Saturday, April 27, 2024

Northwest Terror Fest at Neumos & Barboza: May 9 - 11

The regional landscape of venues and artists related to the burgeoning genres and scenes spiraling out of metal, doom, hardcore, and noiserock have both in tumult and a thriving state of expansiveness in recent years. With the closing of Seattle's locus of this culture, The Highline, and the selling of their host building, other venues such as Black Lodge and Substation have stepped up their programming to fill the void. In 2017, the joint stages of Neumos and Barboza became the host to this sound's most significant event of the year with the arrival of Northwest Terror Fest. For metal and its fans, it was such a pivotal paradigm shift in which, "Northwest Terror Fest Flipped Seattle on its Head". An all-things-metal festival with a previous Southwest iteration, Terror Fest's three days hosted a lineup featuring no small quantity of metal issuing from the variegated low-lit landscape of black and doom metal mutations. Initially launched under the opportunity to, "Bring Warning to America: An Interview with Terrorfest founder David Rodgers", Rodger's wider curatorial vision for the festival, was detailed in Decibel's, "It's Good to Have Goals and Dreams Can Come True", and in a 2019 interview, the festival's co-organizer Joseph Schafer describing how "The Third Time (Is Still) the Charm". As with many festivals and arts events, the 2020 edition was postponed with the intent of being rescheduled when the global pandemic abated. Returning after successful 2022 and 2023 editions, Northwest Terror Fest arrives this year with some of the most potent sounds from the heavier end of the 21st century. Over the course of three nights, and six showcases, this year's lineup encompasses everything from gloaming atmospheric ambiance and doom riffs, blistering thrash and hardcore, and heavy psychedelic and stoner rock explorations. As depicted in No Clean Singing's coverage, attending Northwest Terror Fest is to witness an annual summation of the global scene's ongoing and expanding development. These sounds have now come to encompass melodicism and atmospheres lifted from shoegaze and spacerock, eruptions of heavy psych rock, industrial drumming, synth exploration and electronic atmospheres, and pure experimental noise. The expansiveness of which is detailed in Brad Sanders' essential overview, "Untrue And International: Living in a Post-Black Metal World", with complimentary curation from this sphere found in the excellent selections of The Quietus' Columnus Metallicus. The above resources sound the expanse of releases dominantly sourced from labels like, Hydrahead, Neurot, Ipecac, Deathwish, 20 Buck Spin, Dark Descent, Sargent House, Profound Lore, Season of Mist, Roadburn, Century Media, The Flenser, and Relapse.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Crystal Pite’s "The Seasons’ Canon" at Pacific Northwest Ballet: Apr 12 - 21 | "Max Richter on Rewriting The Four Seasons - for the Second Time" | The Guardian

After a rousing run at The Paris Opera Ballet, in which Crystal Pite's "The Seasons' Canon" received a standing ovation, the ballet arrives in Seattle this month for a return engagement at Pacific Northwest Ballet. It was at this Paris premiere, in which Crystal Pite and her dance company, Kidd Pivot, won the prestigious Prix Benois de la Danse for Best Choreographer. By delivering "A Dance so Mesmerizing the Audience Leapt to its Feet", they further solidified her growing esteem. So much so, that her company has since been featured in The Guardian's Best Culture of the 21st Century (So Far), with a spotlight on, "Crystal Pite: The Dance Genius Who Stages the Impossible". After a return run in Paris, in which "Crystal Pite's Ballet Retained all its Spellbinding Power", “The Seasons’ Canon” is now here on domestic soil embodied by the Pacific Northwest Ballet's extended cast. This totals some 55 dancers, which includes almost the full body of the ballet's squad, in addition to some of the corps of the PNB School Professional Division students. In many ways, in its scale, volume, and use of mass-movement, it can be considered as a work in the lineage of William Forsythe’s three decades in the making opus, "Artifact". Like that of Forsythe's ballet, it is a celebration of the precision and geometry of dance, yet with an organic otherworldliness that belongs to Pite. This mass-movement of human form in her work can be seen as an elementary idea, bodies moving in unison and canon, but it is deceptively difficult to achieve. The symmetry and concord of these large-scale configurations of human form in motion inspires an awe which is both emotionally primal and satisfyingly intellectual in its clockwork alignment and organic fluidity. The effect is that of the dancers on stage deceptively appearing as though they are hundreds of interlocking bodies, or conversely merging as one human singularity, as though an undulating sea. Moving through patterns and speeds which mirror the music of the piece, the dance evokes the endless cycle of the seasons, both annual, and eternal. These structures are further enhanced in the reworking of the original Vivaldi composition, as expertly played here by the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra, featuring Michael Lim’s assured solo violin. Max Richter's neoclassical reworking of Antonio Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" for the Deutsche Grammophon Recomposed series presents abundant opportunities to express these shared juxtapositions of angular mathic patterns and gradual, flowing, tectonic undertows. After "Max Richter gave The Four Seasons a Modern Update", with the original volume "The Four Seasons: Recomposed" in 2012, he then returned to the work a decade later, and convinced Deutsche Grammophon of the necessity of a new performance and recording. This "The New Four Seasons: Recomposed", may seem an exercise in indulgence and paradox, as Richter utilizes both classic period instruments alongside analog synthesizers, yet the composer convincingly rationalizes this reworking for The Guardian, "Max Richter on Rewriting The Four Seasons - for the Second Time".

