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The Anarchist Song Book

Noise musician BLACKIE searches for total freedom in music.

Maybe 30 seconds into his set, the dog, previously just wandering around the house being a happy chillbro, goes loopy. He runs in and snaps ahold of B L A C K I E's leg. B L A C K I E is so full of fury that he doesn't even flinch. The dog lets go and bites at B L A C K I E's other leg. He gets ahold of it, and still nothing. B L A C K I E rolls around on the floor oblivious. The dog might as well be trying to bite a tornado or a ball of light or a laser or a tornado made of light and lasers. He snaps at a few others who are moshing and they all immediately backtrack, trying to avoid his jaws. One guy offers his hand to the dog's nostrils so he can smell it, a peace offering and gesture of friendship. It seems like as good a metaphor as any to highlight the difference between B L A C K I E and other human beings. That nobody was around wasn't a good enough reason not to start performing, and that a dog was trying to chew through his tibia wasn't a good enough reason to stop.

For the next 20 minutes, B L A C K I E is the apex of the universe, tearing through songs from the last three years of his life.

His lyrics deal with a range of topics, working their way from discrimination to sexuality to fascism. Most of the time, everything is so loud that it's impossible to hear what's being said, but each of his songs has an opening so unique and bright that his fans are able to immediately know what is going on.

B L A C K I E's "noise" music has caught on here and in Europe with fans of his combination of punk rock and hyper-aggressive rap.
Marco Toress
B L A C K I E's "noise" music has caught on here and in Europe with fans of his combination of punk rock and hyper-aggressive rap.
B L A C K I E, performing at the Villette Sonique Festival in Paris, did 23 shows across France and Canada in 30 days.
Photo courtesy of Matt Sonzala
B L A C K I E, performing at the Villette Sonique Festival in Paris, did 23 shows across France and Canada in 30 days.

"My Window," for example, which most recently appeared on 2009's Spred Luv and has become a live-show staple, begins with 30 seconds of brooding, high-pitched tings. "Warchild," one of the key tracks from 2011's True Spirit And Not Giving A Fuck, opens with a two-second recording of children counting off a marching cadence. "Home Town Blues," from 2012's Gen, starts with pecks at an out-of-tune piano. A stream of sound that might otherwise blend into TV static becomes earmarked by these tiny chunks of almost benevolently creative production.

Every so often the music drops out entirely, allowing B L A C K I E's enormous howl to punch through. Generally, it occurs as the songs transition from one to the next, but it can also occur as part of an actual song. During the bits of silence, he still raps/yells. When "Warchild" goes blank at the 0:19 mark, it's at the very moment he delivers the song's thesis statement ("I don't care about America, nigga, it kills its youth"). The pattern repeats itself throughout his show, each song making its statement.

B L A C K I E finishes with a song called "The Kid That Tried To Cut Himself In Half," which ends with 30 or so seconds of him shouting, "Lines, they fall on me everywhere, I will divide, lines!" before eventually relenting, "I will...become...lines."

When he's finished, he says his name, thanks people for watching, then walks out. It takes him several minutes to return to homeostasis. He drinks a little water, then poses for a picture. He doesn't really remember the dog, but enough people tell him about it that he won't forget. He disassembles his sound system, loads it into his car and drives home.

Six days later he's on the phone answering questions about his performance. There are tiny questions ("Seriously, you didn't feel that dog?"; "Which parts of the show do you remember?"), but they all lead to one: What's the point of behaving in the manner that you do at shows, and how is your aggression in performance or song any less vitriolic than America's lies that you're fighting?

There's a slight pause. Then there's a lucid answer.

"Being real loud and saying what I want to say," says B L A C K I E, "projecting it like that, I hope it will allow the audience to project their sense of freedom like I am."

"I'm all about total freedom and not giving a fuck. I can't think about anything else."

"That's all I want."

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5 comments
MinistryofTruth
MinistryofTruth

Dug the article.I have seen B L A C K I E play a few times, first at Avant Garden in 2008.  I was trying to figure out what the fuck he was doing, blasting a beat machine through the PA and screaming at 10-15 kids.  When I last saw him play as the opener for Aesop Rock at Fitzgeralds, it finally clicked.  I cannot think of any other time I have seen local fans so rabidly dedicated to a local musician, and most musicians can only aspire to performing with that kind of all out commitment and energy.I'm glad this guy is in the scene, he has my fullest respect, and I see nothing but good things in his future if he stays on his current path. @b_l_a_c_k_i_e

JusticeTirapelliJamail
JusticeTirapelliJamail

One of the best artists I know of, local or otherwise. Perfect summation of what he does. Pure awesomeness.

KING
KING

Great write-up.

 
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