It is quite easy to associate excess with transgression, with the dismantling of boundaries and the overcoming of any and all stability. But excess can also mean waste, and waste does not necessarily reflect the magnitude of the operations of a system that is rendering our planet inert – it can be something intimate, small, unnoticeable, like the skin particles that gather around your home and coalesce into dust. Our very selves continually overflow, leaving traces everywhere, the rhythms of our tastes and consumption continuous with the currents traversing the pipes behind our walls and beneath our floors. That kind of waste is not the negation of life, but its extension, marking every moment when we truly settle into the world.
The processes of inclusion and exclusion that determine what is waste and what is not find their elaborate parallels in, for instance, the construction of canons such as the musical one. Only decades later can we contend with the ways in which the haze of musics once deemed garbage have settled, the ways in which the excessiveness of kitsch lingers over years, eventually revealing its contextual dissonance, its old, battered mask disintegrating to reveal a deep acknowledgement of the warmth of the abyss. Fire-Toolz’ aesthetic begins at this point, in which a disposable new age harmony faces the possibility of becoming transcendental in self-immolation; vaporwave’s ironic appropriation is turned on its head, the ash heap of history a landfill of expired lives ready to be welcomed back into the light of our eternally dying sun. The scream (an excess of voice), the jazzy melodrama of late 80s electro-rock (an excess of sentiment), the black metal blastbeat and the paradoxically formulaic guitar solo (an excess of technique and sound), the synthscapes of thoughtfully melancholic moments that seemed to plague soundtracks of all kinds by 1992 (an excess of introspection)… they are all put to use by Fire-Toolz not to evoke the nightmarish cracks of whitewashed nostalgia, but to become the sacrificial subjects of an experimental style that burns away their “core”, leaving only the overabundance, the mixed feelings, the uncanny non-sense, turning them into contradictory vehicles of profound banality.
This Rainbow Bridge is thus a colorful collage connection with the dust, with the gentleness and the aggression required to hear that which we have been constantly told not to. The album centers that clash all the time, the kitsch a counterpoint not to the “high” or the “spiritual” or “non-standard”, not even to itself (as in vaporwave and other avant-garde positions), but to the judgements that give all those inclusions and exclusions shape. To listen to the waste is an experience of both shock and recognition, of alienation and authenticity, its overlap of piercing tones and soothing melodies a startling push towards the worldliness inherent to any and all excess. The contrast-filled fantasy of the Rainbow Bridge, at the end of which lies a kaleidoscopic infinity, seems to be one of acceptance; to accept these experiences of all and nothing, to accept the intuitive knowledge that our lives flow like an ever-expanding sea of detritus. Its magnitude is depthless – it takes a particularly brilliant talent to put all this trash together and trick it into the equally kaleidoscopic illusion of transcendence, only to reveal that it was about us listening, truly listening, to the rhythms of our settling.
I find it significant that a track called “angel (Of Deth)” feels like watching cat videos in a system that barely tolerates life: it brings me closer to an environment founded upon the negation of real joy, and yet it also feels like flying away from it, towards an actual possibility of happiness. And it does so by means of an initially glitchy drone that opens the way for an overly familiar, almost stereotypical late 80s bass melody. By the time the synth flute barges in with a slightly contemplative, slightly sappy sequence, the scene has been set: everything’s (terminally) fine. But then, in the last two minutes, there’s a powerful twist in which the synths grow into a drone and an artificially-sounding woodwind percussion set begins. It stunned and moved me, rooted upon the contrast between the clean-cut sentimentality of the previous parts and the simple, uncertain depth of the drone as heightened by the playful wander of the percussions. Here’s something excessive for you: this angel of deth made me feel loved. If you can accept this, then Rainbow Bridge is for you, because it is for all of us, perpetually shedding skin. (David Murrieta Flores)