Postcommodity exists as a Native American artist collective comprised of Nathan Young (of Ajilvsga, and who has unfortunately recently departed from the collective), Kade Twist (writer and multimedia artist), Cristobal Martinez (multimedia artist and scholar), and Raven Chacon (KILT / Death Convention Singers / Mesa Ritual). Though I’ve had the pleasure of sharing venues with Chacon and Young on multiple occasions throughout the last decade, this year’s Ende Tymes Festival was my formal introduction to the group. This LP, their third full-length release, is a conceptual record “recounting the ever-cycling decay of a desert drought from the view of its flora and fauna.” There’s no denying the all-too-clear evocations of a dying landscape, as a deep sense of sorrow and inevitable loss pervades the grooves of this fine platter. Whether that be a reflection of the legacy of colonialism in the North American continent or the further exploitation of the land through nuclear testing sites and strip mining is something that the listener will have to decide for themselves.
This modern collective serves as a bridge of sorts between worlds (members are involved in the international D.I.Y. noise scene as well as having a foothold in the academic art world), with installations, film, and albums utilized interchangeably depending on the intention of each piece’s message. This aspect of being a bridge could be perceived as somewhat ironic given their recent installation, Repellent Eye/Repellent Fence, a series of “scare eye” balloons three meters in diameter along the Mexican-American border. This project is slated for completion this fall and brings up multiple lines of questioning concerning recent controversies of border issues.
The majority of this record is focused on ensemble pieces utilizing traditional instruments like violin, piano, trumpet, operatic vocalizations, and percussion. It owes more to post-WWII avant-garde classical music. That isn’t to say there aren’t extremely noisy moments, because there are many, but they serve more as accents and punctuations within the overall narrative of a slowly decaying landscape’s final death wail than another record obsessed with the possibilities of an abstract electronic set-up. There’s a lot of breathing room for textures to interact on We Lost Half the Forest and the Rest Will Burn This Summer, which this listener will posit as a reflection of the spacious and sometimes barren aspects of their native Southwestern landscape. “Chacoma” has the grandeur of a Hermann Nitsch processional recording, while “Lenå” is a short assault of full-spectrum overload. The low-range rumble of hacked electronics is complemented by the slow-motion groan of string sections. Processed and acoustic vocals bring to mind the compositions of Luigi Nono while bass drums march towards the bleak future of soil erosion and water table decline. The pieces are edited into sixteen distinct tracks completing a tragic cycle of loss (identity, tradition, and the environment are one). Distillation of elements, a succinct time frame, and conscious use of space between instrumental textures traditional and postmodern combine to make this a strong statement. It’s a record that fits in well with their artistic oeuvre as well as a piece that bears repeated listens.
02) Dia del Cabrón
03) Another Black Sky
04) Dia de Rojo