#ECM, a music label – #Jazz

Wiki says : ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music) is an independent record label founded by Manfred Eicher in Munich in 1969. While ECM is best known for jazz music, the label has released a variety of recordings, and ECM’s artists often refuse to acknowledge boundaries between genres. ECM’s motto is “the Most Beautiful Sound Next to Silence”.

If you don’t know this label (and if you’re an music explorer), it can keep you busy for a quiet evening. It’s interesting in many ways. Sophisticated jazz of course, but also minimalism, quiet worlds, inventions, disturbing surprises and splendid smokes, with a… you’ll see : ECM has a sound.

You can YouTube it. If you like to read, I suggest you Google “ECM Best Albums“. This page is great, for example :

https://gerryco23.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/ecm-40-favourites/

In a way, it’s always interesting to READ about intelligent music, right?

Randomly found 9 sleeves for you.

 

Have a nice day!

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iPod’s Wheel Speed Dating & the Continuous Musical Invention

ONE

For a while, in order to discover musics, I was doing this : downloading archives like “100 Best Indie Tracks – June 2015”, stuffing these into my small iPod, and then, as I was walking along in the city, I was playing with the iPod wheel, wandering in random mode.

It’s awful for all these groups, I KNOW, but it is what it is : I listen to the intro, a few seconds. If I’m pleased, I go on. Then the song begins. If I’m pleased, I go on. Then the singer, then the chorus, etc.

It’s really like “music speed dating”. It’s wrong, I know.

I’m old enough and skilled enough to sort tracks like that, very quickly. Then I used the 1-5 stars system of the iPod like :

  • 1 star – trash
  • 2 stars – should relisten
  • 3 stars – not bad/I keep it
  • 4 stars – good/interesting
  • 5 stars – I love it!/masterpiece

TWO

If you think about pop-rock music, if you begin to analyze,  you can hopscotch with your brain and the “idea of pleasure”. What do you love in this track?

Energy? Lyrics? Sound? The guitar solo? Singer’s voice? Production? These are musician’s choices elements and how they are mixed together.

Makes you think about someone? A period of your life? Makes you feel you’re part of a community? These are other elements, right?…

One of the pleasures of pop music is the game with time. Listening to a music piece is “following it along its continuity”.

Intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, break or solo, verse, chorus, outro…

When you know the music already, there’s a pleasure in… knowing what’s going after : you can sing along, right? You wait for the pleasure which will come (ahhh this chorus is so good, move your shoulders, transform your hands in butterflies…).

THREE

I’m back with my iPod. The music begins. If I don’t like the beginning (sometimes I need 5 seconds to know it, but sometimes it’s more like a minute), I turn the wheel. I go from 0’15” to 1’20” – just to see how it will evolve, as you can guess…

Most of the time, my instinct was right : if the first verse is bad (music, singer, harmony, sound, whatever), it STAYS bad, and I see almost no difference between 0’15, 1’20” and 2’45”. This is how pop music is made, 98% of the time.

There’s pleasure in repetition, in “it comes back”.

The chorus idea is like the proof of it. A good chorus (or a great gimmick), and people sing, and you got a hit, Johnny!

FOUR

What I like the most, with my little wheel, is when I hear the beginning or a track, then I go to 1’10” and I hear something else, then I go to 2’20” and I hear again something else. Woah! Invention!

Most groups of the Progressive Music era worked like that : Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, King Crimson. They liked to invent structures similar to Classical Music

And well, yes, Classical Music has this “pleasure in repetition of themes”, but it’s much more complex, of course. A theme coming back is more like an event in a ocean of… :

Continuous Invention

In Pop-Rock, it’s VERY rare. Some groups are crazy enough to build a 5 minutes tracks like Pink Floyd did with 30 minutes.

  • Instead of : Intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, break or solo, verse, chorus, outro
  • They do : Intro, verse, break, surprise, chorus, another music, double break, altered chorus, intro to triple variation, piano reprise, Irish drum arrival, guitar, false outro, reweaving of some previous with other instruments, choir silliness, new chorus, samples, etc etc…

Continuous Invention : you invent all along, continuously, surprising the audience with pleasant unexpectations.

