“Q” is for…

“Q Samba” : Arto Lindsay, from “Mundo Civilizado”

https://youtu.be/JkEMwcm4vbM

1224090

Arto Lindsay.  The geeky, skinny kid at school, scribbling in his notebook when he thinks no one’s looking, or when he thinks that people think he thinks no one’s looking.  Probably just schoolboy crush scribbles, arrows through hearts, epigrams.  Eyes almost upstaged by his owl-like lenses, which are looking straight at you, and it’s a hard stare to look back at.  People don’t.  Prom Queens, though, might take him home in one of those High School movies, people would learn to look beyond appearances, towards new experiences, everyone would learn things and nothing would change.  Music, credits, thank yous, etcetera.

But he’s an eccentric.  A real one, not a muscle boy they put in glasses to indicate intelligence, reticence and hostility to games lessons.  He is thin, thin like he lives on some unknown energy, some ambiguous pulse.  He plays guitar, but no real notes, just a noise, and only when it’s called for. Mostly it just hangs around his neck, as it does on this song.  The weight of it might kill him.

Through the gate, now the path winds to the door, you pass sculptures, perpendicular pagan gods staring down suburban sidewalks, old amplifiers, guitar strings wound around slow growing creepers. Carnival melting into darkness and out again.   It’s taking forever to get to the door.

Shall we listen to some music?  He reaches for a cd, the cover a photo of a woman’s face, or maybe a girl’s, her expression masked by the blood red smear of a rose.  Smiling eyes though; maybe.  A strange, disjointed guitar, Brazilian, lurches into a kind of beat that doesn’t belong where it is, as a voice, half-spoken, half sung, asks:

How do you do that?  

Did you just make it up?  

Is there a special need for that?

Now don’t just make it up”

Not exactly poetry, this is like a kid asking questions at school.  But he grows up fast;

“How do you shake just that and not shake all the rest

Breaking all those beats apart you careless hypnotist”

A careless hypnotist, still thinking about what that implies.  The lyrics feel like they are meaning something, but they sometimes fold in on themselves, like…

You dance like you’re not alone

You dance like I’m not here

Often they seem like a study in a single sound…

Your supple cheekiness

Supreme funkiness

Your sure footedness

And you pelvic finesse.”

But that last line,”pelvic finesse”, what the hell is that?  Animal sexuality crossed with featherlight delicacy?  The music echoes the words, mismatched but familiar sounds, somehow stitched together, a brash and buzzy keyboard flooding the light and sunny samba like chilli sauce in Angel Delight, its line left jagged and raw like the edges of an awkward conversation.  Samba school drums sucked into a lop-sided sample, another piece in the jigsaw of disorder, of musical and verbal memories, those memories that for each person are their own.

Except for the Prom Queen. Tradition dictates that her head must be empty, as she trots home to recount, perhaps reluctantly, some other version of these few short minutes.

 

71v6itq45zl-_sy470_

 

 

 

.

Victorian Jukebox

There’s a pub in Soho where they still have a piano player.  This guy is not there to colour the silence and chit chat in the way a pianist does in a restaurant.  He plays Beatles songs, and show tunes, and things even people under thirty might recognise.  And people listen and sing along.  When his list runs out, there’s no music, but it never runs out.  And most of it is stored in his head.  He has fingers that play a real instrument, and every song he plays has to work on a piano or it doesn’t work at all.   And he has a head for a hard drive.

There was a time when all music in the home was like this.  If you were lucky enough to be in the rising middle class of Victorian England, you might have had a piano in the house.  And that was the source of all music.  A Victorian Jukebox.  All music was live.  And if no one played the piano, there was no music.

Just silence and conversation.

And we all know how awkward that can be.

Having no pianist would be like having no wifi, or 3G, or 4G, E4 or Dave.  People inevitably understood something of how music was made, because everyone who had a piano knew a pianist, and saw at close hand what was involved.

I remember a few years ago, I went into my son’s pre-school to play for their Christmas sing song.  They had no piano, so I brought a keyboard.  Children gathered around as I hauled the case down flat on the floor, flipping the catches as an assassin might before removing and demonically cleaning his weaponry du jour.  As I prized open the lid the kids, far from experiencing some kind of recognition, “oh he’s a musician, cool, music, wow it must be great to just sit down and play an instrument” kind of reaction, they were perplexed.  And it was tinged with that slight anger of not understanding, of feeling stupid, left out. They had no idea what this object was.  As I set it up, plugged in and sat behind the keys, they looked on in wonder.  It wasn’t the kind of wonder that Spielberg might have filmed, that kind of bathed angelic luminosity kind of light with its warmth and its fuzziness.  It was more like, I wonder why the hell we are here light.  It was more like Dogme-style, natural light, cold stares.  “Festen” for juniors.  Icy silence and tumbleweed in one uncomfortable mixed metaphor.  I was not at that point believing, contrary to the opinion of George Benson, that the children were our future.

