In the garden of my house there’s a tree with lots of randomly grown twigs. It looks odd and nice at the same time. One day I asked myself if I could create a piece of music with it.
To tune the tree I picked a fundamental note and tuned the twigs by trimming them with a pencil sharpener. I used two R?ɬ?de NT6 and a NTG-2 as microphones, combined with a customized stethoscope.
I recorded the tracks live on a Pro Tools LE system. I didn’t use any synthesizer or sampler to create or modify the sounds. All the sounds come from playing the tree, by bowing the twigs, shaking the leaves, playing rhythms on the cortex and so on.
What with the acclaimed release of Brad Gooch’s long-in-the-works biography, and Criterion’s recent reissuing of John Huston’s WIse Blood, I’m guessing Flannery O’Connor‘s receiving more NPR airplay this summer than the latest Moby offering. Last week, I spent some time with the Criterion disc, and let me tell you, despite the usual “mentat intensity” from Dourif, Wise Blood has NOT aged well. So, when you’re hankering for some Southern-fried gothic but don’t have the time—or patience—for a full-length feature, you might wanna check out Black Hearts Bleed Red, Jeri Cain Rossi’s 1992 film adaption of O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard To Find.” It’s satisfyingly austere, lacks Wise Blood’s grating soundtrack, and hey, who’s that misfit with a rifle? Why, it’s Joe Coleman!
Recent discovery and obsession: The late sixties Vancouver, British Colombia band The Poppy Family. Imagine the Mamas and the Papas if they’d gone off their meds, they had sitars and tablas, and they’d been, you know, good. Apparently they had the biggest hit of all time (all Canadian time) in 1969 with “Which Way You Goin’ Billy?” off their album of the same name. I’ve had that album on constant iPhone repeat and it never, ever gets old. It’s classic West Coast pop, but from the opposite end of the coast from California. You can almost hear the gloom creeping in from the Rockies…
Apparently the CD still hasn’t been re-issued, and it’s impossible to find on vinyl?
I adore the website COLOURlovers.com and their magnificent color blog. I often discover artists, find color insipration, new color trends and yummy patterns. I was recently turned on to Robert Buelteman’s beautiful work of cameraless, lensless, and computer-free photographs, there. COLOURlovers says:
Feeling the need to “explore the tools of (his) medium beyound both their traditional and innovative uses,” and channeling a bit of a mad scientist mentality, Robert Buelteman developed a technique resembling that of Kirlian photography. His tools: jumper cables, fiber optics, and 80,000 volts of electricity. He places flowers and leaves on a color transparency film, on top of that he lays plexiglas with a sheet of metal in between, floating in a liquid silicone. Then he hits everything with an electric pulse which causes the coronas and outlines to appear on the film. The last step he needs to do, is hand-painting it with a white light coming from an optical fiber. It can take up to 150 attempts to get this right. The outcome of all this, images that capture the colors of these plants like we’ve never seen or could ever imagine before. You can find out more about Robert’s series based on this technique in the book, Signs of Life.
Witness “The Spectrum” a fantastically psychedelic carnival fun house designed by Keith Albarn (father of Damon Albarn, a man considered a musical god in this household). Sadly this British Pathe film short is probably the only thing that remains of it and there is little to no information about it anywhere on the Internet. I’d have loved a chance to see this in person!
Watching this I got to thinking about a different druggy funhouse on this side of the pond—also no longer standing—the infamous Palladium night club of New York City. Once the fabled Palladium Ballroom, where Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Frank Zappa, Patti Smith, The Clash and Lou Reed all played, the Palladium reopened in 1985 owned by former jailbirds Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, who had previously run Studio 54. Artists like Francesco Clemente, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Laurie Anderson and Arata Isozaki were all commissioned to build installations.
The staircase was amazing (especially if you were super high!) and the Basquiat mural behind the upstairs bar was nothing short of astonishing (and really huge). A house would crash from the ceiling onto the dance floor like the one that killed the Wicked Witch of the West. It was a fantastically decadent place to spend one’s youth. Now it’s an NYU dorm with a Trader Joe’s grocery store downstairs! (I wonder if they were able to preserve the Basquiat? It was painted on the wall and probably as valuable as the real estate itself).
Beautiful, erotic, phantasmagoric, the films of Kenneth Anger are a national treasure. Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Marianne Faithfull, Anton LaVey, and a parade of other 60s luminaries collaborate on this selection of short films. They range from rich mystical imagery and visual essays of psychedelic color to insider documentary footage of bikers and a glittering love letter to early black and white film. Bring blankets, picnic dinner and drinks for the lawn. Please join us under the stars for this very special screening with one of our most legendary filmmakers.
Sunday, July 19th
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Blvd (at Gower)
Gates 7:30 pm movie 9:00 pm
$10 donation tickets available at gate
Parking available inside