solas’) that are joltingly halted. Here’s an ice bath for your daydream. There are elements of humor (the titles for one but also ‘Pram Racers’ or the magesterial ‘Burnt Toast’) and also moments bordering on the sublime (the segue from ‘Meatspace Infinity’ into ‘Uhrwerkwald’). If the listener is willing to let the album unfold, it’s easy to get sucked in and go along for the ride, relentless it may be at times.

For this listener, the antennae really got to rattlin’ when I read that slipperiest of slippery slopes when forming an opinion: the press release. That for The Land of the Remember suggests the album ‘is an attempt to create the sound of a world beyond, or perhaps reconfigured from, the current socio-political context’; the aforementioned refusal to let the listener aimlessly meander into nostalgia makes a compelling case. And yes, perhaps it is just a fragmentary mélange of tunes that are skillfully woven together. But rather, one gets the feeling (and not just from the signposting courtesy the press release) that these are aesthetic choices made to comment on the global north’s perpetual state of rehashing (culture, mores, economy, &c.) and contentment with and commitment to that rehashing by many in position of power/influence. And here we sit, fixed in our own tepid lands of remembering.*

The album’s disjointed beauty calls to mind Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi’s understanding of chaos (‘the  contradiction between the infinite expansion of cyberspace and limited [human] capability of processing cybertime’) and the need for chaoid(e)s: ‘an agent of re-syntonization, a linguistic agent able to disengage from the spasmic refrain’. [1] In other words, a culture that proffers a new reality and/or seeks to rupture currently dominant one dimensional forms. [2] Here, Berardi’s reading of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s later work is instructive: as late-capitalism has created a seemingly boundless and ubiquitous business ontology, the subject is faced with ‘[the] rhythm that financial capitalism is imposing on social life […] a spasm that is not only exploiting the work of men and women [sic], not only subjugating cognitive labour to the abstract accelerationism of the info-machine, but is also destroying the singularity of language, preventing its creativity and sensibility’.[3] This is where Berardi (following Deleuze and Guattari) says we need a chaoid(e), ‘a form of enunciation (artistic, poetic, political, scientific) which is able to open the linguistic flows to different rhythms and to different frames of interpretation’. [4] Academic acrobatics aside, The Land of the Remember feels like it may very well be one such chaoid in all its kaleidoscopic glory. It’s a bit relentless, but flying headlong into the deep end and beyond the cushy Overton window is always going to be a confusing and for some, perhaps a maddening experience.

This release is sure to be a hit for kosmische kids, owners of the Warp back catalogue turned revolutionaries, and anyone with the patience to sort through my drivel and footnotes in its wake.

 

JSES

* Having lived in both North America and the United Kingdom, I can safely say the hegemons of the Anglophone world (USA/UK) are certainly hung up on both staid and reactionary types of memory and remembering.

[1] Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, Precarious Rhapsody Semiocapitalism and the Pathologies of the Post-Alpha Generation (Minor Compositions: Wivenhoe, England, 2009), 44-45; Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, Heroes (Verso Books: London, 2015), 220. Nb., Berardi prefers the spelling ‘chaoide‘ whilst English translations of Deleuze and Guattari’s What is Philosophy favour the spelling sans the ‘e’ (chaoid).

[2] See Herbert Marcuse, The One-Dimensional Man, (Routledge: London, 2007), 59-87 Cf. Dick Hebdige, Subculture The Meaning of Style (Routledge: London, 2002), 90-99.

[3] Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (Zero Books: London, 2009); Berardi, Heroes, 222

[4] Berardi, Heroes, 220.

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