Monday, July 03, 2006

Jazz Festival After the Fact: Random Bits; plus more noise at Video In

It occurs to me that having gotten to know Fe-mail just a little makes me want to read both Pippi Longstocking and some music theory/criticism, and that this reading list probably could only occur in response to them (or Spunk, or any of the member's solo recordings, tho' at this point I'm only aware of Maja's -- see some articles on her work here). It seems obvious that I need to do more homework if I am going to become an adequate advocate of their cause. I will work on it.

I wonder if Tyr of the Winks went to Fred Longberg-Holm's cello workshop? I chatted with him briefly and he seemed like a nice guy. He told me that he figured he and Tom Cora, whom he knew, were the first two people in America to put pickups on their cellos. I wish I'd been able to see him and Nicole Mitchell on Sunday, but I had to work and couldn't get there in time... I hope Lori Freedman found her wallet (the loss of which was announced before the Orkestrova event). I liked her solo show; I found her solo clarinet improvisations surprisingly tuneful, thought she made interesting, exciting decisions.

I wish I'd asked Michael Zerang to sell me a different CD than the Brotzmann one. I allowed the lure of a limited Lebanese pressing with cool cover art to distract me from the fact that I don't really need more Brotzmann and might have enjoyed listening to Zerang's other stuff more. He's a helluva drummer, plus he looks REALLY FAMILIAR... where the hell have I seen him? He did some really subtle work with Fred Longberg-Holm and with Torsten Muller.

I am completely fucking jealous of Kelly Churko's access to Disk Unions. Bastard lives in Kichijoji, so I guess I'm jealous of his access to livehouses, too. Didn't get to talk to him about Haino Keiji or onsen (my two great regrets of my time in Japan were that I only went to one Haino Keiji concert and that I didn't spend more time in onsen and sento and such). Sounds like he's making some progress on the scene there, tho' apparently it's harder work than I thought it would be! -- My impression, based on seeing touring westerners and meeting people like Brett Larner and Samm Bennett at gigs, was that the Japanese were quite welcoming of foreign musicians, but maybe I'm wrong. Looks like he's recorded with the Japanese noise band Guilty Connector -- click his name link above. Like me, he managed to find a copy of the original (Sony!) pressing of John Zorn's Cynical Hysterie Hour soundtrack at a ridiculously low price. Unlike me, he has yet to sell it on eBay...

(Holy shit, there's now a Disk Union USA!!!! Must explore later.)

I hope Mats Gustaffson didn't get a bad impression of me because I offered he and his band a puff on my pipe during their break. I was just bein' friendly, really. Ingebrigt Haker Flaten seemed amused by the offer (he joked about how you'd be able to see a "before" and "after" effect), but Mats seemed a bit stern about it. But he seems like a stern guy; I mean, not just anyone chooses to do a jazz interpretation of "Iron Man." Which, by the way, cooked; never you mind Alex Varty saying they were a one-trick pony, he didn't come to the Ironworks show -- the Culch was just a warmup for these boys -- you need to see them in an intimate venue to really feel the heat they generate). (Mr. Varty: liked your Nels Cline piece and your OTHER Mats piece, tho', and reading your articles is constantly an education, even when I disagree. No disrespect intended. I once composed a few lines of a song in the vein of "Richard Cory" with a chorus of "I wish that I could be/ Alex Varty." No, I will not stalk you, don't worry).

Re: Zu, I didn't get Jacopo's signature. I got Massimo's and Luca's and they both drew cool little doodles, and Mats wrote "FIRE!" like as in "For those about to rock -" and drew an arrow pointing to the top margins of the CD cover (the Zu/Gustaffson collaboration, that is; looks like the title, How to Raise an Ox, comes from Zen; maybe there's a lineage with the concept of "walking the cow?"), but Jacopo never presented himself -- I guess he drums himself exhausted and then collapses backstage. I will seek Jacopo at some future Zu gig and finish my collection; a corner of the insert remains unscribbled on. I hope they have a great time touring with Nomeansno. I have no idea if people from Italy would be impressed by Tofino, not having any great sense of what the area they live in is like. Maja and Hild didn't seem to get much out of the water taxi -- they must have their own fjordmobiles back home.

Nels Cline: I keep thinkin' about how he seemed to get a kind of DARK look on his face, when he was really intensely soloing? It jarred a bit against how nice a guy he seemed -- no trace of darkness in his personal self-presentation -- but it got me wondering about what he channels through his music -- if there's a catharsis involved in some of his playing that involves releasing inner demons, like? It would explain Immolation/Immersion, for one -- there are demons all over that recording... He talks about being an emotional player but I haven't a clear enough sense of his music yet to know exactly what that entails. His recording with Jeremy Drake is really worth seeking out.

