Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 5

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 5

There’s one newsletter I follow, more professional, by the MIT, it’s here :

https://forms.technologyreview.com/coronavirus-tech-report/

***

Watched a duo, great movies : The Post (Spielberg – 2017), and All the President’s Men (Pakula – 1976), same newspaper (Washington Post), same executive editor (Ben Bradlee, by Tom Hanks and Jason Robards). Interesting concepts (freedom of the press, sources, decisions, investigation methods), strongly increased by this pleasure : comparison between the films. The bonuses on the Blu-rays are fantastic!

When the pleasure is in the comparison

In a way, the second movie is the following of the first, though it’s been directed 40 years before. I LOVE to couple movies, like Fellini‘s 8 1/2 and Allen‘s Stardust Memories. It can be a remake, or a ‘connected’ film – which is the case here.

***

When I was a teenager I suddenly understood why music was so… pleasantly toxic to me sometimes, with Ennio Morricone or Mike Oldfield for example. I know people love music for different reasons – energy, memories, genre, a voice, virtuosity, lyrics. My reason is the pleasure given by modulations.

I found an article in French, you don’t have to read it, just click on the two YouTube movies. The guy gives examples of typical “Floating Harmonies” invented by John Williams in Harry Potter or Indiana Jones. It’s here : https://compositiondemao.com/harmonies-flottantes/

You have have an… unexpected torsion in the middle of it, before it goes back to normal.

Williams does this all the time, it brings magic to a melody, therefore you can’t forget it. The Vader (The Imperial March) theme is based on this trick :

On this page ( https://www.leandrogardini.com/single-post/2017/02/12/The-Williams-Modulating-Themes ) , watch the Minority Report (first movie). His “Floating Harmonies” decisions make him modulate the melody (at 0’56”, 1’45”, 2,07″).

This makes me think that Morricone and Williams are the best movie music composers. This makes me adore Joni Mitchell, Mike Oldfield, Abba, Röyksopp, or… Puccini!

  1. Modulating Solos : The Pat Metheny Swervy Syndrome
  2. The Strong Liquors of Dissonances
  3. “Pick the Quarter Best”, a Quincy Jones pattern
  4. Passages, Modulations, Transitions
  5. The Abba/Puccini syndrome

Of course I’m interested in… what would be a modulation elsewhere, in poetry or architecture, literature or blogging…

***

So I read that Miles Davis is the Pablo Picasso of Jazz, like Federico Fellini is the Picasso of movie makers. If you’re bored, this is a trio : there’s material here for a couple of months.

***

Agnes Obel, again. In the vast terrible ocean of soft female voices with a piano, she’s with her cousin Vienna Teng. Here she sings with a male voice (which is herself with treatments), it’s delicate and sophisticated, and I love the mysterious lyrics…

Hmm, there are floating harmonies here, right?

For our love is a ghost that the others can’t see

***

My godfather passed on this week. It is a mess for the funeral (only 20 persons allowed). He was in his nineties, and he sometimes talked to me about when he was a kid when Germans occupied his village, the coming of the Americans after the D-Day in the summer of 1944. My father was an orphan when he was a little boy, and Ernest was next to him for years to help…

He’s the guy on the bike :

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Thanks for reading! Stay inside!

JP

What is Third Stream? – a personal uncharted territory

What is Third Stream? Let’s ask Wikipedia :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_stream

“Third Stream is a synthesis of jazz and classical music.”

Critics have argued that third stream—by drawing on two very different styles—dilutes the power of each in combining them. Others reject such notions and consider third stream an interesting musical development. In 1981, Schuller offered a list of “What Third Stream Is Not”:

It is not jazz with strings.
It is not jazz played on “classical” instruments.
It is not classical music played by jazz players.
It is not inserting a bit of Ravel or Schoenberg between bebop changes—nor the reverse.
It is not jazz in fugal form.
It is not a fugue played by jazz players.
It is not designed to do away with jazz or classical music; it is just another option amongst many for today’s creative musicians.

 

I’m interested because I love classical music and I don’t know contemporary jazz very well, but I think the “melting” genre can give interesting things, I’m excited by this personal uncharted territory (as a French, I always want to write “unmapped territory”).

I think about progressive rock (who probably encroaches upon this genre). The first label I thought about was ECM, but I found Rune Grammofon too. Of course, I find everywhere the reference of Bela Bartok, who collected and used old Magyar folk melodies…

ECM, a music label

It seems that today the genre is now 100,000 streams, like the Mississippi delta, a vast complex that has been fed by countless tributaries, with other musics, ethnic, folk, etc…

Let’s Google this. I find :

This last link casts wide, for repetitive/minimal to ECM to Miles Davis or Lalo Schifrin (who wrote the Mission Impossible theme).

Well, that’s just the beginning of a new exploration!

Like each time, some branches will displease us, but with a bit of luck, we’ll find a golden one.

 

Thanks for reading!

What did I Shazam recently? I suppose because of…

“What did you Shazam recently”, she asked?

Chimacum Rain – Linda Perhacs, I suppose because I liked how flowers of voices blossomed in the middle of this little whispering lazy folk.

 

Richard Hawley – The Ocean, I suppose because of the Tindersticks-like voice, and the crescendo, voilà.

