The Rummage

Category: . issue IX .

. issue IX : contents .

. issue IX : contents .

. i;
. tinariwen : tassili .

. ii;
. trio saccacomie : calme sur le lac .

. iii;
. trio saccacomie : berceuse .

. iv;
. trio saccacomie : signal de fumée i .

. v;
. trio saccacomie : signal de fumée ii .

. vi;
. trio saccacomie : fantômes en foret .

. vii;
. trio saccacomie : canoë dub .

& viii .
. cody chestnuTT : the headphone masterpiece .

. podcast .

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. issue IX : viii .

. artist : cody chestnuTT .
. album : the headphone masterpiece .
. year : 2002 .
. label : ready set go! .
. grade : a plus .

headphonemasterpiece

Music Videos don’t exist anymore.

A large cache of my cultural education was spent memorizing and plotting along with the inspired random short vignettes that presented a bacchanalian collage of fashion, youth, and sunlight with an apollonian attention to categoric consumption. I’ll never forget the short films I scored over my BMG and Columbia House savant sales pitch summer of sophomore (getting the 8 free CDs up front and then having an irate parent’s complaint for a minor drop the 40 dollars required for membership [26.00 for 1 purchased CD, 14 for shipping] into a cancelled account); and the popular occupational nom d’drop of art director I carried as a personal bohemian barrier for my self, a definite painted starting line that I would never cross but could twirl my toes on.

The radio played a paltry competition with the television. Although it showed most of the same music as the videos from the ever-growing channels filtering such musical montage, it wasn’t paced at the same speed. The rush of image was perfect stimulation, and could be replicated on a smaller scale of meme-dom with the re-enforcement of the sound-tracking, or, what we could call now, a playlist. Hellraiser demon of hooks in this era; if you weren’t snagged by a song’s tone, lyrics or instruments, you could be seduced simply by the image itself and its implications. Interpretation played with individuals as always and attention spans found themselves synapsed and set into brains.

So, a few days ago when Palladia sold me a packaged version of Cody ChestnuTT’s beautiful “I’ve Been Life” video, I had no choice. I was struck dumb by the image and the familiar ritual in such an unfamiliar and creaking body of time. The recognition was instantaneous, the packaging was elaborate: and the entirety of the album The Headphone Masterpiece dominated my thoughts again after so long, so, so long ago.

I discovered ChestnuTT with The Headphone Masterpiece, a bedroom demo double album that demanded little from the listener, at a point when TRL had isolated me from my MTV and Pinfield interfered with my rehearsal schedule. A wonderful college FM WUAG did it’s work, as did the Gate City Noise, the record store within spitting distance. They praised revival and range, and I listened (Neutral Milk Hotel was one of these suggestions, not that it meme’d itself to me as the oddest of all names of all time, and a great album the likes of which felt familiar to my self and totally new to my listening). The double album has always held more appeal to me than an EP, any artist that dares to put out an amount of material stands behind the product personally, especially if they’re a single singer.

ChestnuTT’s song’s intimacy astounds and the showmanship wins through all of this varied oeuvre. Spanning “Smoke and Love” reggae relaxation, to the rap of “B-tch, I’m Broke,” balanced by the skit “Brother With an Ego” or the sappy “Somebody’s Parent,” the album features ChestnuTT spanning his own influences and inundating us with rhythms and sounds that should have been remixed as an homage album YEARS ago. (CONNOR SEZS: Kickstarter for somebody.)

Of course, Cody ChestnuTT’s lucky breaker breaker was late 2002’s Phrenology where “The Seed 2.0” did exactly that for the Roots. “Seed” is an impeccable song with a spacey chorus of wonderful words and a grand guitar funk lead behind a stairmaster bassline and cymbal crashing. These shuffling seventies AM golden frosty bottles popped open one after the next, and ChestnuTT’s easy vocals are smooth and oh so listenable, even when he is speaking some seriously sly sh-t with a straight face. (“Push my seed in her bush for life” is the titular choral refrain in “The Seed.”) “B-tch, I’m Broke” exists in an amazing universe of bright tenor megaphoning out a stained and hungry ghost over a fast swampy drum and bass: “If I got diamond rings / and eating three steaks / and then offer you a goddamned hamburger.” Comparisons to Todd Rundgren and Prince echo the singular vision and the inherent gardening and plotting of the geometric kaleidoscope of style and speed.

I always assumed ChestnuTT had settled into the sonic scape of California and become a songwriter. A musicians’ musician, offering up a bit of his unlimited skill for some small stipend.

“I’ve Been Life” features stilt performers, dressed brightly, breathing fire, and ChestnuTT in a tin soldier’s helmet and military chic. Still, it manifests his signature stringing along of incredible rhythms and landscapes of sound. So many horrible stories start off with, “Well, ya see it was a decade ago…,” and end with Wilford Brimley offering an impossible deal of never getting older or dying.

But every once in a while when you turn second star to the right at the corner of outer space nighttime and oxygeny ozoney rosey cheeks (and everything) dawn, you see, disappearing from sight, all moments.

Smile and wave.

by Perkus Tooth

. issue IX : vii .

. artist : trio saccacomie .
. album : allumé-lui le calumet .
. year : 2004 .
. label : no type annexe .
. grade : a .

Allume

“canoë dub”

The crunchy close to Calumet leaves footprints so aptly; confident and purposeful, “Canoë Dub” reduces the listener to an imposed optimism unsure of itself and thus everything else. Chittering circuits whine soft like a wounded animal and debilitate with the cutting awe of unconditional love. “Canoë Dub” (and Calumet) end abruptly, sickening by its absence; the hypnotist didn’t realize the time; as with nitrogen narcosis, the listener may feel physically ill.

by Brittany Tracy

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. issue IX : vi .

