Middle West

by BNNT

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1.
I want your history to end in filth and mud. I want your history to end in filth and mud. I want our history to end like the movie Pride. I want the labor movement to walk hand in hand with the queer activists, the queer activists to walk hand in hand with the undocumented, the undocumented to walk hand in hand with their children, the children to walk hand in hand with their rabbits, the rabbits to have water bottles for the children in their backpacks. I want Cambodia’s farmers to burn our paper money. I want to forget that it is for my freedom of choice that the world is split asunder. I want transnational adoption to be banned. I want my children to belong to someone else.
2.
I refuse to give up my obsession. I refuse to come to the point. I refuse to buy the Berlin Wall. I’ve said nothing about the millions of poor who live in your flower pots. I’ve said nothing about your prisons. I’ve said nothing about how Ylva sang me to sleep that night. I’ve said nothing about how family ties will be dissolved. stop pushing I know what I’m doing. I’m sick of your insane demands. Let a woman live.
3.
I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing. I can’t stand my own mind. when will you end the human war? I don’t feel good, don’t bother me. I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind. when will you retire? when will you retire? When will you take off your clothes? When will you look at yourself through the grave? When will you be worthy of your millions of guest workers? You are an oversized blot of shame on the map. You love Aristotle, but you hate Greeks. You love counting, but you hate Arabs. You love Sigbjørn’s poetry, but you hate Sami. You love decorating your balcony, but you hate your neighbors. You love handcuffs, but you hate sex. there is a place in Slovenia called Jerusalem. That’s where the crusaders settled when they couldn’t make it all the way. you cannot separate la mission civilisatrice from Christianity, Christianity from Feudalism, Feudalism from Industrialism, Industrialism from Capitalism, Capitalism from Barbarism. I hope those who were burned at the stake had a deal with Satan. I hope Galileo Galilei is laughing scornfully in his sky. I hope seal fat really cures whooping cough. I hope partisans still live in the mountains. I hope they eye fascists like you eye rabbits. I was eight years old when the war in Yugoslavia broke out. I was nine when I got Bosnian classmates. I couldn’t understand that they were refugees like us, even though they were European. In Belgrade, Tito’s mausoleum is to the right of the Iranian embassy. Enna still says that she speaks Serbo-Croatian. it really is the era of forgetting. My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right.
4.
no matter how many times we call London the Middle West and the US the Far West, you act as though these are the glory days of King Leopold. I still haven’t told you what you did to our parents in the 1990s. I haven’t explained why I have laser pens in my bag. Do you remember the white hands on lapels? Do you remember those who toasted in the bars of Madrid when Pinochet had a heart attack? Do you remember those who pulled their hair out when Milošević died in a cell? Do you remember those who danced in the streets of London when Thatcher had a stroke? Do you remember grandmother’s petrol blue head scarf? Do you remember me with braids in my hair? Nothing we learned in school corresponds with reality. where have you misplaced love ? What have you done with your little specter ? Where have you hidden your geraniums ? When will you be stopped in security ? When will you be tried at the Hague ? When will you listen to refugees rather than journalists who go undercover as refugees ? is this correct? I refuse to give up my obsession. I refuse to come to the point. I refuse to buy the Berlin Wall. I’ve said nothing to you I’ve said nothing about the millions of poor who live in your flower pots. I’ve said nothing about your prisons. I’ve said nothing about how Ylva sang me to sleep that night. I’ve said nothing about how family ties will be dissolved. stop pushing I know what I’m doing. I’m sick of your insane demands. Let a woman live. How can I write a holy litany in your hopeless mood? The plum blossoms are falling here too. my queer shoulder has been dislocated.
5.