 

Martha Tilston – The Waters of Tyne, I suppose because of the silver pointy voice, or the “little Irish tale I’ll sing for you” tone…

 

Whispering Sons – Alone, I suppose because of the sound of 80s, very Xymox, no?

 

Juliette Gréco – un petit poisson, un petit oiseau, I suppose because of this :

A little fish, a little bird
Loved each other with tender love
How to go about it
When you are in water

 

Schubert: Sonata For Arpeggione And Piano In A Minor, D.821, I suppose because Schubert with a guitar, it’s possibly good!

 

Andrea Motis – Louisiana O Els Camps De Coto, I suppose because, as it was “not enough”, I couldn’t stop listening until the end, though. That’s why.

 

The Internet – Wanna Be, I suppose because I’m not used to this sophistication in this music (listen to the bass, or the way it ends).

 

Bolerisch (From “Femme Fatale”) Ryuichi Sakamoto, I suppose because of these Sakamotoish strings, the modulations…

 

Elbow – Magnificent (She Says), I suppose it trapped me with the end. The bass & percs system is cool.

 

AIR – High Point, I suppose because it’s instrumental, modulating, comfortable and quiet.

 

LALO – Concerto russe pour violon et orchestre, Op. 29: II. Chants russes, I suppose because it… sings!

 

 

What I didn’t find : Havoun Havoun by Tigran Hamasyan, Für Lou by Oliver’s Cinema. Also I passed Indochine La Vie est Belle (the clip is violent).

Other options of Ran Blake, a Jazz pianist – an exploration

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I don’t like jazz that much, and I know why. I have too much empathy, and I put myself in the guy’s shoes TRYING to make his thing, I feel bad.

So, I opened my book about Jazz, page 206, randomly, to find Ran Blake, born in 1935, pianist. Never heard about him. You?

I kept him because of some elements I read : he worked with female singers, he was said to make “singular covers”, he has been a music teacher in Boston, he’s influenced by gospel, Monk, Prokofiev, Messiean, movie musics.

So here it is : I use my own method of exploration, which is to YouTube randomly around his name.

His solo piano style is very unique, with nonsense any old things invading old standards for seconds (Epistrophy), delicate memories framing ice water on broken tooth picks, suspended chords, splendid high notes, wobblings.

Comfy cool jazz is like drunk, invaded with errors, shaken memories, blurriness (Round Midnight), it’s like a dream where fast vignettes of remembrances dance around…

“Let’s Stays Together” is just delicious – though at many times you want to say “Hey, be careful!”. Walking on a string…

( see also Epistrophy : Reflections )

With Rave (trumpet) or Lacy, he brings… insecurities in mellow jazz :

This sounds like a confused memory of something we know…

The delicious fragile modulating waltz beginning and ending :

Tools here :

  1. It’s interesting to listen to someone who disturbs my tastes and tests my limits. Sometimes I say : “NO! Come on!”. Sometimes it’s just perfect. My brain begins to focus more, to think, to search, to be afraid maybe. It’s an interesting process.
  2. I discovered great singers, like Sara Serpa (which lead me to the lakes of voices of Naka Nishina), or Jeanne Lee (incredible somber voice).
  3. I have pleasure in analyze. For example, Blake loves the extreme high notes of the piano, which is rare. And one of his “tricks”, when he supports a female singer or a trumpet player, is to let the other one stay steady, like a tree. The piano player is NOT the solid base, he’s the one which wanders, which drifts…
  4. I discovered a Genre : “Third Stream“, a synthesis of jazz and classical music. This is funny because the Wikipedia article lead me to this tool of defining something by what it is not :

It is not jazz with strings.
It is not jazz played on “classical” instruments.
It is not classical music played by jazz players.
It is not inserting a bit of Ravel or Schoenberg between bebop changes—nor the reverse.
It is not jazz in fugal form.
It is not a fugue played by jazz players.
It is not designed to do away with jazz or classical music; it is just another option amongst many for today’s creative musicians.

Have fun! Thanks for reading!

Un article en français : https://www.lemonde.fr/musiques/article/2017/05/15/jazz-ran-blake-pianiste-de-passion-et-de-patience_5127752_1654986.html

How to build an Anthology?

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How to build an Anthology? #Jazz

Maybe you remember, I wrote an article about the fact that one book-lover could read only prefaces.

Imagine you have three hours free in a place full of books. You can pick one, or you can pick two dozens, reading prefaces only. That’s what I’d do, I think…

Yesterday I bought a book, “Jazz en 150 Figures”. It’s a great hardcover book, not about stars of this music, but about creative jazz.

This, alone, could be an article :

Choose a field (poetry, photography, history, etc), and don’t look for stars, but for creators. I reckon that they’re sometimes the same – but let’s focus on lesser-known explorers.

The foreword is one paged. The author asks What is an anthology? – to tell us, of course, what his book is NOT.

  1. It’s not a dictionary, concerned to be exhaustive – and being objective, boring.
  2. It’s not a kindWho’s who“, telling for example that a tired aged musician is as great as himself as a young explorer.
  3. It’s not an Almanach of an elite, made from a list from stardom status.
  4. It’s not a chronological retrospective.
  5. It’s not a ecumenical overview submitted to different kind of quotas.
  6. It’s not a chory monstrosity which tries to make an impression.

