Τρίτη, 17 Οκτωβρίου 2017

Vanishing Voice (να μη χάσω τη φωνή σου)



Τις μέρες αυτές διαβάζω την Ηθική του Κροπότκιν ( ξέρω δεν θα σου άρεσε αυτό-με αδικείς ) και οι μεταφυσικές μου σκέψεις πληθαίνουν, πνίγοντας με πολύ συχνά. Κοίτα πατέρα, μπορεί ο Προυντόν και ο Μπακούνιν να είναι τα πιο σημαντικά ονόματα, στη δική μου ψυχή, όμως, μιλούσαν περισσότερο η τολστοϊκή αγωνία του Κροπότκιν και η συμπόνια με την αγάπη για τον απλό άνθρωπο του Μαλατέστα. Ελπίζω και πάλι να μη θυμώνεις.

Ακούγοντας άλλη μια κατάθεση κραυγών ατάκτως εριμένων από τη διαλυμένη πλέον μουσική κολεκτίβα των Vanishing Voice σκέφτηκα εσένα. Μάλλον ψάχνω αφορμές για να το κάνω. Για μια πενταετία περίπου - από το 2003 μέχρι το 2008 - κατέθεταν μια σειρά χαμηλών τόνων και χαμένων στο διάστημα εξωτερικεύσεων για την μετά την 11η Σεπτεμβρίου δυστοπική πραγματικότητα. Όπως εμφανίζονταν, έτσι εξαφανίζονταν, με τη φωνή τους κάπου στα βάθη δίσκων βινυλίου (εννίοτε και σε λίγα cd ) για τους λίγους που τους ακολούθησαν. Αυτούς τους δίσκους μάζεψα και εγώ μπαμπά έναν προς έναν. Άλλος ένας λόγος να θυμώνεις με αυτή την τρέλα μου, το ξέρω.

Η μουσική τους διέθετε τη βάση - το ατελείωτο ψυχεδελικό kraut τζαμάρισμα - για να μιλήσει στα κινούμενα ( διψασμένα για χορό ) μόρια των πολλών και τη διάθεση για πειραματισμό, περιπέτεια και θόρυβο ώστε να ερεθίζει τις νευρικές απολήξεις λιγότερων.

Με κάποιο παράξενο ίσως και τυχαίο τρόπο η μουσική τους μπαινοβγαίνει στη ζωή μου εδώ και μια δεκαετία. Βρέθηκα να σχετίζομαι με αυτή ως μια ελευθεριακή ερωμένη. Άλλοτε ήταν ολοκληρωτικά ποθητή σε 'μένα, άλλες φορές την προσπέρασα χωρίς να τρέχει κάτι. Αυτή τη φορά, αυτές τις μέρες της θλίψης, γαντζώθηκα επάνω της, πάνω σε αυτό το cd.

Οι δύο λέξεις που διάλεξαν να αυτοτιτλοφορηθούν, ταιριάζουν στο τρωγλοδυτικό ηχητικό τους φάσμα. Αρχέγονες φωνές και ερωτικά ψιθυρίσματα, ηλεκτρισμός μαζί με tribal ρυθμούς.  Είμαι σίγουρος πως διέθεταν την ικανότητα να στήσουν ένα μικρό ψυχεδελικό πανηγυράκι στη μέση ενός δρόμου. Με drugs ή όχι. Συγνώμη, αυτό μου ξέφυγε.

Μα, κυρίως, αυτό που κόλλησε μέσα μου, που τους ταυτοποίησε ως κάτι σημαντικό στο ασυνείδητο μου, ήταν αυτό που δεν εκφράζεται.  Τα μόρια και τα άτομα μου έφτασαν στην πλήρωση με τους ήχους τους ( βλέπεις, συχνά δεν θέλω να μιλώ για "μουσική" -  αυτό δεν το ήξερες ). Την ίδια πλήρωση που αισθάνομαι όταν σε ανακαλώ. Έστω και αν είσαι τόσο ζωντανός μέσα μου. Και την ίδια αγωνία που εκφράζει το όνομα που διάλεξαν. Να μη χάσω τη φωνή σου από μέσα μου. Ποτέ.


