Manafonistas

on life, music etc beyond mainstream

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It‘s a wild thing, and never loses its grip. Recorded in tiny spots, jazz clubs, lofts, real studios, private rooms (at least so it seems),  it‘s overflowing with that sense of adventure that has been part of the best jazz in an around  Chicago since the early days of the AACM. In no way giving history lessons, it all comes down to a breathing, never-ending line of searching, finding, celebrating. Junius Paul‘s ISM is extraordinary in the way it sounds, too – no high end studio perfection required when an idea has a room, and the room is sparsely equipped. The lesson: make an empty room dance! (M.E.)
We find ourselves, in the words of the late, great chronicler of Los Angeles and other mysterious worlds Harlan Ellison, „face-down in Gloria Swanson’s swimming pool“. Paradise was always a trap. The American dream is a fiction containing all the wrong truths. Arthur Conan Doyle once posed „The Final Question“: David Thomas has devoted his artistic life to answering with a final solution. (Ed Whitelock, in his brilliant PopMatters-review on the stunning late work by Pere Ubu, „The Long Goodbye“)
„Oh bliss! As a long term Crimson fan (I bought their original album on the day it was released back in 1768… well it does seem an incredibly long time ago)“  (Mark Sheckelford‘s  funny time traveling accident)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      1. Arve Henriksen: The Timeless Nowhere (Box)
      2. Underworld: Drift (Box)
      3. Thom Yorke: Anima 
      4. Joe Lovano: Trio Tapestry (use the word opus magnum carefully, use it here!)
      5. Bill Callahan: Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest
      6. Lankum: The Lifelong Day (ear-piercing Irish drone folk)
      7. Wilco: Ode To Joy 
      8. Nick Cave: Ghosteen 
      9. Rabbia / Petrella / Aarset: Lost River (no way to get over a sense of wonder)
      10. Oren Ambarchi: Simian Angel (the art of the invisible guitar, and other apparitions)
      11. Sunno)): Life Metal (you want it primordial?)
      12. Lana del Ray: Norman Fucking Rockwell („This is a record that won’t win Jan Reetze’s sympathies, what can I do, I love it. Most of Norman Fucking Rockwell exists in some timeless, catgut-strewn place where 3am bar pianos and washes of keyboards serve as the tear-stained mat under Del Rey’s glass slipper of a voice – until, that is, a song such as Cinnamon Girl suddenly unspools an unexpectedly long, lyrical instrumental coda, in an electronic-tinged echo of Young’s famous meandering.“)
      13. Junius Paul: Ism („a hypnotic double shot of low-end groove adventurism“)
      14. Rustin Man: Drift Code
      15. Brittany Howard: Jamie (her sharpest cocktail yet of folk, blues, gospel, jazz and soul, pure flow of passion in a raw and experimental setting)
      16. Will Burns & Hannah Peel: Chalk Hill Blue (search this blog for excellent translations of some of Will‘s poems by Martina and Astrid!)
      17. Lambchop: This (is what I said)
      18. Leonard Cohen: Thanks For The Dance (if it is an artefact, it‘s purely authentic, love and loss all around, who needs fucking entertainment)
      19. Torn / Berne / Smith: Sun of Goldfinger (sound goes round, enter tribal drums and gritty alto saxophone, drums  add a modern swing touch soon, electric guitar in glooming mode, no fireworks in the opening minutes, more the clearing of a field, a jungle feel, life on all niches and corners, call it swirling around. The alto goes for a long ride, not the leader of the pack, a textural thing in the wilderness, turbulence code red. The guitar is changing dialects, the lion doesn‘t sleep tonight, fair warning.)
      20. Louis Sclavis: Characters On A Wall 
      21. Hilliard Ensemble / Jan Garbarek: Remember Me, My Dear (ghost music of highest order!)
      22. Lee Perry: Rainford (& dub twin Heavy Rain)
      23. Pan American: A Son (introspection, space, and Shenondoah)
      24. Areni Agbabian: Bloom 
      25. Ingrid Laubrock & Aki Takase: Kasumi
      26. A Winged Victory for the Sullen: The Undivided Five
      27. Lumen Drones: Umbra
      28. Tinariwen: Amadjar 
      29. Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse: Colorado 
      30. Swans: Leaving Meaning
      31. Ethan Iverson w/ Tom Harrell: Common Practice (i swear black and blue, these standards fly high and higher)
      32. Matmos: Plastic Anniversary (restlessly inventive for decades)
      33. The Comet is Coming: Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery (in the wake of legendary Impulse recordings from the 70‘s)
      34. Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka (Marvin Gaye sends his warmest greetings from the tower of song)
      35. Kit Downes: Dreamlife of Debris
      36. Mats Eilertsen: Reveries and Revelations
      37. Purple Mountains: dito (funny, profound, and ultimately heartbreaking)
      38. Aldous Harding: Designer (meticulously executed, and eerie nonetheless)
      39. Big Thief: U.F.O.F. 
      40. Pere Ubu: The Long Goodbye (you might want to watch Elliott Gould in that Altman/Chandler-movie afterwards)

