Sunday, December 28, 2008
Marty Ehrlich - The Welcome (Sound Aspects)
Always a little surprised how well this one stands the test of time. His playing and composing on this, his debut as a leader from 1984, owes an enormous debt to Threadgill (with nods to his teacher Hemphill and Blythe as well), but the relative sparseness of the trio (Anthony Cox and Pheeroan Ak Laff) and Ehrlich's happy reluctance to overblow, serve the music well. I don't think I ever caught him leading his own groups but saw him countless times with others, especially Muhal's bands, where he tended to be a strong presence. I think the last time I heard him live was as a part of Eric Friedlander's trio, down in a bookstore on Church St. (?), maybe a dozen years back, of which I have vague but fond memories. (As with many Sound Aspects LPs, no cover image around that I could rustle up).
(Various) Vorwärts und nicht vergessen (Eterna)
Previously mentioned. A collection of German socialist songs from 1929-1932, including several by Hanns Eisler. When I hear songs sung by groups of people in uniform (going from the photos on the backs sleeve) I get the creeps regardless of whether they're from the right or left, nationalist or classist. So I find these choral/orchestral works tough going, not dissimilar to my reaction to most PLM songs from 40-odd years later. There's the benefit of my not really understanding German, I guess, but the mere fact that it is German (forgive my years of conditioning via WWII movies) adds an extra frisson of creepitude. I think I picked this up in a used vinyl bin somewhere, probably intrigued by its unusualness. Worth having for documentary reasons, not so much for pleasure.
Either/Orchestra - Radium (Accurate)
What is it that when an avant-garde outfit (or an ostensible one) does a cover of a pop tune, it whets our interest? I can't deny that it's true (for me), though I hope less so as time goes on. That's doubtless one of the reasons many of us found Zorn so enticing back when. It certainly was the case, in '88 or so, when I heard about Either/Orchestra. Here was a largish jazz band, perhaps an American Kollektief of sorts, putting out a debut record where they not only make the potentially inspired choice of covering Roscoe Mitchell's "Odwalla" (spelled Odwallah here) but also come up with the patently nutso idea of doing a medley combining Monk's "Nutty" with Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billy Jo". I mean, the LP practically leapt into my little grubbies.
I was a fan for a while, three or for records (the remainder on disc) but, as with many things from that period, gradually lost interest. They always had a lumbering, shambling quality about them and eventually that slightly leaden nature wore me down. Even here, once you get past the novelty of the covers, there's not so much left of interest. Decent band, good instrumentalists but not much else. Leader Gershon, impressively and obsessively arranges the Mitchell piece basing it scrupulously on the Bap-Tizum version of the work and it's kinda fun hearing the riffs arranged for a larger ensemble, but...Even a lovely tune like "Willow Weep for Me" sounds too much like it's slogging through muddy ground.
Finished Alex Ross' "The Rest is Noise" the other day. Decent, very decent recap of the 20th century from a Euro/US classical point of view with nods (often not much more than that) to other cultures and idioms. I'm fairly sure I don't share too much taste overlap with more current work--Ross seems to love recent Reich and Adams, for instance--but the book reignited a resolution I've had off and on to acquaint or reacquaint myself more thoroughly with much "classical" music from the last century, so it had its value for me. Certainly worth the read and a good thing to offer for friends and/or young 'uns who want to get generally up to snuff.
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 12/28/2008 10:43:00 AM No comments:
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Colin Andrew Sheffield - Signatures (Invisible Birds)
Al Jones mentioned this recording to me a little while back as one of his favorites of the year and subsequently wrote it up for bagatellen. I imagine one's reaction to it will in large part rest on one's appreciation not only of drone-oriented music, but also of that subsection which is fairly tonal, even luxurious in nature. I find it pretty fascinating even apart from those considerations.
The label appears to involve an orientation around bird song and such sound comprise one element here but Sheffield also incorporates short (obscured, stretched and otherwise manhandled) snatches of existent music, field recordings (including, I take it, birds though if so I couldn't pick it up--the release of this recording was timed to coincide with the 100th birthday anniversary of Messiaen, btw), vinyl scratches and probably much else. He makes a point to mention his non-use of software in his assembling process, preferring a turntable, an old sampler and a multi-track recording system. Whatever the technical means of construction, the four tracks share a similar character: a thick, twining strand of organ-like tones that gradually cede evidence of a huge amount of activity occurring under the surface and, surprisingly within a drone context, much of that activity is rhythmically based.
There are four pieces, two lengthier ones bracketing two of relatively short duration. The first, "Beneath the Waves" (true, his titles can be...awkward) has, I don't know, five or six (more?) lines occurring and each seems to possess its own muffled rhythm. Throbs or pulses, more accurately but somewhat akin to "Music for Airports", they flow along at their own tempi, creating lovely and subtle sonic moire patterns. Sheffield brings given elements to the fore but the listener can also isolate components, often coming to hear certain sounds only late in the work, though they've been there all along. The music can teeter a bit close to the overly gauzy but always maintains enough grit to steer clear. The two shorter pieces are more aggressive, even harsh, reminding me a bit of a toned-down version of the loud track from Rowe/Nakamura's "between".
As is often the case with work tangentially similar to this, though I find it lovely to listen to on disc, I think it might be much better served in a live setting, in an appropriately immersive environment, preferably a non-concert oriented situation, one through which the audience could wander, sit, etc.
Good stuff. Well worth the listen if the general area is up your alley.
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 12/27/2008 10:54:00 AM No comments:
Friday, December 26, 2008
Pali Meursault - un(zéro)deux (entr'acte)
I hadn't realized this was a live (solo) performance until after I'd listened a couple of times, which both surprised and impressed me. Meursault has a lot of stuff going on but, to his credit, it never feels crowded, the various textures and sounds playing very well together (like the combination of scraped tones and faunal-sounding "whoops" some 15 minutes in. I take it there are a number of off-kilter mechanical devices set in motion throughout, but however it's accomplished, the matrix that emerges is very alive and both busy and spacious simultaneously. Think a less caloric Jason Lescalleet. Fine recording, growing on me each listen.
Phroq - Half-Asleep Music (entr'acte)
True to its title, Phroq (Francisco Meirino) apparently attempted to create this music only when he was in dire need of sleep. Well, it does have a disjointed character though whether that can be laid on the doorstep of fatigue or otherwise, I can't say. There are some very nice moments, especially when things subside, but there are also too many spacey sections for my taste and the structure, as mentioned, strikes me as too scattered. One's near-sleep sensations may be kind of like the re-telling of dreams: interesting to the teller, for whom the logic retains some vestige of narrative sense, not necessarily to the hearer.
