You might be wondering where the title Everything’s Going Along As Usual and Then All Shit Breaks Loose comes. Avant-gardist Kevin Drumm fully admits to lifting it straight from Joan Didion’s 2005 memoir The Year of Magical Thinking — he even thanks her for the sentence. In case you haven’t read it, The Year of Magical Thinking is Didion working through her grief after her husband’s abrupt death. The two of them sat down to dinner in their apartment. In the blink of an eye, John Gregory Dunne was gone and life for Didion would never be the same. She spends many early portions of the book trying to cope with the suddenness of her husband’s death, about how life dealt her family a large blow in such a small amount of time. If you know anything about Drumm’s music, you know that he does not deliver in short bursts. Didion’s focus on a split-second event, at first glance, is an odd thing to compare to Drumm’s music. Here’s a guy who’ll sometimes give you one 30 or 40-odd minute track and call it an album. But given the caustic nature of his music, you could almost look at it as a zoom-in function on life’s quick devastations. I can’t say that Everything’s Going Along As Usual and Then All Shit Breaks Loose sounds like its title, but it does sound like it’s ready to explore a vast amount of space between the words.
Everything’s Going is a double album of just eight tracks. In true Kevin Drumm fashion, a majority of them are very long. The length, however, is not contingent on any changes or musical developments. It’s as if the length were designed to numb you, and numb you it does. After 40 seconds of silence, opener “What Sleep Is” blares static for eight solid minutes. Frequencies are tweaked along the way, but the static remains. “Private Fugues” follows an alarmingly similar pattern — after 30 seconds of silence, a rapidly oscillating effect turns into full on static that only varies in slight frequencies up to the 10:20 mark. “The Sinking Quarrel” is the first sign of reprieve among the static in the form of a swelling metallic reverberation that goes on for close to ten minutes. “Panoramic Carnage” is rough on the ears, especially if you are listening through earbuds. It’s what microscopic digital maggots might sound like if they were on a mission to infest your ear hairs. As “Panoramic Carnage” morphs into white noise, a widow’s sharp pain begins to turn into a dull ache — at least I think so.
The album’s second half is a bit shorter, with two tracks only lasting four-plus minutes. It’s probably a twist of black humor that “Social Interaction” sounds so lonely and cavernous. As minimal as Everything’s Going is overall, the most subtle moment is saved for the album’s longest track “Lower”. For 22 minutes, a noise is sustained at such a low volume and frequency that listening to it in any environment other than through earbuds would be a complete waste.
Everything’s Going Along As Usual and Then All Shit Breaks Loose ends with the relatively brief “The Forthright Fool”, an honest-to-god triad of some kind that slowly moves through various stages of emphasis. You might not even be aware of the track’s conclusion unless you were looking down at whatever device you use to listen to music. Drumm’s sounds creep out the back door without notifying anyone, with summoning an attention at all. Shit hasn’t broken loose, but you do get a sense that change has occurred and it may not be the encouraging kind. But we don’t read books like The Year of Magical Thinking in order to be entertained and the same can be said for Everything’s Going Along As Usual and Then All Shit Breaks Loose.