So here I am reading this book randompagely, discovering names like Jimmy Lions, Grachan Moncur III or Roscoe Mitchell… with YouTube.

Tools here are multiple :

  • Buying a good anthology, as a map do discover a universe you don’t know at all, or almost.
  • Thinking, when you build something, about what it should not be.
  • Reading prefaces only why not? Go to a library, then.
  • Which domain to dig, for creators?

OK, I’m now writing something about Ran Blake – you know him? Me neither!

Thanks for reading!

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https://www.udiscovermusic.com/stories/50-greatest-jazz-albums-ever/

https://www.jazzwise.com/features/article/the-100-jazz-albums-that-shook-the-world

https://www.senscritique.com/top/resultats/Les_meilleurs_albums_de_jazz/193105

Record Labels I remember

What are the Record Labels I remember?

 

ZTT (b.1983) was for Zang Tumb Tuum, Propaganda, Art of Noise, Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Great cover art, and sophisticated dance/pop music, with luxurious arrangements and production (Trevor Horn).

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4AD (b. 1980) : Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil. Sophisticated, English, great sleeves…

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Virgin (1972 – Richard Branson). Mike Oldfield of course. Tangerine Dream. But also Simple Minds (New Gold Dream), Steve Hillage…

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Charisma (b 1969) : the sound of Genesis (and Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett). This progressive rock sound is sooo English!

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Mute (b 1978) : New wave! Depeche Mode, Yazoo, The Assembly, Laibach. The eighties were fascinating with this way of putting synths into pop music – Depeche Mode, for me, staying the best group of this era…

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Private Music (b. 1984) was founded by an ex-Tangerine Dream. It was New Age music, the American way – very digital, very “DDD”. It had clearly a sound, often too much sugar for me (too much reverb, too much synths, cf Yanni), but I found some pearls. Patrick O’Hearn. The minimalism & Fairlights of Sanford Ponder. Suzanne Ciani’s piano. The Art-of-Noisish David Van Tieghem. Lucia Hwong!

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EG : Fripp, Eno, Budd, but also Jon Hassel and Penguin Cafe Orchestra, this label is almost the fabric of my twenties. I listened to these sophisticated musics for hours…

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Factory (b 1978 in Manchester) : Durutti Column (Post-Rock before it ever existed), fragile, naive, so touching, and New Order. Both inexplicably haunting…

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Les Disques du Crépuscule (b 1980) : From Brussels with Love is a record I listened to thousands of time.

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Have fun! Thanks for reading!

 

New Sounds Hunger : Obel, Hval and Lola Marsh

 

Yum! I bought a FLAC reader and I walk with music since a few months. I knowww I could use my phone, but my reader is small like a credit card, and I really don’t want to use Deezer or Spotify. I want Flac, unaltered music, sound density.

I’m in my 50s and I admit I almost completely lost contact with the music of the time. So I explore a bit. Lists. YouTubes. “Best of the year” selections…

I listened a lot to Jon Bellion (The Human Condition, 2016), because I love his voice, his lyrics, and the fractured structures of his songs, a roller-coaster of sounds and surprises. A good example : Good Morning America.

Thus I listened a lot to AJR. Their hymnic energy, the quirky arrangements… and Bishop Briggs gives me a good telling off in each song! She’s intense!

I liked Agnes Obel‘s Riverside, but I am flabbergasted by the album Citizen of Glass (2016). Good trajectory, adding strangeness the her delicate-pop songs, cellos, odd sounds. Kate Bush could have been there. A good example : Familiar.

What is painful? When a group you adored presents new things and you don’t feel anything about it. St Vincent for me (lost her Bowie/Crimson energy, or Metric (lost the fractures & modulations.

I admit I’ve been tricked by some video-clips. Aldous Harding is a splendid example. Her clips put you in a fascinating state. I listened to her albums for weeks, slowly understanding that it lacked something (for me : harmonic risks).

But it stays way better than the gigantic list of “ladies whispering calm songs” haunting YouTube with slow motion Super-8 filtered low angled light clips. Pffff.

Sometimes it goes a bit too far on the other side : listen to Rose Elinor Dougall, elegant, icy, complicated, full of broken subtle harmonies. I’ve been able to float with her for hours, without catching a single song. Try though : A New Illusion.

Billie Eilish 2019? The production is fantastic! Whispering voices weaved with surinventive sounds, great bass lines, dirty electronics. It’s impressive!! I will follow her closely.

I listened endlessly to Blood Orange (Negro Swan 2018), luxury soul, intimate and clever, perfect sound, great voices. Example : “Take Your Time”, horizontal and fluted…

I’m interested in how groups use the eighties mood. Sharon Van Etten (Remind Me Tomorrow, 2019) shows a good use of synthetic sounds. How “No One’s Easy to Love” is slowly invaded by layers…

Jenny Hval? A girl from the North, could be Laurie Anderson working with Björk! In The Practice of Love (2019), “Lions”, or “High Alice”. Volutes of machines, spoken words, blurry arrangements…

The danger is real : it’s to wander in YouTube playlists and put all what you find in fast boxes : post Cocteau Twins in the water, interchangeable country groups, The Smiths copiers, melancholic idiots in cemeteries, NYC fringed happy sugar idiots…

My best finding of the day is Lola Marsh, a group from Israel. Waow! I have to go. Listening to this one in loop. Imagine a Lana Del Rey with nerve, all waken up…

 

How do you find your sound?

