There’s never adequate space for the really good stuff in this writer’s quotidian. Having to enjoy music that exceeds the boundaries of stylistic definition in the scraps of time is, in itself, an absurdity. I had been meaning to listen to Rrill Bell‘s Ballad Of External Life for months; today I finally did, realizing once again that waiting too long when intuition suggests otherwise is inevitably a big mistake. The mind is in dire need to be delivered from the sick ambivalence of human behavior; what better way than relying on an indefinable, poetically twisted, suavely rebellious album like this?
Jim Campbell superimposed, warped, mixed and re-recorded through old cassette systems a bazillion of sounds of diverse origin, including field recordings. Except when one recognizes the song of blackbirds, or a core of metallic percussion, trying to identify the sources at any given moment is an exercise in illusion soon transcending into ridiculousness. The pair of (dis)articulated compositions inhabiting the two sides of this LP are little gems of transfigured brilliance. Dispossessed of precise contours or geometry, they’re sometimes dirty with mud and gravel yet always look up from that mud, towards some kind of light. Rrill Bell’s abstractionism is replete with sonic particles dilated and morphed into ectoplasmic entities, and mechanisms whose poor functioning generates subsurface convulsions and implicit recurrences. Idiosyncratic harmonic fluctuations evoke a state of drowsiness in the midst of sweet-smelling flowers, cow dung and animals of all kinds sniffing at your confusion with a snoopy attitude.
A biotically alien richness to be shared with the self, offering constant surprises, causing no fear. I am not familiar with poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal, who inspired the composer decisively for this work. But if these are the effects on a man’s creative nature, it has to be recommended reading for the innumerable buffoons who continue to throw pitiful “experimental” records at us, passing them off as fruits of genius. Maybe they will learn to respect the fundamental rule of inventiveness: make significance from what you have. Ballad Of External Life is the epitome of this principle, a great record which multiplies by thousands of refractions, contractions and expansions the droplets of lifeblood that supplement an ever-wonderful solitude.