Sunday, September 30, 2007

Zeitkratzer Orchestra plays "Metal Machine Music" / Iannis Xenakis - released 10/2

Initial reaction to the concept of scoring of Lou Reeds "Metal Machine Music" for string orchestra may lead some to respond in a hesitant and quizzical 'why bother?' or even '*how* for that matter?' stance. Understandably, with all of the current fad of 'string quartet' variations on pop, commercial and indie music forms, such as Radiohead, Aphex Twin and even some laughably atrocious versions of strings played to interpret rap-metal 'as-seen-on-MTV' garbage. Its enough to give anyone a bad taste in their mouth and an embarrassed 'how does this sh*t even exist?' malaise anytime another of these string interpretations of the band/flavor of the month comes along. So it should be stated right off that these recordings are in fact *not* any of the above, or for that matter, some kind of postmod downtown art-scene gimmick or a reduced for suburban-consumption wallpaper muzak - this is very much the real deal.

With that said, a bit of background informing is due on the releases and Zeitkratzer itself. The Zeitkratzer Ochestra (or simply 'Zeitkratzer' depending on the release/participants) a nine to eleven piece, mostly electric ensemble, headed by pianist/composer Reinhold Friedl for the past decade or so have performed their own heady, dissonant and often physical take on the works of many of the most adventurous in 20th/21st century composers. A good part of what has made their work such a distinct variation on this modern form has, in no small part been due to their composers of choice. These include such near-audacious adventures in scoring from soundwork-to-composition as the blasting psychedelic noise of Merzbow, absolute-concrete from Francisco Lopez and the works of noise/performance artist John Duncan. Their significance in the world of modern composition further established by these two most recent examples of their art. Both very much realized in the spirit of mathematician/architect/composer Iannis Xenakis' longform pieces such as "Persepolis" and Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" originals. This is a dissonant, electric, defiant and loud music, yet one that also has the formal learning to realize both scoring and performing these pieces as a highly skilled, classically trained ensemble. Accordingly, strings have rarely sounded so challengingly 'of our century' as they do here.

Links to Asphodel Records releases of Zeitkratzer's "Metal Machine Music" and "Xenakis [A]live!":

Link to Asphodel Records - Zeitkratzer "Metal Machine Music"

Link to Asphodel Records - Zeitkratzer "Xenakis [A]live!"

Official Zeitkratzer site and excerpt of "Xenakis [A]live!" - from The Wire magazine site:

Link to Official Zeitkratzer site

Link to MP3 excerpt from "Xenakis [A]live!"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Live Music and Films : Calendar of Sights / Sounds - October

In an attempt to keep all of the upcoming music shows and cinema openings in the coming month
organized in my mind, I put together a calendar of events just to keep them in some kind of sane
perspective. Many of these are brought to Seattle through those fine organizations that are Decibel
, Earshot Jazz Fest and the Northwest Film Forum, or labels/distributors that I work with/through and
subsequently they have offered up guestlist spots - some of which with +1's. Which means, Seattle crew:
you want to catch any of these in my company you gotta let me know. And yes, as if Decibel Fest, SFEMF
and the events at SIFF Cinema weren't enough last month, October looks to be carrying on the precedent
established by these past months with an abundance of the cinematic/sonic arts here in our little city.



Oct 5 - Ang Lee "Lust Caution" - Egyptian Theatre
(Won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Fest)

Oct 10-11 - Guy Maddin "Brand Upon the Brain" - Cinerama Theatre
(Seattle premier with Aono Jikken Ensemble foley soundtrack, live orator, Maddin in attendance)

Oct 23-25 - Ron Mann "Imagine the Sound" - Northwest Film Forum
(Seminal + rare Free-Jazz docu - Presented by Earshot Jazz Fest)

"A MAN VANISHES: The Legacy of Shohei Imamura" series at Northwest Film Forum:

Oct 26 - "Stolen Desire"

Oct 27 - "Nishi Ginza Station"

Oct 28 - "My Second Brother"

Oct 29 - "Pigs and Battleships"

Oct 30 - "Insect Woman"

Oct 31 - "Intentions of Murder"

Nov 1 - "The Pornographers"

Nov 2 - "A Man Vanishes"

Nov 3 - "Profound Desire of the Gods"

Nov 4 - "The Making of a Prostitute"

Nov 6 - "Why Not?"

