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Sie sei einmal sehr wütend gewesen, erzählt sie, als sie ihr frühes  Album „My Sweet Old World“ in einem Schallplattenladen fand, mit dem Etikett „out of print“, und dem Mann an der Kasse mitteilte, das sei ein Irrtum. Lucinda Williams war nie blutjung, nicht mal in ihren Anfängen, ähnlich wie Leonard Cohen. Aber glauben Sie ernsthaft, Leonard Cohen hätte sich je entschlossen, gute 25 Jahre nach „Songs of Love and Hate“ „Songs of Love and Hate“ noch einmal aufzunehmen? Never ever.

Wenn Lucinda Williams genau das nun macht, stellt sich die Frage nach dem Warum. Eine Erholungspause nach Jahrzehnten, in denen sie eine Qualitätsarbeit nach der andern ablieferte? Ein Spiel mit dem Trend, Klassiker der eigenen Werkgeschichte live neu auzuführen, und warum dann nicht gleich als Studioaufnahme? Haben nicht sowieso alle Legenden und Sternchen Standards und Lieblingslieder wieder und wieder dargeboten, ein Teil der Aufführungspraxis – die volle Breitseite zwischen nostalgischer Patina (Streicher! Streicher!) und zersetzender Dekonstruktion a la Dylan.

Nun hat es Lucinda Williams getan, mit ihrer fantastischen Gruppe (ich hatte das Glück, sie jüngst in Köln zu erleben), und hat dem alten Album der schon früh in die Jahre Gekommenen das Spätwerk der immer noch Extreme auslotenden Sängerin (64 Lenze, und soviele „beautiful losers“) an die Seite gestellt. Die Neudeutung der alten Songs ist radikal, eine Art Parallelwelt – aber statt sie an den Rand der Unkenntlichkeit zu treiben, sngt sie die alten Stories, als würde sie jedes einzelne Lied zum ersten Mal vortragen, oder als würde sie schon so lange in ihnen wohnen, dass die sich dort rumtreibenden Schatten einen Perspektivwechsel nach dem andern befeuern. You want it darker? Here it is.

 

P.S. Ich sah vor Tagen den wundertraurigen Film „Hell Or High Water“, und wenn ich an diesem Opus etwas auszusetzen habe –  Townes Van Zandt ist dabei, aber Lucinda fehlt. Dennoch – lassen Sie sich weder dieses „country noir movie“ entgehen noch das am 20. Oktober erscheinende Album. 

 

 
 
 

Within the fields of existential, or possibly pagean experience, or even occult spirituality, different physical locations are believed to be holy / existential sites because they possess an access to spiritual (resp. a certain, rarely unearthed human) energy. Common power spots often include mountains, caves, springs, the (often) windstill areas of small village backyards (Mellrichstadt!) – and other locations of unusual natural phenomena.

Recognized power spots are places that intensify whatever people bring to them, so that spending even short periods of time in them can lead to spiritual / existential transformation. Carlos Castaneda was a devoted searcher of power spots. „Power Spot“ is the name of a fantastic record by Jon Hassell, too. Though often connoted with holy places, power spots can sometimes be hardly recognized by their quite ordinary appearance (photo 1).

A good aquaintance of mine nearly lost her life in Dartmoor weeks ago by foolishly undererstimating certain power spot features of an area officially marked with signs of danger. She (a trained post-Freudian therapist) was even warned to enter the moor by a small, „strangely looking“, old woman, but downplayed the advice by thinking she would be kind of foolish. She wasn’t. The result: my aquaintance was white like a ghost after returning very late – for more than half an hour, she thought, every step could be her last.

 
 
 

 

In my memory, it was a hot summer afternoon in Schwabing, 1981. There was a record shop in the underground, and I remember, on my regular visits to the city, to stop by and look for exciting new albums. And I remember at least two records I bought there, Egberto Gismonti’s „Solo“ (the material on the cover had a special feel), and Jon Hassell’s „Dream Theory in Malaya“. Both stayed with me ever since.

I had my special Hassell experience, when nearly diving into „Possible Musics“, the Hassell-Eno-collab from the year before, on a never-ending bathtub session in Würzburg, all candles on! So, to hold this album in my hands (I stumbled upon it, didn’t read anything about an imminent release), to look at the surreal Mati Klarwein cover, to see the names of Eno (gongs, bells, bass) and Lanois (mix) on the backside – that all was the perfect ticket to ride.

And this was my first contact with the world of lucid dreaming, Jon Hassell’s story about anthropolgist Kilton Stewart (dating back to 1935, a golden era of Malaysian life, before brutal colonialism left its marks) made it very clear that Freud’s dream theory urgently needed some up-dates from the everyday culture of distant, ancient tribes. Two years later I became a serious student of lucid dreaming, had read the standard books of Stephen LaBerge and Prof. Tholey (the German pioneer).

