Tissot, Pollock, Eno, Lovers : Sonic Places & Environments

ONE

It’s a bit strange these days in France : the weather’s like summer. I know it’s pretty common in California to wear tee-shirts in October, but NOT in the North of France. My scarf stays in her drawer, though : it’s hot here.

Yesterday I biked to work, and as it’s October, the sun is already low on the horizon. But the air was weirdly warm – like in August’s mornings.

So this sunday morning we did this : I took Isis the cat and put it outside of the bedroom (because she wants to explore gutters and the roof and we don’t want her to do that), I closed the door, opened the window and we stayed in bed bathing in the sun.

We could hear the outside warm autumnic world : a passing car, a quiet wind, a bird, church’s bells (strangely close, like happy sunny), a crying baby very far and… Isis putting her little cat snout meowing her dramadistress : “I wanna come in I wanna sun with youuu meaowwww”.

Delightful quiet sunny sonic place, all these at the same time : bell, wind, birds, cat, baby… and a little moaning (but it’s a secret where it came from).

 

TWO

For no reason, let’s watch this movement between figuration and abstract. It’s a whole thing to study, but today let’s do it in two paintings, Tissot and Pollock :

 

 

Picasso said that abstract art doesn’t even exist, because if you see green things on the canvas “then the subject is the color green” (which is true, right?).

If Tissot’s painting shows a thoughtful lady, Pollock’s a bit more complicated (it’s made of painting drippings). Nevertheless : you’ll watch Pollock work closer and your eyes will immediately look for something which “makes you think of this”, or “looks like that”.

Then, well, it’s called “Autumn Rhythm“, then your mind, guided by these two words, imagine leaves, or movements, I don’t know.

It’s abstraction BUT your brain wants a track, a clue. Or you watch color’s games. Or you ask yourself about the artist’s intentions

Our intelligence is made of analogies. We want to link what we see WITH what we already know.

Here’s a close-up :

 

pollock-autumn-rhythm-No-30-1950-detail

 

THREE

Musics has many forms, from Bach to MGMT, from Miles Davis to Brahms. But it’s always this :

Music is a combination of notes following time.

So : music progresses, moves forward, it goes. You follow, your brain follows. It’s linked to time. It’s like a line, right? Sing along…

Now here’s Brian Eno, who made normal music (and produced David Bowie and U2), but also what he called sonic places.

The idea is simple : to stop “following time”. So instead of having a path to walk your ears on, you have non-chronological sounds, coming and disappearing, like if you opened a door and were in a place where “sounds happen”.

Not a line anymore, but a place, an environment. Somewhere with “no time” (which is so good at times). There’s a good example with this album : Shutov Assembly :

 

In a way, the sounds of life doesn’t or rarely look like music. They look more like Eno’s music, “places” :

…a baby, the quiet wind, a cat, a bird in the distance, a passing car, the leaves of a tree in the breeze, et la respiration de l’amour…

What about Tissot and Pollock? What if this thinking lady was watching a pile of dead trees, her gaze blurred by souvenirs and melancholy, her gaze like Pollock’s Autumn, curved brown movements in the low angled light of the fall’s sun…

 

Have a nice day!

 

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“Pick the Quarter Best”, a Quincy Jones pattern

Listening on the radio to old stuff you didn’t hear for years, I fell off my chair with Smooth Criminal (Michael Jackson). Since, I can’t put it out of my mind.

I remember an interview (maybe exaggerated) with Quincy Jones, who produced “Bad”, who said that the team wrote, recorded and produced forty (40) songs, to choose finally 10 of them, the “ten best”, right?

I should find the interview to check numbers, right? But like they say in this John Ford’s movie, let’s print the legend.

 

That’s a tool for workers. An unusual one maybe :

“If you need great stuff, build 4 times more then pick the quarter best”

(hmm is this even English?)

An exhausting/expensive tool, right?

 

Have a great sunday!

 

Listen loud, extract : the bass (sound and holed line), the snare drum games, the voice production, the building in “double stereo stairs” (synth-strings), the up modulation for the chorus.

Annie, are you ok
Will you tell us that you’re ok
There’s a sign at the window

 

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Harmless Waves : the “Too Much Empathy” Syndrome

The ability to feel (or guess) what another person is feeling… is called Empathy.

Sometimes it’s a flaw!

Some says it’s the basis of our societies.

At another level, some say our brain works with a structure, which is Analogy. The human brain never ceases to create analogies between what we see and our experience, for example.

