Minori Sanchiz-Fung opens the third track of Gas Lit by saying “This is our time.” There is certainly a relationship with time being explored in most of Divide and Dissolve’s work, and Gas Lit is no exception.
It offers us Indigenous time, Black time, time for:
SYSTEMS OF SLAVERY
The album is only 34 minutes long, but it’s part of a much greater, longer decolonial project. There’s nothing wrong with listening to Gas Lit casually or for its aesthetic qualities, but this is music whose goal is to make you feel and do; to give reparations, give landback, listen to and support BIPOC, and dismantle the colonial state.
As Evelyn Araluen says, “the language of decolonisation is not merely unsettling, it is violent. As it should be.” Accordingly, Divide and Dissolve’s musical language can be violent. It’s sometimes like a scream, but also sometimes like one thin and strong thread strung across traumatic canyons. It’s a massive, gutfeel experience. It’s one of the louder sounds you’ll ever hear from any two-piece band.
In interviews, bandmates Sylvie Nehill and Takiaya Reed have expressed that they make loud music because of how loud makes you feel, but it’s mostly incidental that loud plus guitar and drums often equals metal. With their usage of live effects and Reed’s sax playing, labels like “drone,” “metal,” and “contemporary classical” might all be equally applicable to their sound, but describing them by proximity to others seems reductive. I’m more interested in what their sound feels like.
“Divide and Dissolve’s musical language can be violent. It’s sometimes like a scream, but also sometimes like one thin and strong thread strung across traumatic canyons. It’s a massive, gutfeel experience.”
The duo melds frequencies all across the audio spectrum with ease. The soprano saxophone, for instance, is not always an embraceable instrument, but tracks like Oblique gaze deeply at the varied sonic possibility of the horn. It’s a kind of gestural playing, preceded by careful breath, speaking as much as articulating. Just because there are no words does not mean nothing is said. The horn talks as an extension of and partner to the player.
Zoom out on that track, and feel how the drum and guitar’s entrance fills in the sound. Feel how the drum pattern breaks itself open over time, sometimes fizzling, arid cymbals and sometimes a snare like a butcher’s knife. Feel every wave of the guitar sound, through distortion, feedback, attack and decay, and how it knits together the highs of the sax and the lows of the drums to form a coherent, breathable wall of sound.
“Feel how the drum pattern breaks itself open over time, sometimes fizzling, arid cymbals and sometimes a snare like a butcher’s knife. Feel every wave of the guitar sound, through distortion, feedback, attack and decay...”
Zoom out to view the album as a whole. Feel the contrasts in frequency and energy; how your attentiveness shifts to grasp Sanchiz-Fung’s words, and to seat those words in the greater landscape of the album; how these noisy and brilliant offerings mingle with the sound of your own world. Notice the time that has elapsed in your witnessing, and what you choose to do with your time afterward.
Time never stops for a band like Divide and Dissolve, there are only ways of reinterpreting it, of demarcating ritual through masterful manipulation of frequency and resonance.
Singer Joy is a queer musician, writer, and polytheist living in Providence, RI. She makes flowery anarchist theatre with her company Water House Collective, and is also a professional composer for the stage, a zinester, an erotica artist, and a Gemini.