Intoxicating Porosity

by Bourgeois Speedball

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about

‘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.

Sincerely,
~ian b., a former musician, established debt pirate and genderqueer heretic

credits

released December 14, 2013

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Bourgeois Speedball Oakland, California

Bourgeois Speedball lives in ruins. Sculpting compositions from crumbling synthesizers, samplers, and the soundscapes of Bay Area rebellions, Bourgeois Speedball organizes sound within the decaying oikos of globalized neoliberalism.

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Track Name: Foundational Mythologies (Identity, Meaning, Essence) feat. Cameron Lampert
while we laid in the sun for a while
and the skin did melt off your face
nothing vanished
our troubles they just piled
up until they
swallowed up this place

but if its alright
alright with you
i would like to
stay a little while
if it's alright
alright with you
i could stay here
even as the sea
swallows me

tried to keep my heart from the world
tried to keep my
self upon a little island
even as the
kodachrom swirl
washed out the ground
from beneath where i was standing

but if its alright
alright with you
i would like to
stay a little while
if it's alright
alright with you
i could stay here
even as the sea
swallows me

could it be
that this little phantasy
is repeated endlessly?
in a time when each seeks to be
theirs and theirs alone
theirs and theirs alone
alone

but if its alright
alright with you
i would like to
stay a little while
if it's alright
alright with you
i could stay here
even as the sea
swallows me
Track Name: Curling 'Round my Ticklish Tongue
on a rainy day much like today
a shoestring hammer fell on from the sky, oh boy,
and curled its strings around a falling water drop
and placed itself within my ticklish tongue, oh boy

could it be that two hearts could melt into one?
could it be that two hearts could melt into one?
lah dee dah dah dah do do

on a sunken day much like today
a crumbling flows within an oblong mistiness
and turned the beach beneath the streets to solid gold
and sold itself as such to dying crackling foals

could it be that two hearts could melt into one?
could it be that two hearts could melt into one?

lah dee dah dah dah do do
Track Name: Powers of Horror/Song for Rory
even in the light
where everything is known
even in the light
there lies a wound that cant be closed
even in the day
where objects stand as such
every border drawn will never seem to be enough

sometime there's love
but mostly there;s pain x2

the body retches at the sight of unclean hands
you find revolting what you cannot

even in the home
where all your needs are met
even in the home
there lurks the fear that cannot rest
and all that you have loved
and hold so close to you
there would be disgust and a hatred pure and true

sometimes there's love
but mostly there;s pain x2

the fingers grasp for words that lend some clarity
a distance that would give you respite from this shit

terror, terror, the absolute
terror, terror the absolute terror
of living in

sometimes there's love
but mostly there;s pain
Track Name: Derrick Jensen Haunts Ray Kurzweil's Fever Dreams
and all the people that you have
known and loved will surely die
like autumn leaves that once were
green but fall on from the sky

even in the ocean
where a starfish slops
even in the ocean
all will come undone

"don't bother me now i'm just sleeping'
don't bother me i'm not here
don't bother me now i'm just sleeping
don't bother me i'm not here'"

and all the places that had held
your memories now are gone
some factories and restaurants
have replaced the water front

even in the deserts
where the succulents grow
even in the deserts
all will come undone

"don't bother me now i'm just sleeping'
don't bother me i'm not here
don't bother me now i'm just sleeping
don't bother me i'm not here'"

how will you live
when you cannot face death
how will you break bread
when your body breaks down
how will you sleep
when i haunt your dreams
Track Name: Lucia/Riviera/Scabies Highway
tossed a pinecone back
to your outstretched hand
and asked what could it be
to name it essentially
for now and now forever more

to that which is my life
to that which is my debt
to that which is the gift
to all that makes my breath

on a sunken beach
all covered with plastic grey shit
how i loved you then
holding hands too drunk to fuck
again

to that which is my life
to that which is my debt
to that which is the gift
to all that makes my breath

on a moonlit night
where the fire's dying light
by the train track rocks
too young to be too weary

to that which is my life
to that which is my debt
to that which is the gift
to all that makes my breath
Track Name: The Two of us are Fading Things
the two of us are fading things beneath the swarm
haunted by the background noise that you could never seem to sublimate
within your understanding

in an ocean of light
in an ocean of death
in an ocean of noise
in an ocean of breath

waiting for meaning to come
from above
you hold your breath
but you
wont find it here
no you wont find it here

