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The airman

 

the airman

i will see what the airman saw

and higher, the view of the astronaut

and higher, the tick of the satellite

and higher, where height morphs to night

and quantum lays out just as massive

and unknown as the small it contains.

ground fears play out on a surface

one giant map of free states

or a global ball of electric

as data streams over state lines

sat deep in this cannonball universe

sat deep in this one ward of stars

the higher we climb from our surface

the clearer we see (where we are)

der luftfahrer

ich werde sehen, was der luftfahrer sah,

und höher, die aussicht des astronauten

und höher, das ticken des satelliten

und höher, wo höhe sich in nacht verwandelt

und quant sich auslegt grad so massig

und unbekannt wie die winzigkeit die es enthält.

grund ängste spielen auf zeit auf einer oberfläche

eine riesige landkarte freier staaten

oder ein globaler ball aus elektrik

während daten über staatsgrenzen fließen

tief in diesem kanonenkugeluniversum

tief in diesem einen sternenbezirk

je höher wir von unserer oberfläche klettern

desto klarer sehen wir (wo wir sind)

 

 

Fierce aisles of light

 

fierce aisles of light

it’s a train again

this forever

last night’s mead

stare at nothing

at a knee

a plastic table

as the green corridor for machine moves

static flow

(a sound) .

static flow

commercial grey suit freight

and margins

lotions

coffee cups

fierce aisles of light

and stations

it’s a train again

this forever

capital to docks

docks to capital.

grelle lichtschneisen

und schon wieder ein zug

dieses unaufhörliche

aue der gestrigen nacht

ins nichts starren

auf ein knie

einen plastiktisch

während sich der grüne gang für maschinen bewegt

statisches fließen

(ein geräusch).

statisches fließen

kommerzielle graue anzugsfracht

und margen

cremes

kaffeetassen

grelle lichtschneisen

und bahnhöfe

und schon wieder ein zug

dieses unaufhörliche

hauptstadt hafen

hafen hauptstadt.

 

 

as if your eyes were partly closed
as if you honed the swirl within them
and offered me the world

als ob deine augen teilweise geschlossen wären
als ob du den strudel in ihnen drin verfeinert
und mir die welt angeboten hättest

 

2011 23 Jun

Pour It Out / Seepods / The Real (Rick Holland – Tracks 4,5,6)

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pour it out

pour it out

in new ways

imaginate

drop needles like pines into clear pools

where molecules are arranged

just loose enough to let dreams through

it is weird release

to imagine the miniscule

where deep sea molluscs

can glow orange in tendrils

and haemoglobin nodules exist

as twenty million models

beautiful as rocks among atomic sea swells

in between kidney shaped blood cells

imagine your wildest imaginings

then zoom out to macro

subway hits the sky

(and new york hurtles by)

from the top of this highrise

people as small as the pigment in your eyes

and gaps in between them like marching seams

like ants in streams

loose enough to let dreams through

can we climb higher

new york up to sky

(the world hurtles by)

and countries as small as the pigment in your eyes

(the world hurtles by)

can we climb higher?

gieß es aus

gieß es aus

in neue wege

stell dir vor

lass nadeln wie kiefern in klare becken fallen

wo moleküle angeordnet sind

gerade locker genug um träume durchzulassen

es ist eine merkwürdige befreiung

sich das winzige vorzustellen

wo tiefseemollusken

in ranken orangefarben glühen können

und hämoglobinknötchen existieren

zwanzig millionen modelle

schön wie felsen unter atomaren meeresdünungen

zwischen nierenförmigen blutzellen

stell dir deine kühnsten vorstellungen vor

dann zoome in den makrobereich

die u-bahn knallt in den himmel

(und new york saust vorbei)

oben von diesem hochsitz aus

leute so klein wie das pigment in deinen augen

und die lücken zwischen ihnen wie marschierende nähte

wie ameisen in bächen

locker genug um träume durchzulassen

können wir höher klettern

new york hinauf zum himmel

(die welt saust vorbei)

und Länder so klein wie das pigment in deinen augen

(die welt saust vorbei)

können wir höher klettern?

 

 

seedpods

 

all over london  • the clicker of seed pods • against passing buses • organism •  or prism • part light divided • part sound machine • and different souls • trying to pick the bones • for morsels to make it mean • for meat to bulk their meaning •  seeds • sounds • and the ceiling • same trigger • signifier • seven different feelings.

 

 

samenkapseln

 

über ganz london  • das klacken von samenkapseln • gegen vorbeifahrende busse • organismus •  oder prisma • teils licht geteilt • teils klangmaschine • und unterschiedliche seelen • versuchen die knochen aufzupicken • als häppchen um ihnen einen Sinn zu geben • als fleisch um ihre bedeutung zu blähen •  samen • klänge • und der himmel • derselbe auslöser • anzeiger • sieben unterschiedliche gefühle.

 

 

The real

 

the real

the flourish

seeing the real in things

really seeing the real

describing the exact actuality

of what it is you see

or what it is you seem to see

you really seem to see the real

the exact and actual reality

of the real in things you seem to see

the real thing

and no other voice or paint in this

but just the thing, you see

the thing you see

is the real in things

what you see is what seems

the reels of this seem to mean the real in things

while real runs out and seems to reach the real

as it runs

no dry run

the real is done

the flourish

seeing the real in things

really seeing the real

describing the exact actuality

of what it is you see

or what it is you seem to see

you really seem to see the real

the exact and actual reality

of the real in things you seem to see

the real thing

and no other voice or paint in this

but just the thing, you see

the thing you see

is the real in things

no dry run

(the real is done)..