     

    REISSUES:

     

     

     

     

    ONE  –  Brian Eno w/ Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno: Apollo – Atmospheres & Soundtracks (Extended Edition – the classic one, and a new album of the same trio, nearly as stunning as the one from the golden days of Ambient Music, can‘t remember of another group reunion after 35 years – the soundtrack definitely has a life of its own, but the recently remastered blu ray version of the film the music was made for, Al Reinert‘s „For All Mankind“ (with extraordinary extras),  is just another mind-blowing experience) / TWO – The Beatles:  Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Edition (Deluxe Box Set) / THREE –  Mark Hollis: Mark Hollis (vinyl remaster –  The album was cut over several months with a pair of mics set in the centre of the studio’s live room. Sessions occurred around them, the musicians seated in different parts of the stereo picture to give the impression they’d played together simultaneously. Sonically, Mark Hollis is nearperfect, yet pockmarked with alluring human flaws; soundboxes creak and knock, bows clatter on strings, reeds squeak. Despite there being no electronic instruments, on The Gift there’s a sound like very high feedback, possibly a wind instrument, and on Inside Looking Out, something keeping the tempo is heard in the background for a little while, perhaps bleeding through headphones. These ‘mistakes’ were allowed to remain.) – FOUR – V.A. – Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990 (an audio feng shui guaranteed to spark joy) / FIVE  – Michael Rother: Solo (Box Set) / SIX   – Don Cherry: Brown Rice (vinyl only) / SEVEN – Prefab Sprout: I Trawl The Megahertz / EIGHT    – Eberhard Weber: The Following Morning (one of many highlights of 50 reissues from 50 years of ECM) / NINE  –  Phil Manzanera: Diamond Head (from ex-Roxies, still-Roxies and no-Roxies comes a pure delight of heartwarming pop-charades, the missing link between Canterbury lightness and prog rock ambition, or, in the words of Mr. Manzanera: “The things I wanted to do are all there; the little cameos like the dance number, the three minute type guitar instrumental, the classical number. Certain of the songs were written with suitable people in mind and eventually it all came off.”)  / TEN –  Frank Harris & Maria Marquez: Echoes (vinyl only – we‘re in the middle of the 80‘s here, with a strange amalgam  of avant-pop and electronic experimentation. Imagine synthetic soul and traditional folk melodies, this album contains exotic moods, singalongs and sophistication,  poignant melancholia, farmyard field recordings throughout, Venezuelan vibes with a surreal twist, and even traces of sultry lovers rock.) /  ELEVEN   – Mahavishnu Orchestra: Birds Of Fire (Speakers Corner vinyl remaster) – („When the needle drops on the title tune, soon after three assertive gong strikes announce it, which soon explodes in a maelstrom of sound, uninitiated listeners might run for the exits. Stick with it, though, and you’ll be rewarded with some of the most passionate and tight ensemble playing on record.“) /  TWELVE – Jimmy Campbell: Half-Baked (from the label with the vertigo-inducing logo, came an album, at the beginning of the 70’s that was a strange mixture  of baroque instrumentation, a singing ego on the verge of falling apart, and a series of dreams about life’s losses in a time when everybody seemed to be a winner. Of course, the album is a deeply buried treasure. it can still be found on Discogs.) /  THIRTEEN – King Crimson: In The Court Of The Crimson King (another 50th anniversary edition with an unsurpassable surround mix)  /  FOURTEEN The Kinks: Arthur (50th Anniversary Edition, the full package)

    (In the first half of 2020, an early Jon Hassell classic will be reissued, on vinyl and DL at first, Jon Hassell‘s „Vernal Equinox“. I met the guy in Kristiansand, Arnaud, who has already listened to it and who was impressed by the improvement of the sound quality. Funny enough, later this year, he has been responsible for the installations of sound and vision of Sophie Turner‘s wedding in a castle in deep Provence, ah, she‘s better known with her name Sansa Stark from „Game of Thrones“. Small, wide world.)

     

     

    Afterglow, part 1 (starring Bill C , Carla B, Mark N,  Michael R, Sasha M, Will B, and Lankum from Ireland)

     

    (1) – “I was aware of Bill Callahan through Smog and that, but I think these latest records that he’s done are amazing. They’re quite abstract in a way, it’s really quite something, the lyrics are really good but the music is also really imaginative and the song structures are quite weird. He definitely doesn’t stick to the pop song structure that I was talking about earlier on, but it is melodic, it’s not atonal or anything. His records have a natural, very close sound, but it isn’t straight folk or anything like that, the instruments are acoustic but then he goes off into these different realms. I think the latest record, that I’m just trying to get my head around at the moment, continues that. He’s really thought of it as an album, it’s a double and it’s split up into four sides, and I know that when he was letting people know about it they released a side at a time, so it’s conceived as those four or five songs sitting together as a suite. It’s the best record I’ve heard in ages.“ (Jarvis Cocker on Bill Callahan‘s album)

    (In February 2020, an album will come out at  Jazzland Recordings that will find many friends here, the second duo album by Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang, purely instrumental! And, still living for music after 50 years of ECM, Manfred Eicher was talking to me, fully excited, about his recent production of another Carla Bley Trio album in Lugano – a pure solo work of Jon Balke will also be prepared for release, surely a joy for those who were stunned, for good reasons, when listening to „Warp“ in 2016.) 

