“I think that it is possible only if we start from exhaustion”
– Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi
“I’m tired, you tired”
– Kanye West
Who isn’t tired? Overloaded and bulldozed by the demands of platform capital and post-Fordist job insecurity, we just can’t seem to catch up, catch some z’s, or even catch a break. Referring to the affective labors of care being outsourced to the home and the family as much as the intensified maneuverings required by a precarious, flexibilized job market, an idiom of fatigue seems to have nestled in our registers of feeling and speaking. It is in this lexical field that Superlative Fatigue, Errorsmith’s first full-length album in 13 years, hovers.
Meticulously composed — down to the sine wave — through the synthesizer that Erik Wiegand engineered himself, Superlative Fatigue fizzes gleefully, exhausting itself in the jouissance of its quarks and quantized concatenations. It’s a voyage through pathways of additive synthesis, a whirling poetics of swirl and centrifugation. Charting its path with lightspeed dynamism and ludicrous tempi, its sawtooth traces snarl with a superlative enthusiasm that wheedles the limits of endurance — on the part of the listener and the synth programming alike. Wiegand’s hydraulic machinations trawl the capacities of the Razor synth and flail.
What transpires is an acceleration, an intensification of pitch and dynamics drawing its ravenous sonics from a global repertory of club styles. What transpires hurtles the vocoded interlocutors through shredding filters and pneumatic processing. But, pace Land (and to a lesser degree, Lyotard), Wiegand’s acceleration(ism) stutters — and stays human. What transpires to distinguish Wiegand’s intervention into the techno-futurist milieu is its lateral and parabolic trajectory, one that does not seek its telos in a deterritorializing messianism, but rather slips out, slips up, slips by. It accelerates to give you the slip. To slip and slide through the sinuosity of synthesis and squirrely sibilance. Cybernetic somnolence, it might be said, rather than singularity.
Nowhere else is this magnificent declension as apparent as in the concluding track “My Party.” As an explicit localization of the headlong festivities of Superlative Fatigue, this final song in a sense marks the sputtering out of the party. As an epitaph, it stages a petering-out in which Wiegand’s equipment goes haywire. Driven to its absolute limit of velocity and range, what remains sounds like a harmonized and vocoded scatman, whose closest sonic peer is a wet fart. It’s pure slapstick sonics, highlighting the aesthetic exhaustion of the accelerationist hyperstition that contours and galvanizes the rest of the record. “My Party” effectuates the superlative fatigue that sets in after the medium, to break with McLuhan, cannibalizes the message.
Superlative Fatigue, then, less arrives than exerts and exhales. But its exertions, though pyrrhic in their labors, are something to behold: the inexorable rhythmic ascension of “Lightspeed,” the steel-toed glissando of “Who-is,” and the upward arpeggiation of “I’m Interesting, Cheerful, and Sociable” plot this accelerating trajectory always ecstatically and exhaustingly rocketing skyward. In this progression, notes incandesce and scorch; this is muscular music, primed for compression and flight. The visceral skronk and squelch of “Internet of Screws” only emboldens thermodynamic sinews of progress, its syncopated effluvium the impetus of further expansion. But it, like the record itself, falls into fatigue. The 808s seem to malfunction and just barely crawl to their end, the machinery exhausted and its instruments revealed as, well, instrumental.
The aesthetic Wiegland crafts here is that of honest accelerationism, one that exults in its effusion but admits to its exhaustion. The model Wiegand presents is delectable and human: it attends to the circadian rhythms of our inbuilt machinery as an ode not just to the libidinal drive toward unencumbered acceleration, but to the restorative and reassuring standstill of terminal velocity. From this delicious vantage of exhaustion, everything comes ever so much clearer into focus.