das wirkliche

der überschwang

das wirkliche in dingen sehen

wirklich das wirkliche sehen

die exakte gegebenheit beschreiben

von dem was es ist das du siehst

oder von dem was es ist das du zu sehen scheinst

du scheinst wirklich das wirkliche zu sehen

die exakte und tatsächliche wirklichkelt

des wirklichen in dingen die du zu sehen scheinst

das wirkliche ding

und keine andere stimme oder farbe darin

sondern nur das ding, siehst du

das ding das du siehst

ist das wirkliche der dinge

was du siehst ist was scheint

die rollen dessen scheinen das wirkliche der dinge zu meinen

während das wirkliche abläuft und scheint das wirkliche zu erreichen

während es läuft

kein probelauf

das wirkliche ist getan

der überschwang

das wirkliche in dingen sehen

wirklich das wirkliche sehen

die exakte Gegebenheit beschreiben

von dem was es ist das du siehst

oder von dem was es ist das du zu sehen scheinst

du scheinst wirklich das wirkliche zu sehen

die exakte und tatsächliche wirklichkelt

des wirklichen in dingen die du zu sehen scheinst

das wirkliche ding

und keine andere stimme oder farbe darin

sondern nur das ding, siehst du

das ding das du siehst

ist das wirkliche der dinge

kein probelauf

(das wirkliche ist getan)..

 

 

 traum              vögel

 

                                                       das schwebend-treibende  kra-kra

 

                die                 britilla    henne

 

        die                   papagei                    orchidee

 

(der zeon rosa schwan)

 

dort   (ein winziges Teilchen  )   an der decke

 

ein neuer                                            parlaments-entwurf

 

der fordert

 

                                                freiheit  (       für die schöpfung)

 

für unsere glänzende jugend

 

(bevölkert den himmel                mit euren   zauberstab-strichen)

 

im zeitalter des                                           kürzer werdenden Lebens

 

über            die leere                     dioxyd  über uns

 

erfindet

neue

 

farben

die

fliegen.
 

 

traum              vögel

der schwebende                 krächz-krächz

das                britilla         huhn

der           spinnenpapagei

(der zeonrosafarbene schwan )

es gibt           (einen riss)            in der decke

ein neues                                                                      parlamentsgesetz

das                              fordert

freiheit          (         der schöpfung)

für unsere glänzende jugend

(bevölkert den himmel                 mit euren           stab-schlägen             )

im zeitalter der                                                                                                    lebensverkürzung

quer durch                       das leere                                  dioxid über uns

erfindet

neue

farben

die

fliegen.

 

 

there is a glitch in the system

outside the brain flow

armoured shells melt down

explode in the main code

seiged by the blind mass

they won’t stop the chain grow

numbers grow numbers

working ants or quantum fires

will flow on regardless

of each abandoned carcas

the only joy there is       is onward search through the darkness

edict states the lights go out

learn to fight the nightfall

work will lead to comfort

comfort lives a lifetime

but death is not an end

it’s a place to search the light with

light in universal terms

cells out on the great grid

numbers growing numbers

working ants, quantum fires

morph from the energy

abandoned by each carcas

the greatest joy there is      is onward search through the darkness

es gibt einen fehler im system

außerhalb des hirnstroms

schmelzen gepanzerte hüllen herunter

explodieren im hauptcode

belagert von der blinden masse

werden sie den kettenwuchs nicht stoppen

aus zahlen werden zahlen

arbeitsameisen oder quantenfeuer

werden weiter fließen ohne rücksicht

auf jedes hinterlassene gerippe

die einzige freude, die es gibt — ist fortschreitende suche durch die dunkelheit

erlass legt fest die lichter gehen aus

lerne das dunkelwerden zu bekämpfen

arbeit führt zu behaglichkeit

behaglichkeit lebt ein leben lang

aber der tod ist kein ende

er ist ein ort, das licht zu suchen

licht in universellen begriffen

zellen außen auf dem großen raster

aus zahlen werden zahlen

arbeitsameisen,  quantenfeuer

verwandeln sich durch die energie

die jedes gerippe hinterlässt

die größte freude, die es gibt — ist fortschreitende suche durch die dunkelheit

 

 

THE APPEARANCE OF ELISHA MUDLEY

 

Michael Engelbrecht:   On a lot of his albums, Brian only rarely works with clearly defined lyrics when entering a studio. This time, he had your poems – and, as I imagine, letting their impact on him work, he was inspired to approach every track with new ideas, new sounds. You have only a rare apparition as one of the nine voices on the album; how have you been involved in the studio work? Did you offer him any musical ideas, from the point of view of a “real” non-musician?

Rick Holland: You are right that each track was approached as a unique organism, and there were nearly fifty pieces when we first sat down to finish the record. I do offer musical ideas and also extremely vague and over-reaching requests, Can you make this part sound more like primordial sludge Brian?’, that kind of thing. Of course his answers tend to be, ‘Yes, yes I can.’.

We worked together in his studio throughout the intensive final weeks and also at most of the sessions that spawned the initial ‘skeletons’ of the tracks over the years. I think we both took some steps away from our comfort zones over these sessions, which is what collaborating relies on, and there was certainly never a sense that he ‘did’ music and I ‘did’ words. Poems and Music were equally likely to change in the process of making, and the making process was an open forum of ideas.

‘The Real’ is perhaps the most recent example of a ‘school’ of song formation whereby  Brian would have several pieces on the go and I would provide or write words for the ones that most spoke to me. The first stage in these tracks was to superimpose a vocal over the existing music. Sometimes, a vocal just steers the piece towards its final shape and many musical ideas were provided by the vocalists, not directly, but in the nuances of their readings and more specifically their own ways of forming spoken words.

The components of this one just fell into place with a combination of reshaping an existing ‘poem’ I had been working on, and the beautiful chance arrival at the studio of Elisha Mudley, who really did appear like an angel that day, unannounced, and just in time for us to record. Not all days ran that smoothly! 

