Athens, Georgia's pacificUV has released their album After The Dream You Are Awake on Mazarine Records and today they challenge life's ideals and expectations, for a much more dynamic, cycling reality of nuances within the human existence. With selections from UV's Clay Jordan, Laura Solomon, and Lemuel Hayes; we observe our condition and state of consciousness beginning first from an astronaut's objective perspective of our planet.
Lemuel: There's a plethora of things happening in all of this video of people talking about viewing Earth from space. Initially, it's about reality versus expectation. We can build up ideals of things but the actual reality is usually so much more nuanced. No one thing in human existence can be boiled down to a single idea. Everything is dynamic, cycling through glorious and terrifying and completely mad, to the point of being overwhelming. The Earth is a strong, yet frail biosphere tearing through space and one day we'll all see it that way. That shift is happening. I can see it culturally in AXE commercials, the Mass Effect Trilogy, and Star Trek. One day we'll get our shit together and realize we have better things to do than hate another human for whatever stupid reason is the flavor of the week. We are all just made of stardust and so is the Earth.
2. Omni, Suzanne Ciani (Welcome to Xenon!)
Laura: Red fingernails. Oh my god. Those perfectly manicured little fingernails pressing buttons, inserting data, quarters into slots. For those who delight in the nostalgia of the futuristic, this video is a great follow-up to Overview. This old talk-show clip charting sexy electronic composer Suzanne Ciani’s fashioning of music for a pinball machine (“her instruments are synthesizers, her vocabulary, reverb, delay, amplitude!”) commences in a television studio seemingly already situated in outer-space to explore the outlying erotics of electricity and the female voice before returning to male-dominated planet Earth via a gigantic chip. “In the future, women with sound chips in their earrings will listen to Beethoven's symphonies!” The sexism throughout this video is so hilarious that it might actually be preventative.
3. Eileen Myles reads “An American Poem”
Laura: So please just ignore or ironically lap up the weird tacked-on clip that prefaces the performance that made the poet Eileen Myles famous, as if any American poet could be. No, but Eileen really is. Here, she appears as a Kennedy to reminds us that we are all Kennedys, and that “if art is the highest and most honest form of communication of our time” and the young artist can no longer afford to move to our nation’s epicenters of art (sure she could fifteen years ago, she recounts in 1991, referring to NYC, but now?), then in deep shit aren’t we all? Twenty some odd years later, her tongue-in-cheek critique rings all the more relevant, even eerily so, addressing income inequality, unaffordable healthcare, homosexual rights, women’s rights. When Myles asks the question “how are your teeth today?” I think what she’s really asking is: who is your president? And I don’t think she’s inviting you to respond with anybody’s name.
4. Sigur Ros video, “Fjogur Piano”
Clay: It's hard enough to make a great video, maybe even more difficult when it is for an ambient piano track that is eight and a half minutes long. But from the moment this video starts, it is mesmerizing, otherworldly, abject but hopeful, beautiful and tragic. It's hard to know exactly what is happening, but I think it deals with the constant love/hate dichotomy that exists in so many intimate relationships: we often wound the ones we love most, apologize and make up, only to repeat this cycle again. The dancing mixed in is very understated and elegant, and the entire video has such a delicacy to it. I can't help but tear up every time I see this and wish that more videos were willing to be this vulnerable. Sigur Ros are truly a great band more interested in making art than catering to commercial whims and this video is a testament to that.
5. The Distance Between 0 and 1
Lemuel: Jojo Mayer is a mind-boggling drummer; a master technician. Mayer is a long-time jazzer and was a well-known fusion drummer for a number of years, but then something happened. The drum & bass bug bit him hard and his focus shifted. Drummers, more than most other musicians, have felt the effects of technology on their musical form. Drum machines and programmed beats are all temporally perfect, but that is their limitation as well: perfect. Feel and tones are much harder to replicate in a digital form, so there still exists this separation between live and programmed drums. Mayer's quest to reverse-engineer beats allowed him to find his human limitations and find his place in the distance between 0 and 1, the yes and no of computer talk. I think about this a great deal in my personal playing because, aside from pacificUV, I play for a number of more folky acts. There's such a strange mental position to occupy when I do both gigs on the same night, but I find the challenge deepens my understanding of myself, my playing, and my statement as an artist.