|03.17.2008, 12:17 AM||#21|
expwy. to yr skull
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Eye Of The Squirrel
Here is a link to the Gymnasium Tapes featuring the VU version of
"I'm not a Young man Anymore"
He is not Alone
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|03.17.2008, 01:33 AM||#22|
Join Date: Mar 2006
SXSW Conversation: Thurston Moore & Steve Reich
Authored by Mark Hefflinger on March 16, 2008 - 3:23pm.
When I first saw it on the conference portion of the SXSW website, I knew I'd be there: a conversation between Thurston Moore, the singer and guitar player in pioneering art-rock troupe Sonic Youth, and Steve Reich, the heralded American minimalist composer whose percussion masterworks include "Drumming" and "Music for 18 Musicians." Moore, at 49, is arguably the wisest elder of indie rock, his band Sonic Youth having cranked out some 16 albums since forming in the early 80's, while Reich, who is 72, is arguably the greatest living American composer, having influenced a subsequent generation of artists bridging classical music, rock, electronica, and even hip-hop.
The session began with a nice musical flourish, with guitarist C.E. Whalen taking the stage to perform a segment of Reich's "Electric Counterpoint."
Thurston then segued into the conversation with a recounting of Reich's bona fides, including his studies at Juilliard and early experiments with tape manipulation, and his studies of percussion -- with master drummers in Africa, and Indonesian gamelan performers in San Francisco.
Moore and Reich initially encountered one another in New York, as Reich for a time lived in the same building as Sonic Youth guitarist/singer Lee Ranaldo.
It was clear from this conversation that Thurston Moore is a dedicated aficionado of Reich's music -- a fanboy, if you will -- a fact made evident in numerous anecdotes, such as the stumbling upon of several Farfisa organs in the basement after Reich moved out of the building where Ranaldo lived.
Moore asked Reich whether these were the self-same organs used on his 1970 work "Four Organs." (They were! Further, Thurston assured Steve that they have been safely removed to Sonic Youth's studio and are being lovingly restored.)
Moore also enquired into several obscure films by Robert Nelson that Reich had scored, and a particular pair of 1960's headphones he had read about Reich rewiring, so they took separate inputs into each ear. Reich would respond with a good-natured laugh and a, "Wow, nobody asks me about that, and honestly, I have no idea."
Moore asked Reich about his early musical influences: early years -- Beethoven, Schubert and Sinatra; later -- Stravinksy, John Coltrane (who Reich saw perform at the Five Spot in New York), and especially drummer Kenny Clarke, who often performed with Miles Davis.
Other musical influencers included Phil Lesh, bass player for the Grateful Dead, who was a trumpet player when Reich met him in '62. Reich recounted that Lesh got him into the Beatles before "disappearing" in 1964 to visit Jerry Garcia (the rest is history). He also cited the poet William Carlos Williams, but said that his use of spoken word in his tape loop experiments and other pieces often "has more to do with the sound of the human voice."
The two here agreed that some lyrical settings work better for different kinds of music. For instance, rock 'n' roll sounds good in English and maybe German, but terrible in other languages, while bel canto opera music is most pleasing to the ear when texts are sung in Italian -- and relatively awful in English. Reich noted that "when you speak, the plosives (in the English language) lend themselves to percussive music," adding that he often uses speech as "a 'source' for making music out of."
The conversation turned to the topic of improvisation, where Thurston is quite accomplished both as a performer and cheerleader, while Reich confessed that a free improv group he had participated in years ago was "a complete waste of time... in six months, we didn't get any better than we were at the beginning."
Both men are musical pioneers, and challenged the notion of what can be construed as 'music'.
Reich helped to introduce African and Indonesian aesthetics, casting off Western music's focus on changing harmonies with a new attention on repetition. "Stay put harmonically, and create other energy we haven't heard before," as Reich described it. In Reich's music, the interesting part now comes in the subtle changes in his layers of rhythm.
On the flipside, Moore brought new layers of noise and distortion to rock, with bizarro guitar tunings on prepared guitars that turned harmony on its head. "You want to be a songwriter, but you want there to be freedom within that structure," said Moore. "A real elemental nature of music is having that freedom within the composition." Reich said he was particularly struck by the use of distortion and drone elements on Sonic Youth's 1998 album, Daydream Nation.
It's something of a travesty that both of these musicians -- and in fact many jazz, blues and avant-garde/experimental American musicians -- have the shared experience of being more popular abroad than they are at home, at least in the early going. "It's hard to make a living here in these United States," Reich said remorsefully. "It was easier to go to Cologne than to California... and everyone could come home with some money."
Thankfully, both now enjoy hero/idol status as they continue to produce relevant and exciting work. In the modern classical music set, Reich has been cited as an influence by Philip Glass; his influence can also be heard in the music of current indie rockers such as Sufjan Stevens and American Analog Set, and instrumental "post-rock" acts like Brian Eno, Tortoise and Godspeed You Black Emperor. There's also a pair of remix albums where current electronica artists take a stab at Reich's works -- Reich: Remixed. One audience member even stood up during the Q&A just to comment that all of the up and coming producers he knows in Detroit are tremendous fans of Reich's music.
Reich himself did not perform at SXSW, but he did curate a contemporary music showcase at St. David's Church the day before, that featured performances by the SOLI Chamber Ensemble. The conversation definitely whet my whistle for the upcoming Ojai Music Festival, which takes place back out in Southern California in June, where Reich will indeed be performing, on a program that includes "Drumming," among other works.
Thurston Moore did play at SXSW, with a band (Thurston Moore and the New Wave Bandits) that featured Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and other musicians who collaborated on his excellent new solo album, Trees Outside the Academy.
Before launching into the encore of his set Friday night at the Mohawk, a cover of the Velvet Underground's "I'm Not a Young Man Anymore," Moore waxed philosophical about the prospect of turning fifty years old this year.
If there were any doubts as to whether a fifty-year-old could still cut it as a punk, Thurston made some inroads into quashing them when he tossed himself into the crowd during the ensuing song.
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|03.19.2008, 09:00 PM||#25|
bad moon rising
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: brighton, ma
pics of be your own pet, sunburned, blood on the wall, mika miko, no age, mick jones, howlin rain' and plenty of shots from my day job with saucony, at sxsw, can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/teamsaucony
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