For quite some time now, there has been no shortage of art that has made comment on the increasing speed with which we are collectively bombarded with communication. Really, the issue has been approached from every conceivable angle — from Alvin Toeffler’s predictive Future Shock, to John Cage [and Lejaren Hiller]’s absurdist HPSCHD, to Negativland’s panicked track Quiet Please on Escape from Noise, to Satanicpornocultshop’s revelatory album Anorexia Gas Balloon; which embraced detritus as an aesthetic.
It would also be easy to make the case that nearly the entire noise genre is a composite of reaction to (and acceptance of) this bombardment, at times rendering even Toeffler’s worst scenarios relatively tame.
Unless you’re living under a rock, this isn’t really fresh material. But of course, artists are products of their environment — so the question becomes, “how do I make this new?” A_dontigny, half of morceaux_de_machines and a full fan of the underscore, seems to have found himself in such a position with his first solo album for the No Type label, Geisteswissenschaften. For those who aren’t aware, this mouthful of text is more or less the German translation of “Humanities,” as in the study of, etc…
Much like such studied pursuits, attempting to nail down Geisteswissenschaften is equally futile. A_dontigny flirts at the edge of enough nearly-familiar material and structure to confound any sort of pigeon-holing, meaningful categorization, or understanding. It’s as if he is standing in a secret area of a Venn diagram, particularly in the impressively-crafted tracks featuring composer Paul Dolden. This is intricate music, filled with conflicting patterns which alternate from being ridiculously wrong to being surprisingly right.
I don’t know if it was A_dontigny’s intent to create a document so laced with examples of our futile struggle for understanding in a world fraught with miscommunication, sheer multitudes of perception, and the odd monkeywrench; but nevertheless, that’s what I’m taking away from it. On a more positive note however, I am still heartened to find that where A_dontigny may see the impossibility of ultimate understanding, he is drawn to create regardless.
In the end, this urge may be where the real redemption of Geisteswissenschaften comes about — acknowledging that no answer may appear, but that the question is worth asking.