Τρίτη, 10 Οκτωβρίου 2017

Toylettes



Every artistic choise has it's reasons. Many times it relies on practical concerns. By picking up the bass, for example, because that's the only instrument you can afford or a friend can loan you, the size of your pocket decides what happens.
Other times your views and ideas form the structure of how you will respond to your needs. You may lack the technical skills, you may not have any musical knowledge. You probably do not want to also. But still want to play or more importantly express yourself. This is punk, as it has always been. Basic self expression on a gut level, energy and pathos. No need for technical skills, no need to rewrite music history, no hype. It's only punk and we like it.
Lately i have been reading a very interesteing small publication about the elements that put together the zine world and formed the network of it. They are quite the same as the ones that urge you to form a band. Frustration, alienation, lack of social skills (yes, still that in the age of social media), a denial to operate within the limits of normality, the anger and disgust that the capitalist world can put in ones soul.

By listening to the Toylettes, a punk quartet consisting of Lisa (vocals, keyboard, guitar), Alex (guitar, vocals, keyboard), Daniel (bass, vocals) and Jalla (drums, background vocals) hailing from Germany, i can definitely identify and also, with great pleasure indeed, confirm that there is no time or place suitable for the truth. Theirs and mine as well. When it's your truth, then it must be said, expressed or yelled at. The music of Toylettes, as presented in the form of the 10'' tape on vinyl and the 7 ''Achtzigertyp, could be from 1978 or 1982 or, off course, today. The beautifuly playful and ironic artwork makes them -except from the music- a pleasure to buy (yes, all of you vinyl lovers).
All the elements are there: provocative lyrics full of angst and anger, angular metallic guitars, synths that chill your brain like a cold winter morning and drums that keep the rhythm while the pose a threat to your ears. Yes they are great. Everything is in the right place and more importantly not by chance or a hipster's zeal, but by their own need of expression. So why not go and grab one?
This is d.i.y. and it still exists today.

And next you will find one of the most fun and interesting interview's ever, kept in a dialogical form, as the guys prefer it. Enjoy!


1.Why play punk?... An artistic choice or more of a personal one?

- "Because 'We are Punks, we are Punks, we are, we are, we are Punks'. So, a personal choice!"
- "It wasn't a choice at all. When we formed the band, we were not artists sitting together and developing a concept, but four people knowing they share certain musical preferences."
- "For me, it was totally clear that it would be a punk band. What else?"
- "At this time, we were going out together as a group of four a lot. Alex wanted to play in a band, Jalla wanted to play the drums and Daniel had just bought a bass. So the lineup was pretty obvious and only Lisa had to be involved. - Et voilà!"


2. D.I.Y. has a long tradition of collectivism, both in social as also in musical terms. Do you embrace that?

Yes, absolutely. Without the collectivistic approach of punk and especially in our subcultural surrounding of friends and friends of friends we could hardly do anything.
For example, we don't own (band) car, but share one with a group of people. Our rehearsal room is at the KvU, a self organized place which has a long history that goes back to the punk- and counterculture in the GDR.
Generally, our environment forms a great breeding ground for a DIY- culture, at the most places all the stuff that has to be done (infrastructure, organization, making flyers, technique, cooking, driving bands around, shifts at the bars and doors, DJing, cleaning etcetera etcetera) is (at least mostly) based on unpayed work and mutual support.


3. Is there a scene - of some sorts at least - where you live?

Berlin must have at least three or four punk scenes that are partially barely affiliated with each other. This diversification of subcultures may be a blessing and a curse at once - you'll find a place that fits nearly perfect with your preferences and character, but you risk to build a cultural ghetto...

Anyway, we're very happy to be involved in a relatively large network of people and bands that  follow each others activities with interest, sympathy and support, share infrastructure and knowledge, form new bands and have great parties.
Within that you have deep friendships and you have people you at least frequently cross paths with – "what" and "who" is the 'scene' in the end depends on your point of view. So, maybe 'network' is the better, although ugly and overused, term. A beer-drenched network full of woven little hearts.

You can get a good impression of this thing with the awesome 'Verboten in Deutschland''- Sampler from 2014 and its second volume that will be released later this year.


