I was in an unknown room. It was dimly lit, with some natural light coming through the windows, and maybe one artificial light source somewhere, but I could not identify from where. There was a projection of a three-dimensional bird, like a cartoon bird, a rendering of a bird, flying around. It had a light source that provided its movement. It was just a rendering. It swooped and curled in the air, like a bird in a Disney cartoon. It seemed very happy. Then I was trying to explain to my mother how it worked. I was sitting with her in the dark room, explaining how light worked. I was using a large print of an abstract painting as an example. I think it was by Kandinsky, and had enormous colorful circles drawn around and into each other. I told her that in order for us to see the print, light had to land on it, and either the pigment on the print would reflect the light or absorb the light. The pigment that reflected parts of the light spectrum would be seen, for instance, as red or blue or yellow, and other parts of the light spectrum would not be seen, because they would be absorbed. She didn’t really understand. She didn’t understand that if there was no light, there would be no color on the print to be seen. And that if it was a black print, it would be absorbing all of the light spectrum. Black absorbs everything. Anyway, I was telling her this because apparently they figured out how to project the light of the bird, and somehow the light stopped mid-air, without being reflected or absorbed by a physical object. It just stayed in the air, and I didn’t understand how that happened.
A hummingbird silently flickers
near a flower
like a flapping cloth-cloaked candle
drying out its flame
Coos Bay bar
I recently went to the coast for a weekend of oceanside explorations. The second night I was there, I decided I wanted to go to a bar and talk with some locals. I was near Coos Bay, so I drove into town, found a good place near a church to park my car and return to it later in the night to sleep there, and then went off to the main street to find a bar. The sun was setting and the sky had a fading, dusty grey-blue hue to it. Boat flags rippled in the wind, their ropes clanking against metal poles. For a Saturday night, the town was extremely quiet. It seemed that in the past there was much more activity; I noticed at least two old theatres, their neon signs still affixed to their brick buildings, flashing. Not much seemed to be going on in those theatres. I kept walking down the street. I must have seemed out of place with my black jeans, thrift store faux-Members Only beige jacket and “Save the Rain Forest” tote bag slung over my shoulder. Some kids yelled at me as they drove by. Other than that, it was very silent. I was having a hard time finding a bar, but I finally came across one hidden on a small street. A pink neon strip lined the old, dirty awning which sheltered the entrance. I went in and sat down. Lottery machines, neon beer company signs and other low-light fixtures provided the only ambiance. Everyone was laughing and yelling. Moments after settling, I overheard a few people asking each other, “Who is that?” Eventually, someone came up to me and asked me my name. He told me his cousin was also named Evan. For some reason, he also wanted to tell his friend playing pool that I told him to tell her that I was interested in her and wanted to play pool as well, even though I certainly did not. I didn’t feel like arguing, so I told him he could say whatever he wanted to say. About 10 minutes later, the woman came over to me and asked me if what he said was true, to which I responded that it was not. She told me not to worry, and that he was “an asshole”. We shook hands. After that, I didn’t talk to many people, except for a few outside. They spoke of construction and timber jobs. They were kind of worried about the inevitable big earthquake.
For a while, I just sat and tried to decipher as many words and sentences from the mingling conversations as I possibly could. I frantically wrote exactly what I heard, gleaned from the mixture of voices.
As I did in my journal, I’ll bunch it together here into one paragraph, as I didn’t differentiate who was speaking, and I can’t remember anyway. It can just be another level of misinterpretation… Anyway, this is what I thought I heard:
“That’s the first one to go. It’s the kids that are wrong—It’s the one of those types of plastics. I don’t know, it’s my problem. Super glue… super glue. Give it to them straight. Rolling Rock? I saw Sharpies. I’ll watch your chair. Sharpies! I’m really sorry, my Sharpie. The Sharpies got it… Want Mickie? For a while listen here! Hahaha. It’s almost a shame, you know. I mean, yeah, shower boom. I’ll take the shower, buddy. Hey, I did never said I never shower. Just kiddin’. Sheesh. Well, I got there and I couldn’t see a thing… Pool table. Want some tape? I want some tape. Can I take my drink to the side of my legs? We’re lookin’ at the cottonball. Young people sleepin’ in lines, so much resistance. Jake! Can I tell you something? Yes, babe. I haven’t seen him in years. I’m trying to be with him, and here she is. Ha row. Ha row. Ha row? Yeah, I, uh, had an epiphany there. I had an epiphany. You do that sometimes? I like it sometimes. Thank you. No problem. That was my best, modified, cracked-out encounter I ever had. I remember I did, I said, “Hey, look, here’s the bistro.” She said, “Okay, I’ll get it.” It doesn’t go backwards worth shit, but it sure goes forwards. Old fuck will doin’ it. How ya doin’? Good. Who wants some fuckin’ pizza? Mandy. Pizza! Pizza! I’ll make some pizza. They’ve been talkin’ about pizza for maybe an hour. I’ll call Nadine! Life phone.”
