Sunday, May 31, 2009

Worth Seeking (XII)

Here's something quite fascinating from the mid-sixties. On YouTube it's broken into three sections, but the film can be seen here without breaks. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Yawning at 9.39...

It's 9.39 on a Thursday evening and, as my post title indicates, I'm yawning vigorously after my day's exertions. I'm much too tired to write anything stimulating, I'm sorry to say, and as my art work is now going very well indeed, with a key breakthrough made today, I've been somewhat neglectful of my poor blog (yet again). I feel that I must mention that I've been listening a lot to Buoy by Phil Durrant, Lee Patterson, and Dublin-based Paul Vogel, probably the best Improv album I've heard in ages (it's available from Cathnor Records, who carry lots of other very fine music, here, and I can't recommend it highly enough; it's one of those records that just works beautifully, where the three performers never play a false note while conjuring up a deep, evocative, intense soundworld that draws you back again and again, and unfortunately means I'm giving other albums that I need to listen to less attention (all in good time!)). I might also recommend Juncture by Yannis Kyriakides and Lucio Capece (available for free download here), and for those of you who like long, darkly atmospheric, percussive music, I quite like Jason Kahn's 'room to room' (also available for free download at the excellent Compost & Height blog here). But as I'm knackered after spending all day working on my art, I'm going to sign off with something considerably more accessible than the above. For some reason, this song has wormed its way into my brain, and keeps repeating on me like a spicy sausage. I particularly like the opening. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Worth Seeking (XI)

In my previous post I featured a video from a record company which dealt with the whole notion of YouTube and copyright infringement, a subject that's always been a thorny issue for music fans (remember the "home taping is killing music" warnings of the 1980s?). Well, last night I was bored and depressed, and as usual when in that state I was surfing the internet in a random fashion. While searching for Skip Spence on YouTube, I saw a link to the following song, by a singer I'd never heard of called Linda Perhacs (it appears on her only album, Parallelograms, released in the late 1960s). Now, if someone hadn't violated copyright and posted this song, I never would have heard it (and possibly bought the album on which it appears, as I have a soft spot for such music)...

Friday, May 22, 2009

An Amusement (XVI)

A while back I posted a YouTube video of a song I particularly like (here), but when I recently went to listen again, I discovered that YouTube had removed it. Which is fair enough. But while searching for other songs by the same artist, I came across the following video from their record company, which I think is quite interesting simply for the fact that they went to the trouble of putting it on YouTube in the first place (and accompanied it with a banging tune!), and that it has provoked a certain amount of ire from fans. Here's the company's video, followed by a fan's video, followed by the song which Foul Play sampled (illegally, as far as I know) in the video I posted originally. (Due to Blogger's format, you can't read the last word of each sentence in the first video. Heavens to Murgatroyd! If you just click on the video, it will open it in YouTube, thus removing the problem. My apologies!)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More Misty Moments

The above photo (or photos) was (were) taken at Tinaberna Strand this afternoon. It is my attempt to use joined-up photos to create an effect similar to a Chinese scroll (although my humble effort is far short of those most beautiful of creations). The image is a 360º view. If you own a copy of Hector Zazou's Songs for the Cold Seas, it would make a nice accompaniment to this image; if not, listen to the song below, which has one of the artists featured there (this selection, while strong, is nothing like as powerful as her 'Havet Starmer' of Zazou's album, a song which equals in beauty and power Bjork's more well-known 'Visur Vatsneda Rosu', an extraordinary song which I've also included. If you don't like the photo, I hope you enjoy the songs, and I highly recommend seeking out Zazou's album (I've not heard his other work, so I can't comment on it...)) (This post's title refers to a previous post here.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Worth Seeking (X)

It's grey and miserable here in Wexford, and I don't really have much of an inclination to write anything (again!), so I'm being lazy and posting a video instead. It's a piece of music I really like by Pierre Boulez. Unfortunately it's only half the performance, so you'll have to buy this CD if you want to hear the rest of it. Enjoy!

And for something completely different (and closer to my current mood, as I'm feeling pretty nihilistic at present), there's this:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

An Amusement (XV)

I've picked up quite a few unexpected musical items in Waterford charity shops and the discount bin of BPM Records (including Encre's Plexus II, Ramellzee's Bi-Conicals of the Rammellzee (for 50c!), SFT's Swift (with "The Action Jackson Orchestra Perhaps" featuring Gilad Atzmon!), and Luc Ferrari's Interrupteur/Tautologos 3, as well as a whole lot that turned out to be much less interesting), and yesterday my curiosity was piqued by a title called The Vegetable Orchestra Remixed. As one of the tracks was a typically brief entry by Ricardo Villalobos (only 17 minutes long!) I decided there and then that it was shelling out five euros for. When I got home I looked up said Vegetable Orchestra, and was pleasantly surprised by what I saw: they are an ensemble who make all their instruments out of organic vegetables (as shown below) and at the end of each concert put them into a soup for the audience. I must say I've never been to a concert where you could eat the instruments... Based on one listen, the CD is a solid contemporary electronica/dance effort, even though the interesting feature of the orchestra (the nature of the sounds they produce from their homemade instruments) is lost somewhat by the electronic settings; after all, a good laptop can produce any number of odd squelchy noises, and I feel these sounds would have more impact with minimal processing. But that's just a snap judgement, and may change. Another problem with a remix album is that without reference to the originals I'm at a loss to know just how different or processed these tracks are. I would love to hear these guys take on one of John Cage's indeterminate pieces! More information on the Vegetable Orchestra here

Friday, May 1, 2009

Worth Seeking (IX)

The music of the Shaggs must be some of the most unusual, and most appealing, of all of what could be considered ‘outsider’ music. Like the Jackson Five, they were a family group created and managed by a driven and uncompromising father; unlike the J5, they were white, female, and quite breathtakingly untalented (in the traditional sense). The three sisters (Dot, Helen, and Betty Wiggin) were pulled out of school and forced to take up playing in order to fulfill a prediction made by their father’s mother (!) that his daughters would be pop musicians, and spent most of their teenage and early adult years practising over and over and over again, despite their lack of discernable ability or any real inclination (they stopped entirely the moment their father died, aged 47, in 1975). In 1969 they recorded their definitive statement, an album somewhat grandiosely called The Philosophy Of The World, which is a collection of banal homespun ditties performed with a lack of musical skill which renders them completely mesmerising. Or as Lester Bangs said: “They just whang and blang away while singing in harmonies reminiscent of three Singing Nuns who’ve been sniffing lighter fluid ... [It’s] one of the landmarks of rock ‘n’ roll history.” They may not have been able to play in the accepted sense, but their clumsy, amateur, at times almost atonal playing, combined with their evident sincerity and unselfconsciousness, make it work; in fact, make it charming, a genuinely human and expressive recording which has more depth and intelligence than you might at first think. Listen to the following song, with knowledge of their confined and dominated family life (and, disturbingly, the suggestion that their father may have been “intimate” with at least one of them, according to this article, which is also one of the most informative and interesting), and wonder if songwriter Dot might not have been sending a coded message about the best parents being the “ones who understand”. Here’s the song, and here’s some links for finding out more: here and here (click on the top picture to hear their brilliant 'My Pal Foot Foot'). Their music, in its own quiet way, challenged every notion that exists about popular music, which is why it's still relevant even today. Enjoy!