Sometimes it feels good to have one’s head crunched in the morning. Divide and Dissolve do a great job of releasing the demons—not the ones of dreams we’ve just left but the nightmare that begins in the morning living in a world governed by economic racism and the daily grind. All those things we try not to think about while getting dressed and drinking coffee. If you think the toast is burnt, then look in the bread for your reflection.
This is instrumental music. Don’t look for answers here. The questions speak loudly enough in the chain saw amalgam that forms the nub of the grinding gears. Who needs an axe in an age of machinery, and who needs bone machines in the age of noise? Divide and Dissolve inevitably focus on the moment just ahead. Take that, you living dinosaur! Your age has passed into the past.
The music may be instrumental, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t vocal elements. There is a spoken word soliloquy midway called “Did You Have Something to Do With It” (featuring Minori Sanchez-Fung) that powerfully proclaims our collective craziness and humanity. Melbourne-based Takiaya Reed and Sylvie Nehill offer “a song the dead can hear”, and one would have to be dead not to feel the impact of Western and non-traditional instruments and live effects that ring and boom over the other tracks here.
The cuts have names like “Denial”, “Prove It”, and “Far From Ideal” that suggest the imperfections that exist and our collective acceptance of a world not of our making. The abrasive sounds remind us of all that’s filtered out by the white noise we accept as natural: The laugh track of classic rock, the smooth edges of crossover jazz, the indie alt bro-country mainstream hip-hop glamorization of sex, beauty, and violence. Can you really listen to the top ten Billboard, Spotify, etc., hits in any genre and think we live in an age of renaissance and without wondering why we accept so much dross and even learn to like it.
Better to keep one’s ear to the ground, on the railroad track, listen to the clicks and screeches of pipes in the wall, traffic sounds, stray conversations on the bus or the supermarket to discover what is real and important. “What peaches and penumbras”, as the old dead bald poet used to pine. Divide and Dissolve posit din over silence and silence as just an accent to the clamor and uproar which follow. That takes “Mental Gymnastics”, to be sure, but the commotion of our mind beats the quiet of numbness and acceptance.
That blast one hears may be a still, small voice. It may lead to a higher state of consciousness. It may just provide solace. Perhaps it just means one needs to listen to the record again to recharge one’s psychic batteries before entering a world that won’t be affected when it’s time for you to die because everything will go on as before. Even if there was an apocalypse that killed all life on the planet, millions of galaxies are out there. The least one can do is offer a barbaric yawp in the spirit of Horton hearing a who, no matter how small.