Names I have in mind (for some tracks, not all of them) : Röyksopp. MGMT. St Vincent.

FIVE

In what discipline you could apply this tool of “Continuous Invention” instead of “Pleasant Structural Pattern Repetition”? Poetry? Mmmmhhh… Marketing?

What about the contrary? If most movies are based on “stories” – continuous invention – some of them are based on variations around a small story : Rashomon, or Run Lola Run. There’s a pleasure here, in viewing three or more times the same stories, viewed with another point of view…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Run_Lola_Run
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rashomon

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Loops over Loops : What are Frippertronics? #Guitar #Fripp #ambient

Robert Fripp is an English guitarist, member of King Crimson. He worked with Brian Eno or David Bowie. Sometimes he has a really weird way to weave notes…

Wiki says : Frippertronics is an analog delay system consisting of two side-by-side tape recorders, configured so that the tape travels from the first machine to the other, allowing the sound recorded by the first machine to be played back later on the second, thus causing the delayed signal to repeat while new audio is mixed in with it. The amount of delay (a few seconds) is controlled by increasing or reducing the distance between the machines.

Voilà. It’s like a painter who would paint OVER his own work, continuously. The music speaks, then goes away, then goes back while the instrumentist plays over it, etc. Today it can be done digitally, of course!

Here’s an example at the beginning of a Peter Gabriel song :

Of course you can visualize the effect, like an eternal balancing loop. If you click towards the end of the song, you’ll hear this “cloud” of looping sounds…

David Sylvian uses it a lot, in the Splendid album Gone to Earth. The balancing decors of Healing place is made of Frippertronics :

 

Well, you’ll find more on YouTube!

My question is coming : why is it so rare today to hear this good “trick”? And if I enlarge this question it becomes a structure and a tool :

As a creative person, do you know (or would you like to search for it?) someone who invented a good rare way to invent in your discipline? In what area? Architecture? Poetry?

What tool would you pick up in order to use it your way?

What could a musician like Tim Exile do with a set of continuously vanishing loops?

What could be a darker way to Frippertronic? Listen to the guitars-weaving behind :

Thanks for reading!

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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

 

Tout gain s’accompagne d’une perte – Every gain involves loss

OK I’m french. My english is a frenglish, it’s rusty and wobbly, et voilà. Try me, though. I’ll do my best. I promise. If sometimes it’s too bad, just laugh at me or roll you eyes.

Every gain involves loss ?

Ça pourrait être : Economy. Or some Levi Strauss. Or Beckett maybe ?

Peut-être…

When I was a student, I read something about Prokofiev. It was before the Internet, so I walked in the city (the mood of the sky ? See picture below – I remember it), entered the library, found a Deutsch Grammophon CD – Ozawa ! – borrowed it and I brought it home.

I read the booklet, and listened to the 2 CDs for two weeks. Many, many times. I explored it. It was precious ! Of course, as a 20 years old young man, I was moved by the Montagues And Capulets strange modulations zigzagguing music.

What about today ? Que se passe-t-il, aujourd’hui ?

A young female student hears that music in a movie, ohhhh ! She just writes “Prokofiev” in YouTube and get 408.000 results. If she’s smart, she tries the Russian way to write it : “Прокофьев“, to get… 42.100 more movies.

See me coming, don’t you ? The whole thing is just here. But… do we focus the same way, when the choice is that big ? No ! No no no, and no. Every gain involves loss. You just wander into the océan of the musique de Prokofiev, et voilà pour vous.

This “dial/lever/tool” text is not about scale of knowledge and the blissfull possibilité to get lost in it. I should write another one, un autre jour.

Dial/Lever/Tool : Observe what you have. Imagine you’re 30 years before. How would it be, then ? What if you put something aside ? What if you close some possibilities ? What if, as a photographer, you get back to film ? If every gain involves loss, what have you lost, then, with the vast “new thing” ? What will you do to recover that ? What if you had to keep 100 books in your shelves.

Is “Every loss involves gain” right ?

And what is the way to link this concept to the Wrong Way Up ?

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