Saturday, February 1, 2014

Christian Shredding, Christian Crooning

Christian Cummings shreds Saturday afternoon on the KCHUNG stage at theL.A. Art Book Fair! Awesome as ever. Check out his album SLAVEBATION here:

I also made a video of the performance, which I will upload when I get tenure. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Here's the review I wrote of the album in the Nov 2012 Artillery Magazine:

"... His latest album of original songs, entitled “Slavebation,” is something of a watershed. Fusing Cummings’ long-standing avant-gardist embrace of primitive casio keyboard sounds with a previously tempered lyrical desperation, the 13 tracks that make up this extraordinary long-player somehow manage to gel in spite of the extreme dislocation at their heart.

Cummings has a gift for melody, but here it is fractured and off-register: repeated preset arpeggios vie with microtonal trumpet solos to conjure a nightmarish easy listening aesthetic, while the vocals generally only manage to clamber on board the tune at the choruses, resulting in what could be plausibly categorized as rap music. I could also see it being entered into evidence at a committal hearing.

Cummings’ song lyrics are classic voice-in-the-wilderness, treading a fine line between channeled revelation and paranoid rant, albeit leavened by considerable doses of humor and literary invention. Consider this passage from the lurchingly swinging “Tickle My Tushy”:
O wikileaks, wikileaks, loose lips sink ships,
Even ships designed to navigate oceans of shit?
Shits that can only flow backward from oceans to sewers, up toilets, through your intestine, out your mouth and onto skewers.
And then from there into the fridge, then the grocery bag, onto the shelf, the butchers knife, and then back to pasture.
Then back into the womb of its mother, to a time before the chain of life was broken.
Using advanced technologies we can trace the evidence backward through time forever, and still never shake the hand of an creator.
Alternating between elegiac despondency, apocalyptic vision, didactic discourse, and guided deprogramming exercises (often in the space of a single lyric), Cummings convincingly positions himself as a nerdish prophet of doom. The revival of cassette networking has a distinct subtext of retreat to a position where subcultural activity still seemed to promise an escape, or at least shelter. Christian Cummings is facing our crazy life head on, in all its bewildering entropy and Gordian knottiness, and in doing so has produced the first great protest album of the 21st century."

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