Mark Trecka – Acknowledgment LP
Recorded using only voice, piano, and handmade cassette loops, Acknowledgment was conceived of and is presented as an intertextual document reflecting on 15 years of dialogue between the personal and political. “Acknowledgment” according to Trecka is presented here not as some kind of moral high ground, but rather an elusive action that runs “somehow deeper than recognition.” How do we acknowledge our deep interdependence upon one another when faced with the ever increasing atomization of modern life? It is through Acknowledgment’s existence as an intertextual and intermedial piece of art that Trecka explores this fascia connecting us all, despite the designed invisibility of certain communities – stateless persons, incarcerated persons, houseless individuals. This record is about heavy things, but it is certainly not about the burden of interdependence or the void left by nature’s dispassion. Rather, it is about the utter joy that may be found through the acknowledgement of these things. Compassion – a word that gets close to acknowledgement’s aims – allows us to share in the pain and joy of our common existence.
Although this album is sparse and some ways abstract, the intertextual elements provide excellent entry points into the work itself. Musically, Mark Trecka offers a few oblique references. Listen deeply to hear the clanging rhythm and idiosyncratic timing of John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes, the minimalist drama of Haley Fohr or Nico’s The Marble Index the floating and commanding vocals of Mark Hollis, or Robert Wyatt’s hopeful but utterly wild solo work. It should come as no surprise that Acknowledgment’s closing track, “Hood in Wind” builds off of Public Enemy’s “Revolutionary Generation ” while Trecka’s impressionistic liner notes quote from prison abolitionist and poet Jackie Wang. The album’s cover itself features a quote from Mexican author Yuri Herrera’s “A Silent Fury” which is about a mining disaster and the criminal response of the mine’s owners. This story echoes in Trecka’s own exploration of a remote desert cemetery which provides the cornerstone for the album’s inserted essay / reflection.
Songs on Acknowledgement often drift between the political and the personal. On “Wave Games” an anxious piano line provides the backbone for Trecka’s reflection on visiting the ocean with his child and, while watching him play in the waves, reflecting on the multivalence of bodies of water – as connectors, dividers of land masses and the struggles of those who cross them in search of better material conditions. Ships literally passing in the night as supertankers valet the refined natural goods of several countries reduced to a supply chain. “A Sea of Tents” reflects on statelessness and unreasonable responses to unreasonable situations over an impressionistic piano composition punctuated by brash bass notes and distressed tape loops that signal like a lighthouse fading from sight. The only instrumental track on the album, the album’s title track opens up caverns between piano notes that are wide enough to cast our worried thoughts into and never hear them hit the bottom. There is a lift, however, towards a cacophonous conclusion that finds joy in making very, very loud sounds over and over.