Why? - Oaklandazulasylum

2003; Anticon; Oakland, CA

I intend to, this summer, constuct a photography series on people in their messy rooms. Not dirty, mind you, no grime, just mess. Just stuff, everywhere. There is something sublimly beautiful about these livingspaces, everyone absolutely unique. As if you put a bomb in the center of someones personality and blew it up across the walls. As if their brain was broken in to peices and possetions and expanded. And that's kind of how I feel about Why?'s first album, the music of heinously disheveled and poorly upkept rooms. Incredibly lucid explosive residue.

There's a lot of talk of hip hop concerning Yoni Wolf. At first I didn't hear it. Though granted at first I thought a lot of different things about Oaklandazulasylum, or I didn't know what to think. A slew of bizzare outsider folk that sounded like it was recorded on the floor of someones bedroom, strung out, two AM. Jumping from one subject to another, melodic lines just ending, songs sounding so cut up that my head spun.

Yet listening to it now I hear something so different, a kind of genius-through-schizophrenia. Each song tightly composed in where the guitar ends abruptly and is sharply replaced by a micro beat, where he jumps ship from bizarre nonsense subject to bizarre nonsense subject. His lyrics are a random associative playground, occasionally jagged to a point, occasionally relatable and humanistic.

Sometimes there are even real songs, catchyness, figuring out his young love is a lesbian. The sharp build and fingerpicked tense-calmness of Early Whitney. "I swear I'll write soon." The Berkeley uncertainty, lack of clear narrative. Sometimes you even know whats going on, but not often. You know something is left out. The explaination withheld, but you get the feeling that every one of these words mean something. There is no faux-poetic arbitrariness. Every line has meaning behind it.

The album ends with a track so slight it feels hidden. It feels my own. Absolute in it's electronic minimalism, about how he won't make it much longer. About how he just doesn't believe he can live until he gets old.

just been trying to keep my cool

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