Bitsy Knox is a contemporary visual artist who has made sculptures, mobiles and suchlike in art galleries – some of the mobiles have video screens incorporated, and she has also inserted playing cards and other objects in epoxy resin. She’s here today on the cassette Om Cold Blood (TANUKI RECORDS #33), on which she recits her poetry to the accompaniment of musical settings by Roger 3000 (i.e. Julien Meert, who made a solo cassette called UFO Love Letters). The theme to this tape is something to do with the human body and bodily fluids… “a watery world, ruled by digestion”…Knox’s words, especially on the long track ‘Om Digestion’, spin wild yarns and philosophical digressions on these themes and take us down many a windy sidetrack.
Much to enjoy in the precision of her delivery, the conviction of her tone as she narrates these twisted tales, these wild connections between many diverse fleeting and hard-to-grasp topics. This is all deliberate – her work is concerned with “the limits of understanding”, asking “questions of memory, distance, and awareness.” It’s a real pleasure to hear the human voice put in the service of this kind of “word-painting”, with many concrete images and narrative elements instead of the usual advanced scat-singing we often get in an improv context. To support her utterances, Roger 3000 creates a species of latterday easy-listening muzak, brilliantly played guitar noodlings, odd synth episodes, electronic keyboard miniatures, samples; not unpleasant, but slightly mannered and ironic too. On the other hand, the combination of the spoken words with the music works near-perfectly, as if you couldn’t imagine a more natural result. In places, it reminded me of my all-time favourite easy-listening LP, Julie London’s Julie Is Her Name (with the guitar of Barney Kessel), although its real antecedents I suppose are more in the area of Robert Ashley and Laurie Anderson. The duo have been good friends for about ten years, yet this is their first musical endeavour together. From 29th November 2018.