We Can’t Stand the Quiet

Kaoru Abe
Solo 1972
PSF : 1994

KA, alto sax.

Dear C,

No doubt you’ve heard how blisteringly hot it is here. The asphalt bubbles up from the streets and sticks to your soles. Our air conditioner blew a fuse, so we sweat it out in the apartment with fans aimed at our foreheads. There’s noise in the city, but lately it isn’t loud enough. There’s nothing that can match the insistent scorch of the thermometer. We’re slowly losing our minds, baby.

You remember that scene in Hal Hartley’s Simple Men? It’s about an hour into the movie and everything has been typically deadpan and soft-spoken. Then Martin Donovan’s character rushes into the frame, kicks his hat, and screams “I CAN’T STAND THE QUIET!!!” Cue the opening chords of “Kool Thing” and the characters begin a choreographed shimmy to that Sonic Youth nugget. You smartly pointed out the dance was pilfered from Godard’s Band of Outsiders. But originality be damned, that moment is exactly what we need right now.

It feels like even the web site has been too sedate lately. When not broken. We need a jolt of pure noise to shake things up. This morning, after a series of bracingly cold showers, we reached for our trusty Kaoru Abe records, looking for some face-melting saxophone fury that could temporarily erase the heat from our fevered minds. We picked a solo show from November 4th, 1972 — smack dab in the center of his prime fire-breathing years.

But damn if even Kaoru proved too quiet. The album’s first track finds him in an almost contemplative mood. It’s startlingly lovely and lucid, but he’s not trying to destroy the universe from the inside of his horn. He patiently builds to a section of piercing lyricism, then becomes a gonzo one-man marching band. Just when we’re ready to follow him into the streets, he shifts gears and offers some unabashed beauty.

But beauty is not what we need. We crave something so loud and immersive that it will obliterate our unpleasant surroundings. You once hipped us to that great riddle of a last line from Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood:  “In New Orleans — if you could get to New Orleans — would the music be loud enough?”

We now know the answer. It can never be loud enough. Kaoru Abe sounds like Ben Webster to our sadly unpopped ear drums. Please send suggestions for something terrifying that will destroy our hearing and what’s left of our fragile egg-shell minds.

Much love,
The boys from D:O

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