. issue IX : iii .

by barathron

“berceuse”

This berceuse (or ‘lullaby’) isn’t (Chopin), and its proprioceptive ‘rocking’ is a sensory cradle of dearly improper attachment. If “Berceuse” is less-than-snide — if it is a lullaby — for whom, or what? Perhaps it serves as a psychological gesture, a thank-you card to assuage the natural forces that often engulf us in great moments of mortal intimacy; if so, it’s a lullaby that soothes the self in conforming to its own loss, the ‘sympathy’ to a ‘thanks,’ the strophic cry for an open wound.

“Berceuse” emerges slyly from a nigh-audible hum — the listener has the feeling that they’re always only sensing a small portion of the sum stimuli, and even near- or everywhere-silence is enchanting — and again is jolted at the song’s inception, a string-ring of red threat much needed after the passive delirium of “Calme Sur Le Lac.” A planate, cold feedback marks the bottom of the canyon, supine like a lowing, elephantine earth puckered with stalagmite caves like sabreteeth and its hide the immense, porous strata of radio feedback. Then shimmering washes spread and divide into brilliant kites blasted in the wind, blossoming into a roar of scintillating feedback.

What was comforting at first apprehension — from a safe distance — becomes apprehensible close up — the violent crescendo forces a sort of perspectival caution on the listener, who (likely) must manually adjust their volume. (It’s a smart device to eject the listener from the musical experience but create an external, subjective stance on it, i.e. frustration.) The heat coming off of these scorching, torrid feedback clouds and their hectic lightning-lash of flame is sharp and taut. Sharper screaks — felt, physically — are superseded by a roiling furnace of feedback heat. A sort of rotary scythe sets in — the pit and the propeller, maybe — and an anthropomorphized sequence begins. With feet falling hastily in a gray, mildewed corridor, human cries skitter jagged through broken windows several floors below, foreign and far, with unreadable emotion.

The heat is palpable. This is a very temperature-reliant piece — its abstruseness and neglect chilling, its pressure perspiring under magma slow sliding — innervated to offend the listener whether dilating or contracting. By the final few minutes, the concentration of the noise has built to a sticky, parched swaddling, lulling in all of the wrong ways, controlled and terrified by these measured pulses of heat, life-warm placenta in this vacant, drafty womb chamber of whirlpool wind. They’re not unlike Saccacomie’s occasional jolts — but here the listener is habituated, in part because they’ve been forced to turn down their music, and so an unbearable stimulus becomes more bearable than it should be, and we know it.

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