Monday, December 12, 2011

The Making and Breaking of Woodstock 1969



Who could have possibly imagined that a "Music and Art Fair" dreamt up by four young men would become one of the most talked about events in recent history?
Many skeptics believed that an event supported by a bunch of drug crazed youths would inevitably turn violent,  after all the organizer were advertising a gathering of about 60,000 people.  However, as a slap in the face to dumbstruck elders, the festival now known world wide as Woodstock, turned out bigger and more peaceful than anyone could have ever imagined.  Not to say there were no problems, but considering that an estimated 500,000 people from many different walks of life were mixed together for almost four days with a limited food supply, few restroom facilities, an abundance of drugs and alcohol,  a show stopping rainstorm,  and don't forget the evil loud music, things were basically positive.  Elliot Tiber referred to Woodstock as,  "a Counter-cultural mini-nation in which minds were open, drugs were all but legal, and love was 'free."      Although Woodstock was not the first outdoor festival it set the stage for all outdoor festivals that have since followed.  Woodstock can not be acurately imitated ever again, but it sets an extraordinary example for those who would try and follow.


In 1968 at the age of twenty-three Michael Lang got into show business after running one of Florida's first head shops.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pilgrims and Indians and all that Ensued

 
Which leaves us at the question:
After stuffing the turkey should we hang it by the Moose over the fireplace?



Midwestern activities demand of youth, school plays detailing the peaceful relations of the the Pilgrims fleeing religious oppression and the kindly indians who helped them survive their first winter. The kindness repaid by a philosophy of manifest destiny, rail ways and broken treaties.


Beyond tracing the hand to make construction paper turkeys, the luck of the draw that dealt either the big black poster board hat or the head band with the blue or green feathers, and long accounts of the voyage of the Mayflower, plymouth rock and the growing and preparing of corn.


 There is the togetherness of family and friends with food a plenty.  Hearkens more true than most other holidays,  born of hype and shopping. 

God lay mercy upon the kid who got stuck in the turkey outfit or even the cornucopia for that matter.


So surely, we must indeed find cause to be thankful.

Better men have tread before and I give you some of their words:



Turkey: A large bird whose flesh, when eaten on certain religious anniversaries has the peculiar property of attesting piety and gratitude.  ~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.  ~William Shakespeare

I have strong doubts that the first Thanksgiving even remotely resembled the "history" I was told in second grade.  But considering that (when it comes to holidays) mainstream America's traditions tend to be over-eating, shopping, or getting drunk, I suppose it's a miracle that the concept of giving thanks even surfaces at all.  ~Ellen Orleans

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.  ~Native American Saying



Happy We-Stole-Your-Land-and-Killed-Your-People Day!  ~Thanksgiving toast, from the movie Sweet November


If I have enjoyed the hospitality of the Host of this universe, Who daily spreads a table in my sight, surely I cannot do less than acknowledge my dependence.  ~G.A. Johnston Ross



Thanks, for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business. Thanks, for a nation of finks.
-- William S. Burroughs, "A Thanksgiving Prayer".


There is one day that is ours.  There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to.  Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.  ~O. Henry

For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, November 11, 2011

What Exactly Is Americana music?


I think its time to face it...  Country music has failed us (at least the label).  There are a few artists trying to redeem the genre but most are just riding that horse into the ground.  One can see the trajectory, and our favorites are amongst the culprits as Country music mutated from Bill Monroe, Hank Williams,Woody Guthrie, and Carter Family, to Johnny Cash, Ray Price, Waylon Jennings, Dave Dudly, Merle Haggard, then Barbara Mandrell, Alabama,  George Strait, to Garth Brooks(We will just Pretend Chris Gaines never happened), Clint Black,  Shania Twain, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and then to Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift.  Country has pushed towards rock ever since it was put on the radio,  and taken out of the hills and barns, Rockabilly,  the world influenced by Buddy holly,  and Elvis Presley,  It was a sign of the times the wash of the conglomerate on everything. Honky Tonk lead to Rhinestone Cowboys and disco slipped its hand into the faded blue jeans of the dance hall.  Popular means plastic despite the substance underneath.   The interesting paradox of the migration of the genre "Country" to the Viacom stereotype of pop music phenomenon (complete with rock guitars, highlit hair,  and perhaps a cowboy hat and an embroidered plaid)  has left many artists struggling for a way to label the music of the current underground (and soon to be very popular) movement returning to roots directions.

