Layers

In the Mauritshuis in The Hague, there is one of those paintings of picture galleries. (‘Apelles Painting Campaspe’ c. 1630 by Willem van Hecht.) In the painting the works of art are stacked on shelves and hung one on top of the other on the walls. The ‘visitors’ mimic classical poses and inhabit the space as if they are models. On the left hand side there is an artist engaged in the process of painting a real model. (This is the Apelles painting Campaste of the title.) So academy and art gallery overlap. In the lower left hand corner van Hecht has shown a framed picture leaning up against a plinth. It shows a banker and his wife counting coins. The banker’s wife is leafing through a book but has been distracted by her husband. The book is open at an illustration which might be Adam and Eve. At the front of the banker’s table there is a small convex mirror – an unlikely artefact for the banker to have at his table, except that, reflected in the mirror is the head of a man in a red turban. Is this the artist of the portrait of the banker and his wife? Or is it a self-portrait of the artist of the picture gallery painting? I am reminded of Georges Perec’s story ‘Un cabinet d’un amateur’ (published in English as ‘A Gallery Portrait) with its dizzying receding perspectives in space and time.

An Alteration

IMG_9403As I have not done anything on this blog for some time I have decided on a small shift in its emphasis. Maybe it will encompass more that is not sound related (because writing about sound and music still proves mysterious to me).

I thought I would post some opening sections of aborted writing projects. Looking through old notes, I came across this undated, very short, enigmatic text:

Space isn’t what we think. Space is what we live in. All space is now or will be connected. From the mine-shaft outward to the places we have never been. Somewhere between these is where we live. The room, the street, the car, the city; all a single space flowing continuously….no wonder we are lost. Or is that just me?

 

Sun Ra Arkestra, Cafe Oto, 17. viii. 15

A wonderful earful at Cafe Oto…

Marshall Allen on alto saxophone.

Marshall Allen on alto saxophone.

Tyler Mitchell on double bass and unknown pianist.

Tyler Mitchell on double bass and , on piano, George Burton.

Michael ray (?) on trumpet.

Cecil Brooks on trumpet.

Michael Ray (?) on trumpet.

Cecil Brooks on trumpet.

Dave Davis - trombone.

Dave Davis – trombone.

Drawings on a 1939 copy of the British Red Cross Society Nursing Manual no. 2, 1939, 5th edition. Good semi-gloss paper surface.

Approaching Cosmonautics Day.

Sorting through some records last night (in the R and S sections) I was reminded that it is nearly April 12th and the 44th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering flight into space. I have posted the 45 of his transmission previously (here). The following is a fairly rapid selection of space-related tracks that I bumped into last night.

A 'Melodica' record of unknown date. The track is 'To the Stars' sung by Lyudmila Zykina with the Osipov Academic Russian Folk Orchestra conducted by Victor Dubrovsky. I have no idea of the content but am relying on the title for relevance.

A ‘Melodica’ record of unknown date. The track is ‘To the Stars’ sung by Lyudmila Zykina with the Osipov Academic Russian Folk Orchestra conducted by Victor Dubrovsky. I have no idea of the content but am relying on the title for relevance.

The BBC Radiophonic workshop from 1976...with a remarkable sleeve designed by Andrew Prewett. Two tracks: 'Space ship control room atmosphere' and 'Space ship interior atmosphere'.

The BBC Radiophonic workshop from 1976…with a remarkable sleeve designed by Andrew Prewett. Two tracks: ‘Space ship control room atmosphere’ and ‘Space ship interior atmosphere’.

The track is 'The Rocket Man' by the Spotnicks from Gothenburg, Sweden. The album was recorded in London on an unspecified date in 1962 between the hours of 2:30 in the afternoon and 7:30 the following morning. Thorough research on Wikipedia suggests that the tune is  'based on the Soviet/Russian folk march "Polyushko-polye"'. 'The Rocket Man reached no. 38 in the UK charts.

The track is ‘The Rocket Man’ by the Spotnicks from Gothenburg, Sweden. The album was recorded in London on an unspecified date in 1962 between the hours of 2:30 in the afternoon and 7:30 the following morning. Thorough research on Wikipedia suggests that the tune is ‘based on the Soviet/Russian folk march “Polyushko-polye”‘. ‘The Rocket Man reached no. 38 in the UK charts.

Here is a film of the Spotnicks performing ‘The Rocket Man’

From the back cover of 'Out-a Space; The Spotnicks in London'.

From the back cover of ‘Out-a Space; The Spotnicks in London’.

Silent Dalston revisited (2008-2014)

Kingsland Road

Kingsland Road

In January 2008 I put together an album of photographs and posted them on that very well known social network. Thinking about this group of pictures lead eventually to this blog…an edited version of one of them provided my ‘profile’ picture. Passing that particular site recently I noticed that the sign had gone and the shopfront had been stripped back. This prompted me to revisit the photographs and their sites. Some things have changed round here since 2008 and, luckily, others have not. Here is the first part of the two parallel albums.

