By all accounts there is a special moment predicted for the Discoteca on Sunday. Endearing innovator Carl Craig will be joined by neo-classical collaborator Francesco Tristano for an exclusive live performance involving a grand piano, moogs and a juno. An electronic-meets-acoustic showcase for our post-digital age. To get an idea of what to expect, check out the video below…
Posts Tagged ‘Classical’
If you haven’t seen this film wait for a day when you are ready for a surreal, jaw-dropping, no-holds-barred barrage of hyper-reality. A story about family, greed, religion, and oil, centered around a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business. Daniel Day-Lewis clearly immerses himself so far into the role of prospector Daniel Plainview that it is frightening. The movie takes place in early 20th century arid Texan and Californian plains – where oil has been discovered and is primed to be exploited. Plainview and other prospectors are rapidly spreading across the land, trying to convince the unwitting local farmers and ranchers of old western settlements that their oil drilling will bring prosperity to their towns. The period setting of emerging capitalism is juxtaposed with a twisted and haunting modern classical score that only adds to the bizarre drama which unfolds onscreen.
It was surprising to find out after listening to the soundtrack that it was composed by Jonny Greenwood the guitarist from Radiohead (a band that despite their constant acclaim, in all honestly passed me by). Greenwood’s score is captivating and greatly contributes to the literally tectonic forces which lie beneath the drama. The music is performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra led by Robert Ziegler, the Emperor Quartet, and special mention must go to the minimalist brooding performances from Caroline Dale on cello and Michael Dussek on piano. The score was considered a shoe-in for the Academy Award for Original Music Score at the 2008 Oscars, but it was ruled ineligible due to its use of pre-existing material. The score features elements from a previous Greenwood composition and works from Arvo Pärt and Johannes Brahms.
There are an array unconventional sonic textures and uniquely angular melodies which shape this score. The soundtrack to There Will Be Blood will appeal to serious movie-music fans, who will appreciate this rare find: an intelligent, beautiful and deeply cinematic orchestrated score. The moment I realised this soundtrack is a masterpiece is where they first strike oil and the action is accompanied by a huge, incredible percussive sound – look (and listen) out for it next time you see the film. It’s not often it can be claimed of a film, but it would simply not be so great were it not for Greenwood’s music. He deepens the image, gives character to the shot and establishes feeling. Dialogue is sparse in this cinematic epic which lasts well over two and a half hours. And thoroughly cinematic it is – it shows, it doesn’t talk it’s audience towards a conclusion and thus with it’s music inexorably bound in its telling, by showing gives us meaning and feeling.
Greenwood engulfs us in the world of the gothic and takes us across a fascinating, ethereal place where nothing is certain with one exception: that doom is fast approaching for everyone within the film. No one stands a chance against the ravenous nature of greed and exploitation. You might be unprepared for the outbursts of melodic darkness contained in both the film and score combined, but the result is that the film’s theme will last in your conscience long after the final credits roll. Nonesuch Records offers a digital download of three bonus tracks upon the purchase of the soundtrack from its web site – highly recommended, get a preview with the title track we’ve put up for you here.
Machines were mice and men were lions once upon a time; but now that it’s the opposite, it’s twice upon a time. – Moondog
Young Louis Hardin b.1916 (later to call himself Moondog) started playing home-made cardboard drums at the age of five, during his childhood he was exposed to the Native American instruments and rhythms that would shape his music. At one point Hardin’s father took him to a Native American Sun Dance where he sat on the lap of Chief Yellow Calf and played a tomtom drum made form buffalo skin. He also played drums in highschool before losing his sight in a farm accident involving gunpowder, aged 16. Principally self-taught, he learned the skills of ear training and composition. In 1943 he moved from his native mid-west to New York where he met classical luminaries such as Leonard Bernstein and Toscanini aswell as legendary jazz performers like Charlie Parker and Benny Goodman, who would influence Hardin’s work.
