August 24, 2016

TEST SPIN: Katie Dey — Flood Network

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Who the fuck is Katie Dey stealing from?

I’m scratching my head and listening to Flood Network over and over and over again, but I just can’t figure it out. At first glance it seems like there’s no way an album so steeped in internet culture, electronic beats and that post-ironic brand of savvy melancholia which has come to define bedroom maestros the world over could possibly have sprung into itself sounding so brashly little like anything else in the world. But — excepting Dey’s first EP, asdfasdf — it does. It’s an album to itself, and a remarkable, confusing, comforting, vulnerable, terrifying, difficult one at that.

Maybe Flood Network owes its singularity to the fact that the album operates like its title: as a flood network. It’s an album about information and outwardness, an album which hurls itself at its listener’s feet without the ability to turn or even look backwards. It’s a sort of Orpheus for the internet age, whose Eurydice is sheer tangles of coded, intangible information and whose purpose for plunging itself into whatever and every depth it plunges itself into is, like the internet’s expanse and the music it contains, quite a bit more muddled and many-sided than any crusty Classical metaphor could ever capture. Flood Network is data and arithmetic and sequences and synapses.

Katie Dey isn’t stealing from anyone. Maybe she’s a sponge, and Flood Network is her expunging everything she’s soaked up into her brain after countless strings of moments of just sitting and absorbing. But what comes out on the other end of that wringing has been thoroughly sloshed and altered; not just soaked but sort of transformed. That’s probably why Flood Network sounds so unique: It engages with everything and becomes an idea, a melange of words and symbols and searches and programs. And while its purpose is partly to synthesize all of that information into some kind of meaningful something, that’s not all it does.

Here’s a list of information:

“if u do lsd too many times you become a mandlebrot set”
A Katie Dey tweet from July 22. True or not, Flood Network is psychedelically fractal. If a Mandelbrot set listens to this album maybe it will become a person.
Flood Network’s online location. To download it is to let the network keep flooding up, but those binaried sounds wait here indefinitely. Nowadays even a deluge needs a url.

“There’s a hole in my heart / I can’t wait till it starts / to fill up with my / inner flash flood”
A lyric from “Fleas” (track three). Katie Dey’s music is about emptiness and substitution and finding something to fill up every void, internal and external. A lyric like this makes me wonder whether the flood is made up of networks or neurons. But then again is there a difference?

“This is the first Bowie album without a lyric sheet, and I’m glad, because aside from reservations voiced above I’ve always agreed with Fats Domino that it’s more fun to figure them out for yourself.”
Lester Bangs on David Bowie’s Station to Station (1976). When it comes to Dey, I’ll agree with Bangs and Fats Domino that to labor through the lyrics blindly is a labor of love. If everything were enunciated and enumerated, then those bleeps and blips would be just that, bleeps and blips. Instead they’re allowed to chatter.….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.9.497.nUJI-FY5MWw
The google image search result for Australia. My knee-jerk reaction is to say that Dey’s home has quite a bit to do with her art, but I haven’t had the time (and probably never will) to figure out why or even decide if I’m right. Taking a look at her continent might help though. She labels all of her music with the Bandcamp tag “Melbourne.”

Keys on your keyboard and every other track on Flood Network, depending on where your mind is at. The former are functional, standard and definite. The latter are instrumental, varied and punctuating. Compare the latter to The Red Krayola’s “Free Form Freak-Out” tracks: both sets of intermittent, otherworldly aural floodgates by artists tittering at the fringe, defining the ethos of their day’s sound.

“been awake too long i want to dm everyone schopenhauer quotes and talk about God but i won’t due to fear”
Another tweet from July 22. As far as I can tell, “God” is the only capitalized word (besides Carly Rae Jepsen) in any of Katie Dey’s tweets.

“Won’t somebody help me / feels like I’m covered in fleas”
The lyric from “Fleas” immediately following the one I mentioned earlier. It still doesn’t illumine the difference between networks and neurons, because I guess either could conjure up the feeling of crawling fleas over skin.

“just googled ‘why cry laugh same brain feeling baby’”
A final tweet from July 22. Dey also labels all of her music under the Bandcamp tag “kids.”

“Loneliness is the fate of all outstanding minds.”
“It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.”
Two pieces of Schopenhauer’s information.

Troy Sherman is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected].