Greg Kurstin, the guy behind

Nobody knows who Greg Kurstin is. I suppose.

With no reason I had in my head this Lily Allen music, which is like… the perfect pop song for me. The little acoustic guitar, the beats, the chorus, the sound, the whole harmonical chemistry…

When I see the 53 millions views on YouTube I’m a bit jealous. Who wrote that? Google, tell me!

Greg Kurstin

Okey! He’s good! What did he do?

But well, he’s the half of The Bird and the Bee! That’s him! That’s the guy!

With Blonde Redhead it’s a group I adore, because of… constant modulations.

That sounds so British, right? Good influences, I bet.

OK, bonjour, Mister Kurstin, I kind of like you!

Thanks for reading!

“Harumphingly” & other English words I learned recently

New English words I learned recently. Learning a language is a continuous experience. Everyday I’m surprised! Like:

Insofar sounds very formal, right? I’d be happy to find a moment in a conversation when I could use it, alone or with “insofar as”, which in French is “dans la mesure de”.

Lackadaisical is apathetic but sound so silly, right? I DO wonder what is the color of it. Is it casual or nonchalant, is it lazy? Blithe, blasé? Can lackadaisical be voluntary, sarcastic? Cool?

Trespass is a common word but I really can remember it, each time I have to check.

Call time is maybe “ladies and gentlement we close the store!”, but it’s also “to say stop”, right? To announce the end.

Onus as a law word, but also obligation, responsability. Is it common?

Make do for “be content with what is available”. In French we say “faire avec” : to make with.

To doll up, oh I love this one so much! We have great verbs for this one. Bichonner is when you doll up a friend, you help her. Se pomponner is based on the noun “pompon” (yes the decorative fluffy ball). It’s something like “to pompon myself”.

Tryingness (The state or condition of being trying (arduous, difficult to endure) sounds difficult to use.

To scatter, disperser, éparpiller, with all the rest : across, on, over.

Harumphingly was amazing to discover. Harumph is maybe the way French say “Pfff”. And I wonder if I could say I’m an harumpher.

Snug, I wonder how come it could mean “warm cumfortable” AND “tight-fitting”. So “a dress fits very snug” can be something to say? To fit snugly? I love the “form fitting” color of it though. We say “épouser à merveille” for this marvellous dress : “It spouses you at marvel”, somthing like that.

So there’s that gives “alors voilà” (so there). Urban Dic says : “A phrase said after describing something strange, awkward, ironic, hilarious, crazy, or otherwise profound.” Good!

Thanks for reading!

Photography: “La Dordogne”, a French river

Photography: “La Dordogne”, a French river. How to photograph a river? She’s like the lady you’re in love with: she’s complex, multiple, given, elusive, clear, dark, changing and marvellous. What do I choose? The light? Water? Trees? Rocks? Here are 14 pictures of La Dordogne, near the little town of Carsac.

My big problem with landscape and urban photography

I have a big problem with landscape and urban photography. I chose 5 examples for you, randomly in Google Images. I call this problem the “Intention of Effect“.

Long pauses transform cars into lines. Choosing sunset time gives “interesting” colours to the mountains. Using a drone makes you fly and shows lines. Putting the camera on the ground brings “interesting” lines and reflections.

Well, in each of these pictures I FEEL the photographer’s will, which seems to YELL at me “I AM SMART HAVE YOU SEEN IT?”. Yeah, I’ve seen it, buddy.

Each time I see one picture like this (and they are a majority), I’m rolling eyes. I’m like : “Okey little man, I see what you do”; and this is ABSOLUTELY boring.

Intention of effect kills effect.

This is not art, no art at all. It’s all waxywet, schmaltzy and wishy-washy, it is not gorgeous: it’s ridiculous and I’m already out, goodbye.

The contrary of all this monkey arounding appeared in the 70s with Stephen Shore and William Eggleston.

They knew the “pretty” urban or landscape pictures were ridiculous, and very, very far behind the Art Movement.

They had to find another way to show cities and nature. To stop being a show-off little idiot.

So they experimented a more neutral “way”, becoming an amateur-beginner, or becoming a tech-photographer. I think they wanted to show us the mood of a place, or maybe to be precise, or maybe they simply wanted to stop appearing like a smart-ass “look how I’m good” photographer. How to achieve that?

Of course they began to take pictures of the ordinary, empty urban spaces, parking lots, roads and houses. This was much more interesting and “charged” with the sense of a place.

I chose some Stephen Shore‘s pictures. This man makes my eyes stop. I want to wander on the photography. I (ain’t it strange)… breathe. I almost understand WHY the guy stopped there. This shadow. These lines. An horizon. The light of the day!