Have a nice day.

 

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My 100 Best Tracks of the Decade

My 100 Best Tracks of the Decade (or 2009 if it’s too good), in no particular order :

  1. The Field – Over the Ice (Live)
  2. Röyksopp – Keyboard Milk
  3. Loney, Dear – Under a Silent Sea
  4. Trentemøller – Shades Of Marble (Live in Copenhagen)
  5. Rover – Tonight
  6. Marina & the Diamonds – Hermit The Frog
  7. Digitalism – Blitz
  8. The Bird And The Bee – Lifespan Of A Fly
  9. Tim Exile – Family Galaxy
  10. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Ballad Of The Mighty I
  11. Lily Allen – The Fear
  12. Hanne Hukkelberg – Pirate
  13. Vitalic – Under your sun
  14. Katie Melua – The Flood
  15. The Avener, Kadebostany – Castle In The Snow
  16. Astrix – Poison
  17. Baxter Dury – Palm Trees
  18. Tame Impala – Let It Happen
  19. Alt-J (∆) – Taro
  20. IAMX – Tear Garden
  21. Paul Kalkbrenner – Böxig Leise
  22. Jacco Gardner – Outside Forever
  23. The Dø – On My Shoulders
  24. The Republic Tigers – Buildings and Mountains
  25. Röyksopp – Running To The Sea
  26. Madness – Given The Oportunity
  27. Röyksopp feat. Robyn – Monument (The Inevitable End Version)
  28. MGMT – Siberian Breaks
  29. Dominique A – J’avais oublié que tu m’aimais autant
  30. Charlotte Gainsbourg – Ring-A-Ring O’ Roses
  31. Jon Bellion – Morning In America
  32. Kendrick Lamar – King Kunta
  33. Citizens! – True Romance
  34. Zero 7 – The Pageant of the Bizarre
  35. Blood Orange – Charcoal Baby
  36. The Internet – Come Over
  37. Blonde Redhead – Mind to be Had
  38. Agnes Obel – Riverside
  39. Woodkid – Run Boy Run
  40. Zedd – Beautiful Now ft. Jon Bellion
  41. Metric – Gimme Sympathy

(to be continued)

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Bellion & Pilots : Where is pop music going?

Every end of the year I explore web’s magazines to find out what they say on “Best Albums of the year”.

This year it’ll be funnier because of the “Best Albums of the Decade”, of course.

It’s been a long time that I learned how to let go about the Fear of Missing Something. Plenty of musicians, everywhere, are just… unknown. So there!

Best Albums 2018? – So last year I listened to a lot a group called “Blood Orange”, a splendid deluxe soul sound. “The Internet”, called I think Neo-Soul…

This month I discovered Morning in America from Jon Bellion, and I was a bit annoyed : how to call this music? Do I need a label, a sticker? Hymnic Power Pop? I asked Wiki and found it’s “hip hop, pop, R&B, indie pop” (haha). I listened to the whole album and was surprised by everything – a great voice, good lyrics, an amazing sense of sound (and production), and a… love for fractured structures.

The track is continuously changing, mutating, it becomes a big bouquet, a pond of ideas, sounds, changes, a festival. No genius, just… cool!

After that, I listened to Twenty One Pilots. How to deal with “Bandito”? Indie rock with mainstream pop assets? It climbs and evolves into other things : poetry, rock, shoegaze, trance? I don’t know, but it’s lemonade to walk on this…

Then the whispering Billie Eilish – deliciously effective, put a smile on my face. “Bury a Friend” is able to make you stand up and put a little shoulder dance. Hop, hop.

In all this : no genius. It’s a matter of “pop effectiveness”‘, a love for powerish hymns. Something like “Beautiful” is ridiculous – but when I found it in my little FLAC (uncompressed sound) player, it stopped me in the street then I was back into walking making stupid arm gestures in the night, yahouuu. A little like Art of Noise in its time.

“Papapapapapapapa piou piou Beautiful” : bim :

(it’s an exaggeration of Zedd’s : https://youtu.be/n1a7o44WxNo )

I also found a NYT article : https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/03/10/magazine/25-songs-that-tell-us-where-music-is-going.html – (a good read)

Of course, the Web is full of trees, for discoverers. Search for “What sounds like Blonde Redhead” and use YouTube to travel…

But also I discovered Willa Cather, an interesting archetype (I wanna write about her and Gertrud Stein). Oh, she was a writer, sorry.

But I’m obsessed with Schubert’s 9th Symphony, and I’m writing a long article about it.

I also have to watch Fellini’s 8 1/2 THEN Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories (which is the same film “transposed” in America). Then my pleasure is to detect what is translated and how.

I should make a page here with my best 100 pop tracks of the decade…

OK, on it.

Thanks for reading!

