Danny L Harle
[PC Music; 2017]
What’s the last thing you remember?
It’s late. You have to wake up early tomorrow. We’ll rise again, then, and drag out our morning haze, “Is this some beginning or the beginning of the end?” We’ll beg to make meaning of sleep’s screens in dawn’s dissonance. In the strain of waking, we’ll reverberate back into our selves from out of sleep. The hallway back to consciousness is lined with grey shapes and weird echoes. Only in dreams we see what it means; only awake do we wonder what it is. We are shaped in systems of sleeping, dreaming, and waking. We are destabilized and recovered, rested and deprived rest. In-consciousness: what language will you dream in tonight?
We call the matter we can’t express thoughts, the unwieldy masses weighty enough to warrant expression. So we talk and sing and sow language, the expression of the cranial intangible chemical fluidities. But for all our efforts to communicate the abstracts (love and hate, wonder, terror), stuff gets lost in our languages. And so we close our eyes and head inward. “In a minute I will wake up/ And learn to live with myself.”
But right now, it’s late. And soon it’ll be early. Lives are determined in such terms. Moments mean now then, shifts breaking re-ending like Danny’s old “Forever,” like “We are here right now/ I need you to know.” After our dawn alarms, we’ll say to each other, I dreamed what does it mean and we’ll look at each other and pull on our feet stuff, dot brows. Already those dreams slip and wilt like flowers. Colors run. Wilting flowers are not broken things; they still shit oxygen, aggravate lungs into fullness, stand for systems of life. The fading of dreams into mornings and days into sleeps is not a death. That curtained highway separating sleeping and waking is memory imagining remembering projected, resignation (“I guess I’ll see you in my dreams, together”) and sigh (“Some dreams just fade away like yesterdays sunset.”)
There’s always time to remind us what we’ll forget. The forgotten stuff, ignored and relegated behind walls way back of the eyelids, is the dream space. Dreams recall re-imagining, and in their embrace, we twist selves, meet desires, stare at terrors. Too bright too fast too big, the dream space is the root of our most bombastic art, flitting from the fantasy factory of Hollywood’s wild heart spectacles to the rhapsodizing words of free verse and pop music, apocalypse road aqua cola for feeding our streams of (un)consciousness. Art as dreams is flowers breaking and re-mending, investigation and respiration of our histories and memories in a single synthesized space. In art, like Lynch and Woolf, like Mad Max: Fury Road and Broken Flowers, we confront convention to shake selves into the inexpressible space. By entering the cultural artifact into the dream space (close to us and far away; an un-home), we achieve clarity through distance: we see what is distorted by could be and if, maybe and unless.
Dreams fall like mallet on marimba; they ping and snap, “I’m here whenever you want,” the voice urges. In dreams, we remind us what we can’t remember wanting.
What’s the last thing you remember wanting?
I want ears to hear Danny L Harle and limbs to spin 1UL, a perfect document of pop music in the dream space, everything dialed way up past WAY UP, Technicolors and throbbing tempos ameliorating and ignoring all our memories. And I want all our dreams to sound like this. I want to move in a sweat like Euclid at the club, cooing “You’re the only one that I belong to/ Every part of me is a part of you.” The title track cascades lazer synth buzzed up over marimba con mustard and bottoms out in the sharpest neon discotheque in your head. Eyes spin, all parts moving; in Danny’s dreams, all limbs are created equal in motion. If you break the flower, it bleeds dreams, the stuff that stands for all our systems of life. In dreams as in pop music, we celebrate the joys we can’t remember and the melancholy we’re not ready for.
Because all our unresolved sadnesses leak through the sounds, like in dreams, like in life. Its creator called 1UL “an expression of melancholic euphoria.”
