(etre) - I Can't Take My Head To See HIGHER Becouse The Sky Is Landing Over My Neck

Tuesday, January 15 2008 @ 01:00 AM PST

Contributed by: S:M:J63

Genre: Glitch / Noise / Ambient / Minimalist / Drone

01 Endstation Palindromes (For Angus MacLise)
02 Music For Nobody And YOU (For Jackson Pollock)

During the past few months I have been finding myself gravitating towards the glitchy/experimental/droney end of the underground musical spectrum and I have been waiting for a chance to review something in this field – and that day has finally arrived with this offering from Salvatore Borelli’s (etre), the debut release on his Riz(h)ome records imprint. This disc, with the unwieldy title of “I can’t take my head to see HIGHER becouse the sky is landing over my neck” (including the deliberate glitch in the spelling of because), is nicely presented in handmade packaging (and available in seven different covers) and in an edition of 200, and is dedicated to two artists – Angus MacLise, one of the original members of the Velvet Underground (where he played bongos and drums), artist, composer, mystic, Crowleyite, poet and shaman; and Jackson Pollock, the American abstract-expressionist painter made famous by his ‘drip and slash’ style of painting and alcoholism. Using a wide variety of instrumentation, including such traditional items as both lap steel and electric guitars, esraj (an Indian instrument similar to a sitar but bowed instead of plucked), zither, shruti box (portable reed organ producing sustained drones) and kalimba (also known as an African thumb piano) together with voice & field recordings and laptop processing, Borelli brings us two extended tracks that display a wide spectrum of sonic treatments in bewildering array.

And bizarrely enough, for me anyway, each of these tracks is actually redolent of their dedicatees. Track one, dedicated as it is to MacLise, reminded me very much in parts of the Velvet Underground, with its use of drone passages, bursts of primitive percussion and apparent shambolic improvisation. Its initial stuttering start yields to much more prolonged and sustained passages, utilising voice, instrumentation and percussion, complemented with bursts of treated noise until finally the drone cuts through all to provide a canvas on which random glitchiness is painted. There is a strangely sacred feel to this, and this is entirely appropriate given that MacLise himself was of a mystical bent, as towards the end of his life he began bringing together eastern streams of mysticism (especially since his travels had finally brought him to the magical kingdom of Nepal) and transcendent music. This clever alternating of chaotic and ordered elements seems very much to sum up the course of MacLise’s life, at least what I have read of it.

The structure of the second track is much more of a slow evolution, from the chaotic to the ordered, which seems to reflect how Pollock’s paintings could be viewed. Pollock used a random method of painting, dripping the paint onto a canvas affixed to the floor and then manipulating the medium in a completely random fashion – likewise the piece starts by using random voices, staggered repetitions, juxtapositions and manipulations. However, given the propensity for the human brain to reject chaos and to inject order into disorder, the track echoes this quality of the mind by slowly bringing the element of structure to bear by the gradual introduction of such things as a steady glitch beat, drones and sounds derived from field recordings. Finally, after the build-up, the conclusion, the unveiling of the pattern, using a simple percussive kalimba figure backing up the sweet drone of the esraj and guitar feedback, before ending in a brief episode of randomicity. It’s quite a moving piece, and quite a fitting tribute to one of the most important painters of the twentieth century.