Friday, March 28, 2008

braxtothon '08: preface


i am a great procrastinator. that is, i am a terrible procrastinator, which in turn means that over the years i have become excellent at it. these days excuses just seem to come along naturally, pretexts for putting off those things which i could do now but probably won't want to - it's a self-sustaining pattern, which i'm only just now starting to think about trying to disrupt. anyway, seeing as the pattern still holds sway for the time being, it was no surprise to me (in retrospect, or even at the time) that when the october '07 braxtothon ground to a halt, it was in 1974, at the point of approaching an intimidating peak. new york, fall 1974 is frequently name-dropped as an outstanding braxton album, indeed often considered the "best" one... though reviews (as usual for this musician) tend not to say very much, in terms of actual detail. that, if i stop to think about it, just makes matters worse, puts pressure on me to supply at least some of the detail which is missing.

so it doesn't surprise me at all that i needed a longish break... a break during which: i lost faith in all sorts of things, lost (apparently) my regular readers, lost interest in my own projects and lost patience with my typing (the charles gayle whinge-fest relates what turned out to be "ground zero" for this general malaise); then rediscovered some faith, out of nowhere, seemingly, and carried on blogging - despite an overwhelming feeling (at that time) of calling into a void and hearing only my own distant echo; i began the new year with a refined plan, of sorts (see january's manifesto), also received enough encouragement to sustain my renewed enthusiasm; finally, with signs of spring and growth and unpredictable weather, a bolt of lightning struck, changing at once and forever the nature of the project.

now i had to get going again, in the knowledge this time that at least one person is likely to be reading what i write, and that being a person whose opinion i value above any other on this subject; that, too, could be intimidating, so much so as to shut me down altogether! i might never resume... but i always intended to, and for the same reason as i started in the first place: i want to get closer to the music, to be able to understand it (a bit) better.

when i stopped the sessions at the end of october, there was a question mark hanging over how much of braxton's music i would permit myself to hear (before i started again). as it worked out, i've listened to a lot - with varying degrees of attention and focus (though i find now that b's solo voice in particular is so compelling that it takes precedence over any distractions in claiming my attention; nothing much is going to get done while he's playing). all the various impressions from this listening are in there somewhere, floating around in the tank, mingling and coalescing, and doubtless many of them will surface in the coming months. it all helps - there was no question of my beginning braxtothon phase three as a total ingenu anyway.

the playlists in particular have really helped in some ways; some albums coming up in the nearish future will lean heavily on those playlists, meaning that pieces which appear on them will (probably) be dealt with in far more detail than the ones which don't - although the phase begins with an exception to that rule, and there may well be others! in any case the conditions are a lot more flexible now: every entry will include at least one "proper session" (with, as before, my full attention given to the music - as far as that's possible for me), but some entries will have a lot more filling-in than others. there is no time limit from now on, it will take as long as it takes, and i shan't know when a phase ends until i reach the end - meanwhile, the beginning of phase three sees me trying an experiment, during which several listening sessions - of successive recordings - are squeezed into a two-day period, leaving me three days after that to write all of them up, or as much as i can: this, in theory, will whisk me not just out of 1974 but right through '75 as well... let's see how that works out.

4 comments:

centrifuge said...

"let's see how that works out" - it didn't, really, i only got half of it done... but i'm struggling on with it and will hopefully get there in the end..! wish me luck please :)

scottlarock said...

I wish you luck, Mr Centrifudge! I check in here all the time, despite having practically not the foggiest what you're saying ;) but enjoy hearing you say it all the same! I should also say that, like some other readers, I'm very much enjoying your photos...really good shit, you often make this fellow lens-man grin with pride.
Keep on truckin', you know the number.
Scooter

Frédito said...

Hi Centrifuge ; just a couple of words to tell you that I'm still a regular reader, and enjoying both the texts (sometimes in a sort of poetic perception...) and the pics. Neat stuff !
I guess I'll be able to add some comments on New York Fall 1974, for I have this album.
Wishing you the best

centrifuge said...

thanks guys, much appreciated... SLR, nice to see you here :))

the photos... i think they have found their natural level, put to use in this sort of context! cos of course none of 'em were taken at a high enough resolution to be any use as prints, etc... ahem... the one for this article (kinabalu, are you reading?) being a case in point. still, i'm glad that people like them.

fall '74 is on the way very soon - in fact the first part of it (there was too much to say about this album to squeeze it all into one article, believe it or not) will be up later tonight, if my broadband holds out...