(noise break)

the two of us are blooming things among the heap
swimming towards the pulsing mob
that just would always seem to congregate
within a coalescence

in an ocean of light
in an ocean of death
in an ocean of noise
in an ocean of breath

standing within the sands
while the moon curves down below but you
wont find it here
no you
wont find it here

noise interludex@2

the two of us are fading things amongst the swarm
haunted by the background noise that you could never seem to sublimate
within your understanding
Track Name: Suspended Step (of the Real)
in the mud of an abstract room
all hands gather in the dust
in the light of a strangers phone
four eyes meet the twilights musk

dying for connection
dying for a touch
dying not to feel
in your own skin

in the buzz of a chainsaw's cry
you hear music of another kind
in the clack of a train track's sigh
too much pleasure for one of us

now everything is changed
only shards remain
to be picked apart
now everything is changed
only shards remain
to be picked apart

dying for connection
dying for a touch
dying not to feel
in your own skin

in the murk of the L.A. sprawl
fingers move towards satellites
in the dusk of an ending day
tears fall down below your waist
now everything is changed
only shards remain
to be picked apart
Track Name: Composite #1
1. Aleatory Music as a Critical-Poetic Practice
This project is, first and foremost, an attempt to think critically and historically about how and why we interact with urban environments in the ways ‘we’ do, with the intention and hope of developing new ways of thinking and interacting with the world around us that might be more radical politically, ecologically and ethically. We noticed that our interactions with the great majority of nonhumans in urban environments reduced those actors to their functionality, and only one particular function at that: a metal railing becomes only a risk-management tool, a stop-sign only a member of a network of traffic technologies, a plastic cup only a receptacle for water. These habits of thinking and acting are so commonplace, so much a part of everyday life, that they have become ingrained into our psyche and largely escape notice. It seemed to us that this reduction was extremely ideological in character, both in that the particular functions these objects are reduced to potentiate the capitalist mode of production and in the ways that this reduction becomes an unconscious structure that governs the ways we interact with these nonhuman others. The question that arises from this observation bifurcates into two levels or modes: a) how and why did this come about and b) how can ‘we’ think with and engage urban environments in ways that subvert the ideological organization of human-nonhuman relations?
As musicians/sound designers/would-be philosophers, it seemed that sound and music was one way in which we could critically engage with these problems. On the first level, the din of contemporary cities is so loud, pervasive and normal that it escapes our attention. It has become normalized. It’s simply ‘the way things are.’ The average noise level of a midsize suburban town like Santa Cruz is around 60-65 decibels during the daytime. As such, the possibility of things being different or even the more modest goal of changing how we interact with our environment can seem almost impossible. One way we have been engaging these questions is through the critical-poetic practice of field recording. Thinking of this kind of sound (the sound of sitting in a crowded bus, for example) as music through the practice of field recording does three things:
• it makes the listener consciously perceive and pay attention to that which is normally registered unconsciously and taken for granted
• rendering what we normally think of (if we think it at all) as background noise music makes the listener engage with these sounds in a different mode; it changes the quality of their relation with the sound
• moving through environments thinking about potentially recordable sounds changes the ways in which we engage nonhuman actors in a way that subverts the ideological organization of human-nonhuman relations that relegates and defines nonhumans in purely functional terms. Thinking of these actors sonic potentiality makes us move through spaces in a completely different way, changing both who we interact with, why we interact with them, and how we interact with them

