Review: Brandstifter & Diurnal Burdens – Miraculous Seepage (Crow Versus Crow, Feb 26)

The second of two freshly released collaborations between the hermetic Brandstifter and Steep Gloss operator/poet/tape-mangler Ross Scott-Buccleuch (a.k.a. Diurnal Burdens), Miraculous Seepage is a sickly product of a sickly time, the dark, murky currents of uncertainty and unease that lurk and drip between the sparse, loosely-strung chain of bright spots we’ve taught ourselves to call life. The stuffy queasiness of “The Crazy Sandman’s COVID Coughdrops Swallowed by a Flock of Seagulls” sets the stage for some good ol’ auditory théâtre de l’absurde, its sweaty, humid lethargy surprisingly inviting despite the unavoidable association with
that awful pre-sickness twinge. “S. Scheint in Solcher Zeit” is indeed a series of “spliced scenes on a carousel looping,” and one of only a select few of the pieces with a grounding element in the form of graspable tape cycles; the versatile medium is almost certainly used on every track, but lost in the insubstantial, steaming wisps of “Sigue Sigue Sea Lions Rolling Iced Dices in Polar Nights” or stifled sewer-drain stumble of “Frozen Digeridoo Talking about Foot Fetish by Church Bells” it’s not hard to lose one’s footing, and after that there’s no floor—let alone a rotating carousel—on which to regain it. At first, it really seems as though there isn’t much here, so one must look closely to see the gold.

“My father in a broth-stained undershirt
as he laughs weary in our weak-light kitchen

sounds like a mouse running—raspy chuckle,
fear scurry, grain of rice seized and bitten.

How small one life is, and how tightly
we hold on to it.  But cancer (for example)

can grab life back, knot up a tumor fist
unremovable.  What then must a person do?

Live smaller and smaller.  Wash a bowl
as my father does, with a motion as of

panning for gold, glint in his mouth
as he peers down—not smiling, not grimacing—

into the water, dimmer and dimmer, knives at the bottom.”

—Roger Fanning, “Glint of Gold Tooth in a Poorly Lit Kitchen”