Notions of home in an anthropocentric sense are transient and prejudiced in every possible way. Alexander Wendt would allege these perceptions to derive from an idiosyncratic formula for attributing value and norm-based intersubjective knowledge to natural surroundings or environments that harbor moments in time, which remain eternally fractured and encapsulated by either an individual or clan. These perceptions are then shared and projected in alternate spaces that create partnerships, truces, and rivalries conducive to surrounding nature, while nature itself, John Dewey quipped, “Is the mother and the habitat of man, even if sometimes a stepmother and an unfriendly home.” We are therefore burdened with an incarnation of the ultra-personal within environments through which we have little control and that remain with us both figuratively and subconsciously as psychical (and even virtual) borders are transcended — the habitat is subverted through both intersubjective knowledge and the wrath of mother nature as a consequence of our metaphysical experiences blooming and withering through interaction.
On pro habitat, notions of home through an audiocentric lens are dislocated, looped, and reshuffled through methods that rekindle those anthropocentric experiences, which are hybridized and trimmed to the mean average length of 80.5 seconds a piece. A defining detail of what ahnnu, a.k.a. Leland Jackson, explores is how these experiences occur sonically, through echoic memory patterns and personal soundtracks that revolve predominantly around hip-hop subcultures, but also as leitmotifs that reflect on the very nature of close-knit urban relationships. This is achieved through dissecting melodies and recorded speech with tracks from rampantly versatile backgrounds, captured in the passing interplay of entertainment, cultural gesticulation, and discussion before splicing them outside of their original contexts, only to inevitably form new ones.
ahnnu explored the consequences of this hermetic interweaving earlier in the year with Couch, which was released digitally and on cassette through Culture Dealer back in January. The revisiting of that tested format, this time through WTR CLR, signifies a desire to continue releasing on a re-fetishized output medium as well as a digital one, which is perhaps an indicator of the sample-selection process and audio platforms that are explored on both records. A lot of the material used, particularly on pro habitat, bears a fitting 1990s property, though it is not easy to discern the original source without bearing witness to what would undoubtedly be a boundless manual of liner notes. Both releases recontextualize the material they shanghai with such rapidity, yet there is an underlying sense that every split second has been handpicked from a fistful of memories and biases to become part of the beautifully rich ahnnu tapestry.
This is executed with much greater preponderance on pro habitat, which amplifies the artist’s methodological refinement in crafting such a startlingly brittle coalescence. Although genre here has no frame of reference given the diversity in selection, the desired affect remains enlightened and coherent. While “yuriah” integrates reverberated acoustic guitar strokes and subtle trip-hop loops, “canopoli” couples jagged scratching and crisp hip-hop beats with tangled strings that flail into a sample about how music should be “barely noticeable and non-distracting.” Ligetian etudes are then muffled with double-bass samples and a chuckling female voice, which are then pitted against an astringent warning about “catching a fucking bullet” — each of these components is brilliantly arranged and given a new home in the process, as otherwise estranged styles and personalities bump up against one another in what Michael Sandel would claim to be an imperative experience in the social aspects of daily life. What ahnuu achieves here, however, does not form the basis of a multicultural treatise or harbor insight to social constructivist theorems. Instead, musical ideas, styles, and perceptions are tightly bound into an extraordinarily intricate release, making for a dazzling listen that allows each and every sample to shine in its appended domicile, essentially pro-habitatum.