Nov 7 - "Ballad of Narayama"

Nov 2-8 - "Vengeance is Mine"

Nov 8 - "Zegen"

Nov 9 - "Black Rain"

Nov 10 - "The Eel"

Nov 11 - "Dr. Akagi"

Nov 12 - "Warm Water Under a Red Bridge"



Oct 1 - Ulrich Schnauss w/ High Violets - Crocodile Cafe

Oct 3 - Thomas Fehlmann (Presented by Decibel Fest) - Nectar Lounge

Oct 11 - Boris w/ Damon & Naomi - Chop Suey

Oct 15 - Keith Rowe (of AMM, 4G, MIMEO) - Chapel Performance Space

Oct 18 - Liars w/ Interpol (Blah, I'm just going for Liars) - WaMu Theatre

Oct 19 - Modeselektor (Presented by Decibel Fest) - Chop Suey

Oct 19 - Akron/Family - Crocodile Cafe

Oct 21 - Burial Chamber Trio (G.Anderson, O.Ambarchi, A.Csihar) - Chop Suey

Oct 25 - Oren Ambarchi (Presented by Wall of Sound) - Rendezvous JewelBox Theatre

Oct 25 - Mono - Crocodile Cafe

Oct 31 - DoMakeSayThink - Crocodile Cafe

Nov 2 - SUNN O))) w/ Jesu - Neumos

Nov 3 - Battles - Neumos

Nov 4 - John Zorn w/ Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn (Presented by Earshot Jazz Fest) - Moore Theatre

And this doesn't include the visual art openings! So, thats all I know about this far in advance, no doubt
there will be more events to consider as venues like Nonsequitur and Grand Illusion release their Oct
schedules. And yes, honestly I *am* going to make these all. Or at least as many of them as sanity will
allow - and if you know me, you know my sanity can take a lot of art-punishment.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Olafur Eliasson, Felix Schramm, McCall & Knoebel - New Exhibitions currently at SFMoMA

Quality and varied series of exhibitions currently on display a SF MoMA. All involving different
takes on the perception/experience of the viewers relation to physicality vs. intangibility -
explored in space, architecture, light and texture. From the abstraction and immersive glow
of light from the Olafur Eliasson, to the laser-like perception altering qualities of the McCall/
Knoebel, to the physicality of the architectural collisions between host-space and installation
of the Schramm. Not since the Gerhard Richter "Forty Years of Painting" exhibit of 2003
have I had such a complete, richly stimulating, thoroughly inspired day at the museum.
I have many and much in the way of words to say concerning these exhibitions, and the
memorable experience had seeing/engaging with them last week - but I'm going to leave
all the wordage this time to SF MoMA:


Link to SF MoMA "Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson" site

"Widely heralded as one of the most important artists of his generation, Olafur Eliasson nimbly
merges art, science, and natural phenomena to create extraordinary multisensory experiences.
Challenging the passive nature of traditional art-viewing, he engages the observer as an active
participant, using tangible elements such as temperature, moisture, aroma, and light to generate
physical sensations. The works assembled for this presentation — the first U.S. survey of this
Icelandic artist's oeuvre — date from 1993 to the present and reflect all facets of his creative
practice. Encompassing sculpture, photography, and large-scale immersive installations —
including a newly commissioned kaleidoscopic tunnel that envelops the Museum's steel
truss bridge — these projects are intentionally simple in construction but thrilling to behold,
sparking profound, visceral reactions designed to heighten one's experience of the everyday."


Link to SF MoMA "New Work: Felix Schramm" site

"German artist Felix Schramm creates the illusion of architecture gone awry. Made from drywall,
paint, steel frames, and wood, his site-specific installations resemble the aftermath of disaster
inside the gallery, where the delineations between the work and the institution's architecture are
difficult to discern. His twisted, splintered fragments of structural forms — walls, ceilings, floors
— burst from the building's framework at dramatic angles, producing large-scale works that seem
at once threatening and fragile. For his installment in SFMOMA's ongoing New Work series, Schramm
presents a new piece that continues his pursuit of achieving balance between chaos and order, the
particular and the universal, and offers visitors an experience of physical tension in the Museum's gallery."