Haptic/Cristal - Velocimane/Çukurova (entr'acte)
A split 10", 45 rpm vinyl. Haptic (pictured above--Joseph Mills, Adam Sonderberg, Steven Hess) contribute dark, strong work ("Velocimane"), structured in long waves of bowed metals and electronics (prepared piano as well, I think?) that develops a fine, brooding feel; very cinematic, in a way. My only complaint is that it feels like a slab lopped off from a larger work. Everything about it screams for greater length and more delving. Exceedingly cruel to slice it off so abruptly! :-)
Cristal (pictured below--Jimmy Anthony, Greg Darden, Bobby Donne) offers a shorter (four minutes or so), less satisfying piece. Its harsh, metallic wash struck me not as inherently intriguing than Haptic's fragment but still, it expires before one can make much of anything of it. I give the benefit of the doubt that both are intentional one way or the other, perhaps intentionally providing a mere sliver of what implied larger works and are interesting if so viewed. Still, I wanted more...
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 12/26/2008 10:32:00 AM 1 comment:
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I first encountered Richard Garet's work earlier this year in a performance he shared with Asher and Brendan Murray at Issue Project Room, one of the most enjoyable events of the year and one of my favorite music/video concerts in recent memory. His music, at least that which I've heard there and since, fits it with that part of the scene which concerns itself with a melding of field recordings and electronics. There's something inherently different, imho, about it compared with post-AMM improvisation, though it occasionally overlaps (from both directions). One, obviously, is that the recorded work is largely constructed in the studio, not created in real time and even in live performance (I think it's fair to say), many of the elements have been pre-recorded and there's likely to be somewhat more of a sense of foreordained structure, even as aspects might be altered on the fly. These are all generalizations, of course, but when I hear music from Garet, Asher, Christopher McFall and others, they seem to me to occupy a distinct area of the sound-world, at least an area that is easily differentiated from Rowe, Sachiko, etc. I think one part is more of a willingness to watch a process unfurl, to set something in motion and leave it be for an extended period. Even with work like Sachiko's extreme sine pieces, I get the sense that she's hovering intently all the time; there's a huge tension at play re: the possibility of something happening even if "nothing" does. I've only used this referent a few hundred times before, but musicians like Garet strike me as stemming more from an Eno-esque aesthetic, as first appeared in "Discreet Music" and similar work, where the creator is quite content to begin a process and then offer perhaps only a nudge here and there, sharing a listening stance with the audience, just as fascinated by what might happen next.
Again, this is a necessarily gross generalization and there are doubtless as many variants to this approach as there are musicians so engaged. Also, I'm sure many pieces that I hear this way would turn out to have been enormously worked on. Indeed, the two recordings by Garet considered here each take different tacks.
Richard Garet - l'avenir (wind's measure)
"l'avenir" embodies the more minimalist attack of this aesthetic. It's overall arc is clear, it's of a piece, it stays on roughly a single track throughout, presenting its beauty and depth and then disappears down the road. It begins with soft crackles (as with much of the sound here, I'm hesitant to guess at the original source as I've no idea how much, if at all, it's been modified, so bear that in mind) that evoke dripping water and light static. This sonic area appears throughout, that is, "natural" sounds of a lightly percussive aspect. But, as is the case elsewhere I think, there are often three or four layers of such, presenting the listener with likely more depth than can be perceived at a given time, something that makes each listen fresh. Shortly, long, tonal organ-like sounds appear. They have a slightly distant feel, as if heard through a fog, and comprise the other principal aural element. These elements fluctuate through the remainder of the piece, varying somewhat, generally together, occasionally with one advancing, the other receding. The image I get is of a dark, cool night, on the edge of an industrial area of a town, little or no traffic, steam on one's breath. Very satisfying.
Richard Garet - Winter (leerraum)
When I first put this disc in my player, it came up as unreadable. Well, this happens from time to time with small labels, doesn't it? Happily, I'd also been sent what was labeled a "stereo version" of the same piece, so I listened to that. While doing so, I found myself thinking: This sounds more like a piece I'd expect to hear accompanied by video. There are more shifts of focus and texture that I was mentally imagining alongside similar changes in visual fields, abstract or realistic. Eventually, I realized that the original leerraum disc was in fact a DVD (no mention of such on the sleeve!). Ah, ok, I thought, let's see about my intuition. Wll, the joke was on me as the visual side of the DVD is a black screen. Its intent is for reproduction on a 4-channel and/or 5.1 sound system, which I lack. Hence the inclusion of the stereo version.....
Although some of the elements reappear, it's more aggressive than "l'avenir" in addition to being more episodic. The hissing crackles and near-sine tones recur but the former are often rougher, more awkward, elbowing their way in instead of emerging gradually. It's not violent by any means, far from it. Just more like 6AM on the same cold morning instead of 3AM, a greater number of incidents occurring. The hums are more insistent, maybe a bit threatening; some of the previously light static has turned rumbling. The shifting implies a more active hand on the part of Garet, bringing this closer to, say, what Jason Lescalleet might accomplish on a very subdued night. At the conclusion, there's no diminution, just a sharp cut. Again, very attractive, thought-provoking work, well worth checking out.
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 12/24/2008 09:50:00 AM 2 comments:
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Iida Katsuaki/Ryu Hankil - Selected poems with Clockworks (Manual)
Operating at a huge disadvantage here, as I don't understand Japanese (the enclosed booklet does provide translations), but I do like what I hear. Katsuaki speaks his works in relative deadpan and, for the first several out of the 20 shortish tracks, the result is rather nondescript. But things pick up almost imperceptibly, Hankil's mechanical rhythms and whirs becoming more and more aggressive, several of the pieces achieving an exquisite balance between the voice and clockwork devices. Good, unusual recording, even if I get the feeling I'd like it less were the words spoken in English.
Available stateside from erstdist
Gunter Müller/Jason Kahn/Norbert Möslang - mkm_msa (For4Ears)
I've given up trying to understand what Müller and company have been on about the last few years. Here we have more of the same, richly textured, yes but maybe overly so in a sickly sweet sense, almost always weighted down with vacuous beats and throbs. I imagine that if you were wandering around nearby one of the six events from which the tracks here were excerpted (that's another thing--excerpts?) and had some interest in what passes for experimental rock these days (or, better, of a Laswellian persuasion), you might be intrigued enough to pop in. If that's the motivation, fine, I guess. But for those of us who thought Müller, earlier in the decade, was one of the strongest, most vital creators out there, recordings like this one are a bitter pill.
