Friday, 21 December 2018

Misanthropic Musicology on the Beenleigh Line Part 5

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So. Glora Coates washing my psyche on this final pre-yule week of commute if I make it that far. A combination of chronic sparkling shiraz (Christmas-In-A-Bottle) imbibing and the looming of impending redundancy is making the roiling run along the soaking tracks this morning more like fear and loathing in Brisvegas. God I hate my job. But I digress. Back to Gloria Coates and her broad, deep abstract expressionist compositional gesture. How is she not in the curriculum as a top notch mid-20th-century avant-gardiste? Oh wait she's a woman. But she is getting her just desserts to an extent at present and I admit to only recently coming across her when I noted BBCSSO were doing a programme of her work under the outsider-loving baton of Ilan Volkov. Gloria's gorgeous, intense, distinctive sliding textures directly invoke apocalyptic visions as her Indian Sounds (Symphony No. 8) slides through a genocide war dance that feels like time itself is melting under the boots of so-called progress. That seriously powerful yes! Invoking sounds from First Nations America while atonal washes of string horror intervene. This image is no mistake I dare say. Revolutionary and revelatory. Gloria. G.L.O.R.I.A. Glooooriyah!

Grey green swelter, Gloria's String Quartet No. 9's an absolute belter. Stunning textures slide, grip and patter in and out of focus, phrases melting like the soles of my boots on steaming tarmac. A quality of the folk outsider lives inside Gloria's work, like the grand masterpieces of a hermit unexposed to anything other than a few Pollocks they pilfered from the back of some derelict barn. There's a quality in her work that sits well outside the institutions while still paying heed to hundreds of years of compositional process (thank fuck, and in a nod to the original composer rebel the 9th quartet has shadowy echoes of Beethoven's Grosse Fugue) and well within the world of cantankerous greats kicking against the pricks. Her oeuvre is chronically under-recorded but the current one spinning has Quartet 9 (amazing) and the Sonata for Solo Violin which I will rush to get a copy of ASAP and learn it with the fever of the born again. This train moves with the same greasy glissando filling my ears. Will I ever get to work? Do I even give the remotest shit?

Gloria Coates' broad brushstrokes melting in Mississippi mud, about to bust the levee in strains of bottleneck blues all sliding up and down in abstract stroke, expressionistic howls from the margins of the canvas. Mississippi mud? Could be Brisbane river mud, that brown snake fangs lit in slithering heat dripping with venom and tears, taking souls on the in-breath making holes in the out, parting brown sea no-one wants to cross. Blown textures over known fissures of dissonance, shifting, grinding on the tracks matched in consonance. Don't think this ain't melting. There's gon' be some trouble here.

Holy dooly. Latest release of Gloria Coates, Piano Quintet and fresh Symphonic documentation Drones of Druids in Celtic Ruins, breathing cold in the belly of Cuchulaínn's ghost. Heatwave again in this low down long barrow, tomb on wheels and wires tearing through total climate Eclipse (the Duke and McLuhan didn't foresee this one). Gloria's apocalyptic sonar picking up waves, sending me up on their crest and crashing me into their fundamentals with a low bow Sonic Boom. Not even sure where I am despite familiar sites South Bank station mind the gap, or pour into the gap and join the primordial ooze beneath the tracks vibrating in dissonance with electro-charged steel, bows grind close to the bridge as piano depth charges chase your final molecules into the henge of happenstance. No stance, sitting, watching an old man with kind face read a heavily illustrated book that appears as a Hindu tome, emergency help point begging fingers to press just for the penalty for misuse. Hello brownssnake my old friend, screaming strings buried in tidal flow. Tied to the moon, The Wizard Fingers Never Rest.

Final ride toward the Unutterable for 2018 and perhaps for some time, against my own will, for the Unutterable forces have conspired to have my living ripped out from under me. Ah neo-liberalism you fat bottomshelf cunt. But I digress. Heatwave conditions again, blistering rise to 37 degrees at 7:30am, too hot for Gloria though I work on and in with her glissing apocalyptic swirl with the hot, heavy, slippery sounds of King Sunny Ade, Naija number 1 juju motherfucker. 1982 wasn't quite the apocalypse yet (couple years too Orwellian early) but it was the year of Juju Music. Deep bloody juju, born in sweat and dance in shadowlands, clatters of claves, minimal stabs, tweedles and slides of guitar and pedal steel, in and out of perception, pounding of ngungun bass to bring Baron Samedi out for an Endless Boogie til the last seconds of Saturday close and the final funeral party of the day tears Sunday open in trance and intoxication, burning skies as Gomorrah's smoke blocks out the first or perhaps the last light as you stand on the sea's edge, sweat and condensation mix on bottle side, sliding down into a psychic prone position. Yes that's right. But back to Gloria. Her work is finally getting some attention, though perhaps not the significant attention it deserves. Bigger and better orchestras are playing it. More articles seem to pop up about her and it, and all praise the Old Gods for that my dear friends. And so as I slide by the city phallus pharm on this 7th locomotive wonder of the world towards the Unutterable one last time, I bid you all a Merry whatever it is you celebrate this time of Year and a happy New Year.

