October 11, 2012

my lord bargain

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joel assaizky – music and all instruments
kaganof – vocal and lyrics
recorded in parkhurst at the a nul dubh studio, 2005

September 17, 2012

KREIDLER – Rote Wüste VIDEO-EDIT (official video)

Filed under: music,susanne giring — ABRAXAS @ 4:47 am

music: KREIDLER from »DEN« (Cd, Lp, digital download, Bureau-b), October 2012
film: Heinz Emigholz »Northfield from THE AIRSTRIP, Decampment of Modernism Part III« produced
 by Pym Films

asleep in transit

Filed under: helgé janssen,music,reviews — ABRAXAS @ 4:44 am

Wide-awake in a starry sky: Asleep in Transit – Jackie Horner, Helen Joseph Road, Glenwood, Durban. 09 September 2012

This five member band, formed as a duo almost two years ago, presented the Jackie Horner pub with an acoustic set as a threesome: singer/percussion Irena Buzdugan, acoustic guitarist Allister Christie, and bassist Joshua Woolf. Vlad Buzdugan (synthesizer) and Chris McNabb (drums) were otherwise engaged.

Like the proverbial live-wire, Irina Buzdugan’s beautiful voice weaves its way around the acoustic and bass guitars, slithers through the notes sparking their intention, explores range and depth, tempo and space, stretches, evolves – holds time itself -with an ease of expression that belies its depth of persuasion. As such, Irina locates the melody outside of and between the driving rhythms with intuitive jazzy-verve. This creates space for melodic invention that is the casting point of strength of this band. With charisma to match, her exotic beauty is alluring and mesmerising, while the two guitarists wouldn’t be out of place in a vogue photographic shoot either! Allister has a natural alto voice that entwines Irina’s in an harmonic, shamanic echo-chorus – and at other times he leads – that is as pleasing as it is surprising. With his acoustic guitar, at times banjo-like, sometimes upbeat in a blue-grass kind of way, Allister forms and informs the essential fulcrum through which the performers anchor their focus while allowing space for each musician to explore their potential unhindered.

Joshua is reinventing the bass guitar: at times driving the songs rhythm, at others leading with an electric guitar-like riff, or happy to simply accentuate and prolong the dramatic use of a deep and warm bass reverb in sudden contrast to the dancing higher notes, he is always inventive. And yet, these bass guitar melodies do exactly what a bass guitar is meant to do: heighten the countering rhythm, and add depth to instrument structure.

Of particular note too is the arrangement of the songs. These have well thought out deceptively simple layers of melodies that dance around the primary rhythms sustaining aural intrigue progressively adding depth and range to the dramatic context. These performers are not afraid to play with time, and have an equable performance style which belies the poignancy in their message. The songs are thought provoking, memorable and accessible. I had a strong sense of lateral thinking infusing their creative processes. This allows for maximum individual input within an infrastructure of mutual respect. Listen to “Brother, Sister” or “What a mess we must appear” which are both melancholic AND upbeat and will have you smiling!

What a Mess We Must Appear:
“why’d you burn all the buildings?
I just don’t get it
why can’t you tell your smoke from fire?
I heard I’m dying tonight
and I think I just found out why..”

This rich tapestry with its counter-point surprises forms the essential drive and interest that becomes the expansive whole of ‘Asleep in Transit’. As such they have produced a unique alternative Durban sound. From this showing this band could neatly slot into the international circuit and they definitely have what it takes to rise to the top.

They might be ‘asleep in transit’ but they are very much wide-awake in transmission!

WHAT a boon! You can download their debut album FREE here: http://soundcloud.com/asleep-in-transit/sets/asleep-in-transit-ep

web site: http://www.asleepintransit.com

Durban is exploding with musical talent!

dax butler – drink in everything

Filed under: joel assaizky,music — ABRAXAS @ 4:34 am


This Johannesburg-based multi-instrumentalist has been making music since the ’70s.

