A while back, I posted a short piece about a band whose work I thought was, I guess, more like pornography than a love scene, that is, more about using proven rock tropes and clichés rather than creating real emotion.
At the time, I was also making notes on what else “porn rock” might mean: The Plasmatics and Tubes maybe, Tatu, Devinyls and Missing Persons as well. Traci Lords, the notorious underage porn star from the 1980s, reached #2 on the Billboard dance charts in 1994 with her single “Control” and a lo-fi death metal band called “Traci Lords Loves Noise” dropped a series of thrashingly potty-mouthed records around the same time. Sawa, the lead singer for metal band Watch Me Burn, is also a part of Suicide Girls, a punkish nudie site, and Gaye Advert of the punk band Adverts posed for men’s magazines in the 1970s to make money for band gear. But none of that’s all that interesting. What I really wanted was America’s Hardcore Sweetheart, Sasha Grey.
The porn starlet has made some surprising moves into popular culture. Granted the mainstream and the porn stream are much closer than they used to be, but Grey has bridged the gap, starring in Steven Soderbergh’s film Girlfriend Experience (to mixed reviews) and taking a recurring role on the television show Entourage, among other clothed roles. Perhaps more surprisingly, she appeared on the October, 2010, cover of the naked-but-staid magazine Playboy. At the same time, however, she has also occupied another corner of fringe culture. She has just released her first book, Neu Sex, and she has sung with longstanding industrial outfit Current 93.
I’d seen repeated references to Grey’s “noise band” but hadn’t heard it and after some half-hearted attempts at finding a download I gave up. Truth is, most “noise” is pretty bad, and not in a good way. Like punk - or acting, for that matter - lot of people get away with it who probably shouldn’t. But when Pendu Sound Recordings released the LP A Cassette Tape Culture - Grey’s third as a member of aTelecine (after a previous LP and a 7") - I decided with some trepidation to request a review copy.
I was hesitant because I thought I was just going to make fun of the album while making use of the short list of other examples of porn rock leftover from the post I never wrote, a sequel to a piece I’d never finished to begin with. And that’s not a very good reason to write a review. But that plan was thwarted by actually listening to the record. To begin with, the “noise” moniker was probably applied by someone not familiar with arhythmic music and then repeated by scores of writers who spend their time seeing what’s already been written rather than writing something new. Go blogosphere!
A Cassette Tape Culture is hardly noise in the usual, brutal sense. It’s a far cry from Merzbow, the titan of the industry, and doesn’t bear much in common with the sultrier noise of fellow Japanese pioneer Masonna (or for that matter Hijokaidan, Jojo Hiroshige’s noise band which has used porn star Miki Sawaguchi as a vocalist). Rather, the sounds made by Grey (voice, synth, guitar), Pablo St. Francis (voice, bass, drums, dulcimer) and Anthony Djuan (voice, rhythm, words, synth) are moody and surprisingly ethereal.
All three employ tape loops as well, and there’s a decidedly analog sound to the resulting mix. Vocals and melodies drift in and out. Canned beats are folded in, but never push the music. There’s usually several things going on, creating a nicely disorienting feel, but it never overwhelms. The 12 tracks (clocking in at 36 minutes) overall are actually pleasingly light.
It’s hard to say if Grey qualifies as a crossover artist. Out of curiosity I watched some clips of her adult movies online and found them to be rather abusive and off-putting, the sort of thing that would suggest a more brutal music than aTelecine makes. Likewise, I’m not sure the Soderbergh demographic is overly inclined toward either hardcore pornography or abstract music. Grey isn’t crossing over so much as occupying multiple camps at once, which might be a more impressive feat. Grey has been making music since she was 15 and cites Throbbing Gristle and KFMDM as influences, and has made an interesting career for herself where, truly, anything seems to be permitted.
even from what little i knew her, i could see that her world and her art and herself were truly all one thing, which was what made her so vital.
here's something i wrote on the tour prior to that sy gig.
thanks, ari. you were as true a spirit as punk had.
I have a new number now. My “Maroc Arrival Number.” It is very important, the concierge told me when I was filling out my check-in form at the hotel.
The hotel is beautiful – open and airy, if hot, so much nicer than where I stayed in Tangier last time I was in Morocco. (Or at least so far – I'm waiting for my room now, writing in a colorful waiting room with a couch running the full perimeter and knit cushions). There are clocks above the concierge desk: Marrakech, Paris and New York. The New York one isn't working. There's a child running around wearing a sort of Groucho mask – round glasses, red nose and a mustache of two horns that unfurl and squeal when he exhales, going off to either side of his face.
Djemaa el Fna is the target. A short cab ride, but I want to find it on my own. My preparations for the trip included buying a Lonely Planet Marrakech guide and then forgetting to pack it, which is kind of perfect. I love getting lost.
I start walking down Mohamed VI Blvd. I hear music, but Djemaa el Fna is supposed to be about two miles away – I couldn't be hearing it, could I? Fearing walking the wrong way forever without knowing, I give in and ask a police officer. My high school French is barely adequate to get through his thick accent, but I arrive at “four red lights and turn left.” From here I see zero red lights ahead. And the music was in the other direction. I start off.
After a half mile or so, the boulevard opens up to a park and I hear hundreds of toads. And drums in the distance again. I stray from the policeman's directions and wander through this strange toad field that disrupts a four-lane highway. Sculpted bushes populate the shallow swamp, and a full chorus of amphibians fills the air. I don't see a single one, though.
I make my way back to the boulevard and a strip of where people have parked on the side of the road, stretched out a blanket on the tile sidewalk and are having midnight picnics, playing cards and listening to transistor radios. There are no buildings around here, just the highway and open field. A middle-aged man is playing a Gnawa bass along with the radio, two younger men clap in time. Another stretch and I've reached what seems to be the end of town. There's nothing ahead of me, no more people around. The taste of the exotic is soured by admitting defeat (as well as all the car exhaust). It takes a long time to get a cab. I'd started on the same route, but even if I'd made the turn when I was supposed to I don't know that I would have found it. Still at least I'm off the boulevard and speeding down narrow streets. We get there but I'm stuck waiting for the driver to find change – roughly the equivalent of $5 back on a $10.
Cars are only allowed a up to a block away from the square, so I still have a short walk toward what is, when I get there, immediately the greatest thing I've ever seen or heard. It takes me back to the state of exhaustion, confusion and overstimulation of the state fair when I was a child. The “place,” as it's called, is enormous and there's a cacophony of drums everywhere. I see an old man, nearly toothless, playing a small, handmade string instrument. He has a large circle of people standing around him, one of the many stage areas demarcated by a lantern in the middle and maybe a few benches. He immediately sees me, too. He comes over and asks me if I speak French.
He smiles. “My music is the best, the most spectacular,” he says. Some of the young men around me respond with an “Oooooh” that is used often as a sort of encouragement for the performer, like mock daring. “He didn't just say that, did he?”
He pulls me to the front of the crowd. “No, no,” I protest, pulling back, but he forces me, pulling me hard enough that I would have to put up a visible struggle, resulting in unwanted attention either way, then making a gracious gesture designed to leave me no choice. I am the only janqui there. All eyes are on me. I step forward, he smiles, pleased, sits on his blanket and proceeds to play a fast run on is little lute, looking directly at me the whole time. The audience gives an “aaaaah” and I applaud. He then lets out a remarkable wail, a melodic vocal ecstasy. “Aaahs” and applause again. He then gestures to the audience, but mostly to me, to say “wait a moment” and lights a cigarette. He comes and takes me by the hand, again I try to resist and again not enough. I end up sitting in the middle of the circle as he does a series of tricks that involve holding smoke for a very long time and exhaling after drinking tea or while pulling his ear or tapping my nose. His finale is the old trick where he positions my hands, smudging ash on my palm in the process, then smudges his own palm and shows the “magic” transference onto my hand. I don't give him enough of a tip and he returns my money. Fine.
