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Archiv: Juli 2016

2016 31 Jul

Covering Songs

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„Silver Moon“ from the Album GONE TO EARTH © 1986 David Sylvian


Prelude: G /// G /// – Verse: G /// Em /// Dm / Cm / G /// – G /// Em /// Dm / Cm / C # mj7 G # // – Fm /// Fm /// – Chorus: Em / Bm / Am C G D :|| Em /// Em /// – (chords found by ear, transposed from A flat to G for guitar with a capo on the first fret … -JS)


Lyrics (excerpt): Out upon the open fields / The rain is pouring down / We’re pulling up the sheets again / Against the passing tides of love / Every doubt that holds you here / Will find their own way out / I will build a shelter if you call / Just take my hand and walk / Over mountains high and wide / Bridging rivers deep inside / With a will to guide you on / Your heart will need no one / Those days are gone … / Baby, I can tell you there’s no easy way out / Lost inside of dreams that guide you on / Baby, I can tell you there’s no easy way out / Soon the guiding moonlight will be gone …


Fender equipment, fingerpicking style, two tracks. Nothing perfect, just a sketchy notation of anticipating a precious song that became very familiar over the years and has inhabited my memorizing cells paraciticly like so many others did as well. No worries, won´t charge any parking fee for that, just claim to have a cover of my own. In a way „Silver Moon“ is the only „normal“, somehow „folky“ song on Gone to Earth – an album enriched by the guitar work of Robert Fripp and besides containing sampled quotes of Joseph Beuys and Philosopher J.G. Bennett. Last but not least the voice of young DS with its unique beauty put the cherry on the cake. Years later then the Dead Bees followed.


I absolutely loved this book! Unapologetically grim, „Available Dark“ mines the ripe but overlooked black metal culture of the 80s and 90s to great effect. A must read for readers who appreciate a good anti-hero but would love a female one, as Cass Neary is what you’ve been waiting for. It has a bit of Chuck Palahnuik vibe (think Diary), and is a great follow up to the excellent Generation Loss.


Rachel is right about Elizabeth Hand’s Available Dark, and just a few days back, you can read – here – about some of Elizabeth’s favourite albums.  Apart from the thriller of the month (read, in case you’ll give it a chance, at first, the German translation of „Generation Loss“ – „Dem Tod so nah“ ist ein fantastischer Thriller, der beginnt in den frühen Tagen des CBGB’s in New York, ein Muss für Freunde der Fotografie und knallharter psychologischer Thriller mit Tiefgang), this month’s recommendations are a rather wild mix full of surreal effects and experiences, disturbances and distortions.

After Robert Macfarlane’s slow walking excellence, it’s for sure a pure delight to encounter Geoff Dyer’s new travel stories. I had to laugh out loud more than once when he, for example, tried to follow the footsteps of Paul Gauguin on far away islands. Dyer’s book is much more witty, but always has a dark edge. After I read his essay about „The Forbidden City“, I put it immediatley on the list of 100 places I don’t want to see before I die. Jazz also turns up, remember, Geoff has written the cultish „But Beautiful“, though I’m a bigger fan of his books about American photography (have a look, Lorenz and Jan!) – and Tarkowski’s weirdest film! :)

Meanwhile, one of our „Philosophica“ of early summer, has been translated into our home language. Yes, I’m referring to Sarah Bakewell’s brilliant book about the French existenzialists.

The reissue of the month is dedicated to a long-lost album that makes the expression „freak folk“ look rather tame and childish. Andrew Male has written a short and essential review for this month’s time travellers.

There might be a lot to write about our album of the month, Ian William Craig’s Centres, but even better, there is  even more to listen to – for me, it is a culmination of aethetics that the likes of Frost, Fennesz and Hecker have worked on in recent years. And with all the songs and song fragments buried and freed from the ashes here, it’s a unique elaboration of the spirit of „My Bloody Valentine“. And very different from the pioneers. This is an album made for headphones.


P.S.: If we would have a column for the best „TV series of the month“, it would definitely be Netflix’s Stranger Things (Season 1), with its unique melange of nostalgia, creepiness, 80’s flavour. Horror, loss and the values of friendship: Bloodline (Season 2) is worth watching, too.

2016 28 Jul

For all the good reasons

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Planet Earth is better experienced from way up high at the moment.


Rick (Holland) 



Liebeslieder schreiben (schnippt mit den Fingern), das können nur Männer. Ich weiß auch nicht, warum. Aber Männer schreiben Liebeslieder meist mit einer gewissen Distanz, nicht selten mit böser Ironie und einem unschlagbaren Humor. Und flammender Sexualität. Wenn ein Liebeslied in Flammen aufgeht und zur gleichen Zeit grinst, dann ist es ein gutes Liebeslied.