     

    (2) – „Throughout Lankum‘s The Lifelong Day, drones reign supreme, whether it’s Ian Lynch’s uilleann pipes on The Young People or Radie Peat’s magnetically creaking harmonium or bayan accordion on The Wild Rover. Make no mistake: this is as deep a seam as anything ever mined by Gorecki in his Symphony of Sorrowful Songs or by Bonnie “Prince” Billy in I See a Darkness. In a strange way it‘s a companion album to a work that sounds totally different, but also offers a bath in deep melancholia: Framed by two brief dulcimer instrumentals, Pan American‘s „A Son“ most resembles „a folk time-capsule from an alternate dimension, where June Tabor and Brian Eno formed a Depression-era, well, Roxy Music. Songs about trains, family troubles and fading memories are delivered in Nelson’s quiet whisper-sing style, amidst a spare assembly of unfussy guitar and muted electronics. The direct confessional tone is countered by the untethered and timeless feel of the recording, delivering slow, steady laments that are fading like a box of old Polaroids.“

     

    (3)  –  „Eine Radiostunde mit Rother“

     

    (4) – “The old paths, the old buildings, the sight of a chalk hill blue or a greater butterfly orchid at the Ragpits – we don’t need these things for nostalgia, or for some sentimental reverie, we need them for the depth of life they summon, and to live through the world in all its wild abundance and richness, however small. To cultivate our own story-making of the earth as all that it can and should be.”  (Will Burns on Chalk Hill Blue) 

     

    (5) – Every once in a while there comes along an old-fashioned, experimental song album that is overflowing with ideas and melodies, nevertheless focussed and carefully assembled up to the tiniest details, at the same time extremely relaxed (close to an ancient J. J. Cale vibe), with a broad palette of rare sounds and a stunning theatre of voices (mainly from the man himself) – altogether a wonderfully performed manual in getting lost, though always linked to a deeply human agenda of our existence. Rustin Man‘s „Drift Code“ is such a work. Paul Webb has learned some reverberating lessons in the nights and months of Talk Talk‘s „Spirit of Eden“ recording sessions, and following an old tradition from the likes of Scott Walker and Robert Wyatt, he‘s not hesitating to nearly disappear for many years (after his marvelous expedition of „Out of Season“ with Beth Gibbons), risking dust from the history books, just waiting for the music to finally fall into place (exuding an energetically pure and primordial atmosphere, nothing less). Drift Code“ may be the perfect album for those armchair travelers who love to listen to albums from start to end, with a knack for the strangeness of things they only think they know about.

     

    (6) –  my photo of the year („Brimming With Life“ –  „Abbey Road 50 Exhibition, Liverpool, Autumn 2019“; „She came  in through the bathroom window“)

     

     

     

     

    Afterglow, part 2  (starring Richard Williams, Ernst Augustin, Rupert Thomson, Arve Henriksen‘s treasure grove,  and Michael Caine in Vienna)

     

    (1) No heroes, no masters, no gods.  No one is chosen, elitism is fuck. All saints, what else. But, well, thinking of my breakfast with Englishman Richard Williams in Kristiansand, one of the „true hero journalists“ of my youth, that I would call a honour. (Like it was a honour to get everlasting lessons for life from my English teacher Dr. Egon Werlich.) Richard Williams followed many routes in his life, the latest leading up to his forthcoming book „A Race with Love and Death: The Story of Richard Seaman“. In his book „The Blue Moment“, Arve Henriksen receives much more than just some honorary mention. Circles closing.

     

    (2) No more heroes, right, so I have to add another one, one of my favourite German writers who passed away lately, nearly blind, aged 92 – I do well remember  his mystery house in  Munique.  The living room looked like a ship‘s cabin from a Jules Verne novel, well designed by a man rooted in the tradition of fantastic realism. He didn‘t come from Homer and Cervantes (one has to be a fully equipped idiot like Peter Handke to fuel such self-images), Ernst Augustin came from Hirschberg, Riesengebirge. 

    So waren wir Kinder der ‚Ostzone‘, wir kannten keinen Kafka, nicht einmal beim Namen. James Joyce, ein Krimineller? Oder Qualitätsangabe für Teesorten, die nicht zu haben waren. Kenntnis der Moderne beschränkte sich auf ‚Busse wandert aus‘ (1927), antiquarisch bei Petzolt & Dröge in der Bahnhofstraße. Aber immer mit der Sehnsucht im Herzen auf nächtlichen Nebelgängen im verhangenen Wismar.“

    Ernst Augustin had another job in real life, a psychiatrist, working in Afghanistan in days before we were born, and later on in Schwabing.  If I have to pick out three novels – here they are: „Eastend“, „Raumlicht – Der Fall Evenlyne B“, and „Der amerikanische Traum“. One is a love story with a suicidal attempt, and a magic trip to London, one is the fictional and not-so-fictional story of healing a case of schizophrenia (in real life he married her), and one is about dreaming, fleshing out a whole life that is about to end way too early. Circles closing again.

