Tuesday, November 18, 2008

punch in the gut

So elegant is Morton Feldman's music. (lala) Elegant to the point of annoyance, like you want to find a stray thread in the weave after a while, but you never do. This piece mirrors being in the actual building in Houston, voice as and stray viola wandering in and out like the subtle changes in the natural lighting due to clouds that after a while you swear you start to see a repeating sequence. It is a stunning place, but for me, the Chapel paintings are not Rothko's finest hour.

The black on dark gray Untitled No. 11 that I used to spend some time with at the Nelson-Atkins museum in Kansas City when my wife was a guard there (click on the image to get the Nelson-Atkins page, including closeups) is a more powerful expression of what I think Rothko is about that his gargantuan threnodies of blackish purple at the Chapel. The deal about Rothko is that the paintings move, inject themselves into the room , into the viewer, not necessarily by optical tricks (though that is part of it) but by blunt psychic force. His paintings are far from empty, they are just thinky populated, just like the landscape of the soul. When on the mammoth cosmic scale like in the Chapel, they gain power but lose some of their punch. Untitled No. 11 is human-sized, a formidable pugulist of a painting waiting for you to round the corner and then BLAM! you are knocked to the floor. It is the difference between being in a small boat and seeing an ocean liner come imperceptibly at you, and being punched in the gut. Either way you are hit, but in the latter, it is personal.

So after that I was overcome with a desire to hear something by Frank Zappa, if just to cleanse the palate and shake me awake, and here is the very song I had in mind

Really, "Dinah-Moe Humm" not that great a song but its got some interesting parts, which sums up how I generally feel about Frank Zappa. I once tried to make a trip-hop tape collage thing out of looping the opening percussion and bass riff. But thanks YouTube! desire fulfilled.

A subsequent stroll across campus with Elliot Lipp was just the thing to settle my restless spirit. I really wanted the rounded edges of Yellow Magic Orchestra, but I didn't have any so, and Lipp's instrumental synthe-funk subbed in nicely. If this kind of thing is too techno, I feel like I should be getting my hair styled or something; Lipp harkens back to the halcyon days of Human League when the future was in cold plastic, but songs were still songs. Truthfully, I thought I accidentally hit the "Mood Rotation" demo music that came installed on my phone, but the sunshine beat and actual guitar solo of "So Stoked" got to me a little. It transformed the passing throngs of bored trans-seasonable students into a jubilant if ill-conceived fashion show. Yes, boots work with that! All of you! Boots work with everything! You are rocking that dull gray microfleece poncho! I usually hate this kind of transparent necrophiliac disco whatever - like each song has a 4:20 run time, get it? 4:20? and the album is called Peace Love Weed 3d? Yo... - but ultimately, Lipp works it out.

Here he is at the Projekt Music Festival, should your curiosity be piqued. It's not a punch in the gut, but then, who wants to be punched in the gut all the time?

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