In a time of oversaturation and overstimulation, our bodies inhabit fluctuating space, place, and memory. Familiar data is regenerated infinitely through unorthodox experimentation, and our aesthetic faculties are vessels. We rely on sound and image in our attempts to make sense of the collective subconscious of human experience and its worth.
“Trophy Tape” is the title of the first disc of Jason Lescalleet’s 2012 album Songs About Nothing, as well as that of its corresponding video compilation curated by Lescalleet himself. Trophy Tape assigns videos by 13 artists (many of whom work extensively with sound themselves) to the album’s 13 songs, which are both abrasive and vulnerable to listeners. Because Lescalleet’s live performance of these songs hinge on affective and performative command of the space around him through utility of movement and materiality (physical and electronic), viscera, texture, and density become resonating sonic values, allowing for an inwardly visual listening experience that’s translated by each video in a consistently challenging and unsettling fashion. Although each artist’s “bite” varies drastically, there is a psychedelic unity and continuum throughout, whose momentum and risky combinations result in a revelatory and sensory fever pitch.
The sampling and reinterpretation of the “found” as a means of sociological expression is recycled throughout Lescalleet’s work and thankfully mirrored in the videos. Concepts of physicality and movement (in abstract and human form) spiral throughout Trophy Tape, codified in emotion and memory, the violent and the sexual, technology, nostalgia, public and private space, gender, and nascent and liminal states. This makes for a complex and bombastic whole, exemplified well by “The Power of Pussy,” a track that pulsates at desolate frequencies and hurtles toward a Carpenteresque dirge before swelling and deflating. Olivia Block’s video counterpart navigates through a generic parking structure; through dizzying and rapid shifts in movement and in color, she captures the form of the song by manipulating the self-contained order and pattern imposed by the venue (which includes ominous symbol and text instructing exit and direction).
Olivia Block, “The Power Of Pussy” (top); Heidi Alasuvanto, “I Killed Another Day” (bottom)
Relationships between color and movement are synthesized with Lescalleet’s tracks, acting as jarring vehicles and common threads between each video. Colors take shape in minimal fields, oscillating geometric forms (Justin Meyers’ “The Loop”) and frenzied multidimensional distortedness (Jubal Brown’s “10 Amp Waves”). Robert Beatty’s video response to the shrill and punctuated “In Through The Out Door And Another Whore” is epileptically drenched in color, leaving damaged, twisting, practically indistinguishable forms that conjure science fiction tropes and cult footage.
Elsewhere, videos by Ellen Frances (“Old Theme”) and Heidi Alasuvanto (“I Killed Another Day”) are oriented with gender paradigms; both involve the female form propelled by a wide spectrum of movement, fidelity, and color. These forms exist as subjects and functions of their surroundings. States of flux are contrasted with those of paralysis and suspension, with each song extracting a stark rawness from the soft and nebulous, relying on depictions of fabric, ultrasound footage, pregnancy, distortion, claustrophobia, and interpretive dance.
In spite of its declaration of the self as being “about nothing,” the gravity of specificity and detail in the album extends itself in every direction of the video compilation (even as far as the powerful and perplexing effect of titles on each video). Trophy Tape is generous to the viewer by introducing distinct audiovisual identities, but beyond this introduction, it’s the viewer’s responsibility to stumble forward with their own association and perception. Trophy Tape makes a compelling case for the symbiosis between music and video and its capacity to organically unlock various psychogeographic meditations.