PHARMAKUSTIK & THORSTEN SOLTAU “The She-Butterfly” C36 (Park 70)


What it must be like to be a butterfly! Life must be an endless symphony for the creatures, one of flitting from plant to plant, bringing joy to any and all passersby who encounter them and their colorful, vibrant wings. Their leisurely pace reflects a carefree approach, and we humans who view them love them because we can imprint our own desires onto them. We see butterflies as symbols of a relaxed freedom, one that we can strive toward – there has to be a path to such happiness for us. And then, once we’re as equally happy, we can also reflect that happiness! Circle of life.
But that’s not really how it is, is it? Butterflies are insects, and like all insects, butterflies are fragile, subject to temperature shifts, predators, and objects much larger than them in motion. Therefore, what appears to be a carefree existence is anything but – butterflies have a lot going against them. Pharmakustik and Thorsten Soltau seek to emphasize this in The She-Butterfly, a tape on the edge between “(Color Variant)” and “(Pupation).” The two artists highlight the minutiae of the life of the butterfly, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to the emergent creature we’re all familiar with. Each stage is fraught, as anything from ants to spiders to wasps to birds to lizards can chow down on these creatures, so they have to be vigilant. That’s why they’re so bright – they can’t defend themselves, so they look poisonous. Would you eat a butterfly? Despite how delicious they might be, I would not.
And so Pharmakustik and Soltau reveal the actual hardscrabble life of a butterfly, one in search of nectar and wary of almost constant death. Their samples and loops shift minutely, the most unassuming sounds taking center stage, the repetition, especially of “(Pupation),” a key to unlocking the natural cycle these insects undergo. In fact, I feel like I’m in my own chrysalis, pupating away as the chemical composition of my body shifts to metamorphose it. It’s really weird!