Alfred 23 Harth/Hans Joachim Irmler/Gunter Müller - Taste Tribes (For4Ears)
Though by no means great, this offering has far more going for it, if only because it surprises a fair amount. Cobbled together by Harth from duo recordings he'd done with Muller and Irmler (of Faust), there's much greater breadth of sounds (including breathy saxophonics), interesting match-up of sonic blocks, etc. and best of all, no leaden beats! There are some loopy, overly spacey moments, yes, but it's pretty listenable throughout and solid at its best.
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 12/21/2008 12:02:00 PM 6 comments:
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Allowing that I'm coming from a position of extreme prejudice, it's nonetheless fascinating to hear new work from Keith Rowe and try to understand what it is that makes the music so unique, so more considered than the great majority of other music in roughly the same area. One obvious aspect is that he brings a wealth of ideas to any performance. Another, when it's a collaboration, is his enormous graciousness and a combination of deference and a kind of passive/aggressive manner of insinuating his ideas into the proceedings, often subtly enough that one's first impression is that his partner(s) are the ones driving the sounds, only later realizing that Rowe's enhancement of the event may have had as much or more to do with its success.
The two new releases on erstlive are fine illustrations of both his collaborative mode and, in the case of the solo recording, a rather amazing--if possibly problematic for the innocent listener--example of just how idea-packed his solo projects can be.
The discs were recorded on consecutive days at the AMPLIFY festival held in Tokyo in September of this year. Those familiar with Unami's work, at least that portion involving the deployment of small, mechanical toys, will have a decent idea what to expect. The light chittering of rapid-fire rhythms immediately evokes a childlike atmosphere (more so, I presume, if you've seen him in action, which I've only had occasion to do once) but Rowe quickly offers a counterweight with dark-tinged rumbles and crackles, a much-needed tension, throwing the toy sounds into stark relief. He makes intriguing choices throughout; several times when Unami's sound gets very dense and disquieting, even rude, on its own, Rowe plucks fairly clear, almost pastoral notes from the guitar--a very beautiful opposition of sounds [I'm informed that these notes were actually generated by Unami]. The performance seesaws somewhat between these sections where tension predominates and small pools of psychological unison wherein the musicians find momentary idyllic balance. One also has the impression that Rowe, in anticipation of his solo concert the next day, to some extent cycles through past techniques, a personal, historical inventory of approaches that he'd been thinking about recently.
All in all, it's a wonderful set, a great example of Rowe's ability to both meld and be melded by the situation in which he finds himself. This isn't to discount Unami's contribution by any means; it's more that one sense he occupies his own distinct world, one which he's happy to allow visitors into but is unlikely to alter his approach too much, which is fine. It makes for a more exciting pairing as long as the other half is able to accommodate and, as I think is often the case with Rowe, manage to get something of his own way without his partner's necessarily being aware.
Lovely, complex music; great recording.
Jon had given me an unmastered copy of the solo Rowe set in early October and a mastered version a number of weeks back, so I've lived with it for a while. I don't mind saying that I was initially a little baffled by it, even put off a tad. As most interested listeners know by now, the performance involved the inclusion of four Baroque samples over its course, several minutes of Rameau, Mondonville, Purcell and Alessandro Marcello that emerge at discreet intervals throughout the set. I was aware, of course, that Keith had a great love for this area of music--he used the Mondonville motet as an example of musical profundity a few years ago when addressing an Electronic Music class at Columbia University--but their clearly calculated appearance here had something of a "glued on" quality, a collage-like effect much different from any random radio capture. I kept thinking of the kind of faux-Rauschenberg collages one comes across where examples of classical painting are connected, as it were, by abstract elements. To be sure, there were many moments of great beauty, including the samples--which are gorgeous--as well as wonderful brutalism right through the powerful ending, but as a whole, something nagged at me.
I should know by now, I suppose, that when Rowe pieces together something like this, there's likely far more going on that might be apparent on casual--or even not so casual--listen; he works in layers that, I daresay, you just don't encounter very often in this music. Happily, when he was in town in early November, I had the chance to go over the performance with him, crucially while watching a video of same. The work opened up like a rose. I'll defer from posting about the whys and wherefores of the piece as both Keith and Jon would rather the music be in the public domain for a while without specific descriptions of its innards. Suffice it to say, that there's a lot of thought behind exactly how it was constructed.
So I find myself at an unusual advantage here. Doubtless, many listeners will have no trouble with the performance as is, in audio format. But my own appreciation was greatly enhanced by watching the video with Keith's commentary alongside, more so, likely, than someone who was actually at the concert since some of the actions (such as a steel ruler, laid in front of his guitar neck, which was stroked so as to indicate time periods) were invisible to the audience. I will say that some of it involved a recapitulation of techniques from the previous 43 years, taking a fresh look at them.
So, take these caveats as you will, but armed with this knowledge, and acknowledging that I find Rowe's music and ideas to be almost unfailingly deep and fascinating, I'm afraid the Rowe/Erstwhile combo has again pulled off Record of the Year honors. Dammit. One of these days....
[Edit: I realized, belatedly, that I didn't really offer much in the way of description of the Rowe solo; you live with something long enough and you just assume everyone knows what you're talking about! Briefly, the performance more or less alternates between Rowe in his more isolated, "Twombly-esque" mode, scratching, twanging, etc. with extreme...delicacy (the word might not spring to mind given the rough nature of much of the sonics, but it's what I sense) and the four classical tracks. While those latter are playing, Rowe often comments, quite subtly, sometimes allowing the sampled music to stand alone for a while. Various "themes" of his own come and go, often related to earlier techniques of his that take on a nostalgic aspect not altogether different from the feelings evoked by the Baroque pieces. One theme is the helicopter-ish rumble, whose head pokes up here and there, ultimately overwhelming the proceedings at the very end. There are also a few radio captures; their relative naturalness--at least as pertains to Rowe/AMM--stands in contrast to the more formal introduction of the classical music; I initially found this a little uncomfortable, which I imagine is one of the points. Rowe has probed in that direction before, I think. He mentioned that, in the four-radio version of [N:Q], he might check the local listings and see, for example, that a Brahms string sextet was going to be aired at 10PM. The strategy he'd propose to the group was that they would, over the course of perhaps an hour, very gradually home in on that station, thus allowing Brahms to emerge after an hour or so, bit by bit through waves of static and noise. Not quite improvised, therefore, in something of the same sense as this performance. btw, I listened again this morning and the thing is still picking up steam in my psyche. Very amazing and deep piece.]
Robert Kirkpatrick, who was in attendance, wrote about these shows here and here and indeed touches a bit on Rowe's motivations.
