“Absent Personae Postscript” is weaponized history, rerouted through trauma, cybernetics, and orality. The final track off of PTP’s collaboration between Deforrest Brown, Jr. and Kepla, offers a fragmented narrative that traces a Black history embedded within the skin, within the voice, within the body of a community under “trap-conditions,” under the “lash” of a mechanized and mechanizing apparatus spanning economy, sociality, and punishment. Brown, Jr. reminds us that “there is only evasion” in this state of things, and “Absent Personae Postcript” fidgets with an evasiveness, a rhizomatic awareness whose reticulating components swerve and fissure into mitosis. The whirling cleavages, the chirping schisms that Kepla fashions splice into the rerouted figures and histories Brown, Jr.’s solemn words purl. The floating, spectralized form that recounts Brown, Jr.’s dérive further enhances this sense of deterritorialization and reappropriation: Brown, Jr.’s voice speaks the figure of the encoded and encrypted Black Body—depicted with various digital manipulations in Chris Boyd’s haunting video—into existence.
The triumph in the piece lies in that fact that, through the interplay of sonics and lyrics, Brown, Jr. and Kepla radically affirm the power of the voice—and to reinscribe a Black physicality beyond deployment, mechanization, and objectification. Over its trickling 11-minute runtime, the two assemble a fugitive ontology of the Black Body in which technologies of language, sound, and image commune with the resonances of a spoken heritage felt down to the cellular level. As Kepla channels visceral anxieties and dismemberments of the trap into the haptic glitches and tactile code of sub-bass, Brown, Jr.’s oration thrums and concresces into a re-codification of identity, a re-mythologizing whose cryptic poetics serve both to evade institutionalized meaning and encrypt a sense of being from the avaricious nodes of a power-knowledge network geared and lubricated to appropriate and eliminate radical transmissions centered on Blackness.
When Brown, Jr. announces that the apparatuses of control and oppression suffer “a loss of discrete control” because of the “discreet evasion” of the Black Body, his clinamen, his slight and silent homophonous slide from the “ete” to the “eet” fractures—ever so slightly and ever so slyly—a system of language intent on smoothing legibility and concretizing order. Run through feedback and trauma, Brown, Jr. presents a fleeting moment of resistance, a remapping and rewriting of the conditions of the trap into something delightfully ambiguous and radically spacious. In “Absent Personae Postcript,” cybernetic horror sunders into evanescent hope, fracturing just enough to trace a space, a space of art.
PTP will release Absent Personae on 9/29 on vinyl w/ “Absent Personae Postscript” as a bonus track. You can pre-order it now here.