“There must be an open space in the paintings — an entry space for the viewer, or even for me. Just white space where you can get into it.”
– Norbert Bisky
Based solely on its name, immediate aesthetics, and its release on a label by an artist who (literally) infected his sound sources with a computer virus, it seems like Co La’s Hegemony of Delete would fit comfortably into a virtual space that has been increasingly populated by “post-internet” techno records concerned with how we process information in a digital world. However, what’s unique about Co La’s new mini LP on James Hoff’s Primary Information is that it presents and flickers light on this supposed trend of meta-critical computer music, exposing through its hyper-focused concept and succinct execution a dimension that we ironically often forget exists: time. Unlike D/P/I’s stunning MN.ROY, of which Birkut eloquently observed that “time is of absolutely no constraint” to its creator, Hegemony of Delete operates on and echoes real-time operations carried out within a tight working schedule. It is, in more ways than musically, bound by and subject to time and how objects move through it. Therefore, Hegemony of Delete’s sense of time as an inhabitable construct — not excluding obvious musical measures of time like quarter notes locked into a 4/4 time signature — also reflects how humans move through these kinds of signatures as well, situated within them by complex systems of power.
But there is a reason I started this review with a quote by German painter Norbert Bisky rather than a Foucault quote; Co La’s work (which is a pragmatic, sonic, and object-ive example of how hegemonic give-and-take works within systems) is much less cynical than Foucault’s post-structuralist critical theory. Interaction and engagement with Hegemony of Delete requires acceptance (not deconstruction) of common electronic musical forms (techno, microhouse, bass music) as well as a kind of spacial awareness and understanding when harsher noises bounce back. Yet like a Bisky fresco, there are accessible entryways at every intersection and from every angle. Finding enjoyment in Hegemony of Delete, then, is falling in line and keeping up with its pace, which is constantly interrupted by occupational hazards, everyday glitches that warrant all that extra built-in breathing room.
If all this sounds like it would make for a dry, cursory listen, keep in mind hegemony’s essential reciprocal tenant. Moving through Hegemony of Delete more than once, you will find that not only are these theoretical perspectives apparent in its many transparently telegraphed signs (snippets of office noises, chatter, Muzak, etc.), they are also additional ways in and ways through. Becoming familiar with its passages and its physical qualities (how absorbent its walls are, how sound travels through it, how it bends) will give you greater control over your time there. Over time, you will find aural shortcuts, yet sometimes you will find yourself thrown-off where you haven’t been before. But in these instances that require patient reorienting (for me, “Drama Regime” and “Hegemony of Delete” hide Hegemony of Delete’s most ecstatic moments) lie its most precious takeaways.
So, despite its moments of coldness (both musically and in its own politics as expressed through its song titles), Hegemony of Delete’s most memorable and most forgettable quality is its shifting array of accessible avenues. Sonic details blur here just like material details of our everyday lives become scuffed in our memories, but these spaces that we routinely inhabit still retain their intimate familiarity. This is what makes Hegemony of Delete so continually fascinating, even if it is in a rather mundane way; each listen is a reset, yet even though they say “every time is exactly the same,” maybe this time through you’ll experience that EUREKA! moment between incidental crackles. Maybe this time, it’ll all make sense. Maybe it won’t. Either way, Hegemony of Delete, even in its empty spaces, will still be here, its doors, if not wide, left open.