Last year, SØVN Records offered us a tape encased in a concrete block; to access the music, one had to break it (or use the download code). This year, designer Le Kutsch returns with a new concept: each of the 27 cassettes is embedded in a piece of foam (easier to remove this time), cut from a larger block from which some pieces will remain. In like fashion, the theme of Incandenza is fracture, specifically “a multitude of views.” The music follows suit: jagged, as if pieces of songs had been cut from a larger piece, scrambled and reassembled in a manner that forms an outline yet implies missing pieces. One song in particular, the outlying “Down, Motherfucker, Down,” was initially found on the Seagrave compilation Interpretosis, glued in place despite the fact that it doesn’t quite fit, as it contains the EP’s only words. But it fits the theme.
“No one cares about reality anymore.” This is the opening title, a stark commentary on the current sociopolitical climate, infected by “post-truth” and “alternative facts.” The track flutters about like a spastic moth trying to avoid death while mating with a light bulb. It’s a short track, and it dies young, casting a pall over the project. The moth ~ the truth ~ didn’t make it. Across the EP, Guybrush (one third of the SØVN collective) offers drones, crunches and seemingly random beats, on “Malevich” the clacking of a passing train. “Les Assassins en Fauteuils Roulants” is built on a bank of synthesized, organ-like vowels, no words being offered: instead, splintered language. The artist calls it a collage, but it’s more like broken glass.
What happens when we try to piece together what we have shattered? The Jews call this tikkun olam, but that’s when it’s done right, with kindness and love. Incandenza offers a bleaker vision, imagining that we might try to shove all the pieces back together, ruining even more in the process. In “Pausa,” the breakage takes literal form as the smashing of objects is heard. There’s still beauty in the harshness, but it’s a cold beauty, one that we’ve learned to love, not instinctive but accepting. If the damage will never be repaired, perhaps we can embrace the damage as a new form of art. To own this recording is to own a piece of a puzzle, forever incomplete, a rough yet accurate reflection of our current dilemma. (Richard Allen)