So I played my first chord.  Resisting the jazz urge to hit them with all my musical neurosis of chromaticism and darkness, I went for C major.   A safe option, I thought, the universal language of music I thought, a vibration that reaches out to all without discrimination.  Almost instantaneously the entire group burst into uncontrollable laughter.  That weird, nervous laughter like when you and your mates got caught stealing useless crap from a supermarket.  An entire social history of music making, from the royal courts to the Victorian sitting room and the East End pub, friends who could sing and play, daughters who were encouraged to play the piano because their legs were tucked safely away from prying eyes, it all ended here.  It all ended on a cheap carpet with the worst audience I have ever had.

Well they were only four years old but, you know, once they’re over five there’s no changing them.

I’m quite fond of the piano as a music making machine, as an instrument of reproduction, reduction, representation.  Music used to work on the piano, most things were reducible to two hands, ten fingers and some sleight of hand stuff…aided, of course, by the imagination of the audience.  Pianos were often required to conjure the sound of an orchestra at full tilt, much as Turner’s paintings of water might almost make you feel the shock of the spray against your face.

So how would a piano cope with the incredible breadth of musical styles, genres as sounds today?  There is nothing to be gained by an accurate reproduction, but the sound of the attempt is what interests me.  Jazz for me sometimes involves hearing something you like, whether it’s more jazz or a Ugandan singer with a balaphon, and trying to use it for the purposes of improvisation.  Using a piano to do this is like playing playstation with a real tennis racket.  In other words, it’s perversely enjoyable.  It’s the best kind of enjoyable there is.  When I hear Bud Powell, or Duke Ellington, or Monk, or John Taylor, it’s partly a fight to prize something out of that instrument that was once a symbol of polite, middle class society.  It’s such a forgiving instrument, sometimes you have to really give it something to get upset about.  It’s that or it’s back to the kindergarten.

A review. Sort of.

I can’t help it, I read reviews.  I’m mad for them, reviews of stuff I’ve done, of things I’m into, of CDs I don’t want or don’t like, of things I’ve never heard of.  And because the distance between a drunken rant and a published article has decreased somewhat, there are loads of them.  And despite warnings of the “End Of Music“, a veritable torrent of recordings continue to pour out, provoking a kind of secondary flow of online comment in which everyone from the scholarly to the brainless, the outraged to the starstruck, gets their respective oars in.  Speed is of the essence; reviews come out before the recordings are released.  We all need to know if it is any good, and we need to know now.

There used to be this programme on the telly.  “The Generation Game”.  Objects would go past on a conveyor belt.  The “cuddly toy” and the “fondue set” stick in the memory for some reason (and if I ever had one, I would have to buy the conveyor belt to go with it) .    The contestant then had to recall as much as possible of what they’d seen in order to win it, victoriously trundling happily home with an armful of mismatched crap.  A simple game of recognition and recall.  Often reviewers will only get a chance to listen to something once, and in a sense they will find themselves in a similar situation.  What are the first impressions?  Can you hear the Pygmy rhythms, the Beatles references, the eighties pop attitude?  The cuddly toy?

I pulled this out from my CD shelf the other day having not listened to it for about 15 years.  As it happens, I chose it by picking two random numbers which, like “battleships”, involve vertical and horizontal coordinates (shelf number and count from the left respectively).   However, had I been actually looking for it, I could have seen it from down the street…

IMG_4679

Look at those colours!  Pretty garish.  This is what this recording is about; the clash of unmatchable colours, genres, sounds, eras, harmonies.  But rather than lay it all out like a collage where the different materials retain their sense of place and history, Frisell somehow combines these things into a single, identifiable style, a language even, where the guiding principle seems to be a kind of directness.  The way a song sung to a sleepy child is direct, or a three chord power ballad, a wonky riff.  Often elements of these things appear in the same tune, sometimes even at the same time.

I should go back a bit.

John Zorn started all this.  Naked City, his thrash metal/punk/classical covers/surf/60s cinema/S and M/improvised/heavily composed group, came bulldozering over the jazz and improvised scene in the early nineties.

