A banjo is propped up against knotty pine panelling. Dawn is a beat away, but time is paralyzed. Natural light has limited access in the cabin; the banjo is in near darkness. Unexpectedly, a power strip kicks on, filling the cabin with LEDs, lasers, and backlights. Various animistic objects come into view. The lasers scan over the eclectic collection, 77 minutes of ups and downs. Black James, their owner, names each object: “MATURE NATURE KARAOKE,” “GASOLINE RODEO DISCO,” “KNOCK OUT GANG,” etc. They are cosmetic at first glance, like well-designed bottles of booze. But, once they are neatly sipped, things get spirited.
Black James’ adoration of retro gloss is genuine (not nostalgic). Her customization of the mainstream is personal (not commercial). One suspects that the seemingly neglected stringed instrument, propped up against the pine and overshadowed by the dazzling light display and color-soaked electronics, is at the root of the songwriting / ecology; it is out of focus but remains in the center of the frame. From artifice comes Earth, spitting dirt out from the tape deck. A plastic Earth with a feature-length life, mixed, as its orchestrator declares, “TIL IT SOUNDS RITE COMIN OUTTA MA BOOMBOX.”
• Black James: http://blackjamesmusic.tumblr.com