Drink in Everything, his solo debut as singer-songwriter, is easy listening for a relaxed weekend afternoon. Its nine tracks boasts meaningful, thought-provoking lyrics and stand-out tracks are Global Warming, Cellar Song and Morning Star.

If you like music by the likes of Bob Dylan, Paolo Nutini and Tom Waits, go grab this gem by a local artist whose voice will haunt you long after the final track.
released 01 September 2012

Dax Butler – Acoustic guitar, Vocals

Willem Moller – Electric guitars, bass & drums

Terence Scarr – Violin, Viola

Tonia Selley – Percussion, background vocals

Lutz – Piano,organ

Peter Jaspan – Tenor and alto saxophones

Andrew Donaldson – Mandolin

Maya-Rose Torrao – Background vocals

Rhys Johnstone – Background vocals

Brakpan Man produced and mixed by Joel Assaizky

Richard Bruins – Lap steel guitar

Joel Assaizky – Bass guitar

Photography – Kim Torrao

Sleeve design – Nicholas Hauser/ Johnny Mahala

Mixed By Willem Moller

Mastered By Joel Assaizky

buy it here: http://daxbutler.bandcamp.com/

Steve Fataar with the Jack Mantis Band

Filed under: helgé janssen,music,reviews — ABRAXAS @ 4:00 am

@ Jack Rabbits, Morningside, Durban.

Four Magicians, one voice: KABOOM!

This was the first time I had visited Jack Rabbits in Morningside. It is situated within a cement and leafy façade, and were it not for the cars parked outside, one could quite easily have driven right past it. Under superb management from Suzette Colbert, the décor is rustic with wooden tables and chairs, an upstairs, a canopy area and a deck. There was a complete cross-section of clientele which is always a good sign. The bar staff were efficient and friendly. This was the open mike Tuesday night where the Jack Mantis Band had welcomed an opportunity to add an unscheduled gig to their current tour of South Africa.

Domenico Benigno hit a bit of a glitch setting up his keyboards via the Apple Mac laptop. In the meantime Jack Mantis (acoustic guitar, vocals), the drummer Emile Hoogenhout, and whizman Steve Fataar (electric guitar) began this jamming session respectfully unfazed by the refusal of the electrical cables/plug-in points to co-operate. As they began playing, searching for each other through their instruments an immediate harmony and synergy was established – an essential threshold from which this path of blues/rock/folk exhibition was to be launched. Very soon the sounds began spiraling gently ever higher and I had a sudden image of the Wandering Albatross – a bird with the largest of wingspans that can glide for hours without need to flap its wings – soaring. And then hey presto! The cables came alive and the keyboardist without hesitation slotted into his niche….and that Albatross suddenly caught an uplift! The sound technician must be congratulated at this point because there were none of the expected sound pops and bursts to interrupt focus.

And then the Doors….I felt that the doors to perception were being gently prized open….as the blues, folk and jazzy combinations created an inventive excitement that lured one in. Each of these four magicians created their own Bohemian path ultimately leading to the same point: much like life really – where there are so many ways to achieve an end. It is this expansiveness of vision that resonates within the Jack Mantis Band reflecting a very unique South African achievement. With the sensitive ingenuity of Domenico creating melody and ever searching for the extended edges of alertness with which to infuse his gift and with Jack’s creativity stimulating the essential musical dialogue the audience were kept mesmerized. Steve Fataar needs no introduction to the South African music scene and his ever inventive drive and openness to participate with and thus give impetus the music platform in Durban is comendable.

“It’s time….it’s time to recognize each other….” intoned Jack in his deep earthy voice through one of the tracks…..and the band then morphed into their last song of the night – a fifteen-minute inventive “Hit the Road Jack”.

And then….we all glided back to earth which had shifted somewhat.

Catch the Jack Mantis Band at a venue near you! They are not to be missed!