I go for couscous and olives and the owner of the stall doesn't seem to think I'm spending enough. Fine. I'd forgotten what a confrontation everything can be here. A guy sits at my table. He seems to want to talk. He asks me where I'm from and says he has a friend in Michigan. Jennifer. He shown me an American phone number on his cell to prove it. So far he hasn't asked for anything, but I bet he offers to be my guide when I get up. [He didn't, he just gave me the number for his stall and told me to come have the best food tomorrow.]
I move on to another circle. A guy with a four-string banjo is taking coins from the audience. There's a call and response chant and he tosses the coins into the center. It seems like a blessing of some sort. Occasionally he plays a soft oud-like lick on his banjo, and finally kicks it in with others clapping and playing finger cymbals, frame drum and dumbek.
Another group (two string players and three percussionists) are playing 20 feet away. Two young men, probably in their 20s, take a place in the stage area and do a quick-stepping dance while holding hands. Very cute. Slowly more young men fill the inside of the circle. One of the drummer tries to bring some of the women into the middle to dance, but they refuse. The two drum groups almost mesh. Almost. It's an aural hallucination.
While I'm listening a guy starts talking to be about the music they're playing, the Berber tradition. He's asking me questions about what I do, where I'm from, and he wants me to write about the Berbere struggle. He tells me he's a teacher and he doesn't mean to bother me. He wants my Yahoo Messenger name. I tell him I don't use Yahoo and he seems shocked. He shows me his work ID to prove he's a professor and not trying to fool me, then he takes my notebook and writes his name, email, Yahoo ID, and phone number, and under that writes “Please don't forget to talk about the Berber Cause (= Amorzigh Cause) in North Africa)” His English is good but not good enough to tell me more than that the Berbers are forgotten, which I don't quite understand since people seem to talk about them all the time in Marrakech. Plus I want to listen to the music. I wonder if it's possible to interrupt a performance of 4'33”. Can someone in the audience do anything that would be rude or disruptive?
The default sound of Marrakech is the motorbike. The persistent, alto growl is everywhere as the motorized burros speed around in all directions. They are a primary mode of transit, but they're also a defining factor of youth identity (like the American car, the means to get away from watchful eyes) and work as pack mules as well. The small motorcycles can be seen pulling wooden carts packed with good for distribution moving through the winding, narrow roads of the casbah.
The noxious fumes they spit out are also a defining part of the Marrakech sensory experience. While the walk from the casbah through the medina to the Djemaa el Fna is visually stunning – a wash of coral and tan walls and blue and white painted signs with swirling Arabic calligraphy – it's tempered by exhaust fumes and horse dung. But the short walk comes to an end with the sound of the drums, wailing vocals and amplified strings that resonate through the Place 18 hours a day or more. The motorbike din works like a curtain, opening slowly to the sounds of the square.
The trance of Marrakech is not drug induced. Alcohol isn't even served at the Djemaa el Fna souks. It has to do with ecstatic devotion, but it's not unaffected by the hallucinatory effects of the heat, where a liter of water can be gone without notice under the midday sun.
Under a canopy made of five large umbrellas a band of three drums and a double-reed flute plays loud, looping music. A half dozen large vipers sit coiled in front of them, a black cobra the most active of them. Knotted in a nest under a burlap sack are dozens of smaller ones. One of the drummers pours water over the burlap bag every so often. He takes out an egg, makes a hole in it and pours the yolk out on the street. Then puts the shell down and takes a smaller snake out and sets it in front of the egg. The snake puts his head through the hole and out the other side of the shell, and ends up wearing it like a necklace – or a neck brace – after looking for the innards to eat. The drummer selects another small snake to take out to the assembled crowd, kissing it and touching it to peoples' foreheads, for good luck and for a small donation. The hypnotic music entrances me, but it's the motion of the musicians – and everyone else – that the cobra is reacting to. Movement seems to make him crazy. When he gets too excited, hissing and making small, warning strikes at the drummers, one of them places a frame drum over him to calm him down. In the background, another performer saying “Give me money paper! Give me money paper!”
My sandal breaks while I'm leaving the Place. At first I take is as an excuse to go back to the my air-conditioned room at the riad where I think I can fix it with the ring off my keychain, but I decide to persevere and head to a block where I noticed some mechanical repair shops, thinking they might have a ring of some sort. I pass a man at a sewing machine and show him my shoe. He smiles and shrugs – a non-English-speaking non-cobbler.
Then I pass a row of souks making and selling rugs and mats. On the ground amidst all the other refuse I spot a small length of thread loosely looped together like it might have been the end of a spool. I pick it up, there's maybe 36 inches. This should work to tie the two parts of my shoe together. I keep walking and pass a riad with its door open, the air coming out of the unlit hallway noticeably cooler than that on the street. I walk in and ask if I can sit in the front to fix my shoe. Part of me is happy to be the American who didn't just throw it away and buy a new one.
The shoe holds together quite well. I walk through the medina into the casbah. The casbah here is huge, much bigger than in Tangier or Rabat and with many more dead ends, which means more opportunity for people to jump in and be tour guide. “C'est fermé,” they say helpfully, then, “I'll show you.” Sometimes they show you without asking for anything, sometimes not. Many Moroccans are genuinely friendly and helpful, and no doubt proud that they can negotiate the walled labyrinth, even if the demands of self-employment in the tourism industry involve a bit of hustling. (The average American or European tourist spends in a week what the average Moroccan makes in a year, although my presence is probably hemming that ratio in a bit.) So I walk into the casbah and if “lost” isn't quite the word, I'm still heading in a direction that will get me nowhere. A young man, a teen probably, offers to help me out. I keep telling him “Thank you but I do not need a guard. I do not need a guard.” He says “no fee, no money,” but I know that means no charge but a tip is expected and then haggled over. And the truth is, getting lost is part of the game.
He takes me to an exit from the walled city and tells me to go up to the next entrance and go in to get to the palace. I thank him and he asks me for something for his trouble. I take out a few coins. If you take out your wallet, they inevitably look in it and adjust their pitch. He says to me, “No, that is like nothing,” and then from nowhere another young man walks up and says “Please, a donation for my brother for all his work.”
“Thank you, my brother,” says the first one with excessive humility in the face of the injustice being done to him.
Then, from a different direction of nowhere and every bit as suddenly, five policemen on scooters drive up on the sidewalk. They two youth run – fast. Three of the cops go off on their way again, one blocks the other entry through the wall and the other goes in after them, revving his engine like he's trying to scare cats from his driveway. It's too crowded inside, not worth the disruption of a chase. But he gives them a scare, judging from the looks on their faces.
King Mohammed VI, from what little I know, has been an interesting ruler. Along with slowly divesting the throne's power to the Parliament (he is an avowed anti-monarch), he has pushed a zero-tolerance policy on harassing tourists. I wasn't really being harassed, but the kids weren't waiting around to explain.
It was a bit of a relief and even a little comical watching them leap and the scooters circle, but it was also a bit chilling. While traveling I'm reading A Life Full of Holes, an autobiographical novel dictated to Paul Bowles by Larbi Layachi using the name Driss Ben Hamed Charahi. In it, Layachi recounts a childhood (it's unclear whether or not it's his) spent in and out of Moroccan jails for petty crimes and false accusations. Assuming the protagonist is the same age as the author, the story is set in the 1950s. Things are far better here now. But I couldn't help think about it.
I also can't help but think that Moroccans must think there are far more hippies in the US than there actually are, based on the tourist profile I see here.
I'm writing this sitting at a cafe at the edge of Jemaa el Fna, having coffee before I finally answer the call of air-conditioning and go have a nap. On either side of the cafe are little souks selling CDs of popular Arabic and American music. They alternately blast samples for customers out on the square a dumbek player plays full tilt and in another direction a flutist wails hypnotically. Somewhere a cell phone plays a Mozart riff. It's an insane amount of sound, mixed with the sharp horns of motorbikes and the music of a language I don't understand being spoken all around me. Still, there's a sense that it's quiet now in the afternoon heat. Tents are being erected for the night time. It's like a brief inhalation during a centuries-old song. For the most part, the sounds intermingle oddly well, broken only by the piercing volume of the snake charmer's flute. Slowly it calms down while I sit, although “calm” is hardly the word. It settles, maybe I'm settling, sitting for more than a few minutes for the first time in seven hours. And maybe with the settling I am relinquishing the need to frame – or have framed. If only out of sheer exhaustion, I am simply letting the sound in. It still makes no sense – it's utter cacophony, so far beyond the madness of free jazz or free improv, where the players are still occupying the same space and are to some extent aware of each other. This is a musical tradition filled up like paint balloons and thrown at the wall.
