Thomas Bey William Bailey has never been content with simply releasing “music” or “books”. For him, the term “interdisciplinary” constitutes the essential requisite in a body of work that is still acknowledged by too few. Bailey is both a thinking artist and a committed observer of reality; in this particular case, the substantiality of the sonorities characterizing this tape – issued in a limited edition of 50 copies – derives from what’s known as “autoscopic phenomena”.
In extreme synthesis, we can experience first-hand and investigate the repercussions of autoscopic phenomena in presence of someone whose individual traumas and failures originated neurological problems authenticated by the appearance of a “doppelgänger”, namely a double image of the self. To quote the composer, “many see the doppelgänger as if in a “mirror,” which has therefore caused this type of hallucination to be referred to colloquially as a “mirror hallucination” “. The often noxious blending of purely fictitious earlier lives, improbable adventures and recondite connections/interactions of a doubled self is a classic, nowadays met with dangerously increasing frequency. In a way, it’s a form of defence from the lingering feeling of being a nobody rather than an “important person”; or perhaps the subliminal attempt to remove a previously suffered shock, or humiliation.
Of course these are just a few among the innumerable variants on this issue, which may or may not produce serious consequences in the subject under scrutiny (and, in turn, in people influenced by the misshapen truths and mental stratagems of that alternative life without a minimum of rational analysis). On the matter, Bailey has written a brief yet well-informed essay, attached to the sonic component of this release. Furthermore, he reads short extracts from accounts of autoscopic phenomena at selected junctures of the second half.
Talking about sounds, the hour or so that Bailey consigned to Elevator Bath comprises acoustic representations of the kind of altered state in question. It’s music animated by the heaviness of indeterminacy, so to speak; structured according to a compositional logic, but retaining the reverse randomness of a process that doesn’t necessarily follow the rules generated by its creator’s design. The scenarios shift with a certain degree of unpredictability; some of the sources are recognizable, whereas others are more or less completely mangled by a radical equalization. Synthetic masses – mostly courtesy of the Buchla modular system in Stockholm’s EMS studio – epitomize large chunks of this piece. Their dynamics, in conjunction with the timbral complexity of several inauspicious abstractions, finely symbolize the semi-lucid anguish of a strained mind fighting against the inevitable realization of its inadequateness after a lifetime of prefabricate grandeur.
By adding all the elements, what we get is another crucial chapter in Colin Sheffield’s label’s book.