And they could play; they alternated mind-melting virtuosity with an incredible sensitivity to colour, mood and texture.  It was as if Zorn had sat down and thought “How do I make music that is as different to Wagner as is humanely possible?”  Where the former values purity of language, development, unity of themes both musical and philosophical, Zorn…well….he just crams stuff together, impossible jump cuts through history, country and western, Webern-esque pointillism, thrash metal, film noir, lopsided riffs, jazz, but in a wine bar, not to be listened to but to be “sensed”, music that put you in a series of familiar places, only to whisk you off seconds later.  High and low brow stuffed together in a way that took out the high and the low.  His skill is in the way he varies the pace, manipulates the shock of the listener, who is frequently left feeling like he or she has run at top speed into a quaker meeting, or fluttered down like a feather into the path the Grand National.  It felt very new; a view of music that refused to linger long enough in any one place to look around.

Frisell, along with others like Tim Berne, Bobby Previte, Wayne Horvitz and Elliot Sharp came later for me.  And they were like the second wave.  Zorn went and smashed everything up, Frisell surveyed the wreckage and started to build things from it that remind us of how things were before it was all knocked down.  What sounds like fragments of old Viennese waltzes are put together into epigrammatic melodies, only to be trampled on by a Hendrix-styled guitar solo…except, listening again, there’s no trampling – not really.  Like two friends who appear to be arguing when in actual fact they are engaged in their own form of good natured banter, Frisell’s disparate materials seem to find some kind of common ground.  Melodies can be explored again, elaborated upon, a banjo can be louder than the distorted guitar which shadows its lines.  In “The Way Home”, a constant reiterating chord is at once familiar, almost naive, and yet the spaces it opens up allows the almost vocal inflections of his lead guitar to morph into noise and effects.

Simple and complex.  It’s full of these opposites that are forced to cooperate and get on, to occupy the same space. Nostalgia and chaos, delicate melody and frantic mayhem, it feels like a record that challenges our prejudices about what things could go together.  And it sounds so good.  It’s not a snapshot, it’s not “what happened on the day” (these records can sound good too of course); it’s a lovingly crafted piece of affectionate avant-garde, a complex construction of bits and bobs through which Frisell and his array of guitars weave with the delicacy of a calligrapher.  Even the “Chain Of Fools” cover, the one track that never got me…years later, on better headphones, I can hear how the familiarity of the tune allows the sheer detail of his sound to come through.

This CD came out a long time ago.  I listened to it obsessively for a year or so, at least until his next album came out.  I stole from him as carefully as I could in my own music, I tried to cover my tracks as best I could.  My main alibi was that his music is so guitarish.  And I’m a pianist, and I had a band with two saxophones in it.  Finally, I had to leave it alone for fear of losing myself in it, and I forced myself to be curious about other things.

Now, years later, it feels like a good time to hear it afresh;  things change over time.  This is a different record now to what it was back then.  More music has come after it, and what goes before now seems less immediate.  Frisell himself has now found a space in a kind of revitalised bluegrass style, where he can explore his fondness for texture and simplicity without too much gear.  His twists and turns are quieter, more modest somehow, but they are there.  “Half A Million”, the penultimate track on “Is That You?”, seems almost to be taken from one of his most recent recordings.  That changes the way you hear it.  At the time, it was just one of a number of directions he was hinting at.  You have to wait fifteen years before these things can reveal themselves.  And you can listen again.

I Haven’t Written Anything Here For A While

I haven’t written anything here for a while.  I think one reason for that is that I am not a writerIf I can’t think of anything to write about, nothing happens.  I think a writer is someone who has to write, either for money or for sanity, or both.  Under those conditions, there is always something to write about, and a writer needs to be good enough at his or her craft to make that possible.  For instance, I wanted to write “her or his craft” in that last sentence, I thought it might shake things up a bit, thought I might discover a whole new way of saying that thing.  But it just doesn’t work, it reads like a kind of backwards sneeze.  To leave it there for some kind of politically correct reason would be like going out with one shoelace undone.    “His and hers” it is then.  And that certainly beats “one’s”.  I don’t want to sound like Prince Charles, whether it’s grammatically right or not.  I think writers probably experience a kind of permanent irritation at the “wrongness” of a word, a plot device, a tense, and to constantly put this right and therefore quieten their mind is what writing is.  Notes evoke that reaction in me; to be a musician is to experience a constant irritation about notes being in the wrong place, a phrase badly ended, or poorly harmonised, a sound that is obtuse where it is and that could be perfect elsewhere.  A stream of babbling voices, in other words, in one’s head.  In his or her head.

