Multicultural musicians practice “aesthetic extremism”

Hot Postcommodity

Written by Jason P. Woodbury Category: Arts Issue: May 2016
Group Free


It’s difficult to describe the sound of Postcommodity's third album, 2015’s We Lost Half the Forest and the Rest Will Burn this Summer. Corrosive, deafening and abrasive, the sounds of the album are designed by the artists – sound manipulators Kade L. Twist of the Cherokee tribe in Oklahoma, New Mexico-based Navajo artist Raven Chacon, and Phoenix-based Chicano Cristóbal Martínez – to evoke the “ever-cycling decay of a desert drought from the view of its flora and fauna.” With thundering percussion, overdriven electronics, vocals, screeching strings and piano, it’s a stark, often terrifying listen. On “Blood Sun,” synthesizers throb like a faraway desert sight, blurred by heat waves. The song “Los Venados Se Fueron” employs skittering free jazz textures. In “Día Del Cabrón,” strings squabble like mutated bird calls, giving way to oppressive, lurching static and blown speaker drones. 

It’s appropriately hot, violent listening. The desert is rough, and its beauty can be intense. Postcommodity never settles into ambient atmospherics or gentle washes of sound. The aesthetic extremism extends to Postcommodity’s mixed-media work. Last year, the group staged an installation called “Repellent Fence,” stringing together two miles of balloons bearing indigenous colors along the U.S./Mexico border. The project aimed to comment on border politics and the complex issues affecting indigenous peoples. Like Postcommodity’s music, the installation is stark and dramatic; it reveals its beauty more readily than the music, but is rooted in the same vibrant protest.