     

    (3) Speaking of love in war times, one of the most fascinating novels I read this year (aside with Jamie Lee Burke‘s „Dunkler Sommer“, Peter Heller‘s „Der Fluss“, Patti Smith’s „Year Of The Monkey“, and Olga Tokarczuk‘s „Unrast“), was Rupert Thomson‘s „Never Anyone But You“, which was released, as German translation, and beautifully translated, with the same title, in the „Secession Verlag“. Interesting, I wanted to read this book very slowly (knowing that after the first pages) –  in contrast to my reading routines to always sink into a book without distraction, I read it (in parts) while putting on Michael Rother‘s early solo albums, and always drifted between reading OR listening, respectively reading AND listening.  Would probably  have worked with „Music For Films“ or „Apollo“, too. „Hello, darkness, my old friend“. Circles opening.

     

    (4) „The Timeless Nowhere“ ist eine vier neue Werke umfassende Kiste voller Wunder, ohne Plunder – Arve Henriksen-Musik ist kein „groove monster“, sie ist ein „mood monster“, und, um es mit den Worten eines alten Kinderbuches (war es ein Kinderbuch?) von Franz Hohler zu sagen: „Glück, mein Glück, rück näher ein Stück!“ Und wie sagte es John Berger in einem posthum veröffentlichten Buch so trefflich: „Meaning and mystery are inseparable, and neither can exist without the passing of time“. Das dürfte, egal, wie paradox es erscheint, auch für das „Zeitlose Nirgendwo“ gelten. Verblüffend, man bekommt das Teil nur als „limited vinyl edition“, den vier Langspielplatten sind zwei Cds beigefügt, welche die Musik ebenfalls enthalten. Die Pressqualität, das Design, alles hervorragend, und John Potters liner notes (jawohl, der, der mal beim Hilliard Ensemble war), eine helle Freude.

    In other words:  The Timeless Nowhere is a box full of wonders, complete with four new works, and, to say it in the words of an old children ’s book (was it a children‘ s book?) By Franz Hohler: „Luck, my luck, come back a little closer!“ „Glück, mein Glück, rück näher ein Stück!“ And as John Berger said in a posthumously published book, „Meaning and mystery are inseparable, and can not exist without the passing of time.“ Regardless of how paradoxical it may seem, this also applies to „The Timeless Nowhere“. 

 

  1. (5) – I listened to „Simian Angel“ for the first time at the end of August, on headphones – all windows directed to the vast nothingness of the universe that possibly hosts no god, no other life. But creepy objects like black holes and brown dwarfs. Heaven seems to be the most lonesome place, where nothing really happens, at least from the point of view of gardening and Japanese tea ceremonies. Well, of course, we had the moon landing, and we do have the astral space music of Sun Ra. Our dreams anyway. Strange enough, we can still feel peace (in harmony) when looking at the night sky. And here we are in company of Oren Ambarchi‘s fantastic album, two long compositions that, in a sophisticated  way, defy definitions, limits, opening a constant feel of joy and wonder, kling and klang. A touch of kosmische music here and there. His guitar sounds like a synth, and an organ, most of the time, and when he plays what sounds like a piano (and is again, made with his guitar – a special treatment really!), you might feel, for a moment, a „Music For Airports“-vibe – just another illusion, up, up, and away, with the blink of an eye. His partner is Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista, and when he starts on berimbau at the beginning of vinyl‘s second side, you are in wonderland. Yes, I thought, for another sequence of seconds, of Nana Vasconcelos‘s famous (or not so famous) solo album „Nana Vasconcelos“, the one with violins and violas coming completely out of nowhere, and knowing about Oren‘s passion for a lot of ECM records, I‘m quite sure he might have had a similar memory, for a moment. The music is crossing area after area, you are not able to, and surely not keen on marking a spot. All exit signs on! The earth is never solid, and even the percussion is an invocation of ego-less drifting in the windmills of your mind. Not all riddles solved, be sure.

 

 

 

 

  1. (6) And here  comes my song of the year (number two is Aldous Harding’s „The Barrel“), and I‘m quite sure it will never receive its karaoke treatment –  S T A R, from Underworld. Taking the Ahlberg’s classic children’s story „Each, Peach, Pear, Plum“ as it’s base, Karl Hyde launches into a tumbling, stream of consciousness list of celebrities in random situations. Like the very best Underworld tracks, it quickly needles its way into the subconscious where it sits, waiting to come out when you least expect it.

