Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Strange Loops

Bach Canon forward and reverse on a Mobius Strip

Strange Loops

An Eternal Golden Braid

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Miscellaneous Links

An article online in Die Burger culled from an interview with Righard Kapp and Ramon Galvan shortly before both the launch of their respective albums Strung Like a Compound Eye and Outer Tumbolia

"Eintlik is ons die twee skaamste ­dudes in die wêreld"

Elsewhere, Righard is interviewed and reviewed on www.mahala.co.za on his album and the other Jaunted Haunts Press Releases.

"And of course what ties the artists together is an uncompromising dedication to their creative vision."

Music blog The Glass Forest reviews Outer tumbolia here

"This album is nostalgic and modern in one breath - timeless, true, emotional."

"The minimalistic sound of the guitar added by trumpet or other instruments and the dramatical voice lie in front of you like a wide carpet reaching beyond the horizon."


Monday, September 14, 2009

No Rest

No Rest

A sense, calling jest
To see
A note to remind me

No Rest
Too fast here
No Rest

Are all in shreds
Troops have fled

No Rest
No Rest

Promise me

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Real Peach

Recent surveys reveal that a significant number of consumers prefer crunchy peaches bred to have a hard, cargo-truck friendly exterior. Most of us have never tasted a good peach, let alone a downy pastel orb bursting with sweet nectar when plucked right from the tree. As Marshall McLuhan pointed out, we've become so removed from reality that we're starting to prefer artificiality. Part of the reason we think fake is fine is the narrow selection. Turgid peaches aren't even sold in supermarkets, mainly because they can't be shipped. Ken Slingerland, a peach breeder for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, positively loathes juicy peaches. "They squish all over your face," he told me. "We believe that consumers would rather have a peach that's like a nice crunchy apple. Everyone has their preference, and the texture I like is 'crispy.'" Another farmer I spoke to referred to industrial peaches as "plastic Kraft dinner fruit created by dead brains."

Perhaps the crunchers believe the only alternative is mushy, insipid peaches. But peaches exist that are light-years better than anything we're being sold. Some growers refer to those as "chiropractic fruits," because they're so juicy you need to bend over when eating them. But maybe you'll like crispy best too. As a new peach campaign asks: "Are you a Cruncher, Leaner, or In-betweener?"

If you haven't, try a real leaner peach before making up your mind. As David Masumoto, farmer and author of Epitaph for a Peach, writes of the variety grown on his family's land: "Sun Crest is one of the last remaining truly juicy peaches ... so juicy that it oozes down your chin. The nectar explodes in your mouth and the fragrance enchants your nose." Juiciness doesn't mean that the fruit is totally soft; on the contrary, texture is very important. According to stone-fruit expert Andy Mariani of Andy's Orchard in Morgan Hill, California, should have "pleasant resistance," a firmness that yields to sufficient pressure. Only after our teeth force through the cell walls should the fruit open its floodgates. "It can be an almost sexual experience for some people," says Mariani.

The texture and flavor of Mariani's Baby Crawford peach is a kaleidoscope of sweetness, acidity, some astringency - pure peach ecstasy. "It looks hard, but melts in your mouth. It just oozes nectar," he says. Masumoto, blown away after tasting the Baby Crawford, acknowledges that its even better than the Sun Crest.

I tasted enough Baby Crawfords to go dizzy when I visited Andy's Orchard in the summer of 2005. The following year when I called Mariani to check in on the peaches, he sadly informed me that heavy rains and warmer than usual weather had destroyed the entire crop. "The search for the perfect peach is elusive," he said. "It's good for a moment, then a few days later it's gone. Its hard to grow. Nuances in humidity and temperature over one night can drastically affect quality." No wonder growers use any means at their disposal. The fact that fruits ever make it to us is almost heroic.

- From The Fruit Hunters
A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce and Obsession

Adam Leith Gollner

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tim Friese-Greene - 10 Sketches for Piano Trio

Tim Friese-Greene

10 Sketches for Piano Trio

As part architect of a large proportion of Talk Talk's body of work which included the groundbreaking Spirit of Eden as well as the grand consolidation of Laughing Stock, Friese-Greene's new album is an enticing prospect. The pot is further sweetened by the involvement of Phill Brown who engineered the aforementioned albums as well as former Talk Talk singer Mark Hollis's sole solo (sans TF-G) project.

