Label: Graveface Records Release date: 12/10/10 Link: Official Site “Schopenhauer has depicted for us the tremendous terror which seizes man when he is suddenly dumbfounded by the cognitive form of phenomena because the principle of sufficient reason, in some one of its manifestations, seems to suffer an exception. If we add to this terror the blissful ecstasy that wells from the innermost depths of man, indeed of nature, at this collapse of the principium individuationis, we steal a glimpse into the nature of the Dionysian, which is brought home to us most intimately by the analogy of intoxication.” – F. Nietzsche [trans. Kaufmann] In Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy From the Spirit of Music, he describes two forms that combine for pure Attic tragedy – the Apollonian and the Dionysian. Of course, most should be aware of this if they have interest in Nietzsche’s work, and one can only assume that Jaime Stewart (yes, he of Xiu Xiu fame) has such an interest. He, here as Blue Water White Death (with Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater fame), have crafted another album representing the concept of Attic tragedy, but instead only going so far as to wallow in Dionysian pleasure and loathing. And while Blue Water White Death (the album, henceforth called S/T) is “enjoyable” it ultimately does not succeed as an album from either artist’s expectations, as lofty as they are. For some time Stewart has operated as a sort of embodiment of Dionysian ideals in the modern independent music scene, utilizing feeling, instinctual arranging (interviews mention how often the band writes in the studio), focusing on the raising of art. He himself speaks of emotions heavily, using them as a lynchpin for his sad and disturbing music, implying a sense of passion within chaos, loving the feeling of being the storm as much as being out of the storm. His consciousness of his music and lyrics extends itself beyond said music and lyrics into being consciousness of that consciousness, taking Sartre’s idea of being coming of nothingness – a power conveyed in his oeuvre. Yes, to a small degree Stewart has Apollonian tendencies, his love of individuation in place of viewing the problem and concept of existence as a singular entity (the “LCL principle”), even synthesizing two opposing aspects of the concept of Apollonian and Dionysian to meet equilibrium (or at the least approach a metastable situation). His writing (here especially with Meiburg) manages to encompass both a celebration of illusion and deceptive appearance as well as exuberance in relation to nature, yet use individualism to convey messages in abstract manners. Is it a matter of going beyond the Nietzschian concept of a “Dionysian being” (the one set forth in “The Birth of Tragedy”) in the case of Stewart, or is it a matter of late-Nietzschian décadance here underpinned by an inherent loathing? It would, based on the lyrical aspect of both projects (Xiu Xiu, Blue Water) here (even to a degree in Meiburg’s words, not in Shearwater), be nothing more than simple attempts at finding the place in fate akin to classic Apollonian heroes, instead channeled ultimately through the lens of the opposite, never meeting but instead dancing around one another until Apollo tires. While this has worked multiple times for Xiu Xiu, here it instead seems more like an attempt to be as eerie as possible. Now with Stewart out of the way, and as a result the lyric to a degree, the music must be discussed (albeit very briefly, rendering this paragraph somewhere in the four to five sentence range). While this project went from conception to completion in under a month, the music could have been more developed. Here, as has been noted elsewhere, is the main issue – nothing feels certain, each song either in an extreme of ambience or a total mess of noise. While this is both exhilarating and tiring, the latter prevails more often than not, a move that is true to both members’ pedigrees yet a move that breaks the excitement of these men going outside of their normal bounds with a collaboration (keep in mind Jaime’s last one was with Michael “I’m the fucking Swans” Gira and Meiburg’s was Okkervil River). Few songs stand out here, with ‘Nerd Future,’ ‘Rendering the Juggalos,’ and ‘Song for the Greater Jihad’ being the main highlights here (despite all sounding like Xiu Xiu outtakes to a certain degree). The music here is pure Apollonian desire, wanting plasticity and understanding of the chaos and unjust nature of the lyrics, yearning, yet never meeting a synthesis in the form of a balanced hero in the classic style. As cliché and terrible as it sounds, this was far too promising for the final result, the kind of album I will listen to again in four months and wonder about with morbid curiosity. That being said, I want another album from this duo, one composed in more than a week and recorded lovingly over a month and a half. I will not give up hope on these talented performers due to one misstep. Photobucket