Remaining dates – but check FB or the press for additional gigs:

16th September The Red Herring (Noordhoek) Solo with Tim Parr 1pm
21st September – Alma Café (Rosebank) Unplugged 8:30 pm

September 3, 2012

the corpse-grinders of berlin – episode 24

Filed under: acéphale — ABRAXAS @ 9:42 am


He arrived back in Berlin in the morning and spent the day looking for a way to get the hell out again as soon as possible. After a lot of hassles he was able to organise a ride to Bratislava in two days.

He sat in Cafe M in the approaching autumn weather listening to French rap music. He read the Herald Tribune for about five minutes and then threw it down again. The first thing he noticed on his return was that he didn’t like people’s eyes here. They were dishonest.

He made a phone call to Amsterdam. He called an old girlfriend who tried to console him. She said nice things. “I’m nothing but an ass-hole, pining away for some impossible love,” Pierre told her. They talked awhile and then said goodbye, and then he was suddenly transported back to the busy intersection in Friedrichshein. Alone again amid the nauseating farts of automobiles. He stood there and looked at the dead street corner. Jesus, Berlin was sure a city of ugly street corners. It was also a city of apothekers and travel agencies. Never had he seen so many drugstores in a city before, except possibly in Brussels. Pills and vacations. A paradise of headaches.

In a cafe, sitting next to the window, he watched as the waitress poured his wine into a cheap glass. Pierre believed that wine should always be drunk from crystal. The materials of this world were becoming more and more insensitive, less and less aesthetic. What people called progress these days had only to do with the victory of mass-production and had nothing to do with the true quality of things.

Reality could be as harsh as any serial killer.

But at least serial killers chose their victims without discrimination. Reality on the other hand had a way of coming down hardest upon those who should be given a break. That Christ was crucified wasn’t a flaw or exception, it was a reality principle.

“The meek shall inherit the world”. Well, as a revolutionary Christ might have been brilliant, but as a prophet he was shit.

It’s true, Pierre thought to himself, what Jean Genet said: “Only violence will stop man’s brutal ways.”
A very unpopular point of view, he realised, in the sheepish pacifism of the present software world.

The Germans he met shit upon history. Maybe this was because Germany had shit upon history so well in the 1940s. In any event they did at least become scatological and poke at it with a stick from time to time, but only to reject it again. They were smeared and blurred by distraction and by envy and guilt, and especially by the avoidance of guilt. An inbreed predilection for catastrophe.

He had the sensation that the world was narrowing down on him. He could no longer believe in many of the things he was naive about earlier in his life. How is one, in all this clutter, to keep a wide horizon, like the one has in one’s childhood? He thought about fleeing to the countryside. But there was always the problem of money. Almost the entire planet had been monopolised by it, everything was subject to its reign. It had become the blood of this civilization. Blood-money. Shoot someone and coins fall out.

That night he went to the Kumpelnest 3000, perhaps the only bar left on this desolated planet that he still really liked. He took a couple drinks. He knew the guy behind the bar, a big black transvestite from Amerika. He talked to some one from San Diego about the apocalypse. It was getting grim.

Then his old lover, the one who smashed him, walks in and pretends not to notice him. His shit-German girlfriend. He was happy to see her again in a bittersweet way. He would never stop loving her, he realised. In fact the phenomenon of the disappearance of love or love into hatred was incomprehensible to him. Once love was there in his soul it was there for good, no matter how painful.

I have been watching you as you stand
With wide open eyes, at my door
And a razor in your hand
Washing your heart out
On a rocky shore
Insanely pounding mist out of marble.

Broken pussy of Saint Lucy
Blue eyes disarrayed in the dusk
Too many coins shine of bankruptcy these days
And too many gifts caste shades of theft
Stay by my side, glittering
Ardour of a broken line.

His amie damnée was dancing in the middle of the bar, curving and swaying in the soft red light. He watched her. She was with another guy of course, an endless string of guys. She was able to fuck almost anyone. It didn’t matter what he looked like, or what a shit character he had. The whore of Babylon.

