Piano, Alone

A score by
os entity
Blue McCall

Genres: #gloomgaze #streambait
#doomscroll #auto-theory
#criticism #performance-lecture
#scene-report  #long-form #poetry
#computer-music #grunge #fashion

A piano is playing alone in a room.

This is not a score, it’s a doomscroll.
This is not a doomscroll, it’s a dis track.
This is not a dis track, it’s a scene report.

This is not a scene.

No one is playing piano
To an audience of no one.

I’m starting to make music again. Or for the first time, really.

I don’t know why I never let myself make music before.

Why I became this scene-wife who threw all the best parties, who
Rolled up at the show with an entourage of six or eight hot young dancers
Of every gender and orientation.

                                                           Limit chasing. Looping round each other.

Gone –

As fast as we arrived.

My ex-girlfriend was a part of the scene that invented gloomgaze.
Like shoegaze but sadder.
Like black metal with dr00000000000000000ne. And fewer Nazis.

The sonic traces of a heavy-music-scene-turned-suicide-cult
In Albuquerque, New Mexico.
When the woman who would become my unsanctioned


Was a 22 year old boy discovering loop pedals,

I was a 16 year old girl living a cliché coming-of-age movie life in San Francisco.

I lived alone with other girls in Lower Nob Hill in the dormitories of an art university,

Having faked my age
To stick around after a perfect summer.
Having run away from my chaotic parents in Southern Appalachia

Who were themselves
Making noise into voids
Breaking each other's hearts

000000000over and 000000000over again
Because there was nothing better to do after grunge faded.

[Grunge; fated.
Always and already

I was sneaking into drawing classes,
Charging an ID drawn up to a fake person
To eat in the university cafeteria,

Half a mile from Compton’s Cafeteria
Where we rioted in 1966.

In a San Francisco gloaming, I was
Partying across a town in its final moments of being

A cluster of distinct neighborhoods. Thinking,
What’s the worst thing that could happen
If I get caught? They can’t un-teach me how to draw.

We were 16–18 year old girls
Choosing our college majors and choosing
Whether we wanted to be




             Orr                  r                                                                              rrrr...

Cam girls...

We were taking Plan B and feeling sick for months.

We were excited because we kept seeing Doja Cat, the girl

From the Bitch, I'm a cow
(Moo, moo, moo)
Bitch, I'm a cow
youtube video and

We were excited because she looked and dressed exactly like us.

We didn’t have to try that hard to sneak into bars or parties. We never paid for drugs.
We went to pretty places to take photos in the day time and kind of drifted
Through nights that all blurred together. Genre fiction.

I remember really loving the movie American Graffiti
For making the radio more omnipotent than God.

Surf rock was having a moment again, and I felt like I was in the middle of everything.
There were all these whiny white boy bands who had names like Girls
But no girls in them.

They cropped up everywhere
In America
All at once.

I danced
Day and night.

Surplus genre was jangling all over the place, and the music was so loud
I couldn’t hear myself say the words that really just signaled: I go to Art School.

Words like,                              cliché is a cultural agreement.

Just the other day,                            present-day,
I was record store shopping with my bandmate, Lula.
We were talking about poaching Chelsea from Rabbit for our queer noise girl

Supergroup, called
Noise Noise Noise Girls Girls Girls,
And we can get Dorothy, too when she’s not in New York or on tour.

Rabbit poachers
No such thing as poaching if there is no scarcity of sound.
I thought, Why didn’t I do this so much sooner? Why didn’t I start a band ages ago?


                0000000000000oh yeah…

Members of my teen girl friend group were assaulted by the Burger Records bands.
I said,                              n0 thanks I will be a different kind of artist.

Small things felt so big 
In a coming-of-age movie life,
I hardly noticed the big things.

When I was a teenage girl in the music scene,
It was like I left my place every morning
And my mission for the day was to not get raped.

Older musicians getting me drunk at 16 and being okay because I jumped
Out of windows into night, more than once.
Somehow forgotten until now…

Video game sounds played in my head
While I roamed in détournement across the streets of San Francisco.
Dee dee dee dee do do.

Finish him!

                                                                    Finish him!

                                        Round infinity, FIGHT!


We were 16–18 year old girls,
We didn’t have to try that hard in public,
But we were toiling in private.

Each night toiling away at the problem:
How come we write like Hemingways, but men treat us like this?
How come we are old skool artist types, but it matters more that we look like this

And get passed around.
Our ideas traveling farther than we can
On spit in other people’s mouths.

Can we pretend to be influencers or models or cam girls long enough

To become artists?

                                                         Or do the men not ever let anybody make that leap?

