Monday, October 29, 2012

Brian M. Clark - Songs From The Empty Places Where People Killed Themselves 12” EP (Discriminate Audio)

This is an exercise in program music – four instrumental songs crafted to impart thematic intent upon the listener. I don’t know how they did this back in the golden days of orchestra, in the pit/pre-pit, but the exposition found on this EP leaves little room for error. The track list on Songs contains even more explicit subtext. For example, “Suburban Bedroom (A Pretty Young Girl Swallows A Bottle Of Pills For Reasons That Would Have Seemed Stupid In Retrospect, Had She Lived)”. I want to frame the declamatory nature of this with “Death of the Author” and the assertive naiveté of abstract painting, but again, the margins here are narrow, even for my esoteric criticism (itty-bitty). Moreover, considering the source, this record is more genuine, more direct, than a didactic monolith for darkness’s sake. Suicide is a rote walk in contention park next to Brian M. Clark’s oeuvre of overtly deviant-themed artwork, anti-books, and nihilistic sucker punches.

He is Boyd Rice’s biographer, a Modern Drunkard and, as evident in the smack he laid down on Henry Rollins in the Denver Syntax, and his skepticism at large, possibly the closest thing to the counter-alternative that Peter Schjeldahl promised us in 1978. Maybe it is just the lighting (or, the critical thinking I pine for) but it renders this EP an anachronistic head-scratcher nonetheless. I cannot conjure vignettes of disparaging fools while listening to this album, even with the complimentary lines of mind fluffer. If anything, it’s Heck Harvey’s “Carnival of Souls,” minus the machinations of vertigo, until the “cafeteria” portion of “High School Library, Gymnasium and Cafeteria (A Fat Nerd Finally Brings His Guns To School),” and it becomes more like “why was he fucking around on a church organ this whole time when he can play guitar like that?” Clearly, the concept does not cater to how an immersive listener typically experiences music. But in this culturally bankrupt landscape in which we find ourselves, consumers are the most broke of all. Interpretation? They accept donations. It all checks out. And here I thought the record was gonna wavy-bowl itself! (Like, put itself in the oven… give us the ol’ bell jar…SYLVIA PLATH KILLED HERSELF.)
-Elizabeth Murphy

-from Still Single, Dusted Magazine