Luckily there are rules, which differ according to what kind of music you want to make, and principles, which it seems to me are the same whatever you do.  Rules are made by humans, and can be ingenious and flexible, or they can be simplistic and stifling.  The three chord pop song, there’s a good example of a rule that was once the former (see Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”) and has become the latter (most of the singles chart).  I am constantly thinking “somebody please put one more chord in that song…or move one of them…or phone someone who can.”  This is not a “pop music is rubbish” rant, its a plea for people to take a bit more time over where they put things.  For instance, “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” by Kylie Minogue has all the chords and notes in the right place in my opinion, as does “Hey Ya” by Outkast, and that Clean Bandit song with the woman on the moped.  Katy Perry’s “Roar” seems like a well put together piece of pop, but the lack of any tension and release in “Dark Horse” just makes me uncomfortable.  In other words, the “keep it simple” rules of pop are always in place, but sometimes there are no principles at work.  It would be scraping a third simply because it was handed in.

A product; three minutes to get your hooks lodged in someone’s head.  Assuming, as pop does, that the pinnacle of human attention span was arrived at with the 78 gramaphone record, anything over three minutes is starting to look a little indulgent.  There is an economy in the pop song that is somehow closer to the technique of a sprinter than a novelist; efficiency is key, there is simply no time to be lost.  “Once In A Lifetime” by Talking Heads, for instance, is my favourite pop song, but it’s simply too long; and my favourite version, the live one from “Stop Making Sense”, sees David Byrne’s vocal performance intensifying the feeling of the song in a way that is closer to jazz than pop.  He explores the song at leisure, rolls around in it, he has a seemingly infinite amount of time.  

Maxïmo Park’s album “A Certain Trigger”, in contrast, gets right to the point, and does it over and over again.  One after the other in breathless succession, these songs take the three chord, three minute pop song and hack it to bits, arranging the splinters in a series of dazzlingly complex structures and wrong-foot which there is a sense of the walls closing in, the urgency of making music before time runs out, before it strays over that line into something more reflective.  Even the sound feels like it’s being pushed through a tiny hole that wont quite take it, the ideas pour out in an uncontrollable torrent of the familiar and the unfamiliar,  there’s a point the groove from “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes seems to trample over some Philip Glass type patterns into a typically angular chord sequence – somehow every new verse, fractured chorus and rambling interlude, is an affront to that which went before, yet draws you inextricably back to the beginning.  Its exhilarating, and it’s totally unlike anything else; but it’s probably not perfect pop.  Too much stuff in there, you can’t get it in one listen.  But its a perfect marriage of angsty, lost love lyrics with something that sounds to me like The Jam in a centrifuge.  It’s one of a kind.  People are generally puzzled at my deification of this album, and part of me hopes that if you, gentle reader, check it out, you will be puzzled too – like the unspoiled beach, or some new café that weighs out the coffee beans for you, we all want these things for ourselves.

For me every piece of music has its boundaries, its territory, and sounds move around in that space accordingly, like fish in a tank.  The implied infinity of space in free improvisation often yields focus on the tiniest fragment of sound, whilst the same rotation of chords in a jazz standard can open up like a view of the dunes on a Summer holiday.  Pop is like the 110 metre hurdles; all over very quickly, some people do it with style, but inevitably the finish line is where it’s at.  Not much room for movement, but what there is can be fascinating in its own right.  And I feel like I can learn from its sense of brevity and efficiency.

In conclusion….well, like I said, I’m not a writer so I don’t have one, but in music it works quite well just to bring back whatever happened at the beginning.

I haven’t written anything here for a while.
 

Gagaku self-help

The music contained in this clip is some of the strangest I have ever heard.  For most musicians who are trying to compose, improvise or somehow create something, the search for strangeness, or “newness”, whether in the familiar or in the undiscovered, keeps us alive.

And often it’s pretty slim pickings, like this beetle that waits with its bum in the air until the desert fog forms water droplets which then trickle down into its eager mouth.

odayilearned.co.uk/2013/09/22/desert-beetle-elevates-its-back-to-collect-fog-water-and-channel-it-into-its-mouth/

Almost everything has been done, talked about, blogged about.  Many other forms of music from around the world have penetrated our culture so completely, derailing Western High Art Music’s quest for total atonality and supreme structural unity in favour of a more mixed and multi-cultural palette (I wonder if Schoenberg et al might have abandoned this agenda in the early twentieth century had they encountered the Baka Pygmies)(1).  In our “access to everything” lives, the water that trickles down from our upturned arses has most likely been recycled, rebottled and reused many times, and now, I sense, is the time to bring this strained metaphor to a close.

