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Friday, May 23, 2008

Stephan Micus

WOW... Stephan Micus, a true, well kept secret in contemporary music played last evening in superb Teatro Donizzetti... a rare, rare concert, indeed.

I knew about this very event few hours before it, thanks to my friend Donatella and her mobile-phone message... and thanking the kindness and support of Francesco Alleva and Alessandro Bettonagli (respectively the organization team and artistic directors behind the concert) I've been able to enjoy ALL the musical nuances, the weird and exotic sounds which came from the classy, elegant, yet minimalist stage.

Dimmed lights, wooden rear baffles... only the (necessary) mikes and booms only slightly worked against the Stephan Micus' ascethic persona, shy, yet strong appearance on stage.

His concerts - never more than 10 - 15 per year worldwide, are completely different than his several records on ECM... he, as a consummate and expert traveller and globetrotter, always travels lightly packed... no guitars, rebab, dilruba, ki u ki, stone percussions and the like; his companion is only what can be stored in an old hobo-like grey, battered suitcase: a zither from Germany, two shakuhachi from Japan, two duduk from Afghanistan, a suling from Bali, two kalimba from Gambia, two tin-whistle from Ireland... that's it.
A world in a suitcase... and his Mount Athos' trained voice... or, again, a superb, SUPERB encore on some obscure, poetic archaic Arabic lullaby where he get three different voices... shivers, tears, deep true emotion...

The so shy Stephan Micus considers the concert as a window where worlds collide... his out of the crowd, meditative, calm, quiet, poetic, beautiful world and our world... he stated that he'll never issue a live recording and, after yesterevening, I know he's sincere!

When I briefly chatted with him, after the concert, I learned many interesting aspects and observed him... his eyes are so quiet, but a little wild, spirited... maybe the long travelling made him so shy, word-shy, too... also when bowing at the audience handclappings, he too quickly disappeared in backstage, in his butter-white indian suit... he smiled a lot, when chatting together... a little sad, yet sincere smile... he appreciated I showed to him some of my vinyl records... ..."ah, vinyl records... they're much better than CDs..." and he carefully, lovingly handled the discs and the cover paper and autographed them...
Again, using italian to introduce his pieces gave to him a cute and friendly looking, but this was clearly a little tiring for him... this effort clearly showed his sincere respect for people in the hall, and his willing to be properly, fully understood...

The music is so important, but more important was looking at this humble, complex Man who saw the whole world, met people in five continents and learned from everyone he encountered on his path... music is already well served by his recordings... what a concert is for is allowing the passionate listener to understand and appreciate the blend of technique, soul, suffering, joy, skill and chance, the nervous and peaceful moods which are behind music, looking at the wrinkles on his face, tasting... yes, tasting the body smell after the concert when caring for these instruments coming from far countries... this is a concert. Living music... and a 360° life experience... a music which, suddenly, simply, changes your heartbeat and makes two hours a blissfull instant.

Om mani Padme Hum.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fire at Berlin Philarmonia Hall,2933,356755,00.html

... what a mess, pals... I've no words on this... I'm very sad.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nick Drake...

... and movies... this is "Black Eyed Dog", one of the very last songs he recorded before his too early death...
... really, I've not words enough to say what Nick's music represented to me since early '70s when I first heard it, beginning from "Pink Moon" album... his music changed my life!
Sadly his was so... so...

This little "divertissement" isn't bad... the New Deal mood with this very music... I find this YouTube's effort timeless and lovingly conceived...

Monday, May 19, 2008

The most mysterious disc ever?

The music and records collector life is quite various, so full of tales, mysteries, sought-after and elusive items: a slight difference in a cover and the very same disc is worth big bucks: come to mind first mono Bob Dylan's, the first Jefferson Airplane's, the "big face" 1st Neil Young, with Last trip to Tulsa, which unpleased a fussy Neil and was re-recorded and disc re-issued on Reprise label... the few copies which circulated (I own one...) are worth... well, you got it... Roll Eyes, the Velvet's "torso" cover, where a guy involved in Warhol's Factory appeared, naked torso... after the first Velvet Undergound's sales, he asked for money... and the disc, to avoid legal hassles, was retired and re-issued with torso-less cover... voilà... no more money owed!

... the above are, of course, only some hints, the iceberg tip in the hard collector's jungle!

... but, here I'd wish to talk about another lesser known, obscure, niche disc... Tir Na Nog first record on Chrysalis green label.

It's worth - in the "right" (or wrong, depending on which side you're...) hands - fair amount of money, but listen...

Tir Na Nog was a duo of male singer, guitar players, a by-product of some Notting Hill life-style, back in late '60s... Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly's voices are angel-like and the cheapy Harmony Sovereign are so cleverly recorded by the magic ears and hands of sound engineer Nic Kinsey at his Livingston Studios in High Barnet, Northern London... it's a superdisc, a lion in sheep skin!

