Review: Mike Kleine – Karaoke Night at Daisuke’s (self-released, Nov 7)

Writer and poet Mike Kleine has published a number of books since Mastodon Farm, his debut, in 2012, but Karaoke Night at Daisuke’s, the cassette and digital audio counterpart to the chapbook of the same name, is his first officially released music (I use “music” loosely here, but then again, don’t I always?). The fifteen-minute piece, which is split into 37 bite-sized tracks for the digital version, mainly consists of various Microsoft text-to-speech voices reading choice excerpts from the book, usually backgrounded or undergirded by eclectic electronics, field recordings, and other oddities. I’m not familiar with Kleine’s written work outside of this particular chapbook, but based only on the material here his style has a mostly sensible but slightly volatile ranting quality to it, perhaps comparable to the output of an unusually finetuned predictive text keyboard, so the computerized oration works really well, often even adding to the humor or poignance of certain lines. I’m also woefully unqualified to engage with any themes from the Negarestani book or other CCRU works, but there are plenty of allusions that are quite a bit more familiar: Merzbow, The Gerogerigegege, Tommy Wright III, Candyman. The multidimensionality of Kleine’s project is well-situated within an emerging (but still elusive) approach to spoken word and text-sound that can be provocatively dubbed “avant-podcasting”: bizarrely shaped cross-sections of (not-so-)popular culture whose superficial features align with conventional reality but whose internal logics do not. From hilarious Rupi Kaur pastiches—“it’s the year of the kaiju. / google maps, up on the centre dash / cocaine white range rov’, hella performing like a literal piece of shit. / tommy wright iii, on the car hifi saying words. but all i want right now is sleep. / (truly.)” [Kleine 11]—to French tirades and fleeting nonsensical episodes, Karaoke Night at Daisuke’s is a blast both heard and read.

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