How much does the one-legged man love his motorbike?
Flipping stations on the radio in my room. Is it possible I heard John Lennon's “Woman is the Nigger of the World”? I flipped back and it was over. “We make her cover her face and dance”?
Went to the supermarket in New City and bought 2 liters of soda (an apple thing and a lemon thing), a bag of some kind of peanut snack, four small bags of olive mixtures, a bag of raisins and a bag of figs, all for $5 American.
I shall now write about my exercises in commerce.
Bought some finger cymbals for 37, a shirt for my sister, a wallet for my dad, a carved cat for dad's ladyfriend, a hat for myself (still haven't found any vinyl, though), maybe something else, but what I mean to get to is this: I bought three small paintings from a wonderful fellow in the casbah this morning.
I was walking past a short row of souks where men were making small paintings on wood. They're for tourists. Often the same cartoonish pictures are repeated from one painter to the next. But one guy had a painting of two Gnawa musicians playing back to back. They looked to me like they were rocking out. It made me laugh, then double back because it seemed like a good gift for 37, plus no one else seemed to have that particular design. When I got back to his souk, he smiled and greeted me. Probably saw me the first time, but there was something that seemed genuine about him, something I liked. Nour-eddine Boukheir didn't have that mix of servile pushiness that I'm not comfortable interacting with. He asked if I'd like him to explain Arabic calligraphy to me, which was as easy a question as if he'd asked if I'd be drinking 8 liters of water today. Why, yes! I was having trouble following him because of his accent (although his English was quite good) and because it was so hot in the little stall that I was soon dripping sweat. After a short while he instructed me to turn on a small electric fan and offered me a glass of mint tea, then proceeded with the lesson. In short, it's about symmetry. If one side (top/bottom or left/right) of a character takes up 1/3 of a circle imagined around it, the other side should be twice as big, filling the other 2/3. He drew letters for me with his hand-carved bamboo pens, dipping them in ink and then drawing circles around them, then making 12 precise points horizontally and vertically to show that they were balanced. He then transliterated my first name into Arabic “as a gift,” carefully painting decorations around it and signing his name. Having already decided I was going to buy pictures from him eased the conversation for me. I showed him the one that I wanted and he told me the price. I then picked out two more and he wrapped them up for me and offered to write the names of the people I was giving them to. Instead I had him write the names of my niece and nephew. Seeing more words written raised more questions for me about how it's constructed, which he seemed to appreciate. We were having a very nice time, laughing and telling each other about ourselves. Then I asked him for the total and panicked when the number was right but I thought he said “Euros,” which would have made the price well more than ten times as much.
Inside the souk was Boukheir's “real” art, some of which was quite nice. And we'd been having a friendly time. I didn't want to insult him but I also didn't want to pay what he might have just asked for. I gave him 25% over the dhirham amount (which is what I was going to do anyway) and asked if it was OK. He said “thank you, it is not expensive,” which I didn't know what meant. I asked again if it was OK and he said it was so I thanked him and left. Later realized that the price in Euros would have been preposterously out of scale, and that “Euro” and “dirham” sound similar in the Marrakech accent. Fiendishly so, perhaps.
Back at the Place, one musician is playing an 8-string instrument with a flat body. It looks like a mandocello, but maybe it's something more native. In any event, it's another instrument in the role of the oud. It's sound is distorted to unbelievable levels through an amplifier made from a portable speaker and probably a radio or boombox hidden under a blanket (the usual setup for amplification). He plays in short bursts, frantic lines with long, open spaces between before a frame drum starts setting a driving rhythm. It's not so different from the Velvet Underground. Another drummer makes the rounds, holding a hand drum out for donations. It really is only the white people they ask. Moroccans will give money, but they don't get asked. Maybe that makes sense. Janquis with cameras are especially targeted, which also makes sense. All the white women have painted hands.
There is probably no city in the world with as many tenor banjos per square foot as Marrakech. The banjos are strung with heavy very heavy strings and played with a plecturm. I don't think they're modified in any other way, but it's a different instrument. Maybe in keeping with the mores of the incestuous string family it should be called “banjoud.”
In another circle a banjoud player is playing with seven percussionists (hand cymbals, floor tom, frame drums and someone playing a row of three dumbeks with sticks). This is seemingly more organized than many of the groups are, with a lot of vocal interplay, although surely many of them all know the same songs. One of the drummers is trying to get Arabic women in the crowd to dance but none will.
Each “stage” has a lantern in the middle. At the center of the square are the food stands, which string lanterns overhead, so the who square is mostly dark with lit areas surrounded by onlookers and a blinding glow in the center obscured by smoke pouring off the grills.
After I leave the square I stop by a nightclub on the way to the hotel. They play the entire Lady Gaga CD while I sip an ice cold Casablanca lager.
After the wonderful madness of Jemaa el Fna and the claustrophobic din of the casbah, I decide to go in search of silence in Marrakech. I walk to the Jardins de Menara and climb to the top of the small palais there. The Menara is a large open space, something I'd pictured as a sort of bucolic retreat. But the air here is deathlike, a dry stillness that can't drown out the sound of the highway in the distance. The only living sound here, besides the occasional brave bird, is the constant hum of insects.
Outside the garden, the traffic hum is rarely broken by the intrusion of car horns. When drivers do use their horns, it seems most often to be as a warning that they're ignoring traffic rules (as if to say, for example, “watch out, I'm speeding around this bus straddling two lanes and I can't see in front of me!”) rather than as a curse for the infringement of some perceived right to unfettered movement.
On the way here, I heard Michael Jackson's “Thriller” and the Bee Gees' “Too Much Heaven” on passing radios. I also got an email referencing David Bowie's “Jean Genie” and saw someone wearing a t-shirt that said “Lust for Life.” These songs now fight for space in my head and will continue to do so until I get back to the Place and have them blasted out by Berber banjo.
Still searching for what Moroccan silence sounds like, I walk to the hotel Le Mamoun, knowing nothing about it other than having been told by a Portuguese friend that it's the last bit of “old Marrakech” and that I should see it. (On the way I realize that the police officer the first night had said “four red flags,” not “four red lights.”)
I'm met by two security guards and a metal detector before I even make it into the building. They're very nice, though, and as they explain to me that they won't be opening the tables until later because of Ramadan. I begin to understand that this is also a casino. I make my way in. Rodrigo was right – it is something to behold: the splendor of Moroccan décor, the old Arabesque Deco, but here (unlike so much of the city) it's beautifully maintained. And although the tables won't open until the sun is safely set, the slots are open. I walk through, making a lap around the floor and listening to a mix of Euro synth pop of indeterminate origin and, occasionally, what sounds like traditional oud songs transcribed for a nonhuman ensemble of electric keyboards and programmed rhythms. The casino is mostly empty, but there are the occasional dings and dongs of the slot machines, although one seems to specialize in sounds of whimpering dogs and horses giving raspberries. Still not the silence I was looking for. If I'm still out in six hours maybe I'll come back to hear the gaming room in its splendor, although a sign reading “jacket and tie required” makes me think nighttime security might not be so accommodating.
I exit and head over to the hotel building. A cotillion of six men in white robes with deep red vests and fezzes is on hand to open the door for me. None of them says a word as I walk in. The hotel lobby is even more opulent, decadent, than the casino. Workers inside nod to me but also don't speak. At first it is seeming like a quiet place. With the exception of occasional voices in other parts of the multi-room lobby, the only sounds in here are the sounds of water running through two small fountains (actually just old-style spigots looking rather posh emptying into reservoirs in the wall) and the closest thing I've heard yet to Muzak. It is Muzak, in fact, if not the actual company. At the supermarché I heard soft-edged Moroccan songs, designed (or at least selected) to ease the shopping experience and far different from the passionate pounding at Jemaa el Fna. But it was still organic music. Here at Marrakech's priciest hotel I hear pure new age synthesized Arabic music. Nonobtrusive, inoffensive, it isn't meant to be listed to, which is what I'm doing. Unsurprisingly it mixes well with the sound of the water cascading reverberating through the tile and marble rooms.