 "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" was perhaps the turning point where mainstream culture breathed a new breath of past into a young generation, resetting the trajectory at the mark. Some artists were there before but, only a small contingency of people were into it. I think the revival that injected the old bluegrass or hills blues soul back in a big commercial way hails back to the Coen Brothers who made that world relevant in a huge way.  The ripple has been spreading ever since spawning the birth of a huge contingency of artists  who are now creating western themed "Americana" Music, yet are having a hard time trying to define themselves, There seems to be this huge revival of Roots centered music,  as is supported by sites like No Depression,  and a random splattering of blogs.  It seems to be leaking out into the mass media and mainstream.  and becoming fashionable once again but we can't really call it "Country Music" anymore. The thousands of roots country variations unsure of what to call themselves have turned to labels like Roots Music, Americana,  Folk,  Alternative Country,  Insurgent Country, Folk Noir,   there is even a contingency advocating a genre called XXX after moonshine bottles of yore.  The greater harm here though is that "Country"seems to have been clamed by the Nashville camp, who redefined the genre with a steady evolution into bleached hair, designer clothes, pop rock music with a drawl etc. and somehow lost itself In the process.  

It all goes back to Tin Pan Alley

Songwriters handing over songs to big name producers, producers polishing,  artists into the cookie cutter cutout of "What Sells." the remaining struggling CEOs pushing last ditch efforts to make sure their artists get the exposure on the last of the dying radio airwaves.  Since the 90s the distance between R&B Radio and country Radio has been growing smaller and smaller,  Granted there is still a difference,  I heard a country song that felt the need to claim it was country music lyrically because it was obscured in the timbre and production( i think it was called "This is a Country Song".   Songs like "I swear" by Baker & Myers pounded the charts in 1994 crossing genres and released by both John Micheal Montgomery and All-4-One. Take Townes Van Zant, writing from the rough he may just be considered folk though he wrote Pancho and Lefty which turned out to be a huge country hit in the hands of Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.  but the Willie and Merle version is pretty electric. That should set the stage for where things are coming from and how they are sold. 

Now that "Americana" is becoming popular, it is finding itself in a similar identity crisis as its older relative, "Country".  But to be fair,  Americana is a lot more ambiguous.  Technically all things made in america are "Americana".  Not really fair because hip-hop, jazz and blues have their own genre,  folk too i suppose is its own thing.  Furthermore there are a lot of European bands knocking on the door of the american sound and doing it well where america is faltering.  So the American sound, must captivate the american Pioneer spirit,  perhaps the popularity exists because economically we the hipsters like to think of now as our own great depression.  Perhaps we are hung up on the Idea of the wild west, outlaws and anarchy but that comes from the Italians.  Is "Americana" defined by instrumentation, using acoustics or sounding old?  No matter what we end up defining this as, It is happening, it is growing and it is a counter-cultural phenomenon.  It is also a repetition of the past and where the Noughts reminded us of the 80s, I am pretty sure we are gearing up for some mixture of this and 90s grunge for the Teens.  I would continue to speculate but I am interested to see how this plays out.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Angels of Light - How I Loved You






Micheal Gira ranks high on my list of all time greats,  gaining a great deal of stature through The Swans while refusing to budge on artistic stances.  He is no stranger to experimentation and forward thinking.  With Angels of Light, Gira moves into melodic territory, soft croonings, lazy days on the beach, spaghetti westerns, and maybe even church, while remaining firmly grounded in dark post rock and noise origins.  Droning and pounding as if in a slow motion heat with a low only slightly toned voice broken and swelling, spilling out dark text like a twisted lover.   Each song carries a sense of growth and forward motion as acoustic instruments combine with electric guitars and the occasional percussive elements, pianos and organs and strange electric textures weave their way around each other.  There is a definite place for lyrics and the voice as the chords slowly strum along yet the music insists on reaching higher as if searching for heaven and always expanding.  It's a serpent in the sky that lifts you up and leaves teeth marks on your skin, but left to one word Angels of Light is... lingering.


 




Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mesquite Treason's Audio Tribute to Cormac McCarty's Dark Western Blood Meridian

The first Release by the Apocalyptic Country project Mesquite Treason is a tribute to poetic violence of Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian or The Evening Redness in the West".  It is a sonic atmosphere of folk instruments winding their way into landscapes of horror and endless brooding night.




Monday, September 19, 2011

Faun Fables - Family Album

With an acoustic pagan sound well versed in the lore of old, Faun Fables trespasses on ground reserved for Pan's dark forest dances in seduction of witches.  Upon first hearing "Eyes of a Bird" I incorrectly assumed that the group hosted a single singer, Equating the voices to that of Yes frontman Jon Anderson, but on PCP.   I later learned that Dawn McCarthy was singing with Nils Frykdahl of Sleepytime Gorrilla Museum and the brilliance of Faun Fables and particularly "Family Album" began to become fully understandable.


 



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bjork's new App/Album - Biophillia



It looks like Bjork has been busy, and just to show the world she hasn't lost her touch for pushing the industry forward,  she is releasing her newest musical work as a complete album/application for iPhone and iPad.  In addition to stop motion videos, 



 



Biophilia as a 3-D multimedia collaborative effort made possible through a large group of artists, scientists, designers and instrument building programmers.  Some notables are Scott Snibbe and Michael Gondry and M/M design in Paris who she has worked with many times before. Science Icon David Attenborough narrarates the opening introduction.


