We hear the rain instead of voices, Holy Shit: Solid Rain


Release: Summer 2017, Semiotexte, LA

It has been raining heavily recently in the city. The rain structures the days and produces moments of standstill and trance with potentials for new, different modalities – from here to there. We hear the rain instead of voices. Its sound subverts the soundscape of the city.

Not being a great connoisseur of music codes and discourses, to send a music file to someone or to be the recipient of a selection of tracks, appears to me as a code for an intimate intercourse. As this exchange is not part of a certain habit of digging and accumulating, listening to the sent music triggers fantasies about a relationship that seems to be inactivated, impossible to realize or inexistent. In his essay “What is Love?” published in e-flux in 2014, author Brian Kuan Wood not solely relates political demands to an idea of love but reasons the production of music as follows:

“Musicians produce music for pure communication now. Information and communication turns immaterial economy into superstition and affective projections. (Capital defers down to pure communication, and what used to be an idea of the collective has become a force of conviviality in the absolute.)“

Kuan Wood’s argument focuses on love’s function and economy as a subsidiary emotional and symbolic force confronted with a lack of confirmation in other social, societal and psychological infrastructures. Immaterial communication is capital. Music as an immaterial carrier for affective projections is sorted within this structure of capital.

But besides this approach of defining the sending and reception of music as a mode of communication, what reflections exactly are triggered through listening? I assumed a person of my love introduced me to the first album of Holy Shit, released in 2006. This psychedelic Pop-album by Matt Fishbeck featuring Ariel Pink produces a fragile feeling of care and security.

When now listening to Solid Rain, the primal record release by L.A. avant-garde publisher Semiotext(e), a landscape of our relations deploys in my mind. Solid Rain triggers traversing interpersonal encounters in an unknown continuity and makes them feel less separate from a transient Now. Instead, it seems that the tracks anticipate and carry on this relation between past and present that finds its roots in the elusive traces of love. “I was already gone. When you composed the note. I was up in a plane as it slid’ neath the door.“ sings Matt Fishbeck in the track Gone Gone Gone and depicts notions of asymmetry in timing of communication. “I realized that what I make is a private music … it’s one-on-one music.”, describes Fishbeck in a Skype interview with Frieze magazine in May 2017. It is this mapping out of familiar feelings of privacy and the construction of scenarios of writing each others’ histories and continuous missing each other, that makes the album intense and unsettling.

The release of Solid Rain should be read with a duration of several months and regarded as an exhibition form, one that accompanies and reflects our summer. The sound exhibits spaces of silence and abrupt voice, of irritation and unknown solitude for all of us, confronted with continuous heavy raining.

In fact, the person of my associations did not know Holy Shit until I sent it. Hence the reception of this 2017 release seems to become a symptom for an absence. Brian Kuan Wood writes that love’s joy is
“not to be found in fulfillment, but in recognition: even though I can never return what was taken from you; I may be the only person alive who knows what it is. I don’t have what it is you’re missing, but knowing its shape already makes a world where you can’t live without it.“

It is in the confrontation with the loss of no longer knowing what your opposite is missing that a recognition of a seemingly vanishing presence of love and – through the inversion of a conversation – an understanding of the infrastructure of a relation is facilitated. Thereby replacing the space of a loss, a knowledge about the structures of my catalogue of framings for you and me evolves.

Solid Rain allows an intimate conversation with ideas of relating to one another.
This indefinite estrangement and approach that is catalyzed through the music of the latest release, it calms me down and gives me relief.

It becomes thus the most embracing and bewildering form of an exhibition I have visited in 2017 so far.

Text: Alisha Danscher


Album Cover, Solid Rain


Literature: Brian Kuan Wood: Is it Love?, e-flux Journal #53, March 2014