Tho' it wasn't connected to the jazz fest, there was also an entertaining noise event at Video In on Saturday night, which was also a CD release party for one of the bands involved. G42's new release, Luminous Mirror, really opens up for me stoned. It's a little too subtle for me to get it without altering my state; a hit on the pipe made it an overwhelming musical experience, whereas it was just a sort of minimal background that I kept THINKING about but not really hearing, before. It says something; apparently some part of me gets in the way of this music... Getting over myself so I can get to the music seems to be a rising theme, this week. I think I look and listen more than some to the people who are playing the music, and focus on the performative aspects than on what is being communicated via the sound; my angle of approach is not ideal... I think I need to read more about music, if I'm going to be writing about it. Part of this all came clear listening to Luminous Mirror with th' more "social" half of G42 tonight (tho' the whole Fe-mail encounter underscored it amply, too). G42 is all about listening to sound, finding meaning in sound. Performance is secondary, tho' I thought they did a helluva job at Video In, with their strobe effects and the clip from Bruce Connor that they'd jacked from Byrne and Eno's "Mea Culpa" video, pulsing in the background. By the way, do y'all know about the My Life in the Bush of Ghosts reissue? Great stuff, but they REMOVED "Qu'ran" from it, which... I dunno, I guess it's a nice gesture, but it seems spineless. Anyhow, you can find the Bruce Connor videos there, or if not, check here.

As for the rest of the performers -- there was abundant humour in what Masa Anzai did, under the moniker Scab; he seems like he likes to go a bit out of control. I liked his noise set (and Kelly Churko's guitar/laptop assault) better than their Granville Island performance as Almost Transparent Blue, actually -- they seemed to be having more fun at Video In. Visiting from the USA, Bloodbox did some finely textured stuff, but I was exhausted by that point and couldn't really get as much out of it as I wanted (he also had some very amusing video effects -- clips of Haxan and footage of insects, twinned on the screen to give a moving-Rorschach effect). I was bit disappointed in the Sistrenatus set, which was cut short so Bloodbox could go on -- I liked the visuals that Harlow used, images of an abandoned cement factory on Vancouver Island that he and the G42 guys had explored, but musically I didn't really attach to what was happening -- am looking forward to the upcoming release on Coldspring, though. A lot of the other stuff -- The Rita, Taskmaster, Griefer -- were a bit too harsh for me (see the review of Fe-mail at the Western Front, below, for more about my feelings about the more aggressive aspects of our noise scene; I just don't need to bear witness to other people's catharsis, and I'm not all that interested in looking at surgical footage, amputations and such in the background. I understand why some people are attracted to this aggressive side of things, but I'm not among them -- I'm more interested in perception than punishment.)

My favourite show of the last week, I must confess -- the absolute highest I got, pipe or no -- was the Orkestrova Electric Ascension. And 85% of why I got off on that so fuckin' much was that first big Nels Cline guitar solo. It's my theory that he pushed the whole ensemble to a higher level with that; it was a masterpiece, the most intense and satisfying thing I've ever heard ANYONE do with a guitar live.

Jesse Zubot impressed me a bunch, too. I liked what he did with Fred Frith last year, but with Orkestrova he really stood out as someone to watch. Didn't get out to any of his other shows, but I exhausted myself seeing as much as I did, so I can't feel too bad.

Nomeansno I already said all I needed to say about. Scroll down. Workin' on an interview.

God bless Coastal Jazz and Blues; they did a fantastic job of putting together this event. It was fun volunteering with them, too -- I may again. One request for the future: bring Spunk to town in full. I feel like I'm being introduced to the band one member at a time -- Maja in 2004, Maja and Hild in 2006... How about just not stretchin' it out anymore and bringing the whole quartet over in 2007, because I'm DYING to hear them live... The most recent album is fantastic stuff -- really beautiful, adventurous, and distinct from both what Maja does solo and what she and Hild do as Fe-mail. It got me thinking of Maja and Hild mentioning Ikue Mori as a musician they admire -- it made perfect sense.

Must read more music theory, and Pippi Longstocking. Spunkpeople, if any of you look at this, I think y'all would like Bob Ostertag.

The jazz festival is over.

Time to start preparing for the film festival...


Nicholi said...

My music is not aggressive and I find slght offence in it being called such.


Allan MacInnis said...

Sorry you feel that way. I was referring to an aspect of the noise scene in general -- I've seen many of the performers described play under bills like "an evening of punishing noise," and often find the experience of seeing some Vancouver noise musicians physically painful; I was trying to comment on this aspect of the noise aesthetic as a whole, rather than labelling any particular musician. But the term is subjective.