Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ólafur Arnalds & Ensemble with Barn Owl and Others - US Tour : Jan 24 - Feb 4

Fans of Max Richter, Hauschka, Johann Johannsson and Neo-Classical Composition take note! Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds is touring the US with a string ensemble and backing musicians this early winter. The west coast aspect of the tour doesn't include Portland, Vancouver or Seattle dates, so... I will be traveling to San Francisco for this one! Safe to say, that fans of the kind of cinematic, somber, minimalist/sublime sound heard at this past year's Johann Johannson performance at Triple Door, this is very much 'your thing' as Arnalds work is exactly the form of neo-classicism one would expect of the names mentioned above, with many of his own flourishes, these often being electronic, ambient... or in the case of his most recent work... Metal. Ha. Should be gorgeous and memorable and the San Francisco show in particular with their tour-mates Barn Owl, is in the lushly gaudy classic theatre setting of the Great American Music Hall.

Link to official Olafur Arnads tour site

Link to Erased Tapes Olafur Arnalds site

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ryoji Ikeda "Datamatics" Multimedia Performance: Feb 3 - Vancouver

Ryoji Ikeda the audio-visual maestro who in the late 20th Century redefined the parameters of what digital sound art could be with his "Matrix" series along with simultaneous collaborative performance-based work for Osaka based multi-media group Dumb Type. This couple year span being particularly memorable as they toured the world bringing their ultra-visceral explorations of perception, time, memory, sight, sound and the body to stunned and enrapt audiences (really, the hyperbole here is diminished, the shows were blinding) - is back in North America. A rare thing, as he's only performed in the states some half-dozen times in the last decade, either limited to San Francisco, New York or Chicago each time. His last Northwest shows were as far back as 2002 at Seattle's On the Boards. So take note! Ikeda presents his new work "Datamatics" in Vancouver as part of the Push Festival. Most, most certainly worth a trip across the border!

Link to Push Festival "Datamatics" Performance site

Link to Ryoji Ikeda official site

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Iannis Xenakis: Composer, Architect, Visionary" at MoCA LA / Performances
of Major Works at RedCat Theatre: Nov 6 - Feb 4

A defining artistic and scientific voice of the past Century; architect, mathematician and composer Iannis Xenakis exhibit at MoCA is in it's closing month. As with the opening month, nights of performances of his major electro-acoustic/orchestral/magnetic tape pieces are being hosted in the prime setting of the RedCat Theatre. Even for Xenakis being a defining voice in modern composition and architecture in the 20th Century, it's still a exceedingly rare thing to get to see these works performed, as they are 'unkind' in the most visionary sense, and even with decades passing, have lost none of their sensorial attack and genuine unearthly qualities. Truly not to be missed! Any of you anywhere near LA should note that this is road-trip worthy, both for it's rarity, historic cultural import and the visceral modern intensity of the work. The MoCA exhibit also featuring architectural plans and scores. As among other architectural achievements in his time, Xenakis studied and worked under Le Corbusier, their most noted construction being the Philips Pavilion for the 1958 World's Fair - significantly with a audio-visual interior scape composed by Edgard Varèse and experimental film by Le Corbusier as the world's first completely electronic composition and 'music video'; the renowned "Poème Électronique".

Link to MoCA 'Xenakis: Composer, Architect, Visionary' Exhibit site

Link to RedCat Theatre Xenakis Performance Calendar site

Saturday, January 1, 2011

:::: FILMS OF 2010 ::::

Apichatpong Weerasethakul "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" (Thailand)
Sion Sono "Love Exposure" (Japan)
Tsai Ming-Liang "Visage" (Taiwan)
Gaspar Noe "Enter the Void" (France)
Claire Denis "White Material" (France)
Corneliu Porumboiu "Police, Adjective" (Romania)
Bong Joon-Ho "Mother" (South Korea)
Lu Chuan "City of Life and Death" (China)
Banksy & Shepard Fairey "Exit Through the Gift Shop" (USA)
Gideon Koppel "Sleeps Furiously" (UK)
Olivier Assayas "Carlos" (France)
Philippe Grandreiux "Un Lac" (France)
Jai Zhang-Ke "I Wish I Knew" (China)
Anand Tucker/ James Marsh/ Julian Jarrold "Red Riding Trilogy" (UK)
Anoch Suwichakornpong "Mundane History" (Thailand)

Looking outside the expected sources, finding new record labels and film distributors, making connections
between author, director and soundtrack that were previously inconceivable. Some of these combinations
generated exciting, unexpected new hybrids of styles, genres and form. The most vibrant of these
unexpected convergences being the work of French director Gaspar Noe's (visionary, yet flawed)
piece of psychedelic-pathos, "Enter the Void" (with soundtrack by Thomas Bangalter) an immersive,
mind-altering, multi-sensory, hyperkinetic, drugged-up Tokyo death fugue. Though there were other works
that achieved in more consistent, fully realized, qualitative ways, Noe's film stuck in the craw and refused to
be dismissed. Other directors further established themselves with their finest work yet, Weerasethakul, Sion
Sono and an unexpected historic drama from Assayas.

