on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2016 5 Jun

Varèse: Amériques & Waits: I’ll Take New York

von: Ian McCartney Filed under: Blog | TB | 1 Comment

Varèse –

I LOVE Amériques. Love it. I love it the way I love On the Corner by Miles Davis. Or Neonlicht by Kraftwerk (whose only fault is that it doesn’t go on longer than it does). Amériques is mental. Mental. Mental mental, transcendental. If Steve Reich’s (infinitely listenable) Different Trains addresses the psychogeographical effect of moving like a phantom thru railway infrastructure, then Amériques does something more challenging (if less accessible). It takes on the Grid System – where anything can collide with anything at any time. Hadron Collider stylee. Slap bang wallop. Boom.

Better than that, though, is how Amériques does time travel. Few are the works that address the past and future with nonchalance. The future didn’t exist until around the time automation was invented – the mid 19th Century. And there was no real ideation of the past until dinosaurs were invented in 1822, around the same time. Amériques starts primordially. Out of the mist, a city. A city ambiented in the darkness of its own light. Every precious dream and vision underneath the stars. Pterodactyls and yellow taxis. And cold/warm lithogenesis. The rooftops are for dreamers. Varèse looks into and beyond the city. Planets collide, collide, collide.

Neonlicht, schimmerndes Neonlicht.

„I met ayont the cairney, a lass wi‘ tousie hair
Singin‘ til a bairney that was nae langer there
Wunds wi warlds tae swing dinna sing sae sweet
The licht that bends owre aa thing is less ta’en up wi it“

(I met beyond a neolothic structure, a woman with wild hair. Singing to a child who was no longer there. Winds with worlds to swing [i.e. gravity/orbits within galaxies] don’t sing so sweet. The light that covers everything is less taken up with it [i.e.gravitational deflection of light] Where’s your gravity?)



I’ll Take New York. It’s not about New York, it’s about hell. It’s disturbing and dark as fuck. You can’t help but be drawn in by the character’s weird, tacky idea that the city is the place where dreams will come true. The tacky Coney Island Farfisa is a clue to the fuckedupness of the guy’s dream, where light doesn’t look like light – his imagination can’t light up a turnip, never mind a sidewalk. But you go along with it, just to see what happens.

Waits‘ genius here is in the telling, He has to go with the character otherwise the narrative is banjaxed. So there’s no judgement or moralising or social realism. There is no gravity, no New York, just a dream dwarfed by a reality it will never meet, hubris too big a word, dream too big a word. A swerve into the unlightest bible unlight, a void.

But what I want to know is: did Tom Waits intentionally reference Varèse here? Because I’ll Take New York and Amériques both have heart and neither of them really let daylight in. You could see F. W. Murnau in the background, laughing.

This entry was posted on Sonntag, 5. Juni 2016 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 Comment

  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    This is such a beautiful text.

    And we’re not a fucking bunch of people fishing for compliments …

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