Next time....Seán Ó Riada

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Misanthropic Musicology on the Beenleigh Line Part 4

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This appears to be an actual thing.....Santa I think you know what I want for Christmas now...

Monday, day of moon, mighty disc in the sky, the dark side soon to be owned, TM and C, by China or perhaps they'll find Hitler there in his lunar berghof, polishing his UFO and listening to Wagner. 
I'm definitely not listening to Wagner and this piece of shit train is neither a Chinese spaceship nor a Nazi UFO. Alas I sit here in the inadequate AC with acute dehydration deliriously listening to C.S. but it's not Clara Schumann (the core subject of this week's rambling nonsense), not yet, sadly there's not much to hear of her due to patriarchy and syphilis. But instead it is Chuck Schuldiner, one of the great composers of the late 80s/early 90s, and hell in this gender fluid world perhaps Chuck is Clara? An uninteresting question to pose my dear friends. Who is Chuck though and what does he have to do with Clara? Absolutely nothing, though I imagine a musician of Chuck's quality would've been well-versed enough in his music history to be familiar with Clara but probably only Clara as muse, and not Clara as genius virtuoso and composer. Fuck she probably wrote all of Schumann's music and he just took the credit. Chuck though, was one of the greatest innovators and composers of Death Metal. What? And yes I mean that. 

As front man of Death (very unsubtle name for what was actually by extreme metal standards very subtle music) and mastermind of Control Denied he laid ground unfortunately for technical death metal, but he also inspired Black Metal with his more primitive and minimal first album and demo tapes, and created a progressive aesthetic and sound within the genre which is inimitable. A truly unique voice, he was taken from us too soon due to aggressive cancer at the age of 34. The tragedy of this highlighted by the fact that Chuck was the composer of a brilliant metal masterpiece called Pull the Plug! Poor son of a bitch. Robert Schumann embraced Death at about the same age, mad from syphilis he threw himself into the Rhine and spent his dying days in an asylum. But Clara lived on, inspiring the concert violinist Joseph Joachim and his friend Johannes Brahms, thus making her one of the most important figures in Romanticism, and through this, linking her to Death Metal, a music so indebted to the drama of dark romantic symphonic works. But how you say? Eddie Van Halen was a classical violinist before taking up the shred, the finger tapping string pulling style then adopted by Schuldiner heavily indebted to Paganini, Pagan in 'e?

I personally prefer A minor which is the very key of the stunning heartbreaking piano concerto I currently slurp up in my ear canals, the Piano Concerto in A minor by Clara Schumann Op. 7 to be precise. From the opening bars you can hear a talent and passion that pisses all over her VD-riddled more famous husband. It's said that ol' Robbie S kept her away from composition with a stern belief that she belonged in the bedroom making babies and banging keys only as a hobby no doubt to contain her uncontrollable feminine hysteria. I think he was scared and jealous as the remnants of her work show a Romantic Rebel of the highest order. All hail Clara. All hail Chuck. There it is, the ol' fascist creep once more. No really he's sitting in the same carriage as me, bald head and Slayer tattoo on his forearm, kmart sneakers and a manspread that would swallow Poland like a marauding Panzer battalion. Frightening stuff.

Minor key longing of the greatest profundity. Knowing that Clara could never reach her true potential like so many women over history is too heartbreaking for words, but Clara's G minor Trio and soul shattering Romances for violin and piano - a tribute to Beethoven's beautiful works of the same type and vibe I'm taking - are adequate representations of this loss and longing, a glimpse at potential unfairly bottled.

