Thursday, November 28, 2013

(meanwhile) this is new...


i'm halfway through a (previously-promised) post about recent treatments of comp. 23c, so in the meantime i thought i'd better just draw the (putative) reader's attention to this recent release, from the polish label which also brought us the latest mary halvorson album, ghost loop. (see, what did i say all those months ago? she has the core trio closest to her heart... or is it just a matter of road economics, this being after all a live album? yes, no, both, neither, whatever... i still don't have a firm opinion on this one, i.e. i can't yet make up my mind whether i was right all along or just talking shit. wouldn't be the first time...)

- google "braxton quartet warsaw" at time of writing, and some of the results are still related to the maestro's sideman (or rather special guest) appearance with john zorn, back in 2009 with messrs laswell and graves; it's actually quite hard to find any reference to the current album on a site which is not in polish, and who knows, that may continue to be the case (by no means all of b's albums get widespread exposure: indeed, a fair few of them are only available from the label in question, and not always for very long at that). but the concert captured on the cd is evidently a diamond curtain wall performance, and a rather unusual one. the presence in the band of thb is as much of a given as that of the leader himself - i don't recall ever coming across a dcw performance which did not feature mr bynum - but ms halvorson, almost as ubiquitous for these, is absent from this one; instead we have another of the heirs apparent, james fei, whose association with b's music and with his groups predates even bynum's, but who rarely appears in small groups with him. (there are always exceptions to this sort of rule, natch.) rounding out the quartet is erica dicker on violin; until the last year or so, i don't believe i had heard of ms dicker - she played in the expanded gtm 'tet at the bienniale di venezia last year (ahem... one of the numerous posts i started and left unfinished, over the last couple of years) and this was very possibly the first time i had come across her name, but this year's tcf releases indicate that she was playing in b's small groups, at any rate, as far back as 2007. [the relevant recordings are NBH042 -47 inclusive, all of which are falling river music performances; having been a monthly member at the time those were released, i have heard three of them - still only once each, at time of writing - and got quite excited about one of them, back in june (when i was still smoking ganja...).]

anyway, the current album is from last year of course, and judging by the audio clip available on the label's site (relinked - i've long since got into the habit of peppering my posts with embedded urls, so can't very well expect readers to go back in search of one!), it is potent and intriguing stuff - not that we would seriously expect anything less at this juncture (*1). as i say above, i don't know widely available it will end up being, but if it doesn't show up in any of the usual uk-based retailers online, i shall very probably buy it from the label sometime in the new year. the unusual choice of personnel makes this one particularly appealing to me... i shall be fascinated to see what the four of them made of the material.

(i am still pondering over this one, as mentioned briefly last time out - b. himself isn't on it, but mr dahinden was closely associated with the music for several years, played in various live groupings, issued an album under his own name on which b. played, and which also included a rendition of comp. 136 without the composer; what with one thing and another, i think it safe to assume that this year's swisstravaganza will have been a success, and i am pretty curious to hear the results. so, yes, probably another one for the old xmas list...)

***

since my long-desired big breakthrough (which i had rather dreaded might never happen), i have listened to a whole shitload of music, always trying to keep myself fresh by mixing it up, but not actually listening to a whole helluva lot of braxton, which is one reason why i still haven't finished the 23c update as mentioned at the start of this post (it is on the way, promise). what i have heard has been greatly enjoyed; i've just been keeping myself very busy, checking out all sorts of stuff i had previously allowed myself to neglect... not that i'm about to list all these here, even i would draw the line at that, but the crucial thing here is that i now seem to have arrived at the point i always to reach, whereby i can flip from the most violently extreme hardcore punk or death / black metal (etc) to the subtlest free improv or free jazz (etc) and trust my mind and ears to make the necessary adjustments pretty much immediately. basically, i'm very happy to have got here at last (so much so that other, less satisfactory aspects of my current daily life are far more easily bearable than they might be otherwise) and i'm enjoying chopping and changing, delving in and out of this and that (*2). i'm not really in any great hurry, therefore, to force myself to narrow the parameters right down - even if that entails narrowing them down to a composer whose work covers an extraordinarily broad spectrum. that said, there is definitely more writing on the way... so if you haven't already, don't give up on me just yet ;-)

* see comments

6 comments:

centrifuge said...

1. contrary to appearances, this is not just me sucking up to b. here: those of us who follow the man's music even semi-closely must know by now how seriously he takes his performances (quite apart from any personal qualities, this mentality is probably ingrained in all AACM artists). any time a listener thinks s/he has heard a "coasting" performance from a braxton ensemble, it's pretty much guaranteed to be the listening ear which is at fault instead. i suppose what i am saying about this particular release is that a certain combination of factors makes it a little more specially appetising than usual for me...

centrifuge said...