She glowed under exterminating circumstances.

Through this brutal haze he asked her to sing a song.
“You always go too far!” she snapped .
“You‘re right,” he answered, “and that’s what actually makes you Bataille, and makes me Laure.”

September 2, 2012


Filed under: cal harding,literature — ABRAXAS @ 4:07 pm

For reasons too dull to go into, I find myself on one of my routine
late-night perambulations. Single again, embittered. I once had a
passable future, but that evaded me. I had all the characteristics of
a human being – flesh, blood, skin, hair – but my depersonalization
was so intense, had gone so deep, that my normal ability to feel
compassion had been eradicated, the victim of a slow, purposeful
erasure. I was simply imitating reality, a rough resemblance of a
human being, with only a dim corner of my mind functioning.

As I blah blah dusty streets blah blah empty houses full of stopped
clocks, a quaint cobblestoned alley inhales me. Novel and unexpected,
it’s undecorated by crisp packets, broken bottles, cigarette ends,
disposable nappies, television sets, computers, chairs, lightbulbs,
guns, CDs, electrical fires, dead friends, refrigerators, painful
memories, typewriters, musical instruments, car parts and inhalers.

I canter down the alley, charmed deeper into its belly, and hear
footsteps. Stride lengthens, awareness sharpens, heartbeat quickens.
The stranger’s pace increases constantly to match my own until we’re
both running. The cobblestone seems to distend into infinity.

Not this time. Oh no. No way. I’m not fucking stupid. I’m waking up
and yes, everything’s okay. No it’s not. I’m still here, still being
chased. Yes, chased.

At the apogee of our pace, an opening to the side appears. I duck into
it and wait. The footsteps amplify as I prepare my attack. This road
doesn’t go anywhere, but that doesn’t matter… I fumble for the
pocket knife in my back pocket and open the blade.

Camouflaged by shadows, I leap out at my pursuer. With ebullient
self-possession, I stab the anonymous figure repeatedly. The darkness
and shadows obscure everything but the distinct sounds of perforated
flesh, spurting blood, and doomed gurgling.

The figure slumps lifelessly at my feet, and I turn to run. I can’t
imagine his dead thoughts. His remains are grainy and bad quality, an
old VHS tape that no-one will see.

Disintegration – I seem to be taking it in stride.

Certain now that I am no longer pursued, my pulse slows in sync with my pace.

Something up ahead, though. Another figure. He canters down the alley.
Did he see what happened? Does he know? I must know. I must follow. My
pace increases to match his.

I’m not proud of everything I’ve done. Sometimes things just get out of hand.

August 29, 2012

the corpse-grinders of berlin – episode 26

Filed under: acéphale — ABRAXAS @ 6:02 pm


When he left Berlin for Slovakia he was pretty much destroyed. He felt wretched. Too much drinking, too many cigarettes. And he had barely slept in days. All he could do at this point was let go.

He found himself in a car with three others. It was a bright September day. They talked about Carravaggio, and about Ezra Pound’s incarceration by the Americans in Pisa. In the car he was forced to listen to pop music all day long. For him this world was laughable, but it was a laugh which carried with it the end of the world. There were so many different kinds of music which touched and ignited the soul and instead people chose to listen to the same pop songs endlessly.

Eventually they entered the familiar Bohemian landscape that he hadn’t experienced for at least seven years. Those hills and fairy-tale forests with their winding roads. And afterwards they drove into the misty gray-green hills of Slovakia which were descending into a deep blue dusk.
Pierre represented the motif of lostness in a world which was too well ordered and blinded by routine and which knew exactly what it wanted. But what it wanted was nothing. Pierre was lost because he knew what he wanted, but what he wanted was something.

In a world of dis-intimacy and disconnection, relationships also suffered. Since the 60s not one of his friends was able to have a long-lasting, meaningful relationship. Everything was in broken pieces. There was no longer any respect, and no longer any tolerance. Everything had taken a different course in history.

