Tuesday, January 31, 2012

braxbites: birth and rebirth

i'm taking the piss really by covering this one in "journo mode", i.e. shortened and simplified, when it's really only just up the track from the starting point of the next/current (ha!) braxtothon phase... but back here in the real world, the train is still half in, half out of the station and who knows how long it might take me to get as far as september, 1978... in any case by the time i get there i'll have spoiled the surprise somewhat through repeated familiarity with the material, since i've been getting into this one recently (*1). fuck it, if and when i come back to it there will be a different emphasis, but in the meantime there are two posts intended for this month started and not finished (ha!), so i thought i'd create an opportunity to see january out with some casual observations on a very remarkable recording.

on the face of it these two "weren't" fully natural partners, mr roach being very much from the previous generation and generally associated with music less experimental than that of the aacm masters (generalising horribly here - told you this was journo mode)... but of course that assumption would be pretty much crap anyway, the drummer being a long-standing supporter of outward-facing music and musicians, and noted for other successful associations with revolutionary (later) creators (c.t. springs readily to mind). but even if that were not the case, this meeting is far more auspicious than naysayers would ever guess, for the simple reason that the two men are (among other things) master subdividers.

 - b. subdivides everything - breath, utterance in all its forms, even silence ( { }   ).
 - max roach subdivides his playing surfaces into regions, deploying such precision in his attacks that the well-mic'd kit can foster the illusion of comprising dozens, perhaps even hundreds of separate pieces. he subdivides sections of horizontal space - the same as any other drummer - but does it with exceeding fineness, often sardining more discernible attacks into a tiny packet of time than ought to be possible for a human arm... and lastly he (like - and unlike - andrew hill) at times subdivides the rhythm and then re-renders it in such a way as to imply limitless variability; this last habit, incidentally, can sometimes create an entirely different illusion in a careless ear, namely that of the drummer's being unable to hold a steady beat (here a potential issue in the gentle, beautiful "magic and music"). roach actually can beat you into the ground with it all day if and when he chooses to, but he is above all always, always looking to be creative and varied in his voicings and (as i understand it) this is above all why he is/was/will be cherished among musicians.

the opening and (esp.) closing tracks both rip it up mightily; there is wondrous subtlety at work throughout, from both participants (as always mr doofus); and in "tropical forest" they co-create a glorious miniature with tempered, skewed and bent attacks. this album may or not may not currently be available in its basic form: the occasion for my hearing it in the end (*2) was after the camjazz box set last year ( -no, i didn't buy it or even know about it until) when a friend ripped a few of the discs that i didn't already have, for my still burgeoning archives... if it turned out that the album is not in print on its own then i might not be averse to sharing the files, but we'll have to see. (still haven't sorted out the re-ups of the few uploads i had on the go before. at this rate, after the recent earthquake down under, how long has filesharing got left anyway? false alarm..?)

... point is, one way or another, all devotees need to hear this recording, which really does exactly what was claimed for it: honours and extends the tradition(s) all at once. no wonder they enjoyed each other's company!

* v. comments

Friday, January 13, 2012

the trillium (comp. 126) mystery: update

since last week i have corresponded with mr feigin regarding the contents, etc, of disc 2 of this set, a vexed question which i have been (gradually) trying to investigate since last year. briefly, act "two" of trillium dialogues m , i.e. track 2 on the disc, is actually a duplication of the concluding passages of act one. on this occasion it wasn't even me that picked that up: i had played the cd more than once, but never in a state when i was even trying to give it my full attention, or not for more than a few seconds at a time... and in any case the repetition only added to my confusion over whether or not material was being replicated during the performance. (at the back of my mind, warning bells had been going off - but because i couldn't be sure without making a detailed check, and didn't quite feel like doing that at the time, i just didn't mention it at all during the write-up and then forgot about it altogether, pretty much... until jon-a added a comment to the post, which prompted some further investigation.

for a while that just consisted of waiting for an answer which didn't come... the one avenue open to me was not leading anywhere... but i got there in the end. sort of... getting a bit closer, anyway..! and the story (*1) goes: this was an unusually hard cd to produce, apparently, the project was dogged by ill-fortune from the start - not the performances, but the efforts to release (some of?) the results; back in the days when most people did not have superfast broadband, powerful computers etc etc the back-and-forth with liners, diagrams, and so forth was a lot of work - which basically turned out to be wasted, when some of the members of the ensemble began asking for more money. haha, they are said to have reasoned that the shibboleth braxton would guarantee big sales (!) and held out... until the project was completely shelved at the "reality" end.