Pillars painted white with cloth squares hanging on them. Cast shadows at their corners sit in semi-darkness, so settled and integrated. Emptiness in the room. Deep brown and muted black. Things act from human interactions, but there’s no one around. Like lamps with their lights and maybe a boiling tea kettle. Certainly a window open. A breeze outside. Dark air. White trim. The book spines blend together in the darkness of the room. What are we doing tonight ? People frozen in their interactions.
Reaction to Mark Owens, Theriault, Smith & Green at The Waypost in Portland
Last night I attended a concert at The Waypost by Mark Owens and Theriault, Smith & Green. During the performance, in which the trio played laptop, minimally processed violin and modular synthesizer, Owens wrote frantically on a constantly unraveling spool of brown paper. The paper was fed to him from the spool by an assistant. After being written upon, it was then cut in half, lengthwise, by another assistant, creating two thinner pieces of very long, unending paper. The words thus became indecipherable. I am unclear what the connection was between this dramatic performance and the musical performance, but it didn’t bother me much at all. I became enamoured with trying to make out what was being frantically scribbled onto the paper, watching the paper being satisfyingly cut in half by very sharp scissors (a fantastic sound, I might add), listening to the transparent, airy yet rigid sonic textures being created by the instruments involved, and how the early evening bar sounds of dishes and talking and birdsongs through the open door all mingled together to create a gorgeous cacophony.
About halfway through, I decided to write down in my journal exactly what I thought I saw on the paper, before it fell into a beautiful tumble of hair-thin coils. I couldn’t read everything being written, so I wrote what I thought I saw. Inevitably, this became an interesting combination of what I thought was there, my own mind’s unconscious contribution, and my attempts at keeping up with the wealth of aural and visual information. Therefore, some of the words I wrote down may or may not have been on the paper, and conventional structure is certainly not present.
Later on, I decided to type on the computer what I wrote in my journal. I tried to space the words exactly as I did in my journal. After that, I created two documents on the screen: one with the typed journal entry, and the other blank. On this blank document, I tried, as best I could, to create a more or less prose version of the typed version of the words I thought I saw, heeding to my immediate reactions, but also trying to create some sense out of the nonsensical original. I then went back over this final version and made some minor adjustments for the sake of poetry and flow. Below I have the original journal entry of the words and sentences I thought I saw while Mark Owens wrote them, along with the verbatim typed version of that handwritten version. After those two images is the more or less prose version written while simultaneously reading the first unstructured version.
Word after word, it goes as something with an error. Some whole or some mind fell through its feelings, withering to the length of a mole or a platter’s plaster: through a mouth, taxing a shrink over a penis. America’s pen does little to know his words are better. Dissect each word, heard from then, what was an owl. Written “I” (the letter “I” is some form of “da”), I keep writing; yuk hand ever things. This thing. It just keeps going. Something about the sex or violence in front of their lives—their worlds going over and over, asserting again and again the sporting nature of straightening the kitchen, the animal, inside the animal, or ship. All of a sudden, haha! We are to ask what is beholden. The buildings? Are they molden? Molded? Mold? Mottled? Waves upon waves upon waves, weaves the paper over the sage. Lost in the ether, the paper. The stars, just the stars are something I see eight shy.
A gale matter is tenuous.
Then I am swinging on a soft, thick blue wire, connected to the bridge. I swing in large arcs, under and over the bridge, soaring way up further into the sky and then coming back down, then going up again. I hold on tight, because if I don’t, I will fall.
