Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tim Hecker & Christopher Bissonnette Immersound_SEA at Chapel Performance Space: Nov 8 | Morton Subotnick & Lillevan perform "From Silver Apples of the Moon to a Sky of Cloudless Sulphur" at Town Hall: Nov 9

What will likely be some of the music/live highlights of the year, the second weekend in November features performances by Canada's electronics and electric guitar noise sculptor, Tim Hecker and mid-Century early electronic composer Morton Subotnick. Both making 'immersion' the focus of their live actualizations, more than just a conceptual statement of intent with the work, they will both feature live multi-channel surround sound mixes of their works. The host for Seattle's Christopher Bissonnette and Tim Hecker installment in the Immersound series, Montreal's Shibui-Oto collective will be presenting the night's work in 6.1 surround, their philosophy of designing experiential spaces and environs described in the Immersound mission statement. This approach will particularly benefit Tim Hecker's newest, "Virgins" realized with a larger ensemble of performers, including Iceland's Ben Frost over the course of multiple recording sessions, it's a torrential, squall of mangled, multitude of disembodied instrumental voices, which should be made that much more outstanding in a multi-channel context.

Of even greater cultural and historic significance, Morton Subotnick's contribution to early electronic music, almost exclusively for/with the Buchla Electronic Musical Instrument designed by Don Buchla for the San Francisco Tape Music Center was cemented with his seminal 1967 piece "Silver Apples of the Moon" and later pieces like 1978's, "A Sky of Cloudless Sulfur". The exception to much electronic music at the time, which was predominantly composed from Musique Concrete tape-manipulated sounds and Sine-wave generators, Subotnick was among the first to work in the real of pure electronic sounds. For deeper reading on the context, time and technology, RBMA's Key Tracks feature by Subotnick himself goes some way to describe the projection of future forms and and the invention of the technology of their creation at San Francisco Tape Music Center and contemporaries at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center. For Seattle's performance at Town Hall he presents the same hybrid of these two works as seen at Unsound Festival in 2011. A multimedia collaboration with media artist Lillevan "From Silver Apples of the Moon to a Sky of Cloudless Sulphur" was not only a highlight of that year's festival, but I'd say up there somewhere in the totality of my personal experience with live audio-visual performance. Both immersive and environmental as well as bracingly dynamic and visceral, it is one of those rare synergies of sound and image that create a complete sensory experience, one that's as 'of it's time' as it is startlingly contemporary. Photo credit: Adam Kissick 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Jacques Rivette's "OUT 1: Noli me Taneger" released on Absolut Medien

One of the rarest major works of the past four decades by a director without whom there'd likely be no David Lynch or Charlie Kaufman, the operator in the shadows of the French New Wave, Jacques Rivette. Best known in English speaking cultural spheres for his dreamy, non-sequitur, political, feminist, "Celine and Julie Go Boating" along with "Le Pont du Nord" of a decade later, which has seen a lot of press in the subsequent year since the rerelease of a new restored print in theaters, like that of Max Nelson's "Rep Diary: Le Pont du Nord" for Film Comment. The parallels between Rivette and Lynch's work made explicit in Dennis Lim's "A Winding Trip Reverberates in Cinema" and the rediscovery off his film seen as a path forward for all of contemporary cinema in David Thomson's "Come and See" for Sight & Sound. For many cineastes though, certainly fans of the New Wave, Rivette's "OUT 1: Noli me Tangere" represents THE holy grail. A nearly thirteen hour loose (this is the New Wave after all) adaptation of Balzac’s "L'Histoire des Treize" from his "La Comédie Humaine" like that of "Celine..." and "Le Pont..." the film centers on Rivette's central obsessions: conspiracy, community, theater, games, multiple personifications, illusion and madness. The extended duration, oblique themes and non-linear dreamlike construction no doubt working against it's larger release, even in the more conducive cultural/cinema environs of the early 1970's. So much so that "OUT 1: Noli me Tangere" has been screened in it's totality on so few occasions, that they can be counted here. When French television turned down the complete thirteen hour version, Rivette created a four hour reconstruction, "OUT 1: Spectre" which focuses more intensively on the intertwining tales of the two featured rival theater companies and central mysterious Cabal. Literally one of the only chances to see it that decade, (on home video, online, in the theater, or otherwise), this shorter reconstructed version screened at Northwest Film Forum as part of their "Lighter Than Air: The Films of Jacques Rivette" retrospective in 2007. The mythic, ultra-obscure, 'unviewable' status now ends for this significant work in the whole of the New Wave's ouvreur with Absolut Medien's box set release of "OUT 1: Noli me Tangere / Spectre".