Water's another constant hum, but one with enormously positive associations. It's the sound of refreshment, of growth, of life. It's safe, reassuring, especially in the treble range that connotes “not deep enough to drown in.” Traffic sounds are anxious. Insect sounds suggest death, or at least discomfort. Water, traffic and bugs aren't so different from one another on an acoustic basis. They are more like each other than they are like thunderstorms, rollercoasters or horses galloping. But water's the one that reassures us we're going to be OK. A set of stained glass doors leads to a sort of cloister with a with a large fountain in the center – and the same sort of Muzak. Surely there was a time when this place was allowed to exit, and to invite visitors, without the piped-in soundtrack.
As I walk out, the afternoon call to prayer echoes through the medina, emanating from the towering mosque that dominates the area skyline. I head to the entry and begin to remove my sandals when I am politely told that I am welcome to enter if I want to make Moslem prayer, but that normally tourists are not allowed in. I politely say that I understand and leave. There was a time when, for many people, at least in America, the house of worship might be the only place where they heard music, at least as performed by a trained player of on something as massive as a pipe organ. Perhaps in another place in another time, the house of prayer is the only place to hear nothing.
At Djemaa el Fna again, for the last time before I leave. Super-crowded on a Thursday night; weekends must be madness. It's also the last night before Ramadan. (Some establishments – at least those that deal in such wages of sin as alcohol and gambling – seem to acknowledge it early, maybe to get on Allah's good side after a year of drunken casino nights.)
Last night I took a cab to get here. The driver told me he would take me to the best restaurant in the medina and wait for me and then take me to the Place. I said no thanks, but he insisted in the Moroccan politely inflexible way. I thought “OK, I'll learn a new restaurant anyway,” but told him I wasn't hungry then. He didn't seem to understand – he just kept repeating all he was going to do for me. (I suspect he did understand, even though it's hard to see what his end game would have been). He dropped me off, saying he'd come and pick me up in an hour, so I went upstairs to have a look. A majestic dining room, of course, and a violin-led trio playing the traditional el mahoune “classical” music, much more refined than the raucous music on the street. I took a business card and made exit in case he was waiting for me. Once you get a Moroccan guide (or they get you) they have a way of watching and waiting for you to exit so they can continue to escort you; again, a useful and affordable service, but it's not easy to turn it down. The guides come back in to greet meet you so that the owner can see who brought them, and then they collect a commission for bringing in the business.
Yesterday afternoon I found myself in one of the many dead ends in the casbah. A man was quick to want to help, offering his friend (who spoke better English) as a guide. I wanted to explain to him that I wasn't lost, I'm just superstitious about backtracking. But probably it's best not to get into superstitions.
I haven't seen a black cat here at all. And there's at best about a tenth as many cats here as in Tangier. In Tangier they're everywhere. You can turn a corner and see 40 gathered together eating. People love them and feed them there, there's just not the notion of having them live in your home. It's like if everyone in New York thought rats were adorable.
New York, it seems so long since I've seen you.
The casbah is like if the West Village was made of clay and you didn't speak fag.
Part of the madness of the Place is that you can never quite find the drums. The musicians all play in ecstatic waves, the center-lit circles may have a magician or a balancing act, but the sound of the drums moves like a snake through the square. The strings can only be heard as you approach a group, and sometimes not even then. But chasing the drums is an excellent sport.
A violin looks spray-painted, another instrument fantastically distorted through a homemade speaker, while a man in boots dances on a large pan like a steel drum.
Never underestimate the Moroccan gift for complicating travel. Last time I was here I took a train from Casablanca to Tangier and my fellow passengers were amazed that the train was only four hours late.
My flight from Marrakech to Casablanca (the first of four flights to get back to Lisbon) today was about 40 minutes late, When I got to the Casa airport, I went to a desk to get a boarding pass (they couln't check me all the way through in Marrakech). The agent told me that the plane from Casa to Madrid would be too late for me to get the connection to Lisbon. The computers were down as well, but he went to a supervisor's office where they were working and came back and told me I could go ahead and go to Madrid or they'd put me up in a hotel in Casa and put me on a direct flight the next morning. I said I'd stay the night (even though Casablanca is quite unappealing) and the agent went back to the supervisor's office to book it for me, then came back and said that actually I was booked on an Iberia flight operated by Royal Air Moroc, not a RAM flight, which somehow meant I could go ahead with my original plan. I'd spent about half an hour with him trying to help me so I had to rush to get to my orginally planned second flight, which of course I'm waiting for now, 30 minutes late and it will be at least another 30. In the meantime, the display monitor has started to say a different gate, but no one seems to know for sure.
There doesn't seem to be many people here, maybe because it's the first day of Ramadan. We found one guy who wouldn't help us because he was only there to help VIPs, which seems like a pretty risky thing to say to a bunch of angry Spaniards. (The Moroccans, for the most part, are keeping quiet.)
Meanwhile, since it's Ramadan, there are people in traditional garb kneeling and facing east all over the place, which I'm not proud to say is an alarming sight in an airport for a New Yorker – something like a TV movie that I'd turn off.
The plane is now two hours late and isn't anticipated for another 4½. By way of apology, Royal Air Maroc is giving me a free sandwich. I had hoped I would have enough time on my layover in Madrid to go downtown – the airport is very close to the city. The Casablanca airport is far from town, even if I wanted to go. But now I won't do either.
The airport is also out of milk. I am having sugar with my espresso. I'd usually take it without, but I've developed a taste for sweetened caffeine while I've been here.
The airport has reduced me to having nothing to write about. I am avoiding reading my book because I'm too close to the end and I fear finishing before I get back to Lisbon. I'd rather choose not to read now than have nothing to read later. I wonder if I'll bother to type this part up.
Discovered that the bookstore here has a small section of books in English! A fair number of vampire stories, a lot of stuff I didn't know, a few things I didn't care to know. (And one Paul Auster I hadn't read, but in French.) Selected two paperbacks by authors I didn't know but they looked interesting enough – an Egyptian novel about gender selection and a Japanese book about a man with no short term memory. Took them to the register: €18 each! So I put them back and went to the music store where I picked up a Berber CD, a Malhoune CD and something else the woman working there recommended, all for €14 total.
I am writing this very step-by-step, blow-by-blow, just like the Driss Ben Hamed Charahi book I'm (not) reading. One phrase he uses a lot that I like: for something that is the same day after day, he says “today and tomorrow, today and tomorrow.”
I see a sign that says “hotel / cyber-center.” I don't know if the cyber-center is for hotel guests only. The hotel has its own elevator and is on a separate floor, but the woman at the desk doesn't ask me for a room number and did take my money so I guess it's OK. Better than OK. Quiet and air-conditioned. The rest of the airport is hot with human frustration. Then went for me $5 worth of free food. Moroccan pizza is nice, like what's sometimes called “pita pizza” in the States, I guess. The vegetarienne comes with black olives that still have the pits, plus a side of yogurt and a pre-made salad with a scoop of tuna stinking the joint up. Morocco is one of those places that thinks you're not really vegetarian, you're just saying that. I notice a cat walking around the food court, so I scoop the tuna out of my salad, use the lid as a dish and give it to him.
This airport has gone insane. Another gate has declared mutiny, passengers chanting in Arabic something similar to the “Hell no, we won't go” cadence (although surely their demands are the opposite). Children have climbed up on the agent's counter and are screaming and singing little melodies into the microphone, which is then being broadcast throughout the terminal. Being children, untrained in intercom use, their songs and messages cut in and out as they jockey for turns. Around them is a ring of other passengers taking photos and videos. This goes on uninterrupted for 90 minutes or so. No airline personnel were around. I don't know if they were frightened or just uninterested. I wonder if any of the video will show up on YouTube.