Mark Flaum also attended and posted his observations at Paris Transatlantic
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 12/20/2008 11:11:00 AM 5 comments:
Monday, December 15, 2008
Since I spend a sizable portion of my time at home listening to recorded music, I should jump at the opportunity to leave the house and do so, yes? Well, sometimes the circumstances demand it. This was the third occasion that Jon Abbey had, so to speak, donned DJ garb at Experimental Intermedia though I'd missed the previous two. Here, it was the promise of listening to the as yet unreleased Rowe/Sachiko 2-disc set that forced me out.
By reputation (and reality, as far as I'm aware), XI has the most amazing sound system of any arena that would allow musicians like Rowe through the entrance (though, oddly, he's never played there). As a good deal of this music deals in extremes of amplitude and level of detail, it's a near-perfect venue, especially if one has the ability to incorporate the inevitable horn blasts and bass throbs from the street below into whatever's happening inside. I arrived at the onset, the only member of the paying audience for a couple of hours (Niblock and companion pretty much staying in their living area, the sound guy in his cubbyhole, Jon and Yuko up front). Jon commenced with the erstlive Rowe/Beins disc. Now, I'd imagine that there's no recording from the last few years that I know more deeply, having listened to it (guessing) 40-50 times, easier to do, admittedly, with a 28-minute disc than one that lasts 1 1/4 hours. But on that system, hiked to a volume level that would insure instantaneous divorce at home, layer upon layer of detail was revealed. Pretty amazing. Such an intensely creative performance; part of me was remarking on how rarely--if ever--one encounters that level of sustained invention especially in such a "full-on" mode, the ol' controlled chaos. Such balance, going over the brink, reining it in, impossibly fortunate radio captures, etc.
This was followed by a lovely unreleased track from English (Joe Foster and Bonnie Jones), surprising in its use of very tonal hums through much of it; I'd love to hear it again and hope it sees the light of day sometime. Then, Will Guthrie's "Spear" which, as with Rowe/Beins, sounded mighty impressive amped way up, again revealing details hitherto unnoticed.
Next, Sachiko/Rowe. The double-CD will consist of three studio tracks and the live performance from September's Amplify festival in Tokyo, the latter sequenced second, each piece ranging from about 20 to 32 minutes, which is the order they were played yesterday. It's a lot to digest. I've come to think of Rowe's music in relation to painters--his Rothko style, for example, might be represented by the drone-oriented work he was prone to in the first half of this decade, his Twombly side represented, more recently, by the more isolated, scratchy sounds, with irregular blank space, the sounds tending toward a kind of willfully awkward brutalism (not awkward at all, in essence). This is the mode he most often operates in here. But one surprising thing, at least as I heard the mix, was that it was Sachiko who seemed to be steering things. Similar, in a way, to Duos for Doris, where Tilbury often charted the path, Rowe providing support and aura, it's Sachiko (again, at least to the extent I could differentiate, which I think I was able to more often than not) who sets the framework here. She uses sine tones in much of the first track--fascinating to hear Rowe try to find his way into this potentially impenetrable wall and, while the sine reappears from time to time, dwells mostly in contact mic territory, plosive eruptions abounding. In the last two pieces, you could easily hear a remarkable coherence developing, the extreme spareness of the first studio track and the live performance becoming somewhat mollified as conversation began to flow more "smoothly", though still sparingly. In fact, more than any painting reference, I found myself thinking of Beckett. This may be very close to an aural evocation of his more austere writing, even to the extent of certain repeated sounds (a two-tone contact mic interjection especially, that Sachiko returns to often) echoing text iterations in Beckett. Way too much to get my ears around in a single hearing, to be sure, but I was happy to have experienced it once in such surroundings.
Sandwiched between the 1st and 2nd and 3rd and 4th tracks were a fine collage piece (I think?) by Bhob Rainey and the loud cut from the Rowe/Nakamura 'between' set, both sounding great.
By this time, the crowd had swelled to six or so and, sated, I cut out, missing the chance to hear the Toshi/Ami recording but...there you go.
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 12/15/2008 08:29:00 AM 4 comments:
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Richard Kamerman - The Passing of Mr. Good (RAR)
New minidisc (I can't find any mention of it on-line yet; Richard?) by half of Tandem Electrics and a very nice one. Three "miniatures" in the sens of attention to small detail. On the first, the debt to Taku Unami is clear, all chattering, metallic sounds that have that same loose yet mechanical aspect. Lovely to listen to though; the listener shares Kamerman's evident fascination with the sounds. The last is a wisp-like evocation that has fine staying power. Where can people get this, RK?
Alfredo Costa Monteiro - centre of mass (Another Timbre)
There are musicians whose conception I simply enjoy, finding almost anything they do to be imbued by it. Costa Monteiro is one. This often harsh dronescape, lasting a bit over 30 minutes, was created by agitating one or more cymbals on various resonating surfaces. Simply enough idea, focusing in on a "small" area, discovering all the largeness there, finely executed. As with the Kamerman, one is initially fascinated by the sounds themselves; later, their placement, opposition and sequencing impresses greatly. Good stuff.
Sebastian Lexer/Seymour Wright - blasen (Another Timbre)
The first of the two tracks here is one of the strongest things I've heard in while. Lexer has something of Tilbury in his playing--not the obvious (no redolence of Feldman, particularly) but a similar sense of tone, touch and placement, of managing to get the best of each in one keystroke, a rare enough achievement. Wright melds beautifully here; one often forgets entirely the instruments at hand and just experiences the music, which is remarkably cohesive and, for all its spareness, full and tactile. Beautiful work. The second piece is pretty good as well, a bit more diffuse, a little less gripping.
Interesting that the two another timbre releases, to an extent, embody two of the principal areas in eai that seem to differentiate listeners, some greatly preferring one to the other. There's post-AMM improv as in the Lexer/Wright and solo "process" oriented music (which generally also involves improvising, though obviously without the input of another individual) as seen in the Costa Monteiro. I have no problem with either (or with what might be thought a third strand: field recordings with manipulation and enhancement as heard, most recently by me, on two fine Richard Garet releases that I'll write up soon), though to an extent I can imagine that what has the most potential for getting my neurons to fire increased amounts of dopamine is the first listed. Might try to parse out the why's of this...
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 12/13/2008 02:09:00 PM 3 comments:
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Yet another new-ish (to me) space in Brooklyn, Grace Space, alongside the elevated J line, hosted an event last evening, three sets, all problematic in one way or another but all at least somewhat intriguing. The room is pretty nice and spacious, though there's a bar to the rear which engenders typical bar noise and patter, if that's a bother to some.