Link to SF MoMA "Project, Transform, Erase: McCall and Knoebel" site

"Anthony McCall and Imi Knoebel both have used deceptively simple projections with strikingly complex
effects. You and I, Horizontal (2005), a digital projection — and recent SFMOMA acquisition — by McCall,
draws on his 1970s-era solid-light film installations to create an engaging experience of light as a three
-dimensional beam and wall animation. Projektion X (1971-72) and Projektion X Remake (2005), two
versions of the same video concept by Knoebel, each feature a continuous stream of nighttime
streetscapes, illuminated only by a powerful X-shaped beam of light."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sounds on Rotation - Sept / Oct - Books in Circulation


So here's whats been playing at my place/on my pod this past month or so. Have been particularly
enthused again with the past couple months of new albums I've acquired, these being (as per usual)
mostly dissonant, minimal, abstract, avant and atmospheric type sounds. Consisting of random modern
composer titles, few choice electronic releases, couple new avant-jazz/improv recordings, noise post-rock
stuffs and one Finnish acid-folk record. Indeed! New sounds make such an excellent compliment to the
change of seasons, and just the very, very beginning of Fall has been hinted at by the nights here near
the end of Summer.

Supersilent "8" (Rune Grammofon)
Ultralyd "Conditions for a Piece of Music" (Rune Grammofon)
Rusell Haswell / Florian Hecker "Blackest Ever Black" (Warner Classics)
Zeitkratzer / Lou Reed "Metal Machine Music" (Asphodel)
Luigi Nono "20 Jahre Inventionen" (Edition RZ)
Vladimir Ussachevsky "Electronic and Acoustic Music 57-72" (New World)
Toru Takemitsu "Rain Tree : The Complete Solo Piano Music" (Explore)
Francisco Lopez / Marc Behrens "A Szellem" (Absolute)
V/A "Hitokomakura - Yasujiro Ozu" (and/OAR)
Machinefabriek / Aaron Martin "Cello Recycling/Drowning" (Type)
Machinefabriek / Various "Krulmeldief - Remixes" (Fabriek Edition)
Tape / Minamo "Birds of a Feather" (Headz)
Signal "Robotron" (Raster-Noton)
Frank Bretschneider "Rhythm" (Raster-Noton)
Sylvain Chauveau "S" (Type)
Zelienople "His/Hers" (Type)
Elegi "Sistereis" (Miasmah)
Murcof "Cosmos" (Leaf)
September Collective "All The Birds Were Anarchists" (Mosz)
Dälek "Abandoned Language" (Ipecac)
Burial "Ghost Hardware" (Hyperdub)
Echospace "Coldest Season" (ModernLove)
Rechenzentrum "Silence - DVD" (Weiser)
Swod "Sekundun" (CityCentre)
Guiseppe Ielasi "August" (12k)
Taylor Deupree / Christopher Willits "Listening Garden " (Line)
Oren Ambarchi "In the Pendulum's Embrace" (Touch)
Janek Schaefer "In The Last Hour" (Rookm40)
Kemialliset Ystavat "Kemialliset Ystavat" (Fonal)
Mono "The Phoenix Tree" (Temporary Residence)
Burning Star Core "Operator Dead... Post Abandoned" (No Quarter)
Liars "Liars" (Mute)
Burial Chamber Trio "Burial Chamber Trio" (Southern Lord)
Sunn O))) "Oracle" (Southern Lord)
Boris / Keiji Haino "Black Implication Flooding" (Inoxia)
Death Ambient "Drunken Forest" (Tzadik)
The Thing "Action Jazz" (Smalltown Supersound)
Anthony Braxton / Wolf Eyes "Black Vomit" (Victo)
Peter Brotzmann Octet "Complete Machinegun Sessions" (Atavistic)
Otomo Yoshihide New Jazz Orchestra "Live Volumes 1 & 2" (DoubtMusic)

Books in question being split between a couple authors, a few of these are re-reads as softcover
releases of books from the past year(s):

George Saunders "The Braindead Megaphone" (Little, Brown)
Haruki Murakami "Blind Woman, Sleeping Willow" (Knopf)
Warren Ellis "Planetary" (Wildstorm)
Grant Morrison "Batman" & "All-Star Superman" (DC Comics)
Taiyo Matsumoto "Tekkonkinkreet" (Kodansha)

...And the new Sept issue of Film Comment, Sept/Oct issues of The Wire and McSweeney's 22 have made for good reads.

