Review: Jordan Deal – GOGO Underworld (Cor Ardens, Aug 5)

GOGO Underworld exists on the physical plane as a limited run of cassettes housed in hand-set wax boxes with a glass window. Five, ten at most, you’d probably guess. But no, there are a hundred of these objects in the world now, an impressive and admirable feat to say the least—and an illustrative one as well, for the care and dedication that went into crafting the sound’s few vessels in conjunction with the goal of reaching many happen to be quite representative of Jordan Deal’s creative approach itself. These are the first recordings from the Philadelphia-based interdisciplinary artist, but they join an already formidable body of work spanning performance, video, collage, and sculpture. Somehow, these diverse modes of expression are all present on GOGO Underworld in one way or another; this music is gestural, vivid, eclectic, tangible, resonant. The “Intro” is a reserved yet complex welcome to the vast expanse of sonic material from which Deal draws throughout the following tracks, its delicate kaleidoscope of textures blooming into “Lawd!”, a standout piece that rolls together voice, field recordings, radio, and choice electronics into a transcendent, crystalline psychedelia. Earthen fragments that together comprise something otherworldly are a consistent presence, from the fluid communal bricolage of the “SHOUTS” diptych to the phantasmagoric chorus of “dreamARCHIVE.” This latter section features some of the most poignant of Deal’s spoken poetics, quotes from which have remained steadfast in my brain since the first time I heard them (e.g., “We have colonized potentiality”). It’s just one of many examples of how the “multi-dimensional energy worker” excels with both abstract and explicit evocation, existing together in sublime symbiosis. “Your rebirth will be revolutionary.”

GOGO Underworld is a bold, unforgettable first step in Deal’s multimedia project to explore “how the memories and mythologies of the Black diaspora can be used as conduits of historical and cultural preservation, tracing its global footprint—disrupting Western colonial thought modes and deploying dreaming as channels for potentiality, non-linear modes of intercepting time and space, and celebration as resistance.”

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