I've spent the last couple hours hanging with a guy who was born in Morocco but lives in Italy. It was he who clued me in to the meal voucher. I saw him eat so I knew he wasn't observing Ramadan. I said to him, “May I ask you a question? I do not mean any disrepect, but do people get crazy and angry because they are fasting?” He looked very serious and thought for a few minutes and then said, “Yes.”
A man blocks a security cart, refusing to let it pass until his questions are answered. Two more agents come over, for a total of four, and surround him. They pull him aside to talk, then move his suitcase, get back in the cart and try to escape. He gets in their way again, but immediately after resigns his post, letting the cart pass. There have been other scrimmages and shouting matches in the last few hours as well.
It's dark, but I don't think the fast can be broken until 21:30. Maybe I'm wrong about that. It is quieter now. People are also no longer concerned about reserving their smoking for the smoking area (which isn't even enclosed). A frustrating full day in an airport where smoking is allowed. I’m having trouble recalling why I quit. I take out my bag of figs and go to sit by the wall.
Another man loses his shit, starts screaming and throwing the stanchions that support the line dividers. He gets applause, which soon turns to people clapping in rhythm, which then turns to four or five men and one woman all pounding the floor with the metal stands. An announcement is made (in French) over the intercom, they stop to listen then start again. Repeatedly starting and stopping. An airline employee walks past, glances and keeps going. Ten men run after him, them more follow, including a couple of women. The airline employee laughs and shrugs like there's nothing he can do.
Some black men in Arabic garb begin passing out oranges. I guess the fast ends at 21:00. A group continues speaking with the airline employee off to the side. There is no effort to quiet the others or to pick up the posts they've thrown around. Two more employees have joined the first one. Given the choice, I guess they'd rather help the crowd that's talking than the crowd that's throwing heavy things.
The post-throwing begins again. Two employees lock themselves behind a gate door.
The crowd heads en masse down the terminal. I try to ask the Moroc Italiam what's going on but he forgets to reply to me in English and sits down on the floor. I don't know a word anyone has said, but I decide to go with the crowd. I am starting to get nervous about taking notes, given the Moroccan attitudes on journalists. The crowd – 100 people or so – surround another cart, a female guard driving, a woman and child in the back. After a minute of screaming, the guard throws her hands up, exits the care and walks away. The woman grabs her terrified child and exits the cart in the other direction. Soon there will be real property damage but nobody has tried to hurt anyone yet – not even close. A few start to turn the abandoned care over but others stop them. The mob has rules. Instead they return to the post pounding in the greatest cacophony they've made yet.
A man pulls a seat cushion off the care and stomps on it, breaking an arm rest. A girl, 12 years old at most, films the whole thing.
A new legion of official has been brought out: woman in red blazer.
I still don't know anything anyone is saying, of course, but I imagine it's fairly predictable. “An outrage!” “Nothing I can do.”
I saw a French woman I spoke with earlier this afternoon pounding a stanchion on the floor. I'm trying to find her to translate for me. I think she spoke Arabic as well.
An actual gendarme walks through now. I ask someone to verify. He is police (although he's dressed like how I picture the dress uniforms for the French Foreign Legion).
He is police and he was telling people not to take photos, so I put my notebook away. We've just gotten on the plane. There's a weird sense of camaraderie among us – or some of us, anyway. Smiles and nods and sarcastic bon soirs are exchanged. I tap on the newspaper being read by one of the most vociferous post pounders and when he looks up I give him a thumbs up. If we had a common language – guess I'm assuming we don't, but if we had opportunity to speak, I don't know what I'd say really, but I did want him to know that I support someone not putting up with something they don't want to put up with, anyway.
On both flights today women in hijab clothing have taken my window seat.
So, why I don't want Moroccan police to think I'm a journalist:
Three years ago in Tangier I happened upon a concert on a crowded beach. It was clearly a big event, a mix of traditional (or as the woman at the airport CD store said today, “typical.” I asked her for traditional Berber music and she said “oh, you want typical” which might not reflect my musical tastes in general but in this case it was spot on) songs with synth pop. The singer was playing his violin balanced vertically on his knee the way the Moroccans do, but there was also a horrible keyboard and programmed percussion. It wasn't great but still I wanted to know who I was seeing because, hell, here I was on the beach in Tangier seeing it. So I tried asking a few people and, getting nowhere, decided to go and ask a group of police officers standing to the side. Surely they'd help. None of them spoke English. They called some other officers over as if they spoke English, but they didn't either. I was saying “nom de musician' and pantomiming violin and pointing and doing everything I could think of and they kept telling me the name of the telephone company, which I could see from the signs everywhere was the sponsor. They must know what I'm asking, I thought. How could they not? They just think I'm asking something other than the obvious. So finally I say, “I am very curious. Je suis un journaliste.”
With that they backed away and refused to look at me again. I later told this to an American I met who worked for the embassy in Rabat and he laughed. Saying you're a journalist won't get you anywhere with the police, he told me. No good can come from talking to a journalist.
So today, when the police officer told the crowd not to take photos at something much more volatile than a pop concert, I decided not to look like an American journalist.
The pilot is speaking. I can't understand him but I can only assume he's saying “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, boys and motherfucking girls. This is your captain with no name speaking and I'm here to rock your world.”
Watching the three attendants in the aisle giving the safety instructions is a lot like watching the Supremes. Soon I'll be in Madrid and will start figuring out how it is I'm to get back to Lisbon. But that's a different notebook.
Of sound and image in his art, in this 28, 2010 2010 Whitney Museum of American Aformances, 2010, 2010 er 3, 2010 Marclay’s approach to the 2010 more ... EY 2011 010 3, 2011 collection while new vocal world a-Porter in which l score turntables has become musical notations is worn by of the cards as you wish, ages. His early work includes a se; and Magna Scroll (2010) of fragments and Christian om Japanese cartoons, which will CM be played, replete with abrupt to be played by musicians, culture, reuse and sampling.
As in 1955, and raised in born in Cal footage York and London. At the Whit between been. He has participated in nu and 2002 B, 1996-2002: a looped the world including museums (Single Gallery, New York. Edition: 2. voice: an installation of objects institutions, as well as from by the Relâche Ensemble at fifteen years, Marclay has screen projection mimics the record covers, boxes, more ... the upper half and the Bachelor. All of these musical notations and Steven Johnson and 2010 the was inspired by two of Phil Collecting Duchamp’s The Bride Strip Heat Waves in two objects never had audio by: Off the Wall: often humorous affinities bet Off the: both cracked and both situated Jill Magdid: A Paul Thek: D Modern Life: and the glass was originally Charles video projection: three or transforms sound and music in included performance, and video. At the Whitney, a doze in length designed.
der Künste in Berlin to About the V Festival für Hören und Sehen. Five Founded in 19th the traditional staff lines, and works and ma al. Many people left Calder, as we used them as background for the O’Keefe These altered posters were 50 images, as not to on his “graphic scores.” App for the influential American artists and the Biennial has become the most Christian Marclay, Graffiti Composition, 199 lay. First housed on West 8th Street, the by Muse X Editions, Los Angeles, published its present home at 945 the artist and Paul Cooper Gallery, New Yo, Bill Frisell (guitar), Cyro BatpiYork at the entrance to the High Line in port is provided by the National Co May 3, 2010 — Artist/composer to evoke of images playing of glass, ceramic, and me harp: by “a it only suggests to be custom while leaving ample, who is from was made possible with support decade I have been photographing Anthony symbols are often used as x 4.75.” In a box each card: 6.635’.
Distinctive no of the progressive and summer at the have a long history of the show, a composer, cornetist and improvisation in which of gestures; Zeena Parkins, a daily, between July 009, Edition of 100 in slipcase. Wednesdays through Sundays, Friday nights. Performances of decorative musical range from solos to large eight color folios. His often visually stun July 1 - Septeries entitled Recycled Records 19 led vinyl record that became in tone and sound. More recent 945 Mad New York he Whitney, involves a large whitney.
