Monday, October 13, 2008

Brian Miller & Kevin Shields – We Had a Baby and It Will Die [Deathbomb Arc]

Here comes the next exciting installment of the Kevin Shields files...
This is the first DVD-r release I’ve ever seen and I can’t think of a more overjoyed/scarier pair to initiate me. Case in point, when you reach the menu an incredibly loud noise loop starts playing and the first time I put the dvd in, it made me jump ten feet in the air. So I’m a wuss, whatever, let’s move on.
We Had a Baby and It Will Die is a “short film” comprised of footage from a handful of BM+KS live sets recorded during a west coast tour, and it is fucking insane.
One of the first images you get features Eva (who also edited the film) manipulating electronics and Brian rolling an amp around on the ground, walking around in circles with a dazed and simultaneously manic look on his face. I’m pretty sure the amp would be safer in GITMO. The first “set” is similar with Eva working with a small array of electronic devices creating strangled, pitchshifted swoops. Brian Miller is a tape fanatic (adhesive not magnetic); he’s never seen with out a roll of packing tape in the entire thing. Anyhow, he tapes all the equipment together and the duo begin rolling around in the pile of equipment against an almighty cacophony. The next set is really short and about half of it is Miller introducing the name of song they are going to play, which is “Possessions are Fleeting”. It’s a Simpsons reference apparently. They start raging and are done after a minute or two. Onto the third set, which sounds like it is raining nails. The video footage is edited together from a number of different sets it looks like. Actually I think I’m gonna give up on trying separate these as “sets”. One performance is amusing where Miller with his trusty tape roll begins wrapping it around everyone/everything in sight eventually becoming caught in his own web and with the help of Eva’s army of sine waves he finds the strength to break free from his self-adhered shackles. The last show of the tour is my favorite because it’s equally chaotic and destructive aurally and visually. There’s an absolutely wrecked speaker cabinet and a guy in a suit with a bowler that’s doing a vaguely interpretive dance. And Aguila is an out-and-out monster with her circuitry, even watching her I have no idea how she does what she does.
It seems to me that this DVD-r is a great summation of Miller’s and Aguila’s attitudes toward making music, particularly noise music. They make music with supreme positivity. Despite the harsh textures they summon and their destructive tendencies, it’s all done in good-natured expression—you know, for fun. There’s no sort of angst or obsession with violence or misogyny that seems to be bound to harsh noise music way more often than not. And the two have my total respect for their approach.
While “short film” isn’t the most accurate term to bestow upon We Had a Baby and It Will Die it beats “concert film” or “album”—and I’m not even sure what term would be accurate. The DVD is more about the spectacle of the performance as a whole; the noise, the venue, the crowd, Miller’s spasmodic disruptions of Aguila’s concentration all evenly make up the experience of watching this. It’s a unique artifact.
Like any DVD worth its salt, We Had a Baby and It Will Die has special features! Miller and Aguila each contribute an extra short. Aguila’s is called “1st Live at Il Corral” and it features music by Brian Miller set to home video of a southwestern wedding and then cuts to a long continuous shot while a camera is pushed through a drain pipe. It’s impossible to describe why but I have a very creeped out, almost physical reaction to the shot in the pipe. I don’t know if that was the goal, or if I’m a closet claustrophobe or what but, man, it freaks me out every time I see it. Brian Miller’s video is titled “I Can Expand My Universe Without You: an I/O composition in the key of I” which is basically signal destruction on film. I’m pretty sure there’s live footage at the center of this but you’d be hard pressed to make anything out through distorted colors and video glitches. The special feature I’d really like to see though is a DVD commentary; here’s to hoping for a 10th anniversary collector’s edition!
This has been long sold out but, hey, long gone stuff pops up in distros randomly all the time, although so you can taste a bit of the insanity yourself…
Peep this and absorb it, keep the planets in their proper orbit

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