 Michael:   Your poems allow the listener to drift freely between the impressions the single words and pictures are offering. As a material that is not fixed to transport a certain message, and more open to free associations, one can experience the words in a very relaxed way. Can you explain this a bit, with a look at the opening track, this London poem “Bless This Space”. And what was the first idea that brought this poem on its way? The albums starts,  almost programmatic, with the words “Bless this space / in rhyme and sound”…”

 

NEAR OLD STREET IN LONDON

 

Rick: This is a very good question. The great interest for me in the whole of this process has been the giving up of control of meaning. Many poets would really not like this idea. By allowing the idiosyncrasies of accent and word formation in foreign English speakers the centre stage, and then enjoying and exploiting the accidents of meaning those sounds can create, the poetic process is often greatly enhanced, and often in surprising ways. I was already a poet who enjoyed leaving ‘image lines’ and indeed sounds to trigger a journey into personal meaning before I met Brian, but over the years of working with him, I have developed a clearer idea of the middle ground between pure audio material and carriers of meaning and how the two can play off each other.

The example you cite ‘Bless this Space’ is an interesting one, as it is not typical of how we worked. The poem was inspired by a production job of sorts I had for the Map making project in 2003 (the event I met Brian at actually). It was a very ambitious collaboration between artists of all kinds, from ballet dancers to painters to orchestras; I was unofficially tasked with pulling the show together with some kind of thread. It was set in St Luke’s, in what used to be a church near Old Street in London but is now the home of LSO and a beautiful music venue. I was asked to write something to accompany the dance piece that opened the show, and so I decided to play on the idea of the art venue being a place for people to come and ‘unfold’ the daily pretences of life. The rhythm and feel of it was ritualistic in keeping with the motions of the dance and for me it made a good opening ‘blessing’ for the performance to come, like a call to the audience for an open mind, or a mock invocation of the spirits.

I included it in a bundle of words I once printed out for Brian and forgot all about it, until one day I received an email from Brian with his reading over a pulse track. I liked it, but again we forgot it for a long time, and then it re-emerged in this form after Leo Abrahams and Seb Rochford had worked their magic; Leo’s guitar part and Seb’s drums knock it off kilter and add even more a sense of the intoxicating freedom after the ritual, as though you are marched to the precipice and have no choice but to jump into the unknown. Now it is a piece of music which as you say can be linked into lyrically, or just grooved to, or both. Hopefully, lines jump out differently for different people. And it keeps the half life of that original poem but adds a new life, or several new lives at once to it. For me, ‘step through mediums/outside of the race/to look in’ works on many levels for individuals and society. I love this track.

 

BRIAN´S FREAK-OUT SECTION

 

Michael:  On Glitch, as on many other poems,  you´re working with the freedoms of “Konkrete Poesie” (Gomringer, Arp, Jandl a.o.) by using the whole space, letting go traditional forms of arranging words. The graphic space between the words (white canvas) produces an airy climate for the words, sometimes even a kind of rhythmical pattern. Can you describe the story behind the writing of “Glitch”, and how Brian´s music did  surprise you?

Rick: Before meeting Brian I had set out on writing directly to music, and in ways that were inspired directly by music; in fact I had been experimenting with writing as a direct translation of  other forms of expression, of which music is for me the most direct and enjoyable. ‘Glitch’ was written a long time ago, but I think it was written only in relation to a very sparse drum pattern that I had asked a friend to make for me and without much editing for meaning. This perhaps explains the context you give it and why it worked so well in relation to the graphic space you mention. The space was perhaps already there, a la Konkrete Poesie  but it was certainly consciously manipulated in Brian’s transformation to music. Brian is forever asking readers to ‘go slow’ for precisely this reason. I don’t have much knowledge about “Konkrete Poesie” so I will investigate, thankyou.

So, ‘glitch’ started from the words, and Grazna Goworek (who looked after Brian’s studio some years ago) was invited to read. She didn’t even bat an eyelid when he asked her to go and sit in the toilet to read the poem, which is where the rasping atmosphere of the reading comes from, along with Brian’s processing of her voice. Then the music was built from these starting points, the words and the voice became a pulse and an atmosphere, so actually the music did not surprise me in this case.

However, we returned to ‘glitch’ several times over the years, and the greatest surprise came in the very last week of working on the record. In response to one of my more outlandish requests (something like ‘Could you make a section that sounds like the sub atomic code of the universe?’) Brian constructed the ‘freak out’ section that I think now takes the track to the next level. That part is the real language of the piece for me, condensed and magnified like a real poem should be. It speaks in greater volumes than all of the words!

 

BLAIR AND THE BIRDS

 

Michael:  One of the beautiful moments  in “Dreambirds” is when the words say “invent new colors”, and the music sounds like a perfect example for synasthesia, the transformation of colors into music. In the lyrics there are two interesting elements that produce a kind of tension: the dreamy skyscape with the birds, and then, the  political allusions…  a kind of “utopian poem”, so to speak?

Rick: Yes absolutely in the synaesthesia sense. We experimented with various ways of representing words with sound, and in this case I agree, the elements hang together like a visual trace across the sky. The politics are also there, and they are a strange mixture. Having worked as a teacher in various guises, in London and further afield in Central Africa and India, the untrammeled potential of youthful imagination is always inspiring to me. It is also violated by the ‘facts’ of life so often, when the young person’s perspective is very often the right one but is denied.

The financial crisis most recently points to this fact so I’ll use it as a slightly cumbersome example; while I was growing up in a country of people doing jobs that I couldn’t really understand I always sensed very strongly that our economic foundations were built on make believe, but I would dampen these impressions and assume there was someone who was far more intelligent than me in control. In the Blair years, the promises of equal opportunities for all youngsters to learn and aspire made me feel equally uneasy. We were ‘rich’ as a nation, but no-one really understood or even bothered to understand why this was, and we had a government rolling out initiatives that always sounded as flimsy as the new labour theme tune to me.

