Ma Turner speaks his own musical language – or at least moves within a boundless, iterative musical system that enables some kind of revolving Whitmanesque selves-catalog. (Let’s not get ahead of myself. Let’s start again.) Lexington artist and musician Ma Turner undertook a yearlong performance exercise, conversing with himself through aleatoric editing, “blind” overdubbing (
a clever reapplication of blues singer tropes alluded to in his moniker? ), and other free-brushed impressions. The result is Zoz, a six-hour box set of eighty-three songs, everything handmade by Turner, to be disseminated like the eucharist.
This is the first form of the material. There’s also an LP from Sophomore Lounge of reworked examples from each cassette. There’s also a digital sampler. In short, I don’t know what I’m reviewing – even the damn production is citational.
The music. “Christ in a Garden” is hypnotically elliptical in music and lyrics, with phrases irregularly recycling just as they seem to be departing (the video is a strange monochrome montage of natural disasters, religious iconography, and a webcam headbanger). There are spoken word inner monologues that feel like Disneyland denouement. There are subtle, abstract collages of synth and crackling echoes. There is heartfelt balladry, the fly floating in the wine. “Clips of People Being Abused” is one of the more unflinchingly uncomfortable songs I’ve heard in a long time, with gurgling electronics feeding on screams – I don’t know if it’s honestly or irresponsibly violent. The following song (on the digital release), “i promise,” is a self-flagellating mirrored Inquisition, creepy not for the affected shriek/singing of its title, but the holy, wordless antiphons calmly underneath. There are also some fun odd-tuned acoustic improvisations, the Id run wild smearing shat-out Play-Doh on the walls.
There is little to no auditory frame of reference for these collections – pattern is so willfully eschewed, you will never settle into the songs like you will for almost all other “experimental” bedroom pop. You’re gonna get slapped around. Ma Turner speaks his own musical language .