April 29, 2004
Last night, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a preliminary screening of a new movie called 'Country of My Skull' at the Kendall Square Cinema. It was a semi-fictionalized account of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-apartheid South Africa. Of course, I had heard about the TRC, but I really had no idea the magnitude of it's undertaking and the true significance of what it set out to accomplish. This movie opened my eyes to not only the horrors of apartheid, but to the practically unbelievable work of Nelson Mandela et al. who managed to focus on healing rather than punishment in the face of unfathomable atrocities.
What also struck me about this film was how the issues it raised were much broader than South Africa and apartheid. In this time of war we are constantly bombarded with examples of various prejudices and fears that seem to be dividing rather than uniting the world. The notion of 'what hurts you, hurts me, hurts us, hurts everyone so let's avoid it' has been replaced with 'I must hurt you before you have the opportunity to hurt me because I know you will'. This is sad.
I don't know when this film will be released officially, but I recommend it to everyone. It is both emotionally wrenching and intellectually enlightening - something not too many films succeed at doing. And to make this somehow a music-related post, it contained a beautiful South African hymn that, although vastly overused, provided another common and uniting theme.
April 28, 2004
I FOUND something quite remarkable. I heard the guy who started this site on the Connection last night and thought it was fascinating. Basically he is a collector of 'found' items; notes, drawings, pictures etc. Things that other people have discarded or lost and are now without ownership. We get to see and interpret things of a intimate personal nature created by complete strangers. I think it is fun to make up stories associated with these items. Whole worlds can be created...
This whole idea reminded me of the Words and Voices project that I am embarking on right now. Here's the first song; there are more to come (I hope). I am not finding things accidentally like the FOUND guys, but am proactively going out into the world to collect words spoken by voices from a broad array of places. My family, my friends, complete strangers. Thus far, most of the words have been my own, but this will change, I think. I guess I find it similar to FOUND in that it is filled with glimpses into the personal and celebrates seemingly insignificant bits and pieces of life.
April 27, 2004
what's your favorite color?
I listened to Living Colour's Vivid last night for the first time in a long time and realized, yet again, that they totally kick ass.
They were WAY ahead of their time back in 1990, but not so much any more it seems. I am listening to their new release Collideoscope and it's just not doing it for me; I feel disappointed. It's missing something important; energy, new-ness, something else? I mean, they are still really good musicians, Corey's voice is still great, and Will's drumming is still inventive and solid, but there isn't the excitement that Vivid embodies. Are they getting old and tired?; is the production just not appropriate?; what's wrong?
I don't know, but LC is not the only example of this sort of thing happening to bands (Metallica, Phish etc. etc.). It makes me appreciate those few bands who seem to be able to constantly reinvent themselves in fresh ways over the years. Radiohead, Flaming Lips, Beck, Frank Zappa, come to mind immediately, but surely there are more. Any one have any additions?
Maybe Corey was particularly self-aware with his lyrics for 'Great Expectations':
Once I could, but now I can't
Once I did, but now I don't
I've lowered my expectations.
That's probably the best song on the album.
April 26, 2004
life on other planets is difficult
...or is it dangerous? I can't remember, but either way it is true for Blixa Bargeld and the rest of Einsturzende Neubauten. I saw them perform last night at the Paradise in Boston and it was quite a show. This is the sort of band that you love seeing because they are so crazy and different and brilliant, but you hate it at the same time because you realize that every 'new' and 'avant-garde' idea you've ever had about your own music was done by these guys twenty years ago. I mean, they were hitting pvc tubes 10 years before Blue Man Group, writing music to the beat of their own heartbeats (literally) when the fetal heart monitor wasn't so commonplace, and going on the road with air compressors when no one knew what the hell they were. Their stage setup looked more suited for metal fabrication than for music creation.
It *is* dangerous to do what they have been doing for the past quarter century. And it got me to thinking about pushing musical limits and how hard it is to push these limits while maintaining a certain level of beauty and, well, accessibility. No one would doubt the creativity of these guys as far as inventing instruments, sounds and approaches. But I have to admit that it often is not beautiful music. And I really have to be in the right mood to put any one of the 'Strategies Against Architecture' in my cd player. It's smart music; it's inventive music; but is it music that you want to live with all the time? For me, they are perfect to listen to in small specific doses, but the influence that they have exerted on the contemporary music scene over the years is something that I am happy to be stuck with forever and always.
As Blixa put it last night: 'We are a legendary band, but not a famous band, so we have to play on a small stage.' The music world needs more groups like Neubauten, but the music industry sadly doesn't support them.
April 25, 2004
my first blog post
Well, this is very exciting. I have been wanting to have a blog for some time and now it seems to be a reality. Thank you Ronn for setting it up!
I really don't know why exactly I want a blog in that I'm not sure what I will be inclined to post here and more importantly whether or not whatever it is that I post will be of any interest to anyone other than myself. So maybe this blog is simply an exercise in self-indulgence (but most are, right?). Those of you who know me well might agree that this could be useful.
I actually did have one idea which was to chronicle the process I go through in writing my music. I am always surprised when I finish a song and I think back on how it came into being and it always is fuzzy and I don't really remember how I came up with that particular melody or that form or sound. So let this blog initially be a place for me to record my daily progress, setbacks, thoughts and ideas on my newest song. We'll see where it goes from there...
April 15, 2004
This is the first piece for my Words and Voices project; it's called imposters of memory.
On a whim, the last time my parents visited me, I had them record several recitations of a few different poems that I had written. I didn't let them read anything beforehand. I liked the sound of the two of them speaking together and this song emerged.
I think they like being rock stars!