Portland City and children’s books
Welcome to PDX. It was raining when I got here. The rain will present a new challenge, and plastic bags are going to become much, much more valuable …
My first impression of Portland is that it’s gorgeous. I landed in “Downtown” or “The Pearl”, or something, figuring I could initially take advantage of its offerings, such as libraries, Whole Foods, public buildings, parks and so forth. Even though I was surrounded by buildings both old and new, it smelled of wood stove smoke, which was supremely delightful as well as confounding. (I now know the smell is omnipresent, and much more so in the lovely areas East of the river.) The trees lining the streets already had Christmas lights, which I loved, as I love Christmas. (Even though I probably won’t make it home for this one.) The daylight was fading fast, and the approaching darkness highlighted the soft zig-zag patterns of colored lights on the undulating watery surfaces of all the roads and sidewalks. Folks walked about briskly, steamy air from their mouths, doing last-minute Sunday shopping, rushing onto packed buses and tram cars. Church bells rang, a distant train whistled. I walked around for quite a while, wandering into the fancy areas, watching the fancy people in their fancy restaurants, and listening to the muffled talking and clinking of dishes and cutlery. A steady drizzle continued, and the distance was obscured by fog and cut by lights from street lamps.
The following days have convinced me, as many people know, that there is much to explore and discover in this city. Although many people I’ve talked to prior to my arrival suggest there’s a certain falseness or pretentiousness to the younger crowd in the city, I haven’t specifically noticed that, although I can see where they’re coming from. Folks here seem to be genuinely excited about (and contribute to) the abundance of art, books, good food (food carts !), good beer (beer carts !), music, literature, independent shops, and so on. Personally, I am excited about all these things, genuinely. Believe me ! I am also excited about the fog, and the overcast days, and the industrial areas and forested areas waiting to be explored.
Post Script :
I am writing this in the “Quiet Room” of a small library in the Belmont neighbourhood (I think). One of the many things I’ve learned on this trip is that after utilising many libraries in small towns, I have not found many of them to be very quiet. Unless, of course, they are near-empty, which is sometimes the case. Anyway, this one is currently crowded, so it luckily has the Quiet Room. A librarian just informed me that the room will soon be used for reading stories to small children, and that I could stay if I wished. Needless to say, I definitely wish to stay. I’d rather hear a children’s book being read than listen to the talking and coughing and sniffling and ruffling of 30 people.
We started with an informative book about whales. The kids were very good listeners. They loved it. She then read a book about the beach. One kid raised his hand frantically: “Hey, hey, excuse me ! I was watching a movie, and, and, and there was a man who had sand. He was the Sandman.” One other kid knew exactly what he was talking about. “Oh, yeah, and he has a gun that shoots sand, right ?” “Yeah !”, said the first kid. The librarian patiently waited, then said with a smile, “Okay, cool, but that has absolutely nothing to do with this story.” And so we continued the story about the beach.
I do love children’s books, and think they’re so important. Many of them contributed thoroughly to who I am, and what I love. In fact, the only new book I ever bought was a children’s book, as I thought it was so well illustrated and composed. It is called Wonder Bear and has no words. It is about two kids who plant two patches of watermelons. One grows over night, and the other does not grow at all. From the water melon plant emerges a massive polar bear, with a blue bowler hat. From this hat he pulls flowers, bubbles which turn into bubble lions and octopi, and other amazing things. They go swimming in the indigo night sky, and ride dolphins. It’s amazing. Other things happen, but I can’t remember it all. It can be seen here. Speaking of children’s books, I met a girl in Arcata, California, who was there to promote a Halloween book for which she illustrated. It’s called Halloween Ooga-Ooga Ooum and can be seen here. After meeting her, I later stumbled upon it while in the health food store, and found the illustrations to be very beautiful.
My personal favourite children’s book is (coincidentally) a Halloween book titled Tell Me Mr. Owl, and probably has most if not everything to do with why I love so much to wander and explore towns and cities at night. The illustrations in it are very mysterious, and as a child I recall being completely taken into the world of that Halloween night. I didn’t find much information about it online, as it’s from 1957 and has probably never been reprinted, but I did find this semi-functioning page, which has some photographs of the illustrations.
