Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Staggered out from under the Pole-Star: a text designed for digital stutter.

I would like to say
 Simply that I love you
Hung within my night sky a stutter
  The winds begin to gather
Hollow as a chimney's throat
    The days go wandering
  On the feet of destiny
Driven divers directions
    And words adrift
   That dare to lift the voice
       Of the leaves meeting at
     Distant cross-roads
        Bundle silently like tangerines
            In a wicker-basket
          Woven by we know not who
        But follow broken
          By the terrifying weakness
        Of our Western-Eastern self-conception
           That we beg any agency
               Intercede and distract
           Against inevitable
             Uncontrollable gravity's wanton
          Grasp of solace measured
               By a single feather
            Stuck sullenly in a drain-pipe
                Somewhere and nowhere (simultaneously)
                     Stirred in the grains
                  Between the grains of the griot's
                     Gourds transforming
                   Seasonal emptiness into
                       The full figure fathoming
                      The thrust of her snow-blind thighs
                           Dancing on the eaves
                         As Cinder Ella
                             Her tennis sprung
                           By tarry lumps
                         & rabbits hidden
                            In the hats of the Sweeps
                        Who swoop down
                     & pull her up
                        Into the cool grip of the dwarf star


When I was alone. And then suddenly more alone. Reflections on Derek Bailey. And playing with quanta..

Derek Bailey remains something of a myth. Of what? He was, for me, one of those great legendary guitarists, a basilica on a gigantic toadstool outside of time, like a titanic Hendrix or faustian devil-may-care Robert Johnson or Manitas de Plata (atonal albeit), even while he, the good Derek of Sheffield, was yet breathing among us, even when -- after I had met players like Jack Wright & Daniel Carter -- I started to learn that musicians were (some of them, anyway) approachable human beings. But I never approached Derek Bailey, despite his tremendous influence on my life...because it was indeed after listening to him that I tried to depress notes with my toes, to bend feedback without touching strings, to avoid "scales", to interfere with and otherwise try to "get different sounds". Why I never contacted him depends less on my own awe-struck Lampenfieber (which certainly existed) or some sensation of being out of my depth, than it does upon the simple fact I never had an opportunity to see him play live, to meet him, which is pretty bizarre, now to think on it, since Oxley and Parker, I have, numerously. 

There is one other element involved in my inability or failure to reach out to him -- not to mention that I entered "the game" a bit late in life-- but there were certain tectonic shifts in the aesthetics (and therefore the politics) of the younger musicians I was associating with during the time when lower-case, onkyo (as quiet school) & so-called reductionism were fresh and ascendant blooms. While I am relatively certain most musicians in these schools or streams would never denounce Derek Bailey-- who was arguably one of the most cracked, brilliant & fertile musical imaginations of his generation and in my opinion an undisputable influence upon and even a necessary study for anyone who plays improv guitar (prepapared or unprepared)--  it also seems clear that of these many players he impressed a few of them wanted perhaps to get over this influence and establish new musical identities & explore another vocabulary. Rather famously demonstrating my point is Taku Sugimoto's distancing himself from Derek after what appeared to have been some happy years. That Derek's playing might have become symbolic of the fast-paced, bristly and busy, grand-central-station-on-fire-alert school of super-chops improv sqwonk is however for my own sense of things almost un-noticeably without severe import because he was after all a master of great compressed silences that he fit into, that gapped, the space, between. Notes. Which he seemed to know when and when notOddly enough, as I mentioned, I never caught him live, although I've never heard any album of his that did not sound 100-per-cent-live-performance, period. I've not really paid much attention to the album of the songs and ballads probably because I also tended to enjoy Derek's work most in the confused context of other players (like that first massive impression made by Music Improvisation Company,1970) where I-- maybe differently or the same as tomorrow-- felt he was somehow most clever and unpredictable and perhaps just because I too started to listen differently and became more concerned with what I had to say myself, on my own, with the instrument, and without it. Which brings me to the day that Derek died, 9 years ago, when I was in Berlin, on Christmas Day, when I was alone. And then suddenly more alone. I read the news. I closed the web-browser. I went to the guitar on the table and picked up a violin bow, pressed record, and started a great throbbing drone chord that tapered and thinned as I bowed back and forth gently detuning until the sound ultimately dissipated into vapor. When I returned from my trance, I looked at the time-line and saw 59 minutes had elapsed. And I had had no idea. That was my ritual prayer for his travels through the chiasmos of the bardo. Or any better opportunity.