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The Strong Liquors of Dissonances

ONE

When I began to explore Classical Music, I read a lots of books and I listened (with appetite) to some spicy pieces : Stravinsky, Bartok, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, then French adventurers like Ravel or Debussy.

The Strong Liquors of Dissonances – the weird rhythms and sharp melodies of the Russians, the iridescences of the French – acted like a drug on my hungry brain.

I was with Berg and Webern in an awe!

TWO

Then, I tried to “descend” in time, without finding any pleasure in Berlioz, Tchaikovsky or Schubert, until I found Brahms and Bruckner. Having listened to many composers, from Bach, Mozart and Beethoven to Sibelius, Penderecki and Boulez, my ears are skilled enough now to determine the century a music is from.

Style, but also the way the composer plays with harmonies – this is where my pleasure is.

Brahms sounded like Beethoven, with a deeper, risky way of using modulations. His concertos (piano, violin) often put me in ecstasy!

Less “risky” than the guys of XXth Century, but with strength, and like a brown clay river. Earthy! Terrestrial!

The vast desert lands of Sibelius. The cathedrals of Bruckner…

THREE

I explored a lot more, finding treasures in interstices : Franck, Roussel, Martinu, Koechlin, Hindemith, Walton, Holst. New forms. Liquors!

And I found Puccini, with this misunderstanding : he’s popular, some melodies are easy, but he’s very subtle and complex… down under. I have been completely intoxicated by this mix of Italian “singing” and the crazy modulations he streams under it.

FOUR

And here’s my tool : I realize I’m now digging for more subtle things. Slight changes in harmonies (Schubert’s 9th). Complex forests to explore (Mahler). Less Whisky, more great wines.

 

Where else?

Thanks for reading

 

 

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Musical Genres & Gorgeousities

Musical Genres & Structures : that was a lovely title, right? I changed it though…

It came to me in the shower, thinking about my “Best Albums of 2018” researches.

  1. I found many musics, soul, rap, indie rock, folk, metal, jazz…
  2. I found many shades of complexity, from simple to fractured or dissonant.

So I can draw an orthonormal coordinate system :

  • Horizontal would be “Complexity” (fractured, dissonant, too much something (too slow, too molten))
  • Vertical would be “Pleasure”.

So it becomes a cloche, a bell, a dome.

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On the left, things like Cat Power, Wanderer. Choose anything, you’ll be “Ah, OK”. A “gorgeous” voice, some quiet melancholy, piano, etc. Predictible thus boring. And everybody LOVES her. It’s not the genre (I am very found of Vienna Teng), but the absolute no invention/no surprise. Harmonically poor. Lazy structures & production. “She is art”, I read on YouTube. MMmmmh she’s not.

On the right end of the cloche, Sophie lost me. Too dissonant, too fractured. I need more structure, even in a multi-layered complex harmonically track like this. Like in the proliferant Tim Exile‘s Family Galaxy

So what’s in the bell?

Esperanza Spalding, 12 Little Spells makes me focus : What’s happening here? Go to 1’40”, or just listen to the intro. It’s like Science put into folk or soul. Harmonically risky (exhausting), it’s all about to lose me, but as it’s constantly snakily keeping me back into pleasure (modulations). Typical : I maybe dislike, but I wanna go back to it, and I’ll finish poisoned and in love.

Oh OK I love gorgeous soul, a bit sophisticated like Blood Orange or The Internet “Hive Mind”. It’s not risky, it’s just well done. Ah, I found this : “…is making me wanting to wear some lingerie and just dance on front of a mirror” – I’m not a girl but I understand this well. The modulation (0’40”), the bass, the production…

I kept AAL, US Girls, Let’s Eat Grandma and Mistsi… All in the cloche, not too predictable, but far from avant-garde either.

I wanted to finish this article with the idea that “I seek complexity in music”, more than simplicity, but I think that’s wrong.

I do love Annie Clark’s St Vincent, which is complex pop, but my two loves are Blonde Redhead and Röyksopp, which are skilled musicians with gorgeous harmonies. Hmmm… complex chords and modulations? Mike Oldfield, where are you?

I do prefer Bartok and Stravinsky than Mozart, and I explored the oceans of complexity of Mahler, a lot, but the composers I love most are Puccini and Brahms. It’s less complicated than Boulez, but it’s harmonically gorgeous.

It makes me think again about that : why do people love music? Energy? Lyrics? Warmth? Being in love with the singer? Virtuosity? Remembrance?

If you had to choose your best albums of 2018, what would you seek? One genre only, or one structure (like : great lyrics, big energy, danceability), which you could find anywhere?

Tool :

Choose your field : movies, books, sports. What is your coordinate system? What does it become?

Thanks for reading!

Best Albums 2018?

I googled “Best Albums 2018” and clicked on ten pages, with 50 or 40 albums each time.

It’s a fast zapping exercise (I need 10 seconds to know I don’t like – my platitude and clichés detector is very accurate – what’s more horrible than lazy folk?).

Here’s what tickled my ears :

Kamasi Washington, a jazz music I could explore and love.

Skee Mask is a bit too much “abstract techno” for me, but I kept listening…

Blood Orange, a luxury soul sound, made me listen to the whole album.

