How many times do you want me to tell you that I lived in New York City (fancy, right?!) during trip-hop’s nascency (oooh!) and how cool it was riding subways aimlessly (sometimes unintentionally; often unintentionally) after midnight with a portable CD player and a backpack full of DJ Spooky, DJ Shadow, Company Flow, Tricky, and a bunch of other stuff that got played mostly during the waning moments of the Stretch and Bobbito Show? And how sometimes the rattling of the tracks was mimicked by another one of DJ Spooky’s “field” recordings? One million? Great! Because here’s Time 999,993.
And there I was, sweaty and as handsome as ever, my six-pack raging beneath my COOGI sweater, my chiseled face covered in even more handsomeness, chilling on the 2 or the 3, on the way home after another after-hours party in Alphabet City with all of the funkiest, coolest underground chicks and bros in the center of the universe, when into my headphones, the ones with the black nylon padding around the earpieces which was disintegrating into an annoying species of fuzz that got into every damn corner of my phat Big Apple apartment, came the sounds of not a clacking train but an apparently mournful black man singing the blues over a sparse, snapping, distant-sounding snare/kick-drum arrangement.
Except I wasn’t in New York City. Or on a subway. Or in super-handsome shape (only exceptionally so). I was in Fort Worth, at the Weekly offices, chained to my desk and reeling because I’d just stumbled across a recording by A State of Suffering Caused by the Sudden Sight of One’s Own Misery. The vehicle of Fort Worth singer-songwriter Josiah Hunter, State/Misery represents, to a minor extent, A.) the seemingly limitlessness of recording possibilities that were not available to the Stretch and Bobbito crowd and, to a great extent, B.) the actual limitlessness of homegrown, single-bodied music. The entire EP, called Lomax Edits, combines songs recorded by Alan Lomax for the Smithsonian Institution in the 1930s with trip-hop beats and backing melodies. It’s as, um, spooky as it sounds. And more than glorious.
The rest of State/Misery’s bountiful online discography is full of equally luminous gems. Most are as epic as “Killed You Yet,” a seven-and-a-half-minute ballad that, Hunter writes, has “been around for several years in about as many forms” but that is now dynamically sonically hollow and is now (or remains) Radiohead-quality sad. Sad, sad, sad. Lots of echo and soft, squishy effects cushion Hunter’s distant, sorrowful, I’m-trapped-at-the-bottom-of-a-well voice. In a perfect, New York City-esque world, I would introduce Hunter to fellow Fort Worthian Phil Ford, the trip-hop beatmaker and melodymaker who proves that maybe this city has some cosmopolitan flair after all. I mean, it was bright enough to lure me away from NYC.
Anyway, A State of Suffering Caused by the Sudden Sight of One’s Own Misery has a couple of shows coming up, though I have no idea how he’s going to replicate the gorgeous, sumptuous, multitudinous layers of his evocative soundscapes and songs in a live setting. Probably with a laptop. Or two. Which is fine. Had portable computers been around during the Stretch and Bobbito days, we might not have idolized DJs Spooky and Shadow as much as we did. When we were getting lost in New York City on the way to our dorm room after drinking one too many $4.25 Bud Lights. In overcrowded, douchey Upper Westside meat markets. With Dave Matthews blaring from the speakers. State/Misery will perform on Friday at 1919 Hemphill with Teach Me Equals, Spirits & The Melchizedek Children, and a groovy newish F-Dub band that reminds me of one of my long-lost faves, Sonic Buffalo, by the name of Lady Kira. State/Misery will also perform on Tuesday at the nearby Boiled Owl Tavern.
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