First up was the trio of Barry Weisblat (electronics), Andrew Lafkas (bass) and Gil Arnó [he also goes by the moniker mpld] on slide projectors. The first ten minutes or so worked fine, Weisblat in a more steady-state mode than I've usually heard him, but as is often the case, they went on too long, the set dissipating as they did so. Arnó, I figured by watching and learned more later talking with him, uses found slides, seeking affinities between them, projecting two or more simultaneously (overlapping), blurring and employing various flicker speeds. He also contact mics the projectors and feeds their sounds (as well as room sounds and those of his comrades) into a computer, processing them. I didn't pick up much sense of conceptual integration with his co-players but had the feeling that I'd enjoy his work in a solo context (which he does) much more. There's something there, curious to hear/see more.
Next was Tandem Electrics (Richard Kamerman & Reed Evan Rosenberg, electronics) with Bryan Eubanks (open circuit electronics). They put up a solid show, again more steady state than I expected, the first 20 minutes especially strong with fine textures, repeated (mechanical or digital) sounds emerging and disappearing, very engaging. The second half wavered somewhat, though it contained several luscious moments as well. The "problem" for me, such as it is, is that this sort of full-on, semi-drone-y attack almost guarantees a certain level of "success", similar to (although not necessarily in sound) the way Gunter Muller and company, in recent years, often approach a show, generating a nice, thick matrix and elaborating on it. Nothing wrong with that and, of course, it can sometimes result in great music, but I also think it can be something of a safety net. When I saw Richard a couple months ago with Dave Barnes, the music was more fragmented (not extremely so, but more), riskier re: the possibility of "failure" and ultimately more exciting. It's a risk/reward thing, maybe. So the set last night was fine, very enjoyable, but at the same time I wanted....a higher degree of difficulty.
Lastly was the duo of Mattin and Margarida Garcia. Margarida began by herself in, to me, a surprisingly rockish, even heavy metal-redolent style, doing a series of hums followed by strong, tonal strums of her bass thingy that immediately brought old Black Sabbath to mind. She did blocks of attacks punctuated by near silences. When she took the bow to the bass, she summoned forth amazingly evocative echoes of portions of Hendrix' "Star Spangled Banner" and other guitar freak-outs. Not sure if this was intended, but...These portions were a little odd; interesting in a way but kinda...non-nutritional. Better were the between moments when she subtly manipulated some humming tones by applying pressure near the bridge--that was really nice. She played for some 20 minutes, said "Thank you" and that was that. Mattin's contribution to the set was listening as a member of the audience.
For myself, there was a little bit more since, as it happened, I didn't notice him sitting there. So there was an element of tension for me, waiting for his arrival on stage. I was half-anticipating a blood-curdling scream coming from a few feet behind me, for instance. But, no.
Discuss amongst yourselves....
Roberto Bolaño - The Savage Detectives
Terry Eagleton - Trouble with Strangers
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 12/07/2008 10:58:00 AM 6 comments:
Sunday, November 30, 2008
One of my very favorite bassists ever, still very much unrecognized I'm afraid, Johnny Dyani. Original member of the Blue Notes, on a couple of fantastic Abdullah Ibrahim recordings, and leader of a handful of dates for Steeplechase, two of which are among the best late 70s jazz albums, imho.
'Witchdoctor's Son', with the great John Tchicai and the incendiary Dudu Pukwana (plus Alfredo do Nascimento/guitar, Luez Carlos de Sequaira/drums and Mohamed Al-Jabry/percussion) is just a wonderful date. Joyous tunes, vibrant playing, Dyani a master at propelling the ensemble. The closing "Magwaza" is one of those South African songs with such an infectious groove, it could go on for hours. Beautiful record; check it out.
Another fine effort, from 1978, a quartet with Pukwana, Don Cherry and drummer Makaya Ntshoko. Strong tunes, heartfelt playing, just a solid album,
I have four more releases under Dyani's name (Mbizo, Afrika, Born Under the Heat and Angolian Cry, all on Steeplechase aside from "Born...", which is on Dragon). To my ears, they get progressively weaker, partly perhaps because of less interesting personnel (though Angolian Cry has Tchicai, Beckett and Billy Hart), maybe Dyani himself running out of inspiration, maybe due to health issues (Dyani died in '86, short of his 41st birthday).
Would love to hear more, especially--I get the sense--work with fellow South Africans as that seems to bring out his best. Recommendations, as always, are appreciated.
Just checked and I'm frankly shocked that I can find an image of my next LP:
I'll listen later, though. (I think it fits nicely given my recent completion of the Cardew bio...)
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 11/30/2008 04:02:00 PM 4 comments:
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I love train rides. I can sit at a train window and watch the passing scenes for hours, whether beautiful landscapes or the backyards of inner cities. The ride from Grand Central to Poughkeepsie is one I've taken countless times but never grow tired of. Did so again on Thursday. From the three or so miles of underground mystery before you emerge at 97th St. (dim lights seen hundreds of feet off into the dark--there's an enormous web of tunnels undergirding the east side of Manhattan) through Spanish Harlem, across the Harlem river into the Bronx (chop shops, banks of weeds, the basaltic rise of the Palisades across the Hudson), the landscape getting "greener" with surprising rapidity as you go through obscure little towns like Philipse Manor, Scarborough--through Sing Sing Prison (largely--totally?--abandoned, the watchtowers and barbed wire still there--for much of my youth I thought references I'd hear in movies and such were about some mythical ur-Prison; didn't know it actually existed!), the trainyards at Croton-on-Hudson, Indian Point nuclear plant, West Point across the river, imposing in a hyper-military way, Bannerman's Castle,
an object of much mystery as a youngster, the massive Storm King Mountain, it's scarred sides the result of its having been used as a "target" of cannons during the Civil War, their manufacture having taken place in Cold Spring across the river, the large number of abandoned factories and other buildings of obscure purpose, their hollow husks weathering along the banks for decades, only gradually falling to construction of fashionable townhouses--it takes a while even this close to NYC, some 40-75 miles, the ruins dotting the shore right up to Poughkeepsie and, I imagine, well beyond.
Beautiful trip, beautiful area. I'll probably do it a few dozen more times before I'm through.
[Edit: Oh yeah, almost forgot. At Thanksgiving dinner, I found out that my aunt Irene, a stunner in her youth (still, actually) dated Harry Belafonte for a year or so, I guess around 1950, shortly before he made it big, but after having shared the stage with Miles, Roach, etc. Coolio.]