     

    Each, Peach, Pear, Plum
    I spy Tom Thumb
    Tom Thumb in the wood
    I spy Robin Hood
    Robin Hood in the cellar
    I spy Cinderella
    Cinderella at the ball
    I spy Henry Hall
    Henry Hall in his house
    I spy Mickey Mouse
    Mickey Mouse in his cradle
    I spy Betty Grable
    Betty Grable is a star

    Each, Peach, Clean Shoes
    I spy Tom Cruise
    Tom Cruise in the bay
    I spy Dr Dre
    Dr Dre on the Towy
    I –spy David Bowie
    David Bowie in the ring
    I spy Dr King
    Dr King on the tele
    I spy Mary Shelley
    Mary Shelley in a drama
    I spy Dalai Lama
    Dalai Lama is a star

    Each, Peach, Cheek Bones
    I spy Tom Jones
    Tom Jones down in Peckham
    I spy David Beckham
    David Beckham on the train
    I spy Michael Caine
    Michael Caine in Vienna
    I spy Ayrton Senna
    Ayrton Senna on his step
    I spy Johnny Depp
    Johnny Depp in the dark
    I spy Rosa Parks
    Rosa Parks is a star

    Each, Peach, Red Car
    I spy Lao Tzu
    Lao Tzu long gone
    I spy Barry John
    Barry John with his shirt on
    I spy Richard Burton
    Richard Burton with a book
    I spy Captain Hook
    Captain Hook with a chalice
    I spy Calvin Harris
    Calvin Harris interstellar
    I spy Helen Keller
    Helen Keller is a star

    Each, Peach, Tinfoil
    I spy Danny Boyle
    Danny Boyle made my summer
    I spy Joe Strummer
    Joe Strummer up in heaven
    I spy Nye Bevan
    Nye Bevan at the top
    I spy Iggy Pop
    Iggy Pop at the wheel
    I spy John Peel
    John Peel double decker
    I spy Sally Becker
    Sally Becker is a star

     

 

 
 

„Changing my days with a wave of her hand
Nobody can deny that there’s something there
There, running my hands through her hair“

(lyrics slightly remixed from that Beatles song on „Revolver“)

 

Going up a  hill in Vienna, „Paris 1919“ in her ears …

 

Hello, Mr. Whistler,

 

does it rain today, in Northern California? Probably not.

 

In fact, I wanna talk some jazz. Normally I have a knack for studio recordings. I understand those people who prefer the live atmosphere  –  Mr. Klinger told me seeing Carla Bley‘s Trio live (as he had, recently, in the „Unterfahrt“ in München) cannot be replaced by the most beautiful studio recording. In my small world it can.

 

As much as I like a vibrant atmosphere, looking, from time to time, at the faces around me, always returning to the sound, I prefer sitting alone in the dark and listening to an album, from start to end, with all the elements  of an artificial studio ambience. (How interesting to be at home in a house with a real recording studio, your shangri-la, so to speak, Brian!) When I fall in love with such a recording, Manfred Eicher‘s production of Carla Bley‘s penultimate album („Trios“) is a good case in point –  the room is vanishing anyway.

 

Oh, I had my good deal of fabulous live experiences,  the „American“ quartet of Keith Jarrett in Nürnberg 1976, or Byard Lancaster III  in the Theatre de Mouffetard in Paris, 1974, with Steve McCall on drums. These two always spring to mind at first. But, yep, I prefer the kind of privacy that makes listening a more intimate experience. Now sometimes it happens that I can’t resist the thrill of a live recording, at home.

 

That happened yesterday night. Oh, my gosh. Now have a look at some of the titles, (btw, I‘m sorry you have to wait till September 20 to give this your undivided attention, via Tidal, probably): The Man I Love, All The Things You Are, Im Getting Sentimental Over You. This is not my daily bread, and no part of my „holy“ grail of classic tunes. Honestly, when we would have 1966, a rainy evening  in London, and Stan Getz would play Ronnie Scott‘s Club (at the peak of his powers), and The Kinks at The Marquee (a bit drunk and ready for harsh words), I wouldn‘t think twice and be ready for Mr Ray Davies to give me the goose skin of my life.

 

But what the hell was that: I listened to that forthcoming album with all those evergreens and, and the music stopped me in the tracks. I was tired, oh so tired, nevertheless I always wanted to stay in the moment, from applause to applause, and suddenly I was strangely awake, fully there –  it all happened in January 2017 at the Village Vanguard. I know, a surprisingly small club with warm acoustics, I had been there, virtually, when I was a teenager sucking in the magic of Keith Jarrett‘s „Fort Yawuh“ without end.