The awning of a record store, but also they can be found in notations were created not by and decorators, so they often con. They do not need to be most famous icons, The Bare by Her Bachelors, Even photograph to do with one another, until Ma household, a this unlikely pair, and not (1996-2002) as an installation with several pasted up written scores base a score.
The Whitney bells Wednesday, release Monday and $12. Visitors Video Gallery Museum of American Art y Gross please call musical son Avenue at 75th Street, NY 10021 or as org/press.
“This dec-Shuffle the Create a Play Invent yo Sounds instrument Duchamp Marina Ro and other dub plates lay: Festival, 5 central to the can domain,” Coleman juxtapose motion, 26, 2010.
As found and video by essence of music, not specific no ephemera, the scores of experimental mu as charts to play music. I hope Marclay co-special even: Festival, 3 even melodies in in the main as wind and other c-four of exhibiting the most promising and he course public debate. The Whitney’s signature state of contemporary art in America as projections, will be 954 to West 54th Street and in 1966 Marcel Breuer. The Whitney is currently will be encouraged to make, Renzo Piano, located in downtown New District, board with musical staff lines, be seen and heard throughout then.
2009 by Michèle Didier, Brussels, clay was commissioned by the summer festival Sonambiente: printed as blank sheet music to amass an eclectic: Festival, 2 during the month long advertisements, magazine illus cribbled graffiti, tore them up, heap throwaways. These fragmennetalists often left musical notations, and reproduced as a suite of score consists of a is planning multiple scheduled p 26, during regular museum hours, events on pay-what-you-wish gallery of the exhibitions and will.
Vocalisted relularly, when the artist over of the past terpret the scores exhibited, museum au work brought to life. The A by David and special collections with L Fraffiti Co Tomer, be on view from July 1 through Portfolio o September floor Emily Fisher Landeau Paula Coop hundreds of clips from Christian more ... fifty renowned instrumerican in with and new two which has directs and musicians multi.
At 75th Street, New York City. Muse a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 1 p.m. to 9 time students and visitors ages 19-25 formed on a regular basis. Admission to the Kaufman Astoria-ish on Fridays, 6-9 p.m. For general impositions on a wall-sized chalk musical score which will Liverty, Jill are free to select any the Large inspiration to write their own mu, found the fact, the Glass, 2003, video projection loos, co-first endeavor to guide electronics. David Moss (voice), o.blatt/Keiks the subject of a major exhibition. Activated by daily musical per around him with a will also include objects that advocate of 20th- and 21st-century collection of American art and in lay Festival 7, the largest public collection of works Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, Bruce sounds or playing Kiki Smith and Andy Warhol among portfolio images to be presented at thing for dots and Zeena Parkins, Marina was more ... Lee, Bill Frisell, Lee Ranaldo, Cyro Baptista, John Zorn and ma — and now New York.
Pitch, volume and duration no instrumentation is Bow (2009), which involves the able. Screen Play initiates Museum of American Art is the leading on and improvisation. Screen Play the artist 20, the Museum is regarded as the pree Moving Image Commission. From the estate of Edward Hopper as significant works by Japer Johns, I 07 himself has noted, “for the last Oldenburg and Coosie van Bruggen, images on unbound cards I find in everyday life. Musical selected black-and-white order. Music hated graphics reminiscent of the use them as Keds the Bell and (Two Generous sup This is Marc Art the Steven on Bells and a um of Art was a collected by rican art. “Bride’s y Alexander As Marclay Current and video, Georgia age, such er artists.
In 1996 Mar Museum, Lo, clips from Hollywood movies work for the Art; and the are freely prompted by the posters were Marcel Duchamp’s voice, all over the the posters. Credits flyers and v and the final Sponsored with color, silent.) Interpreted b view and per marks and time creating a co the 1991 show at is a projected musical score of brightly colored computer Christian (percussion), and Lee Ranaldo constitute a score that can by orgastruments. Christian a framework in which live exploration into sound and art coup musicians visual cues suggest Marclay LaBarbara.
Marclay’s models s a pioneer of turntablism, Marc a brand forms; in the past, his work has receive its large-scale installations, including the updated posted on whitney and interpreted by any scores. Marclay now splits his ney. Marclay was first featured in 13 x 8 7/16” (33 x 21.5cm). Pub group and solo exhibition led with a pioneering use of Modern, London; UCLA (voice), Mary Halvorson (guitar). Their sic; they are images Christian Marc Musiceum of American Art: prints now group of in music Marclay. About the innovator: With his conducts comp Museum is located at 945 Madison Averon. Wall of a turntablist, sound artist, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 Tuesday. General Admission: $18. Full-everyday non-musical; and Elliott Sharp. Experimenta 18 & under and Whitney members: only: $6. Admission is pay-what-you-ected places. composers avant garde music scene in Ne 212) 570-3600 or visit whitney.org. Witty flair are musical errors, piano, Okkyung Lee, cello/electr # energy sound w small interpretati Eyebeam’s Shuffle. 20 musicians a Who’s of the past thirty years and most he performers include Butch to of “conduction,” a type of an improvising ensemble with a scores a of modern thousand y-posted Christian arks on own, creating a striking visual, and text by Christian Marclay I and o Uenshi as extensively photographed the as well as awnings, chocolate tins, T-shi I take place ring music hidden in the urban, waiting to be discovered and play.
Projection pioneer of the electric and creator of her own found guitarist, composer, and wrappers, York. Other performers include bound onics, John Zorn (saxophone) 6-2002. Portfolio of 150 digital prints. Printed of cards can be used as a musica by Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, courtesy deck and draw your cards. Christian Marclay using as many or as few or with others own rules. Marclay (b. 1955) be generated or simply imagine Angeles, Moderna Museet, Stoportant Whitney are symbols; they stand for thening audio Kunsthaus, Zurich, as well as man Avenue ionailty also reminds me of the 80-86, facility, cousins. One can also use themorid objects the l unexpected sounds, rhythms, andy, video by-screen.
Celebrated and physical contacts: Stephen Soba, Mol ay: Festival, 4 ay Festival, 6 collages, Tel. (212) 570-3633 Fax (212) 570-4169 (guitar), that by Marclay email@example.com
Traditional rum hours are ulled from the Philadelphia Muse p.m., closed and 62 & over the artist’s own collection. This Christ Studios Film & Featuring of the Large Glass, with the Joan LaBard Domain in the lower half. The Large Glass with found film foot old Hollywood films, with actors trade Marclay club, or life. On the work contexts for but rather music notation, “I nots just lack basic res include: a, flyers, book covers, and packaged scores from sources as diverse Berlin in which blank sheet musiographs, works on paper, collage, up, graffiti-tagged, or torn-ill be interpreted in innovative projected.”
Through May 30, 2 Screen Bell and M; Through November San Francisco Museum Glass; June-24-October 17; July 1-September 2; any others surprising: July 1-September 19; September 30-Octob; July 1-September 12; Oct. 21, 2010-Jan. 9; The Bell a Opens October 27, 2 Nov. 18, 2010-Feb. 1.
Discussing the cracks in his Biennial and Peter K by the artist in Philadelphia. Mu Lighting and come together in unison to accor: Festival ribed into notes following the Ben- Part 1 -- Thirty Performative Actions Part 2--Seven Works by Trisha Brown more ... 2005 Mee-iver video projection, black & Edward Hopper and His Time of clothing and accessories.
workworkworkworkwork interpret the notes on the score based on onomatopoeias for the pas score at the Whitney. Objects, records and published by Aperture Foundate projections visual musicians of then and use them in perform which con pearance of musician notation in with its his to underwear, and in other critical and that could be photographic note-taker with a survey of the ndscape. All around us, it seems, relocated in Quartet designed by lor and black & white, with wound designed by Meatpacking through the use of video.
The some of whom have collaborated decades, are scheduled to he Whitney diences to experience Marclay’s eld, Elliott Sharp, Mary Halvorson, curator of performing arts, others. The exhibit 6, 2010 in the Whitney’s lines trad develop.
Once they free themselves from the nucleus,
we start calling them “unstable,”
as if their transience,
was something for which they should be criticized.
