Few pleasures so great as discovering a new artist you know is going to matter to you. Researching a thesis on ambient art and did just that - and he's been composing right under my nose on the Room 40 label. Proving that ambient art need not only be pacifying 'furniture', here is the ferocious and beautiful 'Flowstone' by Rafael Irissari.
... remove the outside, there's the inside; remove the inside and you see the soul
More than once I have tried to transpose the ferocious beauty of Belong's 'Remove the Inside' onto the page ...
This is the music I hear through the penultimate scene of The Mary Smokes Boys , a boy shooting out the windows of a truck that speeds away from him in the dusk, then he goes to his sister and sees the blood ... And I hear it in The Darkest Little Room when the man sleeps and dreams of an infinite and eternal chain breaking in the dark and knows it is the girl who has accomplished this but does not know how ...
Of course I fail, but I must continually try ...
The new Arvo Part is here. It is genius. The best work since Lamentate. The pieces here have achieved what In Principio and Orient Occident attempted, a truly timeless style ... music that could have been written by Motzart, or Palestrina or someone of the 22nd C AD, but, in truth, could only have been written by Part ... He is the master among the masters ... listen to this ...
I've written on Arvo Pärt occasionally for magazines and journals. In those you are not allowed to be superlative and say things like, for me he is the greatest artist in any medium ever ... it makes you sound naive ... I remember I wrote something for Limelight in response to a BBC reviewer's misgivings re Lamentate; which comments reminded me of the ornithologist in Chesterton, who is visited by an angel and declares it an insufficient bird; and I have written on Part's intimations of Motzart, and on Kanon Pokajanen ... But never on the simple and extraordinary piece that gave birth to the tintinnabuli technique, and which I had on loop the entire time of writing The Mary Smokes Boys. But really, what can anyone say? It is still, often silent, spare, and some strange how, immense, as though the notes have been carved out of enormous ancient rock ... Fur Alina ...
Neo Classical: Arvo Part and Giya Kancheli
Jazz Piano: Dave Brubek and Marcin Wasileski
Ambient Piano: Vassilis Tsabropoulos and Chris Abrahams
Jazz Sax: Arve Henriksen and Charles Lloyd
Bop: Miles Davis and John Coltrane
Chamber Jazz: Thomas Stanko Quartet
Neo Byzantine: Nick Tsiavos
Ambient: John Broaddus and William Basinski
Trance/House: Johan Malmgren and Daleri
Chillstep: Ghosts of Paraguay and Owsey and EvenS
Folk: Dirty Three and Nick Cave
Cowboy: Willie Nelson and Jimmy Webb and Johnny Cash
Rock : The Tragically Hip
Post Rock: Rheostatics
Comedy Rock: The Beards
The recent release of Peter Carey's new novel had me thinking about titles. If I am ever capable of a title as soppy as The Chemistry of Tears I hope the people around me have the good grace to pull me up. I have no idea what's between the covers of that book, perhaps it's very good. I haven't read Carey since I was in my late teens, when for some strange reason all things quirky seemed artistic.
Once I was working with a pleasant American lady in her sixties and it was Friday afternoon. Knock off time.
'Thank God,' she said swinging back on her chair.
'Too right,' I said.
Said the American lady, 'I'm going home to put a hot water bottle under my knees, a cat on my lap and watch Midsummer Murders.'
'My God,' I thought, 'You and I have a different idea of fun.'
That is how the title of Peter Carey's book makes me feel.
While it's rare that a really great writer is capapble of a title as poor as that, good book's don't necessarily have
wonderful titles. Dostoyevsky wasn't great at it: Crime and Punishment sounds like an American TV series; Tolstoy seems
not to be even trying: War and Peace could be an undergraduate history essay - it needs only the sub-title 'in 19th Century
Ireland' to make it perfect.
Graham Greene was hit and miss, the very ordinary titles Heart of the Matter and Honorary Consul (both superb novels) are
counterweighted by the Power and the Glory, which manages to be both ironic and sincere by turns, and the subtly beautiful
and also ironic, The Quiet American.
Hemingway was superb: A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Death in the Afternoon, A Moveable Feast all beautiful and strange phrases with deep resonances.
Who is making great titles today? So far as I can see, no well known writers - at least, none consistently. Just one film maker comes to mind: the director or Bottle Rocket, The Life Aquatic, Darjeeling Limited. In books and films good titles are thin on the ground.
And yet, I have noticed that composers of contemporary electronic ambient music are uncannily good at it. Take
shoegaze outfit Belong: 'Remove the Inside' from the verse that says 'Remove the outside and you find the inside, remove
the inside and you see the soul' or 'I Never Lose, Never Really' .. Or Last Days: 'Saved by a Helicopter' or 'I remember When You Were Good'. Truly for the next book of stories I write I must pinch some of these.
Pensees - spelling and punctuation mistakes and all ... I believe at least three quarters of what I say. ... And the good stuff only stays posted for an hour or two.