AntiFragile Music (label)
03 October 2022 (released)
03 October 2022
"I came up with the title Meditations on Crime because, in my mind, crime is politics and politics is crime. At that point I began approaching artists and giving them this framework to contribute. Anything that related to “crime”. Which is so loose that soon the project became less political and more philosophical really. And more abstract.”
This is an album with a difference. This is a concept with deference. This is a creation of magnificence.
What ‘is’ crime? ‘Who’ are the criminals? Does the punishment always fit the crime? Do the perpetrators of crimes always get their just desserts? As Anne Clark rightfully observed ‘The law is an anagram of wealth’.
Harper Simon’s ‘Meditations on Crime’ is a high-art, street-smart, state of the heart address to the idea of criminality - passion, fashion, corporate, celebrating its potency throughout the history of the arts, transgressive behaviour’s latent and glorified silver-screened romance. The esteemed political artist Raymond Pettibon’s picture of John Dillinger (dis)graces the album’s cover.
Featuring a plethora of ’38 special guests’ the ‘product’ (initially conceived in 2016) also comes with a counter-culturally minded 352 page booklet taking the definition of collaboration to new heights. Featuring avant gardeners Laurie Anderson and Jake and Dinos Chapman and literary and filmic philosophers (Kenneth Anger; Miranda July; Ben Okri) the book itself is redolent of the Adbusters publication which arose out of Kalle Lasn’s ‘culture jam’ theories which in turn are inspired by Situationist ‘ways of perceiving’ and ‘seeing beyond the spectacle’. Nutritious brain food for progressive thought ... and prospective thought-crimes.
Sound-wise it’s a veritable who’s-who of punk provocateurs (Ian Svenonius (The Make Up; Nation of Ulysses; Chain and the Gang to name but three); MC5’s Wayne Kramer; Pussy Galore/Royal Trux’s Jennifer Herrera; alt-psyche electronic doyens (Gang Gang Dance; Animal Collective’s Geologist; Ariel Pink) jazz-funk mystic-connoisseurs (King Khan; Marshall Allen and the Sun Ra Arkestra produced by the late Hal Willner).
The project also crucially posits (and encapsulates) just who gets to ‘cancel’ culture and its protagonists, with the idea of blithely blacklisting ominously evocative of darker times. From witch-hunts to Twitch-hunts, the ostracisation process is brutal and quick with re-entry a parlous process.
Since the project was conceived, life has imitated art as some of the cast list have fallen foul of the contemporary cultural climate and its rapacious black-balling. Simon has stood by those collaborators who had faced online kangaroo courts. One man’s cheat is another man’s treason.
Gang Gang Dance bring the broken-beat noise and their sonic textperi-mentalism on ‘Crime Seed’; on the fragically agile ‘Heloise’ Julia Holter joins Geologist on a slow-paced meditative nu-folk recounting of 12th century forbidden amour.
The chameleon-like Sveonious, perennial inquisitor and resistor to the machinations of the music machine and himself no stranger to the idea of ‘crime’ as a building block for gilding rock lavishly exhorts throughout ‘(Only) one way to love’. His trademark Prince-like purple-prose on the dos and don’ts, the rules and codes of attraction augment the agitated and cogitated slo-funk backing.
‘Nagual’ is a dueling duet with Geneva Jacuzzi, amidst a swirling whirling, electro-pulse end-of-days dystopic images are conjured: “burning skies, burning streets, take away these memories … come inside my dis-ease”. The term itself is derived from Mesoamerican folk religion and believes that via a process of shapeshifting the human can attain greater power and spiritual insight by connecting and channeling the inner beast. Not your standard pop-pap by any means.
Simon’s panoramic project is already expanding into other areas: completing a short film based on Okri’s essay, narrated by actress Katherine Waterston with possible art shows and benefit concerts in the future based around the theme.