[Halcyon Veil; 2017]
“Some people want to run things, other things want to run. If they ask you, tell them we were flying. Knowledge of freedom is (in) the invention of escape, stealing away in the confines, in the form, of a break. This is held close in the open song of the ones who are supposed to be silent.”
– Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, “Blackness and Governance,” p. 51 in The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study
“Come with me/come with me/come with me inside/come with me/to feel that we belong”
– Mhysa, “Special Need Intro”
Five moments/five flights of fantasy
1. “Special Needs Intro,” “Glory Be Black”
Mhysa’s fantasii shimmers into existence, animated by a voice that echoes into the ether; her words repeated, their pitch-shifting. It invites the listener in and down, invites them to follow the voice that utters these words, this voice that drifts and pauses, bending and twisting, laced and lanced to the gossamer textures that swim beneath it. The voice invites you to share in a feeling, to enter a space, a feeling and space that is ongoing, that moves like a stream — rushing, drifting. The voice turns, its affects shifting, shuttling between serenity and melancholy, agitation and stimulation. The voice becomes voices, layered, balanced, weighted, weightless. She/It/They form(s) simmering ambiences, calling plangently, falling intimately into nothingness, into “another place, a wild place […] that continuously produces its own unregulated wildness.”1 The wild beyond.
2. “Spectrum,” “STROBE”
And then, a beat. A beat shot through by warped, sharp synths. A beat that shuffles, punches, and kicks — propulsive, probing, mercurial. The voice, returning: “You told me/ The sky was green/ I believed those things,” and “Build me a spectrum/ Only we can see/ I wanna be naive.” Naivety, resignified as a belief in the possible, an openness to that which does not and may not exist, to that which is reached through faith, by pushing through, into other spaces (“I hide in the spaces/ Where mothers can’t see/ ‘Cause I believe those things”), where the possible is reshaped, where building takes place, where order dissolves, where noise, heat, and sound vibrate and collide.
A camera’s shutter, a strident beat, hi-hat triplets. Think Jam City’s Classical Curves. “So many pics it’s like I got my own strobe light/ That flash from the back got my ass looking so right.” “Click, click, click, click, click.”
3. “Bb,” “Siren Song”
“Do you ever think about it?” “Maybe sometimes” “Do you think about it now?/ Do you think about me now?” Chopped harp glissandos, an ominous beat, crawling narcotically. Caustic, minimal percussion that details precise interactions between claps, hits, and chimes. The emergence of an erotics: “What about when you’re cold at night/ Do you think about it then?” “What about if you’re lonely at night/ Do you think about it?,” “What about when you’re too warm at night/ Do you think about it then?” An eroticism at a distance, a hapticality2 (“Touching me/ And kissing me/ Loving me/ Still loving me”) that subsumes the beat. The object of desire is elsewhere, the distance between voice and object, between bodies, is mediated by fingers and lips. Lyrics and beat unfold, circling each other, tracing, touching; purposeful and patient. The voice wraps itself in textures and moods, curving and shifting across vast distances with spectral ease.
The voice reaches out, washes of sound — metallic, wailing — yawn beneath it. The voice expands with and through the sound, plunging into it, animated by it. An erotics of voice and sound — tussling, nuzzling, backs arching, limbs stretching. TLC’s “Red Light Special” is summoned, beckoning the lover inward. The request is fluid, soft, tender. This is music as persistence, a moving-with, a staying-with. Influences, resonances, and echoes the ether from which it emerges, its conditions of possibility.
4. “You’re Not About That Lyfe,” “For Doris Payne”
A return to the club. A beat that enfolds grime and ballroom — woozy melodies, fast-paced claps, breaking glass. A movement that elides the club, drifting and sliding as it meditates on its affects and possibilities. A dwelling in the swell of the ambient, in the heat of the moment, in the climax of the erotic.
“It don’t matter/ It never has”. Subterranean tones, ungraspable and dolorous. The sounds of glass, pulsing, retreating. An assemblage of discarded parts. Silence. Violence. An industrial beat that shatters and pounds. Pulse-X bass. The voice, floating above the percussive detonations, buoyed by the aftershocks. An ecstatic, inverted take on “When Doves Cry.”
5. Molten music. Liquid constructions. Streaming into the wild beyond.
1. Jack Halberstam, “The Wild Beyond: With And For The Undercommons,” p.7, in Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study
2. “Hapticality, the touch of the undercommons, the interiority of sentiment, the feel that what is to come is here. Hapticality, the capacity to feel though others, for others to feel through you, for you to feel them feeling you” – Moten and Harney, “Fantasy In The Hold,” p. 98. in The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study