Genre: Noise / Experimental / Abstract
A1) 12.3.09 Phoenix / Flowing East
B2) 12.10.10 Lawrence / Steam Rising Above Blood
Postcommodity is a multi-medium artist and musician collective that includes Nathan Young (founder of the experimental label from Oklahoma, Peyote Tapes, as well as being known as Alms and Ajilvsga [with Brad Rose of Foxy Digitalis]), and Raven Chacon (Kilt, Cobra//group). Those these two members are well-known in the experimental and noise worlds, it is the other two scholars in this project that seem to define exactly what Postcommodity eagerly attempts to create: Cristóbal Martínez and Kade L. Twist. Though the former did not join the project until later, his education and personal goals as highlighted on his personal website seem to mirror what Postcommidity was aiming towards in 2009 during the Worldview Manipulation Therapy exhibition where track 1 was recorded. This exhibition was based entirely around aspects of tribal ceremonies that are central to the indigenous worldview. The project at that time had an overwhelming American Indian fixation due to the bloodline of those members involved. It seems that lately they’ve dropped the “American Indian” tag within their own projects’ definition, so its hard to say what changed their focus, or whether it the focus itself was simply made more broad.
The sounds on “Your New Age Dream…” are interesting in the fact that they retain a very minimal, primitive source — while it maintains an experimental noise texture, “Flowing East” especially comes across as tribal in moments, perhaps due to the focus of the group in the time in which the track was conceive. The tracks are full of void sound, thus assuming a sound that is dark in tone and open, assuming the sound of the natural world. It’s this mood that helps the primal theme come to fruition — the basic and most fundamental noises on the album are low shofar horn-style sounds and improvised, seemingly random wood flute and whistles as well as the distant percussive movement of objects — that is, percussive without organized meaning. It’s simply an addition in sound. Side B is less open-aired and slightly more oppressive, featuring a constant droning background and an uneasy rise in atmosphere with constantly improvised horns, whether they be in your face in the foreground or reserved behind the drone, serving merely as a subconscious approach to chaos. The album certainly isn’t meant to be easy to listen to — there are no traditional approaches to sound here, even in respects to the chaotic world of noise. This, after all, represents in itself the ideals that Postcommodity have founded themselves on.
The name that this group of artists has chosen for their aural efforts more or less defines their current objective pretty clearly. It’s a relevant take on commodities that has much the same meaning to us today as the word “postmodern” does. Whereas postmodernism is a reaction to modernism, postcommodity describes their collective being as “a shared Indigenous lens and voice to engage and respond to the assaultive manifestations of the global market and its supporting institutions, public perceptions, beliefs, and individual actions that comprise the ever-expanding, multinational, multiracial and multiethnic colonizing force that is defining the 21st Century through ever increasing velocities and complex forms of violence.” Thus, it seems that they view their art as operating as a direct, rather defiant reaction to the current economic capitalist system that defines the majority of civilization in this era. Perhaps they’ve moved beyond relation in location and into a more global experiment.
The art on front of the album seems to be intended as an inkblot, one that could be interpreted by many in many different forms. For me, it was antlers, representing the primal sound of the first track. For others it could be claws, roman archways, synapses, or incalculable other images. The sleeve itself is stock cardboard with black screen-printing. The front seems fine while the back suffers the same relatively unimportant flaws that many DIY screen-printed jackets deal with: over-pressured ink resulting in a muddy look on a portion, with a weak or inadequately cured print at the bottom leading to a light or non-existant coverage. Few problems exist with this release outside of the print, the primary one being when you have such a definitive stance on a subject, why would one make music without a voice of its own? Sure, I can make the connections here because I’m asked to do so as a journalist, but few may without some sort of shove in that direction. There is very little information on the record sleeve and while the back quietly mentions the projects’ website, it seems that there should be more of a type of mission statement included with the album. There is so much to say in this respect, the album just seems robbed of its potential by its own need for minimalism.