As it has for the past few decades, Scarecrow Video played an invaluable role as a resource for moving pictures
from around the globe, especially considerable for those of us enabled by all-zone/region Blu-Ray players.
This year's Seattle International Film Festival hosted only one or two of the films listed below, as opposed
to previous years, where SIFF dominated the field, screening most of the best films of the year during the
course of the festival. With indie cinemas closing around the nation, it was that much more important to
support the local theater opportunities such as the SIFF Cinema, the Landmark Theatre chain, the Grand
Illusion Cinema and the paramount indie screen in Seattle, the Northwest Film Forum. Many of the best films
seen this year, when they did come to the theater, had runs that lasted no more than a week. Others were
never to return to the cinema again or even as a domestic DVD release. By example, one of the single finest
films of this decade, the Cannes Palme d'Or award-winning "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past
Lives", which played in international film festivals around the country, still has yet to get a proper theatrical
run or even a DVD/online release (with rumors of it not appearing until as late as spring 2011). Again proving
the wisdom of getting out there, seeing the city and prioritizing the art/music/film that we're fortunate to have
in our urban cultural crossroads.

Lastly, the unseen films by a few directors of note that never made it over here distributed stateside or even
made a less-desirable appearance as an online release. I suspect a number of these would have made the
list, if I actually had a chance to see them:

Cristi Puiu "Aurora" (Romania)
Sergei Loznitsa "My Joy" (Russia)
Lee Chang-Dong "Poetry" (China)
Mohammad Rasoulof "White Meadows" (Iran)
James Benning "Ruhr" (United States)
Jerzy Skolimowski "Essential Killing" (Poland)
Sophie Fiennes "Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow" (UK)
Tetsuya Nakashima "Confessions" (Japan)
Anh Hung-Tran "Norwegian Wood" (Taiwan/Japan)
Koji Wakamatsu "Caterpillar" (Japan)
Tsui Hark "Detective Dee & The Mystery of the Phantom Flame" (China)

:::: ALBUMS OF 2010 ::::

Thomas Koner "Nunatak Gongamur/Teimo/Permanfrost" (Type)
Supersilent "10" (Rune Grammofon)
Jesu "Heart Ache & Dethroned" (Hydrahead)
Boris "Japanese Heavy Rock Hits Vol.1-4" (Southern Lord)
Max Richter "Infra" (Fat Cat)
Rafael Irisarri "The North Bend" (Room40)
Nils Frahm "Wintermusik" (Erased Tapes)
Ultralyd "Inertiadrome" (Rune Grammofon)
Ryuichi Sakamoto "Playing the Piano" (Decca Classical)
Cloudland Canyon "Fin Eaves" (Holy Mountain)
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma "Love Is A Stream" (Type)
Pan Sonic "Gravitoni" (Blast First)
Einstürzende Neubauten "Strategies Against Architecture IV" (Mute)
SWANS "My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope in the Sky" (Young God")
Kouhei Matsunaga "Self VA/3 Telepathics/Processing the Dead Minotaur" (Important)
Ben Frost "By The Throat" (Bedroom Community)
Johann Johannsson "...And in the Endless Pause Came the Sound of Bees" (Type)
Frank Bretschneider "Exp." (Raster-Noton)
Various Artists "Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers" (Crammed Discs)
Thomas Bangalter/Various "Enter the Void - Soundtrack" (Roulé France)

Continuing from the films list above... like cinema, the year in sounds there was the curious repeat theme;
2010 was again a year for diggers. Wherein, many of the great recordings of the year appeared from
otherwise unknown origins and artists that some years ago were just establishing themselves, often under
other monikers. That much more reason to 'keep the ears to the ground' as it were and be that much more
looking out for the new and unheard.

There were many works that took the ears to exciting places, and that did so in distinct, expressive and
adventurous ways. Particularly at the strange crossroads where modern classical, lo-fi folk, musique
concrete, improv, metal, ambient, 'noise' and avant jazz traditions are all meeting as hypermodern, as-yet
unnamed genre mutations. Ultralyd's most recent album, "Inertiadrome", stands as a good example, as does
the disorienting fusion of hip-hop, noise and electronic minimalism that was Kouhei Matsunaga's trilogy of
albums. Perhaps the most hyper-hybrid of them all was the giddy fusion of western indie rock and electronic
sounds meets amped-up African world music in the "Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers" compilation.

Live sonic adventures were heard around the Northwest, with Decibel Festival offering some of the best
electronic performances of the year (Ben Frost, Pantha Du Prince, Fennesz) and Triple Door hosting the
chamber symphony and electronic night that was Johann Johannsson and Rafael Anton Irisarri Trio. There
were astounding metal shows this year, including Boris, Nadja, Wolves in the Throne Room, Shrinebuilder
and Neurosis, and many fine things heard in Earshot Jazz Fest including the Paul D. Miller Ensemble and
the sublime piano minimalism of Ryuichi Sakamoto.