Odd Nosdam fastens a dangling Dictaphone to the sill outside his townhouse window and leaves it there as he goes about his business. He doesn’t know what he’ll hear when he plays the tape, but his months of living by the window must have given him some inkling. When he comes back to the sounds of gunshots, fighting in the streets, and the neighborhood he walks into each day, he weaves them into his palette instead of searching for the meaning behind the sound.
As he works, the spirit of music that came before him hovers over the tape and vinyl spread throughout his room. Shadow is not far away from this Oakland base, and the feeling of cutting the tape with a knife, though lost long ago to someone else’s developments — technology that has separated the artist from his work, yet pulled him closer to his intention — has not gone unnoticed. Dub spills from his speakers, rolling over screams and pulsating beats like a speeding car from some lost Bullitt sequel directed by Dennis Hopper in the early seventies. He sticks a few seconds at the beginning of each track, not to force his songs apart but to bring them together into a unified whole, a creature desperate for air after each narrative. Music is alive, and everything that goes with it and everything that came before it is alive inside of it.
We have Nosdam’s group Clouddead inside of Burner; we can feel the creativity of an artist collective such as Anticon. The artist lives inside his work when it is this careful, this loved. When he is finished, when he transfers his finished work to a permanent space and it becomes something others can hold and listen to and write about, it is no longer his. He transfers his cell, his personhood, to the listener. It is a cinematic work, a work of focus and intensity, and a work that demands attention. As the listener plays the music, they become part of that collective as well. Suddenly, they are living inside of that townhouse, watching the spirits of music long since past hover above them.