Thursday, June 19, 2008

gtm wednesday, part one

i'm on holiday this week. no big plans or commitments. mrs c is at work for most of it - normally this set of circ's would compel the word braxtothon. but not quite yet, as it turns out: that project has been stalled for some time behind the scenes (and back to snail pace on the blog for that reason, among others). never mind the details right now... it'll be back, but meanwhile: what i do have to undertake, starting now, is a full sort (triage) of all our books, videos, records etc etc, the first such since two young hoarder-collectors got together and pooled their collections, along with most other things.

just let that one sink in for a minute...

we've recently gone through a lot of our stuff and have been able to lose more than half of it, and sure enough the same principle is holding true, just about, for the "hard media" of art and entertainment, boxes and boxes and boxes of it - boxes which have themselves moved house several times and were even in storage for months on end at one point (while the photos were being taken..., and afterwards). anyway, now is the time... boxes are emerging and their contents being ruthlessly examined under the karate-chop judgement of the small intestine (*1) - none of it was just thrown in there in the first place, every single item is there for a reason, but yes indeed, looked at afresh there are more rejects than keepers. (so much for the books and videos anyway... the records, fuck, i can't even bring myself to get in there yet, get my hands wet... those boxes are definitely gonna be done last. *2)

cue gtm day... hell let's open it out in the fresh air: ghost trance music day. 18th june... it's been coming for a while now but the timing had to be just right. this (yesterday) morning, staggering out into the world to walk the dogs in pouring summer rain, and in severe pain (*3), i made the decision that the time had come: once the car was out of the drive, coffee on, gtm on the stereo for the next nine hours. no, this wasn't about deep and focussed listening - just about filling the house with it, inhabiting it. i had plenty of stuff to be getting on with... but was determined to operate according to my own schedule.

first piece was easy to choose: starting with the 2001 tentet would be less overwhelming than introducing it later, when i'd presumably be better placed to hear the individual voices... the rest were selected during the first play, running order worked out ad hoc each time.

there follows a few thoughts from each... a few, not many!

* * *

1. 0930 - comp. 286 (+147-20-69d-256-173-6j-162-23a) - disc one (link - trs. 1-2)

- two things hit me very fast: one, the wonderful lack of reverence brought by these musicians to b's formidable music - he himself must have been delighted with it. there is a marvellous "air of the junkyard" about proceedings, with all that implies (and more). two, what braxton has worked very hard to do above all in ALL his music, since he began, is to foster (and oversee) an atmosphere in which every utterance can be beautiful, and is thereby "permissible" - there really is no such thing as a wrong note, even in playing a written line (mistakes are welcomed and indeed demanded!)

- the music just *happens* - the group quickly becomes (collectively/severally) a conduit or channel

- gtm structures in general are musical portal keys, providing instant translocation to other spaces for those who are attuned to listen. (it does require attunement, for most of us; in my case the attuning process is some way behind me now.) these other spaces are (of course) nurturing, supportive environments; so that even the most violent and dark of utterances can be unleashed at appropriate times, with many of the usual (socially-conditioned) negative associations removed from the experience of them - these are safe environments for examining any idea, or anything human, at any rate.

2. 1015 - comp. 338 (link - tr.1)

for ten players down to four, and now four of us on the sofa, me digesting my breakfast quietly and three slumbering dogs...

- rumble, rumble. aaron siegel was recently described (by a blogger) as not a virtuoso, though mr braxton disagrees with that assessment (see liners for this album). in any case, he's a very suitable player for b's music... at the start of this piece both the piano and drumset sound as if they're being heard through cottonwool, but i'm inclined to think that this muffled quality to the sound is probably deliberate. (utter sharpness and clarity later on reassures me of this.)

- early on, siegel and max heath make sort of "clockwork" noises together - we know by now that this will be a highly inventive encounter and with added levels of complexity supplied by the piano... the way the players then "fall around" each other (without quite interlocking) in some of the written theme sections is delightful :)

- again, within this sort of context b. can explore the harshest sounds imaginable and they are clearly presented as beauty

- later on, within the space of a minute or two the four players wind ineluctably from "lovely, soft, gorgeous" theme-building to the most intense mayhem - and back, to faint waves crashing on distant shores, a familiar sound in b's music going back at least as far as 1971 (and probably to the beginning) - during the transition from sweetness to hurricane to deep (murmuring) sleep, there was never a sense that any harsh change had taken place, each second clicks into the next as if we're observing a huge and very complex conveyor; that is, again, the music happens through the medium of the band, which itself is therefore witnessing the process, as well as participating in it

- the waves crashing does cue up a break, though, a climax, and then we're back to the main theme... later on, some "fragmented" playing with very sparse voicings is great, reminds me of the way in which it is possible to do this stuff even in duet (though not solo, i think - at least two voices are required for the trance effect, the translocation ticket... or so it seems to me at the moment)

by the time the piece (63 mins) is over, it feels as if it's been on for about a week... i am of course busy with other stuff, so in theory the time would fly by...

* * *

parts two and three to come... next it's back to the braxtothon, and to the regular tour itinerary at that... those of you who want to get in the spirit of things, maybe start having a think about the link(s) between braxton and dolphy..!

* see comments

1 comment:

centrifuge said...

1. in the forearm, the small intestine channel is occupied by the ulnar nerve - that is, if one extends one's arm and chops straight down with the hand, the SI is doing the chopping. this is a doubly-efficient way of remembering both the location of the channel at this point, and the function of this organ within the organism (palm keeps, back of hand discards)

2. when it comes to the records, my job (making space) has been made easier by mrs c's decaration that she wants to offload most of hers, if not all of them... that also finally gets rid of loads of hair metal, which i've never been entirely happy about ;-) i don't blame her - she was a teenage girl! was, in fact, the very reason such music exists in the first place... but i'm very glad she outgrew it..!

3. that's a very long story, which i don't propose to go into here...