In The Black Box

THIS IS THE NIGHT TIME, MY TIME OF UTTER CONFUSION AND CLARITY

Archive for the ‘Music Relations’ Category

There is so much….

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… reason to believe in the snow ..

 

…and this is what happens when you click on that part of your brain…smash it up… don’t care… never did …. wonder why it is all the way it “should” be when it comes out like this… painful… harsh… pins…needles… crashing cacophony.. nothing makes sense… droning honest constant pulmonation ripping through your mind and strangling your common sence… lose your mind and choose your enemies..

Written by Dave

November 9, 2009 at 5:06 AM

Black box Radio Show No.08

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– click to listen here

We open up with Re: Stacks by Bon Ivor, it was while I was listening to this tune that I came up with the idea for this show. This album, one of those heart wrenching break-up albums that perhaps says way too much and leaves the listener helpless to understand all the emotions the singer is expressing, is full of noise, raw noise.. sounds of feet shuffling, heavy breathing, fingers moving across clean steel strings.. you not only hear the music, but you see the room in which it is being performed, you can see his hand moving on the guitar and the wires scraping around the floor. This perhaps is mostly due to the method of recording live through microphones, however there seems to be an effort to leave it in, as in this song the track is extended after a pause of silence so that you can hear him stand up and walk away from the microphone…

That silence is interrupted by the Latin grooves of Gotan Project. This tune to me brings up the idea that “place” is not exactly just the room in which it is recorded. Sometimes the group or performer wants to express an environment or culture. The noises here are not natural, but samples of horses galloping and the ambient sound of a busy hall or street coupled with the Latin vibe of the music places the listener in an environment… gives them a fictional image and lets them create it for themselves.

John Martyn’s “I’d Rather be the Devil” creates space through it’s genre and his revolutionary guitar effects and pedals… the extended delay effects on Martyn’s guitar and the experimental Jazz bass and bongos give a psychedelic space… perhaps water, perhaps its simply an emotion or colour… of course this all depends on the listener and their own perception of the music. However it is music that creates images, and for me those images are of a place…

These first three pieces consist mainly of traditional musical methods, live instruments and vocal, perhaps it is easier to create the illusion of space and environment when all the sounds are themselves created live, through instruments that are real… so when we consider more synthetic music…

L.C.D. Soundsystem’s “Beat Connection” isn’t exactly synthetic, if anything it represents an effort to create a more live sounding dance music. However the effort put into giving this life, live drums and vocal…and then gradually including synths and loops… one begins to try and pick out the little bits, the sounds, what is real and what isn’t… multiple spaces are created by the various recordings being layered atop one another. The distorted vocals once again bring a usually natural element – vocals- into a more synthetic world. Essentially the imaginary places that we create in John Martyn’s “I’d Rather Be The Devil” are now allowed to be distrted… the place where we saw the initial live drumming has been twisted and stretched by the synths and now the place in which the music exists is abstracted.

However an abstract image created by the music isn’t only achieved by synthesisers and effects pedals… personally I get the same effect in Ludvico Einaudi’s “Le Onde” …. Italian for “the Wave” this song for me creates a simple musical representation of the movement of water. I took this recording from “La Scala” a live performance where we get not only the music itself creating the effect but also the performers own interpretation of the music at that moment in time. What we each see when we hear this song is completely personal to every listener, however, like poetry there is a clear effort by the composer to create a place… and he wants us to see it.

It is a sudden jump to Lightnin’ Hopkins… yet this song and Son House’s “Death Letter” bring in another element of the place. The former is simply an example of how a genre of music itself represents a place. The blues, the singer, the guitar, the bass lines and drum… the sound of black America… once again it depends on the listener… but this music creates images… the latter, an older and more raw recording brings in an authentic cultural element. The raw recording allows us to imagine the strings being pushed around by Son House, a heavy thumb beating on the bass stings and the bottle neck slide scraping of the frets… this acoustic and more carefree style adds to the imagination, and just like in Bon Ivor’s song at the start of the show, we want to imagine the place in which it was recorded. Also the stories being told by these performers create a narrative which we naturally want to piece together and create a story.

