Review: Subversive Intentions – Not the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the Anthropocene (Histamine Tapes, Sep 25)

Whether their intentions are to subvert, the intentions themselves are subversive, or both, the artist behind the aptly-named Subversive Intentions (Brunswick, Maine–based musician ND Dentico, an alias they also release music under, including several tapes also on Histamine and Things I Wrote at Work on Lurker Bias) conjures an entire world over the 60-minute duration of this spellbinding tape, immersive and unpredictable and thought-provoking. Many of Dentico’s albums have extensive, thoughtful introductions by the artist, and Not the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the Anthropocene is no exception. From it, we learn that this new work is not only a conscious return to the more amateurish, lo-fi quality of “early Subversive Intentions,” but also an “album about climate change.” The former is accomplished through the use of smartphone mics for recording, while the latter surfaces both abstractly and directly; trapped in ongoing interaction are sounds of humanity—from everyday conversations and songs and ambient chatter to excerpts from news broadcasts—and a potpourri of much less identifiable textures: contact mic scrabble, clinking utensils, appliance hum, rumbling crackle-drones, delay warble, and other assorted clatter, as well as artfully awkward additions of bass guitar and glockenspiel, while digital tears and glitches mar the later tracks. Various voices speak to the central issue amidst this dust-covered bricolage: a depressing succession of news anchors stating “Hottest Year on Record” headlines in the track of the same name, children and strangers express love for the environment, indignant but exhausted scientists speak in “Taping It Up,” loud-mouthed deniers and even a brief intrusion by the shitbag-in-chief himself, Thunberg’s legendary UN speech is channeled in “House Is on Fire.” As the ugly, inevitable end of the Anthropocene threatens to arrive far sooner than we anticipated, conversations in all forms about climate change (such as this one) become even more critical.

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