4. Is punk in 2017 a manierism? Do you think that this medium of expression has been consolidated?

Punk, as subcultures in general, has always payed great attention to stilistic details in music, fashion, attitude or whatever. This is somewhat manieristic, but not in a bad way: It gives you creative freedom that can be more than a rebellious surface – nothing against the beautiful rebellious surface, of course! Punk refuses to be only manieristic l'art pour l'art, even in 2017 it still claims to be political and more than a specific taste in music. Sure, the punk scene is a part of society as it is, but for a lot of people it still carries the promise that everything is possible, or that something completly different should be possible. Even in case that this was a misconception, it would be an amazingly productive and life-changing misconception.
- "What is 'Punk' anyway? Alone in Berlin there are so many styles of punk that you can hardly overlook."

- "If you gave me five randomly picked punk rock releases from 2017, I'd probably not shout 'As a guy in his thirties with a bit knowledge of pop history, i can't even think of something more exciting and interesting!'. But you totally miss the point when you focus on the musical material. Punk unfolds its relevance in individual biographies and social situations."
- "I, by far, cannot identify with everything that's labeled as 'Punk'. About 80% is bullshit. I mean... Hanging around with a mohawk and drinking canned beer may be punk, but it might also primarily be beefed up alcoholism."
- "Hey, who does not have a kind of a drinking problem?!"
- "Right. One might say that punk is also a culture of intoxication."
- "At least, hard drinking still sabotages meritocracy."
- "We deeply respect that!"


5. How would you describe your music to a ten year old child?

- "I would say: 'You can also do it'!'"
- "Yes, 'You can also do it, it's easy!' But maybe one has to have
lived through puberty to understand all the hormon driven lyrics?"
- "'Don't be afraid to be loud'"
- "'Do what you want and throw all issues of your heart into it. Anger, love, pain...'"
- "'Our music is like getting beaten up by six-year-old children, but in a good way!'"


6.  The most cliche of all: plans for the future? Albums, playing live, a career maybe?...

We really don't have a masterplan, the most important thing is that playing and the whole band stuff feels like fun and not like work. We'll rehearse on friday and play eight shows until the end of the year.
The farest we can even think of is that we would like to record some of our new songs, as soon as we have enough new songs, so maybe sometime next year, maybe for a 12", or maybe for a cassette, or ideally both.


7. What about the album cover art?

I (Daniel) had an early fascination with cereal box designs when i was a kid that went beyond costumer acquisitation. It must have been the first time i reflected on recurring aesthetic patterns. I even created a small collection of boxes from all over the world. Okay, from two different countries. Like others collected stamps. With a slight more critical view, this fascination holds on. It's a winsome and cute, yet impertinent and aggressive form of marketing. The fact that the stuff it promotes had, under health aspects, a much better image than it deserves makes it even cooler. It's interesting how this very basic idea 'Character eats things with a spoon' can be endlessly varied, is successful since decades and still seems fresh sometimes. (Maybe not unlike Punkrock?) I had the idea to adapt that for a tape-cover and fortunately, the others liked that idea. But it never had become more than an idea if Lisa did'nt came over with this finished wonderful drawing of this creepy cigarette-eating boy one day. We were enthusiastic about it and took it as a cover. And we're happy it still works on the 10" although it doesn't have the proportions of a cereal box anymore.


Παρασκευή, 6 Οκτωβρίου 2017

Αγοραίοι όλοι μας



Οι "πρωτοπόροι"
αποστρατεύτηκαν πρώτοι.
Άλλοι
άλλαξαν τις στολές εκστρατείας
με αγοραία ενδύματα
πραματευτάδων και ντελάληδων.
Κάποιοι άλλοι
προτίμησαν να κλειστούν στις σκηνές τους
και να συνεχίζουν τον πόλεμο...
επί χάρτου.

Ποίημα που δημοσιεύτηκε στο περιοδικό Convoy το 1995

Τετάρτη, 13 Σεπτεμβρίου 2017

Catherine Sikora, a review and small interview



You can find another one, definitely more objective, point of view on Catherine's album Jersey from my fellow contributors at the free jazz blogspot here.

A solo recording can be a wonderfullly frightening experience. It certainly has the urgency of coming to terms with your own needs and demands of expression. No one is restraining you, be as free as you you want.
On the other hand, the only real feedback you get is your own thoughts, ideas and ambivalent reactions towards your practice. Those can be a frustrating procedure. Self doubt lurks around every corner. This is then - the solo recording - the way to test yourself and try to overcome, at least some, your fears. And stay true.
It's no coincedence that the solo sax recording has followed, so closely, improvisation's trajectory. With numerous solo recordings from great practicians of the instrument (also a lot of women thankfully), many new paths have been opened in many ways of playing and presenting new material.