You’ll find many texts, articles and interviews about him and his influence on the web. Have fun!

Photography: The roofs of Sarlat, Périgord, France

Sarlat-La-Canéda is a medieval town in France, near Bordeaux. Yes, it’s a good place to drink wine and eat meals made of ducks and geese (confits and all).

Today I choose to show you the roofs. I took many pictures thus you’ll see streets, forests, rivers and… the cemetery.

I added a little Poulenc because it’s my little obsession of the time.

Have a good day!

Music Chronicles 7: Drip Drip & Fan

I wanted, at the beginning, to sound like English New Wave from the eighties, but I added some percs, and a piano, and I lost everything about this, so there.

I tried many ways to sing the words, then the “Watch it drip, wait for it”, and failed. This is why I whispered all of it.

Really, I like to destroy the usual structure of a song. This is why it doesn’t verse/chorus. This is why I changed the beat in 1’44”, mutation, towards a “walking thing”.

It’s again about “modulation in the 4th bar”, and I think the reason this song exists is in the two guitars in the end.

I used old picture of my mom’s garden in the rain.

Eventail means “fan”, it’s a very complex poem from Mallarmé, which is really funny to interpret. Again, the usual song structure is melted. I added some tunnels with rockets of sound, which lead to this synth sound I love.

I tripled my voice I had to sing very low. The end brings a sweet chaos.

Same garden, another year: rain, birds, insects.

Eventail

De frigides roses pour vivre
Toutes la même interrompront
Avec un blanc calice prompt
Votre souffle devenu givre

Mais que mon battement délivre
La touffe par un choc profond
Cette frigidité se fond
En du rire de fleurir ivre

A jeter le ciel en détail
Voilà comme bon éventail
Tu conviens mieux qu’une fiole

Nul n’enfermant à l’émeri
Sans qu’il y perde ou le viole
L’arôme émané de Méry.

Google translates:

Fan

Frigid roses to live

All the same will interrupt

With a white prompt chalice

Your breath turned to frost

But let my beat deliver

The tuft by a deep shock

This frigidity melts

In the laughter of blooming drunk

To throw the sky in detail

Here is a good fan

You are better suited than a vial

No one enclosing with emery

Without losing or violating it

The aroma emanating from Méry.

Someone tries this:

Fan
Belonging to Méry Laurent

Frigid roses to exist
all alike will interrupt
your frosted breath
with a quick white calyx
but should my fluttering liberate
the whole bunch with a profound shock
that frigidity will melt into the laughter
of a rapturous blossoming
see how like a good fan
you are better than a phial
at carving the sky into fragments
no flask could be stoppered
without losing or violating
the fragrance of Méry.

Rivière, French painter

Rivière, what a fantastic name to wear, right? Henri Rivière (1864-1951) was a French painter. He’s a bit forgotten today in France. Etchings, lithographies in the “Japonism” manner (cf Hiroshige).

It’s very… French, and you’ll need a little Poulenc music to listen to (I provide a link at the end) and some Paul Valéry poems too.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Rivi%C3%A8re_(painter)

Have a nice day!

New Progressive Albums I found

Yesterday I needed complex powerful music. It’s a kind of drug for the musician’s mind!

This I went to ProgArchives to find the, well, “Best Albums 2020” :

http://www.progarchives.com/top-prog-albums.asp?syears=2020

Voilà.

From Symphonic Prog to Progressive Metal, from Rock Progressivo Italiano, Neo-Prog or “Canterbury Scene” (which I love!)…

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Wobbler (hello Norway!) has all of it, bass like Squire (Yes), fractured building, fast organs, mellotrons and all, but I don’t feel the delicious thing along my back. See by yourself:

Logos (Italian Prog music, which is a genre!) is much more colorful, sharper. Harmonies are interesting, sounds are surprising (this sax!). Here’s a track:

Scardust is constantly playing with the “too much”, navigating between broadway-like choruses to growling metal. It’s strong and exhausting! But Break The Ice catches me:

The Reticent is too much Post-Metal for me, and Pendragon (I had their first EP!) too clean.

I LOVE what Mister Robot does to me. I listen and it’s “Nope!” but I can’t help go on listening. They’re ridiculous but they’re good. Childish but tasty. Plastic but delicious.

Zopp:

Etc. Have fun!

Music Chronicles 6: Tricky Creatures & The Old London Voice

I went on using poems for music (do you have some for me I could use?). Today: Verlaine!