What was clear is that back in the real world we needed truly ‘brilliant’ young rather than political spin versions of brilliant young who weren’t really prepared for anything useful by this aspirational lie of an education. So ‘Dreambirds’ was a poem about the tussle between the true potential of imagination, and the mirage that was being sold that let everyone ‘express themselves’ and have the impression that they were on the ladder to somewhere better when perhaps they weren’t at all (a blank dioxide perhaps).

Thankfully, the beautiful musical accompaniment allows the imagination to roam and doesn’t focus instead on that satirical edge, and ultimately in  the poem and in the music, it is the imagination that wins! We do need brilliant young inventing new colours that fly, and they are out there working very hard at it, right now. When I listen to this one now, I imagine wonderfully odd semi-robotic species of bird full of character and colour. This piece makes me smile, as though we live in a very complex world that is still full of charm.

Michael: “Seepods” is a good example for your preference (sometimes) to use very sensual, miscroscopic details of everyday life and then build up a  kind of impressionistic picture…does this poem in some way reflect your interest in a free, unconditioned way of perceiving things that can produce magic without being linked to a certain message?

 Rick: ‘Yes’ is the best answer to this question. I can’t express this better than you have! I will add that I have a belief that the internal world and the external world can both be understood far better by just looking; looking carefully at them both in the context of the other. ‘Looking’ itself needs examining and re-evaluating too. Relationship (like that of the very large to the very small) is everywhere in this album, and in my work in general. I also recognise lately that so much of  what we experience as ‘feeling’ is just projected, and from the top of the 344 bus in London (where I wrote this one) it is possible to see ‘seven different feelings’ responding in their ‘seven’ different ways to the same trigger at any given moment. Only a conditioned mind fails to see this every day in London.

 

LIVING IN MUMBAI

 

Michael:  One of my favourite poems and tracks (in fact, they are nearly all favourite pieces)  is “the real”, a fine  example of producing mistrust  about so-called “reality”.  By repeating some of the words and changing them subtely, the listener´s security is more and more feeling like a fake. Could be a Buddhist poem for the Western world, couldn´t it? And Brian enhances this by heavily treating the voice in the last part of the long track…

Rick: This is one of my favourite tracks too. An undressing of the myths of language, and because of Brian’s wonderful idea of stretching and elongating the ‘repeat’, an undressing of the very myth of speaking (and telling ‘facts’) too, it is an opportunity to meditate on your own understandings.

Living in Mumbai for a while really opened my eyes to the fact that these ideas are not new or strange, and are also not ‘hippy’ (or any other similarly Western kind of identifying word to discredit anything ‘other’). In India I found a society that was able to talk about things not from a self conscious position of quasi-scientific authority but from an open position of questioning and critical thinking built into the fabric of daily life by an ancient tradition of such thinking. Exact ‘classification’ was not the stated end of this thinking, unlike the West, rather an acknowledgement that giant forces of the world and universe were in flux, and that human beings played only a small and equal part to all other forms of life.

I am not Buddhist, or a Hindu, nor have I studied either way exhaustively, but I do see the frontiers of science shifting all the time and making fools of experts, and the fact that people have also long agreed on one simple truth, ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. At the ends of our formalized intelligence lives imagination. Ultimately, we are all looking for the same thing and anyone who tells you ‘no, you are wrong, life is rigidly this way, full stop’ is almost certainly selling you something.

 

WHAT TAGORE SAID TO EINSTEIN

 

Michael:  Who is “The Airman”… Where does this title hint to? A space traveler?  Quite often in your poems you´re writing  about stuff from a kind of “outsider perspective”. A kind of “alien perspective”… Another good example is the poem “A title” that offers some excursion to evolution theory….

Rick: The airman is a representation of my own attempts at thinking logically through smaller and smaller building blocks of life in an attempt to understand it. Like deep sea divers and space explorers, we are still searching our own consciousness and wondering where it can take us; often it is our ability to travel further away from ourselves that allows us to better understand ourselves. The actual idea of ‘airman’ I am almost certain was taken from Auden or the ‘pylon poets’ of the 1930s, and really is just about jumping on the back of technological advance to steal a clear view of its secrets like a magpie (Auden’s airman I think was a first world war pilot scanning the earth to make maps). “a title” is similar, as we get closer  to understanding ourselves through a meditation through a microscope, or appreciating our true nature beneath all the constructs.

Michael:  “Sounds alien” has, from the lyrics,  clear musical references, like  “sounds are alien and dense…”.  Did you write this or other poems with the idea in the back of your mind that Brian will make the music?  

Rick:  ‘sounds alien’ came from a collection of consciously shorter work that I was writing at the time it was made (I think around 2006) and almost certainly these shorter poems were influenced by the fact I was working with Brian and other musicians and with music in mind. The rhythm of these words certainly lend themselves to manipulation or repetition (very much in the vein of what Tagore said to Einstein about ‘Eastern’ music with its words that were not necessarily anything other than structural stepping stones in a greater and more vivid picture, https://www.schoolofwisdom.com/history/teachers/rabindranath-tagore/tagore-and-einstein/ ).

These words also relate to a long term love of ‘drum and bass’ music, with the ability it had to take me out of my own thoughts through its broken beat repetitions and alterations. It is worth mentioning here that I think it was listening to music with live MCs and rappers that first made me interested in ‘poetry’, I have always loved hearing a voice adding its layers to music, and in the rare instances that the images are vivid too, that is my musical heaven.

I do draw a great deal of fuel from music and drums, as a writer but also just as a stress reliever in day to day life. If I remember correctly Brian picked these words from the group of short poems I brought to one of our sessions and read them with Aylie over an existing piece. We made this track in the same session as ‘multimedia’ and ‘the airman’ (which were written with the words as starting points).

