Earlier this year, Lee Bannon gave us Reflections 2012-2016, a collection of 30 flayed drum & bass tracks spanning just over two hours. The cheap foam ear pads on my headphones pressing against the sides of my ears throughout a long flight, I must have listened to it twice awake and twice asleep before I woke up with sore ears. Not all of the tracks are built around a break; there are some post-Rotterdam moments, a couple post-Burial ones, ambient interludes, and tracks like “3m16-disc1,” an eight-and-a-half-minute long wash of reverb and bass without any drums. It is almost as eclectic as Bannon’s discography under that name; sometimes still described as a jungle-minded rap producer, he moved so deftly between Joey Bada$$ singles and the airy abstraction of Pattern of Excel that he has earned a rare place for himself in between the boundaries of the terms critics use to describe music and challenging the veracity of those terms. True, like the Lee Bannon phase of Lee Bannon’s discography, Reflections could be summed up along the lines of its jungle and rap influences, but also along those of a powerful and transmutative underworld of his own conceit.
(The(e)) Dedekind(c/ C)ut inhabits fully this underworld — not a noisy place, but one in which order and noise are miraculously reconciled. In math, the Dedekind cut is a conceptual tool for describing integers, as if arguing for their possibility to those caught up in Zeno’s confusion; it involves both the pensive drive to question appearances and the functional knowledge that appearances matter. A commitment to splitting open such dualities is the mischievous thread of continuity between Bannon’s Reflections, an explosive release of five years of hardcore energy, and American Zen, Dedekind Cut’s bleak monument to generalized anxiety and spiritual crisis. The correspondence is even closer in the case of the Cut’s collaboration with Rabit, R&D, a passionate and incidental piece of work along the lines of Reflections’s split consciousness. The first Dedekind Cut LP, $uccessor, belongs equally to American Zen’s moody clamor and R&D’s emphatic fury. The forces of clarity and obscurity combine their efforts, no longer Homeric islands of adjacent peril. Enough with all the cutting, it seems to say, as hot melts into cold, high into low, sound into silence. There is no more first or last, but only and always the $uccessor.
Squarely speaking a “drone album,” it would be wrong to speak of $uccessor without mentioning the baggage with which it slogs along from various stops in grime, plunderphonics, and New Age. “Maxine” incorporates the same synth string and vocal samples as most of Oneohtrix Point Never’s now-treasured vapor classic R Plus Seven, though the point doesn’t seem to be pastiche, but rather a lushly shallow, shallowly lush space of reprieve. Where the aptly titled “Conversations with angels” kind of barely happens, suspended like a wind chime caught in a tape loop, other cuts like opener “Descend from now” happen like hell, sharpening distant crescendos into bubbling, airy leads and strings. Don’t get me started on the “Integra” flute.
Like the figures on the photograph “Cowboys” by Diana Lawson, used as the LP art, Dedekind’s nine $uccessor cuts escape description, but not by passing into nothing, for they are nothing if not present. They are a commanding and unconventional image of freedom. It is a singular and refined project, even as it truthfully $ucceeds Bannon’s other projects, paying its respects to them in varied ways, like the radio noise and cinematic interruptions of “Instinct” and the grimey atmosphere of the earlier part of “Fear in reverse.” Not quite abstraction and note quite representation, $uccessor is marked by its persistent attendance of texture and relationship in sound, placing them high above rhythm and melody. The album stages interactions, sometimes moody and often sublime, in audible collage with a thick sense of narrative. The place Dedekind Cut wants to take you isn’t a place I can follow you in prose, and I’m a lousy poet, so I’ll leave you with my enthusiastic recommendation.