Croatian Amor Isa

[Posh Isolation; 2019]

Styles: posh isolation, sound collage, ice cold
Others: Varg, Severin, Minais B, Lee Gamble

(whose end
of the world
is
the end
of the
world?)
(whose ending of the world
is
the ending of
the world?)
(whose apocalypse is
the
apocalypse?)
(who survives
but
is not considered
to have survived?)

– Keguro Macharia

I cannot, for the life of me, understand why Loke Rahbek seems so determined to make such miserable music. Is it the weather in Copenhagen or something? Sure, it gets rainy and foggy up in those high Norse latitudes, and the lines for free medical care might get a little long, but if I had any of those cheekbones, those slicked locks, or that Posh Isolation cred, I think I’d lean a little more toward gratitude or celebration as my aesthetic thematics.

But this is a music review, not a psychological profile of either Rahbek or me; at issue here is what Rahbek has chosen as his sonic palette for this hypothermic offering, not why. The press release does all my work for me: moody Norwegian conjures “a nauseating narrative of virtual communication and eschatological programming,” forecasting a bleak future through drone atmospherics and hollow 808s. Rahbek’s even conscripted his own robocops to securitize its precincts, as the digitized, dispassionate declamations of Soho Rezanejad, Jonnine Standish, Alto Aria, Federikke Hoffmeier, and Sean Bowie narrate the bare outer reaches of Rahbek’s frigid, algorithmic society of control. Skirting the anxious interregnum between prophecy and command, these dispatches contour the parameters of this apocalyptic fantasy. They direct the listening of Isa with the authority of a nightmare, their scaffolding also a foreclosure.

The fractured architectures Rahbek constructs writhe and suffocate with serious anguish, attesting to both Rahbek’s prodigious ear for sound design and the limitations of worldbuilding as a fetishist musical practice. As Nick James Scavo notes in his year-end essay on worldbuilding as an emergent technics, worldbuilding necessitates and reiterates a disavowal, a distancing from the apocalypse whose signs its author excavates in the present but whose appearance in the fantasy defers to a derealized future.

“Brutality makes us feel safe,” Rezanejad’s digitized voice confesses in what might be a critique of a weaponized security state exacting violence elsewhere or quietist fantasies of isolationism. But who exactly is being brutalized here?

The brutality is not here, but displaced, a backdrop to both Rahbek’s listener and our cyborg narrators. The vague gestures toward violence and atrocities in Isa subtly, hazily emplot the listening present and the apocalyptic future in a relation of non-coincidence. Who gets to lay claim to the apocalypse (qua apocalypse)? For whom is the apocalypse a fantasy, and for whom is it a condition, a premise rather than a fetish?

There is a silent genitive of such a fantasy. The alienation that suffuses Rahbek’s eschaton overrepresents apocalypse as a false universal: Isa, in its gleaming tones and kneading percussivity, presents a luxurious apocalypse. Despite its prickly sonics and inaccessible veneer, Isa takes recourse to a privilege of gratuitous futurity, a privilege its cold sheen blinds itself from registering.

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