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 :)


centrifuge said...

halloween approaches, a day of (minor) braxtothon significance... ok, so next time (whenever that is!) i'll try and explain how and where the train got derailed again, and what i plan to do about that... other "threads" are still on the back burner too, the solo archetypes and an assessment of *this time* (on byg)... just don't hold your breath ;-)

zebtron said...

great post cent--although both of my kids are in college now I clearly remember those early days of parenthood. I loved taking care of them but simultaneously craved that time when everybody went to bed and I could sit in the darkened living room with the headphones on and just listen. I was delving heavily into the Black Saint/Soul Note catalogue at the time. Whenever I pull out a Braxton or Steve Lacy from that period it gives me an instant flashback to that feeling. Thanks again for such a well written post.

centrifuge said...

zebtron, thanks very much for that... other people's thoughts on parenthood are not something i ever expected to be reading on IYKWIS, when it began last year! but i've been very happy to receive them :-D