 

 

 

 

 

So, here we go, I listened to that old-fashioned stuff, and the way the quartet nailed it, was full of wit, charm, spell, awe, wonder, suspense, drive, diversion, passion, humour, everything. Oh, they didn‘t nail it, wrong word, they opened it up, and let the dust dance that had settled on the tunes since the time they had been hailed as fucking standards. Manfred Eicher is the executive producer here, the album is called „Common Practice“ (a title that made me laugh after midnight), and it‘s from the Ethan Iverson Quartet with Tom Harrell. Ben Street plays double bass,  and Eric McPherson drums. Listen, for example, at this drummer’s play, so full of inventions and side steps: playing in the tradition, kind of, doesn’t mean to fulfill the usual expectations. A wonderful way to start the autumnal season.

 

Best,

Michael

1

Künstler sind ja nicht immer die kompetentesten Kritiker ihrer eigenen Werke. Wie oft, nach „The Blue Mask“, verkündete etwa Lou Reed zu jedem neuen Album, das sei nun wohl das herausragende Werk seiner Karriere. Ein ums andere Mal lag er falsch, vielleicht nur einmal nicht, auf seinem wundervolles New York-Album. Das wirkte schon wie eine Marketingstrategie.

 

 

 

 

Ein anderes, interessanteres Beispiel betrifft Brian Eno. Dank Uwe Meilchen konnte ich ein Gespräch nachhören, dass ein aus der Klassik kommender Dirigent (?) mit osteuropäischem Dialekt und offenen Ohren für andere Spielarten der Musik mit Brian führte, vor Monaten, irgendwo im badischen Raum. Während sich der werte Herr für ein Album, respektive einen Song aus diesem Frühwerk des Mannes aus Suffolk begeisterte, stöhnte Eno fast, und konnte die Begeisterung für „Here Come The Warm Jets“ im grossen und ganzen gar nicht teilen.

Es war sein erstes Songalbum nach der Trennung von Roxy Music. Er habe damals Zeitdruck gehabt, einige Geldschulden auch, und bei ihm sei daher wohl ein bestimmtes Warnsystem – er nannte es „alert system“ – ausgefallen: so habe er ein Gitarrensolo von Phil Manzanera mit einer  dauerhaft-tremolierenden Verzerrung bearbeitet, was ihm, in der Rückschau, dilettantisch vorkomme. Nun, ich habe mir das Album daraufhin noch einmal zu Gemüte geführt, das ich stets  weitaus mehr schätzte als die ersten zwei Roxy Music-Alben zusammen, und fand auch die Passage, auf die Brian Bezug nahm. Betörend, waghalsig, tollkühn, wie das gesamte Werk.

In Enos Kartenspiel „Oblique Strategies“ kann man eine Karte ziehen, auf der zu lesen ist: „Honour Thy Error As Hidden Intention“. Ich glaube felsenfest, wären auf diesem Album nicht so viele „Fehler“ gewesen, es wäre nie so genial geworden. Bis heute zählt es – neben „Nerve Net“, ein Opus, das Eivind Aarset über alles liebt –  zu dem anarchischen Meilensteinen in Brians Diskographie.

 

2

im Juli 2017 schrieb ich, hier auf dem Blog, zu dieser Arbeit: Das war der erste Streich der vier Songalben von Eno in den Siebzigern, und über keine Platte aus diesem Quartett wurde in den Jahren der Manafonisten weniger gesprochen als über dieses. Völlig zu Unrecht, für mich steht es auf einem Level mit den drei Nachfolgern. Die Songs sind so bizarr und surreal wie das Cover, Eno wandelt seinen Gesang,  seine „persona“, von Track zu Track. So war es unmöglich, seiner Stimme ein kommerziell taugliches „branding“ zu verpassen – er entzog sich jeder biederen Vereinnahmung – viele andere Künstler, die „ihre‘ Stimme gefunden hatten, wiederholten diese Rezeptur bis zum Sankt Nimmerleinstag. Und die ständig wiederkehrenden herzerweichenden Melodien? Inmitten all der Songwildnis? Sie  konnten nie Hits werden, weil ihr instrumentaler Untergrund zu subversiv war, ihr Text zu erratisch. Proto-Punk. Psychedelic Exotica. Pure Pop. „Weird, very weird, very strange, disturbing and utterly beautiful.“

2019 20 Sep

Playing The Room

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Einen Monat vor seiner beeindruckenden Produktion der neuen CD von Louis Sclavis,  im Studio La Buissonne in der Provence, reiste Manfred Eicher einmal mehr in ein anderes hochgeschätztes Studio im Süden Europas. Dort produzierte er  das Duo mit Avishai Cohen, Trompete und  Yonathan Avishai, Piano.

Beide kennen einander und die Jazzhistorie bestens, und haben unter der Regie des Produzenten bereits bemerkenswerte Aufnahmen gemacht. Die CD / LP PLAYING THE ROOM nutzt, der Titel suggeriert es, die einmalige Akustik des riesigen Radiosaales, STELIO MOLO RSI  in Lugano – auch der leiseste Sound wird vom Raum getragen.

Solches Zusammenwirken von Intimität und Weite kennzeichnet auch die musikalische Reise der beiden israelischen Freunde. Den Rahmen bilden zwei eigene Stücke zu Beginn und, zum Ausklang, ein altes Wiegenlied ihrer Heimat. Dazwischen dringt das Duo tief ein in Kompositionen von John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Abdullah Ibrahim, Ornette  Coleman, Milt Jackson – und Stevie Wonder.