The Internet got me “wait whatting” all along : great bass, production, slight dissonances… I’m client for neo-soul…

Against all Logic almost lost me, but each time something was happening in the music to keep me listening.

Let’s Eat Grandma, or Arctic Monkeys, U.S. Girls, Mitski – mmh, we’ll see.

Sometimes it’s too deconstructed (I heard this pain in jazz, rap, soul), but the boundaries are interesting. Like with Esperanza Spalding. Like in “12 Little Spells” : dangerous harmonies, quietly dancing with the vocal melody…

Spent time exploring : Mitski, Blood Orange, The Internet. You? What are you albums of 2018?

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Oldfield’s Amarok

To talk about Mike Oldfield‘s Amarok makes me feel I have to show a metal rock lover that Puccini’s Manon Lescaut is amazing. Therefore I try.

Oldfield is known for Tubular Bells (1973) and one hit (Moonlight Shadow – 1983).

His wiki talks about Virgin, Warner then Mercury years, but I see this career as a struggle between the Tubular Bells source (long complex and rich progressive instrumentals) and the… need to sell more albums.

His greatest albums are the first ones, with little good things in Discovery or Tubular Bells II & III. The whole pack, since, is absolutely bad (and it stays a mystery to me, harmonically, I mean). The good albums :

Tubular Bells (1973)
Hergest Ridge (1974)
Ommadawn (1975)
Incantations (1978)
Platinum (1979)
QE2 (1980)
Five Miles Out (1982)
Crises (1983)
The Killing Fields (1984)
Amarok (1990)

Amarok was the last album he had to do for Virgin, which he… made it a sabotage (it’s all explained in the wiki) :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarok_(Mike_Oldfield_album)

“a single sixty-minute track of continuous, uninterrupted but constantly changing music”

  • Yes, a bit like Puccini’s music (hundreds of little facets of music).
  • Disturbing or crazy events and noises (hits of orchestra, beer can opening, teeth brushing).
  • Complex and even sometimes difficult harmonies.
  • Gigantic crescendos, like the one in the middle, Ommadawnesque.
  • Fabulous harmonies, reverse sounds, and other chaotic pleasures.
  • Spoons, shoes, a vacuum cleaner, next to acoustic bass guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo, bass guitar, bass whistles, bouzouki, bell tree, bodhran, bowed guitar, cabasa, classical guitar, electric guitars, organs, Flamenco guitar, glockenspiel, high-string guitar, jaw harp, kalimba,mandolin, marimba, melodica, Northumbrian bagpipes, penny whistles, percussion, piano, psaltery, rototom, sitar guitar (a Coral electric sitar), spinet, timpani, tubular bells, twelve-string guitar, ukulele, violin, vocals, and wonga box.

 

So imagine a one hour record, made of 784 little pieces of great music, sewed with disturbing machines, almost impossible to listen – but if you do, you reach a pile of as many music orgasms as the number of fingers you have.

Yes it’s cousin to Royksopp. Harmonically, I mean. This is a science.

 

The pattern is :

“A great artist is about, in a crazy move driven by huge work, to build a BIG SICK MASTERPIECE that almost NO ONE can appreciate, except a handful of connoisseurs”.

 

Well, you can try the end, which is a triple monster crescendo. Go to 44:15, put your headphones on, and listen loud.

Tell me what you think in the comments.

Have a nice day!

 

 

Hello everyone
I suppose you think that nothing much is happening at the moment
Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha
Well, that’s what I want to talk to you all about; endings
Now, endings normally happen at the end
But as we all know, endings are just beginnings
You know, once these things really get started, it’s jolly hard to stop them again
However, as we have all come this far, I think, under the circumstances
The best solution is that we all just keep going
Let’s keep this going in sight, never an ending
Let’s remember that this world wants fresh beginnings
I feel here, in this country, and throughout the world,
we are crying out for beginnings, beginnings
We never want to hear this word “endings”
I know we all want to sit down
I know you want to take it easy
Of course we’re looking for the good
Of course we’re looking for the fresh start

 

 

2 CDs : Sylvian & Karn’s melancholies

In this series I’ll pick 2 CDs. Exercise to remember why I own them. Game to find links between them. Find out if I like these musics today. Will to share unknown things with you.

  1. David Sylvian, Brilliant Trees , 1984.
  2. Mick Karn, Dreams of Reasons Produce Monsters, 1987.

Both were members of a group named Japan – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_(band) – Sylvian was the singer and Karn the bass player.

Brilliant Trees‘s sleeve was gorgeous in vinyl. I always loved this photography! Sophisticated pop, incredible voice, melancholy. The track I chose to YouTube you is a perfect example : veils, calm trumpets, a very smart way to use modulations, and a magical “I quit the pray to fly up to the sky like a balloon” in the end.

Dreams of Reason Produce Monsters (this title comes from Goya and I let you meditate about this magic phrase) is dark, ethnical, quiet, nocturnal, full of surprises (songs sung by Sylvian, clarinets, percs), like a path in a night of… dreams. Mostly instrumental.

Melancholies, sophistications (constructions, sounds, moods), elegance…

Havve a nice day!