“Happy All the Time” is immaculate percussion, the whistles and basses at work obliviating sadnesses that nibble until that word happy conquers its accompanying feeling. “Happy All the Time” sees dreams, declines and buys concussion. “1UL” makes sure to separate hearts and bodies and heads, smacks of what mocks with “as if I could ever be the one you love.” 1UL is not a mocking art, but it is a critical one. It strives to separate head from heart from body. (You can’t make this EP if you don’t know how to dance. You can’t make this EP if you haven’t watched the dancefloor from the corner of the room, even a little.) Danny’s art is an exacting knife and anatomizing absorbing, observing the possibilities of dreams/pop music and rendering them in translation, inner-terpretation. (“I’m interested in the idea of like, translation through listening. Like trying to reflect what the listening process feels like.”) It’s there on 2015’s Broken Flowers where “Awake For Hours” is a remixed imagining of “Broken Flowers.” It’s a product of the pop song dreaming, perfect and incisive. Pop songs and dreams patrol crags between desire and humans. Somewhere in the distancing mechanism of pop dreams, we get to stretch from points of familiarity to unaddressed possibilities. We transform and re-find our selves. On 1UL, distance is achieved by separating the dreamer from the dream, making it about the producer. It is mechanism, not matter, and sometimes it chills.
What if you wake up someone else?
These questions that we ask each other (and our artists and their albums) before sleeping and after waking struggle to mine meaning from lives and loves. We want to remember, before waking, what we wanted before sleeping. We document and interpret, talk our dreams out to each other, scratch for meaning in image and in sound, sound alarms over moments. A text like 1UL (and a text like Frank Falisi, a text like you) is the dream and the document, the over-the-top pop of convention that urges to supplant bombast in service of dissembling. 1UL makes meaning of participating. It’s ill-conventional. 1UL sounds good. Remember, “I want our dreams to sound like this.” Remember, in dreams, many things at the same time.
Re-writing the dream is criticizing the inexpressible and manifests as pop music detailing pop music, not people. Dream interpretation is useful and transcendent and cold. The promise of the inexpressible, as dream or as pop, details overleaping history/memory to reflect the world as it is (simultaneously ugly and joyful) and propose a better better one. It’s where we get cheesy untact, ham-fisted earnestness. It’s the heart and furnace that drives the best work of dreamers like Carly and Charli. On 1UL, the (mostly anonymous) female voices don’t grit and grain like E•MO•TION or Number 1 Angel or even Laurel Halo’s Dust. The voice is the expressionless expressing the inexpressible. Pop songs engage engaging; the hook is crush and love and fuck rendered in music, as dream. 1ULrenders dreams in such saturated producted tones and some moments chill where they crave heat. Too much of too much is not enough grain, an unlatching where nightmares convene.
1UL seeks out the conventions, the *NSYNC boppery that haunts Danny L Harle and this review (and this writer). But 1UL also seeks to document the dream, to distance the dreamer from the dream stuff. Pop music as an exercise in perfection (like the producer machines that made the future-90s blurbly tracks for *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys and Britney to hip-pop over) is too sheeny, too compacted and cut off from the anyspace that dreams thrive in. But the blurblies all had Justin Timberlakes, furnaces that keyed into us as we keyed into them. That key is in distances and highways and how they’re collapsed; spaces between realities and dreams, perfections and humanities. There is the sweat and haphazard engagement, and there is the bombast of dismissal; there is the way a body feels waking up from both.
1UL is all we see or seem, and it’s all the better for it. These songs occur before and after the malign world of the Manchester bombing (“It was supposed to be a dream, not a nightmare”) and the London Bridge attack. Dreams will twist us if we let them. An EP review is no place for spinning politic or ceaseless re-characterizing of current events. The world is not a metaphor and it and its art should not be written off as such. And a pop song is no place for a world. “Whether the dreams brought on the fever or the fever brought on the dreams Walter Gilman did not know,” Lovecraft reminds us, “an expression of melancholic euphoria.” Danny and Walter and I walk in the same early mornings, hold heads against similar pillows. The horrors don’t precede hopes. The horrors are the hopes, and the dream splits the difference. 1UL knows how dreams sound. And it hopes for its self and the way it hopes ears will get it. I want every dream to sound like Danny’s. He remembers what he wants. I want every moment of 1UL to be reconciled with hopes for the world we’re in, not the one we can’t get to, the one of apocalypse pop, sheen and not sweat. I want to be the one you love. I know I won’t be, not always. Just like the dreams can’t ever always anything. But to admit in the motion and communing of dreams means that we love the conventions that drive humanity and seek embrace over autopsy. We ground and transcend. We break and flower.
It’s late now. Tomorrow is early. Remember how we sound; remember wanting to dream.