into at unyazi 3 – durban, 14 september 18h00

“expressing movement or action with the result that someone or something becomes enclosed or surrounded by something else” (Oxford Dictionary of English) is a collaboration between three artists – two sonic, one visual. Randomly morphing field recordings are the inspiration for the sonic duo’s improvisations while the visual artist’s work is manipulated by software which responds to what is played on the two instruments.”

Tomorrow evening my talented visual artist friend, Zara-Moon Arthur, performs at Unyazi 3, the festival of experimental electronica happening in Durban from 12 – 15 September 2012, along with her husband, bassist and field recordist Brydon Bolton, and Frank Mallows on vibraphone as the trio, “into”. Here are a few stills from Moon’s blog – check out this link for more. Look out for into’s performance if you are attending  Unyazi 3 – it promises to be mesmerising.

robert desnos – i have dreamed of you so much

I have dreamed of you so much that you are no longer real.
Is there still time for me to reach your breathing body, to kiss your mouth and make
your dear voice come alive again?

I have dreamed of you so much that my arms, grown used to being crossed on my
chest as I hugged your shadow, would perhaps not bend to the shape of your body.
For faced with the real form of what has haunted me and governed me for so many
days and years, I would surely become a shadow.

O scales of feeling.

I have dreamed of you so much that surely there is no more time for me to wake up.
I sleep on my feet prey to all the forms of life and love, and you, the only one who
counts for me today, I can no more touch your face and lips than touch the lips and
face of some passerby.

I have dreamed of you so much, have walked so much, talked so much, slept so much
with your phantom, that perhaps the only thing left for me is to become a phantom
among phantoms, a shadow a hundred times more shadow than the shadow the
moves and goes on moving, brightly, over the sundial of your life.

man ray – l’étoile de mer

Based on the poetry of Robert Desnos

Almost all of the scenes in this film are shot either off a mirror like the final shot, or through diffused and textured glass.

Les dents des femmes sont des objets si charmants… (Women’s teeth are such charming objects…)

… qu’ on ne devrait les voir qu’ en rêve ou à l’instant de l’amour. (… that one ought to see them only in a dream or in the instant of love.)

Si belle! Cybèle? (So beautiful! Cybèle?)

Nous sommes à jamais perdus dans le désert de l’éternèbre. (We are forever lost in the desert of eternal darkness.)

Qu’elle est belle (How beautiful she is)

“Après tout” (“After all”)

Si les fleurs étaient en verre (If the flowers were in glass)

Belle, belle comme une fleur de verre (Beautiful, beautiful like a flower of glass)
Belle comme une fleur de chair (Beautiful like a flower of flesh)
Il faut battre les morts quand ils sont froids. (One must beat the dead while they are cold.)

Les murs de la Santé (The walls of the Santé)
Et si tu trouves sur cette terre une femme à l’amour sincère… (And if you find on this earth a woman of sincere love…)
Belle comme une fleur de feu (Beautiful like a flower of fire)
Le soleil, un pied à l’étrier, niche un rossignol dans un voile de crêpe. (The sun, one foot in the stirrup, nestles a nightingale in a veil of crepe.)

Vous ne rêvez pas (You are not dreaming)

Qu’elle était belle (How beautiful she was)
Qu’elle est belle (How beautiful she is)

suzanne vega – cracking (demo)

Rare 1984 demo version preceeding her first, eponymous album.

It’s a one time thing
It just happens
A lot
Walk with me
And we will see
What we have got

My footsteps are ticking
Like water dripping from a tree
Walking a hairline
And stepping very carefully

My heart is broken
It is worn out at the knees
Hearing muffled
Seeing blind
Soon it will hit the deep freeze

And something is cracking
I don’t know where
Ice on the sidewalk
Brittle branches
In the air

The sun
Is blinding
Dizzy, golden, dancing green
Through the park in the afternoon
Wondering where the hell
I have been

on the fetish function of the same old music – a conversation, 2-3 march 2009

A conversation about recorded music and nostalgia that arose on another blog with which I was involved for over half a decade. It’s no longer there now, but the discussion is interesting enough to deserve a repost, I feel.