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Neo Sora's "Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus" at SIFF Cinema: Apr 12 - 14 | "The Beautiful, Unpredictable Life of Ryuichi Sakamoto" | The New Yorker

The final chapters in the life of Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto were both profound, intimate, and generously prolific. In 2014, at age 62, Sakamoto announced that he was diagnosed with pharyngeal cancer, and would be cancelling all future engagements and focusing on recovery and treatment for the foreseeable future. After a protracted time of reduced activity and treatment, "With Cancer in the Past, Ryuichi Sakamoto Returns to His Calling". At the time also offering a series of very personal interviews on life, art and the creative will to engage with nature and existence itself, such as "Ryuichi Sakamoto on Life, Nature and ‘Time’", for The New York Times. Returning to his art, the composer produced one of the more significant collaborative works of his career for the Alejandro G. Iñárritu film, "The Revenant" alongside regular collaborator Carsten Nicolai and Bryce Dessner. Its development was mapped by Create Digital Music in their "Sakamoto and Alva Noto again Create Electronics, Scoring Masterpiece", and interviews offered by the two artists. Numerous soundtracks to prestige streaming television and film followed, amassing a quantity which have exceeded his recent album input. The significance and volume of the composer's work for cinema can't be overstated, with recent entries like, “Mubi Notebook Soundtrack Mix: Universal Meditations - The Film Music of Ryuichi Sakamoto”, and interview with The Criterion Collection, "Sonic Memories: A Conversation with Ryuichi Sakamoto", to coincide with the Criterion Channel's "Scores by Sakamoto" showcase. It was around this time that director Stephen Nomura Schible assembled a documentary about the life and work of Sakamoto, entitled "Coda". The documentary followed the composer as he recovered from cancer, resumed creating music, and assembled "async", his newest album since the diagnosis. All the while re-engaging with political activism through protests around nuclear power, following the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster.

A series of active years followed, as the composer engaged with life, produced new work, even offered the venerable New York restaurant Kajitsu, a soundtrack to accompany the experience, "Annoyed by Restaurant Playlists, a Master Musician Made His Own". In interviews like those offered at the time, "Themes and Variations: An Interview with Ryuichi Sakamoto" for GQ, and "Electronic Pioneer Ryuichi Sakamoto: 'My Great Regret is Not Reconnecting with David Bowie'", for The Guardian, Ryuichi Sakamoto had by all appearances, fully returned from the very edge of life to its social and cultural epicenter. But then in 2021, came the tragic news of a rectal cancer diagnosis. In response, Sakamoto issued another statement making it clear that he intended to continue to make art throughout treatment, "Still, I will continue to work as much as I can during treatment … From now on, I will be living alongside cancer. But, I am hoping to make music for a little while longer”. Throughout this period, Sakamoto chronicled his experiences of living with cancer in a monthly column for the literary journal Shincho, titled “How Many More Times Will I See the Full Moon?”, in reference to a quote from Paul Bowles’ novel, “The Sheltering Sky”. Over the course of which, he not only produced another collaborative piece as an audiovisual installation by Dumb Type for the Japanese pavilion at 2022's Venice Biennale, but completed his newest studio album "12", for his Commmons label and Milan Records domestically. Concurrently, Milan published their "Tribute to Ryuichi Sakamoto: To the Moon and Back", which coincided with a series of reflections and acknowledgements from a global body of artists hosted by NPR, “As Ryuichi Sakamoto Returns with '12,' Fellow Artists Recall His Impact”. In late December 2022, "Ryuichi Sakamoto Kept the Music Going with a 'Profound' Concert" while undergoing stage IV treatment, with a very public acknowledgement that it may be his last performance. This live streaming concert was assembled through astute documentation and editing finess by director Neo Sora as "Opus". The concert film premiered at the Venice Film Festival this past fall, and has finally arrived on domestic screens with a brief run at SIFF Cinema. With Sakamoto's death in March 2023, Sasha Frere-Jones wrote a moving and expansive overview of the composer's life for The New Yorker, “The Beautiful, Unpredictable Life of Ryuichi Sakamoto”. The gentle unpredictability and beauty of his life and work has been encapsulated in Neo Sora's concert film, as "a stark, emotional finale from a profound artist", Ryuichi Sakamoto offering us one last glimpse with, "'Opus’: A Parting Gift from a Master Musician“.