A dial tone rings along what appears to be a highway. I wonder if we need phone lines anymore, but what will happen to all that metal, where will the triangular silver steel be placed? Surely, it can’t be recycled any longer, or will they stand there, after the apocalypse, a thing I have to explain to my children, since no doubt I will survive the end times and also have children, I need to consider what to call those phone lines. Archy, when is this supposed to take place, is your conceit of this film that you are leaving a message and to whom is it addressed? Your new child? Your partner, who also is your director in this film. She is watching you and we are watching her watching you and you are speaking to her: “you’re my everything I have no words.” Look at the camera please, I can barely see your face, you have a black outline that reminds me of the green screen from the early episodes of Power Rangers when Rita Repulsa is on screen, you know the one, we are the same age Archy, but you have a child and a career and I have parents who ask me if I am settling, when I wake up every day and have to feed myself, think about how hard a task that is, to look at myself in the mirror and then add weight to that, to add fat, carbs, greens, some protein and also caffeine. “Guess I have to go.” You’re off now, Archy, gone really into the fog, you left the ukulele. I just remembered those weren’t phone lines, those are power lines, which I think are different. We still need those I think, I don’t know the correct left position on electricity these days.
I wrote in my notebook while watching your film “the spectre of technology, electronic harpsichord” and made sure “spectre” was written in British English. (Re: “Czech One”) I couldn’t figure out where I knew that sound from and it was in your song “Czech One” from The Ooz, your best album according to the people who matter but I think A New Place to Drown is good too. I remember when I discovered your debut EP in a Rolling Stone issue and listened to “The Noose of Jah City” on repeat every morning for a week on the school bus, we were the same age, but you were an art student, I was a confused sophomore who tried to be funny but was really only mean as a way to keep myself safe as a way to keep people from asking me too many questions. When I get asked questions I normally answer them with confidence that, while it may seem safe is actually rehearsed. Birds in the air, trees flutter past. “Alone Omen” takes place in front of a nuclear power plant. The music and style sound like a return, Archy to your early work, alone in a North London bedroom, no more of the seven-piece band, 1080p music videos on the Moon. I try to think about what this means, a return to lo-fi, after jazz fusion made your name, made your nut, but I listened again and watched your fingers on the frets and saw some 9 chords and jazz scales in the mix, you haven’t abandoned anything, but it sounds like A New Place to Drown again, which represents, for me at least, a fun return to 2013. “Think of common goals.” I wonder how lyric these thoughts are or if they’re rambling. I can’t wait to tell people I’m doing a character. I am though, I promise. The camera zooms fast beyond you and beyond the nuclear power plant. The nuclear power plant confuses me again, it problematizes my understanding of the film. I read this sight of film as commentary on doom and apocalypse again, and The Ooz, had similar thoughts running through it, there is a nihilism about your work, an atomized sadness and if I wanted to scold I would suggest this is a tried and true trope of white male-dom. The lyric that sticks with me in this piece is “don’t forget you’re not alone in the metropole.” I first heard metropole in a discussion of postcolonial politics (London) and I suggest that your work sits in loneliness but in the ineffable loneliness of love and admiration amidst trying to do the right thing having been raised in a world that taught you the wrong things were right and the things you know now as right were not discussed. But I am overreading. The zooms happen in the other video Charlotte Patmore directed for you “Cadet Limbo,” and the zoom zooms into the sax player in the climax of the song. We are looking at the moon again, the sight of your highest viewed YouTube video, but most of the moons are incomplete, they are unfinished pieces and after some time passes they will fill out. Things fill out whether we mean for them to or not.
“(Don’t Let the Dragon) Draag on”
We are in black and white now. I see what’s happening, we are moving into clarity away from the black outlines of your form into something clearer, even if that clarity has limits to its color palette. They, the people that matter, called The Ooz mature, which it was, I guess, but mostly the production filled out (think of the White Stripes from De Stijl to Elephant) and you kept some lo-fi elements, your vocals clarified and you had some funky bass lines. In the 1990s, this would’ve been called “selling out” but we don’t have that anymore, no one sells out, they simply make it and we have to celebrate. The internet has atomized us but only if “the internet” means certain corporations who relegate us into our little circles that keep up with the same things and same ideas. I am reminded every time I see my family back home how far removed from each other we actually are; they have no opinion of Vulture or The AV Club, those things don’t matter. They don’t know what The Onion is and when I say I “want to be cancelled” they ask what this means. The fireworks above you in your film reminds me of the photo my friend Theo took of a carnival in Zenica, Bosnia that gave me nightmares for a week. I feel myself overly associating with things, not dissociating but finding common ground where there isn’t any. The visuals shiver along with the chords played on a reverb piano. How did you do that? The electronics drop out until you focus on the piano chords. When you look at images of Zenica online, there are power plants, bombed out buildings, and a flood.
I think you mean the verb “fleets” until I see the fleet of steam ships in the ocean. Nice misdirection. You’re considering energy and the end of things then. Are you out of energy from being a father, a good partner, an artist? I am out of energy often and the caffeine doesn’t help too much anymore. Maybe I’ll do coke more though it’s dangerous in this part of the world. Coke fascinates me because it’s a luxury drug right, but one that as we remove ourselves further and further from the reality of the 1980s becomes something of an aesthetic choice, like cigarettes. Yeah both are dangerous but I still look cool smoking, don’t I? You’re in full view now, though the resolution is low, we can see your face clearly like on tv before we all had HD. I notice the YouTube video is in 1080p, which makes something like this retro visual a trick, a fantasy, and what are fantasies if not desires? You’re not cosplaying retro though like the Artic Monkeys or Amy Winehouse, it’s an aesthetic choice amidst the range of filters and fillers you could find and fill. I wonder what this new album will be like, I bet it’s a return, a fantasy return no doubt because you have the resources now to no longer be that kid in a bedroom with a loop pedal and guitar, it’s a denial of excess, something again that doesn’t happen very often. It is a political choice, this refusal to use up your energy, your resources, the opposite of a death drive for the death drive depletes energy, uses it up (I drink your milkshake, I drink it up.) “Such a funny life” you say. I think about Yeezus again and what that album means for our culture, how Graham Wright felt like he watched Ezra Koenig come down the stairs at a party with the last plate of cocaine and tried to have a career after all the indie-pop space was sucked up by Kanye West. Our energy is fleeting, Archy. The screen fades down. Your deep voice, a signature, lifted to a falsetto at one point, which was charming.