Quote of the Month

If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.

Marcus Brigstocke

Francis Bebey – Super Jungle

Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Willson I’ve been listening to this a lot recently: one day at work I had it on repeat all afternoon. A highly alluring mixture of cheesy drum sounds and ear-shredding synth, of cool repetition and crazed improvisation. The end result verges on the avant garde

Quote of the Month

So, real musical rhythm comes when you listen to the note that’s been played before you, and you know when and where to place your note—and you listen to the note that comes after! This is how ensembles swing […] It’s really all about listening and having a strong enough understanding of where the beat is. You can intentionally pull on the fabric of time, pushing at the edge of the tempo. This could be achieved even harmonically: Ron Carter was a very good example, the way he played with Miles; that’s what he would do: push the pitch of a note, and depending on where he placed it—and the way Tony Williams responded—this all contributes to creating a lot of surface tension. And it is tension that requires resolution of some sort: tension – release – tension – release… Almost like a heartbeat! This is why poetic music is ultimately more satisfying than marching bands or disco, because in most of that music there’s no syncopation, it’s just (beating on the table: beat – beat – beat – beat). There’s not a whole lot there beside the pounding pulse. Music requires a steady beat, but it also needs flexibility. Time awareness is not about trying to play like a metronome.

 

I like [playing musics] that have a lot more mystery, and are not so—what’s the word?—so obvious or arranged. I like what we don’t say, that’s more interesting to me. So it’s almost anti-drumming in that context. Which again takes us back to the whole time-awareness thing. It’s what you don’t play that makes everything else work. If you play everything, supply every bit of information, there’s nothing left for the imagination of the audience! You’re playing a musical form of pornography at that point, right?

Peter Erskine

Sheriff & The Ravels – Shombalor

Context.

Currently being used by John Cooper Clark as an outro on his current Radio 6 show. Fantastic!

Junior Senior – Move Your Feet

Smash Mouth – Walkin’ On The Sun

Roger McGuinn

Tuesday 4th November. The Glee Club, Cardiff.

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Surprisingly good. I came feeling slightly apprehensive and (at worst) expecting an evening of Bible-bashing, but my fears proved totally unfounded. McGuinn proved himself to be an excellent singer, with no need for the shouting that these days passes for emotional expression and a wonderful sense of the melodic line. He probably wouldn’t be deemed a virtuoso guitarist but he certainly has a strong individual identity and is not afraid of putting himself out there: his version of Eight Miles High that closed the show featured the first psychedelic guitar freak-out that I’ve ever seen performed on an acoustic guitar.

Between songs McGuinn regaled us with stories from his long career. Although worn smooth with repetition and essentially little more than self-mythologizing, these were leavened with a nice line in self-deprecating humour and were hugely entertaining.

You’d have to say that at 72 years old McGuinn is doing pretty well for himself. His talent is intact, he’s producing new material, and he’s still very much his own man. The highpoint for me and the moment quite early on in the set when I knew this was going to be a good evening: his singalong version of Mr. Spaceman.

[Thanks to Mr. Willson for the ticket.]

Cardiff Open Studio Weekend

This weekend, as part of the Cardiff Open Studios project (part of Cardiff Contemporary), we took the opportunity to visit a few local artists in situ: we went to Butetown Artist’s Studios in the Bay and Fireworks in Grangetown. The latter is mainly a populated by ceramicists and there was some truly beautiful work on view. A great chance to nose around in someone else’s mess:

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Basic Channel

This is techno. Twenty years old and these tracks still sound like they’re from the future:

Malevich, Gómezbarros, Wilson, Mascaró

[Directly following on from the previous post.] The next morning we went back to the Tate Modern to see the Malevich exhibition. His work was presented in a more-or-less linear chronology. The early paintings are obviously derivative, but somehow he manages to pull a wide range of disparate influences together and quite quickly develops the “Suprematist” style he is famous for. Later, under threat from the Stalinist regime, he goes back to a more figurative way of painting where his individuality almost disappears: one portrait painted in an almost 19th century way, another looking like Braque, the next like a Byzantine icon, and then there are the faceless peasant paintings…

We get a look at his educational materials. The Suprematist Teapot is there (hurrah!). But, overall, I came away somewhat disappointed. Despite so much source material being available, I got very little sense of the actual processes driving the work, and there were whole sections of the exhibition that it was impossible to view in any meaningful way because it had been placed so high on the wall.

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Worthwhile, nonetheless. Maybe we just had a hangover from the blistering and vivid Matisse exhibition from the night before: it couldn’t have been more of a contrast.

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We then went across to the Saatchi gallery for the Pangea show, a collection of works from Africa and South America. A very mixed bag. This was the best piece—completely taking over Gallery 1—and my favourite (as a big ant fan): Casa Tomada by Rafael Gómezbarros.

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The ants are made from casts of human skulls, reflecting the overtly political nature of much of the work in the show (as one might expect given the geography).

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Of course, no visit to the Saatchi is complete without a visit to Richard Wilson’s wonderful 20:50. Beautifully still and serene, and it just smells so good:

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Finally, there was the bonus of an exhibition by Spanish artist Xavier Mascaró:

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