Rhys Langston wrote his most recent bars to the sounds of the Apollo 12 moon landing.
I first met Zeroh New Year’s Eve 2017 at the site of much future ethnomusicological research, my friend Mekela Session’s garage. As the duo Holy Smoke he and Jeremiah Jae had just played a set with a live band under Mickey’s (Mekela’s) musical direction. Like all jazz-inflected gatherings, a jam ensued and I nervously freestyled at my friends’ encouragement. Somehow that chance freestyle made a curious impression upon Zeroh, and from that introduction I grew to see him with increasing familiarity at the occasional show. Though well acquainted with the singularity of his work, I was cautious in getting too excited, having felt sensitive and spurned trying to be buddy buddy with several artists who made music I enjoyed. However, the small frequency of interactions with Zeroh over the years made it clear that he is truly one of the kindest and most self-certain folks I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in the greater Los Angeles arts scene.
During the thick of the COVID-19 quarantine, already having completed several artistic ideas and endeavors due to forced unemployment, my normally drug-wary self decided to celebrate and take mushrooms. After (somewhat expected) sobbing and revitalization of my sense of self, I remembered mid-trip I had yet to give Z’s new record a complete fourth listen (much less in such a suited state for his psychedelic-friendly work). I didn’t fear being at a tender point in my psilocybin experience amidst its sonic intensity. Remembering his continuing gentleness and understanding every time we have conversed, I knew he would transliterate guiding wisdom and feeling on wax.
From when I sat down I knew I was going to write through my experiences with BLQLYTE, though I’d never done something like that before. I am not one who writes criticism, and my ego is often the reason I don’t use my creativity to praise other people’s. It just seemed right at the moment, dissolving myself, that pretension, and losing my customary over-analyzation of lyrics. Below I transcribed the account and left it as it was, merely clarifying style and the tenses (as all time seemed out of whack except for the timekeeping pulse of his record):
BLQLYTE on two caps
Due to settling in and hyped familiarity with the eponymous single, I only sense quickly into the tingling fineness of texture in Regan/FRBLKPR/Driver’s verse on “METACINE” that my palms begin to sweat. I am sitting, post-city-walk, after one of those east/west paths on my stretch of Normandie bordering K-town. Into lyrically-correlating, water-retaining aspects of my somewhat trace West African mitochondria I am tripping fresh off the first book of Dune, right before Paul Atreides becomes the Muad’Dib. This, a push and pull to prime me into “HYDRO” and its wash of 4/4 dopeness: a pure epitaph to previous lingering.
BLQLYTE’s cover artwork is in a digital mini player, juxtaposed to a 2017 painting of mine recently set as my computer backdrop. Amidst both’s abstract folds I am caked in a descending baroqueness, real BLK, glancing down at the sun-browned toes hanging off the edge of my bed, thinking how something could be so BLK and medieval and 24 bits into “THE FADE.” I cannot unsee it, which I know is I telling me “YOU CAN’T UNSEE IT” through “4D,” lost to my uncharacteristic surrendering to extra-lingual feel.
It is during the halfway point in “THE LORD AND NATURE” I begin to rub my perspirant hands together, an involuntary Birdman to the subconscious and literal, the friction then grossly shedding the skin of my mitts in cascades over my line break journal, a score previous, just keeping up into “MUDBLOOD.” And there my thoughts hang with me over the bed, with mind to my neck and lower sacrum. I set the journal, now transparent in my writing, down beside me—
I’ve felt this mania before—
and wrote to escape—
recalling a dim twilight SXSW day-off around familiar unfamiliar folk—
like now afraid to go to the bathroom and break the momentary spell—
I choose not to lose my spot in the album—
looking to the shrink-wrapped vinyl on my pillow— endurance being “INVALUABLE.”
At “GLORY DRIP” I am feeling this biological mechanism that had me 30 minutes prior out in full face-mask-quarantine-strut, stepping on my gold chain shit, just to stroll around the block; but in the same sense this is what my plugged systems are doing as they wait for this listening session to end.
Just before the beat switch, I hit the first hands-crossing-to-beat-with-declaration: “this is fire!” I haven’t eaten today but these lyrics I catch between oscillation of attention wanderings and scribbles. Phone is turned off from “day ones” Z etches in a rhythmic shout-out somewhere in the runtime, and all types of my isolated sociability are then awakened on “JAADE.”
My palms are sweating still and this is not purely psycho-somatic or whatever outdated analytical terms are in my jargon’s rolodex. The anchor is this folded page and groin fold before the trebuchet of my external monitor and two M-AUDIO BX-5s. I have not bought a subwoofer and, between realizing my corner apartment unit is as quiet as it is, the pulsing undercurrent of Z’s bass work hits at the start of “AQUAMANE.”
In a day as analog and extra-digital as could be, he raps “I feel great” to electro zaps to remind me of my computer-mediated interface which occupies time’s quality. All the singularities seem theatrical, like now involuntarily shaking my still-sweaty hands upon his lyrical handstands in quotations and style.
This last passage fades in and out and I’m left with keeping up written reflections.
And just as sudden the record begins again loudly as a function of iTunes. Breaking the fleeting eternity of writing listening moments, my neighbors above rustle like the elephants they have become. Stopping the playthrough I know I must use the restroom, as my body responds to a warming climate claustrophobia, indoors and at large, wrapped in news and nonstop event-making.
There is too much detail, though no more perfect time to indulge and accompany with a soundtrack, feeling bespoke. Writing has been in volume lately, and this has been flush.