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 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!

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!

Best-Jazz-albums-featured-image-web-optimised-1000.jpg

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

Antonioni/Fellini/Visconti & other trios to operate on…

Antonioni/Fellini/Visconti & other trios to operate on? I could have added Rosselini but no. Three.

These guys are important Italian directors of the XXth Century. They knew each other, worked for each other, and they have different styles.

Let’s explore Wikipedia… ungingerly, broadly, roughly :

  1. Antonioni : His films have been described as “enigmatic and intricate mood pieces” that feature elusive plots, striking visuals, and a preoccupation with modern landscapes.
  2. Fellini : Fellini’s films are a unique combination of memory, dreams, fantasy and desire. The adjectives “Fellinian” and “Felliniesque” are “synonymous with any kind of extravagant, fanciful, even baroque image in the cinema and in art in general”.
  3. Visconti : wildly decadent, brocaded period melodramas, often so theatrical as to be operatic. “…neorealist tone of common man stories with a sense of avant-garde exploration of interpersonal relations”.

 

When I was in my 20s, I adored Antonioni, “best known for his “trilogy on modernity and its discontents” — L’Avventura(1960), La Notte (1961), and L’Eclisse (1962) – as well as the English-language films Blowup (1966) and The Passenger (1975)”. It was mysterious, enigmatic, and his way to show “incommunicability” were talking to my own disillusions, I suppose.

In my 30-40s, I loved Visconti, his way of growing from neo-realism to big perfect complex movies like The Leopard.

Now in my 50s I explore Fellini in an awe. It’s much more decadent, complex, I have to… dig!

 

If you choose these three, wiki them first, then find your own ways to explore (and to compare). Buy used books (it’s cheaper), read, watch movies, ask and debate in forums, find pages like “Where to begin with”. It can keep you busy for months!

 

TOOL

It could be a structure for thinkers/explorers.

How many interesting trios you could explore? In the movies : De Palma/Coppola/Scorcese (again… Italians!?)? In literature : Steinbeck/Hemingway/Faulkner? Proust/Céline/Duras? In music : Ravel/Debussy/Roussel? Politics? Photography (I choose Sternfeld/Eggleston/Shore)? Poetry?

Do we have to choose people from the same time? The same country? The same Art? I think so, it’s probably more fecund. Or else you have to find common structures already, like Basquiat/Shostakovich/Fellini. Hmmm more complicated, n’est-ce pas?

How to explore your trio? Interviews? Finding links? Combine them in Google? One by one, or all at the same time? Influences? Difficulties? End of career?

I copy paste an extract of “A New Guide to Italian Cinema” after the pictures. Have fun! Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

Luchino Visconti

In 1960, Visconti made the emigration drama Rocco e i suoi fratelli/Rocco and His Brothers (1960), a film that combined the neorealist tone of common man stories with a sense of avant garde exploration of interpersonal relations. Visconti updates the story of Sicilian fishermen from La terra trema/The Earth Trembles (1948) to a tale of contemporary Lucanian immigrants alienated by industrial Milan in a film that has become a canonical example of Italian art cinema.

Visconti’s next film, Il Gattopardo/The Leopard (1963), is an adaptation of the bestselling novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (1896–57) about a Sicilian Prince who must relinquish power and status after Italian unification. In The Leopard, Visconti shows the dissolution of the aristocracy with sympathy and under- standing for the aesthetic and intellectual qualities that he, as an aristocrat himself, so deeply appreciated. The Prince’s demise is a metaphor for the decline of the aris- tocracy. Death images pervade the film as the Prince stoically witnesses the end of an era. The Prince, played by Burt Lancaster, summarizes the views of the fading aris- tocracy when he dismisses fears of revolution with his belief that the rising middle class is actually interested in becoming part of the system. The Prince offers a perfect definition of the fatalistic concept of trasformismo originally coined by one of the first prime ministers of unified Italy, Depretis, that the more things may change the more they actually remain the same. The film ends with a grand ball for the announcement that the Prince’s nephew (Alain Delon) will marry Angelica (Claudia Cardinale), the beautiful and rich daughter of the nouveau riche social climber Don Calogero. The ball sequences show Visconti’s extreme attention to historical detail and minutely lavish reconstruction of nineteenth-century artifacts. These scenes were reproduced with extravagance and self-indulgence in a complete departure from the neorealist style, and evidence Visconti’s ability to give cinematography the same sort of high artistic power usually identified with painting or opera.