In this quite short span of time, between early 1981 and early 1983, I lived in a tiny village in the Bavarian wood. This was hard stuff for a townie, and, playing smart Alec, I tried to learn my lessons  from Henry David Thoreau. In fact, I learned more from a bunch of records, and „Dream Theory of Malaya“ belonged to the top of the pile. Now, the re-release of the album contains an extra-track, „Ordinary Mind“ (a quite misleading title for such an oceanic piece), offering, 36 years later, an undisputable, perfect ending of that classic.

 

P.S.: To work as a psychotherapist in Furth i.W. with alcoholics in the early ’80s, following a well-planned research program based on modern extensions of behaviour therapy, seems like a decent first stage of a career in psychology. On the countryside. Looking back, it was a heaven-and-hell ride, including secret road maps, love and desaster, witches and shins and hypocrites, mushrooms, dragons and, well, volleyball. Not to forget the first, very raw album of the Go-Betweens, „Send Me A Lullaby“.

Ich wäre noch tiefer in die Rhön gefahren, aber nach der Begegnung mit einigen Pilzsuchern in teilweise Handke’schem Outfit (habe ich je verraten, dass Pfifferlinge meine Lieblingspilze sind?), und einem Besuch einer geschätzten Lautsprechermanufaktur, wollte ich nur noch meine 800-Kilometer-Tour durchziehen, als ich plötzlich doch den kleinen Hunger verspürte. Leider hatte das leise vor sich hin sinnierende Örtchen Mellrichstadt schon am Mittag Marktplatz und Bürgersteig hochgeklappt, und es bedurfte einiger Pfadfindertugenden, noch eine offene Pforte ausser der des lokalen Beerdigungsinstitutes zu finden. Wenn alles so herrschaftlich ausgestorben scheint, fällt noch rascher auf, was für eine Stimmungskanone ich sein kann. Also ergaben sich, im gewitzten Dialog mit der Diensthabenden eines kleinen Museumscafés auf der Hauptstrasse, die auch Hinterlandstrasse hätte heissen können, ein paar Einblicke ins fast völlig zum Erliegen kommende Treiben ringsum. Lugte die Sonne mal kurz durch die Wolken, wurde es richtig warm, und ich ertappte mich dabei, uralte italienische Schlager hören zu wollen („mit der süssen Vera an die Riviera“). Isabella stellte dieweil Stühle im kleinen Hinterhofgarten auf. Sie erzählte von Senioren, die regelmässig kämen, mit treuen Hunden, und diese „Oase der Stille“ geniessen würden. Mittlerweile war mein Traum von einer fangfrischen Forelle ausgeträumt, ich gab mich mit einem Stück altdeutschem Käsekuchen zufrieden, schoss noch ein Foto von der von jedem Windhauch befreiten Idylle des Hofes (die Alten würden sicher bald herbeiströmen, die Szenerie in ein Konzert von Kuchengabeln verwandeln, ich hatte schon mein Solo) – und machte mich, nach erstaunlich munteren Abschiedsworten, auf den Weg. Am Rand nahm ich noch wahr, wie verriegelt die Dorfpizzeria war (ein Schild mit der Aufschrift „GESCHLOSSEN FÜR IMMER“ hätte mich nicht aus dem Gleichgewicht gebracht) – doch erst im Nachhinein wurde mir klar, wie leicht ich hier, am Ende der Welt, die Zeit hätte anhalten können. Ein idealer Ort für Liebende und Verlorene. Hinter der Ortsgrenze hiess das erste Lied, das ich hörte, „Hawai“, von Neil Young, er sang es 1976, in einer Sommernacht, auf seiner kleinen Ranch nahe Malibu.

 

Lanzarote, eight o’clock in the morning, October 10th (!) – Papagayo Beaches (we’ll meet on the second bay from the right side, be careful while climbing down – this happens in collaboration with the former head of the festival Musica Visual de Lanzarote)

The sandy beaches are a unique natural feature between mighty lava rocks. You can drive by car almost to the beach itself. For the more ecologically inclined, a walk over the hills will bring you to one of the many bays. You won’t need a bathing costume here, but you will need water to drink to take with you. Little bars and snack restaurants are only on the hill next to the last parking area at the end of the dirt road. 

… the weather will be fabulous, the sea another invitation … swimming, talking, scrambled eggs with canarian potatoes … part of the morning program will be a deep listening session of Lucinda Williams‘ re-recording of her old time album „Sweet Old World“ – and a brand new interview with her (to be listened to on smart, waterproof  UE BOOM boxes drifting on the surface of the sea nearby.) She talks on  childhood, re-visiting the past, and the ghosts of Highway 20.

