The Poetry Project

Sciamachy by Anne Waldman (Fast Speaking Music, 2020)

Album Review by Matt Mottel

Art in the Antonym

“All writing is in fact cut-ups

history will decide

your heat of the world” - Anne Waldman

The portent of Sciamachy, Anne Waldman’s new LP is not surprising. Poetry and performance as incubation pedagogy. Anne passes bliss notes, giving shine and optimism for people to keep on waddlin down their path. It’s all taught from the shaded basement grove off the edge of Houston street.

Literal use and malleability of form and content to ferment rage. Anne’s creative comport is the edifice of culture of consciousness. The parasitic culture tries to shift and diminish importance and weight in the current Stone Age of twisted deconstructions. Yet Anne’s model of organic communal structure thwarts the infection.

In the 1960s, there was a false prosaic imagination that the cultural influence could lead to substantial change for everyone alive. Art tried to change the world (John & Yoko bed in for peace, The Fugs levitation of the pentagon). In 2020, “Art” is relatively benign in its attempt to squeeze out the "power sponge" and "break the system."

True progress happens behind the scenes in order to ensure that history is known and transmitted across new generations. Share the word. ‘Educate and organize’ -- this is the 2020 response to the call of the '60s -- ‘tune in and drop out‘

The specific ‘culture’ of the poet; transmitting truth to ‘change the world‘ has ended. America is stil fucking us with our atom bomb, and we know it, and it’s still fucked up.

So, we subterfuge. Emanate across multiple porous spaces. Education in the shade. Literacy as a shadow fight. Intercultural communion; finding ways of addressing the widest swath, without the hidden traps of popularity or fame that enable easy tables of 14 strong at peak Veselka hour.

Anne shares so constantly
Her life lives as the proven alternative
to birds in the brainwash
ice storm 2020.

Art in the antonym is the whiplashed end result of the carnal aesthetic on shakedown street. This premeditated endgame of the anthropocene quickened its grip in the tangier of social dystopia. The port has blocked the boat that wants to drop a safe anchor.

All aboard, amongst comrades who seek passion and prose aboard an egalitarian communal life float.

Fast Speaking Music, aka ‘the band’ is a 360º spectrum sound world. Tension is spirit. The word floats across the slide of synthesizer slope and sax strut. Anne’s tongue slothers the mantra lick taste bubble and I’m humming it in the kitchen.
“La LA LA LaLAh; LAH La Lah Lah La Lah Lah”
over and over again doubling the guitar boom.

The Sciamachy Sound Soup is delicious and buoyant via the boullion of collaboration amongst long standing friends and family. Her immediate kin and cousin are the base of the broth; Ambrose Bye on synthesizer, and Devin Brahja Waldman on saxophone, drums and production. Natural Umami, sensates the sonic slurp.

The elders that join on this record ensure another graced transmission to new ears. On the second cut, "Streets of the World," a different vocab is heard from Free jazz legend, bassist William Parker. He plays the West African Ngoni harp. The sequencer is his fingers plucking the instrument, no electricity needed. His tone world as melodic gift. A repeating musical phrase spawns perfect habitat for Anne’s word.

The compliment to the ancient string hits us on the next track "Rune," when electricity and stereo aura delay create a flora of frequency.

Here, Anne’s occult breath provides the input for Laurie Anderson’s output on electric violin.

“Explicitly prime the time machine / to activate its mystery again / what is a cult? / to a machine? / it is a cylinder of alphabets / it is the sway of geese trance / it is footprints of ever extant and extinct thing / it is fossils / it is memory and rune”

The instinct ritual of ancient duet settles dust on plateau landscape. It’s the perfect moment on the album where breath is needed to re-shake our senses and return to a momentary calm.

In addition, the sound realm is strong because of deep contributions by Deb Googe (of My Bloody Valentine and Thurston Moore Band) on baritone bass, Guro Moe and Havard Skaset (of the Norweigan hardcore group MoE) on electric bass and guitar. In addition, all hands on deck via Alden Penner were in service to the mix and master. The du jour of daily listen to this album is full of surprise sonics. Each time reveals a new pure toned buzz.

“My lover comes home today / ancient / i suffocate you / i sublimate you / i want you higher / higher higher / above / come toward me” -- it's joy music, with full bash beats of lustful groove.

The structure of syllabic language set to music is a last stand edifice of this frozen era; when people congregated in small and large places to absorb culture. In this moment of indeterminacy, will the ice de-freeze? Will we return to public communion without fear of risking a weakened collective immunity?

Anne Waldman welcomed everyone into her home for poetry, music, revelry.

we were packed in,

with love,

Steve Dalachinsky introduced me to Anne and her family.

Pause and remember the spirit of togetherness. It’s important not to forget.

This virus inflicts an unknown x factor into stable / unstable life.

Fifty years ago, Ozzy Osbourne from the grey dust of Birmingham’s Black Sabbath, was a soothsayer of the flower generation. He warned of the future darkness. Anne, Ozzy’s karmic brother, knew the truth too. Anne is the voice of this moment; having pressed onward and far more potent than Ozzy could ever moan. For fifty plus years, she embodies feminist, pro-peace and anti-nuclear activism as subterranean spirit. Anne’s voice is an embalmed warmth of empathic concern.

In 2020, the sludge slab grease riff comes from Fast Speaking Music and Anne is the heavy metal voiced titan ready to spear the wild wilting zombie life that was warned against and ignored with flippant vagary.

A vulture reality has landed. People of conscience have been warning of this moment from the rooftop, bar, street corner, and scientific laboratory.

"Seat Belts don’t save lives" was the lie by the car industry when Nader tried to hold the auto industry accountable.

"Cigarettes don’t cause cancer" was the lie by the tobacco industry when they denied cancer in the puff.

"Fossil fuels burn clean emissions" was the lie by the oil industry when they denied the pollution of fossil fuel.

"I don’t know anything about it" was the lie by ⊥rump when he blanked on the elimination of the CDC department that could have created some buffer to our instant noodle quarantine.

However, when you're left with instant noodles,
ignore that pre-pack of salt and chemical compounds;
dip into the options of "soup" and build your own.
Use miso paste, soy, sesame oil, to construct a new reality. Skip the corporate salt con enshrined in the silver pack… it’s only guaranteed to swarm your mouth with a dry tongue…

Anne Waldman and Fast Speaking Music are the contrary voice to this current moment. Their sistern and peer family are "Irreversible Entanglements" with poet Camae Ayewa; who also at this moment release a new album titled "Who Sent You." These two clans together plant trees in a deep desert valley that require osmotic peace. For the community that exists, numb to the denatured teeth vacuum that counts as culture -- we want to feel!; pain, exhilaration, catharsis, interlocking interludes of voice, cosmic jazz and psychedelic rock.

The mood of Anne Waldman and FSM is that welcome space.

Anne Waldman LP Sciamachy released on the Fast Speaking Music imprint, supported by Levy Gorvy Gallery.

Written, Feb 25 - March 25 2020, New York City

Postscript, written June 25 2020, New York City

The empathic pause we undertook collectively to quell “the virus” was abruptly re-natured after the police murdered George Floyd. The civic protests, prompted by his death, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the many people of color who have died unnecessarily as a result of police violence has swelled people of conscience to reemerge and defiantly reclaim the street. The “boat is floating again” with a new collective of youthful leadership. “Education in the shade” is now bright in the sun. The days ahead are the results of sunbeam transmission turned into fierce love.

#261 — Summer 2020