This narrative is taken to extreme and comical lengths with Bod Dylan and the Band in “Clothes line Saga” the story isn’t hard to follow, a mockery perhaps of the slow pace of suburban small town American life. Yet the Basement Tapes where this song is from, plays on the listeners interest in the history of the recording itself. The Big Pink, the house in which the Band lived and recorded in the Woodstock area is the very famous place where this song and many more like it were recorded. The raw sound adds to the listener’s fascination into their life at the Big Pink… suddenly the place is becoming more important than the music it seems. However it is hard to argue with the quality of music that was produced within those walls… the Basement Tapes and the Band’s own “Music from the Big Pink” standing as the best thing to come out of the Woodstock era in my opinion.

The twang of Robbie Robertson’s guitar is not far from the untreated and pulsing sound of Explosions in the Sky… their gradual building sound… and explosions of noise and sound feed on the listener’s imagination… when this band performed the original soundtrack to the classic American Football movie “Friday Night Lights” the music came to represent intense battles in rain and dirt, the images of football fields and intense dark skies interrupted by blinding flood lights. The softer parts of the songs expressing the isolation and wilderness of the vast empty plains in America’s southern states.

Fela Kuti and Africa 70’s “Monday Morning in Lagos” is an example of how the individual and unique qualities of place specific music creates the origin of the style itself. The funky rhythmic afrobeat sound and constnt chanting, in a language most have no knowledge of  still manages to create an image of Africa that is unique from any other genre of music, even African genres… the language barrier if anything seems to enhance this quality and I feel this is followed up excellently in the final track in this weeks show.

Not many people have any idea what is being said in Sigur Ros’ ambient, beautiful music. Full of emotion and feeling, people are naturally entranced by their ability to mix pure sound to perfection and cook up the tastiest and most delicious musical dishes. However for me, their sound has an effect that is much like that of Fela Kuti, or Son House… it is a quality that I seem to draw from Bjork and Emiliana Torrini’s breath-taking vocal qualities… it is an Icelandic sound. And in Sigur-Ros’ case it is purely sound when you let yourself relax into the music… the sonic landscapes are both abstract and real… while the sound seems too good to be real we tap into the reality that nearly all of the sound is from live instruments and vocal. And I would hope that everyone sees a landscape…some mountainside somewhere in Iceland… wild and pure, with a wind blowing grass around.

Sit down and….

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…work it out. Been flipping through the various elements lately, working out which goes with what and how it all works together in the big light. The time has treated them kindly, they never come out the same way twice. And now, shining crazy on sizzling sun stretches the great globe in the sky looms with light extatic. They say we waited for a moment to arrive, the perfect one, yet with all those contraptions you still sound the same as the one before. And we will go on last, last out of the box, and stay on last, last into the box. Rippling vibrations, the ones we planned yet play like stings to the varied and the drunk… the ones that sound too perfect to be momentous, too momentous to be real.

 

And i will lower the cases down a size and convince the temples that nothing really happened between my fingers and the electronics, just another day, just another rip in the fabric. Today we should do it all outside and establish the connections better… establish the links in and between the music. But if you do not agree, and suggest they are but perfect in every way. Who is it? Why is it? When was it? I’m not there anymore.

 

And this will appear and make no difference.. i wait for the liquid shapes to appear on liquid social scenes. I await for reality to become.

Written by Dave

June 24, 2009 at 4:13 PM

Black Box Radio Show No.2

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Response to Black Box Radio Show No.2

featured as comment under original Radio Podcast…..

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Since the mic broke on me, ill just fill in on what i was going to say bout these songs.

I had the pleasure of seeing Chris Cunningham, Pivot, Andrew Weatherall and one of my long time favourite artists George Evlyn of Nightmares on Wax perform in Paris last week as part of WARP20.. Here we have a track Jorgé from what some might consider Nightmares on Wax’s best album “Carboot Soul” ..”Soul” being the term that would tie this show together as we have a selection of artists who in their own way provide a different definition of Soul.. George Evelyn giving it an electronic treatment and sampling beautiful vocal lines leading us into Nuyorican Soul and the timeless “I am the Black Gold of the Sun” .. The Nuyorican Soul experiment resulting in this urban bustling modern soul, full of culture and truly redefining Soul in the mid nineties by combining the new with the old… the older sound represented in Nina Simone and Ray Charles.. who while not necessarily being considered “soul” in a Motown sense, reflect the undefinable nature of the Nuyorican Soul project. Ray Charles would reinvent Gospel and sexualise religion, bringing the sound into the pop world… an action which would be hard to swallow at first..such revolutionary ideas would echo that of many forward thinking artists in the past, not to mention another great composer for the piano Claude Debussy, who against the toughest of grains would bend every rule in Classical writing and create his dream worlds, romantic sounds and flowing pentatonic runs would outrage the staunch classical music traditionalists of his time.. I hear the same dream state qualities in the lyrics of Nick Drake, whos guitar playing in this track also shows how Debussy’s choice to popularise a simple pentatonic sound.. would define music for so long, clearly heard from Drakes strings…

