Robert Wyatt : Sea Song

Let’s quit our comfort zone

Robert Wyatt was the drummer of Soft Machine. He one evening fell from a window and therefore became paralyzed; he uses a wheelchair since. Pink Floyd performed two benefit concerts, and their drummer, Nick Mason, produced the album Wyatt wrote in his hospital bed “in a trance” : Rock Bottom.

This album will make you uncomfortable. English prog-rock with avant-garde or modern-jazz seeds : It’s an enigma, a nightmare, a diamond. For some critics, it’s the best album of all times.

 

 

Sea Song is one of the most beautiful love song (the other one, for me, is Beach Boys’ God only knows). Imagine a wobbling harrowing Elton John piano slow track invaded with strange stars, bottomed with silver sounds in snakes and gorgeous harmonies. The lyrics are weirdly adorable. The piano break is risky, broken and drunk. The end is an almost ridiculous but touching incantations with sirens…

 

You look different every time you come
From the foam-crested brine
Your skin shining softly in the moonlight
Partly fish, partly porpoise, partly baby sperm whale
Am I yours? Are you mine to play with?
Joking apart – when you’re drunk you’re terrific when you’re drunk
I like you mostly late at night you’re quite alright

But I can’t understand the different you in the morning
When it’s time to play at being human for a while please smile!

You’ll be different in the spring, I know
You’re a seasonal beast like the starfish that drift in with the tide with the tide
So until your blood runs to meet the next full moon
Your madness fits in nicely with my own with my own
Your lunacy fits neatly with my own, my very own

We’re not alone

 

This always lets me brokenhearted, who knows why? It’s been written by a man in love, broken in his soul (hemiplegic drummer, you imagine??) : “I was just relieved that I could do something from a wheelchair”. I’ve rarely seen someone so… opened, in a song. It’s constantly two faced : beautiful but ridiculous, easy slow but with a frightening piano break, incantatory but childish, wobbling, a bit crazy, and strong. Brokenhearted, for sure.

It’s interesting to peel. Listen to the “normal form” of the slow in the beginning – the piano, the modulation (on “But I can’t understand”). The bass is interesting. The drum has been evacuated, the pulse coming from a tiny, fragile, minuscule repeated “POC” – as if this man was saying us : “See, I’m not a drummer anymore, but I can POC”. Awweee!

Symptom : this kind of song can be absolutely destroyed or badly sung live, or by other people. The essence of it will not and can not be touched.

 

 

“My funeral song”

“Possibly one of the most amazing albums ever recorded, and a psychedelic gem beyond time.”

“One of the top albums of all time. A true art expression.”

“what makes this legendary is the overall feeling it gives you. The “breathing” present throughout the tracks, the weird time-warped feeling you get at the middle of Red Riding Hood, Wyatt’s singing on the Sea Song, they all contribute to creating one of the best atmospheres. Along with some pretty neat tracks, make up for one of the greatest masterpieces to come from modern music.”

(26 pages of that here : http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/robert_wyatt/rock_bottom/ )

 

Then try this (it’s the 3rd track or Rock Bottom), LOUD :

 

 

 

 

“Add some light in places”, or why to intellectualize will never kill the magic!

This is an old pattern many people use, like an old, useless dusty tool. This one says something like :

In front of beauty, don’t intellectualize too much or else you’ll lose the magic

 

In sex, art, photography, any place where magic is found, of course we can say that wizardry exists because it unfolds out of the words’s limitations.

Even in fields like poetry or novels (where words are used), able to catch you with style and stories, and bring you in the domain of dreams.

And I’m the first to tell – and repeat – here in this blog, that it is wise to stay out of words, these weak labels, in many articles about how photographers or painters don’t like to explain, etc.

In front of beauty, don’t intellectualize too much or else you’ll lose the magic

Peel and decorticate magic, and you kill the goose (with the golden eggs, etc).

Well : Okey!

I’d add this word : BUT. Or this word : ALSO.

But, also, and nevertheless, there are days you wanna do it.