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rodrigues & Guerra da Mata's "The Last Time I Saw Macao" | Abdellatif Kechiche's "Blue is the Warmest Color", Ashim Ahluwalia's "Miss Lovely", Ulrich Seidle's "Paradise: Hope", Paolo Sorrentino's "The Great Beauty" | Steve McQueen's "Twelve Years A Slave" at Northwest Film Forum, SIFF Cinema & Landmark Theatres: Oct 24 - Dec 26

Abundance of quality cinema in the coming week(s) scattered across the calendars of Northwest Film Forum, SIFF and Landmark Theatres! Including one of the more confounding discoveries of last year, Joaõ Pedro Rodrigues & Joaõ Rui Guerra da Mata's post-Colonial Portuguese/Chinese, "The Last Time I Saw Macao". As much about the hidden life of the city as it's inhabitants, (Macao being one of China's 'Special Administrative Regions' along with Hong Kong) it's hybrid in-between-ness as neither a drama nor a genuine documentary described in Jonathan Romney's review for Film Comment and Manohla Dargis' "In a Cultural and Sexual Netherland, Gaudy and Unsettling". With an even deeper exploration in the pages of Cinema Scope as Aaron Cutler hosts an interview with it's directors.

That same weekend SIFF begins their second-annual contemporary Francophone cinema series, French Cinema Now. The highlight of which being Abdellatif Kechiche's, Cannes Palme d'Or winning "Blue is the Warmest Color" (aka "The Life of Adèle: Chapters 1 & 2") with a theatrical run following at Landmark Theatres in November. Lauded for it's cinematography, unglamorized physical intimacy and emotional rawness, the film has been equally critically chastised for the inherent sexuality it depicts. Film Comment rated it amongst Cannes best offerings with the source of the controversy surrounding the film's concerns decoded in Eric Hynes "Explorations in Identity and Pleasure" for the New York Times.  There's also the preposterous matter of firstly the MPAA's rating given to the film, and second, the Parents Television Council's response to IFC's choice in screening it documented in Sarah-Jane Stratford's "Conservative Americans are More Terrified of Sex than Violence" and a critical response to the claims of the depictions of corporeal intimacy verging on the pornographic in Peter Bradshaw's "Blue Is the Warmest Colour is Too Moving to be Porn" for the Guardian UK. And then there's the dissenting opinion offered by Manohla Dargis, who at the time of the Cannes screening wrote some 400 critical words on the subject, arguing  that "It isn't Sex that Makes Blue Is the Warmest Color Problematic: it's the Patriarchal Anxieties about Sex, Female Appetite and Maternity". Other highlights of the series include Mahamat-Saleh Haroun newest drama set within post-Colonial Africa, "Gris Gris", Jean-Christophe Dessaint's lushly animated, "Day of the Crows" and Bruno Dumont's telling of the life story of "Camille Claudel". This past month the Seattle South Asian Film Festival also took up residence at SIFF, delivering a real stunner in the form of the genre, musical, horror, gender, cultural commentary drama mashup that was Ashim Ahluwalia's excellent "Miss Lovely". SIFF also continues to host Ulrich Seidle's Paradise Trilogy, easily a personal highlight of this year's festival, it's conflicting humanism and scathing critique Nicolas Rapold described in the New York Times as "Messy Humanity, Warts, Dreams and All", the trilogy returns this month with it's final installment, "Paradise: Hope".

