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!

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)

What did I shazam recently?

What did I shazam recently?

Most of the time, I don’t listen to my Shazams afterward. I did it because of “an element”, a sound, an idea, something which made my eyebrow upping up. If I “like” the YouTube film, I’ll find them back one day. Maybe.

=====

S. Decoster, because it was the end credit music of a great quirky French movie called “Perdrix” (“The Bare Necessity” in English). Nothing great here but I Shazamed it though, probably because the movie was hilarious and balanced.

The loopy “Je veux être à vous” means “I want to be yours”, BUT as you know, French has two “you”, the you for the persons you know well, and the you for the persons you don’t. Thus “I want to be you” with the “polite you” is charged differently, because it’s adressed to someone you don’t know from a long time.

Poltrock, Mute #2, navigates in interesting waters. Quiet piano music can easily be sugary – here it’s not because of the modulations of course :

Bon Entendeur, Basta Cosi, a sound, and a singer who does not sing but speaks.

Portugal The man, Fell it Still, the groove?

Lana Del Rey, For Free, a Joni Mitchell cover??! The song is splendid, and Del Rey has a good idea to sing un-reverbed, it whispers in ears. It modulated all along like smoke. Joni’s version stays much better of course. Here are some of the lyrics:

I slept last night in a good hotel
I went shopping today for jewels
The wind rushed around in the dirty town
And the children let out from the schools

I was standing on a noisy corner
Waiting for the walking green
Across the street he stood and he played real good
On his clarinet, for free

Nobody stopped to hear him
Though he played so sweet and high
They knew he had never been on their TV
So they passed his music by

Sting, Mad about you. Great song, right? Production is strange, it’s like… rustling, quivering:

Mahsa Vahdat & Mighty Sam McClain, Ambassador of Hearts.

Naïssam Jalal, Un sourire au cœur.

Duran Duran, Save a Prayer, and old thing I listen today with new ears, the bass line, the attemps for vocal harmonies, the chorus which climbs then falls back, modulations like stairs.

Mansfield. TYA, Ni morte ni connue, for the “old French new-wave” sound. Neither dead neither well-known.

Celeste, Love is back, because the vintage sound, the smiling desire to compose a similar base, and the broken Amy-like voice.

Colman Jones, Kiev, a dreamy walk in an unknown city under lukewarm clouds:

Ophélie Gaillard, Dos Gardenias, makes me ask someone to dance in the dark:

=====

(…)

Have a nice day! Je vous souhaite une très belle journée.

Music Chronicles 4: Little White Behind, and a Sad Violonist

I heard some music from Brazil, but I did not want to learn about their rhythms or about their scales, thus I wrote stupid lyrics about a guy in love with a contrary of a Brazilian girl : slow, pale, with a small behind. Found a beat, a big Liverpool bass (because why not) and played with bars where the 2nd bar is dissonnant.

I added “my idea” of an Elton John’s piano, sang (4 layers!) in Portuguese (like a Spanish cow), added a storm, a crowd, whistles, and voilà!

====

I saw this violonist, walking, a sad Hungary figure, on a Sabine Weiss photography. I wanted to build a Tom Waits’ like waltz, a slow one. I sing very badly, so I added this sad harmonica, a crazy fly-like Chinese violin, and silly noises of a dog and cars. The waltz itself is broken, not following the 3/4 at times.

Totally drafty, but I posted it eventually. Non Finito.

Thanks for reading!

Music Chronicles 3: Silly French blursed song

I don’t know how to write a song, therefore I wrote one!

I wanted to talk about Pop Figures collectors. The title is “Faut qu’j’aille en ville” (must go to town).

I must go to town to buy my figure it’s a limited edition, etc.

I added silly voices, noises and whistles to this reggae-like “thing” based, again, on transposition.

My pleasure was to disturb the “idea of a song”, breaking the normal structure, adding random chaos in the end, putting the chorus in no matter what places.

Primitivism is an energy you can insufflate in things. It comes from prehistoricness, silliness, childhood, savageness.

One little jab (or two) of untamed elements.

Have fun. Thanks for reading!

Music Chronicles 2: “Déguisée” – the dress the night the house before the ocean

The sea, the waves in the night, Pacific. A tall woman, in an evening dress, solitary. It’s all blue-gray.

So, I wanted to write a song, but I’m not a lyricist, and I’m not a singer. I tried many things, then I made it an instrumental.

It was made to be “De Façon Déguisée”, in disguise. For Dominique A.

A slow dance, with a big pensive bass, marimbas in echo, brushed drums and a mattress of strings.