4 October 2012, 7:30
Jenny’s Cafe, Independence, CA. Slept in the desert again, outside of Lone Pine. Down quite a ways, off Lone Pine Narrow Gauge Rd. Massive rotating antenna in the desert. Next to me, a dried, cracked patch of land where water once was—now compacted and dry polished to a sheen, reflecting the white setting sun over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Quiet and empty save for the muffled, undulating conversations of some people in a weird triangular camper (like a mobile A-Frame) about 200 yards away. I don’t know; I’m bad with distances. Later in the night, the man (the others left) was talking/singing/mumbling loudly to himself at 10:51. As I went to bed around 8:00, I thought it was at least 4AM. Slept fairly well. Got cold finally around midnight. Not like New Mexico and Arizona climates; it seems that up in this territory (in-between two mountain ranges), it takes a while for the cold to set in. Woke up at 2, very cold. More socks, a wool blanket, a hat. Moon in the sky, bright as a spotlight. Truly silent, then. Up at 6:45, before the sun. Mountains soft, early illumination. Land still, soft, small movements. Color, less.
Lost all the light in fine towel mine is take not for the real action nothing of short no grass well time efer then hidden.
I am currently in Las Vegas, and finally have the opportunity to post some pictures, after accumulating a good amount over the past couple weeks. I’m going to try and post the photographs in chronological order. These are from around the 8th to the 10th of September. Mostly from northwest Texas, in the Lubbock area, where I stayed with a wonderful Couchsurfing host (who grew up on a cotton field), and then the final sunrise pictures are after Lubbock, en route to New Mexico.
The first four are from a park in Austin, Texas, in the early evening. What these pictures (almost) can’t relate is the beautiful silence of that place, the people walking quietly by, the river slowly flowing, birds slowly singing and dogs happily scampering about. What these pictures also don’t relate is the devastating drought that Texas has been experiencing, and this was the only river I saw (I think it’s actually part of a lake) that wasn’t completely dried up, with a cracked riverbed. The following two are from somewhere on the road. The field and trees photo is near a very old graveyard. The next is a cotton field in Lubbock, where my Couchsurfing host took me. She fearlessly “took us farmin'” and abruptly turned into the the cotton field, down one of the rows, and showed me the irrigation system they use, which is on a big pivot, and turns in a circle, watering the crop. I’ve seen these all over, including my family home in Vermont, but didn’t realise it’s on a pivot. You can see the crop circles here, in this Google satellite view. The remaining photographs are from the drive away from Lubbock, at 7:00AM, towards New Mexico. Many more from New Mexico soon …
Disclaimer : My non-phone iPhone has been acting up, as pieces of glass continue to fall from its broken surface, exposing even the circuit board in some parts ; as consequence, it’s been focusing a bit strangely. There’s also a good amount of desert debris in the lens (and for that matter, in the circuit board, I can only assume). One of these days I’ll get an actual camera, and hopefully also get my 1975 Canon TX up and running again. I have a roll of Ektachrome 64 just waiting to be used … So anyway, among the focus issues, it’s still an old iPhone, and some of the pictures are evident of that. Despite all this, I continue to be fascinated with the iPhone’s aesthetic, whether intentional or not.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park at dusk
14 September 2012, 20:10
Soft, smoky orange & blue, dark. Two spots of luminescent pink in the sky. Silouettes of the canyon… On ground, colors are lost : muted brown gold. So small, everything trying to reach up from the sandy soil. Yellow flowers, yellow like patches of old wallpaper in the ending interior daylight of a silent 1950s house somewhere on a forgotten country road in Mississippi.
[This is a dream.]
11 May 2012
Over the past few days I had been going back and forth between somewhere and a greenhouse. I had claimed an unused section of soil and began planting plants there. I found some plants outside and some were left over from greenhouse orders, just left sitting in their plastic containers. I had a few wispy, leafy ones, and a few with thick, dark green leaves—possibly kale. Some were planted in rows, and others were set alone.
One day I was in a field spending time near a large construction vehicle with a female friend of mine. It was a bright sunny day, with diffused atmosphere. All the textures were smoothed out by the immensely bright noontime sunlight. The field was cut in large portions: some tall grass remained, but most was quite short. It was all very dry. In the distance by the greenhouse, the large oak trees looked healthy. I think I found some moss in a small plastic container. I felt the need to put that moss over with my other claimed plants. I went there, wondering on the way if anyone had noticed or cared that I’d been planting and taking up space.
I dug a small hole in the moist soil for the plant. It seemed too deep, but I put it in anyway. I put it next to and kind of under the leafy plants, so it would get some shade. I then noticed there was a long hole in the dirt where the row of plants used to be.