  


 The listener is invited to wander through constellations in order to access Album art, games, notation, lyrics and music.  The interactive approach allows full multimedia immersion in the entirety of the ideal presented in the work, primarily How nature music and technology interact.   The album presents itself as an instrument to be played, toying with organic ideas exploring space and microscopic environments alike.  The games allow the listener to become involved in actually creating the music building rhythms chord structures out of the earth, and fighting mutating viral rhythms.  Then of course you can also just listen Bjorks above par music. In a world where pop artists try and try to be different but still make mediocre cookie cutter songs Bjork shows up and shows Mother Monster she has a lot to learn about being an artist.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

2nd New Los Angeles Folk Festival


The social networks have all been a buzz in the weeks leading up to the event held at the amazing Los Angeles hide away, "Zorthian Ranch", and it was in fact quite a day.   Daiana Feuer and the rest of the gang did an amazing job of setting this all up and making it effortless fun for all of us in attendance.  I need not say too much as the event organizers  have their elite team spreading word of the success through the blogosphere and press.  Be sure to check out lafolkfest.com for a rundown of the events and for some links to recordings of the performances.  
As for my thoughts and impressions,  We all know what I think of TSK,  further to be expected were the singer/songwriters traditionally expected at this type of event.  Some stand outs were Ana Caravelle, perhaps because this was my introduction to her music, perhaps due to the harp.   I should avoid comparing her to Joanna Newsom with a more soulful voice and sensitive style, but there is that similar meandering song structure.  Dust bowl Revival I may have to side with as my favorite of the day, with their old New Orleans folk jazz sound, collective musical talent (so tight) and instrumentation combined (I have more to say and certainly will in time).   I have also come to redefine Folk in the last day,  into an all encompassing cloud involving world music (it wouldn't quite be Los Angeles if the powers that be didn't sneak it in),  The Psycho-Spaghetti Western group Spindrift left a really good impression with their Ennio Morricone gone rock style. All in all it was a great party with some great artists.

Amanda Jo Williams (11:05-11:40pm),
Ana Caravelle (10:15-10:50pm),
Cowboy And Indian (8:10-8:45pm),
The Djin Aquarian Band (11:15-11:50pm),
Dustbowl Revival (2-2:35pm),
Emily Lacy (6-6:35pm),
Fabiano Do Nascimento Trio (7:35-8:10pm),
Ferraby Lionheart (3:30-4:05pm),
Frank Fairfield (7-7:40pm),
Ghiant (2:35-3:10pm),
Julia Holter (8:45-9:20pm),
Jenny Luna And The Moondogs (4:...05-4:40pm),
Matt Taylor And His Laurels (2:15-2:50pm),
Nasambu And The Mystic Nomads (6:55-7:30pm),
Radical Face (5:50-6:25pm),
Ramona Gonzalez (9:20-9:55pm),
RT N' The 44's (10:30-11:05pm),
Ruthann Friedman (5-5:35pm),
Space Comes Soft (7:50-8:25pm),
Spindrift (11:40-12:15pm),
Stone Darling (4:40-5:15pm),
The Stevenson Ranch Davidians (10:25-10:55pm),
Tommy Santee Klaws (9:55-10:30pm),
Triple Chicken Foot (9-10pm),
Very Be Careful (2:55-3:30pm),
Yellow Red Sparks (5:15-5:50pm)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tommy Santee Klaws

 

"In Formation" is one of those soft sanguine songs that grabs the listener and leaves them hooked on it like a drug.  It's the type of song that ends up breaking charts for a band and getting played 20+ times a day.  I've seen often a great song becoming a definition,  but Tommy Santee's music lives in much deeper places and demands a look at the overall picture.  The Depth of sound is refreshing and unique,  eerie with a dirty undercurrent of western influence juxtaposed with violent beauty in the lyricism.  Furthermore, Tommy just has a haunting voice that seems completely honest, not to mention the well executed harmonies.  I find myself bouncing back and forth between "Rakes" and "Gloria" Trying to figure out which I like more.
"Rakes", Tommy's eighth record, is being distributed by Imaginary Music, a label started by The Cure's Lol Tolhurst, and has a tightly polished sound and immaculate instrumentation as well as host of great songs.  "Gloria" comes from a more raw place with dirty prominent melodic lines and a home grown character that might make it seems less perfect than "Rakes",  but things like the children singing harmonies on the last track("Lame Dude") prove that the depth and the grit has always been a perfect part of the picture. They may, in fact, be the greatest of saviors to the blooming Los Angeles folk scene.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Production Techniques used by The Beatles producer George Martin