Analyze the magic of a novel. Dissect a music track. Have a precise conversation about sex. Use the pause button on your remote control to understand how a scene is edited. Read articles about masterpieces, and prefaces of old classics. Stop eating this delicious meal and try to find how it’s been cooked. Wonder how your love story is evolving…

This IS what intellectualizing is, it brings knowledge, shows you new paths, increases your intelligence, draws new maps, enlightens your universe, gives you more energy to explore, to dive deeper the next time you’ll plunge into your next “not thinking too much” moments…

Do you really think it “kills the magic”?

What if it rather adds some light in places?

Thanks for reading!

 

#layers
#layers

Poumeyrol, French painter

Jean-Marie Poumeyrol was born in 1946. This French painter is said to be a “fantastic realist” (which probably must makes him smile). Symbols. Erotica. Lands. Boats…

I like him a lot for a couple or reasons : it’s gorgeous, but also enigmatic. Some paintings are like… games, riddles. You need time to see things, guess what’s happening (whose shoes are they, in the first picture?), etc…

But as usual with great artists, photographers, poets, painters : words are very, very weak to explain. So :

1VMgzcMpV1EP4NU2HaMceXP3eeAPoumeyrol-x5Poumeyrol-L'Amiepoum407jean-marie-poumeyrol-07i6cR1FIQeDo1-w72R4FJQCXk0l0abri_troglodytique4nkqF2TxZjy1ARcbY41nHAotedg1L-5UMmIfHGBEnC39QaiqnuRFeA

 

Gleanpickupping seeds & tools in a Gidon Kremer interview

In a French grey morning of August, I’ve had my coffee with two good slices of brioche, frame window staring, in front of an ominous sky, at the cut out moving trees in the wind, shhhh.

Mind wandering…

According to your job, your availability, your passions, you have different way of “entering contact with reality” :

  • A photographer type will watch around him with the “Can I take a picture here, when, from where?”.
  • A musician type will analyze some new song he hears, decorticating it like an alarm-clock.
  • A poet type will find a good word in a book then might begin to weave a poem in his head.
  • The climber type will watch these city walls… etc…

You… just have to put your “mode on” (and YES, you can have many “modes on” ready in your head, haeccity oblige).

 

I read an interesting interview of Gidon Kremer, violonist, in a classical music magazine. I read this interview with two modes on.

  1. First was : “Find maybe some music to listen to” (I found Schumann, Weinberg, Arvo Pärt, and a Prokofiev melody)…
  2. The other one was my blogger mode : “What little structure, what tool, what tropism can I find in his interview?”.

 

So, well, I learned things about Gidon Kremer himself, his friends, career, evolutions, wonders, etc. He’s an interesting person, the typical clever artist (for me he’s a cousin of Bill Bruford, the drummer).

Eventually, my second “mode on” found quotes, wonders, seeds to plant (here or there) and to meditate on :

  • We live a physical house, but also in some spiritual homes, other “places” we belong to.
  • Playing very few notes is more difficult than pure virtuosity.
  • When you find difficult to play or understand something, you maybe need to find parallel structures in other artists or situations : comparison enrichment.
  • You can explore a field (movies, music) with artists, eras, but also labels or studios, producers, etc. Let’s write something about ECM.
  • Should an artist listen or study what he did in his past? (Kremer never listens what he recorded in previous years).
  • When an artist collaborates, there’s a need of “mutual listening”.
  • Sometimes we miss something. Friends around us indicate things or persons but we don’t listen – when we maybe should.
  • Then and therefore : what is to catch up? How do we? What is “to redeem”, how?
  • “Seeking perfection is the enemy of beauty”

 

Etc etc. I found a few more. Whatever. Each line is a door to a new room, which is full of questions. How to drive “mutual listening”? What becomes virtuosity with very little notes to play? Where the frontier to find between catching up and letting go? Etc…

I found this too : when you have one or many “modes of exploration”, it becomes difficult sometimes to be in direct contact. You ALWAYS have a filter on, and that can be exhausting!

We have to find back a way to quit our introvert-analyzer inner computer to… touch things. I suppose it’s what great artists can do, having the great ability to move it like a lever, a slider, from 0 to 100%, from “I know this without any words” to “Analyze and peel it off to understand it”. Where is yours?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

To write this article, I needed music. I chose Weinberg by Kremer – of course. The YouTube link is under the sleeve, downstairs :

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Unusual Stratums & Facets

Yesterday a friend told he liked to watch Boulevard du Palais, a French crime TV series.

