Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Where I been

Don't know quite how, but there went a week with no posts. I guess a lot of it was that I was focused on preparing for this past Saturday's STATS show, our first in four months as previously reported. Might as well call it what it was for me, namely an awesome time. Here is a representative clip from our performance (Laal and I cobought a DV camera and these are the first fruits; a little blurry, but hey...):

Another full song can be found here. Hope you enjoy. I'm really psyched about the current direction of the music. I can't speak for my longtime colleague Joe, but the goal for me with this band has always been to achieve something that my high-school self would've been really into, and I feel that that's the case.

Was an immense pleasure to perform with Liturgy, Maw and Yukon. The former, the solo project of Hunter from the ever-incredible Birthday Boyz, continues to evolve; currently it's like a Venn diagram of drone, black metal, chant, math rock and laser-beam sounds from Contra. It's a white-hot mood; insular, scary, transcendent; very, very truthful. Maw simply rips, a serrated riff factory. Phil Kennedy remains an awe-inspiring percussionist (someone please make a Timber MySpace page), as you can see/hear for yourself. Speaking of awe-inspiring percussionists, Yukon's Nick Podgurski is now not only that but an incredible vocalist. Yukon debuted its new trio lineup, and basically where it was once the unholy spawn of Faraquet and Lynx (though maybe better than either), it's now like a balls-out Afropop-laced Genesis or something. Seriously this shit was just plain NEW. Everyone was freaking out. Have some viddy of this too that I hope to post soon.


Sundry other news items:

*On Friday night, I caught a set by Daniel Tosh, perhaps our finest practitioner of Asshole Comedy. Sower of extreme discomfort, sporting a horrific shit-devouring grin and the driest, yet most drippingly venemous sarcasm you can imagine. There's like this terrible curiosity watching him: Is he like this in real life? You know he can't possibly be, but you wonder. Character or caricature? Fucked up and undeniably hysterical.

*A cousin of Asshole Comedy is Nihilistic Horror. "The Strangers" isn't quite "Cabin Fever," but it paints a none too optimistic picture of Man. Did not unreservedly love this, but was most certainly scared shitless. Laal and I were clutching each other relentlessly and I jumped like six times whenever the guy next to me adjusted his feet. Some sketchy yet very compelling backstory makes this home-invasion nightmare very, very--as Laal put it--sad. It's no "Funny Games." You don't want to see these people terrorized. They're not only glamorously attractive, they're endearing. As for the villains, they're mainly terrifying in their ephemerality. You don't really ever see them. Maybe, though, someone needs to call for a moratorium on the whole spooky-doll-masks and burlap-head-coverings thing. It seems like there is no horror movie that doesn't go for that instantly spooky thing of facial concealment via some cliched childlike or "creepily makeshift" implement. But hey, it scared the shit out of me nonetheless. This is by no means a pleasant movie, but it does its job well.

*As does Howard Mandel's new book Miles Ornette Cecil, which I'm only about 60 pages into but very psyched to be reading. What's got me most excited up to this point--aside from some very astute close listening to Miles's early electric music, and a dead-on portrayal of the Shorter-Hancock-Carter-Williams quintet as "cognizant of the freedoms broached by players associated with the nominal avant-garde, though they voiced no allegiance to it" (probably why great but somewhat myopic books like As Serious As Your Life are needlessly dismissive of, for one, Williams's brilliance; Williams, Steve Lacy reminds us in Conversations made magical music w/ Cecil Taylor back in the '60s)... Whoa that's a long sentence; I'll start over. What's got me most excited is Mandel's fearless (that's Joe's dead-on designation) subjectivity. This book, at least so far, is as much memoir as critical assessment. Mandel traces Miles's career as he traces his own life experience. Miles is for him a constant, an unwavering obsession despite the flux of his personal life, and as anyone who is preoccupied with music (some of us are sometimes referred to as "critics" because we publish, but really we are die-never FANS) can tell you, this is really how we experience our favorite musicians: as something like lifelong friends. Steve Lacy, Cecil Taylor, Craw, Cheer-Accident, Booker Little, Andrew Hill, John Fahey, Paul Simon, The Misfits, Morbid Angel, Rush. Everyone's canon is different, but these are some of the artists that I personally TRUST infinitely. "Miles would always be worth hearing, I decided," Mandel writes, and this gets at the way I feel about the aforementioned. Once you're down with an artist in that way--i.e., truly "friendly" with him or her--there's nothing you *don't* want to check out by them. Even the stuff you "dislike" becomes a vital puzzle piece. Miles, Ornette and Cecil are Mandel's personal polestars--though hardly a random grouping; they were all born within four years of one another--and in the introduction he hints the complex relationships that arts writers have with their subjects: We're part awed fans (he recounts, unabashedly, a time when he tugged on Miles's sleeve during an after-party), part obsessive record hounds, part journalist/interviewers. There are so many more angles, but we do whatever we can to get close to these sources of constant inspiration--yes, personally. Mandel writes:

"Critics can't actually remove their personal preferences and/or histories from their considerations; typically we mask our involvements by constructing arguments that pretend to be objective, distanced from the intimate and subjective perceptual experiences that result in our individual tastes. We all know, though we may deny it, that effort is a charade."

Amen. I'm sometimes creeped out when I write and write and write and leave out the "I" because that's what convention dictates. Hence... DFSBP.

*Speaking of being an unequivocal fan, I was fortunate enough to interview Walter Becker of Steely Dan last week. The main occasion--despite an upcoming run of Dan shows at the Beacon--is Becker's outstanding new solo album Circus Money. More on this SOON, I promise.

1 comment:

derek said...

Hank, if you dug The Strangers, consider checking out Them, the French flick from which it liberally (& some might say shamelessly) cops from. All the frights but w/o most of the dross, plus a far more satisfying denouement.

Dig your blog, man, always a good read.