 

CLOUD 4  

 

Michael:  And then there is this wonderful poem – and the wonderful song „Cloud 4“. For someone who likes Brian singing it´s  a bit sad that  it is so short, but the form is perfect. Do you have a relationship to his song albums… have you been a fan of Brian´s music before you met him personally. I mean he had written great  song lyrics in his song albums, and then there is the ambient work full of strange moods that might inspire the writing of  poems with the music running in the background, So what´s your story with Brian´s music?

Rick: I grew up with Brian’s music forming part of the background of my life without realising it. A lot of people of my generation can say that. I didn’t have a direct experience of or knowledge of Brian’s music until I met him. It is lucky really, because I had no preconception of working with him, and so no reference to either influence me or intimidate me. I have learned so much from him and have been really interested to discover his work after meeting the man, rather than the other way round. I have to admit that it was a good few years even after working with him that I really grasped his attitude to lyrics. Maybe I wouldn’t have gone that first day if I had known what I was letting myself in for! I did actually have a crack at writing words for a lot of the songs that came out very differently in his previous two ‘song’ albums, including the lovely ‘Strange Overtones’. 

I love his song ‘This’ incidentally and I think that is a good example of his approach to lyric writing as I can imagine the words came in streams and in servitude to the music. I’ve also heard some unreleased songs that are just stunning and perhaps lyrically incomplete. Perhaps my story with Brian’s music is that of the covert secret operative who has had access to the vaults. My relationship to all of his work, across art forms, is one of ongoing illumination. Most recently I’ve read about Stafford Beer and loved those parts of his work I could understand, and while I still perhaps know less of Brian’s ‘song albums’ than some do, I have certainly heard him sing a lot.

A quick aside, regarding the length of ‘Cloud 4’. The option of continuing with it and building it did come up, but we both thought it delivered its message. As an aside to an aside, I remember also Brian saying that one of his favourite songs ever, Maurice Williams’ ‘Stay’ was the perfect song encapsulated in 1 minute and 39 seconds. I certainly know what that song is saying! 

 

THE RAIN WAS HAMMERING DOWN

 

Michael:  Starting  reading a poem with the title “multimedia”  I didn´t expect some strange archaic rituals? What triggered this fantasy of caves and elemental sounds…?

Rick: Aboriginal spot paintings, Australia, Fire, Music, ‘Click Sticks’ and also the ‘archaic’ rituals that are carried out in techno parties all over the world or anywhere where people dance to drums. A lot of us find release in dancing to loud beats (expertly so in Germany). I wrote this at a time where a lot of self conscious multimedia art was around and it made me think that mixing art, dancing, music and ecstatic energy was nearly as old as the most ancient human practices and not perhaps as clever as smug artists were implying (in the ‘Dreambirds’ years!). I had also seen an Aboriginal man on ‘walkabout’ in central Sydney which was a contrast that had a great impact on me in a country whose real history fascinated me, with it’s stories of totemic beings singing the world into existence and naming the land. The very common need for release is the thing that triggered the fantasy, projected onto an outback scene from the other side of the world. It is a poem that is proudly from my youth, when the political climate and behaviour of a lot of my peers seemed a million miles removed from what I thought was real.

Michael:   Did Brian tell you why he decided to sing the last track of the album with an utterly deep voice. The “silence” before it is well-chosen after the poem that ended with pure optimism and the words  “things will be good”.   The change of mood makes the silent period nearly necessary, and,  what  seemed to be a happy ending of the album turns into something dark. Can you give some suggestions about your perception of this last track?

Rick:  I am going to take some credit here for pushing Brian to do something he wasn’t necessarily comfortable doing. We were in a new part of his studio, he had moved all of his equipment into what had previously been an office, with large glass skylight windows. The rain was hammering down in heavy drops, the daylight had disappeared behind the clouds, and he had this dark and thrilling sound on the go. In short, the stage was set to try ‘Breath of Crows’, a slow meditation that is both dark and uplifting in my opinion. His choice of singing voice fitted the whole atmosphere, and I pushed him to carry on with this sung approach. I think he enjoyed confounding his own doubts, and I love this track. The silence was completely necessary, yes, and the atmosphere too different from the rest of the album to place anywhere else.

As for my perception it is completely bound up in where the poem was written, which was under a Mumbai monsoon, in my small room over there, which was at tree level and meant I lived in close proximity to the city’s crow population. It was the culmination of a lot of reading, thinking, working as a teacher at Utpal Shanghvi School, and living closely with these very intelligent animals in a culture that revered and took notice of all living things. The song is perhaps like a non religious hymn.

Michael:  Anything you like to add? At the end…

Rick:  I would just like to add that working with Brian enabled me for the first time to watch a full time artist at work; someone as committed to his work as a research scientist and constantly pushing himself and his ideas and modes of thinking. While the working process necessitated give and take I never once felt anything other than his complete equal and this is down to his total commitment to remaining open and curious to the world. I am proud of the album and the journey we have taken to realise it, but most of all I am just very grateful to have been given the opportunity to meet him and work with him. I hope you enjoy the record, and give it some good quality time to listen to (perhaps on shuffle mode for best effect).

In seinem Essay zu „Drums Between The Bells“ betrachtet Eno diese (meist gesprochenen) Gedichtvertonungen von Rick-Holland-Texten als „speech songs“ und führt als Beispiele (neben Schönbergs „Pierrot Lunaire“, „Leaders of the Pack“ von den Shangrilas und dem immensen Vorrat des Hip-Hop)  diese zwei Songs an: Mike Berrys „Trbute to Buddy Holly“ und Wink Martindales „Deck of Cards“… Mir fällt ja noch das lange,  gesprochene Intro von Donovans „Atlantis“ ein, das dann in einen ziemlich pathetischen Gesang mündet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IQhJ-VVGyo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCDdGZsKqJY


Es fand statt kurz vor der Veröffentlichung von „Wrong Way Up“, Enos Zusammenarbeit mit John Cale.  Mal sang Eno, mal Cale einen Song. Hier die Passagen, die drei Songs dieses Albums betreffen, und ein paar Gedanken zur Songlyrik, die ganz interessant sind, im Hinblick auf sein in Kürze erscheinendes Werk „Drums Between The Bells – Brian Eno and the Words of Rick Holland“.