A friend once started speculating: “If I’m honest, the number of women in which I have a really meaningful connection to is about 1 in 1000. But I would have to meet that person in a real way, which makes the odds more like 1 to 50,000. And the other person would have to recognise me also, which makes it about 1 to 200,000. And of course the girl would also have to be free, I mean not in a relationship already….1 in 500,000. And she would have to live in the same city….” and he went on like that until he was in the billions. Luckily life is not only at the mercy of statistics, the impossible was still possible. But in the end Pierre had to confess that his friend’s conclusion was quite realistic, it felt like finding someone in this mess of a world seemed almost that difficult. It was obvious to Pierre that most of his friends had just given up and had taken what was available out of desperation- and not out of any real conviction.

At the highway bus stop he stood looking down on the small Slovakian village shrouded in darkness. The church tower lit, the village lights strung throughout the valley. The unbelievable din of crickets vibrating the landscape.

Too much cinema, he was thinking to himself while passing this scenery, attempts to simulate life, and in the end it is only suffocating life. It tries to recreate certain aspects or events, which always ended in a bad imitation. Pierre thought that films should either be busy creating life, like Godard did with his erratic jump cuts, or it should be an abstract reflection on life- as with Bresson or Paradjanov. Either way it was artifice, and not naturalism that struck him with significance. It was a delicate and refined relationship that was maintained and not a simple jerking of the emotions. A bridge should always be crossed in perception in order to preserve the integrity of the viewer.

August 21, 2012

the corpse-grinders of berlin – episode 28

Filed under: acéphale,literature — ABRAXAS @ 2:55 pm

In the afternoon they drove to a small village in the countryside near Bratislava. They parked the car and from there they climbed a steep hill until they reached the ruins of an old castle. For a long time they sat on the broken walls, silently looking out at the saffron coloured rays of the sun falling upon the dark green forest.

What modern philosophers use such areas as an inspiration for their thoughts? And if they don’t, then where do their thoughts derive from? Insulated and caught in a psychotic urban death cell. Deleuze jumps out the window, not even a very inspiring manner of suicide. Debord fires a bullet through his heart in utter solitude. But Nietzsche was different, he knew that he needed to visit powerful places as a source for his know-ledge. His philosophy wasn’t separated from his vitality.

And Bataille – the period when he was inspired by Laure and he took his theory into practice, has been largely ignored. People either pretend that it didn’t exist, or they deal with it with a kind of uneasy nervousness. A philosopher just can’t start performing strange Dionysian rituals in the forests. Official scholars will burn you at the public stake if you turn your back on a sterile academics and try to find a way to live your philosophy in everyday life. But of course in the end this revenge is just a persecution of their own guilt, an awareness of their own weakness. It was clear to Pierre that the expression “intellectual integrity” was a contradiction in terms.

There are those who speak and there are those who live what they speak.

From the ruins he watched as the shadows moved slowly across the scenery. Soon the valley was engulfed in shade. Once again he was struck by the sensation that the earth was positioned between two opposing planets, two destinies- the sun and the moon, between light and death.

A soft white half-moon in a sky of infinite blue, the walls of the shattered castle burst into a fiery orange.

His harsh judgement like an ass-priest, without even a God to back him.

Instead of our anti-hero turning to stone, his love turns to marble and fades away.

One doesn’t enter history by doing something famous at a particular moment, he thought to himself. It isn’t that easy. One only enters history by an action which speaks of the eternal.

Sitting in a cafe he listened to rock music. Rock was another disaster brought on by the 60s. It was the climax of a certain kind of love which burned itself out through a lack of authenticity. Hypocrisy hadn’t reached such a high level since perhaps the Inquisition. The new dark ages, splashed with colour and bright lights.

In the city of Bratislava he saw midgets and giants. He saw people without eyes, legs, arms, and faces. All of this of course held a certain charm for him.