We took maybe 20 maybe 200 photos a day
And had no idea critics would later blame us
For creating a state of frenzy and exhaustion called image saturation.

[image saturation]

The state of contemporary culture.


A techno-fascist
Billionaire laughs behind a curtain.

San Francisco rolls over
From where it had been lying on its back, underbelly-up in the mist and sun
For hundreds of years.

And silicon-valley-style coffee shops with reclaimed wood,
Man Crush Monday furniture on hairpin legs, subway tile,
And post-industrial lamps with Edison bulbs

Crop up everywhere
Around the world
All at once.

The great yoink is complete.
The world is flat and coffee is $8.

10 seconds of the best love song on Earth
Is just another audio.

The thing about coming out before social media,
Is I first only ever saw lesbians in porn.

An algorithm banned me from Tinder, then a different algorithm
Served me my wife on Instagram.

                                                                                                                      My body,
                                                                                                                      Fully dressed,

                                                           Got flagged as porn by computer vision
                                                           In early algorithmic image flagging.
                                                           I got hit with a lifetime Tinder ban for “solicitation.”

Machine 2
Machine looking is
The loop we’re all stuck in,                            now.

When the woman who would become my wife was 22,
She was choking on her masculinity. She was hinging her identity
On being a drummer with a six pack,

So anxious she had to set up 
Her drum kit backwards
To play facing away from the audience.

A devout member of the Cult of the New,

                                                                                           She was chasingggggg 


To keep from looking inward.
Just as her post-metal band was getting really good, 
Really mathy, really hardcore,

Really in sync with one another, opening for The Body
And playing all the best punk houses,
She decided they were too close to genre

And that the band needed to start playing sets barred out on Xanax.
A rigid and practiced form got sludgy.

                                                           Losing teeth

                                          Only just cut.

                                                                                                                                 Crept in
                                                                                                                                 Around the edges.

                                          A dream:

                                                           Authoring predictive text.

Performances became absurd. Band members collapsed in their apathy
Grinding on, unable to stop playing songs,
Unable to stop producing loops.

Like if proto-horror folktale turned ballet movie The Red Shoes
Were written by Chat GBT in a fucky alternate timeline,
Starring dirty punks instead of golden-age Hollywood beauties.


Like shoegaze but sadder.
Like black metal with drone.

She, in all her baroque sadness and gender fucked specificity,
Didn’t know gloomgaze would become streambait.

[Streambait] is an anesthetized genre of music
Designed to be picked up by the algorithm.

Unobtrusive enough to not distract from whatever content

                                                                                                              Is looping
                                                                                                              In the foreground.
                                                                                                              Maybe a video

                                                                                                              Or maybe
                                                                                                              Buying your coffee in
                                                                                                              Generic Coffee Shop

But looping in structure, to encourage repeat engagement.

All of musical innovation
Reduced to a vibe.

Crumpled into the first 30 seconds of the track
Like the hood of a car hit by a truck.

The Instagram algorithm served my ex-wife to me in a short plaid skirt and docs
With her underwear showing. Because I had faked my age years earlier,
And never changed it in the settings.

She was Diogenes the Cynic in a schoolgirl skirt,
Hopping from girlfriend to girlfriend,
Whistling “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog.”

                                                           Served to me to love her,
                                And I did.
                                I let her rule me.

The algo gods
We were both

Born In 1989.
But I was born in 1996.

When we moved in together after one month, I started getting ads for gaffs
And she started getting ads for esoteric, gender-bending fashion brands

Eckhaus Latta
Michaela Stark
Dilara Fındıkoğlu
Peter Do
Heliot Emil
Camilla Carper

The urge to merge is not a joke,
It’s an algorithmic inevitability.

My dad told me to be wary of love when I was a little girl. He said,

“Love is dangerous. Why do you think
People write so many songs about it.”

Then he gave me his hot pink guitar,

                                                           Showed me the pockmarks

In its body,
From where my mother                 Had thrown a pair of pliers at him a few years before as
A teenage girl in love.

                                                           I never learned to play it.

And he gave me a copy of
Dirty, Sonic Youth.
It was my first CD at four years old.

With the ambivalent crocheted stuffie on the cover by Mike Kelley,
The first Art I ever saw. I loved the image.
Decided I loved all images.

Kool Thing, I am once again asking
When are you gonna liberate us girls
From male, white corporate oppression?

There is an unwritten poem here
Called “Rockstar: Absent Father.”

Imagine in the style of
Daniiel Kharms’
“The Red Haired Man.”

Unwritten by repair. 

She threatened to leave me once. 
When my ex and I were together
Artist4artist, T4T, muse4muse. 

