White Out w/ Jim O’Rourke & Thurston Moore: Senso

Written By:

David Morris

19th November 2009
At 12:41 GMT

0 comment(s)

Our correspondent wades into the Avant Blancmange to deal an ineffective deathblow with the logic shield and the sword of meaning.

As year end lists become a predominant concern I find myself wanting to choose releases like this, if anything they at least illustrate the personal/musical chaos that $ tries to formulate into some cogent order of lifestyle choices. I may only be 10 minutes into the first track (two discs, two tracks) but I know what kind of garblewank will ensue and I’m happy to hear it right now.

It sounds like everything you’re currently downloading being converted into music before it gets from the phoneline to your harddrive: the music, the emails, the adverts, the whole bevy of nonsense all at once being rammed down your throat. Right now I would rather engage with it this way, shocked and appalled by my generation’s inability to see through the hollow, shapeless Barbie Groin that is the Internet.

It’s not music, no, God Forbid, it’s nonsense made by professional nonsense makers in a nonsense friendly venue where it was recorded live, as it actually happened. I’m writing about it because it got sent to me in a bag of cool stuff from Ecstatic Peace! (MV/EE, Hush Arbors, Samara Lubelski, Little Claw) and I felt like the books needed balancing. After so much cool stuff (seriously, go catch the positive vibes) I felt the need to balance the books. But now I’m here, engaged in a prolonged shrug of verbage, I’m actually enjoying it. Or am I?

Thing is, the conditions that lead to my enjoyment aren’t ones I hope repeat themselves soon. So I’m all fraidy cat that this will read like an endorsement of listening to fucked music while thinking that everything’s fucked. Other people might hear it as a Grade A Love Trip, but I don’t. To me is a caterwauling sprawl of what people who have been near the edge imagine that going over the edge sounds like.

The It’s not music! It is Music! It doesn’t matter if it’s music or not! non-argument seems to hinge on a few factors:

Whether you get a hit from identifying the skill with which the musicians in question pretend not to have any actual musical skill

Whether weird synth sounds in conjunction with someone fucking around with the guitar (with the settings on the amp really deftly configured like) and a drummer doing very excellent drummery things when they feel like it, rather than when it fits into rhythmic convention…

Yeah, whether all that floats your boat on it’s own merit, elicits ancient visions, fits in with your current aversion to cohesion, fits in you’re your current inability to follow cohesive music, fits in with your desperate need to learn the lore of The Knights Templar of Free Jazz and their subsequent Bastard Offspring. Something like that. Am I wrong? Special moments where it all comes together? David Lynch’s Transcendental Meditation Channel? I’d be interested to hear from you all.

Ok so around the thirtieth minute of disc one things reach a peak of sorts, but I’m still wanting to go off and look at Warren Zevon videos on Youtube. It’s not that I have no attention span, but my taste seems to be re-awakening from it’s Indie Induced Slumber. Girls? What a pile of shite. Speaking of Warren Zevon, Jim O’Rourke is playing on this release. Did you see that bit on the extras of Grizzly Man, the short film about Richard Thompson doing the soundtrack? See the bit where Jim O’Rourke starts doing something silly and fiddly and Thompson casts a certain kind of glance?

During the last five minutes I can hear people howling, I like that, it makes the rest sound better. It’s the best five minutes. Is it all about getting to those five minutes? A ceremony without which the sacrament could not be administered? It’s not that good! It’s just ok, and probably would’ve sounded pretty cool if they’d chopped it out and stuck it on an album with some songs.

Right, let’s have a gander at disc two (this isn’t my first listen, but while I’m venturing this far we may as well come back by a different route), make sure I don’t make a twat out of myself and they don’t burst into something cool after a few more minutes of professional nonsense. Bear with me…

3:11 – Clanger Noises, pitch-bent aggro guitar in middle distance, drum rolls and stick based jiggerypokery.

5:57 – Sudden Weird Splurge, some Theremin that sounds like it should be used to soundtrack a radio play.

8:01 – Actual High End Pain, well done, I’m uncomfortable. It’s really opened my mind, you fuckwits.

19:11 – Still no music…

31:38 – …

The reason I sound so antagonistic is this: I’m thinking that there’s more than a few people who regard a dismissal of this type of release as fascistic, emanating from a kneejerk fear of deconstruction. I don’t think so myself. I guess I’m looking at this with a wartime mentality, music as a precious raw material. Instead of welding whatever shit we find together into one massive lump (however indulgently fun for the makers and with whatever interesting curves within and the like) I’m frustrated that people who have proved they have a degree of skill aren’t spending their time making something that could actually convey a listener somewhere, rather than lead to either an Anything Goes trip or a Static Unending Battle with my own chaos.

I’m not afraid of witnessing chaos (okay, I am, but I’m not denying it’s there), I just don’t need it amplified by a load of noise. And I’m not going to thank it for making the quiet sound so sweet.

Rating:  2 / 10

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