Trash is a term riddled with negative connotations. When we hear that word, we think of everyday unpleasantries such as littered streets or those empty cans on our kitchen counters that we constantly forget to throw out. It becomes even worse when we think about trash in eco-political terms: plastic bags floating in the ocean, hungry birds strangled by them, and all the life suffering by their decay. Not to mention the colonial dimension of the growing heaps of electronic garbage disposed by the West to underdeveloped countries, often the same ones that produced the now useless objects in the first place.
But is it possible to imagine trash as something else? Perhaps as something positive? Not the same type of trash as outlined above, obviously, but a different kind of trash altogether. I don’t think I’ve met a single person who didn’t have a collection, or drawer, of seemingly worthless objects, things that anyone else would throw out on first glance: faded concert tickets, sketches from childhood, perhaps a hair clip that belonged to an ex-lover. Taking a step back from the personal perspective, it’s easy to see these objects as junk. But this is junk that is lived in, junk with an affective dimension that binds them to specific moments in time, junk that survives our imperfect memories and acts as extensions of them. We treat this junk almost like magical objects, infusing them with parts of our personalities before creating actual physical spaces for them to provide us comfort on demand. Like many animals, we create a space for ourselves by collecting objects with little to no practical use value, using them instead to extend our inner feelings into physical space.
Isn’t art trash as well? Its value is imagined, subject to cultural bias or, worse, economic speculation. With age, it becomes, literally, junk: CDs scratched beyond use, paintings in the attic collecting dust, installations long since torn down. How do we perceive the rice that was spilled on a metal plate during a performance and that is now littering the floor? Is it an artistic object or was it only so in the moment of its artistic usage? Is it now junk for someone to clean and throw in a garbage can? Was it ever anything else?
Perfect Lung is refreshing because it’s comfortable with this instability. It almost seems like there was an unnatural level of acceptance with such a condition when Ipek Gorgun and Ceramic TL (aka David Psutka) recorded the album. Its warmth and tranquility is inviting, and in a lot of ways, it’s due to how the album embraces imperfection. Sounds weave in and out, and phrases are left hanging in mid-air, but it’s almost always without tension. “Activator, the Actualizer” is a good example, because it nicely represents the dynamic, lively conversation that persists throughout the album. Sometimes they’ll disagree, sometimes they’re in unison, but most of the time, they create a space for coexistence through difference. They are imperfect in themselves, often hissing with noise and howling with resonant frequencies that conjure dissonance, but in this process, they feel lived in and, as a result, comforting.
Perfect Lung brings an approach to excess that is divorced from the dystopian reflections that seem to dominate trash discourse. In its peculiar flirtations with musique concrète, it exists to fill our aural spaces in the way that we fill our physical space with random objects: constantly changing them to account for our affects. The album, like moments in the songs themselves, seems as comfortable hanging around as fading away, perfectly content with the idea that it will eventually pass or be replaced. It’s this comforting disposition that makes the album all the more pleasant to listen to.