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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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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Amelie Lens is dancing

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

I just watched her live on Instagram.

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

Turning buttons happiness…

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Or the dry abstract Trentemoller, like a lego builder :

 

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

 

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

 

Or Vitalic, like a mainstream gorgeous thing, right?

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Why do I dream to ask her this question :

“How do you progress?”

 

Thanks for reading!

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Supertramp, The Cure and Arvo Pärt : Where’s the new sound?

ONE

“Hey Arvo! What’s up?”

Today my colleague who is in her 40 pointed her finger at one intern next to her, who is in his 20 : “He doesn’t know The Cure!”.

I asked : “What about Supertramp?”. Never heard of it…

Well…

“History recalls how great the fall can be
While everybody’s sleeping, the boats put out to sea”

Fool’s Overture : 1977. I was 11 and get out of here : it was AMAZING!

TWO

In a way I understand! And in another way, it’s a proof of non-curiosity, and it’s sad. You don’t have to love Supertramp, or Genesis, or Talk Talk, buddy, but you should know about these…

In the end of the seventies, I knew about The Beatles, and Beach Boys or Cream, or Led Zeppelin, or Doors. Not my music, but I… knew about them.

I loved Supertramp, and Breakfast in America was a hit, and I was in love with some inaccessible girl at this time, and today when I hear Hodgson’s voice, my heart is pinched : someone didn’t care much about me.

THREE

I said to the little guy : “Supertramp is a pop group who understood the tools of Progressive Rock and made hits with them. Long songs, complex arrangements and harmonies, fractured forms. It worked pretty well!”.

In Fool’s Overture, the voice begins to sing after… like almost 6 minutes of music.

I wanted to tell him about Dreamer. Or about the choir, Churchill’s voice, the harmonica, or the pulsing rage of the end. Or how Faith, by The Cure, was incredibly grey. And the bass! But… I said nothing. Shup. I just wrote a few names on a paper. “Explore YouTube it!”.

Yes? Close to the Edge? Later…

FOUR

Deleuze says, and I agree : in Art, the only real question is “What’s new here?”.

I’m 52 tomorrow. I heard some violins in the radio tonight and my brain said “Arvo Pärt?“, and I was right.

Arvo Pärt was a new sound. ECM…

Supertramp too (this voice!!). Like Sting in Police. Or Disco music. Saturday Night Fever was a great new sound. Moroder. Then Marrs, or Frankie Goes to Hollywood : Relax. All were like : Oh oh oh I NEVER FUCKING HEARD THIS BEFORE!

What’s NEW. This is what we need, right?

“Dreamer, you stupid little dreamer
So now you put your head in your hands, oh no”

FIVE

I have to say I kept the pattern. I was and stayed HUNGRY of the what’s newn-ess. Then I explored, trying to find what was NEW in the Beatles, Mike Oldfield, Weather Report, Stravinsky, Brian Eno and Art of Noise and others.

SIX

Of course I sound like an “old fool”!

Now I hear big groups and I ask every lover : “Well, listen to me : what’s new here? Radiohead? Björk? What??”. I understood about King Crimson, and Kate Bush, but I don’t get it about Arctic Monkeys or… Drake.

Real new sounds are rare. Royksöpp. St Vincent. Who else?

Salve! Thanks for reading!

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Vincent Giarrano

The Drummer & the Pianist

I read one day the autobiography of Bill Bruford, one of the greatest drummer ever. I like him because he played in Yes and with King Crimson.

He talked about big concerts in America. He talked about this strange thing : when all is ready, when the team is ready and OK, when the group rested in the bus, when the food is good, the hotel great, the concert is a disaster.

Of course, as you can guess, when everything turns wrong : mistakes, bad or too hot weather, half of the group is sick or have fever, the concert can be a miracle.

Tonight I watched a BBC documentary about how is it to be a pianist, in classical music, and just heard an interview (in black and white) from Rubinstein, one of the greatest pianists of the XXth Century.

And I’m amazed : he said the exact same thing! He slept 10 hours, had a walk, is in a good mood, and finds no inspiration at all in the evening’s concert.

And he couldn’t sleep a single minute in the plane, is in a bad mood, argued with his wife on the phone and wants to cancel everything, and the concert is absolutely magic!

Well, it says something, but what?

Our need to be disturbed? About the paradox between we need rest and harmony, but it’s “boredoming”? What else?

Where do we find our fire?

What about this phrase : “C’est ce qui ne va pas qui va”.

This is what does not work that works

 

Thanks for reading!

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