it was only years later that clearance finally came through, said musicans having taken (it seems) a very long time to accept that creative music = commercial leprosy [in this piss-awful excuse for a society we have been stuck with all this long time... here's the deal by the way people: SLOWING DOWN is the key to this, they have the whole of "civilisation" set at far too high a mental speed, preventing any sort of self-awareness in all but the most dogged, cussed or disciplined individuals... more than ever before, everyone is encouraged to form "opinions" very very fast no matter how complex the subject...WE CAN STILL CHANGE THIS]... so, finally the choral concert project is green-lit again and it duly comes out, and with all that spent effort (and staggeringly naive, avaricious careerism) in the background, it's perhaps not entirely surprising if the music itself is not given as much attention as might be desirable, under the circumstances... which is unfortunate, because as we know, etc.

well, mr feigin has said that he will try and listen again to the music when he has time (to be fair he does maintain a very busy publishing schedule)... and i've asked him to keep me posted. but yeah, pending those further reports i think it's just a mistake, something which crept in through sheer bad luck perhaps, at who knows which stage of the proceedings. as my ecstatic, possibly unreadable ramblings indicate (i'd calmed down a bit by the time the morning concluded!), the duplication may cause a bit of disorientation or confusion but does not actually ruin the listening pleasure - or, indeed, the spiritual and vibrational value to be obtained from sharing the same energetic space as the music... since, after all, these qualities are precisely the ones which b's music - among others' - has that so much other music lacks... vibrational qualities... the maestro has been talking about this stuff for a long time without many (outside the circle of musicians) understanding what the hell he was on about (indeed, i didn't always know what he was talking about either), but he didn't invent any of the theory, it was all understood in times gone by and it still holds very much true. so, no, don't think that the music cannot still be of great value: you just might want to programme the player so that it only plays act one, which makes up the lion's share of the disc anyway. (all four acts would have required a further disc and a higher price to begin with, so we were presumably never likely to get the whole thing anyway. was all of it even performed/recorded? hmmm.)

... and then again, maybe the message in the libretto for the repeated section is so important that everyone might just as well cherish the error and play the whole thing regardless. twice the message, twice the impact, twice (it can be hoped) the likelihood of retention by the memory... it seems oddly appropriate when considered from that angle. (speaking of odd angles, this post was partly (*2) brought to you by way of the syntactical ghost trance choir. did everyone get that yet?)

* see comments

Saturday, January 7, 2012

cent's 2012 manifesto

... more of the same, right? well, sort of... let's start right off by saying that as far as the braxtothon is concerned, i spend way too much time writing about not writing it so i shall stop doing that for the time being, and that's a resolution, right there - if and when "it" arrives at last, it shall do so without fanfare...

- but yes, this is generally a time of (big) change and not just for me, i know people all over who are experiencing it (in various ways) so it's official, 2012 begins at least as a year of change. whether or not it actually blossoms into the year of change remains to be seen of course.

now, let's see, i fucked up on one score at least - i missed the obvious time to do the james fei post since that album was in the leo records sale this winter, as those (in print) leolab releases always are... hardly much point right now in trying to recommend something which was just available very cheaply when few people will feel like paying full price for something so remorselessly academic in nature - even by the standards of this tiny corner of the blogosphere! - so ... i guess i missed that one for the time being, it is hardly a first for me to have an idea then fail to follow it through.

this last (rather salient/deeply-ingrained) characteristic of mine may or may not change, along with all the other personal stuff at the moment... i can hardly become much less reliable a poster, though last year was more productive than the previous two - and despite my lack of core work last year (would never have believed the year would end with that still unresolved... i might have learned by now though..!), i am basically quite happy with what i wrote over the last twelve months, and only slightly disappointed by how much i failed to "convert" - some of it was just gonna be too time-consuming anyway (châteauvallon revisit, unless i split it into two parts or even three... four, any advance?)... some of it probably will (ahem) turn up this year, assuming there is still an internet. (and if not, there goes my attempt at co-creating an abstruse and obscure original artform... this could only exist on the net or something else just like it.)

i digress... for a change... actually getting back to leo records for a minute, i'm not finished there yet: yes of course i bought a few things, not many this year, but most of them braxtons, all at least 2-disc affairs... some of them, at least, will get some posting attention at some point i'm sure... in the meantime, i am trying to get to the bottom of what happened to comp. 126 otherwise known as trillium dialogues m acts "1&2"... so far what i seem to be discovering is that mr feigin is very quick to answer mails about potential orders, but otherwise disinclined to acknowledge them at all... but i have to speak to him about something else anyway so shall ask him directly at the same time, i think. (he is in fact the listed producer on that album, and indeed very often is, so who better to ask? was it all just a mistake, or what..?) i will of course pass on my findings, if there are any...

- and that concludes this (year's) broadcast :)