In 1947 Hardin adopted the name “Moondog” in honour of a dog “who used to howl at the moon more than any other dog I knew of.” He developed and embraced a worldview that embraced Norse mythology and Viking culture as the pinnacle of human civilisation. From the late 40s until 1974 Moondog lived as a street musician and poet, busking in Manhattan. Because of his proximity to the nightclub strip of 52nd street, he was well known to many jazz musicians and fans. In 1949 he traveled to a Native American gathering at the Blackfoot Sun Dance in Idaho, where he performed percussion and flute, returning to the Native American music he first came into contact with as a child. It was this Native music along with contemporary classical and jazz mixed with ambient sounds of his environment (traffic, ocean waves, babies crying) that created the foundation for Moondog’s music. In a search for new sounds, Moondog also invented several musical instruments, including a small triangular-shaped harp known as the “Oo”, another which he named the “Ooo-ya-tsu”, and (perhaps his most well-known) the “Trimba”, a triangular percussion instrument that the composer invented in the late 40s. His many hours on the street were his way of connecting with the sounds, voices and rhythms of the city. Taking inspiration from these street sounds, Moondog’s music tended to be relatively simple but characterised by what he called “snaketime … a slithery rhythm, in times that are not ordinary … I’m not gonna die in 4/4 time.”
Working in braille and often composing under his cloak and Viking costume (which included a horned helmet) he was prolific and eclectic, writing in an impressively wide range of styles: percussion-driven exotica, avant-garde jazz, folkish madrigals, neo-Baroque rounds and canons for both chamber and symphony orchestras. His layered minimalism went on to influence young collaborators Steve Reich and Philip Glass. In 1989 Glass invited Moondog to conduct the Brooklyn Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, stimulating a renewed interest in his music. Acceptance as a recognised modern classical composer has always eluded him. The ancient and ancestral streak symbolised by his Viking helmet and garb can be heard in his music which was melodic and tuneful in an age where atonality in classical music often ruled.
In 1974 Moondog was invited to give two concerts in Frankfurt and visited Germany for the first time. He felt comfortable in the land of his music ancestors and despite having little money and knowing no German, he decided to stay until his death in 1999. He was, to the very end of his life, vital, active and creative. It is hard to define musical genius. Is it the quality of their music? Their role in history? Or simply hindsight? In this case it is a combination of Moondog’s unique story, unique mode of composition and unique way of looking at the world. It seems sad that it has taken the world this long to begin appreciating this sensitive musician. His music has recently appeared on Henrik Schwarz DJ-Kicks series and Ame, Dixon and Henrik Schwarz recent Grandfather Paradox album, both of which are highly recommended in their own right. You can download Moondog’s seminal self-titled album here.
Despite his handicap and under difficult circumstances, Moondog stubbornly struggled as a free artist, committed to his own ideas of life and music, regardless and yet as a consequence of the world around him. He was a true artist who wrote a most beautiful and peculiar music that still amazes listeners all over the world to this day. If nothing else who should be exalted for providing a tangible link between the somewhat genteel world of contemporary classical music and those on the margins of society. Moondog, we salute you.
You may have noticed a lack of specific music reviews on the blog so far. This is because they are generally completely superfluous and can infact malign the actual enjoyment of music. So please understand the following is a recommendation: Night Music – a Steve Reich-inspired, five-track album of “loops and hypnotism” performed by Etienne Jaumet and produced by none other than Carl Craig.
It may look like the ultimate safe bet, Carl Craig being one of the very few unshakable pillars in modern electronic music making, but Carl did a lot more than simply mix the album. He based his work on a common musical culture. Long talks with Etienne about Liaisons Dangereuses proved once again that Craig is the most European of all the Detroit producers. He ripped the heart of the record to bring it to its full Electronic and Psychedelic life. Without adding anything but magic, Carl Craig took what Night Music was already was and enhanced it. – Ivan Smagghe
One half of French horror-disco outfit Zombie Zombie has joined iconic techno producer Carl Craig for a collaboration that may at first seem unlikely. However, anyone who has witnessed any of Carl’s galacticly epic sets this summer at We Love… Space in Ibiza may not be so surprised. This collaboration between Etienne Jaumet and Carl Craig indulges in their jointly held passion for synthscapes in a pinnacle of elegant Paris meets Detroit electronica. The opening track “For Falling Asleep” takes 20 minutes to reach its goal – a climax of astral proportion. The joy Jaumet’s exploration in this journey takes, with wistful saxophone and gentle but insistent machine rhythms “directed and imagined” by Carl Craig. This deceptively minimal epic subtly informs the listener of what is to come over the next 4 songs – tightly wound but seemingly infinite in their scope. There is a patient process at work in the construction of each track. Jaumet’s writhing, eerie synths are warped and manipulated between what sounds like bagpipes and Middle Eastern strings and horns. The autobahn-ready metronomy of the pulsing dance groove provided by Carl Craig gives way to melodic noise and anthemic classical sections with ominous significance. There are also peaceful acoustic touches which are soon swallowed up by crashing waves of sound. On the whole, it is a dark but enchanting piece of work.