King Henry's Walk

King Henry’s Walk

Shacklewell Lane. 2008. 2008, 2014

Shacklewell Lane. 2008. 2008, 2014

Kingsland Road

Kingsland Road

Ridley Road Market

Ridley Road Market

Ridley Road Market

Ridley Road Market

Ridley Road Market

Ridley Road Market

Balls Pond Road

Balls Pond Road

Denovali Swingfest 2013. Scala, London.

The Scala

The Scala

Hard to keep to my idea of not writing ‘reviews’…and wondering why anyone would want to read anything else (or even that)… still…what an odd experience the Denovali Swingfest was. It meant being incarcerated in a dark dancehall in Kings Cross for the weekend,. And this was a weekend that turned out to be the closest that London had got to spring in the course of 2013. But maybe the other celebrants were not worried about this. What we were attending was after all a kind of Masonic meeting for the obsessed. I’ve been there before of course…recently Touch organized a similar (if more diverse) affair in the homelier Beaconsfield Arts Centre and ECM orchestrated a shrine in the form of a museum exhibition and a whole series of gigs in Munich. I didn’t realize I was in thrall to labels this way. And I’m not sure if I was really aware of Denovali until I happened upon this event. This was, in its way, more intense than either of these other events though…us listeners, the audience, needed more stamina and had to exhibit more commitment to the doctrine.

The Pirate Ship Quartet

The Pirate Ship Quartet

Fennesz

Fennesz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday was something of an onslaught of guitars and decibels. The audience was quite prepared to stand for the duration – about 10 hours from the Pirate Ship Quartet through to Andy Stott (though this is guess work on my part as I bowed out at around midnight before Mr Stott made an appearance). It all began with dry-ice and maybe there should be legislation to prevent the use of dry-ice before 8 pm…and while we are at it someone should introduce a ban on certain guitar poses. I am thinking particularly of the one foot on the monitor position. Along the way there was fantastic noise/sound/music call it what you will. Body shaking bass form the Bersarin Quartett and a teeming wall of sound from Fennesz.

Bersarin Quartett

Bersarin Quartett

James Blackshaw

James Blackshaw

Greg Haines and Thomas Köner accidentally superimposed.

Greg Haines and Thomas Köner accidentally superimposed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As if everyone had already read the script, Sunday’s audience immediately sat down and proceedings were more acoustic, quieter, and, from time to time piano based. If Saturday was relentless then the sound of Sunday was more reflective. The dub card was played with thrilling conviction by Greg Haines, complex polyrythms were provided by Poppy Ackroyd, resonating 12 string was served up by James Blackshaw and icy landscapes were evoked by Thomas Köner. I was left wondering why almost no one addressed us the audience (apart form Poppy Ackroyd…the sole women on stage for the weekend…coincidence? I think not).

Audience

Audience

Poppy Ackroyd

Poppy Ackroyd

 

 

 

 

 

I find it hard to separate the sound-space and the experience of that space from the making of the music. The Scala’s particular penumbral resonances made for a sometimes uncomfortable musical environment. By way of contrast my companion and I sought solace (more than once) in the unlikely surroundings of an ersatz pub newly arrived in Kings Cross Station… a ‘parcel yard’ miraculously re-instated on the first floor above the station platforms. This is a comfortable staging post for some on the way back to Hertfordshire and for us was a respite from the nether world of those dark dance hall days. Considerably better beer than the Scala…but when you sign up for a cult it is not usually for the quality of the refreshments.

William Basinski

William Basinski

Horizontal audience during Basinski's 'Disintegration Loops'.

Horizontal audience during Basinski’s ‘Disintegration Loops’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a link to a download of a live set from Bersarin Quartett.

And, on the off chance that one day TouchRadio will post the Fennesz set this is a link to that.

You can download a ‘Festival Sampler ‘ from Denovali here.

The running order for both days was:

Saturday

The Pirate Ship Quintet (UK)

Petrels (UK)

Omega Massif (GER)

Fennesz (A)

Maybeshewill (UK)

Bersarin Quartett (GER)

Andy Stott Live (UK)

Sunday

Talvihorros (UK)

Carlos Cipa (GER)

James Blackshaw (UK)

Greg Haines (UK)

Thomas Köner (GER)

Poppy Ackroyd (UK)

William Basinski (USA)

Supplement to ‘In a Lifetime (Once, 1961)

ygI found this in ‘Rub Out the Words; The Letters of William S. Burroughs, 1959-1974.

WSB in Paris to Allen Ginsberg in New York, dated Dec 30 1960 (about 4 months before Yuri Gagarin’s orbit of the Earth).

‘One must be careful of “seruche” (altitude sickness) and depth madness and the bends.. Hazards of The Silent World.. Space is silent remember.. There are no words in space remember.. Space swimming desperate.. Remember is not personal opinion..’

Tape cut-up with Brion Gysin from 1960 recorded at the BBC in London.