For chorus I wanted to add an… irritation. Thus I added a too-loud snare drum, an insisting piano, like an itching.

She dances alone, therefore I added flutes, and doubled the marimbas with a sound on the left.

But maybe she sleeps now. It stops. Birds in the morning patio give her the sun.

Music Chronicles 1: “Sharp Bent Dervish”, or how to weave on one note only

Hey!

I’m having fun composing music on GarageBand. I draft little things to get used to the interface and tools.

For this one, I chose a limit, the “one note only“.

I struggled a bit to find a dry sample of the Art of Noise “Moments in Love”, but… I found it.

It is my note, like a synth-voice, “AAAH”. There’s like silver in it. I like it.

I’ll just repeat it, like a broken machine, a breathe maybe… Ahh Ahh Ahh…

Four bars, strings, and a cringy modulation in the last one (of course). Then, well, I loop, I weave!

Strings (see the ##?):

The bass:

I like the idea of a loop, a non-developping “machine”, something like a little robot dancing on a spot.

Do you like it?

Have a great day!

Risky suites of chords (and how to get them) ?

I downloaded French magazines like “Best of Music 2016“, and I dig, je creuse, through torrents or YouTube. I trash everything (rolling my eyes), but, well, I keep digging.

There’s a very lazy Radiohead album (A Moon Shaped Pool), an “I see what you’re doing, sillies” with rolled-out vowels I pfffed all along. But there’s this one: Burn the Witch, propelled by unstable harmonies, I found it… interesting (I try to forget the rolled out vowels). It floats in some uncertainties.

So there’s a lack, everywhere, I think, in the pop-rock field, of a producer saying: “No, dear, this is not good enough”.

This morning I listened to Paul McCartney’s Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, which is curiously entirely good. It was produced by Nigel Godrich (the, hmmm, Radiohead producer), who was tough enough to fight the myth, to push and jostle the singer:

According to McCartney, Godrich was at times blunt in his appraisal of McCartney’s songs-in-progress during the making of Chaos and Creation in the Backyard:

“Nigel… refused to allow me to sing songs that he didn’t like, which was very cheeky of him.”

Ah ah! I like this! Well, today (and then), the whole profession says it’s a masterpiece, an instant classic.

So I played the game of listening to the previous album and the next, entirely, and hmmmm, nope, it’s not that good, by far (but there’s one exception, a song names : “I do”.

I know exactly what Godrich did. Because what he got in “Backyard” is… harmony complexity (and surprises), which come from risky suites of chords and the subsequent modulations he has to make to follow).

Cf Friends to Go, very John Barry-esque (and oh, the lyrics!)…

This is such a good lesson. Good things appear when sometimes… we need someone we trust to say: “Hey, silly: not like that!”. Cheeky but lovely, right?

How do we find someone like that? Someone we trust enough? And more: when do we need this “coaching”? What kind of “producer” relationship is it? A superior? A lover? A Friend? A collaborator? A “push-me-out-of-my-comfort-zone” guy? What if we need this and we don’t now it?

Have a great day!

The Uncle Albert’s trick – juxtapose, juxtapose, juxtapose

ONE

“Uncle Albert – Admiral Halsey” is a Paul McCartney’s song from the album RAM (1971). Here’s a little text I found on songfacts :

McCartney combined pieces of various unfinished songs to create this; in the later years of The Beatles, they did this a lot as a way to put unfinished songs to good use. As a result, “Uncle Albert – Admiral Halsey” contains 12 different sections over the course of its 4:50 running time. This jumble of musical textures, comic character voices, sound effects and changing tempos turned off a lot of listeners, but many others thought it was brilliant. The song wasn’t released as a single in the UK, but in America it became McCartney’s first #1 hit as a solo artist.

Oh, lovely, isn’t it?

I love this song, because it prevents you from drowning after one minute of a “cool seventies slow” with noises, surprises, changes. A big smile gets bigger all along : “Is Macca silly?”. Yeah!

TWO

There’s a famous Medley at the end of the Beatles album “Abbey Road”. McCartney says that they wanted to create a sort of “opera structure”. Lennon despised it, though. It’s considered today as one summit of the group.

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

THREE

When you listen to that (structure, noises, guitars), you think about Pink Floyd, who created in the Seventies like the epitome of this structured, fractured tracks sticked together in long classical-music-like “movements”.

Some examples : Pink Floyd “Pigs” (11 mn), Supertramp “Fool’s Overture” (11 mn), Genesis “Firth of Fifth” (9 mn).

FOUR

The pleasure is bigger than the juxtaposition of tracks, you get pleasure in transitions (closing door, opening door), in contrasts, you get it in subsequent modulations, you build like a “little travel”, like through the rooms of a big surprizing house…

Lennon is funny, when he says it’s a very practical to dispose of music you don’t know what to do with!