SIFF's next big series the following month, Cinema Italian Style, features another notable entry from this year's Cannes that of Paolo Sorrentino's (director of "The Consequences of Love" & "Il Divo"), "The Great Beauty" (again, with a theatrical run to follow at Landmark Theatres). Sorrentino's vision of modern Italian culture Rachel Donadio equates with a full-blooded "La Dolce Vita Gone Sour (and This Time in Color)", interpreted with a bit more generous sensibility for it's darkly romantic core, in Manohla Dargis' "The Glory of Rome, the Sweetness of Life" and considered a metaphor for Italy as a whole in the post-Silvio Berlusconi era, the growing divide between traditions of decadence and the age of austerity, Rome's surreal paradoxes posited as a encapsulation of the European Crisis in Roger Cohen's excellent editorial, "The Great Desperation". Other notables in the series include Bernardo Bertolucci's return after a nine year hiatus, "Me & You" and a new print of Luchino Visconti's 1965 classic, "Sandra". And coming to both SIFF and Landmark Theatres the newest from Steve McQueen, (director of the outstanding political drama debut, "Hunger" and it's psychological/sexual follow-up, "Shame"), returns with his unflinching gaze turned on race and America's history of slavery, with "Twelve Years A Slave". Graham Fuller's cover feature in the September/October issue of Film Comment and extensive interviews with the film's director in the pages of the Guardian UK and the New York Times who also featured a larger A.O. Scott piece on a half-century of race in cinema, "Never-Ending Story: 'Conversation About Race' Has Not Brought Cultural Consensus".

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Peter Brötzmann & Paal Nilssen-Love | Earshot Jazz Festival : Oct 1 - Nov 17

Like every year, October and November mark (make?) the season with months of improv, jazz, neoclassical and on occasion, the avant-garde presented by Earshot Jazz Festival and the accompanying documentary series hosted by Northwest Film Forum, Earshot Jazz Films. Though very little of the Japanese or Scandinavian Free-Jazz that makes up the largest part of my personal listening and priority in the world of the genre, the festival still has a number of highlights this year. The Cat O’ Nine Tails ensemble named after, and performing, the piece by John Zorn, local guitar legend Bill Frisell with the usual suspects including pianist Robin Holcomb, Jim Woodring and electric violist wizard, Eyvind Kang, Chicago Sax lead-man, head numerous hard hitting Free-Jazz ensembles Ken Vandermark & Nate Wooley, ECM's main staple Keith Jarrett, with Gary Peacock & Jack DeJohnette. American minimalist Philip Glass in rare solo mode and most significantly to these ears, the (still going strong as his lengthy two-part interview in The Wire revealed) 'saxophone colossus' Peter Brötzmann who's "Soldier of the Road" was one of the great artist documentaries of this past year, in an idyllic matching with Mats Gustafsson collaborator and Smalltown Supersound and Rune Grammofon label driving percussion force, Paal Nilssen-Love.
Photo credit: Maurizio Zorzi

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Godflesh & Goblin US Tours: Oct 1 - 27 | Jesu's new album "Everyday I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came" released Sept 23 | UPDATE: Godflesh reschedule Tour

In addition to yesterday's post on the cinema of the season, coming up the week(s) before All Hallows' Eve at Neumos are some of the heaviest, darkest and most baleful sounds to hit the west coast in many a year! Not equaled since 'Metalvember 2007', where SUNN O))), Gravetemple Trio, Oren Ambarchi and Jesu performed all within a few weeks. This season we get the first-ever west coast tour of Italian Psych-prog outfit, Goblin. Yes, the original Goblin, creators of the soundtracks to some of Dario Argento's defining pieces of Giallo Horror, namely "Deep Red" and "Suspiria". An indispensable ingredient in the makings of 1970's Italian Horror and Psychedelic exploitation cinema, Now 40 years later I've no idea what we should expect of this show, from all reports the sold-out NYC shows were outstanding but this is of course from decades-long fans who are being given their first opportunity to see the band live. Will no doubt be at least a curious/weird/psych time!
Of greater interest to me personally, the out-of-nowhere revival of one of the all-time defining Metal acts of the 1980's-90's, Justin Broadrick and G.C. Green's Godflesh reform to play some of the most punishing, loud, assaulting music made by man and machine. If this sounds like hyperbole, then it's safe to say you weren't at the shows on one of their last tours at the time for the "Songs of Love and Hate" album in 1996. An album at the time making 'Albums of the Year' lists for magazines as disparate as Terrorizer and The Wire. This was a convergence of the purity Metal assault of earlier Godflesh with a growing fascination with the weighty rhythms and hooks of Dub and Hip Hop that later came to inform Justin Broadrick's splinter project with The Bug's Kevin Martin as Techno Animal. Their new material promises to be a return to the era of just straight-up punishing Metal/Industrial assault, ala "Pure" and "Streetcleaner", with a forthcoming album in the works tentatively titled "A World Lit Only by Fire". Broadrick gave a recent in-depth, personal interview with Pelican's Trevor de Brauw discussing his new solo work under the Jesu moniker, "Everyday I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came" and the past, present and future of Godflesh, "When Pelican Met Jesu", that's pretty much essential reading for any fans of contemporary Metal. Update: Due to Visa delays related to government shutdown, Godflesh have had to reschedule tour.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