Listened to my two Pierre Droge LPs this morning. I think I came to him in the mid 80s hoping for something along the lines of Bengt Berger, that is, a Northern European making imaginative use of African melodies and structures. Dorge's approach, I think, is more aligning early jazz (20s Ellington, for example) with its African roots. He succeeds on occasion (although coming nowhere near the heights of Berger's "Bitter Funeral Beer") but more often a plodding rhythmic sense drags down the pieces. He does have the great John Tchicai along for the ride as well as Harry Beckett and, on the earlier recording, Dyani (on the latter, an early appearance on record by Hamid Drake) and both albums have their moments, but overall they're somewhat forgettable. Dorge has a unique and beautiful tone on guitar, I'll grant. Picked up a CD later on, Live in Chicago, but lost interest rather quickly. I've no idea what he's up to these days.
This one's an interesting bird, a relatively successful, early-ish (1983) attempt to meld minimalism with a kind of Satie-esque tonality, in some ways not dissimilar to Ron Geesin's Patruns from the mid 70s, though less pyrotechnic. Never got around to investigating any of Duckworth's other music, though; suggestions welcome.
Peter Rehberg - Work for GV (Mego)
Taylor Ho Bynum - Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths (hatology)
Asad Qizilbash - Sarod Recital Live in Peshawar (Sub Rosa)
Group Inerane - Guitars from Agadez (Sublime Frequencies)
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 11/29/2008 12:02:00 PM 1 comment:
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The first Mothers album I bought was "Weasels Ripped My Flesh!". The first track on Side 2, iirc, was titled "Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbeque". At the time, I figured it was Zappa's idea of a goofy name, nothing more. A couple years later, I learned otherwise.
In my mental listing of most tragic early deaths in jazz, Dolphy ranks at the top. He wasn't that young (36) when he died, but you get the impression he was poised for incredible things as regards merging several traditions into a new form (jazz, eastern, contemporary classical). Could've ended up in a proto-New Age hodgepodge, who knows? But I'd love to have heard it. Plus, he's the subject of probably my favorite punning sobriquet in jazz: The Ericle of Dolphy.
He's also somewhat unique in having been an integral part of ensembles led by three major forces: Coltrane, Coleman and Mingus. I've asked before if there's anyone else who recorded with all three (leaving aside prominence in the ensemble) and the only other one I'm aware of is Elvin Jones (minimally with Mingus and Ornette). Always a little surprised he never, to the best of my knowledge, played with Cecil.
As with many other "earlier" musicians whose music was often played on KCR, I was laggard in buying albums under Dolphy's name until well into the CD era, owning but two.
(Wonder how many "Great Concerts" Prestige issued over the years...?) 3-records, no liner notes, a date from 1961 with a sterling quintet: Booker Little (another likely in my Top 10, Died Too Young) on trumpet, the still-undersung Mal Waldron on piano, Richard Davis/bass, Ed Blackwell/drums. All longish pieces, some pretty great, especially the closing "Booker's Waltz". Dolphy close to that cusp, occasionally exploding all over the place within a fairly trad structure.
For some reason, I explicitly recall finding a $5 on the sidewalk about a block from the local record store in Poughkeepsie in the early 70s, going in and buying this:
Weird recording, third of three volumes with a Danish pick-up band from 1961. Still fascinating to hear Dolphy at the time, including working through three takes of "In the Blues".
By '72 or '73, I'd read of Van Vliet's admiration for him, though he famously said that, as much as he loved Dolphy, he'd rather hear a goose.
[edit: Just realized that Booker Little had only four months to live at the time of that Dolphy Five Spot date in '61. Died at 23....]
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 11/25/2008 09:36:00 AM 2 comments:
Monday, November 24, 2008
Nikos Veliotis/Anastasis Grivas - Vertical (Low Impedance)
Four drones. Veliotis on cello, Grivas on guitar. Interestingly problematic for me. I like each track--they're not so dissimilar from one another--though if I had to say why, I'd stumble a bit as, listened to non-holistically, I can't define much to pinpoint. They're engaging, but not gripping, really. They're too present to slip into the ambiance, not granular to the extent that you bathe in the sandpaper-y wash. But there's something about them that appeals. Should do a little Veliotis mini-fest, placing this alongside his other work and hear how/if it fits.
Oldman - Two Heads Bis Bis (Low Impedance)
Oldman is Charles Eric Charrier, here abetted on a few tracks by Ronan Benoit (drums), Covalesky (percussion, trumpet), Den Itzamna (samples, guitar) and Didier Richard (drums). How to describe? If the Canterbury scene had a sludge variant...if Laswell had been earthier and better...? Often fascinating, as on "Sunny Afternoon, African Charge" which blends low, booming tones (common here--speaker threatening bass abounds), ethereal plinking as from some huge toy piano and mumbled, male voices. Sometimes reminded me of Benjamin Lew (though darker). Good stuff.
Both recordings available from: low impedance
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 11/24/2008 06:02:00 PM 3 comments:
Sunday, November 23, 2008
An excellent musical change of pace last evening as I went to Issue Project Room to hear, not another eai ensemble, but the Wingdale Community Singers, an....avant folk group for lack of a better pigeonhole. Been meaning to hear them for quite a while as one member is my friend Nina Katchadourian (vocals, guitar, accordion, recorder, percussion); finally a convenient, for me, date occurred and there I went. The rest of the group is Hannah Marcus (vocals, guitar, piano, violin), Rick Moody--yes, the writer--(vocals, guitar, piano) and normally David Grubbs, though unfortunately he couldn't make last night's show and was replaced by Randy Polumbo on guitar and dobro. They were augmented for this occasion by bassist Elissa Moser and, on a couple of pieces, cellist Tiana Kennedy.
I guess you could reference The Roches somewhat, given the slightly warped but traditional song forms (almost all slow and moody) and the wry humor that abounded, though the Wingdales verbal sensitivities might be said to lie in more of a post-Laurie Anderson zone with a marked leaning toward country blues. Whatever the case, they're totally enjoyable both musically and lyrically, with a relaxed demeanor, lovely vocal harmonies and a nice habit of being able to generalize from the particular into often very moving songs. One favorite began with wishing that there was a wider ocean available to separate the singer from an ex-lover, moving on to a desire for a planet-wide catastrophe involving the asteroid belt that might do the job and, finally, opting for a situation where there were ten dimensions and "you were in the other six."
It was one of those rare events where I could, without too much trepidation, invite friends and all three, Carol, Anne & her husband Dan, thoroughly enjoyed it.
Fine work; catch 'em if you can.