I went back the next day and found all my plants removed; all that remained were scrappy holes in the dirt. Perhaps some people were going to cook with the kale, but they didn’t know that I was making a small garden for those plants.
Pictures from City Park, New Orleans / Horses
I finally got to explore a fair amount of City Park in New Orleans. From what I’ve heard, this park is larger than Central Park in New York City. The southern end begins about a quarter of a mile from where I’m currently staying; it then extends north, almost flush with Lake Pontchartrain. There’s an exceptional variety in this park: Innumerable types of landscaping both old and new, yellow and green fields spotted with pure white storks, a vast network of wide bayous, bird sanctuaries, unknown deteriorating concrete structures with no lasting purpose other than to act as immovable objects of a time since past (unintentionally re-purposed into art), thick overgrown vegetation on which a kind of audible heat settles, and gorgeous old brick buildings (many abandoned and easily accessible, as well as some still functioning). I could go on for a while.
Anyway, it was hot. I hope these pictures convey that.
Also, I came across a large equestrian farm, about half way through the park, but on the eastern border. I went through the gates and briefly visited some of the horses. There were a fair amount of trees, so they had lots of shade, which was good. One was in the sun, however, leaning over the corner section of a white fence. He or she was a very affectionate horse, and reminded me of this one, a pony I met while walking along side the road in Ireland (taken with an actual camera, too !), while hitchhiking. This horse, however, was even more friendly, and she put her nose on my shoulder for about 5 minutes. Really, really sweet.
A Poem – From the Night, 1
Compositionally interesting :
Thin black grey sheets on red and with a shade of white stripes
Spectrum lost with no less than an exclamation
The last part is a remorse
Curved lines on contour forthwilling adherence ; warning for nothing
The fog accumulates in corners
The walls are brushed steel and painted resin
Take it out method nothing ? Only one window
And it seems just like a lake
Just like a lake. Why ?
The endlessness is no more
It’s a long lake
You can’t see the other side,
Pictures of pictures / Family
As some may have noticed on this blog, I often photograph photographs or other types of two dimensional imagery. I find that this coincides with my memory of the subject’s recontexualised existence, and moreover the stories and associations that the initial image is trying to sustain. I see this as another layer of interpretation, albeit influenced and possibly distorted. These were taken with my cell phone, as it was the only method of image-capturing I had at the time.
The above three photographs were taken in my grandparents’ house in Connecticut. Over the past 5 years or so I have seen their lives drastically change due to health issues, and with that change comes new ways of perceiving their self-contained world and how various relics of another time recede into physical and metaphorical shadows, rearranged and lost on shelves, staggered amongst related ephemera, partially boxed away and occasionally emerging with a proper rustling.
The first image is believed to be of a small structure which was being built next to the pond behind the house in which my father was raised, now called “The Separatist House”, as it was on Separatist Road, in Storrs, Connecticut. There are some issues identifying this photograph …
The second one is of a quail named Robert. He is pictured here walking through a crèche. The photograph is from the mid-’60s, most likely. The story of Robert is an interesting one. This quail was found by a friend of Margaret Stanger, a lady who played scrabble with my father’s grandmother, “Nanny”. Margaret’s friend found the quail egg seemingly abandoned and in dire need of care, and brought it back to her house. She placed it under a heat lamp, and it eventually hatched. Robert was born, and lived for many years. His life apparently inspired Margaret, as she went on to write a children’s book about him. It’s called That Quail, Robert, and has gone through a number of editions over the years.
The third one is a painting my grandfather did of a house located on Cape Cod, in which Nanny lived. This was before she moved into a house with her sister Margery, across from Lake Farm, on Monument Road, also on the Cape. Lake Farm was a children’s camp which Margery ran. It was a fantastic camp, with Nubian goats, multiple buildings for various activities and a sandy path trailing through a forest which led to Crystal Lake. The camp continued for quite a while even as Margery got older.
This picture was found online, from a site called Bird Watcher’s General Store.
An image of one of the book’s primary editions can be seen here.
2011 in Review
Needless to say, this certainly is not a “Best Of” list, as there is so much fantastic electroacoustic improv, techno/dance, jazz and archival releases/reissues I didn’t hear this year, but wanted to and couldn’t due to lack of time and/or money. Therefore, inevitably—like many other year-end lists—this is what I enjoyed the most, culled from what I was able to add to my collection over the past year.
