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Gamehenge 09 – various artists

Little Fury Things

Gamehenge 09 sounds like Gamehendge — Trey Anastasio’s senior thesis at Goddard College) — ripped onto a computer then transferred to a Maxell XL-II tape, then burned onto hot vinyl in a bumpy room, then blasted to a gaseous planet like Jupiter for re-mixing, baked onto a VHS tape, stuffed into a Betamax machine, and played through one of those old televisions sets that weighed a ton and were as big as a chesterfield. Gamehenge 09 sounds like it was recorded on the Whale’s Mouth, Philip K. Dick’s nightmarish teleport colony from the novel Lies, Inc. on which paraworlds lay superimposed on top of paraworlds and there is only one thing to grasp: reality does not exist.

If written on the Whale’s Mouth, these would have been the original lines from “The Sloth”: “I didn’t have to look at you twice to realize you ate twenty chicken wings. You’re back on the sauce. You’re back on the wings. Eating fried foods and everything. By the time you get out to Vegas you’re going to be a big, old, fat ass, half Billy Williams, Billy D. Williams, old winkled Billy D. Williams, half Patrick Ewing looking motherfucker.”

In the world Gamehenge 09 strives to make sense of, it is not the unknowable nature of good vs. evil that Colonel Forbin struggles to discern, but the enigmatic nature of shirts vs. skins. What remains the same is Anastasio’s view of kismet: once Forbin saw the door, he had to go through itjust as Rachmael ben Applebaum, the hero of Lies, Inc., had to teleport even though he knew it would be his doom.

In order to truly absorb the beatific preternaturality that is Gamehenge 09, go through this simple mental exercise: Get out a pen and a piece of paper and make a list of five noble truths about music. Five declarations about music you know to be true with your heart and minds. Take your time. (This is, after all, 100 different artists covering Gamehendge. Listening to it takes time and concentration. [Two nouns I so adore.]) Once you have your five noble truths about music, write this sentence: “Everything I know about music is wrong.” There is no other way to wrap your head around this album other than to realize we’ve all been wrong all along. We were wrong to divide bands and people into two groups: hippies and hipsters. We were wrong to say indie bands sound like this, and hippie bands sound like they’re stoned. We were wrong to say hippie people act like this, and hipster people act like douches all the time. We were wrong to divide the streams of rock and roll. The streams are forever crossing and interlooping and intersecting and interweaving. Come on now, we were acting like political partisans. Our obsession with genres got the best of us. Though we did have signs like Ryan Adams staring us in the face, screaming “your dogmatic infatuation with categories is poppycock!”

According to the Little Fury Things web site, “This massive collection of new artists offers a refreshing vantage point from which to consider Phish’s psychedelic music tradition and to shed light on possible future avenues. The point of this release is to breathe new, forceful vision into this modern piece of Americana mythology.” This is something we need more of: music with a point. Since the album is divided into 100 separate tracksnone of which make it to the two minute markit can sound a little disjointed, but this only adds to the otherness, and if 2009 is going to be the year of Twitter, it is only proper for this updated version of Gamehendge to be scattered and piecemeal. Gamehendge sounds like a fairy tale. Gamehenge 09 sounds like the same fairy tale but reflected and refracted by the strangeness and disappointments of adult life. Gamehenge 09 may be what Gamehendge sounds like in Trey Anastasio’s mind today. Gamehendge may also be known as The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday. Gamehenge 09 could also be known as The Man Who Stepped into Tomorrowa really fucked up tomorrow.

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