Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bob Marsh-Viovox; Public Eyesore #109, 2008

It seems as though conversations between creative/thoughtful/non-wealthy people in the San Francisco Bay Area increasingly feature an element of "where in the hell are we going to move once our landlord evicts us?". This has at least been the case for Disaster Amnesiac for the past couple of years. I hear about more and more people having to pack things up and leave the places that they'd been calling home; a move to entirely different city or state has been pretty often the case in these circumstances. The complicated property rights and human rights issued that these conversations touch upon are way beyond the scope of this humble blog, but, in this instance, I write about a friend's work, this friend having had to recently pull up stakes and leave the community within which he'd been working and thriving for several years.
Bob Marsh gifted Disaster Amnesiac a copy of Viovox at he and his partner, painter/percussionist Sandra Yolles', house during the first of their two moving potlatch events in late September of this year. He noticed me looking at it, and suggested that I take it and enjoy it.
Enjoy it, I certainly have!
The disc features Bob on spoken word, which he mixes with processed violin, cello, and sampled sounds. 
Viovox has a very Avant-Garde, Experimental Music sound throughout, but is always imbued with the kind of human and intimate flavor that makes it quite pleasurable to hear. It never feels like a pointless exercise.
Marsh's raw, Punk Rock/Industrial feels on the stringed instruments definitely add to this property, as his playing style is indeed heavy, in the sense of it having physical impact. Bob does not coddle his instruments. Of course, this is not to say that he bashes them around either, it's just that, as one listens, one can feel their effects. It's this type of playing, rooted as much in Folk traditions as any 20th Century forms, that Bob always brings to his music.
Also within the Folk music matrix is the tradition of verbal information transmission. On pieces such as Rich Rule and Bring Out the Dead, Marsh achieves almost Medieval tones of narrative, while on Fuck It All and Calm Down his concerns seem more contemporary if equally "primal", even "alien" at times. Disaster Amnesiac has been marveling at the ways in which Bob effectively externalizes the internal dialogues that we are all going through. It strikes me that there is an element of autism or even insanity within these types of dialogues, and one of the highest functions of art is its ability to release these "demons"; on Viovox, Marsh sounds as if he is, in many ways, doing so, and inviting the active listener to participate in this process.
Mixed together, the twin elements of strings and voices blend richly in Viovox, providing for a fascinating, fun, and sometimes cathartic musical experience. Although challenging, it's never boring.
Bob and Sandy are now on their way east, searching for a new home in a more affordable area of the U.S. Any community in which they will reside will be better for their presence. Disaster Amnesiac is glad for any Bob Marsh recordings present in my musical library, especially since it will be challenging to see him, going forward.

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