On the issue of the prepared vs. unprepared guitar I do believe Derek Bailey weighs in, at least for me, for one who plays the guitar, you know, all "two ways," sometimes at once: because Derek's deconstructive maneuvers did involve almost every imaginable creative abuse (aka extended technique) of the instrument and about the only thing he didn't do a great deal of remains in the field of protracted buzz blanket click drone and Tammenesque processing, for which the guitar on the table seems quite logically placed. There are perhaps also, I must admit, many things that I imagined that Derek must have done first and better because, as I said, he's partly a myth. Mythical beings have the capacity to do things most other people can't do but they also are the site for the projections of the polymorphic magma inside our psyche. So, every once in a while, when I'm playing, entering into some kind of deja vu (as when you look at you hands and see them acting almost without thought-control), I stop myself and I say, ah, that's something Derek would do. But I am never actually sure he did anything even remotely like that. In this sense, however, Derek was always playing with quanta, has always been right by my side. Like my fingers' fingers. Perhaps always will be. Until I'm too late, one day. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Something about Martyna Poznańska

  Let's start out by listening to something... for example... click the link below


     I don't know what's truly "important" in field recording, acousmatic composition or sound-art. I am aware of many opinions and many names, albums and tracks that are at my fingertips. I listen at times as if my life depended upon it and more often than not I find I'm a tough nut to crack: I find no reason not to like them all, criticism seems misguided, biased, lacking valid criteria, arbitrary, or not in my realm of faith. But a few works come alive almost within their own efforts and stride with an elastic & animal veracity across my ear drums slip into my mind and swim there. They are of themselves, as we are -- and seem friendly, like cities of sunken, phosphorescent stones. Environments reborn that recall the actual shaping orchestrations of experience's poetry in the making. The poet Louis Armand wrote "of the too persistent intersection of the outside and under the skin". And Stephen Ellis helps me get at the other side of it with: there is no meaning other than 'adjacency'. And yet one doesn't really get any closer. The work of Martyna Poznańska is both numinous and riddled with ambiguity. Heraclitus said "The nature of things is in the habit of concealing itself." Maybe there is something too familiar in the work of Martyna Poznańska to be considered elusive. A sound artist she verily is. From the Far East of  Poland she "defects" towards Berlin and the UK while her work resonates resolutely with the places she visits. Among them apparently Vietnam. Since I know Berlin and Poland through direct experience, I can imagine an isolate, rain-slant figure walking through ice-covered pavements recording the automobile reverberations, factory dins and chattering market swells. Ms. Poznańska seems to always be between worlds. Here we are: in and under-passage with foot-steps on the margins of Lethe or some Alexanderplatz and yet there's something like a synthetic siren song, unnerving and soothing, all at once. There is no real "nature' without "industry" and nature seems to be an outright factory with a tree running through the bowels. Sounds appear through drain-pipes or a grain-silo, like landscapes blurred behind frosted and foggy glass, with the clatter of spoons, broken things almost coming together again, flirt with statement, then disappear with a cat-step on a ghost shroud, all sent back to us as through amniotic fluid. Poland gives us this Tarkovskyan post-apocalyptic smile-scowl of wabi-sabi. This one here is a kind of spider-cipher skein-lyre whipped by enharmonic scirocco.

    state of origin hajnowkapoland by martyna poznańska on soundcloud

      Silence existing only by displacement of sounds cannot be heard knocking on immaterial doors like they do. She doesn't want to be interrupted while she runs about town between appointments. There is nothing and everything to hear in her works. I can listen or not listen with equal concern and yet I press the replay button with great ease. I'm impressed by what's not there. There's something about Martyna Poznańska. Maybe it's the glasses. They give the impression of huge, dilating eyes that permit her to visualize things others do not see. Maybe she doesn't. But I like to think she does. Certainly her sounds are listening. And more than worthy of contacting.







Occupy Something Beautiful: One and 1/2 Years Later

        intenstified interactions with the site in Wilda
              an earth re-entry program            step by toe-hold upon
   axis mundi -- x & y skewed, inverted, held up to outer space, hovering just above grass --
sounds the earth plays as if i were the needle in it's groove, it's grove, it's grave -- opening to
  go on hands and knees grappling with amygdla and enigma (mole-hills,
             vast arrays, to escape insularity
         by echo-location of endless variety

the work within the realm of Vision reflected in the quivering hand rendering the 
Occupy Something Video Set