Thursday, January 29, 2009

muddling through...

actual free time all to myself is a pretty rare commodity these days, and i have to fill it accordingly... when i last did get the chance to play some music in a suitably receptive state, i had other things to do as well, so that only so much of my attention was available for listening. yes, it's a shame, but... well, look, i can at least admit it. (there are some out there who insist that just being present within half a mile of a recording being played means that they took in every last grace note and rimshot, with full comprehension, regardless of whatever else they were doing at the time... but this is just not possible.)

anyway... as the picture suggests, my listening on this last occasion was the leo double two compositions (trio) 1998. that is, two consecutive first species gtm works, explored by two different all-reed trios (braxton himself being the only one who played in both groupings) for the enjoyment and edification of a lucky audience at wesleyan u...

... and during the first piece (featuring chris jonas and david novak, neither of them a familiar name to me) i had also to write a long-overdue email, so that although i stopped several times just to listen, i found later on that my memory of the piece had been wiped pretty much clean. all i remember clearly is how it ends abruptly in mid-stream, as though the piece itself were an endless loop... well, i did enjoy it at the time! but part of the reason for this amnesia (aside from my not making any notes) was the more vivid impression left by the second piece.

comp. 228 features a lot of low-end. the master is credited here with just bass and contrabass sax, and contrabass clarinet; seth misterka and jackson moore (the latter a section-leader in b's larger groups by this time) both play baritone sax as well as higher-pitched reeds. the written theme sticks to the low stuff, and irresistibly recalls for me comp. 40p (which got me quite excited a few months ago) with its rumbustious, down-and-dirty flavour. during the "breakout" sections of this piece, all sorts of remarkable things happen - the leader (just for a change) has me gasping at some of his more exotic expostulations, and of course with the low horns in play, there is ample potential for drones too, an effect which is very well deployed at times. however, the real moments of beauty for me came from outside the recording itself.

see, what i like about doing two or more things at once, where listening to music is one of those things - it doesn't always happen, but i have noticed it on many occasions - is that coincidence so often intervenes. what's happening in the music reflects what is going on elsewhere, and vice versa, creating a multimedia effect which adds something to both parts of the experience, a gestalt effect in which the whole really is more than just the sum of its parts. on this occasion i had downloaded a few old recordings by wolf eyes (see comments), and was preparing the files to burn to cd; with the volume low so as not to spoil the reed trio, i kicked off the first track on dead hills on the computer, and then temporarily forgot about it, back with the low reeds; and then the two sound sources just sort of conjoined. right at the time that the wolf eyes track stopped being a menacing throb and broke out into something more active, the three reedmen on the stereo began doing something truly spellbinding, and the overall effect made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

with this synchronicity established, it didn't surprise me at all that my next task (both more mundane and more private, so i shan't go into any detail for a change) was similarly "commentated" by the music - and that effect seemed to last right up to the end of the cd. well, it works for me... anyone else ever noticed this? (i think of it as being similar to some of the better work in comics, those by alan moore for example - text which comments on image, to build up a layered effect. and yes, of course it's the case that the more one looks for these coincidences, the more frequently they seem to turn up - but that doesn't mean the patterns are not really there, does it?)

* * *

no, there's not as much detail as i like to provide here, but until such time as i can get back to "real" work, this sort of half-arsed post is probably the best i can do... hopefully it isn't a complete waste of space. something's better than nothing, right..?

1 comment:

centrifuge said...

(incidentally - if the "poor musician" who contacted the blog recently is reading this: thanks for the mail, i will reply, please bear with me...)

now - wolf eyes... some readers might be surprised to hear that i'm familiar with these guys in name only. that is, the *black vomit* release with braxton is really the only thing of theirs i'd actually heard before the other day... i was quite into the whole noise/experimental electronics scene at one point (just collecting this stuff is a fun hobby, mostly ltd edns and often with fancy packaging etc) - but that really came to an end round about the time i met my wife, since such music is even less sociable than the death metal (etc) i was into previously...

... lost touch with that scene well before wolf eyes got going, then. i had come across the name before i knew that they'd worked with mr b, and i'd earmarked them for future reference but that's as far as i actually got. still, i always intended to pursue further (eventually...) and the other day i did find a few choices goodies online.

after my "conjoined" experiment, i did actually listen to the first track of *dead hills* in its entirety - only got that far, since by now dog #3 (always nervous, and particularly since the death of dog #1) was hassling me to stop the disturbing sounds... it's a bit frustrating, all the dogs were fairly well inured to most musical extremes some time ago, but noise as such tends to be a step too far for any of them... ANYWAY, "dead hills 1", a most interesting and effective piece i thought. i can see why mr b would have been attracted, because this was far from being random noise; on the contrary, there was the sense from start to finish of one continuous thread being teased out and manipulated, quite closely controlled, much in the same manner as merzbow tends to be.

apart from the most obvious reference point - throbbing gristle - i was reminded of SPK and atrax morgue, but any number of other names could be cited - hafler trio, the new blockaders etc etc. i have also heard that wolf eyes are influenced by reggae and dub, which makes sense. i will definitely look more deeply into this stuff (though quite WHEN i don't know, since the dogs really aren't down with it...)