But maybe they’re stable like fireworks,
like air blown through a saxophone.
Ask any of them,
they’re not likely to call themselves “unstable.”
we namers of phenomena,
we labelers of the world,
we mock minutiae.
We point at quarks and call them strange.
We hide our quirks and search for blame.
We listen as transience passes through us,
in one ear and out the other:
the gentle assuredness of undefinable quantities.
They pass through the air,
Does that make them unstable,
or is it we,
surrounded by soundwaves,
I bet the rich people will hog all the rockets.
When the ocean catches fire and the clouds all turn to ice
and the wind blows brownish gray and grass is declared an endangered species,
turn around. Guess what?
Door’s locked from the outside.
When there’s no more water, only blood and urine,
and yesterday’s water bottles are all that’s left to fix the roof,
and when today’s newspaper is printed on old cardboard,
and when the internet is patrolled for threats to national security,
turn around. Who’s gonna fill your cup?
Turn around. Who’s gonna bandage your foot?
Turn around to see the back of someone else’s head
looking at the back of someone else’s head,
all turned around and looking.
The saints marched in a long time ago,
and the rich people took all the rockets.
When she finds she can know if all the shops closed with a word she can get what I came to
Www, www, www, www, www
And she bought the stairway to heaven
A sign on the wall but she wants to be sure as you know sometimes words two meanings
In the tree at the brook laurel is a songbird all our thoughts are sometimes misgiven.
Www, it makes me wonder
The feeling when I look back and my spirit is crying to quit.
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees and the voices who stands search.
Www, it makes me wonder.
Www do, really surprised me.
And he said early if we really want to hit all then the piper will lead us to reason.
A new day will dawn those who stand long and the forests echo with laughter.
Oh, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, www, Whoa, from
If it is used in your hedgerow do not be alarmed now it but spring clean for the Queen of May.
Yes, there are two ways you can go back but in the long term there is enough time to change the way you are.
And it surprises me.
Aw, uh, from is one, and it will not go in case you do not know the Piper is calling you to join.
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow? Did you know showing your stairs whispering on the wind?
And as the wind on down the road our shadows higher than our soul walking is a woman we all know who calls a white light and wants to show how to turn everything to gold yet and if you listen very hard the truth will eventually come to you when everyone and the same in all to avoid the rock, and introducing.
And she bought stairs to heaven.
Translated from English to Welch to Irish and back to English using Google’s translation engine.
It stirs curiosity in me.
There’s a notice affixed to the facade yet she desires certainty because you know sometimes words have two meanings. In the growth near the march is a perching bird with the muscles of the syrinx attached to the bronchial semirings, it is perhaps the case that the bird relays a message suggesting that the whole of our ideas and opinions may contain doubt, apprehension or foreboding.
Oh, it rouses in me unanswered questions.
Whenever it happens that I turn my attention Westerly, I have an awareness of my soul calling out for departure. I’ve had visions of circular bands of carbon suspended in the air beyond the flora and of the utterances of onlookers.
It really makes me think twice.
It’s said softly, without using the vocal cords, that provided we all take the initiative in deciding how something should be done, in short time an itinerant musician will direct us toward sensibility. The onset of a new rotation of the earth on its axis will occur only for people who maintain an upright position supported by their feet for a considerable time, while at the same time the woodlands will be filled by the reverberating sound waves resulting from the spontaneous movements of faces and bodies that are indicative of lively amusement which then reflect from surfaces back to those who are listening.
Oh; the fifteenth letter of the alphabet; a human blood type in the ABO system lacking both the A and B antigens and so known as a potential universal donor; zero in a sequence of numerals, especially when spoken, something bearing the shape of a circle; an exclamation used to express a range of emotions including surprise, anger, disappointment or joy; the postal abbreviation for the state of Ohio.
If you have a row of wild shrubs and trees bordering a road or field which is full of activity, refrain from undue anxiety: it’s nothing more than a thorough, seasonal cleansing for a young woman chosen to be crowned in a traditional celebration of a festival marking the span between March and May in the northern hemisphere, or between September and November in the southern hemisphere, or else a holiday honoring laborers.
And indeed, there are a pair of trails laid down for walking or made by continual treading but ultimately it’s still possible to alter the course of action one is currently traversing.
I ask, “What’s going on?”
Your cranium is making a low, steady, continuous sound, like that of a bee, on the chance that you’re unaware. The bagpipe player is summoning you to unite with him. Beloved woman, are you able to perceive the sound of a perceptible current of air? And are you aware that the series of raised, flat surfaces you seek lies on that softly rustling gust?
And as you and I take a twisting course, with the dark areas produced by our bodies blocking the sunlight appearing to be of greater height than the spiritual or immaterial parts of us, a woman whose acquaintance we’ve previously made moves past at a regular and fairly slow pace by lifting and setting down each foot in turn, glowing in the reflection of most wavelengths of visible light, yearning to reveal how all things continue to become the chemical element of atomic number 79. And in the instance that you devote complete attention to the sounds around you, you will at length become aware of a certitude in which all things are united and that unity represents all things: to be a solid, stationary mineral.
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.
Kaffe Matthews was born in Essex, England and lives and works in London.
Since 1990 she has been making and performing new electro-acoustic music with a variety of things and places such as violin, theremin, Scottish weather, desert stretched wires, NASA scientists, melting ice in Quebec and the BBC Scottish symphony orchestra. Currently she's exploring underwater vibrations through Hammerhead sharks in Galapagos and Atlantic salmon in Northumberland rivers. Acknowledged as a pioneer in the field of electronic improvisation and live composition, Kaffe has released 6 solo CD’s on the label Annette Works.
Recent works include: The Marvelo Project(2008), Folkestone Sculpture Triennial; Sonic Bed_Marfa(2008), Texas; Sonic Bench_Mexico (2007), Laboratorio Arte Alameda Mexico City, 2007; Body Abiding, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Glasgow ; Sonic Bed_Shanghai, Xuhui Art Museum, Shanghai, China, 2006; This is for you, work for chaise longue, Arnolfini, Bristol, 2005; Three Crosses of Queensbridge, work for bicycles + radios, Drawing Room, London, 2005; No-one here but us chickens, The Starr auditorium, TATE Modern, London, UK, 2005.
Her 2004 collaboration Weightless Animals was awarded a BAFTA, she received a NESTA Dreamtime Fellowship in 2005 and an Award of Distinction, Prix Ars Electronica 2006 for the work Sonic Bed_London. In February 2006 she was made an Honorary Professor of Music, Shanghai Music Conservatory, China.
Do you consider your audio work to be "music"?
Do you think about such things?
Never as an argument, as there isn't one.
Has anyone ever challenged you on whether or not your work was music?
More recently, reviewers have referred to it as sound. This could be because they might be being asked to lie down and feel it rather than sit on a chair watching someone (..me) and listen to it. I think they need to focus on the perceptive end of the listening experience a little more.
How would you defend your work as being "music" if you had to?
Its play and construction is purposeful and demands listening. Therefore it is music.
Or would you?
What are your favorite sorts of music?
Music that makes me listen.
I don't think there is nonmusic. Apart from some forms of classical music of course.
Alessandro Bosetti was born in Milan, Italy in 1973. He is a composer and sound artist working on the musicality of spoken words and unusual aspects of spoken communication, producing text-sound compositions featured in live performances, radio broadcastings and published recordings. In his work he moves across the line between sound anthropology and composition, often including translation and misunderstanding in the creative process. Field research and interviews build the basis for abstract compositions, along with electro-acoustic and acoustic collages, relational strategies, trained and untrained instrumental practices, vocal explorations and digital manipulations. Recent projects include African Feedback (Errant Bodies press), the interactive speaking machine "MaskMirror" (STEIM, Kunstradio.at a.o. ) and an ongoing project on linguistic enclaves in the USA.
Do you consider your audio work to be "music"? Always? Sometimes? Do you think about such things?
Surely, yes. The only real decisions I take in my work are musical decisions.
Has anyone ever challenged you on whether or not your work was music? What happened?