Visconti’s La caduta degli dei-Gotterdammerung/The Damned (1969) with its Italian title referring to a Richard Wagner opera, chronicles the rise of Nazism in Germany through a study of the moral perversity of the Essenbeck clan, modeled after the Krupp family of armaments manufacturers. Visconti connects Nazism and sexual perversion, a point explicitly conveyed through a recreation of the night of the long knives when Hitler’s SS purged the Nazi movement of its SA rivals. Visconti’s Morte a Venezia/Death in Venice (1970) is based on the Thomas Mann short novel about a middle-aged man who remains in Venice during the cholera outbreak that will claim his life in order to ogle a Polish boy at the Lido beach. Death in Venice deals with the decadence of an individual, Whereas Visconti’s next films deal’s with the decadence of an entire family, Gruppo di famiglia in un interno/Conversation Piece (1974) and of an era, L’innocente/The Innocent (1976). Conversation Piece depicts the life of an Italian family in contemporary society and creates a rather bleak view of modern life, plagued by lack of communication, drug addiction, and political terrorism. Visconti’s last film, The Innocent, is an adaptation of a story by Gabriele D’Annunzio in which a nobleman kills his wife’s illegitimate newborn before committing suicide in a study of fin-du-siecle aristocratic society bound to self-destruction.

Federico Fellini

Fellini went from being Aldo Fabrizi’s gagman and a screenwriter on Rossellini’s neorealist film Open City (1945) to become an art cinema director. With its glamor kitsch and emphasis on contemporary consumerism, Fellini’s La dolce vita (1960) is a sociological portrait of 1960s economic boom Italy. The film is divided into episodes that offer a journey through Roman society from the world of the jaded celebrity journalist Marcello, to the decadence of the Roman aristocracy and the banality of late night prostitution. La dolce vita caused scandal due to its striptease sequence, which heightened its box office appeal. In this vein the film is party to the erotic genre of the period, such as the Brigitte Bardot films directed by Roger Vadim in France or Alessandro Blasetti’s Europa di notte/Europe by Night (1959) box office hit, which offered a glimpse into the world of European striptease par- lors. La dolce vita is also remembered for the manner in which the stars Marcello Mastroianni and Swedish bombshell Anita Ekberg communicated a sense of Italian fashion to a world audience. The film contributed ot the English language through the reference to the scandal photographer Paparazzo whose name refers to celebrity photographers to the present day.

Fellini followed La dolce vita with one of his most autobiographical films, 81⁄2 (1963). Fellini had previously made six feature length films and had contributed “half ” segments to three others, so he considered 81⁄2 as his eighth-and-a-half film. The protagonist is a film director who can no longer decide what films to make, a crisis connected to his problematic relationships with three different women: his wife, his mistress, and an angelic fantasy figure played by Claudia Cardinale. The story jumps rapidly from present to past, from reality to dream and fantasy as Fellini addresses the authoritarianism of the Roman Catholic Church and its effects on adolescents, the absurdity of the world of film production, and the par- adox of living between reality and illusion. The film ends where it began; with a parade of characters performing at the director’s whims.

Similar themes are present in Fellini’s Giulietta degli spiriti/Juliet of the Spirits (1965), a film that puts the themes of middle-class alienation from Rossellini’s Europa ’51 and Antonioni’s L’Avventura into the style of spaghetti nightmare hor- ror films. Giulietta is a middle-aged married woman faced with her husband’s extramarital affair. She undergoes a series of traumatic experiences: spiritual séances, encounters with phony oriental prophets, outings with her oversexed, stunningly beautiful neighbor, and haunting by her inner ghosts. These latter include an overpowering mother figure, a beloved, rebellious grandfather, archaic figures, and Catholic martyr nightmares. Eventually, Giulietta chases away her ghosts to face the outside world.2 Though Giulietta arrives at a certain sense of wisdom, there is a fatalistic realization that little will change for her.