 Apropos: wie freundlicherweise von ENO WEB (s. Blogroll) angekündigt, veröffentlichen wir hier ab kommenden Freitag die deutschen Übersetzungen der Rick Holland-Gedichte aus „Drums Between The Bells“ (pro Tag drei).   Heute erschien ein längerer Artikel zu  Brian Eno in der „FAZ am Sonntag“, der  leider die Möglichkeit verschenkt, etwas tiefer die Räume dieses kleinen Meisterwerks zu öffnen, und in postmoderner Koketterie um das Phänomen „Eno“ herumtänzelt.

Und nebenbei klärt sich, spätestens in den Kommentaren, wieso ich ans Ende des Interviews eine Abbildung der  DVD-Box „Northern Exposure“ platziert habe  (in Deutschland hiess die Serie „Ausgerechnet Alaska“). Da kann man übrigens oft einem meiner Lieblingsradiomoderatoren bei der Arbeit zuschauen.

BE: Well, SPINNING AWAY is a very easy one for me to talk about, because it has a feature that I like a lot, and that I have used before as well. I like very much to have contrasts of speed. For instance I like to have very very fast staccato rhythms, chopped-up rhythms, which very liquid vocals running over the top of them. Maybe the best example of this is not on one of my records, but on the Donna Summer song „I Feel Love“ with Georgio Moroder playing. The synthesizer part on that is very very technological and mechanical, Kraftwerk almost, but her singing over it is just like a beautiful liquid feeling going on over the top. Anyway, I have that kind of feeling in Spinning Away, something of two very opposing qualities: a rhythm that is staccato, off-balance slightly. If you listen to the way the drums begin on that song, they have a strange, off-balance feeling. Their sound is crisp. The vocals on the other hand, and the violins are not played in the same mood, they’re in almost a different musical universe. They float on top of this sea of action, you know, this sea of activity. And the violins play in a different time signature: dam dam dam dam dada over taka tak taka taka taka tak taka taka… Well, actually I’m not very good at talking about that particular piece of music (laughs).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-INeMspNSQ0

ME: Let’s come to the question of lyrics. I have the impression that,  in your comments on rock songs generally,  you underestimate the qualities of your lyrics, because  they really enrich a song.

BE: Well, I agree with you. I mean, if I didn’t believe that, I would use nonsense, I would say any sounds. But what I’m always fighting against, is the tendency of lyrics to overbalance music, to outbalance the music in terms of the attention they draw. So I’m always downplaying lyrics, because I want people to be looking at other things, too. And especially I want writers to be looking at other things, you know. It’s very easy for writers to write about language, it’s there medium. Of course they can comment about that. And what happens very often, is that writers write reviews of records, where they never tell you, what the music is about. They never give you any idea, even. They might give you a couple of references like „It’s a bit like The Clash“ or it’s a bit like …, just comparisons. The feeling you have is that the persons has really only heard the words. This is not what I want either. I completely agree with you that lyrics can be as much an evocation and an inducement to enter into the music as any other element. And in fact lyrics have an advantage in that they can make you think, they mean something (laughs). They draw you into the game of interpretation. That’s a very interesting game and I like to stimulate that game.

ME: on WRONG WAY UP, you have written some kind of ironic ’self portrait‘ in LAY MY LOVE.  And it’s a love song, too.

BE: Well, it’s quite interesting, that you are the first person that noticed that it’s a self portrait (laughs), which was so obvious to me. But I never said it to anyone, because I don’t like to tell people things like that. Nobody else ever mentioned it. And I mean, it says: every line begins „I am“, „I“, „I“, „I“, „I“, „I“. So that song was kind of a joke on myself. I’ve always said in the past, I don’t like to write songs in the first person singular. There are so many rock songs with „I do this“, „I want“, „I need“, „I woke up this morning“, „I gotta get next to you, girl“ – that kind of thing, „I gotta feel your body“. And I’ve always said, I don’t want to write songs like that, ‚relationship songs‘ I call them. So I had this idea, I didn’t want to write songs that started with „I“. I didn’t want to write songs that ended with „you“ – that was the other thing I didn’t want. And I didn’t want „love“ in between. So I didn’t want „I love you“ as a message, how ever it was filled out and disguised. I didn’t want that as a message. And so, partly through John Cale’s influence, he said „Oh, come on. Just do it!“ And so I thought „Well, maybe I break my own rules for a change. And not only will I use the word „I“, I use it at the beginning of every single sentence!“ (laughs) So I realized this was going to be some kind of a love song. But I thought „How could you do something with the love song form that is maybe original?“ The first part of the song that I had written was „I’m gonna lay my love around you“, which in English has a nice feeling: it’s like someone laying a bouquet of flowers around somebody else, or laying a cloak over the shoulders, or something like that – this notion of surrounding someone. But I thought „That’s nice, but it’s too sweet alone, it‘ too simply romantic“. So these other images starting coming up, and they were kind of nice, because they undermine the romantic quality. You start thinking „Would I really like to have this person laying his love around me, this person who is ‚the termite of temptation‘ and ‚the crow of desperation?“‚.And then, of course, I should say, there are all the autobiographical parts of it. The way that the song is written is described within the song: „I spin relentless combinations“, „I multiply and fly my population“, because within the song I’m spinning, I’m shuffling the same cards over and over again. So it’s not only an autobiographical song, it’s a – what do they call it – a self-referential song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYvXp7_9GPE

ME: There is another wonderful song: EMPTY FRAME. I think this is one of the songs you can enjoy on very different levels. I have seen people start to dance and to whistle to this song. And on the other hand, if you listen to the lyrics, there is this very strange story about a ship turning around and around, a motive in many of your songs.

