Manafonistas

on life, music etc beyond mainstream

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„Dead Oceans is happy to welcome the pianist Tom Rogerson to the roster. His elegant and evocative debut, Finding Shore, a 13-track collaboration that began after Rogerson met Brian Eno outside the toilets after a gig, arrives December 8th.

Finding Shore is the sound of Rogerson distilling the essence of what he does after a protracted musical journey from childhood until now. He took the traditional route of music lessons and learning notation before starting composing “properly”. As a 17-year-old he had the odd contrast of being taught by the composer Harrison Birtwistle but also working as lounge pianist in a dilapidated hotel in Peterborough.

He spent some time in New York playing jazz, recording with Reid Anderson of The Bad Plus, and had a successful career with post-rock group Three Trapped Tigers, yet however enjoyable that experience was, he admits it was “definitely a diversionary tactic”. Everything seemed to be an escape from the classical world or, as Rogerson himself puts it, “falling out of my ivory tower very slowly”. Upon meeting Eno, the pair didn’t speak about music at all, but bonded over their roots in the Suffolk town of Woodbridge, located on the strange flat landscape of Eastern England, all heathland, military testing sites, estuary mud and the site of the ancient Sutton Hoo ship burial.

Eno’s influence on Finding Shore began by enabling Rogerson to overcome his fear of committing any one piece to its own album. As a way to open Rogerson up, Eno suggested they try experimenting with the Piano Bar, an obscure piece of Moog gear that works by using infrared beams focused on each piano key; these are then broken as the keys are played, transforming the piano’s note into a midi signal that can then be used to trigger or generate new, digital sound. As Rogerson improvised at the piano, Eno improvised with the midi signal to create a unique piece of music. The chance meeting with Eno and subsequent conversation about the Suffolk landscape did find its way into Finding Shore.“

2017 12 Nov

Manamory 2017/2

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Bei vielen Filmen, die ich im Kino anschaue, verlasse ich als letzter den Saal, so etwa bei Whiplash oder The Revenant. Schuld daran ist die Filmmusik. Die Namen der vielen Mitarbeiter ziehen vorbei ohne dass ich mich bemühe, sie mir zu merken. Aber es passiert hin und wieder, dass ein Name aufhorchen lässt – wenn ich das so sagen darf.

 

Das dritte Tanzstück in der Ballettreihe b. 30 ist von Natalia Horenca, sie kommt aus der Slowakei. Sie nennt ihr Stück „Wounded Angel“. Sie lässt den verwundeten Engel genauso wie ihn der Finne Hugo Simberg gemalt hat, hereintragen. Ich habe das große Ölbild in Helsinki im Original gesehen. Es ist mein Lieblingsbild in der finnischen Malerei.

 
 
 

 
 
 

Abstandnahme ist eine Technik der Wahrnehmung. Nach meinem Eintritts-Debut in die Schöne Neue Fernsehwelt im vorletzten Herbst mit vier Staffeln Mad Men drehte ich der Madison Avenue den Rücken zu, um dann nach einem Jahr zurückzukehren. Wie vertraut mir die Charaktere doch geworden waren, wie angenehm und erbaulich auch dieses Werk zu schauen war. Gestern nun der Anfang der finalen Staffel von Sons of Anarchy, wiederum nach längerer Pause. Back to Charming. Ich war sofort drin, erkannte die unzweifelhafte Qualität in allen Dingen.

 

2017 11 Nov

Manamory 2017/1

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„Miniaturen. Essentiell. Auf das Wesentliche reduziert. Ein Spiel mit bekannten Instrumenten, vorbeigelaufenen Geräuschen, unbekannten Perspektiven. Intim und sehr persönlich. Ein Spiel mit A-Synchronizitäten, Primzahlen, Chaostheorie und Quantenphysik und nicht zuletzt der Unschärfe von Musik, Klang und Geräusch. Warm und beiläufig. Ein Soundtrack zu einem unbekannten Tarkovsky-Film. Inspired by nature. David Sylvian gibt ein Lebenszeichen von sich und trägt das Gedicht von Arseny Tarkowsky vor. Unikate. Ein bisschen wie die Jane-Stücke von Harold Budd. Aber ausgearbeiteter. Subtiler. Tiefer. Abwechslungsreich und doch ein homogenes Ganzes. Und eigen, einfach sehr eigen. Async.“ 

 

 
 

