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Thomas Bey William Bailey, "La Production Interdite"

cover image Musician, researcher, and author Thomas Bey William Bailey has been prolific in all of the disciplines in which he has worked, and La Production Interdite is an excellent entry in his musical body of work. Spread into two 30 minute pieces, one fully instrumental and one with spoken word vocals, Bailey succeeds in a strong piece of sonic, as well as conceptual art that comes together brilliantly with both distinct elements enhancing the other perfectly.

Elevator Bath

Bailey’s last work, the digital only A Desperate Expediency was centered on the concept of enhanced interrogation techniques, while this one is on the seemingly less disturbing and polarizing concept of autoscopy, or the visualization of doppelgangers or doubles of the self.Perhaps fitting then is the fact that the two sides are, musically at least, somewhat similar to one another, but they are different in more than just the inclusion of vocals.The sound is rather similar, but not quite the same, obscuring which version could actually be the ‘real’ one.

The instrumental half opens with a light, slightly noisy electronic drift, with small fragments of piano shining through the obscuring analog and digital electronics. Low fidelity glitch layers and crackling static appear, heralding the transition into icy, deep space expanses of minimalism.The piece has an unrelenting flow, evolving from falling tones into grinding static to frigid ambient space.The blend is exceptional, juxtaposing the light and dark elements of Bailey's sound, from thunderous crashes into cold shimmers.The final eight or so minutes heralds a distinctly darker transition though.The more dissonant elements take on a sharper, cold metallic sheen, as it eventually becomes a ghostly, empty space of dead air.

The vocal mix on the other side of the tape features many of the same sounds and sonic elements, but with a final product that differs from the other half of the tape.Opening with a more sputtering, noisy passage, the piece again settles into a mix of conventional piano sounds and rhythmic, glitch patterns, distorted into an understated grind.When Bailey's narration appears, relaying stories of doppelgangers and hallucinations, the backing track thins out and drops to accommodate his words, but never fades away too drastically.

Between the spoken passages, the music continues as deep space melodies and more distorted electronic bursts, at times devolving into chaotic noise but being kept under his control.The airy electronics and dirty crunch transition between one another nicely, as Bailey's narration sometimes sounds as if it is treated with the slightest amount of processing.The passages are spaced apart well enough to never overshadow the music but instead demand attention when appropriate.On the surface this would seem to be a lighter topic than the interrogation techniques of his previous release, but things still take a very dark turn in the narrative.

As a person who is not usually a spoken word fan, La Production Interdite still manages to work wonderfully in my opinion.The actual narration is compelling and nicely punctuated with the music, but also spaced out enough to maximize its impact, as well as to give the music an appropriate amount of attention.The compelling thematic elements, mixed with the complex and heavily varied electronic music that Thomas Bey William Bailey creates to complement the text-based work stands powerfully on its own as well.The final product, however, is enhanced by both halves and makes for a great piece of art.