Speaking of being bottled, the Beenleigh line snakes along in relative quietude this morn, not a crackhead in sight and numbers of human-cattle decreasing as Christmas rushes up in it's morbid capital obesity guise like a bacchanalian booze up at South Bank's "famous" fake beach, denizens resplendent in Christmas-jumper-themed rashies, drinking piss while soaking up eachother's urine in the tepid brine, the cbd phallus temple gleaming behind them like the fetid welt it truly is. Ho. Ho. Ho.
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And now I'm listening to a beautiful collection of Klavier werks by Clara and the present gem is a theme and variations on Deutschland Über Alles. I guess considering the date it's more proto-fash than crypto but I guess that's the Romantics for you sometimes. I think they would've been mortified by Hitler but not if revisionist academics have anything to say about it. Everyone should've known better. They should've just looked it up on Wikipedia like everyone else because it's all fake news that the internet has only been around since 1996 or whenever. Ah the tin foil hat has replaced the crown. But back to Clara and truly beautiful swirls of longing once more emanating from her chosen instrument, an instrument she was the greatest master of of her time. First meth head of the morning in the quiet carriage guzzling an energy drink and grinding their gumming mouth the poor bastard. Another sensitive soul no doubt lost to the cruelty of the so-called modern world. If there was meth around in the late 1800s I have no doubt Bobby Schumann would've hit it, then poor Clara would've had that hot mess to deal with and her longing tunes would rip the pit of one's guts out even more. The Adagio is the doom metal of deep classical - there's even a doom metal band with an album called Adagio - and Clara clearly penned the best Doom in town, the Tony Iommi of her epoch. And into the void once more we go.

Still churning through Clara's beautiful piano works while this 7th locomotive wonder of the world churns down the tracks, clapped out and crazed, another mind-numbing day of pointless haze. This train feels like a staircase to nowhere, but Clara is the compass that points true hope.

And hope I'm finding while traversing suburban wasteland on this Thor's Day where once again due to a massive earth-swallowing tropical cyclone re-brewing in a great band across Queensland we will likely hear said God's hammer in the skies soon enough. Hope found in what you say? Well other than the comfort of possible environmental calamity inflicted upon this dreamland of possibility, I am finding this hope in beautiful arrangements for strings and soprano of Clara's sometimes schmalzy often stunning and dark lieder. One thing one should try to avoid is vibrato in excessive quantities when playing this music, and these motherfuckers are well onto it, and it makes these songs so much more beautiful. Clara would've hated vibrato. All the late Romantic Germanics did, but the Italian bel canto thing won out in the recorded world and the warble decimates swathes of beautiful music like dumping an entire bag of parmesan on your pasta might ruin your meal. Too much cheese my friends. No cheese in this recording. But while this beautiful music is getting me going I may shift to some death metal history once more as I'm pissed off approaching closer the Unutterable that fucking bastard in its gleaming pretend enviro building coal loving hell den. Thor please strike it down 'fore this day ends.

Friday, Goddess day, a small touch of Clara's piano and vocals works on the silver serpent looking longingly out scoured plexiglass at destitute tracks, stone and rocks, brown grasses before beneath a pale grey sky. Here I go again with death metal references and yes I've shifted from Clara to Atheist and their peculiar progressive death metal style that like Death unfortunately influenced a tonne of shit bands. Atheist are far from shit though and the connection between extreme metal and Romanticism remains strong to me, technicality, drama, existential plight caused by internal battles and the horrors of the dark Satanic mills, perhaps less immediate than some but no less clear and present for the experiencer.

I wrote of Black Metal's very conscious embracing of National Romantic traits for my Honours dissertation way back when but didn't touch on Death Metal which like Liszt's Totentantz is a death waltz of ultra-technique and ultra-masuclinity which seems at odds to Clara right? Well. She was the greatest concert pianist of her generation, a technician par excellence, and while her work is beautiful, subtle and hardly aggressive, it is also dark and brooding, and with the very rare great Death Metallers such as Chuck Schuldiner, while the music is aggressive and endlessly associated by sociologists as hyper-masculine, evil Chuck et al were often deeply conscious blokes, keen for their sisters to be equal, for their fellow humans in general to be equal, to be well, and to reflect by being confronted with death, with mortality, on the preciousness of life. Clara was confronted with that mortality when she lost Robert to his mind, and yet she kept the strength to continue a great life in music to the very end, the great muse of her time, who should've just been one of the greatest of her time.

Next week....Gloria Coates!

Tuesday, 11 December 2018


Friday, 7 December 2018

Misanthropic Musicology on the Beenleigh Line Part 3

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An actual to scale map of hell.

Come Sunday. Come back Sunday. Whoever invented the Sunday session is a bastard. But this morning I couldn't be happier to be on the Beenleigh iron sleigh on course for the Unutterable once more because it's 36 degrees (that's celcius Americanos) out and it's just gone 7:30am. Nothing to see here folks. Oh look there's a lump of coal let's just burn it for fun! Our current Prime Minister Scott Morrison (ScoMo) even famously brought a lump of coal into parliament (as you do), but who was walking who? Well despite the ever encircling dystopic blazes around Brisbane I persevere with this completely pointless weekly rant. Come Sunday, come back Sunday, riding solo with Anthony Braxton solo live 1971 exploring the very depth of his sax and crawling into all sorts of strange and wonderful corners. Screeching here, yelping there, peeling off Parker licks and descending into fragments of blues and the cries of black folks, of all folks. That's right as promised I'll dig as much as I can into Anthony's huge and prolific catalogue of improvised and composed works. This train ride isn't long enough, but I'll get somewhere.

