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nick b. 2007
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jeudi 25 août 2005
"Even in a holding pattern, the sweet strength of Chambers's voice and songs find room to soar."
What Roy Kasten meant by a "holding pattern" in a sympathetic review of 'Wayward Angel', a third album by young Australian folk singer Kasey Chambers released this year, I don't know.
She was new to me until I remembered hearing and being captivated by a couple of songs from 'The Captain', her first record in 1999.
Though at 29 today, Kasey may think "Hmm, young?", she can cultivate the child in her voice in a CD of assured and mostly gentle songs -- young heartthrobs, youthful delights and do, in a line that Kasten quotes,
"If you were a river run dry,
a quick caring role reversal in a tribute to her mum. A fellow called James at Amazon UK saw her live -- "by accident", he says -- in 2000 and decided he liked country music on the spot.
well I'd sing you sweet by and by"
Kasey's no stunning lyricist, but doing an iPod "who's next?" with poetry in mind after the last entry, my finger stopped here to find more of just that kind of honest songwriting I so appreciated.
Kasey told 'AskMen' -- a mishmash that doesn't know what kind of site it is -- she'd planned a life playing small pubs and staying happy that way, but what struck me was the clear sense of this:
"I really don't consider myself to be a crossover artist because the way I approach music hasn't really changed. When you think about it -- it's the audiences who are crossing over."
They are indeed. A mainly orchestral wind player friend has begun a tough-looking Open University advanced music course, on catching sight of the curriculum over his shoulder, I said, "How much crossover is there, what do you get?"
"What do you mean by crossover?"
Kasey's one answer, she does the bluegrass, has the folk roots, and then in the album's title track and others, I heard repetitive, catchy riffs, went back to listen again and thought, "Goodness, Arabic music ... from Australia."
Not quite, but it's crossover.
"Beej the drummer" contributes to the online journal at the Kasey Chambers site, whence the picture. This year in Europe, he says, "one of us got pick-pocketed by a gypsy in Dublin, got lost in the back streets of Paris"... who knows, maybe I was the other side of the back street to set them on track. They don't need that musically. On an unpretentious, fine album, deceptively easy listening, the man at the back helps give her songs with a tightness and subtlety that can also take two hearings in a day.
By "young", I'm writing of unforced innocence, a fresh delicacy you'd not like to shatter. Powerful hits like 'Stronger' get loud and punchy, but the strength wouldn't be there without fragility.
What a contrast from last night's sign-off about Madonna.
The aim was to sit and watch 'Dangerous Game' finally, the Abel Ferrara autobiographical film in which she, Harvey Keitel and James Russo rip Hollywood and each other apart. At 'Rotten Tomatoes', most critics rip the film to shreds.
I wouldn't myself, but many American critics get very snotty when you've got rude things to say about certain "ways of life". It's a tough grainy film about dishonesty, a bit muddled and not ideal pre-bed viewing.
There is plenty of new stuff on the iPod, put there in recent months and unmentioned as Kasey was. Perhaps it's time for more of this since to be poetic and graceful, as she is, you don't have to be a great writer.
Keeping it straight and true, that'll do now for a "holding pattern".
9:04:47 PM link
mercredi 24 août 2005
Revised, for a closer look at a gem.
A visit to Eve's Prairie Warehouse sounds very good and is with an invitation to its "dark corners and the back rooms".
After the electric bath you were offered with its technology in the hands of adventurous young DJs, I took a tip from Aimee Mann. How right she was to recommend Loretta Lynn in her Amazon selection of voices to try, while Eve Selis -- often touring, but now apparently back in San Diego -- is another great star of American country music.
Eve's on the left and that's theft: not what she was doing last month, you can see where at a glance, but I pinched a Prairie pic as readily as I make "unauthorised use" of short-cut tunnels in the Métro if the destination's worth it.
'Lonesome Tonight' is one of Eve's sadder songs on 'Out on a Wire' (1998), not new but where's she lived for years as an act of faith. The girl below is the sometimes sad Jenny Queen, on the strength of her splendid debut, 'Girls Who Cry Need Cake.'
Loretta? You got a picture on July 8. The Aussie lass is also stolen, part of a snap off Jenny Queen's site taken during the album photo shoot.
You get far less leg -- sorry -- than Jenny shows on the CD cover, but then "I just don't trust good-looking blonde singers any more."
So said Temple Stark on Blogcritics, but he still liked the cake. My taste for the packaging has become evident in numerous entries, so I'm relieved he overcame his distrust of "pre-packaging" singers by the industry.
Yes, what about the music? The same Stark's not alone -- maybe for looks, maybe for images of drowning -- in writing of Jenny in the same sentence as Jewel. My ears can't follow that; blonde heads, country roots, a startling debut, so what? Still, on both 'Girls Who Cry' and Jewel's 'Spirit' (1998), there are threads of vivid imagery put into song, a sense successive stories.
