Trifonov, Ware, hands & interior design: Chronicle 65

I decided to explore a bit much the field of Graphic Novels. I don’t really read comics but I own some “milestones”, like Spiegelmann’s Maus, Clowes’ Ghost World and Burns’ Black Hole.

So I found some Chris Ware (I bought Rusty Brown, and ordered Building Stories). I downloaded things and read a 21 pages chapter of Building Stories – (“(god…) Sometimes I Really Hate It Here“) and I’ve been flabbergasted.

Not astounded with virtuosity or avant-gardy marvels, but by the profound understanding of human life, the delicate way of showing body postures, the smart page layout (which loses you just a bit, enough to keep you focused). So, like with Chekhov’s short stories, I feel like… poisoned by the intelligence of it all and deeply touched by the facets of humanity in it.

Yeah that’s toxic, delightfully toxic. I read a little about Chris Ware (who is my age), and also found a multi-authors book named “The Comics of Chris Ware – Drawing Is a Way of Thinking“, which makes me smile, and then I smiled more, because of this “Introduction: Chris Ware and the “Cult of Difficulty”. Awww!

It’s slow reading…

Attacking Mazzuchelli’s Asterios Polyp. The character is an architect. We see him teaching something about “Linéaire/Plastique”, and my jaw opened, because I read the same day an article about Linéaire/Pictural, a fondamental opposition in Arts (I screenshot both books down there).

It’s clearly a good seed. It’s an art historian named Wölfflin who wrote 5 “principles” in arts, the first being : From linear (draughtsmanship, plastic, relating to contour in projected ideation of objects) to painterly (tactile, observing patches or systems of relative light and of non-local colour within shade, etc) -> Wiki.

You can google “linear painterly” and play – you find these facets :

  • Sculpture/Painting
  • Drawing/Coloring
  • the artist showing reality/the artist showing his idea of reality
  • Classic (the object as it is)/baroque (the object as it appears)
  • things as they are/things as they become
  • line/shape
  • functional/decorative
  • to draw/to think
  • etc

Yeah, good seeds for conversations lovers…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_W%C3%B6lfflin

On Belgian radio I heard about Daniil Trifonov, a young and intense Russian piano player (I heard about him many times before), and I thought about “crazy artists of today”, like these graphic novels writers. Introverts, lost in their own minds, something like “too intense”, overthinking and working, therefore secreting marvels and “different” things instead of becoming alone and silly.

Here he is with Gergiev in an always-modulating shostakovich concerto :

Yesterday at work I talked with a thirty-something woman about her career : studying arts, working in interior design, feeling bored about all of it, and working, then, in food business…

Eventually, recently she helped friends to move and to… decorate their home. BUT this time she was not in front of ideas and pencils and computers, but with her hands, doing/making things. An epiphany! And we laughed, because she was coming back to the beginning, but in another way, understanding by doing – like some scholar finding concepts fixing motorcycles!

oOOo

All this is chekhovian and about the previous article of this blog (returning to things): Life’s not easy but we can/should stand up – it’s the subject of “(god…) Sometimes I Really Hate It Here” and of Asterios Polyp.

The artists and the pianists work like crazy and produce big things, all with their… hands.

Have a nice day! Thanks for reading!

Bloggers/Writers : Let it rest!

Bloggers/Writers : Let it rest!

I read an interview of Arcadi Volodos, a pianist.

He says that when he works on a record, he makes it during the night. When it’s done, the tapes are abandoned for a few weeks.

Then he listens to them, weeks later, with a new ear. Sound montage, then? The less possible.

When you write on something, it must flow. The beginning is sometimes hard, but then, here you go! When it flows, it’s so good, right?

Si vous pataugez dans la semoule (if you “wade in semolina”), you get nowhere (fast or slow). Let it rest, then. Forget it. Write some else. Go for a walk (these times : around your room).

Drafts are gold. Forget about all of them. Let them rest. For weeks.

