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Keith Fullerton Whitman - Occlusions

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Artist: Keith Fullerton Whitman

Album: Occlusions

Label: Editions Mego

Review date: Aug. 17, 2012

In the notes to Occlusions provided by Keith Fullerton Whitman, he informs us, these ‘anti-dance’ (antidote to dance) live recordings were heavily influenced by, in the case of the first track, a “mildly inebriated bliss” and in the second track an “arbitrarily triggered blind rage.” He wants us to see this as an alternate contribution to a dance scene vibe, a kind of free-jazz version of coalesced sounds bombarding a free-space. It’s an appeal to the freedom of the listener, a request for participation based on emotive response outside of predetermined influence. Occlusions is a challenge to what we think when we think of dance music.

Occlusions is a series of convolutes, sounds not enmeshed but wound together without the stabilizing influence of a harmony or shared direction. Each fragment of sound brings with it a small piece of listening history that is reshuffled within the sound constellation via a series of mood driven improvisations. These improvs converge to form a mind-mess of an assault on modernity, carrying the listener through a series of auditory pursuits that come from all angles. It is important to note that this was recorded live, as the sound of the audience is as crucial as any other sound generated in the room. The first track inspires whistles and cheers from the audience; the second track has fewer sounds of audience participatio, presumably a response to the mood generated by the artist.

Dance is a social medium that offers an escape into a dream, a chance to let off steam and an opportunity to link mind and body in a world where the two are usually kept separated. Whitman generates an intensely private passage, a kind of sheath of the personal dream in making the appeal to the body to dance. Despite the lack of smooth crossroads and familiar paths, it is a highly poetic claim on atmospherics. Where ‘dance music’ will create a fusion between dancers fuelled by dissolving borders, Whitman continues his questioning with music that results in intimacy, exclusively for private consumption, perhaps an antidote to capitalistic imperialism and urban malaise. A quest to oust pattern is a quest to oust the familiar that binds us. Whitman announces here a less totalizing regime in which all sound responses march in lockstep with the same cycles of emotion through an aggregate of loops wired to each other. Like us, the sounds don’t mesh, they stand separate and unique, a convoluted series of unique experiences looped and falling over each other in a series of accidents Whitman wants us to call ‘dance.’

By Lisa Thatcher

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