Nothing will quite change the trajectory of a band's music, and career,  like a great producer.   This can be seen with Radiohead after teaming up with Nigel Godrich for OK Computer,  and with a slightly less positive but even more tidal shifting collaboration of Mutt Lange and Shania Twain(which ruined country music forever more.)  Then there is Dr. Dre.  and the list especially in Hip Hop, Rap, and R&B goes on and on and on.   However, one relationship stands out above all others: 

The classically trained producer George Martin teaming up with the rock and roll band The Beatles in 1963, producing every Beatles recording from "Love me Do" the first single released to "Abbey Road" - the last album that The Beatles recorded (With the exception of Phil Spector's post production on the Let It Be album).   Martin recorded the first album stereo in eleven hours beginning his legacy as the fifth Beatle.  I would venture to say that without Martin's orchestral arrangements, instrumentation choices and the general use of the medium of recording, The Beatles would have just been a British Band imitating the music of American artists like Buddy Holly.    So where better to look for inspiration than this very fruitful relationship?


What techniques were used to attain the sound ?(miking, mixing, etc.) 

Tips from Geoff Emerick the engineer
Geoff sees audio as color, high treble as blues and silvers, with treble being green,  and bass as browns and golds.  He also chooses to place a small amount of EQ in the recording chain before going down to tape when multi-tracking.

Separation is really important  for the purposes of presence.

Tracking should start with the rhythm track  and he generally won't mike the hi hat unless its a featured part because there will be enough in the snare and overheads.   He also doesn't like taking a direct in from the bass because he sees it as lazy and prefers hearing the interaction between the bass and rhythm guitar.  In the studio he would also record piano stereo and add leads later.  It's best to go for a great performance here than to worry about perfection with the exception of really bad mistakes.

Next overdub a guide vocal to show where to fill in the instrumental overdubs and in the end re-record the final and harmony vocals, double tracked,  if you want orchestral overdubs do that also.



Tips From George on being a producer.
Diplomacy is your first requirement to be a record producer the second is good judgment.   He believes in a firm rapport  but questions his place in actually shaping the song.  but also feels that every one needs to listen to another voice to question and strengthen the creative process

Its up to the record producer to figure out before hand how the recording will go.  It is good to know:
     The arrangement and if there will be orchestra.
     If you want to get people together and the studio and play heads. 
     How many tracks are going down. 

Martin likes the separate roles of Engineer and Producer. 

You must be able to know how far you can go creating the sound you are looking for with out making it muddy or having your sounds run together.  The most important part is that the voice be heard and the song must have a clear interpretation 

Be careful not to take out to much or mix too mechanically when using multi-tracks and close miking techniques

Multi-tracks are a blessing from god, but coming from a limited background where you are mixing from one four track down to another to get more tracks gives you a great sense of forward thought to not get serious degredation problems.

Sequencing is important also once every thing is recorded. Figure out the best order for the songs to be played in to create interest in the listener.  Allow the whole thing to flow together well to sustain that interest then leave them feeling amazing with a last track.  Be conscious of the silence as well. 

Another important ability of a producer is getting inside of the artists head to understand their desire Mcartney was always very definite in his ideas and came up with most of the creative ideas
Lennon didn't like dealing with detail and bringing his ideas to fruition and he wasn't easy to please.  George referred to working with John as an archeological dig.


Example pieces

Yesterday - 1965 Paul recorded his vocal in two takes to his own guitar accompaniment.  George Martin offered the suggestion to add strings and with that Martin's relationship with the beatles began. 

In my Life -1965 George Martin played a piano solo in the middle of the track and then sped it up to twice the speed, acheiveing a baroque sound.  This was the first time that the beatles used tape manipulation to create a special effect

Strawberry Fields Forever -  used tape speed to make the George Martin string and brass composition be in the same key as  John lennon's original song which were then merged together to create the song starting with johns intro and ending with the orchestrated part.

Tommorow Never Knows -  John Lennon wanted a chorus of a thousand Tibetin monks chanting from a mountain top.  Lennon didn't like the sound of his voice and wanted the words but not him to be heard. Martin rose to this challenge by sending Lennon's voice through a revolving leslie speaker.

All you need is Love -  for the world wide live broadcast entitled "Our world"  the Beatles were chosen to represent Great Britain.  george martin played the basic rhythm track through a four track machine while the fab four  overdubed vocals and instruments live with an orchestra playing martins score which started out with  La Marsellaise, the french national anthem,  and closes hinting at Bach's Greensleeves  and glen miller's  in the mood

I am the Walrus - 1967- parts of Shakespear's  King Lear are being fed in from a live radio broadcast during the mix session

A Day in the LIfe - 1967- Paul suggested that there be a 24 bar section of a orchestra gone wrong.  Martin asked each of the forty members of the orchestra  to start on a predecided note and ascend to the highest note that their instrument could play starting softly and finishing loudly playing seperately from their neighbors.  They recorded it four times onto four tracks of a four track tape.

Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite - 1967- always had the spirit of an appropriation piece.  John took the lyrics almost directly   from a victorian promotion poster printed in 1843 for Pablo Franque's Circus Royal.  John initially wanted a hand opperated steam organ but couldn't find one George Martins fix was to compile a tape of steam organ recordings from  sousa marches and othe circusy sounding tracks.  then he had Geoff Emmerick to cut the tape into about sixty foot long pieces and then toss them into the air and reassemble them at random.  George Martin "any that sounded too much like original were turned around and added backwards until finally I arived at a whole amalgam of carousel noies which we used as a background 'wash' to give the impression of a circus"   for the swooping swirly sound that john wanted organ sounds had john play the organ part on one piano at half speed and an octave lower sow that Martin could play chomatic runs fast enough to get the desired effect when the tape was sped up.
 With all of that John had the swirly circus sound that he  was looking for.

George said of production, (from eleven hour records to three week records to records that take years)"What's most important is that a recording have soul.  It must lift the emotions of the listener and come from the heart."



Martin G.  (1983)Record Production.  G. Martin.  Making Music,  New York,  N.Y.  William Morrow and Company (257 - 265).

Emerick G.  (1983) Recording Techniques.  G. Martin.  Making Music,  New York,  N.Y.  William Morrow and Company (257 - 265).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

David Sylvian






David Silvian has had a great number of avant-guarde and esoteric collaborations since his days in the Glam Rock group "Japan".  His solo projects are varied in their emotional content. His maturity as an artist has had a proper period of gestation and he brings a certain quality of truth to his musicwithout fear of how it might be percieved.

With Blemish, Sylvian crooning voice seems to wander aimless and introspective in an eerie landscape of desolation. Noise and electric guitar drones become dunes and jagged rocks.  The album is open, well done and quite soothing.

Download the title track off Blemish by David Sylvian

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse Joins Forever 27 Club

AMY WINEHOUSE - September 14, 1983 - July 23, 2011



Her music and voice were modernism clashing with the past.  Her story was a constant rollercoaster of drugs and drinking and sex and all the things that the legends of rock and roll martyr themselves for.  So now on July 23, 2011, Amy Winehouse joins in the elite Forever 27 Club where she is latched into the eternal party with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain, Jean-Michel Basquiat,  Jeremy Michael Ward, Ron McKernan and Robert Johnson who purportedly sold his soul to the devil and is considered to be the first initiated into the club, Joseph Merrick, "The Elephant Man", also died at age 27 but unfortunately was not beautiful enough to make it on most lists.   In honor of her we shall skip over "Rehab" and leave with "Back to Black."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Modernist Primitivism



Our humanity took us in the wrong direction. Our modernism, our concepts of Utopian society, city life,  progression remove us so far from our virtues.  Removed from the self, being filled with so many things that cloud the mind distracting from a path placed before by an unseen and often neglected hand.   I have come to see the reverse of tolerance.  People tolerate the things they choose to. Through toleration we come to find appreciation in our separateness in the way that we stand out, unique individuals amongst a sea of similarity.  Perhaps our toleration stems from our own desire to be accepted and thus to become anonymous, but left to fit into our niche and to be respected.  The twist is the darkness ever present, picking at our thoughts, changing our perspectives, chasing out of our heads the innocence of being separate from the beast which compels us to be how it sees fittest or most desirable.  Note here that using words like darkness and beast to represent this something that is not modernism but is coupled with it,  intermingled, sinking in tentacles and infusing itself parasitically into the host of positive spirit and human energy.  The big city comes with a view of itself based on values created to perpetuate the mass.  The metropolitan comes complete with chic.  Well tailored and carrying itself in an aristocratic way.  The wisdom generated by the harshness of this soulless and blasé environment gives this particular human power, thought, over its "dumber" less educated parallel which I am going to here label as 'Savages."   That it is important to keep the gears cranking and turning is propagated by the media which is suppllied to build an entire economic system on falsity.  
We can all see it...
Actually, I am afraid that all we cannot see it.  There is the basic Calvinist idea which was predestination.  Some humans are meant to be saved and some are meant to burn, the separating of chaf from grain.  It sometimes seems so apparent.  In Isaiah, around chapter forty-three, it talks about the good of the servant who is able to see and is bothered by those who proudly wear their veils with closed eyes moving in unison and chattering imitations of wisdom.  They chop down a tree which has lived for years.  They make lumber from it and build a fire then praise the fire for the warmth it provides then taking silver and gold from the earth they melt it in the fire and shape it in the form of a human. In reality we shape it into Mcdonalds signs and concrete and little peices of colored paper we call currency.    Humanism has always been about replacing God, that's the whole point, to deify ourselves or our creation.  We want control of the thing controlling everything, the further we evolve the more we build, the fewer baby steps still remain between us and the prospect set by the serpent in the Garden of Eden.  The more we eat from this tree of knowledge the more quickly we become Gods.   
So Post religious bird walk,  If you are trying to figure out how this is relevant to modernist primitivism then please proceed to room G 604 where Gauguin leaves for Tahiti in 1891...  In the jungle, City Culture is only a byproduct of the western idea of conquest and claiming possessions presumably originated in Egypt thousands of years ago.  So in a modern world the only thing left or even vaguely important is to possess the game, to possess more than the person standing beside you. Realistically the city life forces this standard upon us, excepting those who refuse the concept of the ever expanding mass of concrete constantly forcing the "less sophisticated savage to the outskirts to perpetually carve out the next piece of gold.  Once discovered This new wonder will serve as grounds for the next rape of the natural world to create space for our ever feeding parasitic virtual modern world.   Setting oneself apart from this world is met with the highest of opposition.  But unlike the self or god ordained opposition to take part in the world, worldliness calls and nature yields.



