Thursday, October 31, 2013

fully reborn (again!)

- see, in the the end that previous photo just doesn't do it justice... if there is not quite the same sense of (thc-fuelled) unfettered exuberance as before - and in all probability there never will be again - still, the sheer sense of relief is extraordinarily welcome.

now, when i talked (in a comment) of "fifty hours or so" of re-immersion in the waters of braxton, i did not (of course) mean that i was listening solidly for two days. hell, even when i was stoned off my face i never went more than one night without sleep... no, i just meant that during that time, whenever i listened to music (a lot of the time, at present) it was to b's music; and it was indeed pretty intensive. anyone who was curious enough to click on all the hyperlinks will have noted the preponderance of official tcf downloads in there: to a large extent this was just a matter of convenience, these having been lumped together in one mega-playlist in my music library, but that worked out pretty well, allowing me to feed on a lot of pretty recent, fresh material and hence get very close to the source(s) of the composer's inspiration. it did lead to a lasting change, and one which has left me feeling a lot better all round: since the evening of that last post, i actually haven't got to braxton yet at all, but this is not for any reason other than the fact that i just found a particularly good online source for current albums that i can't afford to buy at the moment and would otherwise not be able to hear; all of a sudden i find myself in the aftermath of a complete u-turn, listening almost exclusively to jazz-based and/or improvised music. so, right now i am so busy listening to the likes of steve lehman, roscoe mitchell, george lewis, henry threadgill and (especially) mary halvorson that i haven't found time for any braxton... but this is just a matter of there not being enough hours in the day. (it's half-term, and that free time i was talking about before is gone, for a week... next monday, normal service shd be resumed!)

i have been really enjoying everything i've heard, and mary halvorson's albums have really got me thinking. can i back up what i said (in several places online) last year, and before: that her initial writing for quintet still sounds like trio-plus-bolted-on-horns, and that it's not till the third album that her charts for the quintet begin to sound like proper, fully-contemporary five-piece arrangements? what do i make of the latest development, the expansion into a septet? and what of the latest latest development, the release of a live album stripped back down to the faithful core trio..? it may be that i will have something concrete to say about all this fairly soon...

... meanwhile, one thing that did keep smacking me over the head during the aforementioned re-immersion is the near-omnipresence of good old comp. 23c, which i did to death at the beginning of this year, and swore i wouldn't write about again, or not for a good long while... well, apparently i don't have any choice in the matter, cos it just keeps cropping up, seemingly at every turn. thus, inevitably, i will be heading back there in my next post to try and make sense of all that. some of the treatments are very recent, and some rather less so, but how many times can life nudge me before i have to admit defeat?


this came out within the last month or so. looks interesting...

Friday, October 25, 2013

reborn (again) (gradually, by degrees)

now, you see, this could be what i was waiting for.

when i said "just around the corner" - i actually wasn't far off. but it's not quite that simple (when is it ever, with me?)... within minutes of posting last time, i was warming up the ipod with a choice bit of zooid, then plunging headlong into the willisau '91 transmission, studio half: regular readers - if there are any left, after i've so shamefully neglected the blog over the last few months - will doubtless remember my singling out this crucial set before, and earlier this year i had used it as the constant background to several days (or was it weeks?) of enthusiastic (re)discovery; ah, but let's not forget that i was pretty much high as a kite at the time. and as i've confessed since, my biggest problem recently is that with ganja no longer playing a part in my life (*1), i've been worried about no longer having "full access" to the music.

- so, back to where we were recently: i played the whole thing (well, the studio half like i say) and enjoyed it, and found i had no trouble penetrating it, really; indeed, i even noticed a couple of things i hadn't picked up on before. for example: the long and (to my ASD-inflected mind) rather oddly-titled comp. 23c + 32 + 105b (+30) features quite a lot of improvising around cells from the 23c superstructure (as we might term it)... i had previously allowed myself to state that this piece was always played as written, which is to say: through-composed, no room for interpretation, making it an extreme rarity in the braxton catalogue. well, so much for another easily-grasped assumption... but listen, the point is that although i enjoyed the music, there was no rapture as such. and this, of course, is what's really been missing lately, and why i haven't had anything to post on here.