THIS NEW SERIES ENDS BEFORE CHRISTMAS. IT CONTAINS SNIPPETS OF TEXTS MANAS HAVE WRITTEN DURING THIS YEAR. AND SMALL SEGMENTS OF COMMENTS, INTERVIEWS, EVEN LYRICS TAKEN FROM SONGS. SOME OF THE TEXTS ARE AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED. OTHER ONES CHOSEN WITH CARE. NO NAMES REQUIRED. IT MAY BE REGARDED, HOPEFULLY WITH A SENSE OF WONDER, AS A RELIGIOUS-FREE HYPER TEXT ADVENT CALENDAR. EVERYBODY IS CREDITED AS COMPOSER IN THIS MANAMORY GAME, AND CAN CONTRIBUTE, OR FEEL COMFORTABLE IN THE ROLE OF A PASSIVE OBSERVER. THREE QUOTES ARE THE LIMIT. ZERO OR ONE (NEW!) PICTURE. THIS FIRST ONE IS A „ONE-SOURCER“. OUT OF CONTEXT, IT CAN BE READ AS A POETIC INSTRUCTION MANUAL FOR ALL THE MANAMORIES TO COME. SWEEPING ECLECTICISM. JULIO CORTAZAR WOULD LOVE THIS PLAY. THE JUKEBOX PLAYS TAKE FIVE.

 

Yes, you are right, this is a bit too much for short notes and fleshed-out observations. At least I will give nothing away. A series backed by the rise of home computers and letting time go by till the world wide web is running our communication, is a bit far away from the mysteries of Twin Peaks and The Leftovers, yet these three peaks of modern TV history have more in common than first impressions suggest.

The Leftovers, Twin Peaks and Halt And Catch Fire are are all about systems of belief; it may be a version of the future made in Silicon Valley, it may be the loss and sadness and things left enigmatic in the small world of Twin Peaks. What are the things people turn to explain the inexplicable and why?

Whether you believe a giant egg in a volcano is going to hatch a monster that will end the world or that a series of aboriginal songs are the key to stopping the impending flood of the earth, belief systems help make sense of the narratives that we construct for ourselves and serve as a coping mechanism when we come face to face with things we cannot understand.

 

(There are people reading these lines believing there is a god, the great beyond, others think with dry sarcasm that the creator might not have a masterplan, but for sure, offshore, a decent amount of Paradise Papers.) 

 

The four central characters of Halt And Catch Fire have to deal with similar riddles as the traumatized inhabitants of Twin Peaks and Miracle. The stories they tell themselves come with a prize, and will probably (I stay deliberately vague here) end up in tears. Or a quiet, knowing smile. Does anyone believe in a shining future? It‘s all about illusions lost, illusions found. It‘s all about that Lou Reed / Velvet Underground song Brian Eno covered at the end of The Ship, the end of another story about the end of a world different from the one we seemed to have known. To be honest, knowing smiles are rarely happening here. Jacks had one, different story, on his last motorcycle tour, in the final scene of Sons of Anarchy. Oh, and, if anyone thinks this all is about entertainment, then he’s riding the wrong horse.

K

(a remix of three texts, I saw two of these shows till the final curtain, I‘m waiting for Twin Peaks‘ Third season since 1990, and it will finally arrive at my Electric Cinema after Nikolaus. m.e.)

 

Here we go again, looking for our favourites … Every Mana can create his or her own list with no standard formula of the number. You can make a top 3 or top 5 or top 20 or top 25 list. Just send your lists till deadline: December 05. or December 12 – two deadlines! Would work better not to do it before December 01, I removed mine. If possible, only include new albums that have been released in 2017. You post it by yourself, or you can send the list to:

manafonistas@gmx.de

 

2017 6 Nov

Unearthed

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Where do old times start when wild things run fast like life does anyway? What. Repeat. Where do old times start when wild things run fast like life does anyway? And what kind of future is prevailing if some artists and acts had created strange, possible musics long before these sound worlds became part of a general consent. Sometimes the futuristic sound worlds of past decades even recurred on older „schools“.

The most magical 2017 reissues from Japan and Spain came on the heels of American minimalism, but informed with a different cultural climate. And speaking of New York City: who thought this autumn would reveal a lost power pop masterpiece of sorts linking the clever anarchism of David Byrne‘s band with the heartfelt spontaneity of Jonathan Richman. Yes, The Necessairies with Arthur Russell, a record that only makes sense when you listen to the whole album in a row. Addictive.

