Extraction, Ben Vida/Meredyth Sparks/Anthony Elms
Last year, when I reviewed Mike Shiflet and Pete Swanson’s split LP for Amish Records, I asked how the label had managed to persuade established visual artists Miranda Lichtenstein and Cameron Martin to contribute some fairly involved work to a limited edition LP (350 copies, black vinyl) that sold for less than a lot of museum exhibit catalogs. The word is still out on how, but there is indisputably more from whence that came. Future Audio Graphics is a new label started by Brian Gempp of Amish and Meredyth Sparks, who contributed to another Amish split by Ben Vida and Keith Fullerton Whitman, with the express intent of combining sound, text, and visuals to collectively devise cohesive artworks. Extraction reunites Sparks with Vida, and brings writer/curator Anthony Elms into the band. Elms’ text uses tooth extraction and the expressed intent of Arto Lindsay, Ikue Mori, and Tim Wright in DNA to make music so dense that it could only be grasped in memory, not at the moment of hearing, as coordinates to delineate the record’s unifying theme of the restorative and edifying effect of removal. The gatefold sleeve enables Sparks’s three images of blinds, walls, and sunlight to further demonstrate how removal fosters understanding. Striking and cohesive, its stark images reward prolonged viewing as much as your favorite psychedelic LP sleeve. Vida’s contribution is as representational the internal sleeve image, which shows a section of wall with a recently replaced window; his electronics rip through air, evoking cuts in space. But the concept proves to be a suggested starting point rather than a bounded template – the sounds themselves suffer no slashes. They elongate, curve, spark, and sympathetically vibrate with each other, evidencing the influences of knobs and on/off switches. This album is very much of a piece with Vida’s other recent LPs on Amish and Pan. The music is both mobile and tactile, careening with the velocity and certitude of a roller coaster making its appointed rounds.