Pierre Gerard and Andy Graydon – Untitled, (Magnetisms) (Winds Measure)
My mind has flexed itself trying to wrap around this release’s many convolutions and multi-tiered, pock-marked constructs. Moreover, the music stretches across a great deal of musical territory—not just the mental territory I’ve created from its sounds. Side B has sections which recall Basic Channel’s extremely sparse dub-inflected moments, and much of the tape recalls early-’50s electronic and tape pieces, but there is something that separates it from that period entirely. I can’t figure it out. I find this release to be extremely original.
アンドリュー チョーク (Andrew Chalk) – 夜のバイオリン (Violin By Night) (Faraway Press)
By far my favorite Andrew Chalk release. I’m having a hard time explaining why this album is so wonderful to me. Its distant and recurrent radio-like sounds, its fractured and interwoven textures give it a peculiar domestic foundation. At times, the sounds are released into the air with just enough time to take on forms in multiple ways and give different stories. Then they come back down. Andrew Chalk creates amorphous and oddly exaggerated emotions, yet they thrive on a separate plane than that of most mental concerns.
Haptic – Scilens (Entr’acte)
Anne Guthrie – Perhaps A Favorable Organic Moment (Copy For Your Records)
Anne Guthrie – Baronfelix (Soundcloud page)
Seth Cluett – Objects Of Memory (Line)
I went out and saw the branches, delicate as telephone wires, each half-golden with the contour created by streetlight. Angles swept down to the center of the night from the rooftops, placed firmly within the blue-black sky. Maybe one star shone, but I did not see it. I have so many things from the past hanging on my walls and sitting on my shelves. As things sit on shelves, their lives are extended. A strange cold emerged in the night and moved a wet leaf across concrete and into a small corner. I can hear a bird singing. I am travelling now. Turtles climb toward a plant. I see a forest, and patches of light spot the floor.
Steve Roden / Various – … I Listen To The Wind That Obliterates My Traces – Music In Vernacular Photographs, 1880-1955 (Dust-to-Digital)
Jean-Luc Guionnet / Seijiro Murayama – Window Dressing (Potlatch)
Scott Smallwood/Sawako/Seth Cluett/Ben Owen/Civylu Kkliu –Phonography Meeting 070823 (Winds Measure)
Grouper – A I A : Dream Loss (Yellow Electric)
Grouper – A I A : Alien Observer (Yellow Electric)
Or maybe rocks on the edge of a river. Or maybe one large rock with pits and falls and curves and sections of lakewater collected in pools. The sky was dark grey, and the horizon was an ending. We were climbing over the rocks late on a Saturday afternoon, as we often did. He climbed up a portion of the rocks and into a hollowed out area with golden light inside. To do this, he had to climb over a tall stack of old glass bottles and glass rocks—also illuminated by the light—which were situated at a kind of entrance to this place. Once he got in, he was crouched down and doing something. I tried to follow, but I was afraid I’d topple over the bottles and glass rocks. I couldn’t step around and over them like he did. So I decided to take the wall apart in order to get through. Each bottle and glass rock was illuminated by the light of this place. Some were green, clear, blue and a few were red.
Jason Kahn, 류한길 (Ryu Hankil), 진상태 (Jin Sangtae), 홍철기 (Hong Chulki), 최준용 (Choi Joonyong), 박승준 (Park Seungjun) – Dotolim (Balloon & Needle)
Matt Earle, Jason Kahn & Adam Sussmann – Concerts Melbourne+Sydney(Avant Whatever)
Sandro Perri – Impossible Spaces (Constellation)
Prurient – Bermuda Drain (Hydra Head Records)
Excess, excess, guilty pleasure. Nights containing razor-sharp shifting mental spaces, their translucencies overlapping to create a foundation of clouds.
