YATTA WAHALA

[PTP; 2019]

Styles: voices, poetry, wisdom
Others: Klein, Eartheater, Moor Mother, L’Rain

I‘ve always fantasized about the composition of a symphony that would never actually be performed. Or rather, it would be performed, for there would be an ink-wet score before every instrument’s poise, but the performance would only be anticipated, never accomplished, or accomplished only in its anticipation. The audience might gather to sink into the dark dream-state of a pleated red-velvet horizon. The conductor might quell their chatter with a lift of a baton. Yet whispers might still persist. And the orchestra might all the while be tuning the strings of their hope.

Fragments of a solo would rise, twist, and tangle with the spangled blaze of a chandelier. From the wavering tapestry woven of the assonance of open strings flitting to the perch of their pitch, fragments of a solo would arise. And as the enmeshed-with ascent of parts apart from, yet never parting, converges with and trespasses its design like how the dust of mothwings disperse the flame or shattered glass alleviates the dying moonlight, music might be glimpsed through the seams of its sounds.

The music through and around which YATTA’s music might be glimpsed is incidental and precarious but no less eventful, because like jazz, noise, improv, riots, insurrections, and loving, WAHALA is multiple, disordered, and cacophonous, and just as it reveals the desire for harmony to be as capricious as chaos, so too do its shards, fragments, and slivers proliferate into other impossible futures, as incomprehensibly harmonious as they are revelrous. The music neither begins nor ends with the click of a cassette player nor the abrupt needle drop; it is there in its anticipation, in the dizzying daydreams of where it conveys you (for who can sustain a gaze?), in the words and applause and desires that make it and love it and the listening that continues ever after, for, in it, it has changed you, and you are its echoes, its whispers, its voices.

But voices were always multiple. And symphonies were always sinuous and ancillary, as any melody, flecked with voices before and ever after arrival, is always late in arriving, so always arriving, so always to diverge through any door that opens, any curtain to be crossed, any detour to be designed. Voices were always multiple as music is more than music; music is already something happening, here and always more than here and always elsewhere. And as the music fragments into shreds of the infinite, their voices are not content to unify the sparkling miniatures, but steal away instead with the dense proliferation of broken risks and bare likenesses of other worlds, holding contradictions on the tongue as one might bear a miracle.

Their voices have creases, folds, and furrows. They shriek, they shake. They grieve, they shout, they wreathe, they shiver, tremor, murmur, clamor, cleft with more demands than could be met, but aching with, a waking kiss, they generate the life that lifts them, so many strands, so many lives, so many sorrows stealing away. Throats choked with soil scream and flowers sprout with voices that whisper, gape, and grow rich with a meaning, not so much a longing, nor to be heard, but a meaning, like a growing, of a garden, or a blooming of a sound, a shard in what it sheathes and what it shatters, so voices thrive, writhe, tactile to the touch. So YATTA’s medium of the multiple insists their voices into the space they clear, a poem to be inhabited, a cacophony of the demand.

To spin a lie into alive, perhaps a living, is as scary as it is precarious to survive (“A Lie”). The lie is that you will die. Alive is that you are I am you are (“Underwater, Now”). And living is that blues you sing so well (“Blues”). Or, more precisely, the lie is what “your demons tell you in whispers and mirrors in the mouths of others,” that you will die, which is merely to say that your voice isn’t yours, mired in mirrors and stolen. “Fuck that shit,” they say. “Give it the side eye,” which might proliferate through the mirror-maze a gaze that grows dense and steals tongues away so as to say with as many selves as can slip away through the cracks it creates.

For the lie is the demand to live a life, which must be resisted, as a request that can either be granted or denied cedes authority to that which is the injury — that is, the right to request, the recognition by the state of the right, the redoubling of the injury in submission. And alive is the we who say we don’t want to make any demands, drowning out the authority of the only univocal, single speech that can make demands in the gathering of that we’s own anathemic other kinds of multiplicities of speech. For the other demand is less of an appeal, than a peal of musicked, multiple speech, strident, urgent, and intensifying. For any call, there’s a response in the break of broken voices.

“To steal oneself with a certain blue music,” Moten and Harney write in The Undercommons as they steal away, fly, fight, and flight, where “in the mutations that drive mute, labored, musicked speech as it moves between an incapacity for reasoned or meaningful self-generated utterance” they find exceeding its supposition and imposition “a critical predisposition to steal (away).” In the re- and transgendering mutations of a voice (they cite Al Green’s “errant falsetto” and Big Maybelle’s bass) that pose the questions “what if authoritative speech is detached from the notion of a univocal speaker” and “what if authoritative speech is actually given in the multiplicity and the multivocality of the demand,” the soloist’s centrality is displaced, and so too is the solo, and so too is loneliness when dissonance is emancipated in the rich, complex sociality of multiple, multiply formed voices, not some left over cosmopolitanism, but blackness, more and less than one, and “the bliss of manias being drunk on the infinite” (“Bliss”).

Moten and Harney ask “without calling something to order, how can you still sing?” and YATTA in a way answers from another world’s trajectory that “this song emerges out of the fact that something already was going on.” Music was already being made, in the club, in the bed, in the wind, and wandering informal music that, not formless but in-forming, gives music to form — and more than music, too: incidental music, eventful music that is “in love with the way the beat of this slum-like deictic circle flies off the handles,” that is in love with how its “event music, full of color, blows up the event horizon,” how “the soundwaves from this black hole carry flavorful pictures to touch,” how “the only way to get with them is to sense them.”

“It is, as Sara Ahmed says, queer disorientation, the absence of coherence, but not of things, in the moving presence of absolutely nothing. As Frank B. Wilderson III teaches us, the improvisational imperative is, therefore, ‘to stay in the hold of the ship, despite my fantasies of flight.’” Which in a way is to be held, and hold me, and, I want to be held (“I will definitely feel good”). And, between galaxies beyond galaxies beyond galaxies (“Galaxies”) and “people like me / from lands not like this / and bodies hosting souls too expansive to stay still,” they “have been to dimensions that could help us all” (“Underwater, Now”).

And what is a name if one is multiple and that multiple is held all at once? And how to define that name? How to speak and to breathe from it? “Think of a moment as a sphere within a sphere, it’s just an infinite number of points” Yatta suggests, “each point a possible reality” and “not one or the other, it is all simultaneously.” But the world can’t contain it because there are multiple worlds, and it fucking hurts to be contained if one is more than one, but this more-than-music breaks off into other worlds, each shard and sliver shares a glimpse of futures that come not from the present, but from what in the present is more than present, what is impossible, what is, alive, a living.

“The world was ever after/elsewhere,/no/way where we were/was there.”

“No way where we are is here.”

Eureka!

Some releases are so incredible we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and explore the constructed boundaries between ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ others complement, continue, or rupture traditions that provide new forms and ways of listening. Not all of our favorites will be listed here, but we think each EUREKA! album is worthy of careful consideration. This section is a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux.

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