Fragile Alliances - Ross Birdwise
For me, the music on many of the tracks often pulls in several directions at once. The music’s sense of being a unity or an alliance of forms is frequently riding on the edge of chaos, collapse or incoherency, especially so in the domain of rhythm. Polyrhythms, polymeters and asymmetrically pulsed, skewed grooves collide, intertwine, expand, contract, align and rhyme obliquely on virtual, unheard and broken yet repeating grids. These unheard grid structures temporally order and disorder the sounds (sounds which left alone and looped would fall more or less into clock time), providing the basic undergirding structure for the sounds yet also running against them, like a temporal collision between the audible and the inaudible, in some ways akin to a uneven but repetitive pattern of gravity waves disturbing time and space.
This idea of a hidden grid, hidden forces that effect temporality, modulating a more immediately tangible set of things, processes and their relations, is relevant to how I feel about life today, personally, but also socially and politically. A non-euclidean world traversed by shifting, entangled, sometimes coordinated, but also ‘discord-inated’ flows, transformations, seen and unseen power relationships, breaks and ruptures, and moments of great confusion and a general blurring but also emerging of distinctions.
Perhaps the concealed, unheard almost ‘un-pulsed’ grid that disrupts strict clock time is a metaphor for becoming? An analog curvature with digital characteristics or a digital sequence with analog aspects? Is it the seemingly hidden hand of speculative financial operations acting on various domains and entities and thereby causing disorder and precarious relationships (such as between renters and housing), and other oppressive formations; the hidden hand morphing and consolidating the nightmare landscape of late stage capitalism? Maybe. Or is the grids’ aggressive displacement of musical events a representation of some internalized trauma (personal or collective) or all or none of these things? Perhaps this music is not really representational, yet catalyzes thought, feeling and affect in various ways, in some occulted process of transduction or some relationship that is even more ineffable?
I can’t ultimately tell you what it is. Even describing it in terms of forms, I hit various limits and walls. There is something frustrating about the music and its description, in the listening, in the act of its creation. Often I put that frustration into the music, and that excites me. The broken grids push the sounds around, deforming them and making them unpredictably predictable. I accent this with occasional global tempo shifts, bursts of noise, shifts in focus, spatiality and timbre as well as other formal adjustments. There is a frustration with the forms, the conventions of music, including my own, that leads me to efface them. This produces further problems and forms and further effacements, until something emerges that may not be perfect but it can be considered done. It’s fragile, it’s precarious, it resonates with my thoughts, it’s more than a little dysfunctional, but it’s mine.