on now, breaking down jason moran [america]




Jason Moran is new to me, or to be precise he is twelve days old, thanks entirely to AM [yo!]…

I feel like Patti Smith is said to about hearing something new; wondersomely happy. ‘Break Down‘ is a great way in, from a remarkable album called Artist in Residence [2006] and worth digging behind for more. For the moment I’ll only add that if, like me, you missed Ten, from 2010, then you should check out its compelling blend of forms and inspiring newness… [RFK In The Land Of Apartheid, to Crepescule with Nellie thru. The Subtle One and on.]

Else, all I’ll say now is Continue reading “on now, breaking down jason moran [america]”

on silence or not, cage blake alÿs and on…

Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing…” made sense, mainly because it was such a great track back in the mid-90s, right? Cage Against the Machine, the attempt to block/buy the No. 1 slot for a recording of John Cage’s 4’33” -a rigorously orchestrated slice of atmospheric sound, often described as silence- was always a bit too clever and so a bit too dumb to work, no?

Kenneth Silverman’s recent biography of Cage, Begin Again, is a pretty straight celebratory record of an entirely remarkable life [and not published in the UK!]. Cage spans [subverts?] or strides [meanders?] the 20th Century in very particular ways, making work from beginning to end nearly and constantly mining the same seam of inventive attempts.

Always beginning again, afresh, anew -so the thesis runs. KS makes an epigram of Gertrude Stein’s gorgeous line from The Making of Americans; “Beginning was all of living with him, in a beginning he was always as big in his feeling as all the world around him.” The way in which this actualises is exemplary even while it creates doubt in me too -as the book goes on dutifully detailing yet another I Ching derived whatever!

4’33” was achieved using a deck of tarot cards, which even Cage said “seems idiotic” but he composed each movement by joining up randomised periods of silence with precise measures which totalled four minutes and thirty three seconds. The point, one made more precise by his subsequent visit of Ryoanji and fuller acquaintance with Zen, was that the ‘silence’ is a pregnant one, like the stone garden’s potent ‘blankness’.

Two thoughts; one links directly to the gorgeous version of Feist’s song, There’s a Limit to Your Love, that James Blake put out a month ago. As you know, the track is a departure from his flurry of promising EPs released this year alone, including CMYK and Klavierwerke, for foregrounding his voice against a piano track redolent of Nina Simone and an electronic bassquake. Apart from just enjoying it and its arguably rather more local newness I was struck by the ‘silence’ it contains. Or near silence, Continue reading “on silence or not, cage blake alÿs and on…”

on warbling from a to d [ari-up to devendra banhart]

Some deaths are bludgeoning and Ari-Up’s recent dying was one such. You can hear why just by listening to that great first album, Cut [1979], the maddened monkeying in heaven singularity of her manifested voice on ‘New Town’ etc. All those sounds went in to me so faithfully and long ago that really I don’t need to hear them from without as it were.

However, listening to ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ today sounded more like tomorrow than yesterday; striking for one of the least digitally conceived songs ever [despite its very crisp production]…

I realised too that the warbling Continue reading “on warbling from a to d [ari-up to devendra banhart]”

cerith wyn evans’ final week at white cube central london; go, go, go!

S=U=P=E=R=S=T=R=U=C=T=U=R=E Cerith Wyn Evans 2010

“Everyone’s gone to the movies,

now we’re alone at last…”

I finally made it back to see Cerith’s show at White Cube’s Mason’s Yard which is, I want to emphasise, just off Piccadilly in central London. The show closes on May 22 and I urge you to drop by to catch a stunning and substantial installation of recent works which makes the space live so well that it claims possession of it.

My hopes were high for this show but I had to rush through an opening that was as busy as you might expect to be somewhere else. As a result I didn’t quite trust my impression that CWE had drawn all the currents in his work together into something quite so winningly complete. That is -at its most elemental- influence and intellect, taste and fancy all deliver something complex here that is coherent only as visual art. It’s clarified resonance would justify permanent -or DIA-style- installation in the site.

A peculiarly all over the place month made returning impossible, but the work lingered and I had to see it again especially if I were to scribble something here…

Continue reading “cerith wyn evans’ final week at white cube central london; go, go, go!”

morton feldman vertical thoughts, horizontal movement? imma dublin ongoing to 27 june

I just want to flag up this exhibition curated around Morton Feldman which I haven’t and won’t see [partly because I’m away doing a Residency myself during June] with its intriguing catalogue which I’ve also not seen yet.

Vertical Thoughts; Morton Feldman and the Visual Arts looks like a full-blooded collection of visual materials linked to Feldman and any focus on Feldman is welcome. I wonder why it isn’t travelling to other museums of modern art; Tate Modern for instance?

Kevin Volans has a piece in the catalogue [and a slightly out of date website here]. I caught his 60th birthday performance a few months ago [Wigmore Hall, Nov 09] which was excellent. Afterwards he described how he’s increasingly reliant as a composer and performer on visual art’s receptivity and commissioning resources.

Music-wise, there’s still a performance to come of Rothko’s Chapel and Words and Music by Samuel Beckett on 30th May by the Crash Ensemble here.

polar bear ‘want to believe everything’ april 2010; it was “following…”

Polar Bear gave a free concert in the QEH foyer as part of the Ether Festival on Friday 23 April and it was … “following”. They have their new cd Peepers out and are on tour until October to celebrate it and you can join in through their website here.

I’d never caught them live before and they were brilliant; tight as performers, expansive as musicians, maxed-up jazz-men especially with their unlikely innovations involving a guitar and box of electronic tricks. Jumping, infectious, toughened up by indigenous anarchism and … “following.” Peepers captures all the peculiar liveliness of the band live very well.

If you know Polar Bear already then you don’t need me to say anything, if you don’t then I have a feeling there’s nothing I can say that will get you over the levée. Except this; trust me!

I took along someone who for reason of age alone is new to jazz -certainly live- and once the buzz of a packed-in audience faded a kind of bodily confusion set in which took a track or two to change and for my little friend to find his own way in. A particular unusually compressed sound made and repeated by one of the sax players triggered the change and then my friend quickly engaged the jazz of it; the expansive wrapping and precise rolling of Seb Rochford’s drum playing, the brittle electronic sounds of Leafcutter John and his skanking guitar, the biting double bass of Tom Herbert and the explosive tenor sax playing of Pete Wareham [and stand-in? Shabaka Hutchings too].

There was a nice moment when Seb Rochford introduced the track ‘want to believe everything’ saying “when I wrote it I was thinking about keeping faith in people and with, like all the bad things happening in the world, people are always telling us to just keep your faith … so that’s what I’m finding, you know, just to try to keep that. So that’s what this tune’s about” and as he did so the sun fell into the window behind him in such a way as to backlight his architecturally frizzed hair from behind. It didn’t seem inappropriate or anything less than just jazz.

There are lots of ways of trying to say this but Polar Bear are uniquely of the now. They’re doing their own thing on a new label, are as good as it gets and gracious with it. Don’t catch up with them later/one day, be sure to catch them now.

Here’s a clip from Later … in which they perform the title track from Peepers. As good and faithful as this is, it looks and sounds as if they’ve been confined to a small box…