Lennon is COOL because he uses this game, in a fractal way, in other songs like Did A Pony, sticking words together (like Dylan, he says) to see if something appears, AND sticking two different song together to make a new song.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juxtaposition : Throughout the arts, juxtaposition of elements is used to elicit a response within the audience’s mind, such as creating meaning from the contrast, an abrupt change of elements. In film, the position of shots next to one another (which montage is) is intended to have this effect.

FIVE

So here we are, on the path of Progressive Rock! But there are differences. Prog rock wants to build long pieces – maybe with “parts” -, and they are damned serious!!

McCartney and The Beatles constructions are more like… medleys. This + this + that. And they have fun!

https://afrenchtoolbox.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/the-juxtaposition-principle/

SIX

My principle/tool is :

  • Choose the elements you already have and want to get rid of (things must probably be of the same nature (music + music))
  • Juxtapose – stick!
  • Be conscious of transitions
  • Choose the order of parts
  • Don’t take it too seriously
  • Try, try, try

Whether you use it in poetry, novel writing, music, have fun!

Thanks for reading!

Here’s MGMT, 12 minutes of

Mike Oldfield, 24 minutes :

Autodidact or else-taught? Rules or whatiffing things?

Autodidact or else-taught? Rules or whatiffing things?

Big laugh hearing Paul McCartney he can’t read music nor name the complex chords he uses in music.

Explaining that he and John Lennon learned a bunch of new chords (and some complex ones!) watching other groups in Hambourg, or the guitar salesman’s hands in a Liverpool music instruments store, or playing other groups music.

They made a “chords stock” – and more : learned how to combine them into songs!

Lennon is said to be a composer who were used to “stack bits of songs”, even dangerously.

How does this evolve? What’s the structure of A Day in The Life? How many songs here, into one? :

Macca helped creating an Art School called LIPA in Liverpool, where he “teaches” music sometimes to some luck students.

He said in this conversation that he can’t teach music, because he knows no “rules” in making a good song – that makes people smile! He just helps the students to quit the normal, ordinary, boring, predictable ways.

Here’s a cool example, an ordinary Macca song, not a hit, it’s the first song from “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” (which is a title I love). Fine Line :

Boring ordinay until 1’06”, where the piano wrings the song in risky harmonies like in a bridge (that soon?). When the second verse begins at 1’19” the rhythm is slowed down already. Strings come, and at 2’09” there’s another cool part, before coming back to the strange piano pulsation, ending in an oblique obsessive modal repetition…

It’s not even a great song! But I find it elegant, casual, there’s a freedom here, in the way the song unfolds into unexpected little ideas. I can almost find the “what if I do that?” pleasure into this music…

All this not in avant-garde craziness, but in a small song!

The tool is structural : Follow rules or try things? Stay on the road or try little paths? Go on a line, or draw yours? Where to do that : life, love, poetry, writing, marketing, photography?

Sorry for my frenchy English, sorry for the Beatles obsession, it’ll go soon, probably. Have a nice day!

Thanks for reading!

My best unknown Beatles songs

Here are a few Beatles songs I love.

For No One, a strange discarnate and quiet 4/4 waltz-like song written by McCartney for Revolver, to describe the end of a love story. Everything seems perfect in this song : the piano, the drums, the chorus modulations, the French horn, very little reverb (giving an intimacy), the non-ending end…

It’s a jewel, and one of the favorite songs of Lennon, who adored it.

Your day breaks, your mind aches
You find that all the words of kindness linger on
When she no longer needs you

She wakes up, she makes up
She takes her time and doesn’t feel she has to hurry
She no longer needs you

And in her eyes you see nothing
No sign of love behind the tears
Cried for no one
A love that should have lasted years!

If I Fell is a Lennon song I adore because of its brutal modulations : it’s clearly a “chords game” – they change all the time!

If I fell in love with you
Would you promise to be true
And help me understand
‘Cause I’ve been in love before
And I found that love was more
Than just holding hands

Because, By John Lennon, on Abbey Road, has harpsichord and Moog (!), and splendid “three-parts backing vocals”.

Because the world is round it turns me on
Because the world is round, ah

Because the wind is high it blows my mind
Because the wind is high, ah

Love is old, love is new
Love is all, love is youBecause the sky is blue, it makes me cry
Because the sky is blue, ah

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

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 :

Capture d’écran 2020-03-26 à 10.06.56.png

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

f7f983d_13815-umuzmf.rfzbcyds4i.jpg

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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