Unlike his smart wife, he told me, he never really understands what it’s all about with the complex story, many characters, dead bodies and interlocked investigations – which seemed to be boring to him. He said he loved it because of the detective – the actor, and the way this man was performing.

This idea itself is a perfect seed to think about what is entertainment, an audience, an actor, etc…

As usual, it’s a bunch of questions :

Artists

  • Are you aware of all the facets which could be loved in your work?
  • What if you decided to focus on an unusual one?
  • What if the “main thing” (in a crime novel : the story) was a fancy dress to reach the audience with another stick?
  • You’re, for example, staging a theater play, or rehearsing a symphony. Could you write the most complete list of elements you work on? Then imagine one person in the auditorium focussing on an unusual one? If you do that, what do you learn? What do you lose? So what?

Audience

  • If you dislike a piece of Art (music, movie, poetry, etc), did you look for the right door to enter it? Is it worth it? Any clue?
  • Do you have to find your own casual way to explore something? The bass only in music, the light only in a movie, the style in a crime novel?
  • If you can have pleasure with an element only, why wouldn’t you imagine to “read” impossible things for you, just to find YOUR way, your facet – letting got the “real thing” to gather your own shells?

Extensions

  • In your field, how could you use this idea?
  • What if, to find ideas to blog about, you read completely out of your expertise?
  • What is the eye of an expert? Can he really understand all the stratums, the levels of a work?
  • What is a masterpiece? There are many criterions, but what happens when many levels of reading are amazing?
  • If you work on a mainstream piece of work, where do you hide subtleties?
  • If you’re a photographer, you probably read a cook book or watch a movie differently, you have “your” facet-seeker ready. So… what do you miss? Is your expertise blinding you? 

 

What do we watch in classics ? In A Tramway Named Desire, are we amazed by Kazan’s work as a director? Brando’s performance? The way they used the set? The words of Tennessee Williams? The way the scriptwriter changed it? The complexity of characters’ evolutions?

All of them, more or less. Right?

Thanks for reading!

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“#Blog for yourself and not to please an audience” – wait a minute…

I read many times about big success youtubers who “lost their soul” because they stopped being themselves – instead of it, they began to blog to “please the audience”. That’s baaad! This makes sense, right? Bending their style or their personality to what they supposed to know about the viewers is probably wrong. And each time, the article I read told it this way. Bad bad bad. Nah. On the naughty step!

When I think of that, though, I hear a bell in my head. That’s so precisely evident that my senses are on alert. I know, it’s a reflex.

There’s something similar in poetry. The “poet” is supposed to be “inspired” (by what?), and peeing gorgeous metaphors because… he’s a genius. BUT even the greatest poets agree to say that there’s probably a critic inside their magic brain. Like “another guy” inside, who analyzes and channels/canalyzes the flow.

Let’s listen to Baudelaire :

I pity those poets who are guided by instinct alone: I regard them as incomplete. In the spiritual life of the former a crisis inevitably occurs when they feel the need to reason about their art, to discover the obscure laws in virtue of which they have created, and to extract from this study a set of precepts whose divine aim is infallibility in poetic creation. It would be unthinkable for a critic to become a poet; and it is impossible for a poet not to contain within him a critic. Therefore the reader will not be surprised at my regarding the poet as the best of all critics.

Charles Baudelaire

This is a perfect pattern, a tool for this article :

Here, we’re searching for a frontier between “I write for myself” and “I write for my audience”.

  • If you write 100% for yourself and you’re successful, good to you! You can stop reading this article and have subtle sex with your muse. Take your time, she likes it.
  • If you write for your audience, you’re a backwoodsman losing yourself on the paths of wrongness and your audience will sense it. You forgot why they loved you. Kill yourself.

BUT

Think about Baudelaire, our French poet. You are probably aware that you never REALLY write for yourself : you, from the beginning, took care of the readers TOO. You analyze, you think, you weave your words, YOU are your first audience, this is it. It’s a radioactive pattern. You write, you work daily, you throw a bunch of arrows, you write for you AND you take care of your audience. You want to be loved, that’s all! You know the trees, and you also know there’s a forest. You’re great, because you dance with both. That’s great!

Thanks for reading!

 

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