Again, people compare voices, unflattering to Jewel. Truth is, they both soar when they will, write lyrics some find banal when I'd rather say young and there's nothing wrong with a naïvety that comes sometimes to sing of innocence rent by experience, the dark face of love.
Jewel's a careful craftswoman with words that fly to her music, Jenny's herself a flyer, a traveller, from Sydney to the United States, who sings also of cars and of trains, where I love listening to her, her journeys during my own.
"Jenny says the songs reflect all the places she's lived. 'I can go through the songs and say, "That's the Chicago period" and pick which place they were inspired by.' But she also concedes those rainy Sydney days inspired her to write. She laughs, 'It's so weird, the sound of the record is kind of American. For me there's the influence of the 70's California Gold sound and bluegrass but I think I'm just a moody person and rain brings out the creative side. Every time I pick up a pen to write something it's always melancholy, I have to fight myself to write upbeat songs.'
That was a long quote from an interesting interview by a fine listener, who was also told the "cake" was "a riot," you might find out why yourself.
"Even though the Jenny Queen on the other end of the phone laughs with ease, she recounts a story of talking to pedal steel guitarist and Laughing Outlaw labelmate Jason Walker about how he exorcised horrible experiences through song. 'It's like therapy. I sorta see how that works.' And she says there no effort transforming herself into the album's plaintive figure when she performs. 'For me, most of them are heavily autobiographical. I do find that they're such intensely personal songs when I first started playing them, in the middle of a song I'd think, "Oh, God, that's a very personal revelation",'" Jenny told Andrew Tijs at Critical Condition.
Beginning with country musicians, what Eve Selis would herself call "Americana" and women very good at handling the blues either as a strong musical influence or an occasional state of mind, proved a start to ranging through more soul-baring singers, who often take the simplest of tales -- usually their own -- for far more than being "like therapy" as Jenny put it.
How do you feel at a concert, with a woman and a group of fellow musicians in the lights, giving you inside stories from her guts you might expect more from the half-seen face of a friend in dim, warm lamplight late at night? This kind of song-writing takes plenty of guts to perform and it shows; after such performances, if you're lucky enough to say "Hi", it's obvious the girls may be nice about autographs and have people to sell their CDs, but they want quiet and no silly questions, like any artist who gives so much.
Jenny Queen, Eve Selis and others like Liz Phair, mentioned before and a woman to return at length like Jewel, clearly share a view the last expresses at her own place...
"...refusing to be pigeonholed. 'I made a promise to myself at quite a young age that I would be honest in my writing,' she explains, 'because it's very, very dangerous to be famous and have to maintain a myth about yourself. You're going to spend your entire life trying to support this carefully crafted, false image of yourself. And the truth will come out, because you live in the public eye, and that's just the way it is.'"
That's exactly how it is. Jenny, whose ballads are often slow and tender with memorable melodies, and Eve both partner up with men, the first Sam Shinazzi, the second Marc Intravaia, to help set their thoughts to music, but the latter pair are something else!
Eve and "Twang" Intravaia are great guitarists and while it's often not straight rock they do, their double act of two lead guitars playing each other off in harmony, contrast and putting a magical weft and weave into the Selis sound whipped my mind back to my late teenage faves at their height on stage and in their first albums, before one of the two fellers quit: Wishbone Ash.
The obstinate persistence of Wishbone Ash is almost as "bad" as Mick Jagger getting rave reviews in some of today's papers, and has little relevance here but for those ready to do themselves a kindness either of memory or discovery with the likes of a "classic DVD".
Nevertheless, whether it's "classical" guitar, rock "legends" or women who write simply of ordinary life and high times and hard ones, such musicianship, such closeness of mind and body with room for imaginative improvisation is a tremendous asset, gift and the essence of jazz, without the label.
Bluegrass for sure, it's there with the distinctive twangs of the country sound, the strong sense of roots in small towns and broad open lands, lyrics that cut straight to the heart, folksy rhythms when wanted, the non-intellectual faith of souls far from simple but tuned to nature's ways make both stars like Eve Selis and potential ones like Jenny Queen, given far too hard a time by some critics who disapprove a failure to produce a first album that's less than a meteoric trip to the top like Jewel did.
Jenny is very direct. She says whom she loves (Lucinda Williams and Gram Parsons), admits to such influences, and delivers a singular and professional debut. Home lies 'Between the Riverbank and the Highway', she sings, always a starting point, a resting point, 'Drowning Slowly' -- the first song -- is on "a high wire", the kind of place Eve lives and reaches raw nerves.
With 'Due South' next, the album says "this is me" and she sings
"So I'll bring the pills and you bring the wine
and there's a sting to the end of that tale and how Jenny sings it ... let's not give it away. More like this from a girl with her feet on the ground who wishes she "could walk on clouds" and has a very competent band well produced by bassist Tony Buchen and she'll clear the air, find the stars.
We'll run her until we cross the state line"
Selis wouldn't claim originality either when she hands out blues by the bucketload as part of some albums, and of their voices and lyrics, there's very little comparison. Jenny can be mellow and rich, Eve can belt it out when in the mood.