This kind of practice takes its inspiration from John Cage, a 20th century modernist composer who tried to think of music in a new way. Whereas previous composers worked exclusively with musical instruments for their compositions, he attempted to work with things we would normally categorize as ‘noise.’ He writes in Silence: Lectures and Writings that “whereas, in the past, the point of disagreement has been between dissonance and consonance, it will be, in the immediate future, between noise and so-called musical sounds,” (Cage, 4). The sound of a bus or footsteps clacking in an abandoned warehouse become potential elements in a musical score in a way that challenges the distinction between ‘noise’ and ‘music.’ Additionally, Cage attempted to make space within his compositions through the use of silence for ‘extra-musical’ musical elements, such as the sounds of the environment where the performance was taking place. We sampled his notion of what can count as music in our attempt to make something wild, unexpected and worthwhile. Later I will address how we are using his concept of music and, significantly, where we disagree with him.
The second concept we sampled from Cage is the notion of ‘chance composition’ or what some (and I prefer this due to its more historical/ politicized valence) have called ‘aleatory music’. Aleatory music tries to use the concept of chance to compose pieces. Chance is incorporated in a variety of ways: one could use chance as a way to determine the particular values of a given variable. One could, for example, decide to write a piece using the variable ‘dynamics’ and then determine its value through a chance operation. The most famous is example is Cage use the I-Ching, a Chinese text used to divine the future, to determine the values of some of the variables in his compositions. An overriding concept (dynamics) is chosen and then its potential permutations/manifestations make up the piece. Another way chance is incorporated is to leave the notation of a given work open to the interpretations of the performer. An example of this is, in lieu of a notated musical score, a composer would give a performer some written instructions (i.e. ‘move the hand as fast as physically possible’) that they were then free to interpret. Thus, the piece is open to chance because it is different every single time.
This kind of practice (making aleatory music from field recordings), for ‘us’, inevitably leads to historical questions concerning why we, at this particular historical juncture, encounter the particular sounds and objects that we do, in the ways that we do, and it is here where we part from Cage and his contemporaries. They failed to inquire into the historical conditions of possibility for their engagements and interactions with the sounds that surrounded them, and thus fell into a deeply depoliticized avant-garde-ism. Our experiments are mediated through the histories of colonization and the rise of industrial capitalism, through structural violence in the form of on-going institutionalized racism, classism and sexism, to name in a very general way but a few of the ways in which our access to sound is non-innocent. They thus failed to see the most radical form of chance and indeterminacy that is at the heart of every musical composition/sound: that the auditory encounter, in its particularity, historical contingency, and politics, ‘took hold’ (Althusser) in the first place.
Moving through spaces with a field recorder becomes a critical, in addition to poetic, practice only if we historicize our aleatory encounters with particular sounds. It is through this recognition of historical contingency, through the deeply situated way in which a situation arises for a sound to be felt and recorded, that aleatory music takes on a political cadence. The point in moving through spaces in this way is to engage critically with everyday life, to “ regard everyday life as the frontier between the dominated and the undominated sectors of life… [and] to work ceaselessly toward the organization of new chances,” (Debord, 1961) as Guy Debord notes. It is to think through, in the medium of sound, the possibility of making other worlds in the present through our concrete practices, of the possibility of a life without dead time. We are in the business of creating the conditions of possibility for chance encounters to occur and to recognize the potential for the rupture of the restlessly new to emerge in everyday life. Part of this work is to render the everyday strange through turning the everyday into music in order to expose the possibility of a new way engaging with those environments where resistance seems most hopeless.
Track Name: Mastery
in the master's sight
where our bodies must bend
an isolated mind contemplates itself
dreaming of purity
dreaming of flight
dreaming of vision
dreaming of light
in the yawning dusk
where the globe melts away
a crumbling fog that would swallow us whole
dreaming of platypus
dreaming of might
dreaming of scarecrows
dreaming of night

in the mottled land
where love's body is burned
by phallic hands who can never seem to understand
burning with gases
burning with doubt
burning with emptiness
burning without
on the river's edge
where the bank turns to slime
form is sly illusion for life changing in kind
falling with minerals
falling with grime
falling with emptiness
falling with mind

reify the body where you found it
don't think twice
just ask not what you do
just say not what you feel

reify the unknown into a price
to be paid and made and undone
and silence now to always cry