This is definitely no joke, but Ildefonso (the special guest) and me might be the only ones regarding the short time of preparation. Just check your time resources. Unexpected guests are welcome, too. It never rains in Southern Lanzarote. I will stay there between Oct. 8 and Oct.15. – and live in a house by the sea that César Manrique built.

In the early years of the century I was the go-between between the Deutschlandfunk (Harald Rehmann’s jazz- and far-out-of-jazz-department) and the annual festival, buying the best concerts from the caves for broadcasting, and meeting beloved musicians, David Darling, Eberhard Weber, young Christian Wallumrod, Arve Henriksen (who, in a hotel in Costa Teguise, invited me to come to the first Punktfestival of Kristiansand) – Bang on a Can performed „Music For Airports“ – and Brian E. did a live-concert at the bottom of a volcano. „Asanti habari habari habari / Asanti nabana nabana nabana“ … 

 

Björn Meyer’s solo album for electric and acoustic bass guitar (and few electronic effects) occupies a peculiar place within a long tradition between solo guitar and solo bass albums on Manfred Eicher’s ECM label. At the beginning of the year Dominic Miller’s solo guitar work (with some decent percussion from skilfully helping hands) has been a study in clarity, lyricism and intricate suspense (in relaxed atmosphere). The sound of Björn Meyer uses different ways to create tension and release, momentum and quietness, and it is still surprising after all these decades how  many of theses solo journeys don’t follow well-trodden paths. The magic still works.

The ’80s cannot rival, musically, with the magic density of the two earlier decades, but they are a suitable playground for aural archaeologists. Discovering hidden treasures is the name of the game, and Michelle Mercure’s „Eye Chant“ is a stunning example. A woman who works the space between sound and image, sound and machine, nature and science, without any „smart-Alexa“-concepts, a woman with playfulness and a detailed sketch book: wouldn’t be surprised Boards of Canada would have had found their perfect role-model here. More probable: time is not always too kind to artists on the margins.

Oh, I could write long stories of living with the music of the Go-Betweens. It all started for me when I got their first album, the garage band version of the Brisbane trio, in the Bavarian wood. I followed their ways from start to end, the group, the solo efforts of the two songwriters, the reunion. They became soul food company, and they became one of my favourite bands ever. Robert Forster’s biography is utterly sincere, a great study of creative peaks, traps of illusion, short highs, and slightly longer lows when being part of the indie rock scene. Reading his book, I’m strolling through familiar places, Notting Hill record shops, the Donau river at Regensburg, I remember concerts and interviews. Everything filled with great expectations, great losses – the love for life, for  music, and the prize you pay, in sensitive balance. Heartbreaking stuff.

In a world that seems to suffer more and more from sociopathical presidents, the dirty return of fascism, darkness and devils prevail. It’s no longer true that the devil gets away with the best sentences, the banality of evil is overpowering any smart move. There are no smart moves of fucking scumbags. „American Crime“, the title, may sound like pure mainstream, but, substantially,  the series, some years old by now,  has nothing in common with cheap thrills, on the contrary, it is deeply rooted in American misery, disappointment, and nightmare. Nightmares have a long history. Read Bill James‘ „The Man From The Train“, and you know – not easy to digest, and unforgettable. Out of respect for the dead.

2017 25 Sep

The luck

| Abgelegt unter: Blog | RSS 2.0 | TB | 7 Kommentare

 

H

k

to listen to the Allman Brothers‘ „Mountain Jam“ 

full volume, I mean, really full volume,

sitting, on that 5:1-mix, in the auditorium,

Fillmore East, 1971,

Duane, Greg, the heavenly rhythm corporation,

the fuckin‘ organ,

and melt away

 

 

 

And what says the madman? What madmen say!

 

 
 
 

Auf Vinyl und CD nun wieder zu moderaten Preisen erhältlich, dieses kleine Juwel des wunderbaren belgischen Labels „Made To Measure“, das in den 80er Jahren schillernde Exkursionen in den Grenzgebieten von Avantgarde, Pop und Post-Pop verbreitete. Im Falle von Yazuaki Shimitsu ist solche Musik für den Kommerz (Jingles, Mini-Soundtracks etc.) mit hintersinnig doppelten Böden nicht so paradox, wie es erscheint, und auch schon früher realisiert worden: die begrenzte Zeit, das zu bedienende, mögliche Objekt der Begierde, solche vermeintlich einengenden Auftragsarbeiten haben die Kreativität oft auf verlockende Abwege geführt, Sinn gemacht und (Be)-Sinnlichkeit hergestellt, in prägnanten Dosierungen. Eben nicht NUR skurril! Und wie gute Filmmusik kann sie sich von den bewegten Vorlagen lösen. (im comment one eine treffliche Besprechung von Alan aus „Modern Vinyl“)

 

