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Archive for August, 2016

I’m thinking of a film called “The World’s Greatest Lover” right now. A 1977 film. Written and directed by Gene Wilder. It never got a lot of love from critics, and while I understand why, it’s always been comfort food for me as a Wilder fan. Because in some ways I always saw him as a silent film star out of his time–stuck in the 1970s, when method acting and documentary realism ruled. Really, how out of place would Wilder be if you dropped him into “Metropolis” or “The General” or “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”? He was a walking special effect. His own form of commedia dell’arte. He wrote things like the fake cane scene from “Willy Wonky” himself and made simple shtick rise above silliness. Pair him with perfect expressionist film heroine Carol Kane as his wife, both dreaming bigger things while trying to stay happy together, and you still have something very poignant. Beyond that …. “Blazing Saddles,” “The Producers,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Willy Wonka” I’m with the rest of you, and am reminded how important this man was to my childhood. RIP.

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Liberty Cover

It just so happens that it is. Salon de la Guerre’s 10th album has just hit the digital music stores–CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes.

The album is an aural collage. Twenty musical fragments meant to be listened to forward, backward or minced up, plus there are a few novelty numbers for sass. Steve Reich meets Talking Heads. OK, I just made that up. It’s simply a strange experiment in classical music-derived tunes and rock.

I made this album simultaneously with “Gravitas: A Life,” and as “Gravitas” developed as an extended musical work with repeated motifs, I tried to do the opposite with “Liberty.” This album invites shuffling.

As I say in the artist’s description on CD Baby:

“The album is meant to be listened to from beginning to end, from back to front or on shuffle—a reflection of the way music is now consumed and emotionally processed by audiences. The album largely removes traditional pop melodies and opts for song phrases that are more open ended and jarringly interrupted, whose beginnings and endings are as nebulous as those of the album itself. Unlike its predecessor, “Gravitas: A Life,” the album thwarts the idea of structural intelligence in a pop album so that the job of reconstituting the music belongs to the listener.”

Again, all the music is arranged and composed by me. And although the album is an electronic work and defies the idea of “performance,” especially when I occasionally use loops, beats and samples, many of these are in fact keyboard parts performed by me on Garage Band’s internal synthesizer. The album, like “Gravitas” and “Roses Don’t Push The Car Home,” was part of a quartet of albums I produced almost entirely on my iPhone. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether to be impressed by me or by Apple.

And of course the model on the cover is my lovely wife, looking stranded as she ponders a dark bamboo forest near a Buddhist temple in Kyoto.

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Gravitas Album Cover

As I noted a while back, I ventured into classically inspired symphonic music this past spring, and completed a long-form piece called “Gravitas: A Life.” It is now available on Amazon.com, CD Baby and iTunes.

I still have a lot of garage rock music under my belt and will be releasing more of it in the upcoming weeks, but on this, my ninth album, I was curious to see whether I could make something designed for an orchestra.

I describe the album this way on my CD Baby page: “A symphonic work mixing classical music approaches such as concerto grosso, atonality, musique concrete and minimalism, as well as rock ‘n’ roll rhythms.” “A pastiche” might be a better phrase. I hope it doesn’t sound like jive, in any case, because the process was completely intuitive and I can leave it to others to decide what to call it. Whether you think of it as a stress-test for the iPhone on which I made it, a movie soundtrack looking for a film to play on or just nice background music, I hope you enjoy it.

For perhaps another week or so, I’m leaving an earlier version of the album in its entirety up on YouTube, where you can enjoy it for free for the time being.

 

 

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Here’s a map of attacks on American mosques put together by the ACLU.

While reading it, it’s important to remember that if Donald Trump were to become president, some 3.3 million American Muslims would be under his protection. His job would not be as their inquisitor. His job would not be as their prosecutor. He would not be as some sort of plaintiff against them or judge or arbitrator. He would be sworn protector of the laws that keep them from harm and allow them due process. To merely shrug off that “Yeah, he says crazy things” about a group of American citizens is to ignore the fact that, without his protection, they have none. They have officially become a vulnerable ethnic group the way the Kurds were under Saddam Hussein, the targets of factionalism emboldened by a faraway leader’s nod and wink. When there is no sense of lawfulness at the top, violence is fostered at the bottom by people pursuing any tribal instincts that motivate them. That’s why we have good leaders and why they use such “stilted PC language” that the less patient and more petulant among us have become so bored by. When Janet Yellen makes an incautious statement at the Fed, people lose millions. For the same reason, supporting that “crazy guy who says those gosh darn entertaining things” shows a callous disregard for history and how stuff works–disavowal of Stalin’s history, Hitler’s, Catherine de’ Medici’s .. of people whose monstrousness was possible because they were supposed to be shepherds. I want to make clear that this is not targeted at Republicans or conservatives in general, who, on their good, more libertarian days, know exactly what I’m talking about and many of whom I know do not really like Trump. George W. Bush also knew exactly what I’m talking about, to his great credit. But if Republicans are voting for Trump anyway, they are not voting for their own principles but for the “R” at the top of the form. They are, as Jerry Seinfeld once noted of fickle basketball fans, “rooting for clothes.”

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