So eindringlich, geradezu beschwörend, wie die Zwei CRESCENT gerecht werden, dem Titelstück von John Coltranes vielleicht dunkelstem und meditativstem Album, so verspielt und kinderliedartig umkreisen sie die luftige Melodik von SIR DUKE – das Original stammt aus Stevie Wonders Doppelalbum SONGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE, ein Album, das in die Geschichte eingegangen ist als eine einzige Liebeserklärung an die Freude, am Leben zu sein.

Die emotionale Spannbreite, für welche diese beiden Stücke einstehen, ist bezeichnend für die Musik von PLAYING THE ROOM. Bei aller poetischen Innerlichkeit ist es nicht zuletzt das Gespür für Reduktion, das den einzelnen Stücken, und den sie umgebenden Raum, eine besondere Aura und Luftigkeit verleiht. 

October 2016 

 

Last swim before departure. A week full of radio work. Brutal ardour on Lanzarote. Good time for caves. This man with a history is still adventurous after all these years, and playing in Jameos del Agua adds to every possible magic spell. If you haven’t lost it, you’ll probably bring it all out here. Ten autumns ago, the trumpet player had visited the island for the first time, with his wife and his two children, and then „breathing in“ the archaic space with the ear of a musician, he dreamt of playing the volcanic power spot one day. That day was yesterday.

Molvaer’s big first statement was Khmer, an album that filled some of the space left by pioneering works of „Electric Miles“ and „Fourth World Hassell“. When I did my first interview with him (I only did two) – he was just about to release his third album after Khmer – I asked what he would do to keep his sound fresh. He said: „That’s a good question!“ Its certainly was (and a bit mean) – an artist who has discovered a certain formula, often tends to repeat it till nostalgia is creeping out of every note hanging in the air.

And, in fact, after his first two albums on ECM records, something seemed to be lost on the way, the auditoriums were sold out, the people got what they (a lot of them) wanted, the „Molvaer sound“, the „Molvaer grooves“ with all its shades of night and club and neon. Exhaustion easily comes with riding a first wave of success. It took a while for Nils Petter to reconsider, and then, someday (would be hard to nail it down), a good quantum of the old freshness came back with risky line-ups, with forgetting of being a virtuoso or being the man who knows all the tricks.

His last album, for example, Buyoancy, is a good example of keeping the spirits high – as is his quartet of yesterday’s evening. Geir Sundstol, Jo Berger Myhre (a broad spectrum of playing and treating guitars), and Erland Dahlen (percussion) were not just good company, they shaped and re-shaped everything from scratch, never played by the book. At least so it seemed. Stunning. At one point, near the end, I had the impression Geir Sundstol has been delivering his version of a Daniel Lanois-pedal steel guitar composition. Circles closing in so many ways, circles that never forget to look for promising exit signs – caves always have some hidden ones.

 
 

September  2019

 

Some weeks ago, Nils Petter Molvaer‘s KHMER got its first ever vinyl release on ECM. At the Punktfestival in Kristiansand I suddenly ran into him, and told him, well, weeks ago, Nils Petter, I played from „Khmer“. In my time travel show on five decades of ECM. Which track did you play, he wanted to know. „Song of Sand 2“, I remembered. Oh, that one, he answered and seemed delighted. Then, he told me how much he was inspired) while working on the music of Khmer) by reading Borges‘ „Labyrinths“. That book, he said, blew his mind.

 

2019 17 Sep

La La Land

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Im Zuge meiner Begeisterung für Damien Chazelles Film „Aufbruch zum Mond“ besorgte ich mir, mit gemischten Gefühlen, seine Art von Musical, „La La Land“, wohl wissend, dass es keine Handvoll Musicals in meinem Leben gab, die mich wirklich fesselten – die eine Ausnahme war „My Fair Lady“, aber da war ich noch ein kleiner Junge, und was weitere Ausnahmen angeht, komme ich schon mächtig ins Grübeln. Monate lang lag die BluRay auf einem Stapel. Ich sah grossartige Serien wie „Gentleman Jack“, „Unbelievable“,  „Mindhunter (season 2)“ und die finale fünfte Staffel von „Vikings“. Aber dann sass ich gestern im „electric cinema“, völlig hingerissen von einem M u s i c a l, in dem es auch um den Jazz geht, und um viele andere Dinge. Pures, tiefes Kino – jedes Oberflächenglimmern  hält einen anderen Abgrund bereit!

