Friday, October 31, 2008

signal failure

another october comes and goes... this one in a bit of a blur, from my perspective... so, halloween again, but no scary doings this year, and any unwanted noises in the night will herald something decidedly natural... though not so easy to get through at times, for all that - and besides, babies (with their inability to focus their eyes = openness to seeing things you and i can't) can have their eerie moments for sure.*

anyway... back to the braxtothon and how the wheels fell off (again) - this time last year, precisely one year ago tonight that is, braxtothon phase two came to an end - though i did not formally decide that until later - with a cheap attempt at skimming over a "major album", fall 1974, and this year..? in the end it was indeed the next "major" peak which refused to be conquered, i.e. dortmund, this time not because i couldn't get enough impressions down but ... well, for reasons i've explained before. but the thing is, disgraceful as it might seem, the journey never did progress beyond that point. apparently the difficulty of working up enthusiasm for something which by now had the flavour above all of anticlimax... too much for me at a time when all sorts of other things were going on. and then, etc etc, and strangely it hasn't been top of my to-do list any more.

so i'll have to return as soon as i am able, and whip out a streamlined version of the dortmund examination if i can - which i can, if i concentrate chiefly on comps. 40f and 6c... which is not necessarily to say they are the performance highlights for me, maybe they are maybe they aren't ;-)

then this whole ridiculous long-running montreux/berlin anachronism can be put to rest also, i hope... and that will have to make do for a sort of phase four, cos there are some obvious conclusions to be drawn at that point, regarding the rhythm section - and the quartet in general... the mitchell duets are another matter again and will now kick off phase five, assuming i get that far..! but in any event that's as far as the schedule goes, for the time being... however long it takes, people, the real work is yet to be done...

* see comments

Thursday, October 23, 2008

how anthony braxton saved my sanity (again)

i did promise this wasn't going to become "baby blog" - and i meant it! - so i'll keep all the details to a bare minimum, but these early weeks of parenthood are not exactly all rainbows and sunshine... last week, indeed, i was pretty much only kept going by the fact that someone was able to get the girls out of the house for a bit, three afternoons running, leaving me here to recuperate as best i could... the first such occasion allowed me to write last week's post, but in each case the first thing i did was get some music on, and with all my needs brought very sharply into focus at the time, this had to be music which would do all that i required of it, not let me down in any way or leave me wishing i'd chosen more carefully. no questions asked, straight to ghost trance music or diamond curtain wall... nothing held back by the musicians, true collective spirit fully realised in each recording, so that the listening ear can simply drink in the goodness... naturally there will be some out there who read this as pretentious or self-deluded (or both), but i'm merely telling it the way it was: without the atmosphere of healing and recovery the music helped me to create, who knows what state i might have ended up in. as it was, i was able to greet the returning company with a refreshed mind and body each time. (the dogs benefited from this just as much as i did - thursday 16th, with this year's dcw moscow and tivoli sets on downstairs, i came and went but the hounds just lay there flat out.)

since i was using the sound for its nourishing qualities rather than as aural edification as such, i didn't emerge with very much to say about the music; one thing which did occur to me at some point is that the ghost trance themes (translocation tickets, as i've called them before) might be considered as having the character of guides, each performance being a journey of course (i am hardly the first to conceive of b's music in these terms); and since each gtm journey will tend to take in some very particular, unpredictable events or experiences, the continuing returns to the theme (which are a another common gtm hallmark) began to sound to me like a narrator or tour guide, accompanying the explorer. to extend that idea a bit, the theme itself would spell out the name of the guide, and the guides themselves might be considered as the personified geniuses of the territories they govern... but it's just a fleeting impression, one of many, and as stuart broomer reminds me (in the liners to the piano box): "things rarely have singular meanings and sometimes the meanings we attach to them are of little long-term significance at all".

