Creator’s debut album, Kaputtt, will be released January 24th, 2011, the day before Destroyer’s much buzzed about ninth LP, Kaputt, of which the former is a full, track-by-track cover. So 2011: the cover preceding the original. Injecting a nonlinear hiccup into the historical flow, firstness is not always an easy matter of order and chronology—and, anyway, firstness is only a starting point.
Destroyer’s Kaputt, the work of master mind Dan Bejar, is full of woozy, Wave-worthy sax passages and warped disco beats, synth echo and slow mellow cruising, jazzy slow jams mixed with ambient and super dance-y electronic grooves randomly spiked with flute tunes. It has the icy crispness of nose candy and the blurred, lightheaded smear of a sauna. Quite the catchy 80s palette. Orchestral and dreamily spatial, or as the lyric floats it: All sound like a dream to me. Super spacey. Limp-kneed and airily transcendent, electric and electronic. Pulsing, throbbing-in-your-inner-ear-or-chest sounds. Watery. Resonant swells, overlaid. Celestial twinkling. The seamless combination of weirdly combined genres (smooth jazz, acid and free jazz, 80s synth, disco, funk, ambient lounge, glam, ‘indie’) is startling and strange at first, a left turn in Bejar’s trajectory and almost, it seemed, verging on a joke, but quickly infectious, devastating, and enduring. It has already been proclaimed, by many, his breakthrough masterpiece. Which is encouraging to hear since it has a distinctly uneasy and difficult edge.
Creator’s Kaputtt cover is partly those things Destroyer’s is in places, but not necessarily the same places. It is, as all good cover albums (the ten out there) are, a prolonged meditation on variation and variant strains: the album as it isn’t, as it wasn’t, as it might have been in another’s throat, as it will be, as it is. Sometimes it’s more country, in the Palace Brothers vein. Othertimes it’s percussion is more driving, more driven, drums whipped with the brushes into a light kind of march in the track Poor in Love. Voice is, naturally, so different; Destroyer’s is more nerdy and neurotic. The lyrics are the same as Bejar’s, which is another way of saying stunning, swirling, stuttering, swooning, self-reflexive, striking and slightly reminiscent of early Dylan. Glimpses include: I wrote a song for America. Who knew? Who knew. And, I write poetry for myself. And, Another savage night at the opera, another savage night at the club. …I heard your record—it’s all right. One of best songs, Suicide Demo for Kara Walker (another in his line of art references), apparently includes lyrics contributed by the visual artist and glances its narrative off her silhouette vignettes. It is the irresistible opening track on Kaputtt, but Creator’s order is different from Destroyer’s as it will appear in the stores (as if you’re going to or have been to a store to buy music in the past five years). Kaputtt’s is the original Kaputt track list—Suicide Demo for Kara Walker, Song for America, Savage Night at the Opera, Poor in Love, Kaputt, Downtown, Chinatown, Blue Eyes, Bay of Pigs (Detail)—before it was switcharooed into its current sequence—Chinatown, Blue Eyes, Savage Night at the Opera, Kaputt, Downtown, Song for America, Bay of Pigs (Detail).
Both are fine when every song is just this good.
Bejar issued an unordered list of the album’s “themes alluded to or avoided.” It reads like a pep talk. I have bolded some of the clearest, tell-tale signs of vital thinking, necessary frustration, and radiant doubt going on here: Kaputt by Malaparte, which Bejar has never read- Kara Walker, specifically the lyrics she contributed to the song “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker” – Chinatown, the neighborhood bordering on Bejar’s – Baby blue eyes – 80s Miles Davis- 90s Gil Evans – Last Tango in Paris – Nic Bragg, who played lead guitar on every song, again – Fretless bass – The hopelessness of the future of music – The pointlessness of writing songs for today – V-Drums – The superiority of poetry and plays – And what’s to become of film? – The Cocaine Addict – American Communism – Downtown, the neighborhood bordering on Bejar’s – The LinnDrum – Avalon and, more specifically, Boys and Girls – The devastated mind of JC/DC, who recorded, produced and mixed this record from fall of 2008 to spring of 2010 – The back-up vocals of certain Roy Ayers and Long John Baldry tours – Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence –”
But, enough, enough about the music of Kaputt and Kaputtt which haven’t come out yet, only two tracks of the lattter [sic] have been released to this amped and faded member of the press mere hours ago. There are several ideas/problems/questions/thrills Creator’s gesture brings into relief. First, Kaputtt consistently provokes an immediate reaction of criminality, illegality, danger, theft, and fear of pissing him (Bejar) off—and that in itself, that instinctive reaction is interesting. Why is litigiousness the first place people go? How dreary. Direct quotation and smart, pointed, precise appropriation still stress the system after all these years. Creator poses no threat to Destroyer, who ultimately, always closes down the party—finished, over, kaput. Really Kaputtt is about impassioned fandom, dynamic transmission, being consumed and submerged by the full immersion in another’s work of art, the experience and labor of performing homage which turns into an opportunity for self-education, refinement, love, and affirmation. There is the triumphant struggle to make a thing one’s own, reiterating it in one’s own voice which paradoxically employs appropriation for the purpose of individuation.
All these complex refractions of the motivations and consequences of covering, compounded with Kaputtt’s temporal pinch of covering the contemporary before its release, put Creator into contact with Sturtevant who repeatedly repeated her peers, her present moment and just-past. Both want to touch the look and sound of now, of time as it comes into being. Both must be considered in relation to their criminal side. Covering the now as though it were already history scrambles one’s chronological sense of history and its accrual of value and iconicity. Kaputtt multiplies Kaputt by t, time. What is simultaneous appropriation anyway? Fate?
Since, as Bruce Hainley observed, “instaneity is no longer immediate or fast enough,” Kaputtt calls for knocking time out of joint and, almost farcically, preempting the immanent present. This has something to do with covers and covering as a mode or tradition of blurred two-way cross-subjectivities, self-effacement, and moments of self-obliteration. It also has a lot to do with all things digital and the technologized state of the arts which makes this pre-propriation so possible that it seems, now that Creator thought of it, inevitable: leakage. Leakage enabled Creator to get his hands on an early, smuggled copy of Kaputt way before Pitchfork and the others had a listen (full disclosure: I’m not disclosing anything). The thrill and ever-increasing possibility of leakage (for flip-side see WikiLeaks) is the latest utopic(?) byproduct of the digital.
Creator's MySpace Music page can be accessed here.