‘Intoxicating Porosity’ is a record that does not speak. It clanks, rumbles, falters. Not in the Name of the Father or the religious fervor of the revolution (both attempts to assimilate and constrain the diversity of life into the logic of identity and truth), but to creatively enact a queer assemblage of busted water fountains, microKorgs, Tascam DR-03 field recorders, Staphylococcus epidermidis, traffic signs and aluminum chains, bacterial lips and shredded tobacco leaves. To build and connect; to create conditions under which these historical beings can differentially materialize through their encountering of each other. To let the polymorphous perversity of living and dying critters exhale, touch and resonate in an intimate and messy embrace. For novel bodily abstraction, confusing semiotic toothache, gurgling kinetic rhythm. To sense differently, to think sense differently, to reside in the space of the excluded middle between sense and meaning. Towards experiencing and enacting alternative modes of belonging and living—always together, always multiple. To artistically render Latour’s proposition for a ‘parliament of things,’ (Latour, 2004). ‘Intoxicating Porosity’ is multispecies, naturalcultural, genderfuck and unassimilable.
Recording is itself a kind of capture that stabilizes and makes claims about a collective’s acoustic essence. It is a process through which a continuously transforming dynamic relationality occurring within and creating space-time is rendered static, frozen, defined and heard as such. The record’s essentializing tendencies, however, are interrupted when it is re-introduced into the acoustic flux through its dissemination (i.e. with mp3’s, C.D.’s, whathaveyou), an act that, through the playing back in different contexts or ecologies of relation, accumulates different vectors of sense and meaning, thereby changing in kind. Repetition or playing back is never simply replication; you can never listen to the same record twice because a record cannot be definitively bounded and contained. There is no record as such. Listening always takes place within an ecology of sound, with other beings that caw, groan and wheeze. To assume a strict demarcation between a ‘musical’ interiority and a ‘noise-y’ exteriority is to fail to take into account the ‘total field of sound,’ (Cage, 1960) of which a ‘musical’ event is but one part. It is a reduction of the highest sort. A record’s attempt to delineate and spatialize the boundary between itself and the world is undone through the contextual nature of listening and sounding.
Strange words for a record anchored in large part by the human voice. Strange indeed for a record that sublimates the strange and bizarre under the logic of 20th century Western harmonic conventions, whose songs structurally resemble classical heteronormative rock and roll. Strange for a record that utilizes techniques (the tactile engagement of the body via sub bass frequencies, a focus on the development of timbres, tones and textures) who’s dominant mode is in the service of re-enforcing regimes of depoliticization, consumption and heteronormative pleasure.
In many ways, it is a re-hashing of the strategies utilized by the 20th century avant-garde, albeit in an altogether different historical milieu. It is nothing new. Take a dominant trope and stand it on its head. Push it to its extreme limit and listen as it collapses on itself. Giggle as its self-proclaimed naturalness and necessity crumbles. Poach, re-contextualize, disidentify, appropriate. Other worlds and altogether different sensory experiences are possible and realizable. To make ‘the familiar strange, and the strange familiar,’ so that (for example, in the work of John Cage) the taken-for-granted self-imposed boundaries of what constitutes ‘music’ are recognized as an historically contingent regime and organization of sensory experience, one whose dominance is coming to a close. The very tools that work to stabilize and constrain the identity, meaning and essence of the acoustic collective are, paradoxically, the best way to articulate an immanent critique of the material and ideological conditions under which they produce and hold fast a particular (depoliticized, aneathesiztized, hedonized, comsumed, immobilized) kind of acoustic public. Other paths, other lines, other vectors of actualization are possible; ‘Intoxicating Porosity’ seeks out and follows these alternative articulations in the hopes that it might impact and engage bodies in a different way. Oppositional, perhaps, but always with the aim of building something else, even when mercury is the method. Alchemical and processual, not dialectical (ha!).
‘Intoxicating Porosity’ is an amalgamation, a congealing that brings together Judith Butler, Drake, Pierre Schaeffer, Claire Costello, Hank Williams, Cameron Lampert, Linda Perhacs, Martha Kenney, Zac Gunter, Cornelius Cardew, Vaginia Ludwigia, John Cage, Gabe Schwartzman, Julia Kristeva, Nadia Lucia Peralta, Lemon Kittens, the Zombies, Alfred North Whitehead, Danny Lewis, Leviathan, MF Doom, Dale Pendell, Burial, Meg Perret, Bertoldt Brecht, Rita Pavone, Boredoms, Ciara, Henri Bergson, Bennet Koss, Tera Melos, Maps and Atlases, Gottfried Wilhelm Hegel, Justin William White, Broadcast, Chris Cohen, Charles Bronson, Anna Tsing, the Everly Brothers, Beyonce, Rory Baerga, Animal Collective, Brian Massumi, Black Dice, James Miller, Michel Foucault, the Velvet Underground, Jean-luc Nancy, J Dilla, Mike Megill, Alicia Granados, George Jones, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Ben Mabie, Bruno Latour, Theocharis Roussos, Connor Lopez, Marisol, Swans, Jacob Richards, Karl Marx, the Books, Gary Snyder, To Live and Shave in L.A., Elena Staley, Gilles Deleuze, and Donna Haraway to eat and shit at the same table. Luke Robbins taught me how to write songs, Hudson Glover taught me how to record, and Alli Yates showed me ways to live and care in the messy, inchoate worlds we inhabit. Daniel Shubat provided constant intellectual curiosity, remarkable piano work, emotional support and invaluable friendship. Tessa Shippy is a secretly mad talented artist and all-around badass. Noah Rhoads exposed me to the wonders of experimental black metal and psychoanalysis. Karen Barad is a generous and thoughtful guide through the dense thicket that is contemporary radical philosophy. Jack Ryan expanded my sense of the possibilities of art and music through his wild improvisational auditory articulations. Sara Sol made me think about movement, gesture, the politics of jargon/accessibility and the potential of a joyous, creative life. These folks continuously teach me how to think and engage in new ways, and for that I am grateful. I apologize for the clarity, confusion and mess. All misunderstandings, mistakes and stupidities are my own.
~ian b., a former musician, established debt pirate and genderqueer heretic
released December 14, 2013