aryan kaganof says:

i notice that many people of my age just give up listening to new music and go back to what they know (what they knew)
but it’s wonderful to keep on discovering
perhaps people who stop listening to new music don’t love the music but merely love their youth
so they want to keep on being reminded of their youth
the youth that for them is already over
and that the music now symbolizes
and this of course makes them very old!

helgé janssen says:

and again you have given that totally insightful take on why people listen to music from their youth
this has perplexed me for sooooo long….
i have known that they are obviously stuck (i’ve seen it happen before my very eyes and as young as 19!)
but i had never thought of it this way
this throws enormous light on the entire process!!
for quite obviously there comes a cut-off point
from which their youth no longer ‘happened’
so they pay for their compartmentalizing, categorizing and (worse) their lack of imagination!!!

eva spook says:

ah so what is it then when you listen to music from times before you’re born? i’m now listening to blind blake…i’m beyond old, i’m digging into previous lives to feel alive again

cherry bomb says:

ha! that’s where i’m at too, eva… i’m listening a lot to wax cylinder recordings, caruso, world war one torch songs… that are hardly even a record of what happened in those three minutes that somebody sang into that funnel. drowned in scratches and static, devoid of bass timbre, they sound nothing like what the actual performance must have. i think the palpable ephemerality is what attracts me. it *is* about feeling alive. the voracious desire to live lives i am not living comes into it too, i think. only listening to contemporary stuff is terribly restrictive!

music does have a fetishistic quality: part of this lies in its power to transport you temporarily outside of the confines of spacetime. while it is playing, music gives you the immediate abiity to alter present-tense context radically; whether to propel yourself into the future, or zoom back into a dark and sordid or halcyon past, back into the arms of an ex-lover, or be transported out of your body and into a vacuum beyond everything. you just close your eyes and press play.

we all love nostalgia: saudades, real or imagined – one of the most easily accessible sources of a sense of meaningful connection, paradoxically because it’s in the absence of the original context and referent, which intensifies the desire for that inaccessible experience, real or imagined.

i reckon people who listen to the ‘same old music’ simply lack a vivid enough imagination to meaningfully access worlds of possibility not tied securely by memory to their previous experiences, to repetition. the “same old songs” are invariably hits that they heard a billion times on the radio, that they kissed girls to, that played at rugby matches, that their dad played in the car on road trips (hands up those who were kids in the south african ’80s that don’t have a special place in their hearts for paul simon’s graceland album?)…

i am forever trying to understand what makes the few handfuls of songs that really stick in those jukebox playlists stick. songs from the likes of creedence clearwater revival, iggy pop, counting crows, bowie, the clash, green day, soft cell… what is the lowest common denominator? they are not all well-written songs with catchy riffs. they are not all from the same era. there are songs with very weird content for the average homophobic barfly to groove on. “holly came from miami, f.l.a… shaved her legs, then he was a she…” there are songs which really, truly suck (e.g. any of the bombast by nickelback!). are they there due to an inane feedback loop: there because they have been there for years, and they have been there for years because they happened always to be there? or is it something innate about the content? i don’t know.

here’s a good example of a song that has been an instant ‘classic’ from the day it came out: “mr jones” by the counting crows:

i have always hated this whiny song, yet it has never stopped playing in pool bars and at supermarkets and weddings. why??? listening to it now – and actually listening, rather than blocking it out, as i always have done – i am struck by how eloquently the lyrics fake meaning in a non-threatening way… a warm, fuzzy yearning with no uncomfortable aftertaste. the simply strummed guitar lends a soothing, ersatz familiarity. “have you ever seen the rain?” by creedence clearwater revival (another one of those jukebox standards) is remarkably similar.

i don’t think people given to listening to “the same old music” necessarily think about how old they are at all, or how life was better back when that song came out (though that is undoubtedly a common dronkverdriet thought). yes, they do feel connected to the past through it. but i don’t reckon this is necessarily examined. i reckon the familiarity mostly just makes them feel warm and comfy and vaguely meaningful. it makes them feel like they belong when everyone is singing along with them in unison. it goes down well with the beer. and that’s what the main function of music is for them. it’s pretty simple. “ah yay! i love this song! this place is cool. want another jagerbomb? let’s go dance!”

