Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jin Men Ju's "Inconsistent Architecture"

Jin Men Ju is one of the performing aliases of sound artist Terry Horn, my drinking bud and collaborator in Hentai Improvising Orchestra. Terry grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and got inspired to take up music by Slayer, Megadeath, and the Dead Kennedys. While he was in high school, he ran his own business and had a Drivin N Cryin cover band that would make a thousand dollars a night playing parties at his mother's house. He also played gigs with the Maxwellaires (an Air Force jazz band), bluesman Johnny Shines (Johnny fell asleep while the other young white guy on lead guitar was soloing); and Christian singer Stephen Curtis Chapman (Terry fell asleep, at least metaphorically).

Although he just got a full-time job teaching art at a charter school in Oak Cliff, Terry held onto his second job, selling tools at Lowe's, until his wife made him give his notice. My theory is that he was reluctant to quit, even though he was exhausted from working 80-hour weeks, because he's temperamentally well suited to retail (as am I), and not just because he was waiting until he was able to afford the materials to refloor his house, as he claimed. A more easygoing character would be difficult to imagine, although underneath his impassive demeanor, his mind is always working.

You can't find Terry without his sketchbooks and little digital recorder. He's always working on some idea; he says his pieces are never finished, and all of them actually add up to one big piece of art. He likes making "field recordings" of everything from wind noises to some woman's annoying voice in a bar where we're drinking, and combines them into sound collages with recordings of himself playing various instruments: cigar box guitars, turntables, sound samples from his laptop and iPod. He says he doesn't care whether or not people like his music. Maybe it's true.

The two tracks on this CD-R sound like an afternoon spent cleaning the house. In between musical snippets and found sounds are what seem to be the live-recorded sounds of someone running a trash compactor, a vacuum cleaner, and a garden hose. Dogs bark in the background, and there are illegible snatches of conversation, along with intervals of silence. I like to listen to this while I'm sitting at my desk, staring into space, which is an important part of my writing process. It's reassuring to know that somewhere else, someone is being more productive than I am at the moment. If Terry reads this, he'll probably think I'm full of shit.


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