The intrigue of primitivism lies in its separation from any system resembling control.  Its almost a desire for anarchy, a desire to be truly free to live life in any way that one feels compelled to partake of.  To be an artist one cannot allow themselves to be caught up in the flow.  The savage is an individual,  savages are individuals relying on each other for protection, safety,  food, shelter,  all the things that modern society claims to hand out to you as long as you have some way of obtaining possesions which serve to perpetuate the system.  The Savage's system contains no way of feeding a beast such as the city.  The savage system relies only on the ability to be small, moveable and adaptable. The City system is about duration, about lasting, growing roots and using the right amount of recourse to jump start a self sustaining environment.  Every day for the savage may be his last.  This gives a perspective on the importance of every moment, every meal, every action and interaction.  The non-savage holds no desire for life on that level, he drifts through life following signs that say stop and go.  Failure to respect the cold rigid line of these signs will result in an unfavorable end.  While the savage seeks, explores, and struggles, the metropolitan goes through motions and performs mundane tasks to perpetuate the system, which in return feeds the individual's need for temporary escape from the system he helped create. 
So why does the soul disappear in the metropolitan system.  Is it a currency sign that eats it or that search for personal identity in the statistic sea.  Is it the repetitive tasks or propaganda posing as guide posts to freedom.   Diving back into religion:   When Jesus Christ walked and taught his message was rebellious,  it went against the structure of the Romans and of Jewish tradition, it was about separating the self from the beast.  His message was savage, it was about living life in the best way you could, not blindly accepting what ever was thrown your direction.   Christianity fell victim to the same curse and merged with the ideals of the Roman empire,  The apposing beast it found its way to incorporate and destroy the soul, as it does any system that comes in contact with the mass.  Christianity was used as a tool of control taken out of context and used without relevance to the text in order to control an illiterate society.  What was once a lifestyle became a cog, a gear wheel in the system more relevant to class than philosophy.   When Primitive Art was introduced, the concept of an untamed world was allowed to re-sneak into the imagination of the mass.  It turned heads, averted attention, was met with opposition riots, it was unacceptable, maybe even revolutionary.  Unchecked it could have brought the created world to its knees, but the beast quickly seized its opportunity and swallowed the savage, plundered it, squeezed it like a wash rag until every drop of its life was gone. Then they sold cups for a penny a piece and society obliged saying "Yes' I will have a sip".  When the world drank from the cup the rush of the spirit no longer held sweetness, but instead tasted bitter, but the hope of possibility exists that something free lives out there, that adventure is possibility, that there still exists something of the idea of a circle of life and that maybe having control is less important to being in control than not having control forcing oneself into the situation of surviving.
I want to leave with this thought "Modern is now, life is passing by."  Times spent in mountains trying to find what has been beat out by the city are never long enough.  It's like allowing a callous to wear away.  One of my friends who moved out of my small hometown to Dallas introduced me to the analogy of the big city callous or the blasé attitude if one wants to use big fancy french terms.  Growth happens on more than just one level, there are are many ways to gage the worth of a person.  The metropolitan man is no better person than the man from the small town.  The man from the small town tends to have more soul and love to tap from.  Cities deal in dollars and cents you get what you pay for, sometimes you get screwed.  In the ideal you have a community, small, interconnecting, you build a family with those that surround you, the good of one is the good of all and at the end of the day you eat or you go hungry and you all do it together.  Ayn Rand leaves this scenario as taboo due to moochers and others that refuse to pull their weight.  Yet in the end of Atlas Shrugged those who shrug off the weight of the world end up in a small community of equally driven individuals.  The cold and slicing city seems more savage than savage to me.  The extreme fix says "Utopia will not exist as long as people do.  So buy an uzi and start mowing.   Better days are ahead."  It is true there is no going back, giving up our modern conveniences.  But I like to think that we can adopt the community of our savage ancestors and use the fractured togetherness in our modern setting.  In any case,  "Goodness is not what has been it is ever what shall be".