All Monsters Attack at The Grand Illusion Cinema, David Lynch's "Lost Highway" at Harvard Exit & Cinerama's Horror Week: Oct 1 - Nov 2

Abundance of horror and genre flicks at cinemas all across town this month! Saturday at the Harvard Exit, next week at the Grand Illusion and the week after at the Cinerama. As the continuation of Landmark Theaters midnight movie series with the closing of the Egyptian Theater, the Harvard Exit now plays host with screenings on Saturdays. This being the season for all things gloomy and crepuscularly spooky, they've brought the horror and psychological suspense this month. The highlight of which, a rare screening of David Lynch's lopsided neo-Noir from the late 1990's, "Lost Highway". A film of halves, both thematically, narratively and qualitatively, it's split-persona structure later refined to much greater effect on Lynch's following masterpiece, "Mulholland Drive". For shear atmospheric tension though, Lost Highway's opening chapter stands as a pinnacle of all things that make the work of this American auteur great; beguiling ambiguity, impenetrable mystery, high tension, terrifying subjectivity, nightmare worlds intersecting with our own as in a dream. A compromised protagonist in a world beyond his comprehension, 'a man in trouble'. The diminished strength of it's second chapter can be accredited to some degree to it's young star, Balthazar Getty as Bill Pullman's (aka Fred Madison's) alter-self. The section saved by Patricia Arquette as a convincing modernization of the Femme Fatale and as with every Lynch film, a metaphysical(?) antagonist in the form of Robert Blake's warped 'Mystery Man'. A nice little bonus of the film was one of David Bowie's finest tracks post-1970's supplied with the credit sequence song, "I'm Deranged".

There isn't enough in the way of All Hallows' Eve theme and/or revival series, which is a shame as this truly the season for genre cinema and it's frights, atmosphere and surrealism. One of the only (and longest running) has been The Grand Illusion Cinema's annual October-long All Monsters Attack calendar of horror, thrillers sci-fi and fantasy. This year's installment titled The Horror of All Monsters Attack featuring the usual 70's/80's schlock and genre gems, including this time around, the absurd hyperviolence of both installments of "Maniac Cop" and the three Lucio Fulci films inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, "Zombi", "City of the Living Dead" and "The Beyond", also there's the 80's gothy horror-fantasy of Clive Barker's original "Hellraiser" and the late-70's preposterous sci-fi of Giulio Paradisi's mashup of "The Omen" and "Close Encounters of a Third Kind" that is "The Visitor". Capping it all off, the annual collaboration with Scarecrow Video and their offerings of obscure, unreleased, out-of-print, super-rarities in their The VCR That Dripped Blood 2: Undead Media night! While we're here, lets talk the incomparable one-of-a-kind resource that is Scarecrow, and how if you live in this city and are a fan of cinema (regardless of genre, style or class) it's essentially your cultural obligation to ensure their doors stay open for business. With nearly 120,000 films in their catalog, many out of print, foreign releases or ultra-rare editions, there is no singular online resource that will ever compare. Lastly! We get Horror Week spanning October 25 - 31 with screenings on the massive Cinerama screen/soundsystem of such prime works of the genre as Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness" the new expanded, restored cut of Robin Hardy's neo-Pagan classic, "The Wicker Man", Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" back in theaters again this year, one of John Carpenter's finest hours with his remake, the 1980's pinnacle of the genre, "The Thing". Another masterpiece of that decade, the first and the best, Ridley Scott's original "Alien" and less qualitative, but still quite fun, Richard Donner's "The Omen".