Michael Engelbrecht: What is your approach to field recordings? Your fascination seems endless and coming from different angles. By the way, one of my favourite field recordings has been recorded in England, Scotland and Wales during the early ’60s, „Trains In The Night“, the final years of steaming locomotives, beloved rhythms of early childhood memories …

 

BJ Nilsen: I am not a purist when it comes to field recordings, I allow myself to approach my recordings or methods in any possible way I want. It is in many ways a orchestra of sounds with an open air studio, things reverberate, coming from different directions and so on. I think the experience and energy that you partake by interacting with a sound source or location is half of the benefits doing field recording, together with that you never exactly know what you are going to get. It is never just about pressing REC. I am also interested in the anthropological sense of field recordings and that you can read in so much information in a single recording.

 

Michael: The record sounds, in certain passages, like a rather dangerous and unsafe journey. Is that right, or a wrongfooted impression … I mean, the composer has been t h e r e, but the listener has to develop the place in his own mind …

 

BJ Nilsen: It can be dangerous yes, but so is crossing the street in some cities. This was no dramatic mountain expedition … . However you always have to be prepared, the mountain does not care if it is suddenly snowing and you are poorly dressed …

 
 
 

 
 
 

Michael: The source material was recorded in Gran Paradiso. What are your basic principles (intellect vs intuition) if you shape, change, reshape the original material?

 

BJ Nilsen: I allow the material to take form and the sounds should work together, there is a great deal of processing, editing and rhythm. I go through many versions and mixes before one is decided upon. Great deal of experience and intuition, chance. Always pay attention to the mix.

 

Michael: By sequencing the album, has there been the idea to give the music a narrative arc, or at least, if not exactly storylines, then a kind of „energetic suspense curve“?

 

BJ Nilsen: When I compose for an album I tend to work in one timeline. Track order can of course change later. Sometimes one longer piece becomes 2 or 3 separate pieces in the end, but I prefer to work on the album as one long piece. Hopefully then I always have an overview how it works as a unity. I do a great deal of shortening of passages and deliberately try to not fall into personal or obvious classical tricks.

 

Michael: A quote by André Daumal accompanies the album. In which way has this quite enigmatic figure been an inspiration for „Massif Trophies“?

 

BJ Nilsen: That happened after the material was composed, I was reading the book for the first time and did not realize it had been such an inspiration for many, for example Jodorowsky or Zorn. The album is not in any way related to „Mount Analogue“ more than it has a mountainous theme and I could relate to the book. Perhaps what I wanted to touch upon was the same idea of observing the act of climbing with all its psychic and physical properties. An alpine environment can also be quite surrealistic, mythical and almost otherworldly, all this was attractive to me.

 

Michael: In Kristiansand, during the Punkt Festival, I heard a lecture and had a little breakfast talk with Jez Riley French. He spoke about the difference between how we listen to the world and how the world actually sounds. I assume you also more interested in a kind of „hyperreality“ different from usual connotations with climbing mountains or mountain walks – or is the aim to deliver a somehow raw, naked experience?

 

BJ Nilsen: Mountains are „Massif Trophies“ in a sense of achievement but also of energy and symbolism. People have always read into all sorts of connotations and symbolism, the mountain being center of the world, point of creation, contact between heaven and earth. Being a place to hide or meditate, myths of mountain demons and the accursed mountains in Montenegro. To me they are timeless and raw and therefore a place where the mind can expand. Worst that can happen is that all mountains turn into a new type of tourist destination mecca.

 
 
 

 
 
 

Michael: My next radio night show will probably start with that long first track of „Massif Trophies“. Maybe you can tell me (and the listeners) about its story and components. At some point some nearly subliminal sounds emerge from nothing, slowly merging with this huge space …

 

BJ Nilsen: During one hike we got caught in a massive thunderstorm, as the weather can be very unpredictable in the mountains it is advisable to take shelter, especially with lightening involved. We ran to what happened to be an old farmhouse (Alpe Djouan at 2.200m) and squatted under the roof.

I immediately set up my equipment on a dry pile of bricks that was reaching up to the roof. The panorama view over the valley was incredible and as the storm took shape rain and thunder was building up. Lightening was striking both horizontal and vertically. One lightening hit a nearby peak creating a rock avalanche that threw head size boulders down the same path as we ascended from. Truly mesmerizing event that went on for at least half an hour, the thunder rolling around in the valley was creating the most incredible real time phasing effects.

I could not believe my ears when I suddenly heard the farmers bringing out the cattle from the larger farmhouse behind us, trying to navigate them onto the grassy knoll for grazing. I looked to the side and there a huge bull stood majestically looking out the valley, 10m away. I wanted to use the whole version but felt too long so I edited it down and decided to add some underlying electronic manipulations, bringing it somewhere else.

 


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