And isn’t it funny so many re-discoveries or first discoveries this year came out of the generally disrespected ´80s and that era’s secret laboratories, from the Grant Avenue Studios in Hamilton, Ontario, to some some really desolate home studio facilities? And one of the most beautiful reissues of this year and the years before this year is one I really missed when it happened. I heard it a week ago for the first time ever, and I thought, well, let‘s talk again about old times and a different version of the future. Halt and catch fire!

So what‘s your favourite reissue of the year. Easy to name the Beatles, Eno, Hassell, or Radiohead. Or some ECM classics from Garbarek to Brahem. But what is the peak at the margins, the hinterland / underground stunner, the ancient, future-caring work crossing your ears as something out of nowhere. Hard choice to make, for me it is an album I will probably quite excessively play in the „Hörnum Jukebox Hour“ during my radio night at the end of December.

“M’Pasi Ya M’Pamba,” the first track on Hector Zazou and Bony Bikaye‘s 1983 collaboration Noir et Blanc, sounds like few other songs in pop music history. It buzzes, hisses and clangs like vintage industrial, its groove something like a higher fidelity take on The Normal’s “Warm Leatherette,” or a technologically advanced Suicide. But add to it the hypnotic vocals of Congolese singer Bikaye, and it takes on entirely different context—a composition with one foot in African pop and the other in a post-punk electronic avant garde. It’s not an obvious fusion, conceptually, but it works brilliantly.

Noir et Blanc, reissued by Crammed Discs more than three decades after its original release, has become an underground cult favorite since its inception on its balance of seemingly boundless experimentation and undeniable accessibility. Released after Talking Heads had introduced mainstream American audiences to Afrobeat and before Paul Simon would find similar inspiration in African music, Noir et Blanc—featuring a band of avant-rock veteran collaborators, CY1—built bridges to heretofore undiscovered territory. It’s music that finds celebration in pulling musical preconceptions apart.

To hear it from the label, the sessions that spawned the album were something like science fiction. “Wall-sized analog computers,” operated by screwdriver-wielding technicians, wires and cables creating an intricate network of spiderweb infrastructure, peculiar linguistic descriptions to drive the direction of the sounds—it all adds up to a strange kind of tech wizardry that was no doubt unusual for the time, and seems even more foreign from an era in which albums can be made on iPads. Yet the sound of the record only amplifies that imagery of wild laboratory experimentation. The eerie bounce of “Mangungu” gallops into outer space, while “Mama Lenvo” is at once a chorus of mbiras and frantic synth arpeggios.

The experimental spirit of Noir et Blanc, unbound by mainstream expectations, is what makes it so consistently thrilling. The abrasive guitar scrapes and persistent percussive stomp of “Dju Ya Feza” creates a weird mutation of industrial, whereas the steady lurch of “Lamuka,” complete with a glorious chorus of saxophones, is one of the album’s most compelling grooves. Not that the album as a whole ever loses its wild, psychedelic allure. When the album’s musicians were committing these tracks to tape, they often sent them through effects and took on an unpredictable, trial-and-error approach.

The final tracks, however, are some of the most vibrant and innovative to have been released in the 1980s, which later translated into a funkier electronic touring band approach after the album’s release. Zazou, Bikaye and CY1 brought a spirited sense of discovery and exploration to their studio sessions that are easy to hear on the finished product, an album so forward thinking that we still haven’t caught up to it, three decades later. (It‘s out now, on vinyl, remastered, new liner notes and comments included.)

 

(written  by Jeff Terich & Michael Engelbrecht)

 

 
 
 

The November list guarantees a big variety between exploding colours, psychedelic work-outs and different shades of noir, in sound and vision. Of course we have lately seen some brilliant tv series, Halt and  Catch Fire will get all its praise in time, Humans, season 2 is another gem, Vikings, season 4 a stone-cold killer – and for everyone who‘s planning his or her Manafonistas year‘s end list of favourite records, here are seven more that will come out till Dec. 8th and may influence final choices: Mavis Staples: If All I Was Was Black / Lucinda Williams: Sweet Old World / Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings: Soul of a Woman / Tom Rogerson with Brian Eno: Finding Shore (a good title for a record being released on a label named Dead Oceans) / Jon Balke & Siwan: Nahnou Houm / Brooklyn Raga Massive: Terry Riley‘s In C / Four-Tet: New Energy.

