Doom, gloom and some rather nice musicAugust 5, 2007
Feels like nothing but stress and gloom around here at the moment. My own health hasn’t improved over the last day or so, a chest infection rendering me close to useless, coughing up green gunk by the gallon and sweating like a paedophile in a playground. If no improvement in the morning I’m off to get some antibiotics. Two other bad pieces of news in the last 24 hours though, Julie lost yet another family member and is naturally pretty low, as my youngest brother was rushed into casualty today. An operation he had to remove a benign cyst refused to heal properly and opened up spilling blood everywhere whilst he was out shopping. Neil visits these pages from time to time, and he’s fine, waiting on some minor surgery to sort it out, but if you read this Neil, stop being a lazy sod, get out of bed and stop bleeding on everyone
So not much to report, dear readers, though I did make a flying trip into London yesterday to drop some Cathnor CDs off at Sound323 and to meet up briefly for a mug of tea with Travis Just, a New York composer and musician, and all-round pleasant and decent guy whose music I have enjoyed in the past on the rare occasions it has crossed my path. Travis plays and records a lot in Berlin, and was in London for just a few days en route to Germany. Working often in the orbit of the Wandelweiser composers’ collective. He runs the Object Collection label to showcase his music, although from our chat I sense his music is best served in a live setting and he is less of a fan of the CD medium. His work can also be heard on the Wandelweiser radio stream if you have the patience to wait for one of his pieces to come around!
For those readers in the New York area Travis is organising a series of performances throughout the first half of 2008 at a place called the Ontological-Hysterical Incubator, bring over the likes of Christian Kesten and Radu Malfatti amongst others.
Anyway it was nice to meet you Travis, all be it pretty briefly!
So I made my regular wander around the (newly refurbished) shelves of Sound323 in search of anything worth investigation. In recent months these visits have seen me walk away with less and less music, mainly as so much stuff comes at me from many other angles these days. I bought five CDs though, and for once I can’t wait to play them all. A 2CD set on the and/OAR label of what appears to be musical responses to the films of Yasujiro Ozu looks interesting. Amongst the many names on the discs, Taku Sugimoto, new work from Bernhard GÃ¼nter and Toshiya Tsunoda stand out as possible winners, but I’ve played it yet, but looking forward to giving that a listen later.
The jewel in the crown of yesterday’s acquisitions though is the new solo CD by Mark Wastell on the Kning Disk label. Come Crimson Rays is the slightly dodgy title (;)) of the third and final disc in Mark’s solo tam tam series, the first two released under the Vibra title. This new, gorgeously packaged disc investigates the bass end of the instrument’s possibilities, with most of the sounds coming from the lower end of the spectrum, Unlike the other Vibra discs though there is an awful lot more space on Come Crimson Rays, with the first and third of the three tracks in particular focussing more on small clusters of soft strikes of the tam tam, with each note allowed to decay sumptuously slowly and drift off into the silence. Much of Mark’s recent solo work has been concerned with this notion of decaying sounds in a Feldmanesque manner, and the subtelty of his touch with this instrument lends itself perfectly.
The music on this disc is really quite dark, almost ritualistic stuff, and perhaps not the best thing for me to be playing to lift the gloom around here right now, but its really rather beautiful, fragile music I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Tonight I listened to the BBC Proms broadcast of Shostakovich’s seventh symphony performed by a youth orchestra and I rather enjoyed the rousing, epic qualitites of the music on a ridiculously hot (come back rain, all is forgiven!) summers evening. I’ve been slowly working through the 27 disc Shostakovich set, which begins with the symphonies, and have so far listened to No’s 1-5. It’ll be interesting to hear No.7 very soon just after listening to this broadcast.
OK, I’m off to cough my guts up again.