So they're blondes, unlike other contributors to one "iMix". I've several of those in preparation, substantial and wide-ranging ones for the iTMS I'll contribute some day to the music store here in France, perhaps elsewhere.
All have a special theme, each a little off broad paths, I hope, unlike some of the singers logged here, already famous.
I once said it, I think: when you're really brought down by a rush of the blood and a deep ache of the heart, as happens to most of us, because it's the end of an affair or someone can't reciprocate what you feel, the last thing you need is a cheery, oblivious, "That's life, you'll get over it, so stop crying!"
It is indeed life and probably you will, but if a musician sings she knows how you feel and it's horrible and you don't want to wallow, spread the gloom around or jump out of a window, but accept it and mourn it and move on, that's much kinder, that's sharing.
Jenny does that sometimes, not always as melancholy as she reckons herself, there's a bright and lighter side to a song like 'Maybe the Moon', while some cello work on 'Ten Feet Tall' by Deepika Bryant is an example of how that instrument is often so nearly a speaking voice. Eve too shares what can be tough.
Selis will use brass players when she fancies, Queen's more subdued and I've written more about her, while very strongly recommending the other with a focus on an "old" album always new to someone, but both sing yes, maybe the moon. Why not? It wanes and it waxes, so do our lives, and my 'iMixes' aim to be offerings people can pick what they like from to live out the now and move on, always a future.
'Tough Love' is just one of them, put together by somebody who's proved only too clever at a "carefully crafted, false image of yourself" and of others too, to learn, as such musicians have found and tell us, to sing false is to be on your own.
With my apologies to Temple, I'll trust some pretty singers, never mind what colour.
Country music, the Wikipedia reminds us, is a huge genre; Loretta Lynn was "arguably [its] biggest star in the 1960s and 1970s," not that I knew that then, and it's good to see quite a number of women on the growing list there.
Loretta's "comeback" last year with 'Van Lear Rose' an excellent fast track to hard reality's nasty knocks, the nitty-gritty details of everywoman and everyman that constitute many "country" songs.
We can escape life into music, but the enduring nature of country and the so-called alternative country now much on the airwaves and the Net attests partly to the power of natural, simple and sung things to kick us straight back into life.
After a couple of thematic entries, chances are you'll find me lingering on individuals because to mention Jewel is a trip from prairie to the poets, certainly once words that can read as clever twists but rather flat on a page take on great depth and good sense set to music.
As with many songwriters, that's part of Jewel's art:
"Lend your voices only to sounds of freedom
Jewel's work and growth since have brought rave reviews, but 'Spirit' kept me going for two more hearings today, absorbing the eastern touches (tabla percussion, lyrical notions) and feeling reason to heed such advice as to lend no strength to what I seek freedom from. It's tempting to fight what you won't take; so Jewel's clear in pointing out this drains your own strength; there are wiser ways.
No longer lend you strength to that
which you wish to be free from
Fill your lives with love and bravery
And you shall lead a live uncommon
I've heard your anguish
I've heard your hearts cry out
We are tired, we are weary, but we aren't worn out
set down your chains, until only faith remains
Set down your chains
And lend your voices only to sounds of freedom
No longer lent your strength to that
which you wish to be free from..."
I've a soft spot for an album where 'A Life Uncommon' (also a DVD title) makes for a quiet anthem and there's plenty more food for whatever gives us a sound spirit when mind and body are attuned yet Jewel makes none but fleeting references to any god, in one song a "plastic Jesus" stuck in a corner.
Jewel was apparently raised a Mormon until she was eight, but you wouldn't guess that from some sexual suggestions made in a much earlier song about her looks the better to slay a vile beholder.
Oddly perhaps, given a collection worthy of the title, singing 'Spirit' nearly did for Jewel, she said later in a piece at her place: "I wasn't sure if I was going to come back, to tell you the truth. I was so tired and burnt out."
That she has come back, increasingly observant, often turning songs about others into her own to spare them any embarrassment by being too direct, is a testimony to an ability she's developed in the past seven years to pace herself and know where limits lie. In talk of laying down chains, she's scarcely quoting Karl Marx and his apostles, but what she means can make for a "life uncommon".
Wow, a bonus. The K stands for Kilcher, nicked by eclectic Beth under a subheading 'Mystic Ether', who explains that since she pinched it, well ... you've got the picture.
Three's for luck, you can also sometimes have faith in pretty blondes hiding behind dark glasses and the mystic in Jewel is unlikely to object (though objectionable critics might) to a reminder she publishes poetry, such as 'A Night Without Armor', seeking to do without the music.
So happy listening. Regardless of whether they're soul musicians as a genre -- Jewel obviously isn't -- I'm undoubtedly set to stay with those who speak volumes to my own for a while.
7:54:51 PM link
One or two people who've said "What, no more log?" touched my heart when they even sounded sad, so I'll relent for an instant to say I'm back at work.
