"If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons," that was the hardline from General Zhu Chenghu, dean of China's National defense University, this week. Damn. Instead of thinking about what that could mean, as I foresee our John Wayne prez moving on those folks within the next two years, I realized White Out's new disk China Is Near (ATP Records) had been languishing in my stacks unspun for weeks. Red Shift, the debut of Lin Culbertson and Tom Surgal (and at the time w/ Nuss of NNCK), was a sure year fav at the time of its '97 (!?) outing. Surgual's work in The Blue Humans and his two duos, that I've heard, with T.Moore are hot houses of swarming bees. Intense percussion sheets melting to embers like smores. That type of coverage is nowhere near the aqua scene he and Culbertson fashion: a glorious cast of tones and rumble beat that fills the sky for a a good twenty minutes before fading out. (And on top of that, why hasn't a solo Culbertson slice been released yet?)
China Is Near is their third, again Jim O'Rourke is along and William Winant appears too. The vibe White Out arouses from jettisoning, surely broke down and salvaged synths is often like a hooded Henri Pousseur: black goo bubbles popping at air level, wires shorting out. While escaping into a freedom zone a few steps to the left of La Brea tar, the slo-mo pace White Out often mutates toward is a cloudy reminiscence of jazziz style. Replace the electronics with stringed radiators and a goat's horn and it'd be a guerrilla take on Marion Brown's Afternoon of a Georgia Fawn -- though nightfall would be settin' in. Despite the mountain shearing pummel Winant could inflect here, he tempers additions like his Alvin Curran work, adding nuanced bits of crystal and weeping glass which seem plucked form the cosmos. And really, where he and Surgal end/begin, doesn't matter. Their pot marked rolls and the chiming, raw tones of Culbertson (and O'Rourke?) are the finest strokes of torn new music aesthetic and noisecore rusttlin I've heard this year.
White Out - Lost in Grey
The Blue Humans - Movement (from Clear to Higher Time 1992)