Cooly G – Landscapes / It’s Serious (Hyerdub)
Rustie – Glass Swords (Warp Records)
Machinedrum – Room(s) (Planet Mu)
Lone – Echolocations (R & S Records)
James Blake – James Blake (Atlas Recordings / A&M Records)
Kuedo – Severant (Planet Mu)
This is an album that mind-bogglingly succeeds at integrating the skittering rhythms and energy of Chicago Juke/Footwork into classic early-’80s electronic and ambient music, stabilizing the entire package with cinematic elements that are not, surprisingly, cheesy at all. During 2011 and 2010, I’ve found it very interesting how dance producers are approaching the Juke/Footwork aesthetic currently gaining amazing amounts of international critique, and either recontextualising the style into a more popular one or, like the label Planet Mu, taking it on almost as their child savant, giving it space to grow and show off its raw and unadulterated talent. Planet Mu also gives the hi-fi vinyl treatment to straight-up Chicago Juke and Footwork which popularized itself by cellphone and Youtube videos—what a riot, that is. From what I can gather, this style has taken a saturation of pop and hip hop music inevitably found throughout the South Side of Chicago (and, like, everywhere else) and set it out to dry—no, wrung it tight in strong hands, forced dry in seconds—letting any remaining dampness bake and sizzle in the sun. The crustiness of the scorched pop and hip hop rag begins to disintegrate, and each particle is used to decorate urban monuments of fractured, perpetually crumbling mainstream relics. To this decorating, Kuedo contributes using long, wide brushstrokes of syrupy, oil-based paint.
Holy Other – With U (Tri Angle)
Hieroglyphic Being – Primitif Nous Sommes (Music From Mathematics)
Hype Williams – One Nation (Hippos In Tanks)
Andy Stott – Passed Me By (Modern Love)
Mark Fell – Manitutshu (Editions Mego)
Mark Fell and Peter Rehberg – Kubu / Zikir (Editions Mego)
Luc Ferrari (perf. Musiques Nouvelles / Scottish Flute Trio / Li Ping Ting) – Madame De Shanghai/Après Presque Rien/Visage 2 (Mode)
Morton Feldman (perf. Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin) – Orchestra (Mode)
John Cage (perf. Percussion Group Cincinnati) – The Works for Percussion 1 (Mode)
Miloš Karadaglic – Mediterráneo (Deutsche Grammophon)
Aside from the dumb title, uninspired cover art, generic design (another fine example of a mainstream classical label’s visual aesthetic disintegrating sometime after the early to mid-’90s), this collection of classical guitar pieces was immensely enjoyable and, from what I can tell, supremely played. Just divine, as some folks would say. I could be wrong ! But I don’t care. My lack of knowledge regarding classical guitar, its history, or any of these compositions except for Albéniz’s “Asturias” gives me the liberty of enjoying this album based exclusively on personal reasons and its aesthetically pleasing aural contours. “Asturias” is a nocturnal piece for me, as it became a regular midnight companion on many Winter nights of 2011—an emotionally tumultuous time—during which I found myself listening to classical music and Chicago’s WFMT FM constantly (on which “Asturias” is played every midnight); and through the candle-lit reflections of my plants and picture frames in the blackness of my bedroom window its sound became diffuse.
There were so many releases from labels like Another Timbre, Consumer Waste, Entr’acte, Erstwhile, Edition Wandelweiser, Engraved Glass and many more, that I did not get a chance to explore. Also Eliane Radigue’s Transamorem – Transmortem. I would love to hear that at some stage.
Still amazed at how much innovative, “brand new”, challenging, entertaining, and even “accessible” music exists in so many areas of the musical spectrum, yet the everyday person still does not know any of it exists. Somehow they’re content thinking that the mainstream music industry is still capable of producing quality products for consumption, or they’re too apathetic/indifferent to seek out anything better. With a few glistening exceptions —if everything was as chromatic and visceral as some of the Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj singles, there wouldn’t be as much of a problem —I can’t see how the mainstream music industry is satisfying anyone’s needs.
“The Gorilla” and “The Gorilla and the Butterfly”
By Frank Asch
There’s a gorilla sitting in my car. He’s playing with the radio. First he listens to classical music. He closes his eyes and seems to drift off into a dream. Then his eyes flash wide open and he turns on the news. He hears about violence in Africa and tears stream down his face. Where the tears fall tiny green plants start to grow on the seat and on the floor. In just a few minutes the car is choked with vines and flowers and big leafy green plants. The gorilla just grins and turns back to the classical music.