* * *

speaking of the piano music, i have not yet found the time/space to do more than peruse the liners - a couple of attempts to listen have ended in failure, simply because the solo piano music really does not seem to work at all as background music, must have all my attention or can't be played at all... and since i have not currently the luxury of so much free time, it'll have to wait. (it's not going anywhere...)

on the other hand, little c quite happily sat through her first (portion of a) braxton playlist, this one to be precise, starting at track two for reasons i can't quite be bothered to explain now, and truncated halfway through track seven... in theory these are "difficult" sounds to like and appreciate, difficult even for most adults to hear, but of course to a newborn baby it's all just so much incomprehensible sensory input: standards have not yet been established. whatever else i can do for this poor creature, bringing her up in interesting times as we are, i hope to provide her with a wider range of "acceptable" sounds than middle-class britain seems to think is necessary. whether this helps her or not... i expect eventually i'll find out. meanwhile, she broke her gtm duck a day or two later with the dvd performance of comp. 358, at the iridium... even mrs c. wandered sleepily downstairs to catch the end of this one :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

vocal improv / the abyss

... one week, one sleep-deprived and emotionally mangled week later...

our baby daughter, when more or less contented, makes a wonderful assortment of sounds to herself. some of these are purely conversational or happy, others hint at tiny brewing storms - still, it came as a bit of a jolt to realise that (get this) one of my instant favourite variants in her core vocab - a series of little descending flutters - was identified at once by mrs c. instinctively as a sign of impending colic...

... and there's the abyss right there, the real one within, because the experience of confronting a helpless baby, screaming in apparent anguish when you've taken pains to see that it's lacking nothing it most needs, hurtles you into whichever is your own darkest emotion, conjures up your particular self-destructive demon with instant and terrifying effect. factor in the state described in the first sentence of this post, and the darkness outside which mirrors the darkness within (so that the crying of one infant becomes loud enough to risk shattering your sanity, is literally very nearly intolerable, as nature intended of course), and solitude (your life partner temporarily wiped out with exhaustion) - this is the stuff they don't generally try to warn you about, and with good reason, not that anyone would heed it anyway. yes, it's worth it but that's just as well. if we had known what it entailed we would... well, no need to indulge myself by even thinking about that. this is where we are.

don't worry, this is not about to turn into "baby blog" - except insofar as it's always been that! - but i have no trouble seeing the relevance of posting it here, even if this were not my most important channel of honest expression (as it is): my appreciation of b's solo playing, above all, has greatly enhanced my ability to enjoy the sounds of many other voices and as for the pain stuff, what the hell have i been banging on about all this time if not that? (my stalker was right enough about a thing or two, as they always are i suppose.) the necessity of tonal distortion in true utterance... life is pain and that pain must be felt - life also remains beautiful and worthwhile. and not for nothing does the confrontation with the abyss, outlined in the para above, tear at the foundations of sanity: what you are seeing is your shit, thrown back at you in fast-forward intensity, the child having absorbed all your fucked-up emotions and socially-implanted damage for nine months - cushioned in utero, it's not possible to express this; once in the dear old vale of tears, it emerges in the form of trapped wind precisely, the english description far more straightforwardly close to the chinese understanding here than would ever be suspected*. and besides, where else do i turn for solace when i eventually get a few precious moments to myself but to the music of anthony braxton? just to remind everyone again of the guiding purpose of this site ;-)

- and this was brought to you by: quintet (london) 2004; beyond quantum; and comp. 277 (ded. harry partch, here for quintet with two reed players)... and as always i find so much of my life reflected in this astonishing music that i can only marvel at how inevitable it was that i would end up immersing myself in it. (the trio with parker and graves speaks volumes to me today, under these intensified conditions sounding indeed far more than the sum of its parts... despite parker's running in circles.) the baby even caught the end of the last one... can only do her good :) as for the london quintet, i am starting to realise what a touchstone that is for me. but this is all the time i have at present, back i go...

* wind - wood - growth - movement - anger - liver etc.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"we interrupt this broadcast..."

... to bring you a brief announcement: on this day at 17.47 local time, mrs c. gave birth to our first child, a daughter (a development which some of you knew about, and which i hinted at in my post of april 22nd). this being a very joyous and meaningful occasion for me, i wished to announce it here!


now, as regards this project (also very important to me, and itself one year old now!), one lesson i am hoping to learn from parenthood is the true value of my time, so that i will make better use of (all of) it, going forwards...

... in the meantime, on what may be one of the last restful nights i have for the foreseeable, i confess without a blush (well... much) that braxtothon phase three never even quite got finished - yet; but you know what they say about life and plans... and that goes for (almost) everything...! so, anyway, when i can squeeze it in, phase three will wrap itself up; the other posts will continue too... just don't expect two posts a week or anything like that, for a while! but please rest assured: this is to be continued...

by the way, the braxton piano box set is indeed en route - fuck the free download in this case, i wanted the real thing* (and i'm sure i always knew it)

* comments...