With luck, before the season changes we may get a week fully to pursue the summer's plan A; if so, you'll see signs of it here. Progress on a widely shared front merits more attention.
The Wikipedia needs help
You really want to know no more about my summer than went elsewhere here because the rest was women and music at every possible moment, while I'd forgotten what a stab to the heart it can be when we see some people again and know what shall never be.
That suffices (and has a bearing on current musical choices).
My preferred source of reference says so on every page.
I can't afford any cash (one of the past month's "wipe-out" lessons slowly sinking into a changing mind involves money matters and a past outlook you certainly won't read about: I'll share the good side, the voices of others, not the ridiculous), but put in a plug for what half an hour's exploration today proved to be an extraordinary enterprise.
The ever-growing Wikipedia, levelling itself up, rather than "dumbing down", to a state of excellence as a free and shared resource done by any interested people for other exploring minds in what must now be the finest collaborative reference point on the Internet, an achievement always in the making, is a part of a massive undertaking with a community portal.
Having looked before, as a journalist, at the Wikipedia's sources and now at its guiding principles, I feel real admiration for this venture as common sense, from all over the world, rendered so very uncommon and new. They need money and will undoubtedly find it because enough with funds have enough sense to see what's going on.
It's not just the cash, you may knowledge to share; I spotted one minor and common mistake perpetuated in a translation of the name of a large human rights organisation and happen to know the correct one. That's just the kind of detail they want, as much as people prepared to guide others round their own interests at more length.
Since anyone can contribute, it's also place on the Net -- thus in cyberspace -- to orchestrate down to earth, present efforts and aspirations, probably a haven for retired people, for example, who like getting out but miss joining in and sharing spare knowledge and time.
I hope when I retire happy enough to have a woman's voice about any time, even if it likes silence often to let in the light and the music, the Wikipedia's also around in one shape or another. To know what form that might take, however fantastic or science fiction in nature it might seem today, it's probably the best place to start looking.
12:23:49 AM link
mardi 16 août 2005
Meet Dani Siciliano.
She's got her back to us but she'll come around, later. She knows what she 'Likes...' and I love it.
It felt safer to give no warning before extending this entry!
Dani reminded me to put some notes together myself. An occasional look at the social impact some musicians are having is part of the new deal.
Some label Dani's tastes electric, she's a mixer, has magic and she's on a broad avenue. Finding out more took me a while ago to a gay night-club for the first time since the '80s when a friend occasionally fancied a very late drink. My ears discovered a quite different place, with no thick smoke, thick leatherwear, and thick darkness in tiny alcoves.
That issue of 'Trax' I've mentioned? The August special has a brief, breast-beating editorial in a magazine written by men. Is what we're doing "sexist"? Is it politically correct, ask those guys? What will they think, the women? There's an anti-editorial too -- and finally we get to "women in a man's world" and considered hard up against it.
They're not; far from it, they're changing how people listen.
I should take care in calling 'Trax" an often obtuse and unclear French music monthly on a log that was itself tough going, but this issue gets it right, just off to a bad start by spying a home-made ghetto, not one the women are in.
I'm still trying to get it right. If you're interested, I said more of 'All that remains...', not much, since August last year where such notions should be now I know so much less than then.
There's more music out the in orchard as well, but Dani's here.
She stunned people with 'Likes...', released 18 months back after a meeting and even a marriage of a couple and like minds. The woman was known for how she "had played with jazz combos in addition to DJing in San Francisco clubs" (mp3.com's very sketchy portrait).
Now she's done her own thing. I'll flesh that out later.
DJing? Women are doing this in Paris, Berlin, many places, and if you're keen on trying the explosive, fascinating mixes you get when the ladies sing very electric, I know I'm on new ground for some visitors of old.
Ellen Allien? Miss Kittin? Jennifer Cardini? Carla Elves? The first pair are seen as pioneers and now they're on the cover of 'Trax', which by chance -- a theme tune in the orchard -- suited me, but I didn't mention a pitfall when this post appeared in the early hours.
Miss Kittin has a sexy reputation, one that looks forward to a freer future, no looking back. I turned round, my ears in the late 1970s and what was happening then and before in "serious music".
What an appalling label that was, serious, enough to put anyone off. It often did. I've no idea whether any of these youthful musicians has heard of Henri Pousseur, but he'd be unlikely to mind if they called him Henri with barely an "Excuse me".
"Is it music? Sounds like a jet on a flight path to hell. Brahms is music, not this!"
Such comments were common when the BBC's Radio 3 reluctantly made a spot for 'Paraboles'. It was also a night-time job, probably; I forget. 'Music In Our Time' was, like John Peel being progressive on a sister station. I taped the electronic wonder and had my answer to the music quiz until the cassette was stolen soon after I arrived this side of the Channel. It was a great loss until 'Acousmatrix 4' (Artist Direct on the man) came out in 1995.
I wonder if anyone ever listened to those cassettes, full of irretrievable treasures after four years in Radio 3.
