TOM WHITE “Side Down” (Anathema Archive)


Experimentalist Tom White dons two very different sets of scientist goggles on Side Down, one for “No script on set” (side A) and another for “Behind the face of a rock, throwing stones” (side B). “No script” suggests you waltz up on stage and dive in – either you remember what you’re supposed to be doing or you wing it and see if it works. Who cares which one applies here – White’s certainly got somewhat of a plan, but I think he’s dabbling in some dense improve too. “No script” is split into three parts and was originally a piece performed live for eight channels. Here it’s considered a “re-imagining.” I’m imagining all kinds of machines and gadgets working together in concert for some kind of common goal. I don’t know what it is, but I’m mesmerized by the process!
“Behind the face of a rock, throwing stones” is exactly what the tape says it is – rehearsal music. Sadly, our disease-riddled world isn’t really allowing any sorts of artistic performance (except for country music concerts in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee, probably), so we’ll just have to wait to see Surface Area, a dance company composed of “deaf and hearing artists,” do their thing to Tom White’s groove. I’m just kidding, this isn’t really a groove – it’s totally choreographed and likely not remotely what I’m picturing in my head right now. But White takes a really tactile approach here, prioritizing “noncochlear” sound for its rhythmic and vibratory properties. Truly, these are frequencies that resonate throughout the body, allowing for even the hard-of-hearing to internalize and interpret them. Maybe one day soon we’ll be able to gather with other humans and witness art in person once again, and on that day Tom White and Surface Area will finally be able to perform their work together.
I’ll probably just stay home though, I’ve gotten used to that.