Deep retrograde blues. Ragtime ripples of broken lines that break up against the rocks. Duos of Anthony Braxton and Muhal Richard Abrams, truly stunning, blending tradition with future. Afro-futurism of the most sensitive and inward kind. Deep deep creeks of sound, brittle and full of love. A world away from this train running full industrial tilt toward Beeno, soon to pass coronation drive where an actual siege is underway, gun men, heat and violence combine. Studies have found correlation between extremely humid, hot climates, and heightened levels of violence. Will this be an expected bi-product of global warming? One thing's for sure, Tony Braxton is so cool he's taken my burning guts down a few degrees on this rustbucket ride at high speed from the Unutterable towards home.

Composition No. 95 on the way to the 9-5 on the rolling refrigerator in the heatwave hell. Two pianos colliding and intertwining, beginning as melodica wheeze, driving into hammered haze or dense urban constructions from some unknown civilization both ancient and post-temporal.
19 solo compositions 1988. 88. There I go stirring up crypto-fascist hysteria again. Beautiful alto lines running me free of the Unutterable. No time, closed eyes towards nothingness amongst the somethingness.

Wodensday, midweek hell, not even listening to Tony Braxton today due to my wife insisting I listen to this nutty podcast about Nauru, Australia's concentration camp island, a tax haven dodgy bank dump for the world's absolute cunts. Interesting but not relevant to Anthony B. Or is it? Has he been there? Does the Tricentric Foundation secretly wash it's money in one of Nauru's dodgy mid-range crimebanks? Probably not. But I'll take a break from writing, to listen and speculate.
Composition no. 100 on an album called Eugene is what currently fills my head in this capitalscene, surrounded by loud self-centred instant gratified products of the great neo-CON. Oh how I wish they'd shut the fuck up because they art in the quiet carriage. A place where signs clearly state shut the fuck up in polite terms. Gucci bag for Christmas she says. But aside from homicidal thoughts I am deeply enjoying the incredible work of Anthony Braxton on this woeful Woden's day. Nauru where it plunges into the abyss that skirts the island, 4kms deep all round and packed full of sharks. I imagine deep sea creatures may appreciate Anthony Braxton's compositions, discombobulating soulful cries parped from the dark and tumbled around deaf and blind, directionless but always moving forward in the current, or perhaps ahead of the current, and driving down down down with the pressure of deep deep blues. These idiots are ruining my already ruined day. May they be ruined and may Braxton get louder and louder to drown them, out.

Fuck! The only thing keeping my brain dome down is this intense beautiful (black)power full quartet performance from a Santa Cruz date put out by the always great Hat Hut. Thank you Anthony Braxton for being a genius. Many of the same old drone domes on this back carriage embarrassment en course for the Unutterable on tracks of rust and regret, blackbird blues and Irish airs still clinging to their molecules. Piano keys being hammered down like mallets on sleepers, coasting along the shunt of rhythmic push while this piece of shit toy loco lumbers lumberers wayward north. I used to love Thursdays, Thor's day, they're still pretty good, except Friday still yet to come cause Thursday I've got Friday on my mind. I'm the Apprentice, Tony Braxton, the Master. The song I'm thinking of, actually being by the Easybeats.

Speeding backwards on the world's worst locomotive wonder listening to more recent Braxton, Composition No 372 to be precise, minimalist bagpipes screeching in polyrhythmic glee over clattering drums, scrummaging horns and angular seeking in left and right headphones, in disorienting delight. Rhythm rhythm rhythm. The rhythm of trains is buried in this, that movement and clatter that inspired some basic primal parts of the blues still sitting there deep in this somewhere as I roll backwards towards the bastard Unutterable on this balmy Friday, Freya's day, Goddess at the gateway to the 48 hours of freedom every worker yearns for. Fuck I love Anthony Braxton. I also love the Buzzcocks, sad to hear of Pete Shelley's passing to the beyond, he'll be tipping speed in his mead in Valhalla by now. South Bank, I have nothing to say about you. The glory of Composition No. 372 keeps the movement towards the inevitable more beautiful than it should be as the mud swallowing snake of brown, bruised and oily black in patches slides beneath in its own ancient rhythm.

Ancient filth caked to the floor boards so tired that's all I can stare at yearning for booze delicious booze. Braxton I'm done with you for this week, blasting Bizzcocks in honour of the deceased instead and what a ripe racket they raised. From Chicago to Manchester from Bowen Hills towards the bottom on an overpriced ticket to Friday night oblivion cause I was almost Late For The Train since the barber was closed and this babble is closed for this week.

Next week...Clara Schumann and more...