Stockhausen, Berio, Jonathan Harvey, even the venerable Olivier Messaien (Wikipedia, whose sonic adventures are now mainstream, were rarely allowed on the station until most people were in bed. By 1995, grandfather Messaien was three years' dead.
A decade later, women are running turntables and releasing CDs of electronic noise, as well as instruments the majority of ears know better, as if born to it. Henri's getting on, turned 76, a respectable age with an adventurous and prolific career to his credit.
No jet though.
One 1995 'Paraboles-Mix' is called "Aerial view of Haiphong, Massachussetts" and I'd enjoyed it on the wing first time. The album, if still you can find it, also includes tributes to the Belgian city of Liège, which said "Thanks!" Then those 'Trois visages de Liège', (including the "smelting works") were, Pousseur wrily said, "removed by the municipal authorities of this town and replaced by some 'milder' music".
Kittin lovers, Cardini fans, Allien addicts, go your noisy way if you will, I'm a newbie but I liked one of your clubs. Henri Pousseur, if he knows of these young souls, probably has an amused but good word for them. They're not his offspring, but turning your back doesn't help.
"Boring," I once thought. "Repetitive."
Then I listened. They're neither, such mixes. It's hard work being a first-rate club DJ, ears always open, eyes everywhere. For days, I've listened to little else.
'Trax' got Ellen Allien and Miss Kittin on a leather sofa together, as you'll see. Allien looked far more serious when 'Berlinette' came out last year. Someone say "electroclash"? I won't.
Carla Elves may be perhaps the least accessible of the musicians named, if you head into 'Soundtracks' blindfold.
When it's past my bedtime, these women are likely in full swing, if not on vacation. They know where they're at. Once Jennifer Cardini (Beatfreax portrait) unleased 'Lust' in June, you got a picture of her.
She might talk about being asexual when she prefers because a part of the job gets others steamy with strangers.
There's more: she's not a woman.
She's really Laurent Hô, a man who says, in English, it's "my electronica project, made of sound, pictures, human beings."
In French (click for English), he added the name was the "most ridiculous" he came up with.
He's here because he's opened doors and runs an 'Uncivilized World', a small label where Cardini's at home and so, for that matter, is Femi Kuti, son of the late legend, Nigeria's Fela.
Hô haunted the Paris clubs, used movie talk bites for his 'Soundtracks', and steeped them in layers of noise, haunted and haunting, some harmonious, others you don't hang around in, like an airport terminal.
People who like to start on common musical ground could go straight to 'Nex april', track 13, on from there, then back again. Familiar melody and harmonies, these aren't Ho's point of departure.
As 'Discogs' explains, he chose a woman, Matali Crasset, to package the album ... or flying saucer. A normal CD's in there, then a plastic circle, a transparent box and it's in a flimsy see-through bag. All layers, one on another, a mix for music often described by those who know with a arcane vocabulary.
Remember a glorious Wikipedia mention in January -- the "Heavy Metal Umlaut" and Jon Udell's "walking, talking" webpage about about how it made the virtual tome?
The first wonder of the co-operative Internet, the Wikipedia itself, has become good at telling us what 'Trax' and 'Beatfreax' are saying in English.
The bizarre categories say "This way" on shelves in all big music stores, but unless you're among the rarest of regular visitors here, it's not a language you speak. Nor me. The more chances the stores and particularly the Net provide to "try before you buy", the more languages you might like.
Messaien was into birds and their vocabularies, he filled his music with birdsong, painstakingly annotated for orchestral instruments. He loved some traditional Asian music, used that too. In 'Turangalîla Symphony', a huge love-in by a devout church organist, the ondes Martenot, or Martenot's waves, bring sweet glissandos, sliding sounds, strange loops and halos of electronic and metallic nature in to sing.
It's a vastly successful mix, now popular and several times recorded if rarely performed because of the resources required, and no mess.
These night birds mix without mess.
If it's all new, I'd start maybe with 'Lust', where Jennifer takes 18 tracks by other people, you can't argue it's music, the rest is taste. There are beats, plenty of drum and bass sounds, and the skill Cardini has as both DJ and album maker is to create links.
On first hearing, 'Lust' was fine. Subsequent ones brought delight in the wit and skill of those links. 'This World' (track 11) takes Slam Feat and Tyrone Palmer and tells us the revolution is here. Indeed, it's part of a lively dance album that is so much Jennifer's own, a sequence, any contrast with the people she works with is pointless.
To Miss Kittin, Jennifer nods and plays with 'Requiem for a Hit'.
A remake of a movie, sure, sometimes you like it, often you don't. People who take material and hack it, dub it and chop it and mix it to get feet moving and others doing aren't in the same game, whatever the art form.
In the climate of the 1980s, sex in those dingy bars was almost sordid and taboo, fine with everybody if most didn't have to know and the police had no reason to move in. The club I went to reeked of sex, a throbbing and dancing throng of happy people, casually dressed and variously lit up in many colours, sweaty and hot.