“fantômes en foret”

Larks & minutiae.

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. issue IX : v .

“signal de fumée II”

Signal De Fumée II” mutters diminutively — finally — at its two-minute mark. Calumet’s most spacious offering, this ‘signal’ is deep-sea plumes of nutrients divulged in the dark through the ventilation of the earth. Alternately sludgy and shriven, this second movement frenzies in knotted mitotic bacilli fireworks, its warbly constructions spry in a ballet of crooning tops, small circumferences a twirl or teetering out between breaking skids: unfortunate inertia can be orbital or linear. “Signal” is also a spectacle of the pregnant darkness: the listener stands on the ocean floor and stares.*

*Listen to this with your palms in your eye sockets and it’s easy to forget what sort of animal you are.

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. issue IX : iv .

“signal de fumée I”

Signal? This smoke is gritty and rusted, in short, noisier than anything before. By omitting the lowest, mining bass — those dropped boulders that reveal the abyssal tunnels below — the expansive quality is forfeit. “Signal De Fumée I” is like being slapped in the face with a mallet. Most importantly, if fire is noise and smoke the signal, the listener can’t hear the fire. A human voice appears midway, muffled past recognition — like everything in Calumet, it’s estranged and just beyond our reach.

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. issue IX : iii .

“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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. issue IX : ii .

. artist : trio saccacomie .
. album : allumé-lui le calumet .
. year : 2004 .
. label : no type annexe .
. grade : a .

Allume

And now for something completely different: a hypertextual exploration of the droning acousmatic art of Trio Saccacomie (Quebecois electronic artists Érick d’Orion, Guillaume Théroux-Rancourt and James Schidlowsky). Their 2001 experiments at the Avatar studios were released in 2004 on No Type’s Annexe label as Allumé-lui Le Calumet, which means “On Her Peace Pipe.” Like the function of the calumel-calumet, Calumet offers, indeed, contractual rite of passage — one that’s submissive and submerged in its own excess of exceeded misgivings. Annexe curators David Turgeon and Aimé Dontigny (who work with d’Orion on Napalm Jazz ‘and more’), describe Calumet‘s “aesthetics of deforestation,” recalling systemic disruption, uprooting like bronchial microvasculature beached and bleached, whole organs drying, scenically, in an abetted landscape. But these pressured, breathless tracks hold the listener deep down under the bottom-timely, protean, ticklish roar of ear barotrauma.

Key conceits of Calumet are indigenous to the Americas — peace pipes [make?] smoke signals; sylvan totemism — and the album roils, unsympathetically, in a groundedness consonant with those cultures, presenting tepid, callow vapors and strata of sound nutritive, terse, dense, grimy, and under-the-fingernails. The listener is drowned (alive) (dead) or buried (alive) (dead) — quite: these ends of pressure and internment also dispatch obscurity: the person ceases to remain, their body swallowed by their own swallows. “Canoë Dub” is the only song without the warm womb of soil to its unearthly sonic amazement, but with a savory metallic tang evokes that churning, cavernous installation of revolutionized machines spawned by the concept art imagination. Yet whatever the timbre, the sunless spectrum of sound Calumet drags forth from the well orifices and subterranean consciousnesses are utterly effective.

Calumet is compelling acousmatic foley with an experiential process both linear and presently involving, yet produces an experience so heightened as to be dissociative, unfamiliar so deep in its own skin, a the peak of attentional compression where life is most evidently fatal. Potentially human sounds — peripheral and rare birds in three songs — are chilling not in themselves, but in the listeners’ uncaring attitude as they wheel away, blank and unqualifiable. “Berceuse” (“Lullaby”) encapsulates the whole project: the proprioceptive lulling built from rotary swatches of sound and regularity hijacks the midbrain to enforce the acceptance of one’s safety. Feedback pervades Calumet, whining and chittering in inscrutable transmissions; how many things we know only once they’re decoded — but when sensorily raw, they’ve failed. Calumet offers an experience of delving, and, like its transmissions, enshrouds a meaning you haven’t fathomed yet.

“calme sur le lac”

; or, “Calm On The Lake” furls the curtain with a jolting clang, a suspended gong imprudently assaulted with a steel pipe wrench, pain and acute inflammation blooming out. Saccacomie’s choice is quite dangerous for the listener whose volume was too loud, but it’s also effective. Swannee whiny fallout buffers into submersion, ‘the squeeze’ [High Pressure Nervous System gets nervous]; atmospheric gurgles speak for sinusoidal springs in us escaping under pressure; then, on the silt soft floor, gaze out at feedback washes, a paradoxically tidal masseuse gains aquatic traction at this depth; forget geodesy down here, you and your one tidal gauge beached ashore, useless; “Calme Sur Le Lac” is a ballroom of controlled terror and stately motion under the persistent calm of your heart.

And yet this lake is calmed — mirror-smooth and appropriately associated with revelatory or transgressive tropes (a holding-cell, a seal, a gateway) and underneath it you walk on a basin floor and don’t breathe what will soon be air. Lakes inland — separated from the extreme, intemperate landscape of the ocean — are apart, part isolated incidents that bleed themselves out with slow prestige, draining and draining, and part repercussive connection, buried slow in annealing sediment; a lake is a moment in geologic time like an unforeseen respite, this freak solace held fast some many hundreds of years. Lakes get to be all the time what an ocean is before the storm.

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