One day you open something, you…

  1. wade in more
  2. have a spark

 

I don’t know how it works. Maybe you have a new eye and you wonder how you could be stuck like that. Maybe it’s magic. Maybe your brain works alone when you sleep, haha. The reason why it works sometimes is a mystery, there you and me don’t care about it. So there.

 

Have fun!

https://afrenchtoolbox.wordpress.com/tag/writing/

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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

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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Instagram : kit.de.luca

 

 

Robert Wyatt : Sea Song

Let’s quit our comfort zone

Robert Wyatt was the drummer of Soft Machine. He one evening fell from a window and therefore became paralyzed; he uses a wheelchair since. Pink Floyd performed two benefit concerts, and their drummer, Nick Mason, produced the album Wyatt wrote in his hospital bed “in a trance” : Rock Bottom.

This album will make you uncomfortable. English prog-rock with avant-garde or modern-jazz seeds : It’s an enigma, a nightmare, a diamond. For some critics, it’s the best album of all times.

 

 

Sea Song is one of the most beautiful love song (the other one, for me, is Beach Boys’ God only knows). Imagine a wobbling harrowing Elton John piano slow track invaded with strange stars, bottomed with silver sounds in snakes and gorgeous harmonies. The lyrics are weirdly adorable. The piano break is risky, broken and drunk. The end is an almost ridiculous but touching incantations with sirens…

 

You look different every time you come
From the foam-crested brine
Your skin shining softly in the moonlight
Partly fish, partly porpoise, partly baby sperm whale
Am I yours? Are you mine to play with?
Joking apart – when you’re drunk you’re terrific when you’re drunk
I like you mostly late at night you’re quite alright

But I can’t understand the different you in the morning
When it’s time to play at being human for a while please smile!

You’ll be different in the spring, I know
You’re a seasonal beast like the starfish that drift in with the tide with the tide
So until your blood runs to meet the next full moon
Your madness fits in nicely with my own with my own
Your lunacy fits neatly with my own, my very own

We’re not alone

 

This always lets me brokenhearted, who knows why? It’s been written by a man in love, broken in his soul (hemiplegic drummer, you imagine??) : “I was just relieved that I could do something from a wheelchair”. I’ve rarely seen someone so… opened, in a song. It’s constantly two faced : beautiful but ridiculous, easy slow but with a frightening piano break, incantatory but childish, wobbling, a bit crazy, and strong. Brokenhearted, for sure.

It’s interesting to peel. Listen to the “normal form” of the slow in the beginning – the piano, the modulation (on “But I can’t understand”). The bass is interesting. The drum has been evacuated, the pulse coming from a tiny, fragile, minuscule repeated “POC” – as if this man was saying us : “See, I’m not a drummer anymore, but I can POC”. Awweee!

Symptom : this kind of song can be absolutely destroyed or badly sung live, or by other people. The essence of it will not and can not be touched.

 

 

“My funeral song”

“Possibly one of the most amazing albums ever recorded, and a psychedelic gem beyond time.”

“One of the top albums of all time. A true art expression.”

“what makes this legendary is the overall feeling it gives you. The “breathing” present throughout the tracks, the weird time-warped feeling you get at the middle of Red Riding Hood, Wyatt’s singing on the Sea Song, they all contribute to creating one of the best atmospheres. Along with some pretty neat tracks, make up for one of the greatest masterpieces to come from modern music.”

(26 pages of that here : http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/robert_wyatt/rock_bottom/ )

 

Then try this (it’s the 3rd track or Rock Bottom), LOUD :

 

 

 

 

Arthur Rimbaud & Glenn Gould : The “Big Less” Temptation

Rimbaud was a French poet who had a huge influence on Arts and Literature, but stopped writing at 21. He became a merchant, mostly in Africa (in coffee trading, for example!), and died at 37.

Gould was a Canadian pianist who stopped giving concerts at the age of 31 and became an eccentric hermit in recording studios.