BE: Well, the sea image is always really interesting to me, because it has two factors, the idea of being out in a ship at sea: It’s first of all the idea of being separated off from the rest of the world, so suddenly finding yourself alone. That’s an important part of it. The second part is that you are not in control of the situation. You can influence the situation, you know, you have sails and you have a rudder and you can row. You can change your direction, but there’s a huge current as well. So I like very much this feeling of being separated off and suddenly being surrendering to a powerful force of some kind. So you might want to go in that direction, but because this force is pushing you, you moved diagonally instead of in a straight line. That’s a strong image for me, because it seems to me, it’s what is happening to you all the time in your life, you know. You keep finding yourself separated off from the community that you feel you’re a part of. You don’t want to be, maybe, you would like to be part of everything, but you find that you don’t quite fit in there. So, and then you notice that you don’t have independent total control over what you are doing. You are actually subject to a lot of forces that are very strong, and you really are not even able to describe them. They are so strong that they are your environment: you don’t notice them most of the time. You keep rowing in what you think is a straight line, but actually you are being moved in a circle or off into a diagonal, and you keep finding yourself in the same point again and again. And you think „Why did that happen? I thought I was going in a straight line, yet I’m back here, where I was last year and the year before“, you know. So, all of those images of power beyond your own conciousness, beyond your own will, and of separation, are to do with the sea image for me. The other thing that’s in there, is about a little ship that is always falling apart, that they always are trying to fix up again. It says in there „the broken sails“. This is also a very poignant image to me of the notion of people constantly trying to repair their sails. What do you have a sail for? To catch wind, to catch the other forces that are around, the controllable forces. The wind is the force that you can do something about. The sea is not, you know. But of course, the wind also keeps breaking your sails, so you always have to sow them back together again. It’s an endless struggle to try to keep going in any kind of a line. Because the other implication in this kind of song is „Why don’t you surrender? Why don’t you surrender to the tide and see where you go?“ And in one of my old songs „Julie with…“, that’s what happened in that song, the people have surrendered. They’ve stopped, they’ve stopped rowing the boat and they suddenly have allowed themselves to become completely, not victims exactly, but to have fallen under the control of this powerful force.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbHnhZdZ2jo

ME: So this is a point where the ambient music and the rock music have strong links?

BE: Very strongly, I think, yeah. I guess, it’s what I realized in the late seventies, that I was making a music which was not about the traditional subjects of rock music, which are actually controlled, control, and focus, and assault, and directionality of some kind. My stuff was getting more and more lost (laughs), I was drifting further and further out, and I liked the feeling as well – playing with those kinds of feeling, seeing what is the relationship I want between control and surrender. That’s a question for everyone, you know. It’s actually one of the biggest questions we ask. How much do I try to take things in my hands and force a particular type of life? What kind of balance do I make between ambition and surrender? That’s the big question, I think. And it’s a question that is not explicitly asked in a lot of music. Most of it is ambitious. „Girl, I want to feel your body“, „I will do this“, „I want that“. It’s about will, most of it. Well, this is a kind of music about the failure of will, or the necessity to recognize that will doesn’t control everything. It’s not the strongest force in the universe.

2011 13 Jun

Ich bin ein Sequencer

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„Sequencing is always a major part of how music is ultimately perceived.“ (Craig Taborn)

Ein dummer Fehler war schuld: ich hatte mir ein Interview mit Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) angehört, das Michael Maurer zu dessen neuer CD „Bon Iver, Bon Iver“ geführt hatte. Einen OTON wollte ich ihm daraus abkaufen, der die Geschichte zum Song „Hinnom, Tx“ erzählt. Das Highlight seines Interviews. Leider landete der OTON im Spam, so daß ich den Song (als die Lieferfrist abgelaufen war) rausschmiss und eine wirklich spannende Stunde lang nach einem neuen Eröffnungstrack der nächsten „Klanghorizonte“ suchte. Schliesslich fand ich einen Donovan-Song aus seinem alten Doppelalbum A GIFT FROM A FLOWER TO A GARDEN. Mittlerweile missfiel mir auch meine Entscheidung, eine zehnminütige Komposition aus der neuen Arbeit des isländischen Komponisten Johann Johannsson zu verwenden. Eine gelungene Hommage an das Schicksal von englischen Grubenarbeitern, aber es schien mir nicht ganz in den flow der Stunde zu passen. Ich suchte ein kurzes, kammermusikalisches Stück und wurde bei ENGLABORN fündig.

Die Klanghorizonte erlauben ja, aus jedem Musikgenre Tracks herzunehmen. Das macht die Sache spannend und (ein bisschen) schwierig: denn eine Dramaturgie muss her, was hier bitteschön nicht hochtrabend klingen soll: die Reihenfolge der Stücke muss (auch wenn ich zuweilen mit Brechungen und Kontrasten spiele) stimmig sein, fast schon eine sich selbst erzählende Geschichte darstellen. Dazu kommt noch eine kleine Limitierung: zwei Monate vor der Sendung habe ich für diverse Programmankündigungen schon jeweils drei Namen für die Sendungen des Nachtradios zu nennen. In diesem Fall waren es: Johann Johannsson, Popol Vuh und Low. Zwar achte ich darauf dass diese Zusammenstellung eine gewisse stimulierende  (nicht unbedingt zwingende) Logik hat, doch sind damit drei feste Größen formuliert, um die herum das „Sequencing“ entsteht.