2. notwithstanding the yawning gulf which undoubtedly exists between (to cite two arbitrary yet pertinent examples) hardcore punk and (jazz-based) contemporary creative music, i don't take this to mean that i have a particularly "wide" musical taste. whilst it is true that i have far greater tolerance for variety of textures, timbres, and (especially) dynamics than most people, i tend to keep my fields of musical interest fairly narrow. this is simply to preserve my sanity, since when i explore something, i prefer to mine deeply: as it is, being interested in extreme guitar-based musics and free/avant-garde jazz (...) keeps me quite busy enough.

in any case, i have long since reached the conclusion that most people's taste is about 1% as wide as they usually think it is; excluding the small minority of people who openly detest music and never listen to it, everyone thinks (whether privately or otherwise) that they are a bit of an expert on the subject, and very few people will actually give an accurate answer when asked what kind/s of music they like... instead the commonest answer by far is something along the lines of "oh, i like all sorts of things, i have very varied taste actually", when a bit of further digging generally reveals that the speaker listens to pop and commercial rock, i.e. only what is playable on mainstream radio, and is simply blissfully unaware of how vast a range of musics are actually out there in the world. if said listener happens to have, say, an album of bob marley's greatest hits? well, then s/he likes reggae as well. a billie holiday album, occasionally dusted off for a dinner party or an intimate late night? also likes a bit of jazz, yadda yadda... now, this particular sort of self-delusion is one which i've been fairly ruthless about eradicating in myself, and accordingly i don't consider myself to have a wide taste in music. i know (a few) people who genuinely do; and it's them i hold in mind, when evaluating my own limited range of interests. [i do have some interest in (mostly rock-based) music which falls stylistically somewhere in between the two poles outlined above, and this is where i am a bit of a dilettante, since i've never felt the need (not even when i worked in a record shop) to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the stuff which other people hold to be historically important. bits and pieces, here and there; one of my basic principles in life is that if something has intrinsic artistic merit (as opposed to mere temporary contextual significance), it will never age and can be appreciated at any time: hence, there is no great rush.]

naturally, all this makes me very much feel like an outsider whenever the question is put to *me*; but then i am used to feeling that way, uncomfortable though it may sometimes be..!

Spring Day said...

You words on those self-proclaimed musical omnivores is a resonating deeply with me. On the one hand I absolutely share the experience of what those listeners of Bob Marley and Billie Holiday and radio pop say. On the other hand, unlike you, I'm not different. In a narcissist way I am exhibiting my musical taste on last.fm and feel my wide music taste is decorating me. Who knows, maybe my megalomania even goes so far as to think with such a wide taste I must be a good person, in a moral sense. So, there's enough evidence that could deserve some thorough self-criticism.

On the other hand, then comes the justification. Why should I? Amn't I just listening what I love? What's the problem with my most-listened artist being a person who's an improviser, composer and prog-rocker, my second most-listened artist a punk group and my third most-listened artist a mainstream jazzer? And what's the problem with also having folk musicians and performers of classical music in my list? Sometimes I try to sum it up into saying, what I'm interested in in music is a sensitivity for sound, infectious and odd rhythms, and narrative quality, be it in lyrics or in the instruments. I hope that excludes radio pop. But if radio pop listeners would understand what I mean?

centrifuge said...

SD, nice to read you here... even if it almost seems like a conversation you are having with yourself! (not so different from me, then...)

you do yourself a disservice, i think: from my acquaintance with you, i would say you are one of the few who genuinely do have a wide and varied music taste, not one of the self-deluding majority. (as for whether or not that state of affairs leads you to think of yourself as morally superior... that's between you and your conscience!)

Spring Day said...

I have your blog still in my feed reader and enjoy all your posts that are coming in. However, concerning the main topic of your blog, I usually don't dare to speak up, because I'm not getting into the same depth of your topic as mush as you do.

Yet, that brings to mind a basic idea Gilles Deleuze's book "The Logic of Sense", which I once looked into and which I didn't understand. However, it imbued me with an idea, that I found in one of the very few simple sentences in this book: Why do we value depth so much over surface, as in "deep vs. shallow"? Isn't the depth often impenetrably chaotic? Couldn't we say, that when looking at a surface of something, we can at least see how far it extends? That said, I shouldn't be afraid of being superficial in any comment on your blog, and if you think I am... well, you already know my excuse now ;-)

I'm still in touch with some of the other people from our blogging scene (gidouille, godard, vaubu) on Facebook. We have a little private group there, where we like to converse. Let me know if you changed your mind, joined Facebook and would like to enter the "Inner Ear", as we call it.

centrifuge said...

thanks man, but no, i'm not on facebook and unlikely to join any time soon. i realise that my resistance to social media leaves me pretty much cut off from the current world, but... i just don't fancy it :-S

please don't be afraid of commenting here! i've been told in the past that people feel too intimidated to comment, but i don't expect other people to go into the subject in terrific depth necessarily... the only time i get impatient with people is when they make glib generalisations about b's music (which don't stand up to scrutiny), just to try and make themselves look clever. even then, i am usually very civil in here... but you have nothing to worry about anyway since i know you always speak with honest intent! i've never seen you trying to bullshit your way to some cheap "cred points", and can't imagine your wanting to start now...