The Gorilla and the Butterfly
By Gary Lindorff
I saw that gorilla. He was playing a saxophone at the pub and taking requests, but all he could play was “Oh, Mary, don’t you weep”. Everyone kept shouting out their favorite songs anyway, until a butterfly flew out of the mirror behind the bar shouting “QUIET!”, to everyone’s alarm. The gorilla and the butterfly then vanished into the mirror, the butterfly shouting “QUIET! QUIET! QUIET!”, which became “TEIUQ! TEIUQ! TEIUQ!” as they passed inside. A drunk shouted, “They’re gone!” And that was true. As they merged with their reflections, the two sets of gorilla and butterfly canceled each other out ! Then it was as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. The mounted moose head resumed spitting at the customers and the bartender continued pouring whiskey on the heads of every sunflower that was even slightly drooping, shouting angrily, “NO DRUNKEN FLOWERS ALLOWED! NO DRUNKEN FLOWERS!”
This evening and tonight
29 December 2011, 23:45
We went outside and stacked wood for a couple hours. Very cold and invigorating. The sun was setting, and the sky had that perfect grey-purple sheen, like the large dusted end of a glass vase sitting on an old table in the late-summer early-evening ending daylight of the last beautiful place in Florida. Then we went for a walk. A new place through the forest, with Sarah. She turned back to the house after stopping by a frozen pond and sliding across its rippled, dark glassy surface, and my dad and I continued into the woods. It was a quiet kind of cold, with a small wind. Every sound in the forest could be heard and brought forth, nearly magnified with importance. Each one so refined and self-contained; whittled down to a perfect sound-event occurring in time with no reference to anything else that ever existed. The moon rose as we went across a field, going home. It was a half moon, on its side, surrounded by stars. Later that night, we were standing on the porch, as Shirley said she heard coyotes in the distance. We did hear them as well, and my dad quickly ran in to the house to fetch a penny whistle. “Sometimes they answer to the penny whistle”, he told me. So he played, on the porch, in the dark and cold, to the coyotes. No response. He laughed. He played again. No response. He laughed again. Played once more. No response. He laughed again and said, “I guess they’re not into the music tonight.” We both laughed, “Yeah…” Despite that, we both knew they were into the music tonight.
To all those in New Orleans
Unexpected poetry extracted from a letter :
All the best to you all in New Orleans,
the city with small lights like stars.
but colored ones
hanging in trees,
in the warm
slowly moving air
that softly sits
on secret surfaces,
somewhere in a corner,
or out in the open,
listening to the music
(And please, if you are not in New Orleans, as most people are not, this may be applicable to a variety of other metaphorical situations. Enjoy.)
What I thought I heard
I recently attended a jazz performance by James Falzone’s Early Music Quartet, at The Whistler, in Chicago. Expectedly, they played and interacted wonderfully, despite the bar patrons’ omnipresent din. Hearing them along with such noise was a strong contrast to hearing them and similar music in more familiar contexts such as The Hideout or Elastic Arts. During intermission, I found myself focusing more than usually on the surrounding conversations. I’ve always found it interesting how conversations occurring in large crowds have a way of peaking and falling, standing out and becoming interwoven. I’ve never specifically tried to focus on particulars, but that night I did. I decided to write down exactly what I heard : sentence fragments, unreal words, and misinterpretations. I found myself with an odd mixture of what I thought I heard, what was said, and how my own spontaneous inclinations recontextualised these observations into something new—perhaps more about me than about them. Perhaps, but probably not.
—Middle of California there were the jaywash.
—I actually walked a jaywalk the other day.
—They got dungeons for jobs.
—I’m going to run Sierra Tuesday night.
—I got him.
—What’s an eye doctor ?
—Yeah, it just got announced tonight. I’ve released the sign on.
—Well, it’s the beexperienced in it. It’s my bat. Take the jamas there.
—How about the brain ? I miss the brain on Sunday.
—They got a real piano now.
—I recall horse Chicago.
—There’s a piano store that’s tied to a real coffee shop.
—My godfather went to the dooley.
—Well, Chicago’s like that too.
—Nooo… 25 cents.
—Well, half recall.
—The family guy—the guy who’s a family guy.
—Iowa ? Minnesota ?
—It’s kind of Midwest, kind of upstate. Kinda funny.
—He’s gotta love you.
—When you shield off—it’s probably good for him.
—What is living, for me ?
—But if, uhhh… Um.
—Yes, I’d like to.
—I mean, I liked her voice.
—In Minnesota ?
—What’s up ?
—It’s, uh, this comedic thing.
—It’s where Larabee camped ; I liked his friends.
—Oh, he’s kinda…
—Yeah, I run in circles.