I had to watch her write our breakup album in front of me.
She played it for me, a work-in-process, and asked for notes.

There was this song, 


                                                                      “Dueling Pianos”

A whirling piano track
Coded in a Max patch
Banging its way through a randomized microtonal scale.

She’d been reading Microsound by Curtis Roads,
Or The Computer Music Tutorial, Second Edition. Hot.
Trying to use computation as a way 

                                                        Out of the tyranny of Western hegemony. 

But the composition sounded
Somehow empty, somehow                             not



I said, “What if
There were
Two pianos?”

I called
My dad
On the phone
And cried,

“She’s an

And he said,
“Yes, but she’s


So I stayed
Another year.


A piano is playing alone in a room.

This is not a dis track, it's a disklavier. 
This is not a disklavier, it’s a livestream.
This is not a livestream, it’s a scene report.

This is not a scene.

No one is playing piano
To an audience of no one.

                                I am living alone for the first time.
                                After a life of collectives and then her.
                                My stereo is set up in a quad array with
                                The low end on either side.

Holo-                                                                                                          graphic.

Just the other day,                            present-day,
I was record store shopping with my bandmate, Lula. 
Rabbit poaching.

We found this Glaxo Babies record I’d been hoping to come across for a long time.
We went up to the counter –
So stoked. I was like, “I’ve been looking for this for a long time.”

The record store man, a forty-something post-punk guy, said, “Did you know!
That this band later formed another band called Absolute Pleasure?”
I said,


He put
His tail
Between his legs.

Like he knew he wasn’t supposed to tell the cool young girl musicians
About the music they are studying, but he just couldn’t help himself.


Lula asked me how I got into collecting. I had to admit
That it was my ex-wife’s thing. She had this great collection.

I started picking up records here and there to round out her collection.
Or trading art for the records my friends made. When we separated,
She pulled all my records and noted that my collection had gotten better than hers.

I realized I had been the thing collected.

Quoted my writer friend Nikki Cormaci to Lula, “A lot of people
Will try to have you because you just are
Something they can never be. Standing

Next to you is the closest some can get to embodying softness.”
My bandmate offers sage nods, as she has also been collected.
She has a new release out this week on The Flenser with her ex,

                                                                                 To which she says,
“Yeah, it is kind of weird like this will get way more recognition then my solo stuff,
But yeah I think it's good!”

A piano is playing alone in a room.

This is not a scene report, it's a threat. 
This is not a threat, it’s a promise.
This is not a promise, it’s a proposal.

This is Noise Noise Noise Girls Girls Girls.

No one is playing piano to an audience of no one.
And we are playing Archer Ballroom on May 18.


And I am on my way to band practice, full of Freak Joy.
I am scattershot reading Izumi Suzuki’s Hit Parade of Tears on the train.
I open the book to a random page to “Hey It’s A Love Psychedelic!”

I am having a holographic experience of sound with my teenage self.
13 Going on 30, except Jennifer Garner woke up to be an avant-garde composer
Who never learned how to play guitar.

                                                               Time criminal, felt cute

                                       Might get deleted later. 

I’m genuinely excited about the painter in my phone
Who is texting me about the violent life of pearls in clams.

Or the bombshell who is the best friend of the girl who first showed me Eileen Myles.
Or that cloud-coated musician who is also a big titty it girl, who is out there somewhere
Hanging out in parking garages at night. 

I’m excited about loves
That haven’t happened yet.

About learning the lesson that love isn’t ruinous. I can risk it.

About the drop dead gorgeous art critic who wants to get coffee on Sunday
After we ran into each other on the street. Or the boy who is so similar to me that I can’t
Find him – a drifter with no phone. Or maybe,

I am just excited about Noise Noise Noise Girls Girls Girls. 
And I have a group of male friends who will fight any blonde that hurts my feelings. 
And I have booked Venice for this summer. And I’m going to be dressed

For my show there by Alexander McQueen.

And I am
Outing myself
As a person


And I am

As a protective

This was
Piano, Alone

A new work of doomscroll auto-theory
by Blue McCall. 

Written in 24 hrs in residence at
pse Contemporary
Chicago, IL. 

Featuring bando piano,
A 3D scan captured by Marteen Martínez
In Detroit, MI.

For “Piano, Alone In a Room”
A live-streamed series of coded and realtime
player piano activations curated by Sam Anthem,
With poster designed by Sarah Lutkie.

Presented by Experimental Sound Studio and 
SAIC’s department of Art & Technology & Sound Practices
On the the Charles Morcom Yamaha Disklavier piano.

Thanks to longtime editor LA Warman