Tuesday, March 28, 2006

string driven things Posted by Picasa

the police box Posted by Picasa

some of the fun stuff I used in the studio this time around. Posted by Picasa
Yowsa, I'm back!

Spent a week in Denmark recording vocals and overdubbing guitars - it was a wonderful experience. We pushed for a lush, Beach Boys-like vocal sound with beautiful dense harmonies. And I did a lot of guitar parts with a set-up that I think duplicated Andy Summers' 80's rig almost exactly. Yummy!

I read this book by Daniel Barenboim and Edward W. Said recently, "Parallells and Paradoxes" or something to that effect. A good book about music, but entirely classico-centric, like other music doesn't exist. It made me think about the stuff I was going to write about classical music again.

Classical music. So silly. What does the term mean. It includes sacred music from the 16th century, dance music from the 19th century, tafel music from the 18th century and event music from almost any era. And the occasional piece of art music from the last 400 years or so... How can anyone possibly, and with any conscience, put all this music into one category, and then on top have the balls to say: This is Serious music, listen with respect.

The respect that is bestowed upon classical music is what bothers me the most. People have a reverence towards it that makes them take any piece of crap seriously, they sit there and listen to the most appaling drivel that Haydn wrote with his left hand while he was banging some babe - like it is the word of God or something. It just ain't right!

So: Can't we dismantle this meaningless category, and start talking about the actual music, rather than some ancient, feudal, semi-fascist socio-cultural category. Classical music is not art music, for instance. Yes, there's a lot of art music within that framework, from Mozart's Requiem to Beethoven's sonatas to Shostakovich's symphonies to Wagner to Schönberg to... tons, yes. But there's even more that would fall into the category of popular music, dance music, utilitarian music, church music etc.

And today the label is doubly problematic for pretending to be today's art music as well, although most musicians and composers would agree that the "art" these days is happening in jazz, electronica, rock and even pop. Contemporary classical music has disappeared so far up its own arse that it will take a half century for us to be able to appraise what those composers are trying to do. (And those composers that haven't disappeared up their own arses are just rehashing "classical" cliches.) Until then we must enjoy the artistic labours of genres that are actually in touch with reality.

Classical music is basically a survival from the time when the distinction between "high" and "low" culture had some dubious shadow of a meaning. Today it doesn't. The most lasting legacy of the modern and post-modern deconstruction of "culture", is that the social barriers and associations of culture have irrevocably been torn down. A genre that is basically defined by the fact that old people with too much money and too little taste gather in sterile concert halls to applaud sterile performances of any bizarre manifestation of music from the last 4-5 centuries as if it were all the same thing - has no right to life in the 21st century.
Goodbye, classical!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

OK, I always have time to bitch about the follies of the music biz: The New Cars. What an incredibly silly and depressing idea. They're reuniting The Cars - but without Ric Ocasek - and with Todd Rundgren as his replacement. I am a huge Cars fan - and also a Rundgren/Utopia fan - who isn't? But how can they put together The Cars without Ric? It's like The Jam without Paul Weller or something. The Smiths without Morrissey. It just doesn't work. And Rundgren is far too much of an artiste and auteur to be stepping into someone else's shoes. I don't get it.

Besides, The Cars' history is so glorious - why taint it with some half-assed reunion tour, or - shudder - album? They were cool. Why be uncool. Leave that to Yes. Don't misunderstand - I love Yes - but embarrassing reunions are their forté. Being Yes is being uncool. And thank God for that. Now let The Cars be The Cars. We don't need any New ones. At least Ric Ocasek is still making good solo albums.

I have hereby bitched.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I won't really be able to blog on a regular basis until I'm done with our marathon recording sessions. I just thought I'd check in and touch base.

Our keyboard player and myself are in a race against time to complete keyboard and guitar overdubs in our home studios before I return to Denmark to record vocals and start some preliminary mixing. Modern technology is wonderful - it allows us to record with pristine audio quality in the comfort of our own homes. But the expectations of increased efficiency are something of a bother, so I still feel pretty stressed out, even though I no longer have to spend endless nights in a studio. You gain some, you lose some.

I've been so busy that I haven't even noticed that Donald Fagen has put out his 3rd solo album. "The Nightfly" is one of the best albums ever, and "Kamakiriad" was pretty cool, even though I preferred Becker's quirkier "11 tracks of whack". Anyway, Fagen can do no wrong in my book, so I'll have to put it on top of my "to-do-when-I-have-a-life-again-list".


Friday, March 10, 2006

Don't lose your shoes, baby, here's the

Barefoot Blues

Woke up this morning
Couldn't find my shoes
Called out to my neighbour, he said
"Ain't you heard the news?
Well your baby left you,
Took your records and your shoes,
Yeah, your sugar baby left you
With them barefoot blues"

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Back from Denmark. There is this thing called the White Willow Jinx: Everytime we travel, or even attempt to do something slightly out of the ordinary, like actually leave our home town, some kind of accident or mishap occurs. Well, this time we were off to Denmark to start recording our new album, as regular readers will know. But on the eve of leaving it turned out that 3 of the 4 of us that were going, had gotten colds! OK, so that must've been the jinx, then - right. We thought so, and happily went off, sniffling and coughing. Then the car starts acting weird, wobbling from side to side, shaking at high speeds. We consider turning back, but we keep going, mortally afraid that we're all gonna die on the road to Larvik, but thinking that the music might be worth the risk. So, shakily, way late, we arrive at the harbour in Larvik where we're supposed to take the boat to Denmark. But where's the boat? Not there. In fact, the whole harbour looks pretty damned closed for the night. So I take out the ticket to see if we missed something. We did. The boat isn't leaving from Larvik, but from Oslo. Where we had left 2 hours ago... No chance to turn back and make it... Long story short, the White Willow Jinx is no longer a singular thing, it is a plural constant. We did eventually get to the studio though, and once we did, we had the acest time. Tommy Hansen is such a cool guy, and talented beyond anything we could've expected. Everything in the studio went super smooth, Tommy worked incredibly fast and efficiently, and the sound we got was just incredible. And at night we all had a really good time, hanging out in a big house adjacent to the studio, eating good food and feasting on champagne and cognac and bad TV. We all enjoyed ourselves I think, and now I can't understand why we didn't always record like this.

Anyway, I just got home after a 12 hour journey, so I'll crash now and write more later.
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