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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be releasing my 12th album.

Salon de la Guerre presents “In the Lake of Feral Mermaids,” a pop album about drifters, murder, mayhem, the end of idealism and the quest for responsible retirement planning–mostly set in sumptuous Caribbean locales. A set of radio friendly tunes here, though I threw in a couple of loud rockers for old times’ sake. Cover art by my buddy Corey Sanders.

Click here for the first single:

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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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This guy quoted in the Atlantic supports Bernie Sanders but says he will consider voting for Donald Trump if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination for president.

Let me condense his long, rambling speech for you: “If I do not get my way, I will burn everything down.” Why? Because his career in the arts didn’t take off. This is not the first time I have heard this argument: “Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders is going to make my creative career manifest.”

I myself am an artist, too, dear readers, but I also know one or two things about the economics of art, and the idea of a middle-class or even rich artist is a byproduct of mid-20th century capital formation, not socialism. It was enabled by excess industrial capacity created by a large military industrial complex and cheap gas following WW II and the extra leisure time and spending money enjoyed by a rising bourgeois class. Let’s not forget advances in technology such as recording and film that displaced music publishing houses and theaters that had come before (and do we cry for them?) In much of human history, artists were funded by wealthy patrons or by the church or by selling their art as cheap catch-penny entertainment. Unfortunately, our recent experience has made for a greedy demand among artists that they have a God-given right to money and fans that will validate their choices and identity, even though that whole idea is staked on something the market demand won’t bear.

Sorry it didn’t work out, but it’s your own fault for not having curiosity about a few issues.

I say this as an artist and not a terrible one in my own estimation: If your art doesn’t pay for itself, get a real fucking job until it does. It will enhance your esteem and give you some perspective. When you lack that perspective, the rest of America bears the burden, crossing our fingers that you won’t elect a psychopath out of spite.

Can good countries fund the arts? Of course they can. Up to a certain point. Can they make anybody who wants to be an artist a wealthy artist? No. There is a supply and demand problem. Everybody wants to make art but there are not enough consumers to match all that supply. They only have time for so much entertainment and only so many artists can reasonably make it (for whatever value they bring whether it’s artistic genius or cultural resonance). After the revolution in Nicaragua, everybody wanted to be a poet. You know what the socialist Sandinista government told them? “Pick cotton, please.” Socialism injects a much needed safety net into a mean capitalist system (and the United States is already socialist and has been for a good long time). But the entire idea of our system of capital is that it allocates resources better than centralized planning. Capital gave us freedom to do things that collectivism did not. Like make music in our spare time or even professionally. That’s because we pay people to do things for us that it would be too crushing to have to do ourselves, things that would put us back on farms, selling stuff by a river. You have to be able to eat and wear clothes and find shelter (paid for with capital) before concerning yourself with your Stravinsky-inspired piano piece. Other people need food and clothes before they can hear it.

Bernie Sanders supporters say they have been mocked and scorned. When, exactly, did this mockery and scorn take place? Was Hillary constantly calling Bernie Sanders a “commie” this year? No, she was talking with him substantively up until a few months ago. When it looked like he wouldn’t pull ahead it votes or delegates, the conversation got increasingly stupid. The meaningless phrase “establishment” was used against Clinton next to the other meaningless phrase “corporatist.” Calls went out that the election was rigged. It wasn’t. Bernie Sanders has never had a lead in votes or pledged delegates. Never. To call Hillary Clinton’s election a coronation is to suppress an expression of democracy. It is to be on the fascist side. Geddit?

“Hillary hatred” has been a thing much longer than “Bernie hatred” which means that mockery Sanders supporters feel is largely a product of their imaginations and out-of-control persecution complexes.

LBJ, FDR, JFK, John Maynard Keynes … these were all establishment figures. They all did things that helped our economy and society and they did it in a liberal style and mode. Nobody cares if they were “establishment.” When you call Hillary Clinton the “e” word, you are not impressing anybody that you are engaged in issues as much as that you have low self-esteem and that it’s likely richly deserved. Fact is, Hillary Clinton has done a lot of questionable things (like voting for the Iraq War) but she also has a tremendous amount of accomplishments and a fairly liberal voting record (if you look). If you say she is the same as a Republican–not because you did the due diligence and looked up her record but because you have staked your identity on repeating things you hear from other liberals at picnics and rallies–then unfortunately you are no better than Republicans at barbecues, nodding at their dads as they drunkenly yell “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” You have, in fact, revoked your right to call yourself smarter than rednecks or think of your choices as more reasonable and thought out. You might be just another joiner.

So let me tell you what’s really going on with the kid in the Atlantic piece (and he is a child):

When you are totally impotent; when a changing world baffles you and leaves you feeling helpless; when you haven’t the imagination to think your way out of the mess that false assumptions have led you into, sometimes the only way you can feel a sense of power and facility is by your power to negate and destroy. This is something people on the left and the right can now shake hands on. That and the following idea: “I will not let reason violate my identity.” Kumbaya.

 

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RIP Prince

I remember first hearing “When Doves Cry” and not liking it because it was raffish and disorienting. Then I realized it had no bass line. It’s a funk song without a bass. Prince said he’d written a bass part but then he didn’t like it and he threw it out and put the damn song on the radio that way. He could do that. Why? Just because he could. And in doing so, the maestro opened up my parochial ears.

I remember watching “Purple Rain” and listening to the bit between Morris Day and his foil–a comedy routine that recalled “Who’s On First” by Abbott and Costello. I knew it was a ripped off bit and I knew that Prince knew that I knew it was a ripped-off bit. What he was doing was tipping his hat to showbiz. He was of it. He felt an obligation to it. Miles Davis said that an unrecognized influence on Prince was Charlie Chaplin. I sort of understand that.

He refused to duet with Michael Jackson in “Bad” supposedly because he didn’t want to sing “Your butt is mine” or have it sung to him. That seems like he was a bit finicky and silly about his image. But really, it might have also signaled good taste.

I remember watching “Purple Rain” later and realizing that Prince respected the medium of film more than other people who dabbled in it (I think of Frank Zappa or Andy Warhol, who with the dismissive tone of people from different art forms, just let the camera run and put weird stuff in front of it, thinking the idea revolutionary when it was actually incredibly boring.) Again, Prince did not put himself above entertaining, and therefore understood how you entertained in different media.

I remember how he absorbed different musical styles and made them part of his language. He put funk, R&B, rock and jazz into the service of spiritual and sexual obsessions, two timeless subjects that will ensure his art will never get old even if he seemed to freely admit that his quests left him without answers. That’s what artists do: they question. If you are the kind of person you believes he has answers to everything, and you are smug about it, you have stopped being an artist. You’re a politician, maybe. A polemicist. A teacher. But you have ceded the provinces of the imagination.

I didn’t listen to a lot of Prince’s later work, which was less compelling, but I realize he never stopped questioning. He was always an artist, and with his death, a bright light goes out.

RIP.

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If you buy one album this year … it should really be “Blackstar” by David Bowie. If you buy two albums … then maybe you should add “La vache qui pleure” by Kate and Anna McGarrigle.

But if you buy 23 albums this year, I hope one of them might be my new release, “Clam Fake,” now available on Amazon and iTunes and other places where music is (still sold).

 

 

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