about

The BNNT duo have been around for over ten years now.
Their endeavors throughout the decade have constantly aimed at escaping any kind of labeling, covering a wide area between sight and sound. One could partake in this experience at such extremes of the artistic spectrum as theater festivals; sonic guerilla street events; sound installations in museums, from Łódź to NYC; concerts, both as part of the broadly defined dance music scene as well as those attracting free jazz aficionados; and, on top of it all, movie screenings. In 2019, through the Multiversions (multiversions.bandcamp.com) project, BNNT handed the ownership of their own band over to other musicians, accompanied by an announcement of its dissolution into potentially existing parallel universes. With such long striking distance coupled with wide stylistic range, even a vague definition of the duo’s uniform image might prove rather difficult to define. The term ‘duo’ itself is not entirely accurate, given the countless collaborations with other artists. The common denominator for such volcanic activity could be the MASK the musicians invariably wear onstage. Each of the consecutive Multiverse projects recorded by friendly musicians may also be considered a mask, as can every single album released by the band, each one significantly different from the predecessors in terms of genre affiliation. With each release, a different mask could be seen: the noise-rock rendition of 2012, the avant-hip-hop period (in cooperation with Robert Piernikowski), followed by a stoner rock-ish LP (Multiverse), and the experimental Multiversions. Towards the end of 2019, BNNT have unexpectedly put on yet another mask. Their new album, Middle West, is released on InstantClassic label.
This time, it’s more in the vein of a radio play, rather than the usual song list. ‘Sung poetry’ could be an equally accurate label, just like the ‘concept album’ moniker. BNNT offer the audience a set of 5 songs, combined together by a single poem covering the entire duration of the album. This work of poetry is A Letter to Europe by Athena Farrokhzad, heavily modified, with the author’s consent, to fit the requirements of an album. The intrusive treatment of the original text is justified by its strongly rhythmical structure, rich in stutter-like repetition. The poem by the Swedish Iranian writer is also inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s 1956 America. What we are dealing with here is a multilevel mutation of the text and the music, similarly oscillating around a few simple rhythmic structures. These mutating repetitions are reflected by the cover art of the album, using shots of Agnieszka Grodzińska’s Playground for Sheep installation. Apart from the literary and musical aspects of the album, this is another reference to the aforementioned issues. The brutal roughness of raw building materials and reinforcing wires creates delicate, even rickety, grid-like forms. Similar repetition and roughness can be observed in terms of lyrics and music.
Grodzińska and Farrokhzad aren’t the only guest artists on the album. Vocals were recorded by Jaśmina Polak, an actress from Warsaw’s Nowy Teatr (‘New Theater’), while guitar and bass parts are performed by Łukasz Rychlicki who also recorded the ARP Odyssey synthesizer tracks. The songs wouldn’t be complete without Mateusz Rychlicki’s additional drum set. The whole album was recorded in a number of locations, at different times, making the list of people involved in this project that much longer. BNNT seem to in order to create a ‘wolf pack’ associated with the duo’s activities by implementing the same mechanisms they used while writing multi-layered music associated with almost mechanically repeated rhythms. The tribal nature of the music on Middle West provides a much darker and colder ambiance than in the case of Multiverse, mostly due to particular sound engineering efforts resulting in taking the warmth off of the natural drum reverberation as well as the processing of vocal parts. Apparently, the vocal recording sessions included a forced, semi-violent treatment of the singer’s body.
We have now arrived at the second permanent tier of BNNT’s Creative Process. Fear, anger and cruelty are combined here with the beauty of communality. Despite the stylistic differences, these features are to be found on all of the band’s albums, from their debut based on quotes from newspaper headlines, to the relativistic Multiverse and Multiversions, to Middle West, their latest effort. Moreover, the new record is much more outspoken politically which is achieved via direct, confrontational approach. Athena’s redacted poem retains its grievance and anger towards a culture we ourselves contribute to, intentionally or not, and with which, despite being part of it, it is difficult for us to identify. Thus, waves of unsatisfied longing for lost relationship with the tribe are triggered. Therefore, not only is the album’s title a bitter reproach for the conceited geographical determinism of the Europeans, but it is also an insult to their belief in their own superiority. MIDDLE , understood as ‘medium’, ‘so-so’, ‘underdeveloped’, is juxtaposed with WEST, culturally almost synonymous with ‘THE BEST’, a perfectly illustration of which could be the map based on Gall-Peters projection. The real sizes of countries and continents could also be used as the source of musical references by BNNT, the band.

credits

released November 13, 2019

Middle West
Recorded at Steam Room, Bobrowniki Poland
by Michał Kupicz. ( October 2017 )

Daniel Szwed
– Drums
Konrad Smolenski
– Baritone Missile / Korg Synthesizer

Additional recordings:

Jaśmina Polak — Vocals (1, 2, 3, 4)
Recorded in Modrzykowa Studios, Warsaw by
Konrad Smoleński and Kuba Ziołek (June 2019)

Mateusz Rychlicki — Drums, Percussions (3, 5)
Recorded in Dynasonics Studio, Szczecin
by Mateusz Rychlicki (February and March 2019)

Łukasz Rychlicki — Arp Odyssey (3), Guitar (2, 3, 5), Bass Guitar (5)
Recorded in Endless Happiness Efektura, Warsaw
by Filip Marcinkowski (March and May 2019)

Konrad Smoleński — Field Recordings (5)
Recorded near Pietkowo — Rudka Forestry (May 2019)


Mixed by Konrad Smolenski and Michał Kupicz in Warsaw
( July 2019 )
Mastered by Kassian Troyer at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin
( July 2019 )

The lyrics on the album were compiled based on the poem
"A letter to Europe" by Athena Farrokhzad
with the approval of the author.

Translation by Jennifer Hayashida

Cover art by: Agnieszka Grodzińska
Playground for Sheeps, installation Stolpe/Oder 2017

Cover Design: Moonmadness.eu

Font: Di Grotesk by Threedotstype

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