on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2014 6 Nov

The art of going to extremes and meeting the core

von: Michael Engelbrecht Filed under: Blog | TB | 2 Comments

What do the new (forthcoming) albums of Scott Walker & Sunn O))) , Daniel Lanois and Sidsel Endresen / Stian Westerhus have in common?

Disturbance, a considerable amount of harshness, and, in rare moments, unexpected tenderness!

Scott and Sidsel get or certainly will get a huge amount of great reviews because they have strong admirers: nearly always the same small bunch of people who sings the praise, and for all the good reasons. I had the luck to listen to the second duo album Sidsel and Stian will release on Rune Grammofon in late November. Two days ago I vanished under my set of headphones and, listening to „Bonita“, I was transported to an oldfashioned  bar with old chandeliers and a Wurlitzer jukebox.

Two people –  bathing in neon lights –  danced to this undanceable  music (coming from a fantastic sound system Jamaican style). Dancing to this only seems possible in radical exercises of „Ausdruckstanz“. Listening to the duo, I forgot my standard aesthetic vocabulary, the word „postmodernism“ lost any meaning. Sidsel Endresen is the most expressionist female voice in modern music since Meredith Monk, and guitarist Stian Westerhus is playing with fire extending the vocabulary of his fucking old electric guitar with a grim smile on his face.

In the same way the meeting of Scott Walker and Sunn O))) was  a dark dream that came true. The more I listen to  the album, the more I’m seduced by the moments of vulnerabilty that surrounds the merciless flow of words. Some may know about this miserable old school of exorcism, part of the madness of  Catholicism. Now, listening to Scott’s singing can make you think of exorcising ghosts, but, in contrast to generations of mentally instable priests (inquisition’s killing elite), here it really gets a cathartic quality. There is something deeply human in Scott’s hunting territory between a whisper and a cry. The effect is similar to looking at the last fifteen minutes of the last episode of  „True Detective“.  

And now: Mr. Lanois. He releases an album that confuses a lot of critics who cannot categorize it. Critics who come from the mainstream and get their fucking kicks on route 66, on fucking Classic Rock Radio. Strictly conservative critics (rock journalism is full of  smart Alecs whose heads are filled with Harley Davidson memories and  „good old time“-obsessions). They cannot handle disturbance, because they think they know it all. „Flesh & Machine“ is too much for them, unbearable for a conservative mind. It’s not old school ambient, it’s something you didn’t expect from the producer of Dylan, U2, Peter Gabriel – on first listen it may deeply disturb. So several writers  are showing their thumbs down, writing about „unfinished“ pieces and „exercises in noise jams“.  

They are not used to someone touching new ground – oh, poor buddies, no deja-vues. But in one aspect they are right. The record should be sold with a warning sign: „DANGER! OUTSIDE THE COMFORT ZONE!“

Ya remember the bar I was transported to (the way of dreams and good navigation systems) while listening to Sidsel and Stian. The owner of that bar (placed in a deserted area of King Crimson’s „RED DISTRICT“ in Torquay, England) is  a fabulous guy.  And a collector of jukeboxes. He loves extreme music, he loves the evergreens, too.  His  jukebox from the 1960’s is  crammed with that stuff. Thousands of singles: from „Winchester Cathedral“ to „Daydream Believer“. Big archive.

Now he ordered a special edition: two very rough tracks from Lanois‘ new „Wunderkammer-Musik“, a very limited edition: one single only!  It was nearly midnight. The two dancers left the wooden stage, the last echoes of Stian’s electric guitar dissoving into air, Scott Walker is watching „True Detective“ in his home in London, and my friend John  smiles and says: „The fruit takes a long time to ripen, but it falls suddenly“.  He likes riddles. He takes the Lanois single, puts it into the „holy grail“ of his juxebox collection, and takes a coin out of his pocket.

The stylus is landing on the the black vinyl, the piece starts. – Gosh, this is fucking genius, I say to him, but why did you do all this. – Just wait a minute, it’s all done with a purpose. It  didn’t take long, that minute. Suddenly the jukebox started to tremble, and tremble even more,  and before I could even open my mouth to say something like „what the fuck“, it simply exploded with a bang. The bar was closed for three months.

Our wounds were healing quickly (he excused himself more  than once that a  copy of „Hey Jude“ sliced up my left forearm), and when I asked him later if he had known what would happen, he answered: „Think so. You know there comes a time where you don’t want to rely on all your domesticated knowledge about music. Or life. Sometimes you have to handle explosives.“

This entry was posted on Donnerstag, 6. November 2014 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. irina matei:

    ich kann nicht den text zu meiner person kommentieren, deshalb kommentiere ich diesen hier. tut mir leid. zu musik kann ich nur sagen, diese woche „the knife“ gesehen, berlin.
    danke dieser seite für das interesse an meinen texten, weil ich keine texte mehr habe.

    die suche ist hiermit beendet.
    und es geht mir gut.

  2. Michael Engelbrecht:

    Danke. So können wir nun den „Cold Case“ zu den Akten legen. Farewell!

Manafonistas | Impressum | Kontakt | Datenschutz