A Note of Confession from a Connectionist: Reflecting on Kite Operations

I promised myself that I would write a reflection about one of my favorite songs discovered in 2007 – “Tracing Paths", a track off of Kite Operations’ 2005 album Dandelion Day (K.O.A. Records). Kite Operations is a self-label indie/experimental/freestyle rock band based out of New York City. The band is made up of former members of Sonic-Youth-inspired noise rock band Theselah. I came upon this song fortuitously through web browsing. I’ve been in love in with this song ever since I first clicked on it on their MySpace. Since their tour in Korea in fall 2007, the band has been working to establish a commendable transpacific link by introducing their favorite Korean indie rock bands to the U.S. via their associated web-released zine.

Lyrical poetics is a little hard to come by these days. The words of “Tracing Paths” remind me of songs on Joni Mitchell’s Blue - with concrete details from everyday life interwoven with abstract message about life, or cosmos. There are motions, emotions, and commotions made up of the two in fragments. I’m a sucker for pragmatist profundity, perhaps a symptom related to the Gen-X lethargy, coming from the slackers who are just now waking up to discover that the world has proceeded beyond the culture of nihilism and guilty pleasures looming in the last decade. “we trace our paths like cursive, chasing a life of soft pleasures. the moment you leave, another one takes over.” We (whoever we are) take pleasure, rather self-consciously, in the form of circularity, the dead-end logical state of tautology.

“we came as one, but i leave alone. i take my food from the fed, clothes from the dressed, love from the loved.”

With 6/8 meter, the repeated ascending guitar riff and vocal line stir up mini ripples while the upright bass and drums provide a rhythmic anchor. “throw them together and witness the splatter. the worlds collide.” Following the breaks in the lyrics, musical cadence gently lets in a pool of noisy chaos. With a kind of Krautrock CAN-ish rhythmic disciplining, distorted guitar, feedback, and cymbal crashes, not at all contrived, exert timbral pressure and sprinkle with teleological forwardness. In these cathartic sequences, I always listen for the “unexpected” placement at which the last bomb is dropped hoping to be surprised by it – again and again.

“the moment you leave, another one takes over.”

Am I a relativist? Maybe, aesthetically. What I enjoy is connection, the grey area, dialecticism, the Middle way. Feelings of disconnection or the binary, either/or logic often alienate me (although alienation is the overcast sky under which we find comfort among friends). If there were one affect that I fall, fight, scream, and contend for, it would be that of connectedness.

“Tracing Paths” is submerged in circles, curves, cursive, and waves. No verses, no chorus. No tonic, no dominant. The end is the beginning. The beginning is the end. The ebbs and flows still resonate even after the CD stops spinning. Maybe this song has the potential to propagate a sense or even an ethos of connectionism in our world.