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 11/23/2008 11:39:00 AM 3 comments:
Friday, November 21, 2008
Rifling through the D's last evening. I could never get very much out of this album despite the personnel, and it's still the case, only managing to play through the first of four sides. Heresy to John Stevens fans, maybe, but it's a seriously limp and vacuous effort. And as much as I love Dyani, free playing isn't his forte imho. Much of the blame sounds to me like it falls on Gjerstad's shoulders; I don't know his work otherwise but here he sounds clueless. Didn't get to it this time around, but my recollection is the same for Courtney Pine on the second disc.
Played Henk de Jonge's trio recording on BVHaast next (not Jumping Shark but the earlier one, apparently no longer available) with Ernst Glerum and...I forget the drummer, Breuker sitting in on some tracks. Totally slick and "professional" so, in that sense, inferior to what Detail was at least attempting yet far more successful on its own merits. But no, not so great.
The audio portion of the evening was saved, happily, by Toumani Diabate's 1986 recording, "Kaira", as lovely and graceful as ever. It's the only record of his I own and I take it he's gone on to bigger (better?) things but I haven't heard. Only 22 when this was recorded; impressive.
Looking ahead, I saw a few items that I know I won't have the gumption to spin: Loek Dikker's (wait for it....) "Waterland Big Band Is Hot!" vol's 1 AND 2 from 1979. I was probably looking around for Breuker-ish stuff at the time but, really, no excuse. Then Nick Didkovsky's Doctor Nerve project, "Armed Observation" and a Dirty Dozen Brass Band record (which is probably not too bad).
Think I'll skip straight to the Dolphy....
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 11/21/2008 08:25:00 AM No comments:
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Finished the Cardew biography this morning. That Tilbury's done a monumental, magnificent job almost goes without saying. Lucidly written, well-balanced between opinions that are clearly held by the author and a reasonably objective evaluation of reality. He had three enormous advantages of which I'm certainly jealous: having known Cardew intimately for some 22 years, having a subject who kept detailed journals and being an extraordinary musician himself. The extensive journals can once in a while result in possibly more detailed information than most readers will need but are generally used very well.
I've no desire to critically go through the whole thing (I hope someone does though), but one criticism I've heard is on the great number of words spent on the political portion of his life, his last ten or so years and almost half the book. I don't quite understand the complaint; I would think it comes with the territory if you're doing a Cardew bio. While I'm personally not that interested in the ins and outs of British communist factions (Marxist/Leninist vs. Maoist vs Trotskyite, etc.) I do find such goings on fascinating from a more anthropological point of view, as to the psychologies in play among the various actors, especially given their prior artistic activities in the case of Cardew (and, of course, Rowe). Tilbury, to his credit, doesn't shy away from comparing the kinds of psychologies encountered in political extremism (of any stripe, of course, not merely of the left) to those encountered in religious zealots. (And not just extremists, I would add; you saw the same vapid, slack-jawed, "looking for a leader to show them the way" expressions in the adulatory crowds attending McCain or Obama rallies, similar to what you might find at the most bland Lutheran church service). The Tilbury who wrote the biography, while still retaining an obvious strong sympathy for the cause, is skeptical enough to have been branded a heretical revisionist should he have voiced such opinions in the 70s.
Still, he's remarkably even-handed. There may well be matters on which those who were there, like Keith, saw things differently, maybe felt he left out a pertinent detail, overstressed another, but for those of us too young or in the wrong country, it's an invaluable document. Not that it matters, but I do come away feeling a bit sad about the way Cardew spent his final decade, wondering if things would have changed had he lived. Keith seems to have thought there was a chance, Tilbury less so. I'm not even talking about potential music (and I'm more sympathetic to his socialist and workers' songs than many--at least the musical, not lyric, aspect of much of it), more for his happiness as a person. I get the sense--perhaps I'm reading into it too much--that however he outwardly expressed that he was doing what he was "meant" to do, that the artist, the individual intelligence in him was suffering. But who knows, I could be utterly wrong.
In any case, great job, John, thanks so much.
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 11/20/2008 08:18:00 AM No comments:
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Turned to my vinyl last night and almost didn't feel like playing this one, a 1980 recording on ECM. But did and found it to hold up much better than I'd've guessed. Not all of it--the aptly, hyper-ECMishly titled "Pastel Morning" is about as weak as one would suspect, but much of the rest is refreshingly gritty. If I recall correctly, this was the first ECM album to feature musicians who'd cut their teeth in the NYC loft scene (Chico Freeman and John Purcell), so it was something of a big deal at the time. I often find DeJohnette-involved productions to be better than I expect for some reason, including the very fine duo with Jarrett, "Ruta & Daitya". But I'm guessing I've just been lucky....
Peter Warren's appearance here prompted some reminiscences about, of all things, Chick Corea. I was quite a big fan early on in my jazz-listening life, having heard all the early ECM things, "Light as a Feather" and his late 60s recordings (Inner Space, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs", "Is", "Sundance"). Then, of course, came the extra-sappy, extraordinarily obnoxious version of Return to Forever (Ok, ok, I liked *gulp* "Hymn to the Seventh Galaxy"--I can barely bring myself to type that--when it appeared, but soon thereafter came to my senses) and things plummeted right off the cliff. Around that time, I became aware of the existence of the slimy belief system known as Scientology and Corea's involvement in same.
One day, when I was in Boston in early '75, I was walking around downtown when I was accosted by a charming young lady who asked if I had a few minutes to take a survey/test thing. Well, she was cute and charming so I said yes and followed her into a fancy, old townhouse in the Back Bay. I took the test (administered by some less winsome person...) and was presented with the results. It was only at that time I was informed that this was on behalf of Scientology. Yecch...Somewhere along the line, I'd made mention of my love for jazz and the woman said, "Oh, you like jazz. Have you ever heard of Chick Corea?" "Yes," I replied, "in fact, his music has gotten drastically worse since his involvement with it." and I left.
I soon divested myself of virtually every LP with Corea's presence, such was the disgust I felt for the, erm, religion. The one exception I can think of is the Circle "Paris Concert" and that only because of Braxton. (I've since gotten late 60s Miles CDs) Most of these, I don't regret a bit--I'm sure some of the 60s sides are OK but I can live without them as well as the first two RTF's, the piano improvisations, etc. I would kinda like to have back the Circle "A.R.C." trio recording, though (with Holland and Altschul), despite the Scientological significance of the title.
The other one I'd like to hear, and the reason for my digression, is Peter Warren's "Bass Is" on Enja:
Dammit for Corea's presence.
Not at all sure if it would hold up or not, but I'd be curious to find out.