The review:

As i make my way through the day after another night of restless sleep, it must be of no coincedence that i was eager, at last, to write about this album. On the liner notes of this cd (another fine release of Relative Pitch records) there's a photo of someone's note, a neighbour, who, having listened a lot of Catherine Sikora's rehearsals, is thanking her about the experience.
I feel the same way. Jersey has the ability to furl around you and warm you. While i personally love the timbre of the tenor saxophone, i understand that it takes much more to make it sound like that. Having played a little bit of wind instruments myself, there's always this intimate connection with them. You are attached with it, you breath into it, it's like a lover and a comrade to any direction you want to go. And believe or not, the image of a man or a woman blowing through a saxophone is exhilaratingly erotic for me.
Certainly Evan Parker tells it like it is in the liner notes ( one more reason to buy this cd by the way...) and i strongly agree - if i may-  that this is a recording looking both ways through time: one way towards the past and, certainly into the future. Having no technical knowledge about the tenor sax, sometimes i feel it has by nature a rough and down to earth sound. Well, it might, but this down-to-earthness of Jersey is by no means an accident. It reflects Sikora's ideas and feelings.
Don't ask me about notes and phrases. I want to tell you about feelings, ideas and energy. Ok there are melodies, spontaneous ones, but most importantly there is a general feeling of urgency by someone who wishes to express herself in humble but rich and sentimental way.
Finally i strongly agree with Paul Acquaro's remark in free jazz blogspot. You are under-recorded Catherine, go ahead and give us more.





The interview:

1. Why make a solo album instead of any kind of collaboration? Was it a need for a personal statement?

Making a solo record was a natural progression for me. I have been playing solo concerts for several years now, and I included some solo tracks on my recording Clockwork Mercury. I love playing solo, and I find that because it is so challenging it really makes me grow as a musician, but truthfully the real motivation is that solo records and concerts are by far my favorite to listen to. 

2. Relative Pitch is in my opinion one of the most important labels in improvisation right now. How was this production realised?

I agree with you, Relative Pitch is a fantastic label, and is doing very important work. I had spoken with Kevin Reilly about making a solo record, and he said that he would release it on Relative Pitch. I recorded the album myself at home, and my husband Eric Mingus mixed it. Kevin arranged for the mastering of the recording, and took it from there. 

3. Do you live by your music? 

As well as playing I teach quite a lot, mostly online lessons at the moment, which works wonderfully well. Teaching gives me so much, I stay connected to a sense of wonder through my students; the excitement when a person discovers something new, or gains a new understanding of something that they found difficult, is tremendously rewarding to me, and it informs my practice and keeps me focused. 

4. In his recent - really worth reading -book the sax improvisor Jack Wright claimed that improvisation is a way to work and not necessarily a way to live or trancend your ideas. Do you agree?

Jack Wright is a formidable player, and I must get myself a copy of the book. Without having read it I really can't comment.

5. Do you place yourself within the expanded tradiiton of jazz as a free improvisational idiom?

My work is most definitely coming out of the expanded tradition of jazz, and I consider myself a free jazz/ avant jazz musician, not a free improviser. Additionally, it is important to note that I do not only work in free jazz settings. I work with composers, (notably Enrique Haneine), and I am always open to more such opportunities. Last month I was in Kassel, Germany for two weeks working with Ursel Schlicht as part of her SonicExchange quintet. This group, which consists of Ursel on piano, Stephanie Griffin on viola, Hilliard Greene on bass and Andrew Drury on drums, as well as myself on tenor and soprano saxes, plays free jazz, but we also work with pieces written by each member of the group. I find this to be very enriching and it enhances the communication and understanding within the group. 

6. Do your goals as a human being  identify with those as a musician? Is the philosophical pursuit of happiness something that motivates you as an artist as well?

I can't see how I would separate my goals as a human being from those as a musician—everything is inextricably connected. The philosophical pursuit of happiness in and of itself is not something I can say is purely a motivation to me as an artist, but of course playing and writing, even when it is very challenging, is enormously rewarding to me so the end result is happiness...the fact that I am following a career as an artist, choosing to do something that I love, is I suppose the pursuit of happiness in a larger way.