IMG_1427.jpg

When you come to me
I’ll question myself again
Is this grip on life still my own

When every step I take
Leads me so far away
Every thought should bring me closer home

And there you stand
Making my life possible
Raise my hands up to heaven
But only you could know

My whole world stands in front of me
By the look in your eyes
By the look in your eyes
My whole life stretches in front of me
Reaching up like a flower
Leading my life back to the soil

Every plan I’ve made’s
Lost in the scheme of things
Within each lesson lies the price to learn

A reason to believe
Divorces itself from me
Every hope I hold lies in my arms

And there you stand
Making my life possible
Raise my hands up to heaven
But only you could know

My whole world stands in front of me
By the look in your eyes
By the look in your eyes
My whole life stretches in front of me
Reaching up like a flower
Leading my life back to the soil

Music Maps?

ONE

Yesterday I did my exercises. Nah, not pumping iron!

In my locker I chose randomly a 2-3 years old magazine, to read it while I have lunch.

(I don’t like small talk lunches. I sit elsewhere to be alone. My INFTJ alone time is my quality time).

RifRaf was a Belgian free indie rock magazine. I read some interviews of groups I never heard about, then a dozen pages of LP reviews.

I’m 52 and I grew up musically in the eighties, when the “pop-rock era” was still explorable. Gradually, this market became so complex and so huge that I had to learn how to let go – though I suffered a bit, in the 2000s, of a Fear of Missing Something syndrome.

Now that my family has exploded and my daughters adults, I have more time to dive into this indie rock universe, from time to time…

TWO

So : I read reviews and forget all of them immediately – except like 4-5 names I screenshot or write on a piece of paper I fold in my pocket.

Then I torrent’em, home. I’m sorry. It’s because I hate to discover a singer on YouTube, I don’t need images. Let’s blush and assure I’m a “good pirate” : when I love a group I FLAC or MP3 torrented, I buy the CD. I promise!

St Vincent. Blonde Redhead. Vienna Teng. Röyksopp. MGMT. Loney Dear. I bought them!

THREE

I didn’t find much good things, Bert Jansch turned my mind into grey ashes (all good but boring harminies), Animal Collective is too nonsensy – I’m bored-frightened.

I was caught though by the veils and lacy-beats of Cabaret Contemporain – you just wanna microdance with your lover (infinite little movements of shoulders, OK?) in the sunny triangles of the living room. Enough to listen to the whole album.

But how come, each time I find good songwriting, it’s from guys from the North?? The biggest discovery of my last decade were Röyksopp (Norway), and Loney Dear (Sweden). Today the 3 LPs of Jacob Bellens are playing in a happyloop here.

FOUR

Bellens is typically a Type, for me. In an harmonically so poor universe, someone who just KNOW what a bass line really is, someone who tries some smart progression of chords, who knows what a modulation is, becomes like a “Small Wizard”. The man who takes care of music.

Röyksopp are geniuses. I’ve been intoxicated by Loney Dear, Annie Clark or Blonde Redhead. No intoxication here. Jacob Bellens is just… good, always pleasant, a constant disseminator of small good ideas. A sound, a melody, a chord…

Candy for my ears.

FIVE

I found music-map.com, started with Bellens, found that Blonde Redhead links were pretty accurate, and now after a Röyksopp search I’m lost on YouTube for the day!

https://www.music-map.com/r-f6yksopp.html

 

(approaching nervous breakdown maybe ohlala)

Have a nice Sunday!

JP

 

Continue reading

The Return of the Vinyl

ONE

I’m 52 and therefore I grew up with vinyls, LPs, EPs and singles.

I had dozens and dozens LPs. I was listening to music daily. It’s strongly associated in my head with the pleasure of music discoveries.

I remember Talking Heads and King Crimson, Mike Oldfield and Yes, second hand’s Genesis’ Trick of the Tail, the first time I listened to Killing Fields, or Soil Festivities and Mask (Vangelis), or EPs of Kate Bush, Bryan Ferry, Propaganda or Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I remember the singles : AC-DC (Hell’s Bells), Stranglers (Golden Brown), Buggles (Video Killed), The Police (Spirits in the Material World), etc…

TWO

I remember, in the end of the eighties, the excitation triggered in music lovers : Compact Disc! A better sound, no more surface noises and clicks and pops, no need to clean them, no needle to brush…

I bought my first one in Germany. It was “the first CD not available in Vinyl” : Brian Eno’s Thursday Afternoon. And for good reason : it was one single track, one hour long!

Since then I never bought any vinyl anymore. Indeed, vinyl became boring for everyone, with all it’s flaws, the dust everywhere, the risky exercise which it to change track (a wrong move and you have a scratch).

I love classical music. 70 mn on a CD is perfect. And a great sound, and… etc. The only regret we all had was… the sleeves.

THREE

I hear today about “the return of vinyl”.

Vinyls are beautiful. The sleeves are taller and gorgeous! I know that. And it’s a pleasure to “own” your LP (and the sound IS better than any streaming shit, yep).

I have to say that the main asset of this music listening process is you go back to the idea of listening an “album”, a whole suite of tracks. There’s no “next track” on a turntable!

FOUR

This, of course, triggers facepalms for many music lovers with a little experience. The “warmer sound”? It’s noisy, with clicks and pops, and it’s dirty all the time, and more :

Digital does not really exist…

Analog or digital, it’s just a “recording thing”. In the end : the speaker are vibrating (analog), the air is moving (analog) and your eardrum TOO.

