Title: Transparent Order
Artist: Cagey House
Release Date: 2014 Aug 10
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Label: Bump Foot
The transparent order in Cagey House has put me in an interesting position. I have tried to move away from reviewing more than one release from an artist within a few months. But, Cagey House has managed a trifecta with releases in June, July and August of this year, a feat which alone deserves some extra space on The CerebralRift.
Transparent Order In Cagey House
In between my review of Queen of Spins, and this review David Nemeth has written an article about all three Cagey House releases in which he posits the idea that all three releases should be seen as a single work – a triple album. And, in a way I agree with his point, but I think Dave Keifer’s works should be seen more as differing facets of a gem, instead of as the whole gem.
The impression I have from considering these releases together is that they all center on the manipulation of vocal samples. But where David Nemeth feels this makes for a single release, I am finding that each release seems to use slightly different techniques to achieve a specific result.
Queen of Spins seemed focused on extracting smaller samples from within a larger vocal sample in order to change the context of the spoken words. Second Sight seems to take small samples and shift them within the context of a longer sample to make for a different textural and rhythmic feel to the overall phrase.
This brings me to Transparent Order which has, in my opinion, the most interesting variation on these techniques: taking a shortened version of a vocal sample, and over time inserting, or re-introducing pieces of the phrase back into the sample. For example, ‘Save Me Save Me’ starts with a sample of a girl saying “But then again, what do I know? I’m just a kid with a book.” But, by the end of the piece, the second sentence is transformed into “I’m just some kid with a fucking book.” (With another sample of a gruff voice saying “Save me” in the background, and abruptly ending with another girl saying “Save me! Save me!”)
Now, I am not saying that each release only uses a single technique in the vocal manipulations. However, it seems to me that each release focuses on a range of related techniques. The tracks on Transparent Order seem like they are the end of a journey that Dave Keifer has been on. He seems to have worked through a range of techniques that allow achieving multiple ends: re-contextualizing phrases, while exploring the relationship between the spoken words and the sounds and textures he surrounds them with.
When considered in this way, all three of these releases are related, but are still distinct from each other. The culmination of this exploration is found on Transparent Order.
Cagey House (aka Dave Keifer) is one of the most respected collagists in the Creative Commons netlabel community. Managing three releases over the span of three months is proof of how productive he is, and his ability to appeal to a broader audience (all three releases appear on different labels). While my friend David Nemeth feels that these releases are really a single release that focuses on treating the voice as an instrument, I hear a range of techniques that produce different end results on each recording.
Which is interesting, since you can take each recording on its own merit, or listen to them all together and have a different experience. This is the greatest proof of why Dave Keifer really is a master of this style of musical exploration. Personally, I think Transparent Order makes the strongest statement of all three releases. It’s all part of the transparent order in Cagey House.