Monday, April 27, 2009

toward an art pop manifesto

I read about Gabriel Kahane in the NYTimes this weekend, one of a growing trend of classical musicians applying their advanced training to the pop arena, not so much bridging the gap between the two but releasing themselves from the bonds of either. (listen) I happen to think this dissavowed nexus is where some of the most interesting new music is coming from lately, from folks who know their way around both Radiohead and Schubert lieder and know what to take from each side and what to leave behind.

The big art nerd in me appreciates the sentiments and sarcasm likely intended in this title

Never underestimate the allure of a great idea: check out his "Craigslistlieder," a piano setting of Craigslist personal ads, from his 2006 album Walking Away from Winter. (listen)

There are similar intentions in David Bowie, wanting to tap into something grand while being immediately accessible. Take "Space Oddity"(listen) - this is a song covering a lot of ground, moving between power chord crunch to Nelson Riddle delicacy as quickly as pivoting in an office chair.

The difference is that these young artists - Kahane, Nico Muhly, and William Brittelle being a few examples - maintain a consistent texture to their material, a signature stroke. Bowie was a magpie in comparison, identifiable by his call and the luminous grooming of his feathers. Bowie, under all the high-minded architecture is still rock 'n' roll first. These new artists are after something a little different I think.

Speaking of different - behold Kraut! Demons! Kraut! a collection of largely unknown German psychedelia form 1968-1974. (via Ongakubaka) Set the controls to the heart of Bavaria! It goes great with the "naked wizard tazed by police at Coachella" video making the rounds.

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