Es taten sich neue Spielräume auf, als ich aus einem 10-Minuten-Stück des Isländers ein 1-Minuten-Stück an dessen Stelle gesetzt hatte. Durch das Email-Interview mit Craig Taborn war ich noch tiefer in AVENGING ANGEL eingedrungen, und es wäre widersinng gewesen, dieses Meisterwerk nicht in das fröhliche Spannungsfeld der Stunde einzubauen. In einer kleinen „ECM-Corner“ gesellte sich Marylin Mazur hinzu, dessen CELESTIAL CIRCLE eine ihrer besten Platten ist. Spirituell empfindende Menschen (wie die Dänin) müssen aufpassen, dass aus ihrem kosmischen Grundempfinden kein raunendes Pendant zum Bäume-Umarmen wird, und all diese Gefahren umgeht der HIMMLISCHE KREIS sehr gekonnt, mit den Mitteln der Reduktion.

Im Lauf des „Sequencing“ galt es noch, die zahlreichen Vorträge der Rick Holland-Gedichte zu den Tracks der neuen Brian Eno-CD so zu gestalten, dass man beim Hören nicht überfrachtet wird. Und so sorgte ich durchgängig dafür, daß nach einer Gedichtübersetzung,  und nach dem darauf zu hörenden Eno-Stück (what a fabulous record, by the way!) erstmal keine neue Moderation kam, sondern jeweils reine Instrumentalmusik, welche  die „spoken-word-performances“  nachwirken lässt und auch dem Raum zwischen den Klängen  Luft (diesen Job erledigen Fourcolor, Johannsson, M. Ostermeier und Rafael Toral glänzend!). 

Und dann war´s geschafft. Ich warf einen letzten Blick auf die „playlist“ (s.a. Kommende Radiosendungen mit M.E.) und stellte mit einem Schmunzeln fest, was so noch gar nicht im Schilde geführt war: eine heitere Psychedelik, wenn man auf die Namen etlicher Alben blickt: da wimmelt es nur so von „Farben“, „Blumen“, „Himmel“, „Glocken“, „Garten“, „Weltraum“, „Winter“ (Bon Iver heisst eben auch „Guter Winter“). Aber ich verspreche: es wird kein bisschen kitschig. Und Eno nach Donovan: das passt hundertprozentig. Nicht nur, weil beide eine „romantische Ader“ haben. Die Brian gerne verleugnet, wenn er sich einen „anti-romantic“ nennt. Da irrt er aber. Bei ihm verwandeln sich selbst halb-automatisierte Kompositionen mit scheinbar extrem geringem Input des Komponisten (z.B. „Discreet Music“ oder „Neroli“) in reine Sehnsuchtsstoffe (nicht nur in dieser Hinsicht ist die jüngst erschienene Doku-DVD „Brian Eno 1971-1977; The Man Who Fell To Earth sehr empfehlenswert). Tja, und  ich bin also ein „Sequencer“. Welche Handbewegung hätte ich mir wohl dafür ausgedacht, in den Sechziger Jahren, bei Robert Lemkes „Was bin ich“?

Hier könnte man sich auch fragen: „Wo bin ich?“. Das ist das Cover der neuen CD THE RULES OF ANOTHER SMALL WORLD von M. Ostermeier.So muss das gewesen sein, schreibt DE:BUG, als Eno mit gebrochenem Bein auf dem Sofa lag und die Platte nicht umdrehen konnte. Die Geräuschkulisse von draußen immer dominanter wurde und sich das mit dem Ambient langsam konkretisierte, in leisen Tönen. “The Rules Of Another Small World” ist einfach immer da. Klimpert ein bisschen, blubbert tapfer vor sich hin, mäandert von links nach oben und über rechts unten wieder zurück. Komplett unauffällig also, und doch sind die kleinen Etüden von Ostermeier faszinierend und fesselnd. Wie das Ticken einer Uhr, das man gar nicht mehr richtig wahrnimmt und doch etwas vermissen würde, wenn es plötzlich nicht mehr da wäre. Einfach fantastisch, mit oder ohne gebrochenem Bein. https://www.tenchrec.com

2011 7 Jun

„Drums Between The Bells“ (Zwischenbericht)

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Josies Kontake funktionieren bestens, und ein Übersetzungsbüro (das auch bei Shakespeare enormes Tempo anschlagen würde!) übersetzt die Rick Holland-Gedichte, die Brian Eno auf DRUMS BETWEEN THE BELLS vertont. Zudem arbeitet Gregory Pecks (mit Hochdruck im Nacken und Robert Gernhardts „Letzten Werken“ auf dem Tisch) an einem Gedicht dieser „speech-songs“ (Brians Ausdruck für diese Zwitter aus Songs und „spoken words“) – er stöhnte bei allem Spass schon über die eine oder andere Joyce-artige Wortschöpfung. Mit Beginn des Veröffentlichungstages der CD (24. Juni) wird Josie dann hier pro Tag drei Übersetzungen posten (das Album hat 15 Kompositionen) – und es wird eine Bereicherung sein, mit den Texten noch tiefer in die Musik einzudringen. Schon in den Klanghorizonten am 20. Juni hoffe ich, auf einzelne dieser Übersetzungen zugreifen zu können. Zugleich werden bei amazon.de, amazon.co.uk und amazon.com die ersten Besprechungen gepostet! Wer einen Song X-Text zu DRUMS BETWEEN THE BELLS mit leichter Hand ins Französische übersetzen kann, möge sich melden! Aufgrund der zusätzlichen Informationen (die Übersetzungen, ein Essay von Eno) werden diese Rezensionen nicht mehr ganz identisch sein mit denen, die uns schon Leser in Israel und Japan bescherten. Eine Musikkritik als work-in-progress, das hat in diesen Zeiten ja auch was Reizvolles.


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