Flagpole. Athens, Ga
Flagpole. Athens, Ga
Nine, in the evening.
My friend Matthew in my friend Rick’s video.
The true and original Pony Bones
The album art for Wrack With Ruin consists of an etching of Magicicada’s Chris White vomiting up a bunch of worms. And who says there’s no truth in advertising?
Because this is an album that, for all its varied external sound sources – which include tubas, violins, tune-up sessions, field recordings, and much more – could only have come from deep inside of White himself. It is his disturbed psyche vomited forth, cut up and rearranged. Wrack with Ruin is also, like its cover, fucking nuts. This is noise at is most disturbing, wretched, and hauntingly beautiful.
On his website, White describes Wrack with Ruin as “one long piece.” This may seem like an odd description at first, since each track is so wildly different than the last. But it makes sense; the album works as a kind of aural haunted house tour. Each track feels less like a discrete song than a new room in the Old Dark House, containing new wonders and new horrors. For example, in just three tracks, White guides us through the Tom Waits-ian dark carnival of “Pardon You” to the almost-danceable glitch nightmare of “Homeopathic Processor” to the distorted psychosis of “My Fault” (whose vocals recall Ween’s terrifying “Spinal Meningitis (Got Me Down)”). Throughout the record, there is a constant fascination with error – glitches, pops, digitized squalls, the accidental art of broken video games and blown-out speakers. The effect is like being swallowed up by a psychotic Castlevania NES cartridge.
What is most striking about Wrack with Ruin is the way it straddles the line between composition and chaos. There is no doubt that White has painstakingly manipulated and arranged every second of this album, and yet the music is also continuously on the cusp of total disorder. Many of the juxtapositions here feel like they could only have happened by chance. For example, in “Jigsaw Forms,” White combines some eerily distorted vocal samples with a clattering drum track. It simultaneously makes perfect sense and doesn’t make sense at all. It is that balance of order and chaos that makes Magicicada’s music so vibrantly alive even its darkest, most disturbing moments. White has managed to plumb the depths of his psyche and come out the other side. Certainly, that is the mark of a transcendent artist.”
My phone recorded this.
Getting in tune for the Goat Farm show on August 8th