Continuing my seasonal descent into a crazed, credit-card fueled froth, I now present yet another semi-recent find from beyond the margins.
Porest is the moniker of producer and musician Mark Gergis, creator of some of the most intelligent, hilarious, and incendiary music of the post-9/11 age. Gergis' music is thoroughly saturated with thought-provoking, point-blank politics that take deadly aim at many of the orthodox institutions that North Americans take for granted as "our way of life." Marriage, misinformation by major media corporations, domesticity, passivity, tourism, terrorism, the wholesale slaughter and exploitation of the so-called 'Third-World' by the U.S.A. and their allies (which includes us, unfortunately): nothing is safe from Porest's oft-hilarious, always accurate scorn. Which isn't to say that you won't disagree with me when you first hear his music, in fact, this music might just piss you right off, but I find it hard to believe that someone who isn't a complete sociopath couldn't be provoked, for better or worse, by something they heard on any of his albums.
He's had his Myspace page shut down at least once by American Zionists who didn't take kindly to his apt criticism of the state of Israel; its continuing oppression of Palestine, involvement in the so-called War on Terror, and insidious partnership with its equally malignant benefactor, the good 'ol U.S.A. Though I guess we shouldn't count on Myspace to uphold the U.S. constitutional rights for it's American users when Rupert Murdoch pulls the strings, now should we?
Porest asks questions that evade easy answers, and rather than spoon-feed you with safe reassurances, he pulls the rug out from under you and kicks the skeletons out of an Imperialist, late-capitalist nation's collective closet. This is music made in the hopes that it will cause a stir in people, get them asking questions, or at the very least, maybe wake them the fuck up.
Mood Noose cd (Respiscent, 2006)
Porest's third full-length album, released on Resipiscent Records (one of my favorite new label discoveries of the past few months), is a densely layered exercise in drawing a number of scenes and compositions detailing some of the darker undercurrents of American life. Of course, as any trip you're likely to take with Mark Gergis, and twists and turns are what make this cd special. You see, Gergis is an accomplished field-recorder as well as a musician. As result of this, his music is unfortunately frequently described as Negativland-styled plunderphonics as it is grouped into the ghettoized genre of *shudder to think* World Music. Rather, Gergis' compositions take on their own unique forms, and on Mood Noose, this means that where one song might comprise of thick, sample-filled sound-collage ("Lady Surinam," "Cartoons Aren't Funny"), the next track might have Porest doing a Residents meets Iraqi Pop song and dance routine ("The Highest Order," "Kabar Yetse Poniskyo").
Mood Noose is less tightly wound around a conceptual framework than Tourrorists!, which was released just a few months afterwards on the Sun City Girls' label, Abduction Records, but as with the rest of the Resipiscent releases I've been exposed to, its quality is impeccable. The cd is held within your standard jewel case, with not much of an insert to speak of, but overall the art and packaging has a slick, slightly home-made feel to it that speaks of real artist' work, and not the careless manufacturing of a major label release. Also of interest to fans of SF Bay Area music, Liz Allbee (who rumor has it is in Hans Grusel's Krankenkabinet) lends her trumpet to "The Mother of All Mistakes." If you've never been exposed to Porest before, Tourrorists! is probably a better place to start, but don't miss out on Mood Noose if you find yourself satisfied and wanting more, like any good capitalist piggy should.
Tourrorists! cd (Abduction Records, 2006)
There is no doubt in my mind, Tourrorists! is the definitive artistic statement on America's so-called War on Terror. Both musically and conceptually, this is Mark Gergis' money-shot on the face of the U.S.A. Before I really get into this, however, let me get something off my chest. Generally, I feel that music and politics rarely make good bedfellows. More often than not, the ideas pushed by today's musicians proclaiming themselves as "Political" or, even worse, "Punk Rock," either lack the intelligence to generate a real dialectic, are entirely hypocritical when one examines their lifestyles and ties to major multinationals, or simply continue to beat a dead horse that doesn't interest me in the slightest. What's important to know though, was that much of the music I cut my baby teeth on was entirely mixed up in politics, and so I do sympathize with those artists who simply aren't satisfied with burying their heads in the sand and saturating themselves in blind escapist fantasy. Contrary to what most college-age youth tend to think (that I've encountered), Dada as a movement was driven by politics, and the desire to change the status-quo. Art that appeared to have no actual meaning, was in fact fueled with a radical intent to transform society. Free Jazz, another hot term liberally applied to much "experimental" music, was likewise driven by a intensely devotional spirituality, and a desire to see change take place.
My point is this, most of the music being made today seeks only to entertain, which is fine in and of itself, but where is the artist who would rather make himself a martyr than a minstrel show? The artist willing to be interrogated, hounded, and hated for asking the wrong questions, for saying what noone wants to hear? Mark Gergis is that kind of artist. The album art alone is enough to send shivers up the spine of any overly patriotic conservative: an explosive device inside of a suitcase is revealed when you remove the cd from it's jewel case, a picture of Gergis standing beside a Hezbollah soldier in Lebanon, a photo collage contrasting racist rendering of red Indians behind a meat grinder, and the large text that reads "God Bless the Terrorists and Their Families."
Rather than describe the music at length, I'd like to say that if you're still with me on this so far, please just spend the money and buy this album right now, or at least test the waters by purchasing the awesome "Eye of the Leopard" on iTunes. It may confuse you, make you angry, or make you laugh, but I can say with total certainty that it will grab your attention like two towers in the New World Mordor who shall remain nameless and ringless.