tremble clef

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Styrofoam, "A Heart Without A Mind (Radio Mix)" (2004)

Shop window. Stockholm, Sweden. 2004.

When I try to imagine how this glitchpop record was made, I think of a room filled only with thousands of wind-up toys. Arne van Petegem of Styrofoam enters, methodically winds up each one in turn, and sets them down on the floor. One by one they start to whirl, their gears clicking, rattling, hissing, or humming. Two or three stuffed monkeys keep time on their miniature cymbals as they waddle around in hopeless circles. Some of the toys wind down and stop, but no one notices since there're always new ones to take their place. It should therefore be a cacophony, but as each mechanical sound overlaps and comes together, it's instead closer to a symphony. Arne himself sings above it all, his voice always already processed, increasingly split, broken, and multiple, and oddly affecting despite its affectlessness. Each word he utters only postpones its meaning to the next one, in an infinite chain of deferral and regression. "'Meaningless' means 'empty,' 'empty' means 'no sound.'" So he fills the room with sounds. Until, finally, Arne himself winds down, whirring to a stop after four and a half inexplicably beautiful minutes.


  • It all sounds very Mahayana Buddhist; all so very Zen. A heart without a mind would be the big heart of the no-mind. What is the sound of a pop toy clanking? Many different cymbals form a pattern bigger than the whole. Or somepthink. No matter. Never mind.

    By Blogger harvey molloy, at 8:02 AM  

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