Léandre le sot,
Pierrot qui d’un saut
De puce
Franchit le buisson,
Cassandre sous son
Capuce,

Arlequin aussi,
Cet aigrefin si
Fantasque
Aux costumes fous,
Ses yeux luisants sous
Son masque,

— Do, mi, sol, mi, fa, —
Tout ce monde va,
Rit, chante
Et danse devant
Une belle enfant
Méchante

Dont les yeux pervers
Comme les yeux verts
Des chattes
Gardent ses appas
Et disent : « A bas
Les pattes ! »

— Eux ils vont toujours ! —
Fatidique cours
Des astres,
Oh ! dis-moi vers quels
Mornes ou cruels
Désastres

L’implacable enfant,
Preste et relevant
Ses jupes,
La rose au chapeau,
Conduit son troupeau
De dupes ?

Colombine

English Translation here: https://www.oxfordlieder.co.uk/song/5112

Again, a walking bass. I love them! Dong dong dong dong dong. I tried to add less mechanical music. I added string chords, but interrupted them sometimes. I tried another style for the end, a long stroll of bass string going nowhere…

The pictures I took along a long walk strangely fit the song: creatures. Birds. Drawings. Things.

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For this one I found an old voice from the London docks, with a bell, announcing something.

The game is the Moby one: add drums, JP, bass, strings, saxes and whistles. Then it’s a puzzle around this loop: adding things/cutting things. I should chorus but nope. I should double the bass with somme upper pianos… maybe.

I stole some pictures to clip it.

Have a great day!

Music Chronicles 5: The Past & The Little Queens

I’m casual, I know. When I compose I don’t finish. I draft. I need a producer!

Also, I sing and I shouldn’t. But well, I’m the only singer around 🙂

Also, I build films with a few pictures and the Ken Burns effect. I don’t want to finish, it’s boring. Voilà.

These days I have fun with poems.

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“Aimez-vous le passé ?” means “Do you love the past?”. I googletranslated the poem for you:

Do you like the past And dream of stories Evocative With erased outlines?

Old rooms Widows of steps Who smell all low Iris and amber;

The pallor of the portraits, The worn-out relics That the dead have kissed, Dear, I would like

May they be dear to you, And talk to you a little Of a dusty heart And full of mystery.

“Veuve de pas” : widowed of steps, meaning “deprived of people walking in these rooms”.

I found pictures I took in Cabourg ten years ago in Normandy (yes it’s near the D-Day beaches), hop, iMovied.

The music is an exercise about obsession: there’s no change, no chorus, it “walks” all the time.

I wrote the bass after hearing “In the Army Now” by Status Quo : dong, dong, dong, dong, adding a tatatatata guitar over it.

The game was to weaveknit chords under this walk. I added little dissonnances in the piano, it’s a bit irritating for ears and all – but now so much. Here it is:

Aimez-vous le passé

Aimez-vous le passé
Et rêver d’histoires
Évocatoires
Aux contours effacés ?

Les vieilles chambres
Veuves de pas
Qui sentent tout bas
L’iris et l’ambre ;

La pâleur des portraits,
Les reliques usées
Que des morts ont baisées,
Chère, je voudrais

Qu’elles vous soient chères,
Et vous parlent un peu
D’un coeur poussiéreux
Et plein de mystère.

Paul-Jean Toulet, Chansons

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I wanted to try another one, so I googled “dance in poetry” to find this “Dansez, Petites Reines” (Dance, Little Queens). I found a possible translation (I did not use the whole poem) which changes things a bit:

THE GRANDFATHER'S SONG. 

Dance, little Queens, 

All in a ring ; 
Loves to Lasses 

Sweet kisses will bring. 

Dance, little Madcaps, 

All in a ring ; 
The crabbed old mistress 

Will grumble and fling. 

Dance, little beauties, 

All in a ring ; 
The birds will applaud you 

With clapping of wing. 

Dance, little Fairies, 

All in a ring ; 
With corn-flower garlands 

And fair as the spring. 

Dance, little women, 

All in a ring ; 
Each Beau to his Lady 

Says some pretty thing. 

The game here was to alternate a crappy vintage sound and a more luxurious one in the choruses (voices and instruments). I had fun with the bass line, and linked parts with a golden trumpet.

I found images with ducks for YouTube, because why not, right?

Here’s a remastered version: https://soundcloud.com/user-894673824/dansez-les-petites-reines-24-04-2021-14-54-mastered

Good day!

Dansez, les petites reines,
Toutes en rond.
Les amoureux sous les frênes
S’embrasseront.

Dansez, les petites folles,
Toutes en rond.
Les bouquins dans les écoles
Bougonneront.

