I read this fragment of an interview with the country blues singer Robert Pete Williams:
Well, I changed my style when I see where I could find more notes on guitar. The sound of the atmosphere, the weather changed my style. But I could hear, since beginning an air-music man. The air came in different, with a different sound of music. Well, the atmosphere, when the wind was blowing, carries music along. I don’t know how it affects you or not, but it’s a sounding that’s in the air, you see? And I don’t know where it comes from – it could be from airplanes, or the moaning of automobiles, but anyway, it leaves an air current in the air, you see. That gets in the wind, makes a sounding, you know? And that sounding works up to be a blues.
Uncredited interview from 1968.
Quoted in August Kleinzahler, ‘Music; I – LXXIV’ P. 264. Pressed Wafer, Boston 2009.
I think this must be pre-style change:
This might be after that change in the weather:
And this, for good measure, is where Captain Beefheart got it:
‘…perhaps music at its most theatrical, extravagant and absurd is also the truest music. It is what can save us from ourselves, from the banal fact of being in the world. Such music, Bowie’s music, can allow us to escape from being riveted to the fact of who we are, to escape from being us.’
‘On Bowie’ by Simon Critchley. Serpents Tail, 2016. P. 48.
…I assert that music is a realistic art; that it teaches us, even in its highest and apparently most detached forms, something about the world; that musical grammar is a grammar of reality; that song transforms life.
Michael Butor from ‘Music, a Realistic Art’ in ‘Inventory’. Jonathan Cape, 1970.
Ryoji Ikeda. 11. iv. 15
Elliott Sharp with the London Sinfonietta…………… 12. iv. 15
Christian Marclay. 12. iv. 15
Christian Marclay. 12. iv. 15
Christian Marclay. 12. iv. 15
This is the dedication page of Julian Cope’s ‘Krautrocksampler’…I am a bit late in catching up here as I know this book has a certain following but I still think it is worth recommending. Cope’s style is idiosyncratic in the best way. The book is an enthusiast’s trawl through obscure sounds and the tributaries that flowed out of these wayward experiments. Sadly, ‘Krautrocksampler’ is out of print. That dedication might divide opinion of course…
Julian Cope, Krautrocksampler; One Head’s Guide to the Great Kosmische Musik – 1968 Onwards, A Head Heritage Cosmic Filed Guide, Great Britain, 1995 (Common Era).
A rather wonderful sound installation called ‘Phantom Railings’ by an organization called Public Interventions on Malet Street on the wall of a small (private) park. The railings here (like many other sites) were removed during the Second World War to be melted down and re-used as guns or tanks…can anyone confirm that lots were dumped in the North Sea as they were the wrong sort of iron? Anyway, electronic eyes track passing pedestrians sounding out the absent railings as if they were being hit by a stick – so passers-by can make a mix by walking back and forth along the pavement. Seeing the Vimeo films on the website almost spoil the accident of finding this…but as Kurt Vonnegut used to say: ‘So it goes’.
Leafing through Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (as you do) my eye was caught by the word ‘gramophone’.
‘4.014 A gramophone record, the musical idea, the written notes, and the soundwaves, all stand to one another in the same internal relation of depicting that holds between language and the world.
They are all constructed according to a common logical pattern.’
A complaint: at Cafe Oto this week for two nights to hear the Marc Ribot Trio (with Henry Grimes and Chad Taylor). These were fantastic gigs full of inventiveness, virtuosity, attack and a bunch of other superlatives. There was both wonderful ensemble playing and great solos from all the musicians. I am for enthusiasm and I believe it is important that audiences convey their enthusiasm to the performers when the music has finished. Oto till now has been (mostly?) free of that old convention of applause for solos but on Tuesday and Wednesday nights I was thrust back into jazz club days where the flow of musical invention and development was interrupted by a lot of clatter from the audience. Neither ‘so it goes’ nor ‘fair enough’ apply in this situation.
‘Behind me now I have the monotonous song of the water, in front the colourful sound of the city, and over my head a great cloud of noise.
I love the noise of Marseilles, first the outriders, the heavy church bells, the hoarse whistles of steamers, the melody of birdsong dripping from blue heights. Then follows the main body – the infantry – of everyday sounds, the shouts of people, the tooting of vehicles, the jingling of harnesses, the echo of footsteps, the tapping of hooves, the barking of dogs. It’s a procession of noise.’
Joseph Roth, Marseilles published in Frankfurter Zeitung, October 15th 1925. From The White Cities, translated by Michael Hoffmann.
‘…and the only sound that’s left, after the ambulances go, is Cinderella sweeping up on Desolation Row.’
Bob Dylan, Desolation Row.
‘In the greatness and pride of this city lies a certain unmistakable stillness; and all its sounds are crowned with a soundlessness so powerful that when a person has spent some time in rural silence and retirement, he longs to hear it once more to refresh his soul.’
Robert Walser. The Metropolitan Street (1910) in Berlin Stories.
‘Alone he watched the sky go out, dark deepen to its full. He kept his eyes on the engulfed horizon, for he knew from experience what last throes it was capable of. And in the dark he could hear better too, he could hear the sounds the long day had kept from him, human murmurs for example, and the rain on the water.’
Samuel Beckett. Mercier and Camier.
I have been thinking about introducing a ‘record of the week’ and/or ‘quote of the week’ strand to the blog. Chances are this will never work but, rather than wait for the correct moment to (mis)use this particular text, I thought I should just post it anyway (unendorsed):
‘Politics is not an identity or an opinion or an educated guess, it’s f-f-facts which stare you in the f-f-face.
Music criticism not written from a politics acknowledging these facts is – ipso dick so – not worth reading. Music criticism not written from studious attention to Finnegans Wake and J.H. Prynne remains ignorant of the music in the scything word swords themselves, and can only be a fan-boy add-on, a crinkly advertorial wrapper, a creeping footling bootlicking footnote.’
Ben Watson, Music Fix. CCA, Glasgow, 2012.
See also Association of Musical Marxists