Dedekind Cut Tahoe

[Kranky; 2018]

Styles: nu age
Others: V/A (Light in the Attic), Private Issue New Age Music in America, 1950-1990; Lonnie Holley, Just Before Music; Sean McCann, Music for Private Ensemble

Fred Welton Warmsley III has found a home. A home! And the soothing ease of settling into space…

But what is a home? It is a building as much as it is a dwelling. The sounds of Tahoe sing the emergence of the voice, which, in the yearning for a more blissful existence, creates space in which to inhabit at the very instant it yearns for it. Or: in the beginning was the voice.

A thesis: the first home, the cave, was also the first musical instrument. And life? Merely the ochre-pressed handprints upon its walls, enlivened by the voices’ celebrations for home. A corollary: the echoes of the voices’ celebration that the walls of a home compound and resound are tinged with a melancholy heartbreak. Why?

Or: in the beginning was the voice that yearned for a home and created it the instant it yearned for it. And then the voices heard the echoes of their yearning in the midst of their celebration and they sorrowed, for they discovered their newfound corporeality to be a separation from their source. There were walls now and the walls echoed a sound that came from before there were walls. The yearning for home heard in the home such yearning created is still a yearning for home, but misplaced, transposed, transfigured. The phrase: Yes, poetically we dwell on this earth. The phrase: Yet, poetically, we dwell.

Yet, what separates also brings together. What is a home, if not this juncture at which eternities clash? What are we if not this crisis?

But why are we speaking of this music as if it were music before music, as if it were the very origin of music? In a sense, this is precisely what Tahoe is. Dedekind Cut’s prior project, $ucessor, defined the border of music and promptly trespassed it. Such a sonic venture does not situate itself within a tradition whose voracious appetite for $uccess speeds forward in a succession without end, but rather it stands as a daunting figure at the point after the last sound has sounded, after the last bell has rung1. Only there can sounds become sounds again, healed of the homophony of the $ignifier. If $ucessor is the finality of the final, then Tahoe is the beginning that begins. Tahoe is a voice that emerges after the rupture, the voice that creates itself anew, settling into itself as into a home.

The sound of the bubbling source of things. The sound of its reverberating ripples. The frothing foam flung from the clash of earth and sea. Throat-sung hollow voices; thread-bare lamentations; ancient chorales that spire into lovely blue as incense does, filling an empty church with sky. Voices as much the creation of space as they are space itself. Material before interpretation, fabric before symbols that, embroidering it, suffocate its clear expanse. Emergent, they merge into breathing, breath as the gathering of what is separated into what separates. Poetically, we dwell. We measure what it is that our existence divides. Is there measure on this earth? There is none. Is the unknown manifest? As the sky. From below, we look above. I do not expect to touch the sky, says Sappho. Warmsley disagrees: a home is the juncture between but also the merging of sky with earth.

How are we to listen to an album that demands such specificity for listening — the optimum places for listening as listed on the cover are not places but spaces, distances to be traversed — or else distances from some other place — the utmost specificity — home.

1. Although Warmsley’s project borrows its name from the mathematician Richard Dedekind, he might be more akin to Georg Cantor (cantor > cantus > canere — “to sing”). The latter’s project “Contributions to the Founding of the Theory of Transfinite Numbers” lays out most famously that just as one can define well-ordered sets of finite ordinal numbers by a series of smallest elements, one can do this also with infinite sets, or the so-called transfinite numbers (cf. Thereom F, pg. 173). Thus, the place $uccessor occupies, the point after the last, in a sense has mathematical meaning, since “infinite” numbers can be greater or lesser than. The former’s project, “Continuity and Irrational Numbers,” wherefrom arises the term Dedekind Cut, seems more akin to Tahoe. Consider the definition he proposes for “continuity” on pg. 5: “If all points of the straight line fall into two classes such that every point of the first class lies to the left of every point of the second class, then there exists one and only one point which produces this division of all points into two classes, this severing of the straight line into two portions.” Is this not the juncture the voice as the home occupies? The continuous as defined by what ruptures it? From the point after the last point, to the point outside of them all.

Most Read