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kurt Cobain Suicide Note

Kurt Cobain (February 20, 1967 - April 5, 1994)


Surely we all have some grievances with the music industry.    However, this being the anniversary of a Rich Rock Star that couldn't be happy and thus sadly performed felatio on a shotgun.  I highly recommend not letting the business get to you.  Instead focus on more enjoyable things like MusicOh, and kick the heroin. Its a bad habit.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Letting go of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum



  

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum  came like a storm out of Oakland California,  as shouting expression of Experimental Metal brilliance.  Being a group most often seen in smaller venues, SGM delivers one of the most powerful shows I have ever seen live, and I mean ever.  I have witnessed performances including costumes, make up, performance art, specially built custom instruments and always an extremely tight band playing complex intellectual and powerful music.  They have managed, despite their creativity and musical superiority over most bands,  to stay humble, true, and approachable to their fans. As seen in their farewell announcement.
 

"If you go to these shows, You will have seen 
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum for the last time.  
As it turns out,  we are being replaced.
 
April 7th, 2011
Casbah, San Diego, CA (21+)

April 8th, 2011
Troubador, Los Angeles CA (All Ages)

April 10th, 2011
The Independent, San Francisco, CA (21+)

It has been an honor to make music with you,  
both in the room and not."

It was a shock to be presented with the news that this amalgamation of gifted musicians is pursuing an alternate future from their life spent almost endlessly in the old bus that they have known as a home since 2001.  The Museum is closing its doors after a triad of forward thinking albums which are Avant-guard and Classical combined with progressive metal, and in the end indescribable as anything other than amazing.

As fortune allows this breaking of the SGM fellowship has left behind a legacy of music, including side projects like Tin Hat Trio, Faun Fables, Book of Knots, and the newly formed Causing a Tiger which will continue to carry the flame.

YOU WILL BE MISSED BUT NOT FORGOTTEN SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How Does Radiohead Do it?

Radiohead is a special case in music.   



One day after their album "King of Limbs" came out, It had already taken its place crowning the internet top searches.  Millions of YouTube hits and hundreds of bloggers offered interpretations of lyrics, comparisons to previous albums, reposted and otherwise cashed in on the success it was destined for.  'The Robotanists' even went about making  a cover album of the newborn baby within the day. 
  Fans of Radiohead can't seem to get enough, conservative music listeners (the kind that listen to Top 40 radio) are eager to patiently listen to it and try to understand it, marveling in the evolution of the megagroup and relishing in how they (the listeners) are now "Artful" because of the new sounds they are privy to.  'King of Limbs' feels like something that you know shouldn't be alive but keeps looking at you in the face, very much existing.

Many hail "King of Limbs"as Experimental, yet it has become vastly popular with listeners who seem to have missed that memo decades ago re: The arrival of Experimental music. (Bjork, Sigur Ros, Autechre,  Lexaunculpt,  Hrvatski, Matmos, Venetian Snares, Boards of Canada,  IDM, the list is long). Many are quick to pigeon hole, or expect something else, be it the next level on the Experimental ladder, or a retreat back to the good sing-along Karma Police days.  I see it as a step on a obvious trajectory,  Radiohead has been on this path beyond cult ever since teaming up with producer Nigel Godrich for 'Ok Computer' back after they proved that they could be your everyday true rock band. 

'Ok Computer' opened the door to the change that nobody was expecting. The jazz influence snuck in but carried on its back something far more whimsical: Ambiences, open song stuctures, electronic beats, layers upon layers, found woven through out anything Godrich touches.  'Kid A' and 'Amnesiac' dove deeper in the new electronic direction and everyone flipped out because 'Techno' was no longer the only electronic music. But truth be told the music to this day is very specific to Radiohead, it has always been specifically Radiohead and will continue to be characteristically Radiohead.

So let me get this out of my system once and for all.  If you think this new album "King of Limbs" is experimental go listen to Pierre Shaeffer and see where tape music came from,  if you want great pop music with noise overtones and actual depth Radiohead fits the bill.  I have to give props to them, Radiohead keeps opening the ears of those that are unaware of what is out there. Ok. so is not new, but it is very good and the more times I listen to it the deeper in I go.  In my humble opinion, this one hits the mark right where 'In Rainbows' missed... They have created a thick luscious environment,  hung on to instruments,  chopped up some live drums and put them back together.   My first impression is how old the music seems classic, retro like "Baba O'Riley" by The Who.  The textures though are far more complex,  back masking guitars, delay units, and feeding into that stumbling Art Blakey Jazz drum segments,  Living in poly-rhythms, colliding with this lounge exotica sleek swing thing.   And at the top everything delays like dub music fading into an atmosphere to set the stage for more and more looping offset to pretty much obscure the fact that this is thus far extremely minimal repetitive music in standard 4/4.   "Little by Little" sounds like a throwback to Nirvana back in their "Bleach" days,  however Radiohead is still very much there, amongst the whining and through all frequencies.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Confusing Racial Implications of the Goat Rider Party

Strange musical economy... the rules never changed. Instead the method to the madness mutated in a most dismaying manner. It does make some sense though, and the blogs really are doing a service to the musicians at this point.  Especially because everyone is an artist now, Garage Band musicians are falling out of the trees like shaken up termites chewing at the rims of media formats. and Double Rainbow is getting the most plays.



