Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kim Taeyong/Lee Youngji/Ryu Hankil - profile (manual)

The first of two very unusual and provocative releases on this fine label. The seriously attractive case contains both a disc and a story (by Kim and Lee, printed in both Korean and English, translated by Lee Jooyeup). The story is in three sections, the second of which consisting of a single sentence, a kind of "dash" between narratives. Beckett is the clear influence on this dream-like, paranoid and quite well-written piece, the narrator describing rooms, hallways and such in what seems to be an empty office building beginning to show signs of decay. There's a wonderful rhythm in the passages as translated, a tense balance between short sentences (two or three words) and longer ones. I'm sure I was more sensitive to these rhythmic elements because of Ryu's accompaniment, which consists of himself typing out the very same manuscript.

He uses a "prepared" typewriter, the keys and levers (I take it) attached via wires and whatnot to other sound-producing mechanisms, often metallic in nature. One is naturally compelled to read along while listening and, in truth, the sounds reinforce the coldness of the empty halls, like the ghosts of secretaries and stenographers. As well, the non-typewriter sounds connote, somehow, a sense of dread within the story context, inexplicable noises emerging from rooms wherein hang even less decipherable numbers. These sounds are reasonably enjoyable on their won but gain immensely when heard as a co-equal element with the text.

A great idea then, expertly handled; one wonders if it would suffice to engage in this sort of thing once or if there's enough meat to do so more often. Well....

lo wie/Ryu Hankil - Beckett's Typist (Manual)

....Ryu did it again.

Here, the title of the piece alludes directly to the guiding spirit, this time though presented perhaps a bit more as poetry, in Chinese and English (no translator listed, presumably done so by the author himself--herself?). The text is semi-repetitive, often iterating the same phrases, recontextualized; "I am in my mother's room" (Richard notes as being extracted from Beckett's "Malloy") begins several sections, for instance. While obscure, it refers to solid, everyday things and events, though dissociated from narrative, almost as if excised from a larger story, leading toward Beckettian segments such as, "I said./I cried./he said./he said./I said./did know/I said./Too late."

Ryu, in the title role, is more typewriterly here. I guess there are some enhancements, but it's possible to imagine the sounds as all being derived from a slightly off-kilter electric typewriter. There's an angularity present in the sounds, an erose aspect that once again melds perfectly with the text. I can't add too much more to Richard's excellent piece of a few days ago, really. The link one makes between text and sound seems to work particularly well here, the persisting intensity of the keystrokes varying like the words yet having an overarching sameness, like the words, an obsession with a small but possibly important slice of the author's life.

Both releases are excellent, both thought provoking, each something I think I'll return to over the years.


available from Erst Dist

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