... in the days and weeks that followed, i made several more efforts towards easing myself back in. now, several things have changed on the domestic front recently, and the upshot of all this is that i now find myself with an awful lot more free time on my hands: having had so precious little of it for the last year, i now have - literally - more than i know what to do with. during the day, once i've put my daughter on the school bus, i am free for anything up to seven hours at a time; and obviously there are mundane things to be done in that time, such as clearing up, folding laundry, walking dogs etc etc - but let's note that all those tasks can be done to the accompaniment of music. perfect opportunity to get back on it, yes? no..? well... not for the first few weeks, at any rate. and the week beginning 7th oct saw my daughter turn five, which means that the blog turned six at roughly the same time; i had had in mind to celebrate that by spending as much of the week as possible listening to b's music, and making a concerted effort to get back inside it, and it inside me; but for various reasons (none of them interesting or significant, even to an obsessive like me), it just never happened.

there was always plenty of music, mind you, and this state of affairs helped avert the depressive periods i've slipped into at times over the last few years; but, as i said last post, the vast majority of that music was guitar-based and none of it bore any resemblance to braxton. there a few choice items, slipped in there amidst everything else: a pinch of this to fill the room with positive vibrations, a spot of that to caress my ears; i even made sure i caught up at last with the "final" monthly tcf download (before the monthly memberships were cancelled, and i slid back into outsider status) - i had of course downloaded the file during august, but for the first time all year (probably discouraged by what had happened when july's recording had drifted past my ears without leaving a trace in the memory), i found that i had no enthusiasm for actually listening to it. well, that did change more recently and i even found that i could hear the shape of the music, without much trouble; as with the willisau discs, i enjoyed it while i was listening to it. in the case of the heidelberg loppem duo, there was even a brief moment where i found myself suddenly wondering "why don't i just listen to this sort of stuff all the time?" - but, as before... it just didn't last.

ok, but last week something slightly odd took place, and that in turn led me to a much-desired, but by-now-unexpected development within the last few days. typically (both in general, for me, and specifically recently) i have been finding it terribly hard to make good use of my new-found free time; but last friday, with no warning at all (having woken up most unwillingly, as usual, and struggled through the first part of the morning rather irritably - wanting nothing more than to get my daughter on the bus so i could traipse back home and collapse on the sofa) i found myself possessed with lots of energy, and did far more than i usually do. that in turn proved to be a bit of a weird false dawn, as within a few hours i had succumbed to a filthy cold that i'd previously been fighting off with no difficulty; and a frustrating and tiring weekend ensued; this week began with dreadful weather and the promise of plenty more to follow, and i battled to retain the sense of energetic movement which has seized me a few days before; and then, again with no warning, this wednesday saw me casually decide to start the day with another spot of room-filling, and -

- that kickstarted a process which has yet to finish. in more than forty-eight hours since, i have listened to practically nothing other than b's music, and this time, to say i've been enjoying it really would be a gross understatement. the pivotal moment seemed to occur just a few minutes into my second spin of the day - a recording which i acquired at some point over the last eighteen months, and had played a number of times with a notable lack of impact, finding it unusually hard to penetrate for some reason; but this time, like i say, with less than ten minutes on the clock i was really feeling the music, and - crucial indicator, i always take this to be - completely distracted away from what i was doing by the music itself. by the time i'd moved onto the live willisau discs, out with the dogs by this point, i was enrapt and could barely keep my excitement under control. (the version of comp. 34 on there (*2) had me thrashing around all over the place, confusing the poor dogs no end - if there had been anyone around i'm sure i would have looked like an escapee from some secure institution or other!) yes, fellow experiencers - there is no longer any doubt about it: this is what i have been waiting for.

... and here's the kicker: after all these years of only being able to immerse myself in the music when in a state of intoxication, this so-much-desired rebirth took place on my one hundredth day straight. no more, no less and i didn't even know it until i sat down and worked it out. it was only really quite recently that i discovered my petty obsessiveness over numbers is simply a typical indicator of asperger's syndrome, and says nothing personal about me at all; but what is a guy to do, when life keeps throwing such numerical coincidences his way? :)

more to come! c x

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