• Leafcutter John - The Housebound Spirit

    Reviewed by anil bawa (absorb.org)

    Leafcutter John - The Housebound Spirit

    "with public-sector housing largely discontinued, and much of it now in private hands, it may be that the city's creative potential will diminish, as artists, musicians and others are gradually displaced by members of wealthier but more time-pressured groups"

    "globalisation, rather than neutralising the significance of place, seems to accentuate its value"

    patrick keiller, the independent, may 9, 2002.

    "canetti notes that in a pack each member is alone even in the company of others (for example, wolves on the hunt); each takes care of himself at the same time as participating in the band."in the changing constellation of the pack.... he will again and again find himself at its edge. he may be in the center, and then, immediately afterwards, at the edge again".... we recognize this as the schizo position"

    deleuze & guattari, one or several wolves, a thousand plateaus, 1980.

    so, 'the housebound spirit', just another planet mu catalogue number, right? wrong. not exactly bedroom music - crumbling east-end warehouse music. a document, a singularity. home music, music to re-assess the home. that hermetic john, the sorcerer - he shall know his velocity. fatigue, emotional, and tension, the psychology of place and individual colliding. hackney, and aren't they going to build the underground and that'll be the end of it. i know, you can't be both in town and out, have your cake and beat it. it would drive you schizophrenic. you'd grow a lump in the throat. because the endless inter-zone of urban life is stabilised only by that lead weight of empty space - the cosy co-ordinates of the home. a magnet for comfort, four walls and a roof, refuge and solace plucked from thin air. conjured.

    a kinetic drive for exhaustion itself, that need for speed, is adhered to, but everywhere fatigue is at work, decaying, fraying sound-bursts and trailing behind the sonic fugazi. tension is not built structurally, it is already there, before all else there is tension. and where is the periphery? hanging off the edge of a mental state, a gallilean drive for truth, that's balls. there is no center here we are in exile. like libeskind's garden out in east berlin. how can you orient the folds of thought? there is no project management, no projected figures here, no mapping the labyrinth of the home, the topology of the individual and the spaces he or she resides.

    and john, ever the conjurer, making music from electromagnets, chasing phantom currents, the sonorities of 'dead' space. inducing events that burn out, an oboe strangled, a cello dissected with the chainsaw of loss. grievance. explosive bursts of unapologetic mourning. lost voices, spirits invoked in the home, in your fucking living room. shimmering ephimera that shudder to a halt. emotion, not fluffy clouds or cgi landscaping, not morr electro-cliches, but death in the face and knuckles white from the real.

    so, 'the housebound spirit', or rather 'anywhere out of the world in london'. there is so much here: a personal trauma locked on a shiny disc. a shimmering reflection of london's east end circa 2003. micro ruminations from the urban periphery. more than you could ever ask from a single individual.

    then again john probably wouldn't hear you, busy in an ongoing show-down with his self.

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