Dansez, les petites belles,
Toutes en rond.
Les oiseaux avec leurs ailes
Applaudiront.

Dansez, les petites fées,
Toutes en rond.
Dansez, de bleuets coiffées,
L’aurore au front.

Dansez, les petites femmes,
Toutes en rond.
Les messieurs diront aux dames
Ce qu’ils voudront.

Some 2020 Pearls of Avant-Garde

I explored, methodically, the Quietus Top 100 Albums of 2020 (https://thequietus.com/articles/29302-the-quietus-top-100-albums-of-2020-norman-records), and found a couple of things I could love.

( thequietus.com ) is a magazine about intelligent music, movies and some other arts like graphic novels or architecture. It’s typically the chest-like website, full of possible discoveries.

Many (most of the) musics I don’t like here, but it’s always interesting, even when it’s awful or ridiculous. My brain is playing like a kid with colorbricks, analyzing how the artists push the cork a little or much too far.

Even the texts, the critics, are cool. Vocabulary gives a hint for each musician. “an album designed to both inspire calm as well as disrupt it” makes me want to listen.

What I selected here is, I agree, the less avant-garde possible. My pearls, emeralds and nuggets come often like this, digging, finding

I’ve been amazed by Hen Ogledd (26), who begins like Robert Wyatt then develop a… splendid pleasure of making music (I’m probably influenced by his great eyes). The most adorable guy of the list?

Katie Gately (49 )surprised me with her Waltz. I loved, immediately, the way she marked the first beat of this dance. Then, it’s a crescendo, weaved with surprises, sounds, breaks. It puts her into the territory of Björk, Kate Bush, even Dead Can Dance. Lyricism! Modulation under a bridge, responding voices, changes, this climbing. Fascinating, right?

I found another clip (same musician), which frightens me a bit more, but the clip is so fantastic that I had to keep listening. She explores limits, between pleasure and chaos. This music is like… growing like she’s alive.

I listened the broken things of Malibu Liquor Store, the swarming The Homesick (try The Pawing), the floating pedal steel guitar or Susan Alcorn, the acid synth loops of Lorenzo Senni, the rotating sickness of Sex Swing, the laments of Keeley Forsyth, Nadine Shah, the strange clips of UKAEA, the silly repeats of Horse Lords.

Then Memnon Sa (76 ), an insisting music with synths. Simple and haunted.

Mary Lattimore (35)? Quiet, but neve too much (which is always hard to achieve). Try Ana Roxanne too.

Thanks for reading!

Next to this I found two names you can explore : Chapelier Fou & Olafur Arnalds. Good day!

“The Most Strenuous Intercourse”: Conversation

I just read a book from Michael Herr, an American writer and war correspondent, who wrote Dispatch, a great book about the Vietnam war.

He wrote a book, a “personal biography” about Stanley Kubrick. He worked for him for years as a writer (he co-wrote Full Metal Jacket).

Kubrick was exhausting, very intelligent, and constantly calling people on the phone. He was living near London but spent many hours a day talking to friends and collaborators. He stayed American all his life and stayed connected to his country all the time.

Herr writes that when Kubrick ended a conversation (called by him a “strenuous intercourse”) with you, he knew everything about what you had in your head about a subject. Devouring your brain…

  • Well, I didn’t know this word, “strenuous“, so I found: energetic, vigorous, requiring strength. Also: unremitting, dogged, tenacious. OK!
  • But “intercourse“, really? For me, it was about sex only, but I found: discussion, and this example: “The two businesses had a lot of intercourse over the years”. OKeyyyy!

I ADORE this ambiguity. If in this blog I look for structures, I can’t agree more:

A great conversation is very similar to great sex.

And it installs an “instant roof” over both persons.

  • Listening
  • Attention to the other
  • Games
  • Attempts
  • Giving
  • Deciding together
  • Ecstasy
  • Progress
  • Talking
  • Connecting
  • Intimacy
  • Exploring
  • Laughing
  • Staying silent together
  • Pauses
  • Going fast
  • Changing rhythms
  • Surprises
  • Dancing
  • Ideas
  • Segments
  • Communication
  • Learning
  • Listening!

Thanks for reading!

“Intentions and Elegance”: Overthinking about Art

I read a good book about a… harpsichord player. I found ideas. Here they are.

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The easy question is “What is it?”. Another question is “What does that mean?”, therefore “What does the artist want to say to us?”. This is a totally higher question, right? Instead of the work, you ask about the artist’s mind, and their will. Does art need a meaning, after all?

Where should we, instead of focusing of things in front of us, focus on what the maker wants?

