Friday, January 28, 2011

speaking of neon octopus

Love this kid.

Fuat Kent, Crumb: Gnomic Variations - Processional - Ancient Voices of Children
Halcyon, Close Ups
Rolf Juilus, Early Works Vol. 1 (1979-1982)

Hat tip to Robert aworks Gable for pointing out this album. I went through a lengthy George Crumb thing a few years back but don't remember ever hearing Gnomic Variations. Crumb's music tiptoes on cat's feet, like does Carl Sandburg's fog, then smothers you like that neon octapus might.

A composer with a similar ghostway with palpable intangibility leading to cataclism is Earl Kim; his Earthlight, discovered on a  Smithsonian Folkways record at the library in Houma when I had to slide under a locked gate to get it. Earthlight is one of my favorite piece of music.

Christie Finn (Soprano), Rachel Field (Violin) and Baris Buyukildirim (Piano) perform 'Earthlight' by Earl Kim live at a concert by contemporary performance program at Manhattan School of Music (in two parts)

I don't really know what I heard in Earthlight twenty years ago, but now I hear those delicate violin lines as the whine of nerves, electricity passing over the synapses in purring sputters and flaring arcs and the tiny piano jolts are the clunk of these bridges, like when a train passes makes a clack on the track. The Beckett fragments intoned by the soprano become a fractured consciousness that has to somehow manifest itself from this wiry, fleshy grid. The stage instructions call for spotlights to go on and off as each performer appears in the score; I'd like them to be triggered by microphones, rising and dimming with teh intensity of the sound of each performer, so that it would become a maddening off-kilter strobe at the manic points and a succession of alien sunrises and sunsets in the calmer parts. It would be a glimpse of the mind-body at work.

I've not really given any of Kim's music the time of day because of how much this piece means to me, so I'll let the rather anonymously named chamber group Halcyon run through a few, because I'm generous like that.

Speaking of neon octopus, I'd be remiss if I didn't invite Captain Beefheart to weigh in on such an image. Imagine Captain Beefheart delivering one of those maddening, claustrophobic Samuel Beckett monologues like in Not I. Imaging Beckett trying to tell Captain Beefheart how to do it. Imagine having Beckett's haircut. The man had great hair.

I am woefully ignorant of the sound art of Rolf Julius who passed away last week after an illustrious career in that field, but the go-to folks at ROOT BLOG have early recording up for filling this gap.

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