While Hollis sought to further refine the latter day Talk Talk blueprint by using only acoustic instruments (The band's initial culling of sound sources had expelled all synthesisers after making Color of Spring) and upping the woodwind quotient, with songs that were thought through but not overworked, TF-G had taken a more maximalist approach in more pop and loop based compositions in his solo capacity as Heligoland until now.

The arrival of an album of 'sketches' with a basic lineup of piano, drums and bass hinted at something that may lean closer to Hollis's eponymous conclusion. While both at times resemble forms borne of improvisation, TF-G's is the altogether more 'jazzy' affair. This is due both to the absence of a more rock or folk orientated guitar presence that may create the necessary ambiguity of style as well to the piano chord voicing and phrasing employed. Described by TF-G as a series of improvised sketches where piano parts were then overlayed with bass and drums by himself using the hindsight of the initial form, these songs are pleasing for their immediacy and their brevity. It is really this compactness that severs their connection with the jazz idiom, not relying on any establishment and repetition of phrases or themes, and solos.

If anything I am reminded to a very stripped down acoustic version of Tortoise side project Isotope 217 who also appropriated jazz and funk styles in aid of their more structured post rock forms.

It is also this brevity that is perhaps this album's undoing to some degree. Without the necessary space and time for development and risk there is little life left in these pieces once the thought is completed. Much like the photo of TF-G in the liner notes showing him, back to the viewer, recording piano in a small makeshift studio space where he and his instrument are vying for space with assorted junk including a child's inflatable boat, the songs are at times too constricted by a simple set of parameters and a fairly singular goal.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Better Late Than Never - Drum's Not Dead

When this album was released in 2006 I was not listening to a lot of new music and tend to have a knee jerk reaction towards critical darlings. On a whim I recently purchased Liars' Drum's Not Dead. Here is a review:

Liars have diverted Boredom's krautrock inspired symphonies to the sun from Super AE and Vision Creation Newsun and funnelled them down an altogether darker, danker tunnel to blend further with the bruised instrumental protest postpunk of This Heat and the more whimsical dub goth of the likes of Bauhaus.

What is arguably a rather weak attempt at a concept album in terms of subject matter, if nothing else, does indicate to the listener to consider the collection of songs as a whole. This is further bolstered by the near perfect suite-like sequencing, timing and variety of songs over its 47 minutes. This alone sets the album apart from the current mp3 obsessed market. Liars have also provided the album in a total of 4 separate formats: audio only and 3 different album length video treatments. While serving as part making-of-documentary, live footage and assorted hotel room hijinx, these videos again guide the listener to immerse themselves for the long haul.

The near perfect opening trifecta of drum dominated tunes segue smoothly into one another and are a masterclass in less-is-more arrangement aesthetic. Skeletoned by simple but effective primal and martial drumming, additional elements (vocal shrieks, snake charmer falsetto, droning guitar) are artfully added, blended and removed so as to provide constant variety without losing economy. The glue to Drum's recipe is often the addition of heavily affected drums, either distorted or reverbed so as to render them almost unrecognisable, as a separate instrument within the mix.

By the time the album centrepiece, It Fit When I was a Kid is reached several hills (mountains?) of drum barrage and plateaus of guitar drone nirvana have been traversed. The tom roar and gormless vocal chant led song, strangely reminiscent of mid 90's Massive Attack dread paranoia, gives rise to a beautiful coda of organ and keening Robert Wyatt type vocals, whose melodic ideas
are again subtly referenced on the following track. A series of more disjointed, but captivating song sketches, studio experiments and tone poems usher in the final third.

Thereafter, the effected drums make an energetic and welcome return this time sounding like they are powered by pistons instead of humans. Drum and the Uncomfortable Can especially coming off like a distant cousin of Einsturzende Neubaten's 'ZNS'.

Closer, The Other side of Mt Heart Attack carries all the throw-away sentimentality of Bauhaus's 'Crowds' and is suitably cobbled together to not come off too precious but to merely serve as a small celebration for getting through Liars' epic mind fuck.

Liars have made rock 'n roll great and mythical again without resorting to tired swords and sorcery cliches.