Strange musical economy... Maybe the rules did change,  but still The artists remain poor at the bottom of the money net, and instead of spending money in studios which used to separate the chaff from the grain, they now pay for marketing and promotion or to submit their music through some third party who managed to convince venues a tollway between them and the artists was a good idea(quality control, you know?)



I did so think that the world of Americana music would have divorced itself from such silliness as that which spawns Lady Gaga's embryonic form of Miley Cyrus, that doomed offspring of my Achy Breaky Heart.  The entirety of the Disney clan now fully aware of the sordid lives they must lead in the aftermath witnessing their star role model Brittany Spears and sister sliding down awkward paths.




Indeed the Justin Beiber Selena Gomez Sex Tape is only the beginning.  After all with Usher producing it and Demi Levato lending a hand(quite literally) the show should be spectacular. "But they are still children" the Christian right wing will cry out uncertain who to blame for the actions of those left in charge of babysitting their own lost children trying so hard to be grown up versions of their idols. They rapidly duplicate every move of virginal experimentation detailed by the Twitter play by play and steal mommy's credit card for the new Disney Porn Site selling subscriptions by the millions. Indeed, the mouse will sell everything after the hostile acquisition of Hustler.  Amy Winehouse toasts from her "Snuggie" on heroin couch,  While Madonna bitterly explains to her manager "I did that years ago." Sex always sells the most of everything,  Its the lowest common denominator that the media craves, and because the market is now set to be based on media,  the ad campaign must be original... Much like The Avant-Americana Stylings of TEARS OF THE MOOSECHASER... 

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Aronofsky Reimagines Swan Lake with Black Swan

I witnessed Aronofsky's  Black Swan back before the turn of the year,  It was angled to be a psycho sexual thriller about ballerinas with some super human overtones, along the lines of transformation.  After a month of being a stage hand for Nutcracker after Nutcracker, one would think I had enough Tchaikovsky or even enough ballet for that matter.  However, because Of  Pi and Requiem for a Dream I had some extraordinarily high expectations for this one, and by my first impression I was not disappointed at all.

 My tendency to judge films starting with the first frame was quickly annihilated by the long shot of a dancing ballerina that turned out to be Natalie Portman,  Her acting through out the movie continued to push boundaries and what impressed me most was her dedication and dancing as a ballerina.  Mila Kunis as the free spirited sexual dancer posed in a position between honest friend and rival for the glory of the Swan Queen was...well, Sexy.  Vincent Cassel also plays his role perfectly though I think his character merits some unfair judgment as the villain.  Winona Rider also delivers as the ousted former lead and serves well to cause no end to the angst of all involved.  The movie plays with psychology like clay,  Mirrors through out the story testify to changes real or imagined,  And truth hangs out in the edges to be viewed from a variety of visages.  Further twists in the story telling reveal, that the arch of the story line drifts out of a movie about competition in the world of ballet and deeper into the actual fable of Tchaikovsky Swan Lake. 

Coming home after it was over had left me struck dumb.  Maybe it was the jerky camera movements the graphic nature of the story, tangles of fear,  sex, repression, Fingernails, the pace of the trajectory, the quality of the music, or the sound and picture in the Archlight Theater in Hollywood.  I was wobbly kneed when I walked out, lost between real and delusion.  I literally felt high when I left the theater,  Like I popped MDMA with the girls in the bar. The film most definitely got under my skin and got my adrenaline going.  I was weary to write this lest I ruin any sort of surprise for anyone who has not seen it. Truth of the matter is I think I know what happened but I'm not sure. I am going to have to watch this one again to fully comprehend the brilliance that went into it.   Probably the best new film I saw in 2010. Well worth a view.

I would also like to mention in post script the way the Europeans handled the Art Deco promotional posters,   Very nice...




I thought Russian Constructivist or and then of the Nick Gaetano cover art for the Ayn Rand books.  Its really good stuff though.  Would to have loved to see this all over LA, really would have fit in over by Wilshire.  Some digging and you find out about LaBoca who this can be credited to.  So much good stuff out of the UK, but that deserves its own time and place.



However the chips fall...
Bravo to all involved with every part of this living piece of art that is Black Swan.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shine Little Star Shine: a quote to think about.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves 'who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. " ~ Marianne Williamson