The “warmer and richer” vinyl sound does not even exist. But I do understand one has the idea of it. “Warmer”. Yeah yeah yeah. I suppose that when you grew up with MP3, you find it warmer. Vinyl listening becomes like eating roasted chicken with french fries, plenty of sauce and onions, and carrots and pees, after the MP3 diet : crispbread with nothing on it.

Hi-Fi meant “High Fidelity” – What about the sound quality, now?

 

“The LP’s drawbacks include surface noise, less resolution due to a lower Signal to Noise ratio and dynamic range, stereo crosstalk, tracking error, pitch variations and greater sensitivity to handling”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_analog_and_digital_recording

 

FIVE

The return of the vinyl is not real. The market climbs a little, because it’s trendy. I was a vinylseller in 1989, and I can tell you it was fucking something else!

 

SIX

…says the contrary, what I called my Abba shock :

One day I downloaded a HUGE Flac archive of “Abba 24Bit Vinyl Pack” (each album weighed almost a gigabyte – a CD is mastered in 16 Bits, normally). So I began to listen on my expensive Sennheiser headphones a luxurious lossless compression of Vinyl music, digitalized at an splendid rate…. with a slight wow and flutter, some clicks and pops too, and Oh. My. God. It was fantastic!

What’s that paradox? Digitalized vinyl at high rate, without compression (Flac instead of Mp3) gave me an ears orgasm. Nailed.

OK. you won. I give up.

 

Have a nice day!

 

331785795_2-abba-4-albums-vinyle-33-tours-1979-1979-1980-1983.jpg

 

 

 

Amelie Lens is dancing

I follow Amelie Lens on Instagram. She’s a Belgian DJ and she’s very very pretty. She has an “official” account with almost 300.000 followers. Good!

I just watched her live on Instagram.

YouTube her! You’ll find long concert movies made of this : short patterns, loud and fast rhythms, her happy energy to trigger these things. And no music at all. Not intent. Not a single idea. And she’s very pretty. And she’s dancing in front of her turntables.

Turning buttons happiness…

She made a hit, I think. Here it is. 1 720 964 views :

 

Then : you don’t understand, right? Me neither.

I tried. I’m interested in this music. I like to explore (though I prefer to explore other musical fields, from Boulez to ECM).

 

I love repetition and energy, like The Field (this guy know EXACTLY what he’s doing) who knows how to make you wait until orgasm :

 

Or the dry abstract Trentemoller, like a lego builder :

 

Or the modutating loud energy of Digitalism (two single ideas, but good ones – an harmonic one and a production one (dirty/clear)) :

 

I can even feel the trancy vulgarity of Astrix (listen all of it, loud) :

 

Or Vitalic, like a mainstream gorgeous thing, right?

 

Chemical Brothers, with the ever building Surface to Air (don’t watch the clip) :

 

 

All these guys are “music programmers”. Their musical tools are pretty… weak (small simple melodies, big rhythms, wait/relaunch processes), but for all of them I see what they do. I notice their “thing”. It’s delightful sometimes!

Not for Amelie Lens. I watched plenty of hers. The happiness of triggering buttons, wait/relaunches, and fuck : not a single idea.

It’s useful to have this milestone. The zero one. Röyksopp is the other milestone. At the other side of the bar : intoxicating “too many ideas”.

Why? How? What do I miss? Why do people love this? When something you don’t understand/dislike seems to reach zero, what about this rush of the mind : “What?”. Is the seek worth it?

Why do I dream to ask her this question :

“How do you progress?”

 

Thanks for reading!

amelie-lens.jpg

 

Blonde Redhead : “Elephant Woman”

Blonde Redhead

“Elephant Woman”

Angel I can see myself in your eyes
Angel won’t you feel for me from your heart
Do return my heart to me
No don’t insist I’m already hurt

Elephant girl
It was an accident unfortunate
Angel threw me like a rubber man
Aiming for the ground
Why amuse yourself in such way
No don’t insist I’m already hurt

Lay me down on the ground softly softly
Don’t remove my head hurts much too much

You never return it
Well I wouldn’t miss it
I shed no tears for broken me
You never know it my peace of mind
Now inside and outside are matching

Why amuse yourself in such a way
No don’t insist I’m already hurt
If you never return it
Will it break your wings
Will you shed no tear for broken me

Les Pieds dans la Lune (Feet in the moon)

 

♪ Les pieds dans la lune ♪

Combien de pages ont vu s’échouer
Les gerbes d’orage en bris de mots
Contents les vents se sont marrés des tours noyés
Dans une mare de cent regrets

Combien de vagues j’ai ravalé
Quand dans la marge tu n’avais pied
Violent courage que ce pas fait
Qu’on sait défait
Mais cède s’aide cède à qui sait donner

Sur la lune à pieds
De plumes en funambules
J’essaie de filer
Les pieds dans la lune
Qui d’amour jamais ne s’est laissé tomber

Sur la lune à pieds
De plumes en funambules
J’essaie de filer
Les pieds dans la lune
Qui d’amour jamais ne s’est laissé tomber