„Mahmoud Darwich war ein großer Dichter, der in der arabischen Welt ungeheuer populär ist. Als Ernest Pignon-Ernest sein Porträt an die Mauern (Palästinas) klebte, entrollte er es langsam von oben nach unten. Als das Gesicht von Mahmoud Darwisch auftauchte, fingen die Leute auf der Straße gleich an, seine Verse zu rezitieren, er ist bei ihnen noch bekannter als bei uns Victor Hugo. Die Leute kennen diese Lyrik, es ist unglaublich. Nur in der arabischen Welt genießen die Lyriker eine solche Popularität, und sie gehören dem ganzen Volk. Momentan spiele ich in Paris in einem Theaterstück von Amos Gitai mit, in dem viele Gedichte von Mahmoud Darwisch vorkommen, die von großer Schönheit und Kraft zeugen. (…) Diese Texte haben etwas sehr Universelles und vermögen zu allen Zivilisationen zu sprechen.“

(Louis Sclavis, aus dem Gespräch mit Karl Lippegaus)

 
 

 
 
 

 
 

TEXT EINS mit Mats Eilertsen (OTON) – Musik: Mats Eilertsen‘s new album from Hubro 

TEXT ZWEI – (einführende Worte zu einem Höhepunkt im Schaffen des französischen Musikers, und das führt in diesem Falle u.a. zu dem berühmten palästinensischen Dichter Mahmoud Darwich)

BEITRAG 1: Karl Lippegaus über die neue CD von Louis Sclavis, „Characters on a Wall“, und ein anschliessend komplett ausgespieltes Stück des Albums  – aufgepasst, das Album erscheint erst am 27. September! 

TEXT DREI – Musik: Das Duo Avishai Cohen / Yonathan Avishai  und das Album „Playing The Room“

TEXT VIER – (Gedanken zu einem „lost album“ von Miles Davis aus der Zeit vor „Tutu“) –Musik: Miles Davis

TEXT FÜNF –  (der dritte Trompeter in Folge …. Gedanken zu einem Album randvoll mit Standards, von dem ich nicht dachte, dass es mir dermassen gefallen würde, COMMON PRACTICE erscheint am 20. September) – Musik: Ethan Iverson Quartet w/ Tom Harrell

TEXT SECHS – BEITRAG 2: Karsten Mützelfeldt über ein kleines Buch von und mit Michael Wollny

TEXT SIEBEN mit Mats Eilertsen (OTON) / Musik: Mats Eilertsen: Reveries and Revelations

 

 

Recently I exchanged emails with Steve Tibbetts that were, at one point, related to musical revelations once upon a time made at Christmas, or around Christmas time. At young age, meaning when we were fucking greenhorns, 14, 15, 16, 17, and our musical tastes got their primal key experiences. I would like to receive from every Mana who has something to deliver on this topic, a short text (not more than ten lines in our blog at the end), that will be magically designed by Joey, and, in single cases, translated by me into my good old Oxford English.

Our stories will be the icing on the Christmas cake, and it will all be followed by a story told by Steve Tibbetts about one of his musical epiphanies around Christmas time. So write your short short stories to my email address, I think you have some time left to think it over.

Of course, there will be a bit more from the guitar maestro from Minneapolis, f.e. his take on the fabulous, well, amazing, AMAZING GRACE documentary on Aretha Franklin, made by Joe Boyd. Out now on DVD and BLURAY. We all know, consciously or not, some of Joe Boyd‘s musical productions, and some have been reading his wonderful memoir „White Bicycles“. Deadline: November 15.

 
 
 

 

At Joe Boyd‘s flat in London, the Tibbetts family perusing a menu for Indian take-out with Mr. Boyd

 

2019 11 Sep

Frinton-On-Sea

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„With its wistful tone, subtle, folky score and confidence in letting dialogue and sentiments breathe, The Detectorists is a show that does not feel the need to shout about its strengths. In fact, the series is not even really about metal-detecting. The hobby could be replaced by trainspotting, bird-watching or just spending too much time in the shed. It’s what these characters are running from, as much as what they are looking for, that lies at its heart.“

(David Renshaw, The Guardian).

 

 
 

Frinton, with its wide sandy beach, has gone out of its way to remain as uncommercialised as possible and maintain its reputation as a quiet resort. Somewhat in contrast to neighbouring Clacton or Walton it has an air of reserved gentility and has been rewarded for its outstanding experimental music scene with a Blue Flag award. Karl Hyde, Rustin Man, and John Surman know this area quite well. And, it’s just one hour away from Brian Eno‘s hometown in Suffolk. The area where W. G. Sebald had been walking around for weeks and weeks, in search of inspiration for  his wonderful book „The Rings of Saturn“.

The gently shelving beach is divided up by a series of timber groynes. Frinton’s sand is of the type that is perfect for making sandcastles – nice and firm. This means it is also ideal for running around and beach games, further asserting its credentials as being a natural playground for young and old. To the rear of the beach is an extensive promenade, much of which is lined with colourful, old-fashioned beach huts. There is also an extensive grassy area, the Greensward, which is an ideal spot for a picnic. So, beach time will soon be starting – see ya again, in thunder, lightnin‘, or in rain. And, by the way, one of the best British comedy TV series ever, three seasons long and utterly brilliant, was made nearby, „The Detectorists“.

 


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