Autumnal greetings from MHQ

 

2017 30 Okt

The Strong Man

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The strong man ran away from the circus
because the lion wouldn’t love him.
He wandered into a forest, and began
uprooting trees. A badger stared at him.
An owl woke up. The man ignored both.
He weaved, howling, through the trees
at top speed, sending squirrels scattering,
till he came to a small, circular lake which
he dived into and swam to the centre.
Treading water, he thought of the lion,
its luxurious orange mane, that he’d love
to run his hand through. He even saw
the sharp shiny teeth in the red mouth
he’d thrown live rats into. How could he
have been nicer to the kingly creature?
Fat tears ran down his red-bearded face.
He felt something tugging at his left foot,
stuck his head into the water and saw a
small serpentine monster was trying to
snaffle him. He laughed and punched the
thing on the snout, which set it writhing,
causing a whirlpool to start up which
the man was fortunate to escape from
but he did, and struck out for the shore,
then hauled himself up to lie there, watch-
ing to see what the monster would do.

 

(a poem by Matthew Sweeney)

 

 

„Dieser Film ist international in Musikerkreisen heftig angegriffen und heftig diskutiert worden. Ich kenne keinen einzige Stimme aus diesem Bereich, die den Film verteidigt oder gar gelobt hätte.“ (Henning Bolte)

K

 

„Nun, mittlerweile kenne ich etliche Stimmen aus der Jazzszene, die diesen Film faszinierend fanden, sich frei machen konnten von einem plumpen 1:1-Realismus der Abbildung jazzpädagogischer Normalzustände. Man erinnere sich an die real existierenden Kommissare, die sich seinerzeit im Ruhrgebiet darüber empörten, Schimanski würde ein verzerrtes Bild des Berufsalltags vermitteln. Selten so gelacht, hallo?! Wer zu dicht verbandelt ist mit einem sozialen Feld, tritt wie ein tumber Lobbyist auf, und könnte sicher in der FDP Karriere machen.

Völlig ungeachtet, was hier kulturell korrekt ist oder nicht: ein ganz fesselnder faszinierender Streifen. „The most immersive film experience since Gravity“, bemerkte die schlaue Filmkritikerin Catherine Shroud im Guardian, und obwohl ich öfter anderer Meinung als Mrs. Shroud bin: ja, das passt, Gravity ist bei mir auch noch mächtig gestiegen in der Achtung, als ich es mit einem guten Soundsystem sah.

Whiplash verwandelte Zeit in einen Flug, und die Kritik mancher Jazzmusiker, Jazzdurchblicker und Jazzpensionäre halte ich für klein und kariert. Für sehr klein, und sehr kariert. Entschuldigung, aber „wütende Debatte“: da nehmen sich ein paar Gesalbte doch zu wichtig. Wütend durfte man werden, als Ken Burns mit Wynton Marsalis nur brunzblödes Geschwätz von sich gaben, was Free Jazz, Sun Ra und den elektrischen Miles betraf.

Aber hier, bei Whiplash … es darf gelacht werden. Da kommt mal grosses Jazzkino daher, grossartig performt, mit klugen roten Fäden, mit der Kunst, auch Jazzfremde anzulocken, dann gibt es „wütende Debatten“, ein Sturm im Wasserglas der Nichtigkeiten…

Aus Deutschland kommt viel zu selten ein Film, der einen aus den Schuhen haut. Von Serien ganz zu schweigen. Ich muss schwer nachdenken, wann ich den letzten grossen deutschen Kinofilm gesehen habe. Ich kann mich nur an den einen oder andern erinnern, der, na ja, ganz gut war … Deutsches Kino ist oft gespreizt, pseudofiefsinnig, kunstverkrampft, formal anstrengend, Stoff für Seminaristen, und, ja, oft genug, der letzte Scheiss. WOLKE 9, dieses besonders gequirlte Problemgewälze, ist ein Prototyp der angestrengten Ernsthaftigkeit,  und keinen Deut diesem Feelgoodscheiss „made in deutschen Landen“ überlegen. Dieselben Verklemmungen. Es gibt tatsächlich Ausnahmen, naturgemäss selten.“ (Michael Engelbrecht)

 
 
 

HALT AND CATCH FIRE (SEASON 1, 2, 3, 4) 

 
 
 


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