Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Pharcyde - Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde

Bizarre indeed. I can only imagine how weird this would have seemed in '92.

Some funky production and more abstract lyricism reminds me firstly of Del, but sometimes this thing sounds fairly East coast too. It's a great mash of influences here, but stands apart from most of what was happening at the time. Mostly though, it's just great fun.

Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter One: Gen de couleur libres

This recent release from vocalist/saxophonist Matana Roberts has been doing the rounds nicely on the internet, thanks in part to a review from The Needle Drop. People are getting excited about a new jazz release in 2011, whowouldathunkit?

Supposedly the first chapter of 12, Coin Coin... channels the spiritual aspects of Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, and the abstract elements of Art Ensemble of Chicago. It all comes together relatively neatly, to form a narrative driven avant-garde exploration through different moods. Being a member of the AACM, it's no surprise that Roberts' sound is equal parts experimentation and afrocentrism. 

If you feel like your end-of-year list is lacking in something a little more adventurous, then by all means, give this a listen.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Kaoru Abe

When I started with American free jazz artists, I thought it was intense. Then when I heard Brotzmann, Evan Parker and other Europeans, I was shown once again the power of the sax to absolutely destroy my comfort zone.

So it was with great pain/pleasure, that I found this drug addled Japanese man, playing the sax as if his very life was at stake.

Here are two of his fantastic solo albums:

Plenty of his stuff can be found on youtube. Also expect some posts later on of his work with Masayuki Takayanagi.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Eric Dolphy - At the Five Spot, Vol. 1 + 2

Eric Dolphy had a two week residency at the Five Spot back in '61, and luckily, Rudy Van Gelder was there one night to record the goods.

Both Dolphy and Little are in fine form, though it's most definitely in that mid-point between the bop and avant-garde that was still to take off, which may annoy some hoping for more out there Dolphy. The songs are great though, especially the Little tune 'Bee Vamp'. Unfortunately Little died only a few months later, which is really a shame, because these recordings show so much potential (imagine him in all the spots that Dolphy would give to Hubbard later on).

At the Five Spot

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To Pity a Paedophile...

Last night I finished reading Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov. For those who don't know, the novel is a memoir of sorts, of an (incestuous) paedophile. No, not all sunshine and rainbows. However shocking the content might be, the writing is absolutely beautiful, which only increases the effect tenfold. What is interesting is that the story is not some vehicle for lofty metaphor or allegorical significance (though I admit, those kinds of interpretations always interest some), as Nabokov himself points out in the Afterword. It is just a messed up story.

So who would enjoy such filth? Who would enjoy a story about paedophilia and incest, where you do not necessarily feel sorry for the 'victim'? Well of course, this is the question that many asked, and many continue to ask about different forms of art focused on the darker side of humanity. The answer, quite simply, is many people. It holds classic status now, and is loved by many.

Of course there are many people who would be disgusted by such a story, and possibly disgusted with those who enjoy it. This is usually the point where censorship, restrictions, and flat-out bans usually come into effect, though interestingly enough, for literature it rarely happens. If this were a film, video clip, lyrical content on an album, or any other form of art, it would no doubt be subjected to restrictions, censorship, etc. An 8 year old would not be able to purchase the film, yet they can purchase the novel (for less than $10, mind you). Sure, the novel wouldn't be taught in too many schools (Donnie Darko style PTA boards have their ways), but it is accessible. Why?

Censorship and restrictions are ideally in place to protect the simple minds of children, or in some cases, the simple minds of everybody (A Serbian Film, anyone?). In some places around the world, many many things are just blacklisted and not allowed at all; an encroachment on artistic freedom, but that is not the main point here. What I am more concerned with is the attitude towards those who create and enjoy this art, the reasons behind banning such things. Simply put, can art be immoral?

These things are never black and white, though this seems to be a problem in another sense; people struggle to divorce themselves from the imaginary. We encourage escapism in different forms of art, but have the nerve to judge those escapes on subject, rather than artistic merit. Should your morals be questioned for enjoying a novel such as this? What about misogynist hip hop? Extremely violent films? Comedy about race? It is indeed quite possible to distance yourself from the subject matter, to take a step back from the views that may or may not be present, while enjoying it simply as art.

Alas, we live in a world where people experience post-Avatar depression, and where the obsessed find murderous inspiration in The Beatles. Perhaps people are too impressionable, and it is they who are the problem.

Or maybe it really is art that is too effectual.

Maybe art does have morals, or a lack of, which are subliminally fed to us.

Maybe art should be blamed for those dark thoughts procured in young minds.

Maybe art brainwashes us.

Maybe people should go outside.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Alban Berg - Piano Sonata, Op. 1

I absolutely love this piece. It has been called a "formidable debut", and I would agree. It wrestles with tonality (this was around Schoenberg's "free atonal" phase), being somewhat loosely based around B minor (apparently), though it does all in it's power to break free.

The result is a thing of beauty.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

On Wu-Tang Clan and Gigs

Saw Wu-Tang Clan last night, which is something I've dreamed of being able to say. It's quite strange seeing an artist of that kind of renown, that I have revered from an early age.

Needless to say, they were amazing.

And add that to the fact that I saw Del just a couple of weeks ago, and MF DOOM earlier this year, and that's basically 3/3 of my favourite hip hop artists (excluding of course Pharoahe Monch). Plus I've also seen Ulcerate, and Portal along with a whole bunch of other great bands at Evil Invaders... Deerhunter at Laneway festival... Tallest Man on Earth coming up, along with The Kronos Quartet....

Damn. It's been a good year.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Morton Feldman - Triadic Memories (Aki Takahashi)

I am at a loss for words when it comes to describing Feldman's affecting compositions. The feeling is difficult to grasp; I fear that any kind of metaphor I could perhaps use would just be a lame attempt at doing so. All I can say, is that with his slow and deliberate pieces, he achieves a kind of haunting melancholy that is genuinely unsettling.

This particular piece, is for solo piano, in a single, hour long movement. It is minimal, in a sense, but maximal in effect.

Triadic Memories

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Guided by Voices - Bee Thousand

Lo-Fi indie, before being a hipster was a "thing".

Simple, poppy songs, played with that "I don't care if this never gets released" kind of attitude. Basically sounds like a bunch of demos; songs suddenly cut out, change abruptly. But of course, this just makes it all the more charming.

Bee Thousand