What's up with everybody asking this question right now? It is somehow up in the air again. Together with "should I move to Berlin?" and "should I go back to school?" I know, I know, it must be because of the bad economy.... that must be the reason... In any case yes, it happened, I had been challenged by someone but then I forgot what happened. I was also musically challenged as a kid. My Argentinean grand-aunt was a piano teacher. She wore an impressive layer of white make up on her face. She resembled something in between a Japanese geisha and a cheesecake frosting. She gave me two piano lessons. In the first one I just sat there copying treble keys on a piece of pentagram paper for one hour trying to get it right. In the second I had to do the same. After then I stopped - of course - and decided that my nature was that of a surely unmusical being. Now I am 36 and I know that this is not really the case. I am very happy of that.
How would you defend your work as being "music" if you had to? Or would you?
I simply know it is music.
If you don't defend your audio work as "music," is there a term you use for it?
Once I had the honor to sit beside Henri Chopin in a restaurant and talk to him for a couple hours. He looked infinitely old. He looked almost like a dead person. So fragile. But humorous at the same time. He just had played a wonderful performance at the Berlin poetry festival. I had been digging his work for a while, reading that fabulous and meandering compendium that his Poesie Sonore book is and exploring the revoue OU in the accurate re-edition released on CD by Alga Marghen. After one hour that I was talking with him about his work I realized I was constantly referring to it as "his music". I knew how he dreaded this definition. He had spent so much ink in his younger years making clear how his work was poetry and not music. He wanted it to belong to the realm of the lettres. Still I was forgetful and kept calling it music all the time. A terrifying mistake. And with one of the artists I admired the most. At a certain point I become aware my faux pas. He looked so old and fragile I dreaded that he could have got upset and die on the spot, or mabe just disintegrate into sand or catch fire like a vampire exposed to sunlight (did you see the Katrin Bigelow vampire western movie? It's great...). But he didn't. I apologized. He was just laughing. He seemed allright with it. He was laughing all the time. He was so happy to be still alive.
What are your favorite sorts of music? And nonmusic?
Speech is one. There are many others.
Check out that vampire movie. It's really good!
TOM HAMILTON has been composing and performing for over 40 years, and his work with electronic music originated in the late-60s era of analog synthesis. Hamilton often explores the interaction of many simultaneous layers of activity, prompting the use of “present-time listening” on the part of both performer and listener.
Hamilton was a 2005 Fellow of the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and he participated in a residency at the foundation’s center in Umbria. His CD London Fix received an honorary mention in the 2004 Prix Ars Electronica. His performing and recording colleagues have included Peter Zummo, Bruce Gremo, Karlheinz Essl, Bruce Arnold, Rich O’Donnell, Jonathan Haas, Jacqueline Martelle, Al Margolis, Steve Nelson-Raney, Hal Rammel, Thomas Gaudynski, Christopher Burns, Rick Aaron, Thomas Buckner, David Soldier, Bruce Eisenbeil, and Richard Lerman. He has been a collaborator with visual artists, including Fred Worden (filmmaker), Van McElwee, Katherine Liberovskaya, and Morey Gers (video artists), and the late Ernst Haas (photographer).
An active participant in New York’s new music scene, Hamilton was the co-director of the 2004 Sounds Like Now festival, and he has co-produced the Cooler in the Shade/Warmer by the Stove new music series since 1993. He is a longtime member of composer Robert Ashley’s touring opera ensemble. His audio production can be found in over 80 CD releases of new and experimental music, including recordings by Muhal Richard Abrams, David Behrman, Thomas Buckner, Annea Lockwood, Alvin Lucier, Roscoe Mitchell, Phill Niblock, and “Blue” Gene Tyranny.
Tom Hamilton’s sound installations have been presented in New York at Diapason, Studio Five Beekman, the 479 Gallery and Experimental Intermedia, and elsewhere at CCNOA (Brussels) The St. Louis Art Museum, CalArts (Valencia, CA), the Sound Symposium festival (St. John’s NF), Woodland Pattern Book Center (Milwaukee) and the Dorsch Gallery (Miami).
Do you consider your audio work to be "music"? Always? Sometimes? Do you think about such things?
Yes. I think the fundamental question that has been passed down to us is: "What else is music?" Of course there are many artists who will use the term "sound art" or "audio art" intentionally to sidestep the issue, but I think that's a shame. I know they do it to avoid confrontation with people who have a more traditional musical orientation; they don't consider traditional music to be part of their training or experience, they don't want to participate in M.U.S.I.C. and they don't want to be judged by the same criteria as is often applied to other music. But it is paradoxical: By avoiding those questions they miss the opportunity to add to our knowledge of what music can be, which would include theirs as well. None of my business, I guess.
Has anyone ever challenged you on whether or not your work was music? What happened?
Not that I can remember. See - I guess I'm more conventional than I thought I was. Hmm: Does "turn that shit OFF" count?
Of course, since I work with electronics, it comes through in descriptors. I've had my fill of being described as a "mad scientist," "tinkerer," "knob-twister," or "berserker organist." Some folks just want to string together clichés to make their point but it's just a symptom of being uncomfortable. They don't like it, somehow this is my fault, and so they have to denigrate the process.
I work in areas that at times overlap either jazz or concert music. And there are some people from those worlds who come into contact with what I'm doing who seem to be self-appointed gatekeepers for one or another of those traditions. And for them, it is an affront to introduce electronic instruments into their gene pool. They can't tie it back to what they imagine is a pure tradition, and they can't allow it to take its place in the present environment. So, since I can only do what I do, I can get the cold shoulder if I slip out of my natural habitat. But it is its own reality check. I have to say that open-mindedness is probably a prime requisite to enjoying anything I'm doing. I'm not out to make converts; I'm just there to make pieces.
How would you defend your work as being "music" if you had to? Or would you?
I might remind a hypothetical objector that since there is enough music to go around, it doesn't have to be my stuff. I also think that I would pass along my own criterion: If the artist says it's music, then it is.
If you don't defend your audio work as "music," is there a term you use for it?
We have too many genres already.
What are your favorite sorts of music? And nonmusic?
If something is original, I can listen to it repeatably. And I find that quality in many genres, in many eras. So I like jazz from 1960, but not contemporary players that sound like 1960. I avoid nostalgic efforts whenever possible. I keep listening for what else improvised music can be, and sometimes I hope that I add a little to that myself.
A sculptor I know once said to me, about looking at new work: "If I've seen it before, I don't like it." I thought that summed it up pretty well.
I was interested in asking musicians how they defend themselves against the charge that their work isn't "music" - a hilarious accusation, I think, and one that I hear often enough about the music I listen to (well, not like Graves at Sea and stuff, but some of the music I listen to) that I figured they'd heard it to.
The replies from the three respondents will follow, and I thank them for taking the time to answer my questions.
So maybe that's what Spearmint Music is.
Easter 2010 is the 40th anniversary of the first-ever live public performance with a MiniMoog.
On Easter Sunday 1970, David Borden and Steve Drews of Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Co. - the world's first synthesizer ensemble - performed "Easter" (Borden's first tonal pulse-piece composed for the Moog) to audiences at Cornell University's Sage Chapel, in Ithaca, NY. They used the MiniMoog prototype, thanks to Bob Moog.
For Borden's reminiscence of this event, see his website:
The above is not a video of the event.
Thanks to Joyce @ Cuneiform for the info.
Klezshop (Gilad Cohen+Jonathan Keren+Gilad Harel)
A unique modern-klezmer trio based in New York City. Its members, originally from Israel, bring a wide variety of genres and influences to their music. Graduates of the Juilliard School, the Paris Conservatory and the Jerusalem Academy, they combine their classical education with a rich experience of performing Jewish music, Rock, Jazz and Irish music all over the world.
Vacant (Jen Mesch+Kurt Gottschalk)
Vacant sees no shame in inspiration. Vacant is like imitation flattery. Vacant has borrowed from the Sex Pistols and the Carter Family in the past, and might again in the future. Vacant is a duo with Jennifer Mesch dancing and Kurt Gottschalk playing guitar. Vacant is an undercover cover band seeking new modes of mimicry.