SUPERSILENT 8 - released Sept 17


Link to unofficial Supersilent site

Norways near-unclassifiable improv outfit Supersilent release their 8th album as a full length CD
on September 17. After the extended live venture which was "7" in DVD format, which encompassed
both the audio and visual dynamic and immensity of their combined skills displayed at the Oslo Jazz
Fest 2005, its back to just the abstraction of pure sound representing their art. And yes, it does
REPRESENT. The advance copy I've had this past week has been on near-continuous play at home on
the Rega stereo. As with their previous ventures, its the combined individual (both traditional and avant)
musical skill of all the members of this outfit that make for the great improvisational virtuosity of their
work. Said skills being applied to the gamut of sounds, from monolithic slabs of often dissonant textures,
to cinematic ambient passages to improvisational blasts of sonic tumult which later find rest as subtle
yearning peals of horns and electronics which dissipate into near-silence and then build in new and
varying configurations. In interview Supersilent have said that their finished albums come from extended
recordings sessions, sometimes producing as much as 10 hours of what they would call 'good' work,
which they edit down to the 'essential' and its that latter quality that makes for the content of the
album-proper. With this being their methodology, they have also spoken of, at some point, if money
and Rune Grammofon will allow, releasing a 10-12 CD box set of selections from that very-same 'good'
material which has accumulated over the years as a final closing statement to their collaborative project.
Rumors have abounded that both "7" and "8" were to be their last new recordings together as an outfit, on this
(further) evidence of their incomparable, totally singular sonic formula, I'm very much hoping its not the case.

Press release from Rune Grammofon:

Rune Grammofon:

"Helge Sten, Ståle Storløkken, Arve Henriksen and Jarle Vespestad celebrate 10 years as a groundbreaking quartet with their first studio album in almost 5 years. Their music lives in a no-man's-land between the genres, somewhere between rock, electronica, jazz and modern composition. Yes, we say composition because when listening it's not far fetched to think it could have been, although everything here is improvised, as it has always been with Supersilent. With "8" they have yet again re-invented themselves, exploring more abstract and mysterious pathways and ending up even further away from traditional categories."

"The album is mixed by Helge Sten, produced by Deathprod and mastered by US mastering guru Bob Katz."

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Charles Ferguson's Iraq War docu "No End in Sight" - at Landmark Theatres


"The ability of "No End in Sight" to convincingly link disparate aspects of our imperial misadventure, from
civilian contractors to the empowerment of Iran, makes it the first can't-miss Iraq doc to appear thus far"
- Paul Arthur, Film Comment

The film's fundamental question posed is "Was this quagmire inevitable?". Without taking on the more broad
philosophical questions of justification for military intervention or America's geopolitical clout, the director
posits it could have been otherwise. Rather than government decision-making by a secret cabal or multinational
corporate imperative, the sequence of events so carefully laid out here reveals a mind-boggling litany of mistakes
and poor judgements by a cast of mostly novice policy makers informed by a deadly mixture of cronyism, willful
ignorance of Iraqi history and culture, gross incompetence, and moral vacuity. At gut level this feels more like
how our present government really works than any notion of an intricate Machiavellian conspiracy. Sorry, but
those folks just ain't that good.

By posing this question and exploring the vast mountain of facts and events surrounding the war, both domestically
and in Iraq itself, the film does a rather amazing job of bringing together a coherent image of this corporate/political/
military campaign gone awry. While all at once, shedding light on the degrees of 'spun' factual information,
misrepresentation and straight-out fabrication on the part of our current administration and corporate-backed
network news press that most of America relies on for their information about the world at large.

Link to "No End in Sight" - official site

"Writer/director Charles Ferguson's jaw-dropping documentary is an insider's tale of wholesale incompetence,
recklessness and venality. It asks the question: How did a group of men with little or no military experience,
knowledge of the Arab world or personal experience in Iraq come to make such flagrantly debilitating decisions?
Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Documentary at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival."

Link to Landmark Theatres "No End in Sight" release schedule