“that’s so weird sorry i
i haven’t heard my name
my old name
sorry thats so weird”
if the littlest
russian stacking doll’s
is there a new one inside?
Asking / Bearing is a deeply personal collection of songs in two parts, the first half an exploration of glitchy lo-fi pop formed around a series of Skype conversations between the artist, Olive Jun, and her mother.
Through the songs, Olive asks her mother about her life’s hardships – the death of her father at a young age, the failing health of her mother. Her mother’s resistance is evident; she doesn’t know how to be comforted by her daughter. The second half, a more heavily produced foray into experimental hip-hop, functions as an emotional processing of these conversations (even though, in fact, the latter songs were written before the former).
It wasn’t until the second time I listened to the album that I noticed the very first exchange between the two women: we come in on the middle of the conversation. Her mother has just said something and Olive keeps repeating, “Wow, that was so weird.” Her mother tries to move on with the conversation, but Olive finally gets her to stop, saying, “Sorry, that was just so weird. You just – I haven’t heard my name – my old name…” Her mother’s response is three words: “Oh. Yeah, anyway.”
The significance of this moment was lost on me at first, until I realized that Olive is a trans woman and her “old name” is perhaps masculine. It is the only hint of conflict between Olive and her mother throughout the album, and it is a gentle reminder of the microscopic nature of the songs. How there exists a vast and sometimes rugged emotional landscape that stretches far beyond the small window offered by the album.
Each time I listen, I hear something new, a small laugh, an intonation I didn’t catch before, that shades in some new mountain, or oasis. It is a compassionate and touching sketch of an old relationship in some stage of being made new again.
Buy Asking / Bearing here via Seattle’s Hush Hush Records.