August 14, 2012

usa readers of the kagablog can buy the forest and the zoo now

Filed under: kaganof — ABRAXAS @ 8:28 am

order it here: http://www.othermusic.com/perl-bin/OM/CD_Search.cgi?ID=8960073.19842&search_type=artist&search_op=EQ&keyword=KAGANOF%20ARYAN

August 8, 2012

the president’s patient

Filed under: south african cinema — ABRAXAS @ 5:07 pm


Sonrise Films has just wrapped up the shooting of The President’s Patient, a motion picture that challenges society to take a fresh look at itself and rethink some of its embedded prejudices against people who look and behave different. The film is written by artist cum journalist Goodenough Mashego (Cast the First Stone) and directed by King Shaft Moropane who has co-written and directed scores of other films, music videos, advertisements and has done corporate film projects.

The President’s Patient is based on the story of Monde, a homeless mentally disturbed man who prowls the streets of Newtown pushing his trolley searching for friendship and camaraderie. One day Monde finds himself on the scene of an attempted assassination on a new minister with radical ideas.

Unbeknown to him he is thrust into the centre of a five day manhunt headed by a team of special agents from three security branches, Organised Crime, Crime Intelligence and State Security Agency. The team looking for him deploys state of the art tools in their hunt. However, unknown to the Lieutenant heading the team, it has been deeply compromised.

king shaft maropane directs the president’s patient

As a consequence every move they make is replicated by the two ruthless assassins whose instructions from their boss Ismail Soobramoney is not to leave Joburg until ‘the madman is killed’. Monde has no clue of what he witnessed. And the hunt becomes more interesting.

The film was wholly shot in Newtown, excerpt for a few scenes which were done at Constitution Hill and the Gauteng Film Office.

The President’s Patient is an M-Net Mzansi Magic commissioned film which will raise awareness about the importance of not judging a book by its cover as a twist in the film will reveal the circumstances surrounding Monde’s homelessness and the family left behind.

It stars Regina Dube, Paul Mzaca, Momelezi Ntshiba, Thabo Monareng, Napo Masheane, Mofenyi Malepe, Motlatsi Mahloko and a very popular Alexandra township artist named Prince Twala, known as the Prince of Newtown.

To express his faith in this film director/producer King Shaft joked that “if this film does not bring lots of awards and gets the proper acclaim you might either find me working as a grocery store till operator or at the post office licking stamps”.

King Shaft was contracted to shoot three films by the pay-channel and The President’ Patient is his second in the series. Mashego, a Mpumalanga native whose company Tenworkers Media co-produced the film wrote the script is a 360 degrees artist who has two poetry books to his name, blogs incessantly, is a literary editor, a literature judge, a practising journalist, political analyst, music producer and equally a filmmaker.

The President’s Patient, is a groundbreaking love story told with passion and zest. It will be screened by Mzansi Magic soon.

August 6, 2012

dave chislett – Growing a Pair

Filed under: dave chislett,poetry — ABRAXAS @ 5:49 pm

I have been writing poetry since I was 10 years old, but it took 30 years, 5 other books published and the invention of Facebook for me to carry this aspect of my writing out into the public eye. Why was this? Well, because poetry doesn’t sell, because intellectualism is not exactly flavour of the month, because it seems almost archaic and well, because I wasn’t sure I was actually any good at it!

Getting Started

When I saw Michelle McGrane posting work up on Facebook on an ad hoc basis, I was intrigued. Then when I read the comments I began to understand something very important. It really didn’t matter what I thought. I t mattered how people felt, and it mattered that I put it out there. So I started publishing poems to Facebook.

I admit, I got a big carried away and posted at least one poem per day for over 18 months. It was a surprising and fun filled adventure! People loved poems I was uncertain of, said nothing about the ones I considered among my best work. There were comments, laughs and most importantly, enjoyment.

