Many moons have passed since we’ve seen a handmade art zine, but that’s exactly what one receives with the physical copy of Entropy. The 25-minute piece originally accompanied an exhibit of Lauren Crazybull’s fine art, excerpts of which are included in the package. The only downside: since the zine is sewn, one must bend the pages open a bit in order to see the faces hidden inside. But perhaps that’s a metaphor for both the music and the Blackfoot and Dene: Native American tribes whose heritages have been swept under the rug.
Entropy is a tale of two halves, one abstract and the other measured. The early part of the piece contains wandering drones, which occasionally recede in order to make room for shorter bursts. These bursts grow louder, thicker and more insistent a third of the way in, as if the consciousness is under attack. The press release explains that life “begins with infinite possibility” but marches toward the “singular disorder of death”. Not a very cheerful scenario. So it’s a surprise to encounter the gentle turn the piece takes at approximately the 13-minute mark, introducing a series of lovely ambient layers, intimating that perhaps in between the two chaotic bookends of life and death, one might find a little peace. This seems more an arc than entropy per se, but the appeal of an instrumental track is not in the words, and this music insists on telling its own story.
The listener is free to interpret the message in at least two ways. Either life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” (Hobbes) or life is beautiful, even more so due to its transitory nature (wabi-sabi). If for example one believes that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, or that there is more nobility in a failed attempt than in a lack of effort, then one will gravitate to the second interpretation. Those who believe that everything is falling apart or that the world is going to hell will prefer the first. Perhaps some listeners will say, “nice piece, but did you have to ruin it with that pretty section?” while others will say, “what’s with all the drone?” The truth is, life is mixed, yin and yang, and even if the strings are eventually subside, for a brief period their light broke through the clouds. If we recall their light after it is gone, did entropy win, or was its victory only Pyrrhic? (Richard Allen)