Whoever's in charge isn't just musical, it takes social skills to do it well, break so much ice.
Unsure what to expect, I was soon getting offers from men, politely declined, but glad 20 years have seen such change. It's no love-in, people are people, some unpleasant anywhere, but when I could hear, the mix of accents was a pleasure. The 'Rex' (Fr but Eng too) saw Laurent Hô, is a Cardini hang-out ... and closed tonight. It's August. This is France, the capital empty of many of its usual inhabitants. Some say the most "in" place to go, as if the Rex lacked very bright young stars, is Le Pulp Paris.
While the club scene isn't my thing, it's impressive to see how women and many men have turned the clock back a century and brought a life to the city's Grands Boulevards you'll find in few other parts of town, however trendy. Times are hard in France, set to get worse for many according to a bright friend and music mixer himself who knows these things. Places where people can both make a tomorrow and quit worrying about it for a while are worth having.
The pic, taken for 'Trax' by Pierre-Emmanuel Rastoin, goes with a funny, long meeting now in print where Miss Kittin (left) and Ellen Allien ask each other the questions.
Ellen's car, the day she introduced the French miss to what's new in Berlin, a cheap place for risky artistic living, was a dreadful sight: "I remember, I asked a friend to repaint the old wheels: 'Do me something nice.' When I got it back, I told myself: 'No, not that...'
We have one thing in common. On 'Berlinette', Ellen wants a world unpolluted by cars and wars, but these girls don't live in the clouds. Miss Kittin's World warns you at the door: "100% sun, 100% blood."
Equally hard-working, Allien recently released 'Thrills' -- I've yet to hear them -- on her own label, Bpitch Control (Ger and Eng), but wish power to such independence of mind. Her sound makes plenty more use than some of straight lead and rhythm guitar work, Ellen does the writing, singing or talking and, of course, the production.
If there's one thing worse than "serious music", it's what the French can say, "musique savante" -- if you're no savant, what are you doing with the likes of us? What a shameful message.
My own is a mixed one, at least a couple of Carla Elves' 'Soundtracks' I just don't like. Electronic music with no heart in it doesn't speak to mine either. Some of it is very boring. What I do like is people who take prejudice and don't just stamp it, they dance!
When I first knew of "sampling" and "beatmatching" and heard the result, I was prejudiced. In Kansas this year, Kittin heard from "some guy: 'You know, we don't much like blacks round here.' That petrified me, I wondered what the fuck I was doing there," she says.
She's not black, but knows where some of the beat comes from and how lacking in repetition it is in the right hands.
African percussion, as a few rock drummers went to find out in the 1970s, is an astounding kit of languages. Three disks in a French box set people like to borrow, 'The continent of one thousand drums' are an introduction, more than half the countries in Africa are missing, like places the British thought they owned. br>
The techniques are there, the mixes often shared and the performers, like most DJs, are men.
A Wikipedia piece that fills you in on DJing and its techniques doesn't have a woman on the page except in a picture. By the time you read this, there may be words too: that's how it works.
"I don't like 'electroclash' sound," Allien told 'Trax'. So much for someone's perspective at Amazon, but the review had five stars. My ears heard repetition because they weren't open to the subtleties, techno elements and changes in pulse and rhythm that get people dancing like crazy. Many of the women are gay, for sure, but they don't make a fuss. Kittin says she's not half the sex fiend some call her, she's "mixed" herself, there for "feminine boys, masculine women" ... everyone.
If Cardini talks of being "asexed" without being asked, she means she's a DJ first.
Kittin has one of the biggest followings of all, three highly rated albums on the UK's Amazon and just enough tracks on my iPod to put more on my list.
What's Pousseur really doing here, apart from a kinship across barriers that are just classifications? He's still difficult for some, that's what he's doing. His thing is often electric and in classical music and jazz, people frequently tell me "I stop at... (bong, a name, an era)". Fine, if that means "enough".
If I wrote up newly released music, that's beyond my own "enough", I lack the means, but I was given a headstart by a man whose then objections to inventing walls, some music inside, the rest on the street, resonate on.
I've logged a bombshell in its day, 'Music, Society, Education' and at last found my notes from an interview, almost 30 years ago. Still so important in its anti-elitist message and now reprinted, that book's available on demand long after the retirement of Christopher Small.
Pousseur's no "minimalist" though some of his work builds on the very small. Whatever you make of the movie, the same goes for 'Signs,' part of a pack, the Shyamalan Collection, with a DVD interview on how by then director and composer James Newton Howard (unofficial and good) were a team. Howard had three musical notes he worked from. Three. I've rarely seen a film where music and what most of us -- but not a single musician named here -- call only "noise" function as one.
What these women and the men do call for sharp, attentive ears, open to what music is: a name for sounds people put together and say "Here's my music."
That's thought. What gets us in the end is the beat, the energy, the ability either to strike out right on your own or pick up somebody else's melodies and pulses to make what you want of them. When it works, it's different and no longer difficult.
