Sunday, June 8, 2008

"Dream Screen : Three Films by Hayao Miyazaki"
at Northwest Film Forum : June 24 - Aug 26

Maker of legendary (can I use the word legendary? his films certainly are, at least
in subject-matter) Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki's animated films are once
again gracing Seattle as a series over the course of this summer at the Northwest
Film Forum. To be further hyperbolic; Miyazaki's film is something that can amaze
and inspire like nothing else in modern cinema. Somehow he manages to always
take a truly idealistic, youthful and joyous perspective in his storytelling and save
it from being naive of oversimplistic. Through the use of complex characterizations
and antagonists that are as faulted and inherently human and his heros/heroins his
depiction of personal transformation in the lives of characters grappling with historically
global/social/ecological issues through fantasy/fantastic themes - its all unlike anything
in film, much less the world of 'cartoons'. As always with his work, the quality of the
animation from Studio Ghibli and its consistency from their beginnings in his first
independent production; "Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind" to his more recent award-
winning "Spirited Away" and the classic "Totoro" is undeniable. In seeing these again its
boldly self-evident that no one is making 2-D animation to this quality standard anywhere
else in the world. Can I enthusiastically endorse seeing these enough? Probably not.

Regrettably though, NWFF has chosen to screen the English dubbed versions of these,
no doubt for the tikes. Sadly, with no other scheduled subtitled screenings for the
adults in the audience:

Link to NWFF "Dream Screen : Three by Miyazaki" site

From the Northwest Film Forum:

"What better time than summer to bask in the glorious sunshine of Hayao Miyazaki’s
artistry, filled with brave children, epic adventures, enormous insects, unexpected journeys,
magical transformations and miraculous dreams of flight. Whether you are seeing these
astounding films for the first or fiftieth time, you will marvel at Miyzaki’s ability to conjure
stories that inspire and embolden audiences to see the world in a brand new way."

Vancouver International Jazz Festival : June 20 - 29


Impressive looking lineup once again at this years Vancouver Jazz Fest. Most significantly Smalltown
Supersound recording artists; Free Fall with Ken Vandermark and Mats Gustafsson's power-trio The Thing
along with other notables: UK free-sax-legend Evan Parker with Guy/Lytton/Fernández as well as a solo
set by Vandermark and other worthy performances in this ten day somewhat overwhelming calendar:

Link to Vancouver International Jazz Festival site

Link to Smalltown Supersound/Superjazz site

Sunday, June 1, 2008

GAS "Nah Und Fern" box-set - released May 26

Summer sees Kompakt release the lavish "Nah Und Fern" collection of Wolfgang Voigt's now classic and
'pop-ambient' genre creating techno-obfuscations of German brass music, schlager and early 20th
Century Composers as a four disc GAS box-set. Followed in June by the release of the accompanying
Book of related photography and a disc of unreleased material on the Raster-Noton imprint.

Voigt, in the past known under a great many pseudonyms such as Mike Ink, Studio 1 and his collaborative
project with Jorg Burger as Burger/Ink - is the driving force behind the rise of Cologne minimal techno and
also the Kompakt label's co-founder and co-owner. Running simultaneously with his various techno and
dancefloor-oriented projects of the mid 90's he began to experiment with timbrel structures of free-floating
string loops sourced from classical records as a new ambient project. These disembodied tracks, their lack of
beginning and end, their intoxicating, smooth and partly amorphous structure sounded to him like gaseous
miasmic clouds and thus - GAS was born. GAS is his vision of a sonic journey through the German countryside
accompanied by the sound of Schoenberg and Kraftwerk - a merging of string symphony, french horn,
synthesizer and kick-drum.

Surprisingly, in listening to these now ten years later, the process used in composing the GAS material from the
original sources of Berg/Mahler/Schoenber/Webern/Wagner alongside subtle Angelo Badalamenti/Twin Peaks
-style synth washes into G-ermany A-ustria S-witzerland themed Alpen techno-ambiance is still mysteriously
opaque. Much was said in the way of inspiration and conceptual intent, but very little was revealed as far as
demystifying the opaqueness of said process in a recent cover story article and interview with Voigt in the May
issue of The Wire. Obviously the Modus Operandi here is repetition with the objective being a trance-like hazy
blur of patterned sonic tapestry evocative of refracted light through the forest canopy/jamming down the autobahn
through the German countryside. I can think of little music from this past decade (electronic or otherwise) that
so effectively conjures such a explicit state in the mind of the listener. Hearing these albums now, GAS remains
as abstract, freefloating and otherworldly as the day it was emitted into the global musical atmosphere. This
box-set is testament to the lasting power of its entrancing disembodied spell... all four and a half hours of it.

Link to the Kompakt label site

Link to Wolfgang Voigt interview in May issue of The Wire

Link to Raster-Noton GAS Book Release