19 February 2017

'She doesn't want to be a man or a woman -- she wants to be your love.'


Unknown Mortal Orchestra -- Multi-Love
It's really bizarre. I stumbled across this song and it was love at first listen, even though it reminds me at times of things I usually dislike -- for example that melody which first happens at 0:32 reminds me somewhat of Russian 'popsa' (mainstream pop). I know it's just a stylistic/contextual thing, but it's an association I cannot for the life of me undo. 

But this song is still exceptional in some strange way -- the way it sounds like pop but through a lens of humility and some sort of deep-seated tragedy, the way the visuals move through a kind of vertiginous mise en abyme universe which is narrow but also infinite... The way in which it ends with that echoing and pitchy dulcimer sound, which slips through major and minor like a perpetually tossing ocean doomed to eternal restlessness.


And that relatable lyric --  'She don't want to be a man or a woman --she wants to be your love.' ...

15 February 2017

Georges Méliès

As Antoine de Saint Exupéry notes with wry humour in The Little Prince, 'grown-ups like numbers.' He is right of course, but sometimes numbers  really are awe-inspiring.


Georges Méliès made OVER 500 films during his lifetime, of which, sadly, only around 200 are extant. He himself destroyed a large body of his own work, and other films were either lost to the ravages of time or destroyed during the First World War.


Méliès' life was at every turn full of setbacks, of which the most major was his contract with Pathé films, which ended up destroying his production career. The contract stipulated that Pathé would have the right to edit and distribute Méliès' films. He was forced to break the contract in 1913, and was by then extremely indebted to the company -- so much so that he had no solution but to stop making films. He became a sweet and toy salesman and made just enough to sustain himself -- the enormous amount of critical acclaim that he had gained over years of hard work in the industry failed to translate into material aid.

Méliès revolutionised filmmaking and special effects -- in The One-Man Band (L'Homme Orchestre), he  created dozens of multiples of himself playing different instruments; in Bluebeard (Barbe Bleue), the keys from Bluebeard's rooms danced demonically; in Le Papillon Fantastique, a woman appears out of nowhere and is entrapped in a moving spider's web.





His films incorporate effects in a way which never looks dated,and one of the most bizarre aspects of his work is that it always seems to sit between genres and media. He brought his interest in magic tricks and theatre into his films and as a consequence it is difficult to say if we are watching a theatrical version of cinema or a kind of filmic theatre.

At the same time, some of  Méliès' films have almost scientific concerns -- A Trip to the Moon and The Astronomer's Dream extend the theatrical beyond time and space and are at the same time fraught with the anxiety that human capacity for innovation may be annihilated in the search of arrogant self-affirmation -- do we want other scientific, imaginary, or spiritual worlds because we can impose ourselves on them, or do we want them to appreciate their truth and beauty? 

Ultimately,  Méliès worlds burst through historical and geographical boundaries with uncanny life, striking us anew over a century after their production. And their capacity to transcend such boundaries is likely to extend for  centuries to come.






12 February 2017

Go pianissimo into that good night


There's something about slightly out-of-pitch lo-fi pianos that will pull my heartstrings probably till the day I die (and maybe after that, who knows?)

Probably because it reminds me of that poor on-its-deathbed piano at my school which, in its defence, really knew how to give a lot when it was loved and treated with respect.

I was hardly expecting to find a song like this one in Noah Lennox's repertoire, having only been familiar with his  electronic sample-based Person Pitch work up till now (which also took hold of me and never let go) and I've been unaware of his acoustic past. But it's all perfect.

And there's not much left to say about Broadcast, except that retrospectively 'I Found the End' just accrued more and more tragic meaning...






25 January 2017

Suicide -- Surrender


My sister told me that I would love this song, and that this sounds almost like something I'd make. One can dream...

...And incidentally, why is all music that much more beautiful,and sad, (which in my view often amounts to the same thing) when you start producing it yourself?

16 January 2017

Hope There's Someone -- Antony and the Johnsons

On my 7am near-dead-from-fatigue train journey to London today, I unexpectedly found this on my phone. "Oh, how did that get there," I thought, "I've never heard it before. Let's give it a whirl..."

Simple, oh so simple, and at the same time cataclysmic, frisson-inducing, and just plain beautiful...





"Oh I'm scared of the middle place between light and nowhere
I don't want to be the one left in there, left in there"

13 January 2017

Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse: DO


Once upon a time, Sol LeWitt wrote a letter to Eva Hesse when she was going through a rough patch with her work. He probably didn't know how many people would later find his words of advice reassuring -- people in all kinds of situations, with all kinds of struggles, with all sorts of responsibilities, real and imagined. And really... is it that hard to just DO?


***

Dear Eva,

It will be almost a month since you wrote to me and you have possibly forgotten your state of mind (I doubt it though). You seem the same as always, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t! Learn to say “Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just

DO

...

I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work — the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell — you are not responsible for the world — you are only responsible for your work — so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working — then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to

DO

...

From your description, and from what I know of your previous work and your ability; the work you are doing sounds very good “Drawing — clean — clear but crazy like machines, larger and bolder… real nonsense.” That sounds fine, wonderful — real nonsense. Do more. More nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts, whatever — make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you — draw & paint your fear & anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistant [sic] approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end.” You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to
DO
...
It seems I do understand your attitude somewhat, anyway, because I go through a similar process every so often. I have an “Agonizing Reappraisal” of my work and change everything as much as possible — and hate everything I’ve done, and try to do something entirely different and better. Maybe that kind of process is necessary to me, pushing me on and on. The feeling that I can do better than that shit I just did. Maybe you need your agony to accomplish what you do. And maybe it goads you on to do better. But it is very painful I know. It would be better if you had the confidence just to do the stuff and not even think about it. Can’t you leave the “world” and “ART” alone and also quit fondling your ego. I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or before your work you have to empty your mind and concentrate on what you are doing. After you do something it is done and that’s that. After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that. You also must know that you don’t have to justify your work — not even to yourself. Well, you know I admire your work greatly and can’t understand why you are so bothered by it. But you can see the next ones & I can’t. You also must believe in your ability. I think you do. So try the most outrageous things you can — shock yourself. You have at your power the ability to do anything.
[…]
Sol

31 December 2016

Only Time

There are lots of things that you can't change right now. The things you can, you are changing for the better. Hopefully your constant effort and perseverance will yield results. But unfortunately, only time will tell...



Happy New Year!