Different destinies, but a similar pattern : at one moment, they stopped completely something they succeeding in, they closed a door.

Rimbaud stopped writing. Many wondered why : The artist had said everything? He wanted to explore another face of his personality? He had a secret wound? Dead wordsourcespring?
Gould didn’t stop making music, but never came back playing in concert, and he explained himself about that.

I write this because I wonder if sometimes we should consider a similar flip. A combination of levers & dials, studying what’s good in our life, considering that insisting (even in different ways) could be, from now, a failure : it’s maybe time for a closure?…

 

The Big Less is about considering to close a part of you which… works. Why would you do that, like “I park it”? Why would you stop what works? You feel you miss something? It’s too easy? You reached a plateau? I works but the wrong way? You lost a goal? You need to experiment to enrich? Fresh air? You need to get smaller to go faster? A fresh start to go elsewhere? You’re afraid of some ticking-over routine? Is it a bad idea? Why?

And who knows what will happen after some years? Maybe you’ll realize you needed the big disturbance of it? Maybe a bigger room will open? A secret path will appear? Maybe you’ll make good Bach records, or trade coffee?

Have a nice day!

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Schmaltzy Frontier : quiet #piano music from Satie to Eno

Cucul la praline is a very common French “idiom” meaning schmaltzy, ludicrously & overly sentimental. You can put this “ass-ass the pralin” on a person in love or on a picture, or… some music.

Quiet Piano Music draws a line in brains. Before the line, you find it peaceful and great, and after it, it’s… schmaltzy!

Of course this line is personal. I love Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies (I chose voluntarily a neutral clip : if you search YouTube, you’ll find plenty of “beautiful” things with flowers and flying birds). On this side of the line, here are the Preludes from Debussy.

OK, let’s get closer to the line. Eno/Budd’s The Pearl is a perfect balance. Satiesque gorgeous piano and ambient sounds. Try Goldmund, or the much more “melodic” Tim Story, which is, for me, the “line”. I won’t go further. No thanks. Cucul la praline.

Funny game : try the other way. Go quiet-but-more-complex (Berg? Boulez?). Nope? Well, see, there’s another frontier.

Tools/Dials/Levers :

You advertise, you compose, you take photos? Do you think about the Schmaltsy Frontier?

Who will watch your work? Where is the audience? Pleased but comfortable? Disgusted by complexity OR by “two much sugar”?

Where is the risk to lose the audience? What’s the worst?

Is there a way to add “complex nuggets” or “ridiculous nuggets” in a comfortable piece of Art?

Where is sarcasm and how will you play with it? What line would you prefer to touch?

Why is something cucul la praline? Too simple? What could be surprising?

#orsanmichele #firenze #florence #gravure

 

Aujourd’hui c’est gris / Today it’s grey

In English, to be sad is to feel blue, which is a bit strange. Blue is the blue sky ! In France, we say : “Je vois la vie en gris aujourd’hui” – I see my life in grey today.

This morning the sky was grey, a still blanketlid of grey. My mood was grey : I smiled and said “Aujourd’hui c’est gris !”, today’s grey. So I chose grey clothes and I’m writing this with my cat Bidou on my knees, listening to…

On YouTube I searched “Hindemith Langsam” (try !) but I picked, at the end, the Apollo of Stravinsky. It’s, say, velvet grey, elegant, a standing up melancholia.

When you feel blue, you can fight it with orange and yellow colors, and listen to Cuban happy trumpetting shit, OR you can sit in front of the window, near the rain, watching the grey, listening to some Satie. It depends on how you’re made, inside.

If today I had to compose a piano piece, I’d call it “I miss you, Swanny”; it would be Satiesque – with a veil, behind, like these clouds under.

Lever : Choose your weapon ! When you’re in a blue mood, what’s effective ? To sing a fake happiness on tropical dances, or try to hold your shit to slowly stand up ?

 

#sky