Toby Dammit (1967) is Fellini’s short film based upon Edgar Allan Poe’s short story Never Bet the Devil Your Head, which appeared in the multi-director effort Spirits of the Dead. Fellini’s contribution is a parody of many of the currents in film in the 1960s: horror, pornography, westerns, and art cinema. Fellini had already parodied the Italian film industry’s reliance on the maggiorata fisica actresses such as Anita Ekberg and the Hercules series peplums starring American strongman Steve Reeves in La dolce vita. In Toby Dammit, Terrence Stamp plays a dipsomaniac English actor suffering from visions of the Devil as a little blond girl chasing a large white ball. Toby has been cast as Jesus in the first Catholic western in which the Savior returns to the desolate, violent plains of the American west with a plot reminiscent of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story, The Grand Inquisitor. Fellini takes aim at the world of film theory influential in the mid-1960s in the sequence when the producers’ representative, Father Spagna (many so-called spaghetti westerns were filmed in Spain), introduces Toby to the directors who explain the theoreti- cal basis for their film project as Fellini’s camera scans his artificially re-created Roman streets. Fellini parodies film theory when the directors offer a quick syn- opsis of the theoretical grounding of their film: Roland Barthes’s textual analysis, Georg Lukac’s Marxist social determinism, the Hollywood montage style of Fred Zinneman—the director of the Gary Cooper western High Noon (1952). Toby finally performs the nihilistic soliloquy “Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow” from MacBeth at Fellini’s surrealistic re-creation of an Italian film award banquet.3

Fellini extended his parodies of popular genres to the peplum with Satirycon (1969), a disturbing, dreamlike vision of the fragmentary classical tale by classical author Petronius, which Fellini turns into a cautionary tale about the decline of ancient Roman society with the expressionistic style of a horror film. Clowns (1970) is a semi-documentary that discusses the disappearance of the clown as an entertainment phenomenon. With Roma (1971), Fellini repeated the autobio- graphical themes he had explored in 81/2 with an episodic film about the Italian capital that contrasts Fellini’s memories of the city when he first arrived in the Fascist period with his impressions as a middle-aged director. For Fellini, Rome is not just a city, but a second home, a mother, a depository of ancient mysteries and current decadence, of filth, life, death, and renewal. After an enigmatic cameo of Anna Magnani, the film ends with an apocalyptic and ironic sequence about a new horde of scooter riding barbarians returning as if to sack Rome one more time.

 

Michelangelo Antonioni

Michelangelo Antonioni began as a critic in the Italian professional cinema of the 1940s and made neorealist style documentaries in the late 1940s including Nettezze Urbane/N.U. (1948), a faithful account of a day in the life of city garbage collectors. Antonioni brought the documentary long-shot camera style to his early feature films Story of a Love Affair (1950) and his docudrama about troubled youth in Europe I vinti/The Vanquished (1952). He gained international acclaim with L’Avventura (1959), the story of a group of wealthy vacationers who cannot find one of their party, Anna.4 L’Avventura was censored in several countries and its projection suspended for six months in Milan for “obscenity” because of scenes of actresses undressing in front of the camera. In the film the only information that spectators have about Anna before her mysterious disappearance is that she is involved romantically with Sandro, and hers is the first female body seen undress- ing on screen. Otherwise she remains an enigmatic character whose disappearance offers an unanswerable philosophical parable regarding existence. The film became

104 GUIDE TO ITALIAN CINEMA

emblematic of art cinema for the manner in which Antonioni challenged the stylistic and narrative conventions of commercial cinema. His extended long shots and narrative without closure were in opposition to the Hollywood model.

Other Antonioni films include La Notte/The Night (1960), the story of a novel- ist suffering from writer’s block who is also dissatisfied in his marriage. Antonioni expertly employs the setting of an all night party against the anonymous backdrop of industrial Milan as a metaphor for the estrangement between the film’s protag- onists. L’Eclissi/The Eclipse (1961) examines themes of alienation and separation from the natural world, a theme continued in Deserto rosso/Red Desert (1964). Antonioni has a reputation for being more sensitive to women’s issues than Visconti or Fellini. His trilogy of solitude, however, and especially L’Avventura and The Eclipse, reveals an equally male-dominated handling of the female image. Yet Antonioni also made films that questioned the essence of reality with Blow-Up (1966) set in the London of the swinging 1960s, which features a cameo of rock guitarist Jimmy Page playing with rock group the Yardbirds. The film is a murder mystery in which the existence of a chance photograph of the murder scene by a callow English fashion photographer begs questions about the perception of real- ity. Antonioni continued to experiment with new narrative approaches with his film on youth rebellion in the Sam Shepard scripted Zabrieskie Point (1970) and the Peter Wollen scripted Professione: Reporter/The Passenger (1975) starring Jack Nicholson in an enigmatic story about a man who assumes the identity of another, filmed in a style that was the height of the long-shot art cinema style to reach commercial theaters. Antonioni has remained sporadically active in later years with the historical film Il mistero di Oberwald/The Oberwald Mystery (1980) as well as Identificazione di una donna/Identification of a Woman (1982) and Beyond the Clouds/Al di là delle nuvole (1995).

