Saga House / US / 2022 / CS
Life during wartime does not operate at a single affective frequency. Just as the physics of collision echo in reverse, war's acoustics, too, have always reflected the contrast between death and its opposites. Children sound their first words in bomb shelters, ravers still gather on clandestine dance-floors, and silence can billow like symphony. It is a fully human experience, as unifying and alienating as our day to day.
In a small apartment of a brutalist housing complex in eastern Dnipro, during the first month of the invasion, Ukrainian net-label We Have No Zen! began compiling the massive WHNZ:74:WAR digital release as an exercise in international solidarity, dedicated to their neighbors defending the places they call home. WHNZ carved a route for a wide variety of sound adjacent artists to channel their sentiments and not before long an all-star cast was assembled: Tori Kudo, Richard Youngs, Alastair Galbraith, Ashtray Navigations, Daniel Higgs, Arnold Dreyblatt along with many other humble heroes of the no-audience underground contributed offerings. The Gold and Purple Sceptre is the physical edition of that material curated and mastered for 92 minute tape.
The music encompasses a broad swathe of what is sometimes generically referred to as the experimental music/sound art/post-noise diaspora, but channeled as an outstretched hand during crisis it transmits as folksong: A reflection of the dire situation, defiantly grounded not only in the grey areas between song, poem and abstraction, but also in the self-determination of the people against the threat of imperialist blitzkrieg.
While the multiplicitous nature of these recordings lends itself well to considering the quotidian struggle so many on this deeply disturbed planet face, it's a remarkably literal testament to the synchronistic beauty found in singing about what Brecht would call "the dark times." Though in this case, there's no glamour, romanticism, or hollow moralizing on display—simply the will to go on reproducing daily life.