While watching a Glastonbury festival clip from 3 years back, a Nick Drake song played over the images of love and peace from the original festival .. the Glastonbury Soundtrack to the Movie documentary released a few years back features a pumping performance of Primal Screams “Swastika Eyes”, a Chemical brothers remix of which also caught my attention from the Dirty Hits bonus CD..leading us to a chemical brothers classic…

The Grandfather Paradox is a compilation tracing the history of minimal music, this track by Pat Methany/Steve Reich opens the compilation, a track which seems to pin down the beautiful progression and relation one can achieve between the electronic synth and the electronic instrument.. a sound which brings us nicely into Squarepusher’s “Iambic 9 Poetry”, another Artist from the Warp label who also bridges the gap between live instrumentation and electronic performance, his incredible bass playing leading us into a beautiful “poem” of sound and movement… Autechre (Warp Again) expressing the electrical romantic expression… perhaps it is a little far reaching for me to claim to hear a quality of Debussy in this track. However its serenity and pulsing synth line does manage to lift the soul in a very clear way, a sort of electronic Psychedelic sound…..

cue Funkadelic’s “What is Soul?” and here we are back again.. Soul…

When i hear George Clinton define soul in his many ways…i often find myself starting to remember the Voice of Terry Reid.. here performing a song recently made hyper-popular by the Raconteurs (they didnt change much – thank god) ….just listen to this voice.. and then ask yourself is this not soul?

DO YOU? (85-365)

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Will you flip the switch…. blow the walls of the joint…. flip it and let the air fly.

 

These new vibrations send my ears running for their hard hats, in fact these sounds were made in a far away place a long time ago and only now have landed so violently on my ears…. in dark rooms full of madness and true true emotion did craziness result in such deliverance… these brush strokes on the air… these vast swathes through the liquid atmosphere are pure gold to me… i could eat them for breakfast lunch and tea… with cookies before bed time… with water in the sun… naked and clothed… alone and surrounded by the world…. 

 

..This is perfection.

So lets flip the switch shall we? unlock the vast spaces around us… let them into this space… this place where people are wanting to be…wanting… spending time… thinking of it… hearing and enjoying… full of words and suggestions… full of happiness… achieved.. more… more … more…

 

And the vibrations, so familiar yet so new, rip holes in my brain as the sound gets sucked within by pressure change… my mind explodes with mass… its full of process…full of thought….full of meaning… full of chance and perception of chance…. full of certainty.

 

Lets flip the switch captain…lets make this direct! YES! We are a go! We are central… we are flowing like jet streams in liquid sky… we are motion in motion, we are void of friction, unstoppable, lucid, unfathomable, loss of meaning, of matter, of existence, of energy, of light and soul, we are essence, we are element, we are flipping switch. We are go. 

 

And on the brink of trying, looking at the possibilities and challenges… we can do that surely.. ill put that aside and live up the other… we will make it all worth while.

 

We will link this to that, and that to those and we will make sense of it, and these years and hours and minutes upon seconds will all amount to an understanding and a push into the vast unknown, all the while moving, motion, anchored yet free, moving yet still

 

is it possible?

365 Update: 63 – 84

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Sorry for the long delay in updating this, but i have been on holiday… so deal with it.

In no particular order…

 

Written by Dave

April 26, 2009 at 3:30 AM

And in this….

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Grinding heavy sounds rip through the peace we had endured for so long… dust removed from the eyelids and ears given a fresh lick of paint for the new season…near misses and close encounters, this has got to be done or else the boat will surely be gone.

Get you fucking head out of your arse you ignorant excuse for a man..

….and then there was a release and an understanding… one forgets the happiness you can achieve near an open window on a beautiful day listening to Marvin Gaye whip lyrics of beauty and love round flowing rhythms and pulsing beats.. nothing can ever replace these days.

Muscles hurt.. all of them inside and out, missing the usual knowing i wont have to for long.

And the practice will make it perfect.

Written by Dave

April 19, 2009 at 3:53 PM