“i was down at the new amsterdam staring at this yellow-haired girl
mr. jones strikes up a conversation with this black-haired flamenco dancer
she dances while his father plays guitar
she’s suddenly beautiful
we all want something beautiful
i wish i was beautiful
so come dance this silence down through the morning
cut maria! show me some of them spanish dances
pass me a bottle, mr. jones
believe in me
help me believe in anything
i want to be someone who believes

mr. jones and me tell each other fairy tales
stare at the beautiful women
“she’s looking at you. ah, no, no, she’s looking at me.”
smiling in the bright lights
coming through in stereo
when everybody loves you, you can never be lonely

i will paint my picture
paint myself in blue and red and black and gray
all of the beautiful colors are very very meaningful
grey is my favorite color
i felt so symbolic yesterday
if i knew picasso
i would buy myself a gray guitar and play

mr. jones and me look into the future
stare at the beautiful women
“she’s looking at you.
uh, i don’t think so. she’s looking at me.”
standing in the spotlight
i bought myself a gray guitar
when everybody loves me, i will never be lonely

i want to be a lion
everybody wants to pass as cats
we all want to be big big stars, but we got different reasons for that
believe in me because i don’t believe in anything
and i want to be someone to believe

mr. jones and me stumbling through the barrio
yeah we stare at the beautiful women
“she’s perfect for you, man, there’s got to be somebody for me.”
i want to be bob dylan
mr. jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky
when everybody loves you, son, that’s just about as funky as you can be

mr. jones and me staring at the video
when i look at the television, i want to see me staring right back at me
we all want to be big stars, but we don’t know why and we don’t know how
but when everybody loves me, i’m going to be just about as happy as can be
mr. jones and me, we’re gonna be big stars…”

“yesterday, and days before, sun is cold and rain is hard,
i know; been that way for all my time.
til forever, on it goes through the circle, fast and slow,
i know; it can’t stop, i wonder.”

mick says:

ah mz bomb – your opinions on this and that are both eloquent and exciting, which is a purdy rare combo, purdy, and rare. chi in.

eva spook says:

thanks to the internet and the loss of my cd collection many years ago ( all of them stolen)… not only can’t i listen to the music of my youth, but addictive myspace (among others) make it pretty much impossible not to find and hear new music on a daily basis… i hear new and exciting music every single day…

for this entry i did a little search to the music that warps me back in time and because i lack imagination i will just post the link:

niklas zimmer – here, now (2004)

Listen (streaming audio): Niklas Zimmer – Here, Now

Music is the most abstract language humans have developed. In essence it is a revolutionary language, continually erasing and rewriting its own code. I wanted to contribute a sense of peace, to see and hear with the heart. I recorded a large variety of metal percussion instruments, including Tibetan gongs and prayer bowls, cymbals, sound sticks, discs and a toy vibraphone. The piece, although initially produced for a specific sound installation, can also be used for meditation and relaxation.

Logging in Chinese occupied Tibet has left many forest regions stripped to the bone. Present day agricultural policies and global climatic change compound the problem. Once lush areas have transformed to creeping sand dunes and waterlogged moors. One million square miles of rainforest in Tibet have emerged as a man-made desert. Tibet’s forest is located at the upper reaches of ten major rivers flowing into south and southeast Asia and, consequently, the destruction of forest in the head- watersheds means the contamination and even drying up of these rivers.

This recording was made for the installation of Helen Meyer Harrison and Newton Harrison’s project proposal “Tibet is the High Ground” as part of a series of lectures, concerts and performances entitled “Good Gut Friedrichstein” in 2004. The organising curatorial group “Survival Aesthetics” invited the Harrisons to present aspects of their extensive body of eco-political artworks as the focus of these events.

Many thanks to Manfred Langlotz for commissioning the installation at Gut Friedrichstein, and to the Harrisons for their inspiring enthusiasm and encouragement.

~ Niklas Zimmer (from the sleeve of Here, Now.)

Niklas Zimmer’s ‘Here, Now’ (2004)… here and now (2012).

“If our generation exploits everything available – the trees, the water, or the minerals – without any care for the coming generations and the future, then we are at fault, aren’t we? But if we have a genuine sense of universal responsibility as our central motivation, then our relating to the environment will be well balanced. It is my hope and dream that the entire Tibetan Plateau will someday be transformed into a true peace sanctuary: an entirely demilitarised area and the world’s largest national park or biosphere.”

~ The Dalai Lama