Fruitful Constraints in creativity & the wall of “I don’t know this”

I wrote an article about Fruitful Constraints & Creativity in 2017. Here it is :

It’s an old tool many artists know : many constraints are fruitful. Mainly because a constraint is a problem calling for a solution, therefore you have to move, to be creative.

All jobs and activities have constraints : budget, environment, other people, time, space, your skills, your tools.

If it’s too loose, though, you feel a freedom, which can be messy. You can not catch anything. Stuck. You maybe need to tight something up, to find “your” freedom within a new frame.

Brian Eno invented the Oblique Strategies (mainly for musicians) as a card game. You pick a card and you have to obey (sometimes it’s terrible!). Some directors are well known to tell the actors to follow precisely something (the dialogs, or the places they have to move on the set, etc) before shooting. Some digital artists sometimes go out in a park with a pencil and a notebook. A photographer can go outside with the limit of 20 pictures taken, not much. And G. Perec wrote an entire book without the letter “e”.

Constraints are fruitful. You probably have many disposable levers for these. A poet can obey : write something in alexandrine; without any letter “p”, in less than 5 minutes. You may have to present a project in ONE minute only, and… with no words. What are your levers?

You can pull a lever to Zero, it’s the Total Constraint. For example, you’re a photographer and you go out without any camera. Just your eye. You’ll feel the need, you’ll feel your brain simmering. As you can only watch and… think, you’ll maybe have bursts of ideas (instead of taking pictures). Take notes!

Of course it’s an example of “Amor Fati”, being content with what happens to you, even if it seems bad. Embracing fate : every constraint, if you can’t avoid it, should (and will have to) be danced with.

 

Today I’d like to extend this. If “constraints in Arts” is a well known concept, what about life, or culture?

Obviously, it’s linked to the idea of “Comfort Zone”. Let’s take movies, or music…

If one listens to the music they love, good to them. But how do we discover other musics, in fields we’re not used to dig? We have to think, make efforts, find a way and a place, informations. Then we begin, and our brain is surrounded with constraints : we don’t necessarily feel pleasure, there are things we don’t get, and our lazy head pushes us to stop.

It’s the same for painters we don’t like, movies we usually avoid, etc.

Out of our comfort zone, we have to make efforts, we must use an amount of curiosity, we must find or draw maps. In fact, we build, we extend, we grow.

The wall of “I don’t know this” can be an obstacle. Do we skip over, making efforts and feeling the fecund constraints of the undiscovered, or do we go back to the mellowness of what we already love?

Is the real new fruitful for us? How?

If exploring is sometimes unpleasant, is it worthy to fight the unpleasantness (OK : displeasure) and why? You have to invent new tools to think? You could find pearls and emeralds and gold?

What haven’t I explored until now?

 

Thanks for reading!

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Trent Parke

The Gifts Frontiers & cup of teas

As a bookseller I talked with a lady who wanted to offer a book as a present.

She was wondering…

  1. If you choose something which will please the person, she’ll be happy, but she’ll stay in her comfort zone…
  2. If you choose something more personal and you wish to make this person discover something you like, you take the risk to fail, and to bore the person. The useless present!

So there’s a frontier, a place to find : a surprise which will be delightful, opening a whole new territory of pleasures.

So it could be a 3. Choose something which is not necessarily your cup of tea, but could be the other one’s NEW cup of tea.

Mmmh? Stair’s strategy? What will you get, today? Something you like, something the other one likes, or something unknown you could like?

Your house? The other one’s house? Or a growing house for you? New room?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Continue 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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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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702px-Joseba_Eskubi_Untitled._Oil_on_canvas._2012._55_x_46_cm.

The Insisting Many Angles Exploration Tool

Imagine you want to explore a part of history. The US Civil War, for instance.

First you have to find your “entry level”. Political? Military? Daily life in the country? Chronology? What happened before? Slavery?

Then what do you read? Documents from the era? Historians? Biographies? Novels happening at this time? Hmmm…

What is the size of your magnifier? Do you watch structures and big pictures, or do you focus on one day in the war?

 

I discovered that my best way to explore a field is to gather a few books and to focus on one little element.

It can be a sole day in the war, or one battle only, or one person of the time. But it can be one “element”, for example : railroads during the Civil War, or the way this war has been represented in movies along the century.

Then : insisting. Many angles. Many sources. Etc. And little by little you’ll find… a fabric, a texture, something…

Then you’ll know if you have to go on, and which way. Another “zoom” or a big synthesis, whatever.

Have fun. Thanks for reading!

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“Consider other doors, gallivanter!”

 

 

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

 

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