The human body is a theater of war, a site wracked with violence and desire. In the video for "I Wanna Be Your Dog," the second track off of VIOLENCE's upcoming Human Dust to Fertilize the Impotent Garden, a certain body—that of VIOLENCE's Olin Caprison—situates the writhing interplay and intertwining of the two. Garbed in lacy lingerie and a disfigured ski mask, Caprison smears two pregnant signifiers together, grafting the criminality of headpiece and the sultry, oversexed salacity of the bra into symbolic prostheses that map violence and desire onto the smudged red lipstick on Caprison's face. But the visual poetics of the tracks video aren't the only indicators of this prurient conflation: Caprison's lyrics are positively filthy. Pleading, they detail fantasies of degradation and animalization, where the intimacy of "want[ing] for you to hold me close" gives way to "whip[ping]," "cover[ing] in spunk," verbal abuse, and even "giv[ing Caprison] a reason to die." And the semantic distinctions between violence and desire aren't the only things Caprison blurs: the song itself appropriates sounds from industrial, black metal, and drill to sculpt its asxphyxiatory and percussive filigrees. The glinting, limpid tones that buttress the basic but anxious melody wouldn't be out of place on Geinoh Yamashirogumi's Akira soundtrack. But unlike Akira, a science-fiction thriller that defers its anxieties into an animated future, Caprison confronts a brutal present. As they pound their flesh on the concrete floor of the shack in the video, naked and sexualized vulnerability putrefies—before our eyes—into pain, clot, bruise: Caprison historicizes the present in unflinchingly exposing the disintegration of desire into violence, touch into assault. The setting of this curdling is burnt-out, graffitied and decrepit, but it's present, it's really there. It isn't post-apocalyptic—isn't even doctored. It's real life, not a horrific possibility, but an always-already vitiated present. Despite the trap-conditions, Caprison leaves us with the potential for escape: in the final, fading shot, they turn and walk out of the frame, out of the immediate and battered present and into an unseen space beyond the limits of what appears possible.
“Absent Personae Postscript” is weaponized history, rerouted through trauma, cybernetics, and orality. The final track off of PTP’s collaboration between Deforrest Brown, Jr. and Kepla, offers a fragmented narrative that traces a Black history embedded within the skin, within the voice, within the body of a community under “trap-conditions,” under the "lash" of a mechanized and mechanizing apparatus spanning economy, sociality, and punishment. Brown, Jr. reminds us that “there is only evasion” in this state of things, and “Absent Personae Postcript” fidgets with an evasiveness, a rhizomatic awareness whose reticulating components swerve and fissure into mitosis. The whirling cleavages, the chirping schisms that Kepla fashions splice into the rerouted figures and histories Brown, Jr.’s solemn words purl. The floating, spectralized form that recounts Brown, Jr.’s dérive further enhances this sense of deterritorialization and reappropriation: Brown, Jr.’s voice speaks the figure of the encoded and encrypted Black Body—depicted with various digital manipulations in Chris Boyd's haunting video—into existence.
The triumph in the piece lies in that fact that, through the interplay of sonics and lyrics, Brown, Jr. and Kepla radically affirm the power of the voice—and to reinscribe a Black physicality beyond deployment, mechanization, and objectification. Over its trickling 11-minute runtime, the two assemble a fugitive ontology of the Black Body in which technologies of language, sound, and image commune with the resonances of a spoken heritage felt down to the cellular level. As Kepla channels visceral anxieties and dismemberments of the trap into the haptic glitches and tactile code of sub-bass, Brown, Jr.’s oration thrums and concresces into a re-codification of identity, a re-mythologizing whose cryptic poetics serve both to evade institutionalized meaning and encrypt a sense of being from the avaricious nodes of a power-knowledge network geared and lubricated to appropriate and eliminate radical transmissions centered on Blackness.
When Brown, Jr. announces that the apparatuses of control and oppression suffer “a loss of discrete control” because of the “discreet evasion” of the Black Body, his clinamen, his slight and silent homophonous slide from the "ete" to the "eet" fractures—ever so slightly and ever so slyly—a system of language intent on smoothing legibility and concretizing order. Run through feedback and trauma, Brown, Jr. presents a fleeting moment of resistance, a remapping and rewriting of the conditions of the trap into something delightfully ambiguous and radically spacious. In “Absent Personae Postcript,” cybernetic horror sunders into evanescent hope, fracturing just enough to trace a space, a space of art.
PTP will release Absent Personae on 9/29 on vinyl w/ "Absent Personae Postscript" as a bonus track. You can pre-order it now here.