Review: Seth Cooke – Weigh the Word (self-released, Jan 27)

Whispered prophetics, skull-vibrating bass feedback, stop-start static. The uncanny sonority of halted words, syllables once pregnant with meaning reduced to synthetic blips and glitches. The captivating gibberish that dominates Seth Cooke’s stark collages on Weigh the Word is sourced from spoken ministry cassettes recorded between 1996 and 1999, the devotional sermons digitized and chopped up beyond recognition to form something entirely new. Both sides of the C26 cassette contain elusive mixtures of sounds as jittery and unpredictable as the cut-up text that serves as the cover art, the synthesized speech sharing space with granular electronics and disarming dynamic changes. The largely indeterminate and computer-based method of composition used here might imply that Weigh the Word is too far removed from anything recognizably emotional or even organic, but the music itself tells a different story. Especially on side B, the random diatribes adopt something resembling lucidity; the male text-to-speech stating “They were the issue of slavery, you will model something for them yeah okay okay okay okay” while a whirlwind of aggressive static that sounds like an angry cloud of bees threatens to take over is one of the most harrowing things I’ve heard in recent memory. Weigh the Word is another fascinating and singular work from Seth Cooke.

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