In an age when everything appears irreparably phony, fabricated, badly acted out, half an hour of Phil Minton is sufficient to restore a measure of hope in the continuation of something that lives, moves relentlessly, fights. In its own way.
Woke Up At Eight represents the forced replacement of a smothered normality, that of live performances cancelled for obvious reasons. It’s also a first attempt at a domestic recording in full solitude, while trying to regroup following an uneasy night. Without the comfort of a breakfast, Minton immediately triggered the flux of temperamental vocalism he’s renowned for. Shards of verbalization beyond the human, preposterous implosions, deranged emulations, triturated syllables. Mere fractions of the composite that nourishes one’s subconscious, at times eerily reminiscent of the strained, suffocated screams of our nightmares, when we can’t get the voice out for the sake of our safety before waking up in cold sweats. Instead, Minton extracts the whole, including what would like to stay holed up in the gut. Perhaps to do damage, or plague the mind somehow.
However, the disruptor from Torquay does not lend himself to mind games. He is a free man in the conception of life, and a fantastic improviser; it is no coincidence that these two conditions are impressively reflected in his art. Through a flexibility of the vocal cords that remains implausible for yours truly to this day, he generates states in the listener’s imagination that could not be induced by anything else. At one point I vividly envisioned two elderly women having a heated discussion in a flea market, on a street who knows where. But then I saw those voices dilate, burn, create spots that were spreading across a hypothetical screen. Essentially, I was watching the film of that conversation being ruined, just as when in the cinema hall of yore the projector would fail right at the movie’s climax.
All of the above, seasoned with trademark intelligent irony, highlights the peculiar dichotomy between an inevitably astonishing anarchy and the discipline required to achieve such results. We are not coerced into asking stupid questions, or listening to ungrammatical sentences to be commented only with a pitiful silence. Thirty minutes of incredibly natural virtuosity summarize an entire existence: even though we can partially relate to it, there’s still a lot of studying to do. Especially after learning that Minton, in order to keep that endless array of expressions in shape, practices with his grandchildren.