Juliette Gréco im Gespräch mit Max Dax, aus: Max Dax – Dreißig Gespräche


2016 28 Jul


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Es gibt diese Anekdote über einen Cellisten, der immer nur denselben Ton spielt, tagaus, tagein. Als seine Frau ihm von einem Konzertbesuch vorschwärmt und einem Orchester, das vielfältige Melodien erklingen ließ, entgegnet er trocken, die würden alle noch suchen, er aber habe den richtigen Ton bereits gefunden. Der Gedanke daran kam, als ich gestern zufällig einen Song anklickte auf dem MP3 Player, der einen leichten Anflug klimatisch bedingter Misslaunigkeit im Nu in Heiterkeit umstimmte: „So May It Secretly Begin“. Als Ton wäre er der eine Richtige, hörte ich ihn doch so oft wie keinen zweiten. Manche Lieder sind wie Lebensabschnittsgefährten, das hier wäre als eine Langzeitbeziehung zu nennen – und dann das Album mit dem wundersamen Titel Still Life (Talking) erst, aus dem es stammt: da sind auch andere Perlen darauf zu finden. Hört man Kumpel Pats Gitarrensolo im Stück „Third Wind“ etwa, ahnt man, was es heisst, mittels djes Gitarrenspiels zu fliegen. Der Gesamtsound klingt wie ein feingliedriges, osmotisches Uhrwerk. Schlagzeuger Paul Wertico und der brasilianische Perkussionist Armando Marçal bilden die Rhythmusgruppe. High End Präzision und organische Lebensfreude. Sons of Pioneers. Live-Konzerte dieser Band waren immer Highlights. In my childhood dreams I was a Redskin: Sioux, Apache or Cheyenne. Der Pat Metheny Group hier widme ich das höchste Prädikat: Indianermusik.


Einst, als Martin Scorsese einige richtig gute Filme machte, hatte er noch ein kluges Gespür für Soundtracks, und auch mal Bernard Hermann zur Seite. Später, als er wieder einen Mafiafilm drehte, kippte er eine ganze Jukebox voller Songs über die Bilder, und schwächte, Lied um Lied, das Werk, das zum Machwerk wurde. (Wie später auch, in seinem lächerlich überhöhenden Rolling Stones-Film!). Hier, in der ersten Staffel von Hap and Leonard, geht es einmal mehr um den Gesang (und Abgesang) alter Zeiten (Scorsese hat nichts damit zu tun), und es läuft, an einer fast unmöglichen Stelle, als es nicht zuletzt ums Sterben geht, Scott MacKenzie’s Uralthymne. Man empfindet unmittelbar, so geht es, und das Lied trifft einen wie beim ersten Hören. Nur ganz woanders. „No Direction Home“: diese drei Worte könnten einem da einfallen, und somit gleich ein weiteres, wiederum brilliantes Martin Scorsese-Opus.



2016 27 Jul


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Not a water tank or a gasometer. This is the SCHILLEROPER in Hamburg-Altona — a construction made from steel and corrugated metal, erected in 1892 as a residential circus building, the only circus with a ring that could be flooded for a water ballet.

In the 1920s, it became an opera house, a theater and varieté, Hans Albers had his first stage appearences here. During the Nazi era the building was used as a meeting place by the local SS as well as by communists, which led to brawls and shootings sometimes, and then, after the war … nothing really happened anymore.

Nobody had an idea what to do with this complex of buildings. In the 1970s, the buildings around the rotunda, the former foyer and artist’s dressing rooms were used as dwelling for Italian „guest workers“, as they were called then, later it became a restaurant which had to be closed after a while because of illegal gambling. It became a music club, and when that failed …



This is how the building looks today. It cannot be torn down because the steel construction is under protection, but the whole complex is so down and out … I’m sure today’s owners (a community of heirs) is simply waiting till the whole building breaks down by itself.

This has always been the way Hamburg uses to deal with its cultural treasures.

2016 27 Jul

Seven of cups reversed

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Silence, and symphony.

2016 26 Jul

„Clouds In My Head“

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(January 2013)


Hi Michael,

Here’s my list, with apologies for taking so long — confluence of holidays and the difficulties encapsulated in that old Lovin‘ Spoonful chestnut, „Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?“ Please let me know if you need more info/have any questions/etc. Thanks again for asking me to do this — great fun!

All best,



The only album here that gets any kind of ranking is Horses, which comes in at Number One. The rest are in no particular order. I love ‘em all.


1. Patti Smith, Horses


Along with the Beatles’ single “She Loves You“, which I heard on a car radio (not our car; it didn’t have a radio) as a six-year-old, this is the record that changed my life. I’d read about Patti Smith and got this album on the day it came out in 1975, riding my bike to New Canaan and buying it at the record store there. When I put it on the stereo at my parents’ house and heard the opening piano chords followed by Smith intoning “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine,” I got goosebumps. I couldn’t believe this chick was saying that without getting struck by lightning. When I heard “Land,” I had an out-of-body experience. For me as an artist, everything has been before and after that song.


2. Iggy Pop, Lust for Life


This is here solely because of the title track, one of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time. I never listen to much else on the album, though “Turn Blue” is pretty great. I had a long list of Top Ten albums distinguished by a single cut; this is the only one that made it to the finals.