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If you are a Bach (b 1685) specialist and you want to study or play Mozart (b 1762), you have to make a jump in time and music, and Mozart will appear very modern. But if you come from 19th Century, it will feel like a loss.

From where will you come, to study this or that?

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If you’re enthusiastic, do you master your work?

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Does elegance need the existence of another person? What about the idea telling that real elegance consists in not getting noticed. And Balzac says that to reveal some economy of means is inelegant.

It’s from Latin “elegans”: who knows how to choose.

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A pretentious simplicity, does that exist?

Goethe : When an intention is too visible, it irritates

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Who plays – and how – the tango of strength/delicacy?

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Purity of the sensation, or of the landscape?

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When you touch the harpsichord‘s key, the note appears, that simple. There’s no possibilities of ppp or fff. It’s “the note”, always the same intensity, it’s a yes or no thing.

Without any possibity of nuances, of touch, the subtleties must come from elwhere: the phrases.

Where else do we have this?

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Deep understanding” and at the same time, “spontaneity” (or precision/passion). Both. Same time.

Where? Sex? Conversation? Acting? What kind of skill is this?

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When a rule emerges, its exceptions appear at the same time.

In French: “Déroger à la règle” (The English “to contravene” and “to infringe” sound “to go against”, to fight, but the French one sounds “to take a hidden door”, to depart from, to invent my own path).

An artist who knows enough rules to depart from them: to explore/invent.

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What is a work of art with simultaneity of significations? Sorrow and courage at the same time; violence and sweetness; pride and vanity. What kind of richness is that?

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To admit” (it’s the same in French, admettre) is a curious verb: to confess, to acknowledge, to allow entry, to accept validity, to place, to permit, to conceide or recognize.

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A style emerges, how?

  1. Origin.
  2. Development.
  3. Blossoming.
  4. Refinement.
  5. Saturation.

Where? Examples?

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When can’t we prevent aggravation (or stop worsening)?

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Baudelaire: The restless crowd, whipped on by pleasure

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Do you produce differently (by other means) or something else?

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Is the existence of the past Law, or Force?

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Acknowlegment or recognition? Even gratitude, if you push?

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Which one is the most interesting? Beauty created by nature, or beauty created by men?

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Could you go that far, without the resistance of it?

Thanks for reading!

And what about Japanese Post Rock?

It is the moment to explore Japanese Post Rock because why not.

So what is “Post Rock”? Let’s Wiki:

Post-rock is a form of experimental rock characterized by a focus on exploring textures and timbre over traditional rock song structures, chords, or riffs. Post-rock artists are often instrumental, typically combining rock instrumentation with electronics.

Good! The tool here is easy:

  • Find a field you don’t know at all
  • Explore a micro-part of it

It can be Hungarian jewelry, or Italian photography, and then you choose a century, or a single artist…

The game here is to listen to things, randomly, like a kid picks up shells on a shore. Here we go:

A Picture of Her is a bit boring with their jazz-rock, technical and with a always-the-same guitar sound.

Anoice: Quiet music with piano, sometimes a little dissonant, sometimes a little “japanish”. Climates, like sad movie music. Some violin. I like it, and some colors are interesting, but… too shy.

Behind the Shadow Drops: simplistic naive melancholia is terrible, right? It is! There’s a laziness, here. Dumb ideas stretched for too long. Not a single harmonic spark. Shame!

Floating in Space has the same problem, but it’s a little better. Too much sugar, and no colors. I couldn’t find a single good track.

Gargle is mildly more interesting, because of the accordion. But, well, sigh…

Kukangendai is Math Rock (a subdivision of Post Rock, more complex). This music is pulsating, it’s like watching fabric, or machines. I find it boring but interesting. Brain, brain, brain. No body.

Lite is much, much better. They’re good, fast, intellingent, complex :

Mono seems the most prolific band on this list. Plenty of albums, between prog rock and film music. They take their time, and they like big badaboum crescendoes. It sounds sometimes like Joe Hisaishi. It’s too conventional for me, but many people love them! Here’s a best of :

Mouse on the Keys, two keyboards and a drummer! More dynamic, more jazz, I like it with a but, always. A bit too… disheveled, maybe?

Nabowa? Cool! :

Ovum seems to like loud music and electric guitars, hmmm.

Qujaku, dark, intense, too much.

Toe, math rock, it knits! :

World’s End Girlfriend, the lone young genius type. First album, 15 years old. Devilish energy in the 1st vid, and a cool waltz to finish this page.

Thanks for reading! What did you like here?

(For this last one wait until 5:20 for a cloud of fantastic harmonies)