The production is by the giant of English folk music, Bill Leader, a man who, using a tube Revox recorder and a tube AKG C-12 pair made the history of music: Anne Briggs, John Renbourn, Bert Jansch... Transatlantic used in early '60s... Bill's dining-room or bedroom as a studio!!!

The record catalog number is typically Island of the Golden Years... ILPS 9153, Nic Kinsey and Bill Leader were typically Transatlantic chaps as is the sound, superb, I repeat... the Sovereigns' are captured smooth, natural... better, FAR better than expensive Martin's in lesser hands, studio ambient and voices sibilants, all is flawlessly "here" in this very disc!

How I'd wish to know "why" this collaboration happened... it's like if Rolling Stones would have recorded Paint it Black for EMI, with George Martin's producing, back in early '60s!!!

The songs are quite well done, still nice after almost 40 years, sounding not so dated, they aged pretty well.
... so what? Buy it, grab it if you find at some site or record market... I own two copies... like with Lumiere's cartridges... can't REALLY think me without this record!

Speaking about Island made me to go upstairs, looking for more... now listening to Traffic's "The low spark of long heeled boys"... Hidden Treasures, the first track, is really what I think about "my" music... hidden treasures among endless, infinite vinyl grooves... a world, a better universe!

Thanks Stevie... the tenor sax and hand-clapping on the titlesong are "so here"... you can't stop handclapping unison, too!!!


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Q: What's time?

A: a sandclock!

A simple, ancient way to "see" the time... Anthony Braxton, the great musician used it as an improvisation tool... i.e. - improvising on the sax is sooo various, complex and endless... I'll need a path, a rule... someone who or something which will say "Stop!" and what's more democratic, free and gentle as the Time...

How can I see it, as it's invisible? A wristwatch? naaa... much better a romantic, classy looking one-hour lasting sandclock!

People at the concert, last year, was like ipnotized by sand flowing and flowing... at the last sand-grain, mr. Braxton, suddenly, as he began playing, he stopped with a smile, like an apology.

Imitating the greats is called "learning"... I just found a one-hour sandclock... I guess I'll call my next improvisation "Humbly: Time".

... 'til the very last sand-grain.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Berlin Triode Nights 2008

A music and tube happening in Berlin, hosted and nicely appointed by Thomas Schick and selected friends... nice people, fine food, tubes, music at friends homes & nice music-systems tasting and lotta chatting on the matter... and Berlin still is a vinyl records heaven et al.... a dream.
... for (necessary) weather forecast:

Will report soon... just stay tuned.

Laurie Anderson

... a mistery: She looked like she was 2 meters tall, while flawlessly performing, black dressed, braveheart icy eyes, on stage... yesterday evening at MaxLive in Costabissara, Vicenza, Italy.

When I briefly chatted with Her after the amazing, awesome, soooo beautiful show... hey, She was so cute, minute, almost fragile... BUT the light She brings in and with her Music, she's also among the most important performing artists I'm aware of... a true Giantess of arts.

I asked her about the trip to Tibet, Lake Mansarovar and Holy Mount Kailash back in early '90s... she honestly admitted than, more than deep mystic experience, she was very sick due to altitude... but still remembered the yaks smelling;-)

... politics... well: crude, heavy, like an iron hand in fur gloves... she also quoted, among others sad crazyness concerning U.S. of A.'s international politic behaviours she so effortlessly and sincerely blames, the Dal Molin/Vicenza hassle and pain in the ass for many, many people around... a very appreciated and sincere word from a sincere and very sensitive woman and artist.

... and, possibly, for yours truly, maybe among the five very best concerts ever... and I'm a pretty avid concert-goer, believe me...

Her music, formerly a newly composed project titled "Homeland" - whose disk will be available in early 2009 - has been able to "stop the clock": the text and atmospheric music and texture, her electric violin, voice and sampling, the superb, Zen-like viola on the right-stage, THE MIGHTY vintage bass-guitar... I never saw such a long-scale instrument... going subterrean low-bass, con gusto... WOWOWOW!

A rare, rare happening and personally feeling fortunate enough having been in the bunch enjoying this very concert and a joy meeting such a truly warm human being, a very sincere artist and a musical lighthouse to me since my first exposure to her music.

ohhhh, Suuuuupermaaaannn...;-)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The little, mighty SHELBY 4W LAMP - an industrial tale!

A SHELBY 4W bulb is endlessly, humbly shining since 1901!!!

This little, tender, humble glass globe with a filament is a sort of industrial miracle... the story: in Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Guard Station # 6 this bulb never broke, nor stopped to shine in 107 years!

Its light saw several wars, Edison, Roosvelt, the Great '29 Depression, the New Deal, JFK and Nixon, Reagan and Bush, and it became a cult... people, the brave Fireguard caressed its warm glass bulb before a mission, pregnant women searched in its warm round belly and long life an happy ending and good health in their pregnancy fruits.

It's a tale, a modern one, with some Fritz Lang's Metropolis flavour, but still a tale... let's remember the average bulb life is in the few thousand hours realm... this gizmo shone for more than a million hours... here is, still alive and kickin'...