3. Joanna Newsom, The Sprout and the Bean


I know it’s twee, and I know some people can’t stand her voice. But I love this album. It reminds me of when I wrote “Illyria” in a three-week fever with this album on nearly constant rotation. Newsom’s fey voice and lyrics, and the delicate, dreamy production, all conspire to make me feel like I’m seventeen again, and anything could happen.


4. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes


This is such a purely gorgeous album that, despite having heard it hundreds of times, sometimes two or three times in a row, I still don’t know the title of any of the songs — it’s all one prismatic sonic blur. My favorite line (also the only line I know): “Scarves of red tied ‚round their throats/To keep their little heads from falling in the snow.”


5. Replacements, Pleased to Meet Me


I have probably heard this album thousands of times since 1986, when my friend Paul Witcover gave me a tape. He was a big ‘Mats fan and saw them whenever they played NYC during their glory days with Bob Stinson; I was living in DC at the time and to my eternal regret never got to see them live, with or without Bob. “Valentine” is one of my five all-time favorite songs, up there with “Be My Baby” and “Land.” And if “Skyway” doesn’t make your heart ache, your heart is made of lead. My only complaint: I find the chorus of “Valentine” impossible to sing aloud.


6. Wilco, Summerteeth


Another album I must have listened to almost every day for a decade. I finally put it aside last year, and this morning found myself in the mood to dig it out again. Beautiful and eerie; the sunny “Pet Sounds” production belies the dark lyrics. You could write an entire essay about the influence of “Pet Sounds” on“Pieholden Suite,” though my favorite song is the alternate version of the brilliant “A Shot in the Arm,” a hidden track (along with “Candyfloss”) which gives “Sergeant Pepper” era John Lennon a run for his money in under four minutes. Gorgeous, desperate, and so dark it’s exquisitely painful to listen to. “Maybe all I need is a shot in the arm/Something in my veins, bloodier than blood.” An entire hidden thread of my life had this as its soundtrack (note: nothing to do with drugs). “You’ve changed: What you once were isn’t what you want to be anymore.”


7. Lou Reed, Magic and Loss


When I was nineteen, I wanted to be Lou Reed when I grew up. I loved the Velvet Undergound, and “Berlin” was one of my favorite albums in high school. Later, when I was in my late thirties, I heard this album and realized that “Magic and Loss” was Lou Reed when he grew up. It’s a wrenching look at mortality, centered on the deaths of two of Reed’s close friends and backgrounded in the AIDS epidemic, then at its height, and one of the few rock and roll albums with songs set in a hospital room. Yet it’s never depressing — Reed’s rage, always one of his best traits, is on ample display here, along with his caustic wit. The final track, “Magic and Loss: The Summation,” is the most purely transcendent rock and roll song ever written, and perhaps the greatest song ever penned about the torments and transformations of living life as an artist. Whenever I feel despair about my writing, I play this song, and I got my first tattoo — a ring of flames — as a reminder of its message.


8. Velvet Underground: Bootleg Series Volume 1: The Quine Tapes 9. Legendary stint at The Family Dog, San Francisco, in November 1969


I’ve always felt that putting down a Best Of album as a desert island disc choice is a cheat, and this selection is the closest I come to doing that. But it really does contain the greatest renditions of many of VU’s best songs. Recorded during the band’s legendary 1969 stints at The Family Dog and The Matrix in San Francisco (a city totally at odds with the Velvet Underground’s NYC ethos) by Robert Quine, who held a cheap tape recorder in his lap, the bootleg captures a remarkable moment in rock and roll history. Volume 2 never appeared, but I don’t know if it’s necessary. The live version of “Rock and Roll” is sublime — Lou Reed in is his intro to the song actually sounds happy. And the endless versions of “Sister Ray,” clocking in at 28 and 38 minutes, are fantastic.


9. Nick Drake, Bryter Layter


Drake’s greatest album, recorded before his beautiful, bleak swan song, “Pink Moon” and produced by the legendary Joe Boyd, who wrote about it at length in his memoir “White Bicycles.” Richard Thompson, Dave Pegg, and Dave Mattacks of Fairport Convention contributed, along with John Cale and several Beach Boys sessions musicians. Richard Kirby did the string arrangements, whose influence can be felt in contemporary folk musicians like Joanna Newsom, Fleet Foxes, Florence and the Machine, and Devendra Barnhart. The result is a shimmering masterpiece that lingers in the mind like the best, most ephemeral dream you ever had. And “Northern Sky” is a love song for the ages.


10. Beach Boys, Pet Sounds


It’s almost impossible to listen to any pop music of the last forty years and not hear echoes of „Pet Sounds“, one of the greatest and most influential rock albums of all time. Actually, it’s probably impossible to sit anywhere on Earth and watch the sun set and not think of „Pet Sounds“. Every song is perfect. Whatever drugs Brian Wilson was taking, I want some.



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