“ I thought he was a performance artist, that’s what I thought. You know, the kind of guy who pisses into a cup on stage and then drinks it.” This line from Se7en, the 1995 David Fincher film, leapt into my mind after reading about Andy the Doorbum’s recent performance art show debuting his new album. There always seemed to be a bit of a fool’s wisdom about his music, but now Andy has dove headlong into The Fool’s journey, something he’s obliquely referenced in his music before. Fortunately, according to written descriptions of his new performance art bent, and said performance’s accompanying album The Fool, the leather shop clerk from Se7en’s dismissive remarks on performance art don’t exactly apply to Andy the Doorbum’s new artistic endeavours. He might have covered himself in blood (Real? I don’t know, I wasn’t there, but somehow I doubt it) and acted out a trip down a birth canal composed of light, but he didn’t drink his own urine…at least not yet.
The Fool is a drastic departure sonically from The Man That Killed the Bird, And With the Bird He Killed the Song, And With the Song, Himself. There are plenty of interesting songs on The Fool though, even if there’s rarely an acoustic guitar strum heard. Instead, there’s plenty of background noise, a decent amount of spoken word, and ritualistic beats and taps heard here. The album’s opening track, “Exaltation/Degradation Ritual” showcases all of these elements. It invokes a sense that the album we are about to journey through will be part filth therapy and part rebirthing ceremony thematically. “Prayer to Ghosts,” the album’s first proper song, opens with the ringing of a ceremonious bell and goes on to invoke an eerie atmosphere with Andy’s deep vocal intonations moving the song along. “Dance of Cleansing,” evokes a medieval, as well as Middle Eastern, sound and contains no real lyrics besides Andy’s throaty refrain of “Let Go!” intermixed among more primal sounding vocalizations. “Vision of Three Demons” keeps with the medieval sonic theme, and evokes an almost medieval lullaby-like soundscape. “Exorcism of Love” and “Chant for The Lonely” are the album’s two most complete, and completely haunting, songs on the album. “Chant for The Lonely” especially showcases some of Andy’s quietly evocative vocals over a gently strummed and infrequently plucked electric guitar. “Loneliness I’m waiting for you…” intones Andy with and unmatched sincerity.
“Binding Ceremony” with it’s powerfully simple lyrics and rhythmically strummed acoustic guitar is evocative of the type of “dark before the dawn” emotion and weight we usually only see, on a mainstream scale, from the likes of Trent Reznor. The entire song evokes a more positive emotion that the Reznor song it appears to be inspired by. As quiet as “Binding Ceremony” is musically, it is the loudest song spiritually on the album, and therefore the album’s standout track.
While The Fool has some pretty well constructed, unique sounding, and occasionally deeply moving songs, the album feels like it is an uncompleted work without the apparently stunning visuals of the performance art of its creator. Quietly moving, often jarring, and surprisingly melodic, The Fool is a solid listen, but suffers from the lack of an accompanying visual experience. Perhaps, Andy will produce a full on concert video performance of the album for mass consumption, and The Fool will be able to be experienced in full, as it should.