How do you describe an album out of time, concerned with the disappearance of culture, of humanity, of nature, of logic and emotion? Why make this album in an era when attention spans have been reduced to next to nothing, and the tactile grains of making music have been further reduced to algorithms and projected playlist placement? Why wake up in the morning? Why hasn't everything already disappeared?
Deerhunter's eighth LP forgets the questions and makes up unrelated answers. It gets up, walks around, it records itself in several strategic geographic points across North America. It comes home, restructures itself and goes back to bed to avoid the bad news.
From the opening harpsichord and piano figures of 'Death In Midsummer', it is impossible to tell where the record came from. Is 'No One's Sleeping' an outtake of an aborted Kinks recording session in 1977 Berlin with Eno producing? No. That is nostalgia. If there is one thing Deerhunter are making clear it is that they have exhausted themselves with that toxic concept.
What they spend their time doing instead is reinventing their approach to microphones, the drum kit, the harpsichord, the electromechanical and synthetic sounds of keyboards. Whatever guitars are left are pure chrome, plugged straight into the mixing desk with no amplifier or vintage warmth.
The result is as thrilling, haunting and unpredictable as anything in their roughly 15-year career.
Deerhunter have made a science fiction album about the present. Is it needed right now? Is it relevant? Perhaps only to a small audience. DADA was a reaction to the horrors of war. Punk was a reaction to the slow and vacant 70s. Hip Hop was a liberated musical culture that challenged the notions presented wholesale about the African-American experience. What is popular music today a reaction to?
Hear opening track, 'Death In Midsummer'- BELOW:
Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?
4AD 0089 - 18 January 2016
1. Death In Midsummer (4:22)
Caption of photograph found in book: “Revolution In The Streets of St. Petersburg, July 1917.” The photo shows figures of people running away from piles of bodies.
2. No One’s Sleeping (4:26)
On 16 June, 2016 Labor Party MP Helen Joanne Cox died after being shot and stabbed multiple times in Birstall by Thomas Mair, a mentally ill man with ties to a Neo-Nazi organization. He shouted “Britain first” as he carried out the attack.
3. Greenpoint Gothic (2:02)
An architectural interlude for synthesizer and drums.
4. Element (3:00)
Elegy for Ecology (a landscape done in toxic watercolors)
5. What Happens To People (4:16)
Eulogy for “Emotions”
6. Détournement (3:26)
A postcard from the slipstream
7. Futurism (2:52)
Nostalgia is toxic.
8. Tarnung (3:08)
A walk through Europe in the rain
9. Plains (2:13)
James Dean spent the Summer of 1955 in Marfa, Texas filming ‘Giant,’ before his death on September 30th.
10. Nocturne (6:25)
Live stream from the afterlife.
Total: 37 minutes
Produced by Cate LeBon, Ben H. Allen III, Ben Etter, and Deerhunter
Engineered by Ben Etter, Samur Khouja, and Bradford Cox
Mixed by Ben Etter, Ben H. Allen III, and Bradford Cox
Marfa Recording, Marfa Tx
Sonic Ranch, Tx
Seahorse Sound, Los Angeles
Maze Studios, Atlanta
Attic of B. Cox, Grant Park, Atlanta
Deerhunter are: Bradford Cox, Lockett Pundt, Moses Archuleta, Josh McKay, and Javier Morales
Cate LeBon plays harpsichord on ‘Death In Midsummer’ and sings on 'Tarnung'
Tim Presley plays abstract lead guitar on ‘Futurism’
Ben H. Allen III plays a synthetic bass system on ‘Plains’
Ian Horrocks plays contrabass on ‘Nocturne'