An odd note about experimental music: we often support an artist’s desire to go all-out atonal avant-garde, dissonance shrieking from warring strings, once we know that the artist doesn’t have to go this route. In other words, once an artist proves that he is perfectly capable of performing amazingly melodic, intelligent music, we realize that the experimentation is truly experimentation rather than the weirdness of an untrained dilettante. This is what makes Supreme Happiness Forever such a fun release; it’s a C-20 that drops like an M-80.
Imagine being introduced to a new person and punching them before shaking their hand. Or in a kinder sense, meeting an attractive person and frenching them before saying hello. With only 20 minutes to work with, Troy Schafer (Rain Drinkers, Burial Hex) doesn’t have time for niceties. “The Breath of Life Is But a Kiss” takes a single second to introduce itself as an amplified, unoiled barn door thrust back and forth between two lawnmowers. Woah. But it’s not all noise; there’s devilish intention behind the clash and gnarl. On the surface, the bow is dragging willy-nilly, but underneath, the real action is unfurling like a snake that has just finished digesting. When the transition occurs in the sixth minute, the listener is caught completely off guard; it’s not until subsequent plays that one can hear it coming. At this point, dual violin patterns edge and swirl around each other, creating a crater of enormous beauty.
“Hail, True Body” is even better, a single piece that bursts with multiple genres. First, there’s the bell, a charming start that leads to a Disney-like introduction, replete with trumpet fanfare. Where did this come from? The modern classical piece then shakes off its straightjacket and redefines itself as drone, albeit drone with a komische smudge. Then Moroder moves in; it’s “The Chase”, updated. Six minutes in, the tone turns ambient; okay, that’s where it stops mutating, right? Nope. Just as the track seems ready to dry out, choral chants enter the mix – a dab of meditative music, reaching for the heavens, supreme happiness forever. This cassette travels further in 20 minutes than most people would believe possible. So yes, Troy, go as crazy as you want, because we know it’s not crazy. (Richard Allen)