Still, I couldn't hack it every day. Here's where this "essay" and introduction started, where I picked up, the superb Siciliano, a great place to start or resume, since her 'Likes...' are so delicious. Here's another look.
"About four years ago Dani set herself up with a very basic studio and learned how to sequence, sample and record her own songs. Every piece on “Likes…” has some basis in the demos she recorded on this set-up. As her confidence grew with the equipment and through her work with (Matthew) Herbert in the studio and on stage, these recordings began to take shape and the album developed.
Never mind "go-go and hip-hop and of course house". The lyrics are first-rate, these are very good songs, from 'Same' about a man who isn't, the rumble and clatter of 'Canes and Trains' to a risky encounter with Nirvana, by an accomplished jazz woman with a rich voice. Dani takes that band's 'Come as You Are' easily in her stride, slowly, brings out meanings in the words.
Dani has an extraordinary musical world-view. Informed in equal parts by jazz and soul, punk and country, go-go and hip-hop and of course house and electronica. Fragments of all these can be heard on “Likes…'" (k7.com, a hearing aid and some amazed reviews).
"I just wanted to give it a bit more of an edge musically, and make it sound like a standard."
Dani, interviewed by Emmerald, "just wanted" a lot:
"I enjoy what I’ve gotten out of jazz music so much, but in some ways I feel like it hasn’t moved forward very much. (...) I just don’t feel like a real ballsy shift has occurred. I don’t think I've necessarily done that. I don’t think I’ve done anything extremely pioneering, but I just didn’t want to fall back on the laurels of things that have already worked within dance music. For example, with "Walk the Line", that song has a lot of different styles, whether it’s like a kind of trashy semi-punk new-wavy sound, or, you know, a house song, or kind of like Two Step. So there’s all sorts of sounds. I just didn’t want it to sound like anything else" (Dance at About).
There's modest for you. There's electro and techno and the way Dani makes a mix is a dream. Often out around town, between people and episodes of an aural immersion course in the ballsy shift I've written up at last, it's been great to sit down for a coffee, watching favourite bits of the world stroll by, and sometimes plug in Dani's 'Likes...'
Real novelty, many mixes unmentioned, is exciting but could be relentless in excess. Pousseur means "pusher", simply enough. Limits, frontiers: for some it wasn't music, now it is, for others it never will be, the wrong side of the border.
The big man, Pierre Henry, born in 1927, began with blocks of sound (like Edgard Varèse in another tale somewhere) and "rudimentary" electronics. In one big store, I heard somebody call him a pop star!
Henry's back, never disappeared: "In 1997 he was paid a tribute by a series of electronic artists such as William Orbit, Fatboy Slim, Coldcut, and DJ Vadim in the remix album 'Metamorphose: Messe Pour Le Temps Present'" (Intuitive Music went straight on the blogroll, now I have I'll drop in often).
Crossover is always in the air, on the airwaves, in our ears. Try any one of these "kids" -- some are little more, but they get on -- and you've got a changing social model, a generous, outgoing one where music is essential as ever, but the how of it is yeast to the mix.
Cardini may know what she owes Henry, but it's no matter, who cares? She learns, as he did, on the job. Education, music and a society where people enjoy mixing in new ways, not growing up amid cerebral delectation or disgust from classical concert-goers.
Apart from some sniping at the comparisons that drive me and many a musician insane, as a rule I shan't look this closely to my method in writing on music, just get on with that, but my debt to snotty-nosed people who voiced their disgust is a big one.
3:41:11 AM link
lundi 8 août 2005
Picture prudence: not dressed for work
This album was a risk for the band, its fans and for me. The cover was a promising change and the music is adventurous and rewarding.
The macabre wit doesn't suit some fans of the second album, 'Organic' (2002), which I'd have preferred to hear complete rather than going solely on the hits that made radio stations and made Daisybox a reputation in French-speaking Europe.
Given a fresh chance, Daisybox (Fr, Flash) suggested "une séconde à ma place" and got plenty more time to deliver a rounded, high-temperature 'Diagostic'.
Fans of the group formed initially in 1994 by Sorbonne students as Daisy -- until the Disney outfit saw fit to give them a lesson -- waited three years for this album and haven't regretted it for the most part. Some comment on various forums the band's gone too far for comfort.
That cover says more than first meets the eye. When it caught mine my ears hoped for something new from a foursome boosted, then overshadowed, by the more internationally renowned Indochine, with whom they've been on tour. I wasn't disappointed.
The woman in the band is bassist Anne-Lise Pernotte, who brought accomplished musicianship to two brothers, Olivier and Samuel Nicolas (guitar and drums) when they weren't so hot themselves.
'Diagnostic' is not gentle. It can be as lyrically "caustique" as a song of that name suggests, heavy, elaborate and merciless, but also airy and very sexy.
Anne-Lise does chorus singing and she's good at dark fancies, along with Olivier. Fourth member is Léonard Vasco (also guitar). That dark side appeals to me, with the "hostile metal" both another title (translated) and part of a very together and tight technique.
