Sunday, March 1, 2009

klf chill-out / the disappearance fugue

the klf - chill out
ac welcomes you to post #300
the disappearance fugue: three forms of grift
along with the orb's first album, the klf's chill-out gave birth to ambient house.  the history of this british duo's absurdist provocations and Ubu-esque avant prankerism could fill a whole book, in fact the story of the klf seems intended for the internet, a diffuse legacy of infamous acts impossible to reconstruct.  Suffice to say that here they left the fist-pump anthem of "3AM Eternal" behind for a hallucinatory expedition across an imaginary America, much like Kafka did with his second novel. You can really talk for a long time about the singularity and impact of this record, its unique intensity is like a metaphor-generator for rapturous critics. Suffice to say it's a spare, lulling dreamscape, a futuristic collage full of spacey electronics,  field recordings, samples of elvis and steel guitar and radio interludes - culling a visionary haze, where memory and dream wisp languid in the morning light.
introduction: in psychology, there is a rare form of amnesia that strikes without warning and strips its victim of his/her identity, leaving basic motor/social skills intact. It takes the self off-line. It's called a dissociative fugue. Aka the Bourne affliction. A fugue is also a musical term: it refers to a particular composition-style, the Bach style, of contrapuntal turning, a composition for a fixed number of instruments. In the psychological term it is meant to indicate a period or episode. Fugue is derived in part from the Italian fuga, related to fugere, to flee, and fugare, to chase. So the dissociative fugue refers to a time when the self has flown, when the person that remains goes after it, or perhaps flees on its own trajectory. The dissociative fugue is a subset of the disappearance fugue, because the disappearance fugue includes grift fugues as well. Or, perhaps it is that dissociative fugue is also a kind of grift, a kind of cosmic grift where you don't even choose it, it chooses you, it befalls you, like a curse or a blessing.

1. the klf are grifters, that much should be clear. they took all their money and burned it. they drove around in a special klf police car with a special horn. they invented a sonic weapon that sent out huge punishing frequencies across the british countryside and it made a pregnant cow misscarriage. they wrote a book about how to have a number one pop hit, a serious book. They are burroughs-era media-savvy techno-anarchists.  They have been on an extended disappearance fugue for some time now, having retreated to whatever underground multi-media pyramid they call home.  

2. The New York Times - A Life, Interrupted

Today's New York Times describes an astonishing case of dissociative fugue. 

"On Aug. 28, a Thursday, a 23-year-old schoolteacher from Hamilton Heights named Hannah Emily Upp went for a jog along Riverside Drive. That jog is the last thing that Ms. Upp says she remembers before the deckhands rescued her from the waters of New York Harbor on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 16. Rumors and speculation abounded about what befell Ms. Upp. She disappeared the day before the start of a new school year at Thurgood Marshall Academy, a Harlem school, where she taught Spanish. She left behind her wallet, her cellphone, her ID and a host of troubling questions. It was as if the city had simply opened wide and swallowed her whole — until she was seen on a security camera at the Midtown Apple store checking her e-mail. Then she vanished again. And then reappeared, not only at the Apple store but also at a Starbucks and several New York Sports Clubs, where news reports said she went to shower. Was she suffering from bipolar disorder? Running away from an overly demanding job? Escaping from a city that can overwhelm even the most resilient?"

3. The New Yorker - The Chameleon

The New Yorker ran a fascinating article a while ago on Federic Bourdin, the master chameleon, who possesses a preternatural ability to mimic, imitate, and to transform himself, most often as a young orphan boy. In the end he was outed and taken into police custody. It was difficult, however, to charge Bourdin with any particular infraction. This is because Bourdin's acts are not of today - they are crimes of the future.  Bourdin, the wily, charismatic satyr-phantom is Hannah Upp's evil twin, he has carried out an endless series of disappearance fugues, and thus, an endless grift. 
on that note, thanks again to everyone who came and saw our endless grift unfold at death by audio last friday. we're headed into the studio in a couple of weeks, looking forward to sharing the results. 

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