Analogy is probably Empathy’s structure…

Some say that the screen culture we plunge our kids in is the source of a lack of empathy. Their brain connects itself, this way : the world is a “sight”, something we watch.

 

When you have too much empathy it’s exhausting. I give you an example (you’ve probably been there) :

In a suburb train, someone was listening to shit music on their phone, the typical all-the-same robotic vocals (this horrible trend) in simple repeated phrases and mind-dumbing rhythm. Then my brain does two things : 

  1. I wanna stand up, take the phone and throw it out through the window, hoping it’ll crash in a huge DUNG. Then I’d click-tongue them the so-there way.
  2. I’m polite and then I curse them for seven generations, wondering about their lack of empathy (“Don’t you realize you’re murdering many people’s ears?”).
  3. But then I do have empathy, and wonder about them : what’s lacking in their mind? What’s happening inside you, dumbuddy? How can someone be so selfish and crappignorant? What about their childhood, their education? Are you an idiot?

 

See? It’s a mess. I have to close my brain (OK – it’s not possible), or analyze the “music” to find out how it’s made (it’s a game), or read my book hoping it’ll catch all of me (it can work), or let go and just be crossed (is “traversed” correct?) by what I decide are harmless waves (music are waves, right?).

 

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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!

 

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Pink Floyd, MBTI & other Zodiac like games

ONE

The problem with Astrology is when people use their sign as a way to be lazy, to be a handful, to be an asshole. “I’m not even sorry I can’t do nothing I’m a Scorpio you know?”.

Zodiac : lazinesses or challenges?

TWO

The problem with other human-sortings like MBTI is different. People use it to swagger like idiots. “I’m an INTJ, I’m great, I’m unique, I’m VERY rare, I’m an empath”.

Let’em boast, will you?

#INFJ & #INTJ : The Tango Feeling/Thinking

THREE

You’re a smart person and you probably all this is “magic thinking”. It’s a categories game, and these are vague enough to appear magic : “Oh fuck it’s EXACTLY SO ME!”.

Not a big deal. Finding your Zodiac sign or your MBTI is a pretty accurate way to think about yourself, about what you like and dislike, about the way you could evolve.

“The noble man improves his qualities, not his flaws”

…said a wise man somewhere. Oui?

FOUR

If you realize it’s a game, a classification name in which you try to push yourself down a hole, a basin, you can use ANY other structure to think about who you are.

This morning I talked with a colleague about a GREAT documentary I DVD-burned for him about the Making of Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd. It’s very interesting, of course, to hear these guys telling how they wrote “Money” or worked with Alan Parsons.

But I said to him : “I’m Richard Wright, of course!”.

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FIVE

Wright is the guy on the right. He’s quiet, he’s shy, he’s the keyboards player. He bright calm, fields of sounds.

Waters is the tortured guy, the tortured thinker, a great bass player and an original singer. He’s the soul of Pink Floyd.

Gilmour is the handsome singer, handsome guitar player. He has “this” sound. And a splendid voice too! He seems the strong soul Waters probably needed to channel his too many ideas.

Mason is the drummer (on the left). And as usual he’s funny, smart, fast, the relaxed watcher of the mess. He wrote a great, great book about the group.

SIX

See me coming?

You can play this game with other groups, with the Beatles, with the Police (which is a great trio for Types : Sting the leader, great bass player, fantastic voice, Copeland the crazy energetic drummer, Summers the smart and cultivated older guitarist. And they made reggae music with that! Who else?

SEVEN

Tool : find a classification in a group of types, a baseball team, a choir, a team. Find who you are. And begin to think : Why are you this person? Can you learn from him/her? What are his/her patterns, tools? What does he/she BRINGS to the structure? Who do you need to complete a group?

You go!

Thanks for reading!

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Anne Teresa, Bartok & Dancers, a recipe

This is a pattern exercise, a recipe for thinkers.

Take music you don’t know well (Bartok).

Take a choreographer you don’t know well (Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker).

Choose a short clip of 4 minutes.

  • Listen
  • Watch
  • Try to imagine what the choreographer wants
  • Watch and note the elements (repetition, hugs, etc)
  • Are they symbols or just movements
  • Is there a mood-difference, inadequacy between music and gestures
  • What happens with musicians
  • What do you feel when the music stops but not the dancers
  • You have plenty of other Teresa movies on YouTube
  • What other arts we don’t know we could explore what could we find and how
  • If we extract a tool (example : dance with no music then with music, example : why their dance doesn’t follow music, example : we’re not told what’s between these people), can we transpose it? Where? Photography? Poetry? Teaching?…

Have fun!

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