But to discover the music, and choreography, of Gagaku is like walking into an alien world.    A world made entirely of undiscovered atoms,  atoms that in turn form themselves into unimagined structures, making up a landscape in which everything belongs together but in a way known only to the structures themselves.  Traditional notions of virtuosity, technique, development, groove, melody and, above all, the ‘storytelling” qualities of music, are not even reversed, they are eliminated, and not in the way associated with, for example, many “western’ composers, where there is an invention of something that demands we call them a genius“, but in a way that seems to imply that this is music in its natural form.  It’s music for the beginning, and end, of the world, a ballet that tells the story not of the meeting of lovers or the quarrels of kings, but of one tectonic plate shifting imperceptibly into another.

Some might say that the lack of “human interest” is a problem.

Nevertheless, I can think of no other music that describes the simple passing of time in such “intimate” detail.   I don’t mean psychological time, like, “Oh how time flies when you’re having fun it passes the time of day time marches on the ravages of time I don’t have time for this”…I mean time as a simple, stand-alone thing of beauty.  The framing of a second never sounded so good, this is Blake’s “eternity in an hour” perfectly realised in sound.  When I listen to this music I hear time spun out in layers, almost sculpted like clay, the small kakko drum’s patterns expanding and contracting against the slow, sonorous thud of the gigantic Da-daiko skins, the melody of the hichikiri (a kind of neurotic oboe) in a kind of demented unison with the flute, the two often falling away from each other as one or the other appears to pause for breath.   Such inconsistencies are the nemesis of western Classical Music; here they define the music’s progress, endlessly revolving around a repeating melody that is so slow as to be almost imperceptible, yet is heard with fresh ears each time.  Then there is the sho, the high pitched mouth organ that seems to bind together the whole with slowly evolving chords, an unearthly sound, perhaps with a touch of early Weather Report, that seems to stop time in it’s tracks.  Now watch the biwa (a kind of Japanese lute) players; they are using plectrums the size of dinner plates, maximum thwack with minimum mobility.  That’s fine, they are just waiting patiently for their moment to play, at the most, a couple of notes.  Sometimes they only play one.  The kotos work alongside,  yet are distinct from, the biwa in that they might fill out a whole chord.  Struck strings mirror the steps of the dancers, both musicians and dancers immersed in a slow motion arc leading to a precision attack.

I am struggling to find a sentence that moves slowly enough to describe the huge, seemingly breathing body that is the Gagaku orchestra.  Each of its parts strictly delineated, notated, handed down, the variety coming solely from the way it’s breath might change from bar to bar, the slight holding back as a beat arrives a little late, the gradual tailing off of a flute’s melody against the immovable force of the hichikiri’s line.  A vast moving organism of sound.

Music is seldom so regulated as it is here, yet Gagaku always makes me want to improvise.  It shakes up all the ear worms in my head, all the gremlins, creatures of habit, occasional voices of doom, and says “It’s only music.”  Sound in time, movement in space.  Back in the saddle.

(1)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKLxFmnYO_I

Introverted Snobbery

Who is that person?  He’s on stage, with four other band members, who are a little more familiar to me, and he’s talking to the audience.  He’s a little balder on top than I remember, and also a little more confident.  I’m watching my band Brother Face, filmed at The Verdict in Brighton from a camera attached (presumably) to the venue’s ceiling, and this stranger is me.   If someone had been swinging from the chandeliers, this is how they might have seen the gig, perhaps in a brief and unlikely moment of stillness, whilst doubtless being distracted by whatever else they were doing up there.  We are huddled round the small stage like some kind of puppet show through a fish-eyed lens.  Still, I am also pleasantly surprised by his (my) outgoing and relaxed humour, especially since I recently discovered I am an introvert.  There I said it.  Out and proud.  Here is what to do if you meet one…

http://twentytwowords.com/2012/08/29/a-simple-explanation-of-how-to-interact-with-introverts/

Wanting a fuller diagnosis of my terminal condition, I took the Myers Briggs personality test, which revealed that I am INTJ personality type.  I always wanted something after my name, pin that thing down, wear those letters like a BMus or a PhD.  To be an introvert, in this essentially extrovert world of celebrity and self publicity buoyed up with self confidence, is like being a kind of spoilsport, a misery guts, a killjoy, “cheer up, what’s wrong?” sort of person.  And introverts are typically predisposed to dwell on this, often taking personality tests or, on occasion, writing whole books to try and figure out what’s going on, which is what Susan Cain did.