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 11/19/2008 08:22:00 AM 5 comments:
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Anna Zaradny - Mauve Cycles (Musica Genera)
Just as we've heard certain aesthetics from the 60s--like that of Fluxus--re-mined in recent years, so one occasionally hears echoes of the tape collage work from that period (Koenig, Raaijmakers) resurface in altered form. That's what hit me first on Zaradny's fine new release. Certain colors, those metallic, ringing tones, that immediately hearken back to a specific era, not to mention a vigorous, wavelike structure you normally don't hear in laminal eai (though interpolating sound elements you do). "Mauve 1" generates an enormous head of steam, richly colored and throbbing. It might overstay its welcome a tad (would've worked better as a 15-minute piece instead of 26) but it's a breathtaking ride. The second track, "Mauve 2", is more in a throbbing, minimalist vein, maybe think Radigue. It's OK, something of a relaxant after the earlier work. Worth hearing, certainly. musica genera
College Radio - College Radio (CDR)
Jersey City's own improvisatory noise/guitar duo (Chris Landry & Sean Kiely), teetering between attractively grungy noise and spacier concerns. The referents seem to me to be more post-isolationist rock than AMM and if you like your raunch on the dark side, pieces like VBBBR serve it up well-done and gnarly. They get a bit "lost souls suffering the torments of hell" sometimes, as on the final track, "The Bad Pilgrim Room" (well, I guess so!); curious to hear how they'd sound if they tethered those impulses and just dealt with the sounds they generate, which are often intriguing and harsh. More info here
Chicago Sound Map - Performs Compositions by Olivia Block and Ernst Karel (Kuro Neko)
Don Malone conducts a ten-piece group (reeds, strings, electronics, percussion) in the realization of three ambitious pieces, only partly successful. There's no bigger fan of Block's music out there than myself, but this work, "Stop the Sound of the Big Bell" (a story there?) never attains the cohesion of most of her prior music, the ensemble rambling about in rumbling darkness. The first of two version of Karel's "Heard Laboratories", on the other hand, carries that dark sensation superbly, a tense, tightly wound work, almost filmic, slightly reminiscent of Roscoe Mitchell's "Tnoona" (high praise, from me). The second version never quite attains the same tautness; possibly the extra length works somewhat against it. It's still an attractive work, but lacks the punch of the other. Interesting ensemble, though; hope they stick around. kuro neko
Mitsuhiro Yoshimura/Toshiya Tsunoda/Taku Sugimoto - Santa (presquile records)
Trying to determine exactly why this is so disappointing. I certainly had my hopes up upon seeing the personnel (Yoshimura-microphone, headphone, book/Sugimoto-papers/Tsunoda-buzzer, brass sticks) but the overall effect is one of irritation. The overt reason would be the gnat-like whine (Yoshimura, I take it) that's so up front throughout the hour-long track. It's aggressive in a way that virtually cancels out both the activities of his companions and, more importantly perhaps, any sense of the space in which this was recorded. One doesn't normally associate the term "cloying" with eai, but that's the sense I get here. Performed in the Aoyama Book Center, one can pick up the occasional handling of reading material, but even that has a flattened, airless quality. I leave open the possibility I'm missing something, but this release leaves me unmoved.
Mitsuhiro Yoshimura/Masahika Okura - Trio (presquile records)
The other new release on Presquile Records, despite the title, is a duo between Yoshimura and Okura (alto sax), the third member being the external environment which, true, has more to offer than on the prior recording. Here, Yoshimura reins himself in and balances perfectly well with his partner (leading me to suspect a specific strategy may have been in play on "Santa"). The ultrahigh tones are wisp-like, weaving between the generally soft wafts from Okura, ample air between. Sounds like it would have been a lovely event to have attended. presquile records (not crazy at all about the label's design aesthetic, but....)
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 11/15/2008 10:56:00 AM 10 comments:
Thursday, November 13, 2008
My legs and feet are aching but the soul is satisfied after spending the last couple of days museuming and traipsing around Manhattan with Mr. Rowe. On Tuesday, we covered a decent portion of the Met, revisiting the Morandi show (even more beautiful the second time around, enhanced by Keith's commentary), making something of a whirlwind tour through the European galleries, ending up in the modern wing (also stopping in to the hitherto unseen by me contemporary photography rooms (recently installed, I think?), which had several amazing pieces).
Yesterday it was the Whitney, largely for the Eggleston show and the Frick. The former was fantastic, way too much to really absorb, especially as a large proportion of the photos could be lingered upon for quite some time as you discover all sorts of elements and relationships (formal and thematic) that weren't apparent on first glance. I spent the most time with the one pictured above which struck me as particularly AMM-ish in the sense of combining scads of disparate elements from the overtly beautiful (the chrome reflections of the tail lights) to hidden beautiful patterns (the grain in the wood of the pole, the marks on the road surface) to negative shapes (including Rowe-ian cutoffs), to intriguing shadows to societal echoes (the chain, the trash) and more. (Needless to say, it suffers in small-scale reproduction, but still...)
Worth the body pains.
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 11/13/2008 09:18:00 AM 1 comment:
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
An unusual and satisfying Record Club last evening, in no small part due to my having inveigled Keith into attending.
I had missed last month's affair but brought the same two items I'd planned for that date. One was Duchamp's "Sculture Musicale" as interpreted by John Cage on my recently acquired disc of Duchamp's Complete Musical Works, realized by Petr Kotik and the SEM Ensemble. A lovely piece and, given that Keith was going to be there and that he's a pretty huge Duchamp fan, thought it doubly appropriate. Well, the first person up last evening was Gretchen, a guest of Julia and a curator at MOMA. And she goes and plays a Duchamp piece! Luckily not mine, but another, earlier, Kotik version of Erratam Musical with three vocalists (the rendition on my disc has but one, Joan LaBarbara) Shocking! So there's all this discussion about Duchamp's three musical compositions to which I couldn't respond much without giving away my hand...
Two Duchamp pieces at Record Club in one evening. Whoda thunk?
Keith brought an 1889 wax cylinder recording of Brahms playing piano, an amazing piece where you could just barely make out the occasional keyboard sounds beneath the waves of surface noise, rotating at, what, 90rpm or so? His second selection was Purcell, an excerpt from King Arthur, that sounded eerily Glassian, some 300 year before the fact. Nayland played a snippet of Ellen Fullman (which I, ahem, ID'ed) and closed the evening with a scary and bizarre 1972 song by Buffy Sainte-Marie that bizarrely anticipated everyone from Galas, to Harvey to Morissette.
Interesting to hear Keith, Chris Cochrane and Dan get into specifically musical issues on given pop pieces (mistunings, rhythmic gaffes, etc.) Didn't know Mr. Rowe was such a Steve Cropper fan...
Posted by Brian Olewnick at 11/11/2008 10:23:00 AM 3 comments:
Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)