On Afuma (Stefan Tcherepnin & Taketo Shimada) at H0L0, Ridgewood

— Keith Connolly

Beloved Intoxicator

Afuma (Stefan Tcherepnin & Taketo Shimada)
Concert, HOLO, Ridgewood, December 9, 2018
(a record has been released since by Blank Form)


Amidst all the anti-vaxxer claptrap clogging the feed, and with that faint scent of “Rainy Days and Mondays” (or is it “Anticipation”?) still wafting thru the corridors of Big Pharma, a non-metaphorical bloodletting via plainsong is getting increasingly hard to come by. But clamor is as clamor does, and the elemental impulse springs blithe and sudden. So with moonlit black rivulets again striping the piazza (a trick of pique/pabulum), the tickle that we didn’t know we needed to a dormant orbital cortex has arrived. Though this, of course, is not America. Or is it?

Situated on the western edge of the Glendale cemetery belt is Machpelah (“twofold”) Cemetery, the last earthly trap from which hardline dualist pragmatic Harry Houdini would not escape. About a quarter of a mile due west in Ridgewood, at presumably equal subterranean depth is a basement lab of sorts known as HOLO whose primer-white walls bear witness to decidedly less grandiloquent acts of derring-do. Not among the least of these has been the becoming of AFUMA, a twin engine transmogrification of electricity and air, of vapor, and of smoke. And if all of this smacks of as much fresh creepypasta (that vain if naive conscription betwixt breadcrumb trail and language-virus) then maybe we are getting somewhere. In the meantime, a little background may be in order:

an etymological gradience
AFUMA, derived from the Japanese magatoki (the “uncanny dusk” at which time the spirit membrane is rendered permeable), is the nom de guerre of Stefan Tcherepnin and Taketo Shimada in a musical combinance at once anachronistic and keen, whose efforts at perpetuating a certain instance will not go unnoticed for long (the name also carries a connotation of “inhaler,” though Sleep’s Dopesmoker this is not). What on the one hand seems to be a stylistic departure for both artists (there are songs) is instead a kind of entrenchment, a positioning which calls to mind another Japanese, in this case Shinto concept, that of the sae no kami or dōsojin, the “tutelary of roads.” A point of passing through, amidst the onibi and ignis fatuui, into an inhabited and simultaneous space.

coltsfoot rock
The index vs the impulse, or a cup of tea vs making one: herein lies song form, and it is not for nothing. A Scythian singularity predating Pythagoras is here beside the point. Or is it? While not an Amalantrah or Babylon Working per se, a point on the Path is marked by this becoming, and with the Portal rent asunder, it is only by such points marking the Path that we may ascertain our relative proximity (it may also prove useful to keep in mind the beneficial properties and relative toxicity of the certain plants which pop up along the way).

tax free, or pyramids, in honor of our escaping
That cemeteries and white-box labs in Queens somehow “connect” I suppose requires some suspension of disbelief (Sinclair’s leaky psychogeography here seems a stretch). And that in this America a mentholated Star Wars and Snapple aesthetic of Juggalos now ticks the box as standalone tribalism and that Vileness Fats was never completed shines an unflattering light on shitheeled bootstrap Yankee myopia. Art Bell and the Rev. Bruce Howard are not coming back. So how might two aging chess and mahjong obsessed fluxus brats at the eleventh hour posit to sing the changing song of our returning? As AFUMA, by dint of their own dissolve and re-integration. In this there is no renaissance, no resistance, no singularity, no America, but yet, somehow, the song remains the same. What is left to ask is why that is? Perhaps it is that, as Bennie says to Quill in Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia “(the cutoff) is here, but you’re going to have to take it …” Perhaps, as always, indeed.

vs the selfish ledger
In my describing some errant madrigal their music points to Sigh’s “Oblivium” and Lola V. Stain, and toward a démodé enrollment and the elimination of toxins. There will be albums, via the terrestrial platforms of Blank Forms and Dryers Ltd., and new life and mysterious disappearances as always. But AFUMA itself now sits between, awaiting Cupid’s jacket at the threshold of beginnings and endings, exhaling in tandem.
AFUMA is …