With the recent publication of her study of introversion and its benefits, “Quiet”, this secret world has been laid bare, and it seems to have made the poor woman famous (all those book signings and seminars must have been like hell on earth).  After reading a couple of chapters, it turns out this last assumption is a myth; it’s not the socialising, it’s being accepted by those people you are with, gaining some kind of “permission” to engage with them.  This explains the popularity of social media amongst introverts, happy to blab on about how exciting things are in endless updates whilst retreating to a reassuring solitude in the “real” world.  So why am I happy to play the piano on stage, talk to an audience, but reluctant to ask someone in the street the way to the Post Office?

I think it is something to do with the instruments, the piano and the microphone.  Playing the piano, in comparison with the “out front” horns, is like a desk job.  I am often sat facing the wall (a familiar punishment for those of us who grew up in the olden days), either behind a high wooden box or a six foot table.  These boxes and tables, they make noises; I am mostly in control of the type of sound that comes out, and often not.  I use them to talk to other musicians on stage in a language in which we are all fluent, and conversations unfold in much the same way they do when normal people speak to each other.  There are agreements, fights, crossed wires and moments of telepathic empathy.  But often I am not looking at you, the audience, when this happens.  You are all looking at the back of my head.

This is a source of immense comfort to me.  I once played the clarinet on a gig and, whilst the lack of jazz technique was problematic, the fact I had nothing between myself and the audience was mortifying.  As for the microphone; it takes incoherent, shy, awkward mumbling and blows it up to the size of a public address.  You don’t have to project, to assert your entitlement to be speaking.  Like the piano, it gives you that entitlement, it is a barrier and a portal at the same time.  A bit like blogging really.  Chris Batchelor, the trumpeter in my band, often confuses  sound engineers when he insists on having a microphone in order to play quieter.  Projection has its own limitations; it’s not just “fuller”, it’s more insistent, there’s less grain to it.  Sometimes you have to explore the changes in sound that happen when instruments are quiet, or slow, or inward looking, when music does not project with the force of an orator’s roar but with the whisper of a softly spoken confidence.

Contrast with this the Post Office scenario – who am I to interrupt the day of a total stranger with what extroverts among you may regard as a simple request, possibly even an opportunity to engage in conversation?  He or she is not walking down this street in order that I might ask a question; my presence is an interruption which, as an introvert, I assume is unwelcome on their part.  But you, the audience, have by implication agreed to listen to whatever happens on the stage by being here, you have given us a vote of confidence.  Of course, once off the stage, the deal is off.  I’m back to my usual self, doing my best to be extrovert in a world that seems to demand it most of the time.

I hope this doesn’t sound like whining.

I remember having to transcribe (i.e translate recordings to musical notation) over thirty Bill Evans trio recordings for a book, and because my ear isn’t very accurate (or is it because I doubt my judgement?), I used software to help me out.  By using a computer to divide each track into manageable chunks, I could slowly shunt my way through each small section, listen to it over and over, and move one once I’d got it down.  On one particular track from the Village Vanguard sessions, one of the most listened to jazz albums in history, I looped the first few bars.  As I listened I heard, in addition to the exquisite unfolding of Evans’s music, an eerie howl that seemed to envelop the music.  When I listened to the track all the way through, without the loop, it had vanished.  I went back to looping the opening section; there it was again, like some angry Ghost of Analogue’s Past invading my computer.  The music was quite clearly haunted, even a devout sceptic (albeit an introverted sceptic) such as myself could not refute the evidence.  Clinking of wine glasses in the background, when looped, began as shambolic percussion, but the more I listened the more I could hear notes, and then I almost started to write them down as part of the transcript.  It was hard to tell where notes began and where sound ended.

We are unreliable witnesses to this music, and now that the Brother Face tour has finished, it’s time for me to listen over the live recordings and videos and see if any of it makes sense.  I’m hoping make some kind of album, but before I do that I need to hear it like it’s someone else’s music, not mine – to see it from the chandelier. In the meantime, perhaps I should adopt a more “extrovert” approach just to keep up; it is what we are required to do from time to time.

“Massively looking forward to this exciting new release with some of my favourite musicians bringing these amazing compositions to life.”

#justrememberthisisnothowitalk

Related articles