Others differ, but those titles were very routine rock for me.
Wide-ranging and mature, 'Diagnostic' is a good introduction to what's exciting and new in France's indie music world. It's very together and still fresh on shelves (the album's been out since April).
If you're curious enough to check the differences that make 'Diagnostic' a successful striptease where stepping out of the shadows to show yourself as you are pays off, a 'Daisyboxgeneration' multimedia page (Fr) adds a few past and more recent sounds and movies to what's on the Net.
This album could well please non-French speakers too. The "problem" for a few fans who seem unwilling to move on as far as the band, now in their early to mid-30s, is the opacity some say they find in the lyrics, but I must have a dark streak that likes the surreal and you might get a kick out of stranger sounds that can take repeated listening and still surprise.
Some electronic song intros and the subtle details that put Anne-Lise here as a VoW I've a ready ear for, weave into an intrigue and complicity missing (I reckoned) on the admittedly little I'd heard of the band when members themselves declared Indochine their mentor and patron and slid some of that group's numbers into their own sets.
The scanned cover is by Nicole Tran Ba Vang. This skin signals that some matters will still frequently come up here, despite previous protests; workplace warnings will do.
Part of the enjoyment in fleshing out this entry was in back-staging the woman for a change, which is the way with Daisybox once you open it. They've opened up, after a lot of touring and then a retreat, the better to get back into circuit with quite a punch!
'zephire33' of Bordeaux has been so barmy about them her blog is nothing but Daisybox. It's to Fanny, who's currently 20, I owe the discovery that while Anne-Lise brought an inspiring flair to a bunch of fellows mainly out just for fun, she's the shy one.
So, at least, she claims.
9:04:25 PM link
(Ouch!* Aug 8)
If you don't recognise Alison, yet, then I'm back on a track I nearly lost when I finished and posted a story, said it's the last you'll read about me. I was knocked out by an experience I spent a day and a night trying to write up knowing I'll never find words.
That happened, by accident, when I wanted no more of anything for a month but relaxing into three things: music, women and sex. Rewritten trying to get it right and in context, if you wish to risk learning how a blown mind left me ignorant, 'The night of unknowing' is planted in the quiet of the orchard.
The log remains dedicated to women musicians from every part of the world who nourish my soul. My respect for such creative people grows with delight, so I asked some what they'd like of one more web site about them.
Their voices have been a daily joy, their lyrics a pleasure to hear whether they're poets setting the deeper sides of life to music or lively youngsters being entertaining about what the iTMS and other stores insist on calling "explicit".
These women and some men, who will get a look-in as well, kept me company during the housework when I was amazed by the number of unwanted things I managed to give or throw away in six days.
I've borrowed from the much-logged Sarah Fimm "Be like water" for one way of trying to live, taken "Be music" for a harmonious aim and added a third hope and goal, maybe the most ambitious: "Wise up." But let's forget my life stories.
Alison Goldfrapp is interesting and diverting.
I'm getting into 'Black Cherry,' her second album with Will Gregory, after listening to 'Felt Mountain' three times while climbing round perilous mountains of stuff to chuck out.
It may be provocative of me to chuck album titles at you without a word on their content. It was provocative of a man called Jean-François Micard, in a magazine named 'D-Side (Fr)' to chuck the suggestion at these reclusive Hampshire musical miracles that a third album due out shortly (Goldfrapp site) was a "best of both".
Will Gregory was peeved and said he wasn't into doing the same thing twice, Alison took it with a laugh: "We were trying to do exactly the opposite."
And she showed us her underwear, the top bit, as opposed to the other part on stage. I don't find this provocative of Alison.
It's nice of her ... perhaps. In a comment picked up by another magazine, 'Trax', which forgot in its haste to say that Alison's been a DJ but then gave it up, she voices one reason I'd like a women's music site:
"You're a woman, you know what you're doing and you say so. Pretty soon, you're taken for a bitch diva ... As I work with Will, I constantly have to remind people we compose music together. But very often journalists talk music with Will and with me, it's more: 'What a pretty dress you're wearing!'"
If Goldfrapp should one day appear divested of underwear, I promise I'll still talk about her musicianship, fearing some twerp has said: "Ooh, what amazing knickers." Just as soon as 'Supernature' knocks on the door, I'll tell you about Goldfrapp.
The already released single 'Ooh Là Là' is not representative of the album.
Alison says so.
*Many apologies. Particularly to French band 'Daisybox', who will be back with their new album and the complete piece about it.
Of two versions of the entry, you got the wrong one, not a good start since the instant the draft was posted, I was still up, but the Mac wasn't. Glitch fixed and log accessed, here's the intended announcement, only.
4:11:05 PM link
fountains and fortunes
voices of women
(ecstatic naiades, erotic firebirds, eccentric angels,
electric dryades ...)
a blog behind the log
(popping those green pills sometimes gives me strange fruit)
contributing friends (pix, other work)
retain their rights.
a fine way of seeing it