“The happy accidentee is never happy at the moment”
This is an excerpt from one of the six cards included in the very thoughtfully arranged and constructed release of “My Deed Is Love”. The line makes me think of the process of field-recording, Souto’s main tool of creation as 156. The first time I had ever done anything of the sort, I was walking around the city of Vernon, California at night with a former friend who happened to have a high-quality digital recorder/mic thing at the moment. It was fun, coming across an unfurling of sound that lends itself to manipulation… or perhaps just some fine-tuning. Whatever the case, the real happiness comes when that material has been given new life, perhaps a project is completed. Personally, this journalist doesn’t believe in accidents. I don’t think the artist does either. The true essence of things is not something lost on Adel.
But some ideas are best left alone when they are somehow meaningful in an embryonic stage; Adel states that the tracks on “My Deed Is Love” are sound experiments. For what they are, they are still 156, but a more degenerated version. Sequence and rhythm have been close to abandoned, traded in for mood and poignancy. The DVD portion of the package explores themes like visual noise, as in “Staring at the Ground”, as well as having a sort of NeoBeat moment with the destruction of poetry believed inferior by Mr. S, and a very well-directed, romanticized vision of the New York Subway, only lightly dredging in its implied dystopian nature. And then there’s a tape. The tape is cool too…
One of the things that has driven me closer to Adel and his work is his natural mysticism. Beneath the swagger, the cynical exterior of a cultural terrorist, there is a man who is connected to many things unseen. This gives everything he does more dimension, replete with meaning and maybe even some emotion. There is an odd sense of nostalgia with all three items being reviewed here. With the tracks on the disc, the impression is that of a regression, but one that serves to gratify a need to escape the confines of composition, and we all know there are many. This disc is the main representation of how duplicitous this release really is.
The thing is called what it’s called, but it has to be the most apathetic work of Adel’s, the most distant-sounding. The tracks labeled Industrial Dub are simple two-layer recordings of various heavy-industry settings/occurances, while the others, like “Knife Play” are a step into sound manipulation, not just sound processing or treatment. Each track has a corresponding card of cryptic poetry, save for the dubs, who share one. It feels like Noise for Noise’s sake, but it also feels like Adel is going somewhere else, like he’s a bit drunk and doesn’t want to fill you in on just every detail just yet. I guess that also covers the tension coming out of it, too.
The tape; Frontyard / Backyard is in the same territory of exploration, but a more literal territory: His. A professionally manufactured cassette, it stacks on side A a day in the life of Souto, layered in such a way that it condenses things, and there IS some sort of underlying song structure applied, not just a cheap collage. There is no cacophony, there is balance. Although side B is more what I hoped for, a parallel in unedited city sounds put through a distortion module, I assign more value to “Front Yard”. Honestly speaking, it makes me feel closer to Adel. After drones under jackhammers, mechanical ramblings, some passing black guys with “nigga” this & “nigga” that, side A ends with steps leading the way to a jangling of keys, the opening of a door, and the sound of a greeting cat. It’s touching.
But even more touching than that, most of all, is the physical manifestation of “My Deed Is Love”. There are only 34 copies in existence, and one of those is an artist edition, which is basically a size small vintage military jacket, painted up with 156 in old English font and a very black-metal looking piece done on the back, done by tattoo artist Liorcifer. Discs and cards are in the pockets. I don’t have this stylish edition, but I did get copy nine of thirty three of a dvd-cased, hand-made work, with a unique cover image, done by photographing natural variations of divination sticks, sealed with a ribbon of white paper and wax. I wont withhold that I actually felt very overwhelmed upon beholding the finished product. I cried… more than once. There was a transference of energy that was more than just what the title makes one feel. I still feel it.
Written by: Rexington Steel
Label: Self-released / Format: CS/DVD/CD
CD – My Deed Is Love
1 Static Group Of Friends
2 An Industrial Dub, Plate One
3 Knife Play
4 An Industrial Dub, Plate Two
5 A Daughter Of Infidels
6 An Industrial Dub, Plate Three
7 Strength In Numbers
DVD – Three short films by Adel Souto
1 Staring At the Ground
2 Where Even Fools Often Fear to Tread
3 Four Throwaways
Cassette – Frontyard / Backyard