I still don’t know if I am any good as a poet, but as for the rest, I don’t care. The net result of this process was that, in July 2012 I published For You Or Someone Like You, my debut poetry collection. It holds 90 poems, drawn from that prolific 18-month Facebook period. There is no overriding theme other than what was on my mind at the time. Although if you look harder you can discern four or five recurring ideas through the body of work.

Selling Poetry

I built a website and started trying to sell the book before it was printed. I sold a few. I still have offers up on that site, you can go out for dinner with me, you can have a writing coaching session, and I can even play you a private show. It’s all on http://www.foryouorsomeonelikeyou.com/?page_id=26

From that website, you can also buy a limited edition CD. It consists of ten tracks. The songs are all poems of mine that various well-known artists have converted into music and recorded. The album includes songs by Rambling Bones, Shannon Hope, Shotgun Tori, Rob McLennan (NFOH), Paul Riekert (Battery 9) and Trenton Birch (Trenton and The Free Radical).

Poetry for me is a deeply personal exercise. But I am very post-modern about it, hence all these bells and whistles. I have set it free in a way. I look ward to meeting you! You can buy the book and CD direct from the website by clicking here: http://www.foryouorsomeonelikeyou.com/?page_id=26

I hope to meet you at a show someday!

dave chislett

August 5, 2012

the rules of noise

Filed under: african noise foundation — ABRAXAS @ 4:29 pm


noise is post-music
noise is the phoenix of music moving beyond music
noise iterates what music never can, because noise is unruled
ergo: noise rules!

55. Deadbeat at Dawn – Jim Van Bebber

Filed under: film,on murder as a fine art — ABRAXAS @ 12:19 pm

this review first published here: http://www.mortado.com/gravemusic/index.php/Movie-Reviews/deadbeat-at-dawn-1987.html

July 30, 2012

Chris Marker obituary by ronald bergan

Filed under: film,film as subversive art — ABRAXAS @ 6:23 pm

Ronald Bergan
guardian.co.uk, Monday 30 July 2012 12.57 BST

The essay film, a form pitched between documentary and personal reflection, exploring the subjectivity of the cinematic perspective, has now become an accepted genre. Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet, Jean-Luc Godard, Errol Morris and Michael Moore are among its main recent exponents, but Chris Marker, who has died aged 91, was credited with inventing the form.

Marker’s creative use of sound, images and text in his poetic, political and philosophical documentaries made him one of the most inventive of film-makers. They looked forward to what is called “the new documentary”, but also looked back to the literary essay in the tradition of Michel de Montaigne. Marker’s interests lay in transitional societies – “life in the process of becoming history,” as he put it. How do various cultures perceive and sustain themselves and each other in the increasingly intermingled modern world?

He was born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve, most likely in Neuilly-sur-Seine, on the outskirts of Paris, although one source gives the place of birth as Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia – a legend that Marker did nothing to dispel. His pseudonym is said to have been taken from the Magic Marker pen.
Prix Jean Vigo On 1954 Alain Resnais And Chris Marker Chris Marker, left, with Alain Resnais. The pair collaborated on the propaganda film Far from Vietnam. Photograph: Getty Images/Gamma-Keystone

Marker fought in the French Resistance and supposedly with the American armed forces during the second world war. He emerged from the Parisian Left Bank intellectual climate, coming under the influence of two postwar figures, André Malraux and André Bazin, working with the latter on the theatre section of the magazine Travail et Culture, then under the aegis of the French Communist party.

He wrote a novel, Le Coeur Net, published in 1950 and translated the following year as The Forthright Spirit; a book of criticism on the playwright and novelist Jean Giraudoux; poems and short stories; and film reviews for Cahiers du Cinéma. But it was his lucid and committed leftwing documentaries, all of which he wrote and many of which he photographed, made from 1955 to 1966, that established him as a major film-maker. It was during this period that the poet Henri Michaux proclaimed: “The Sorbonne should be razed and Chris Marker put up in its place.”

“I write to you from a far-off country,” begins Marker’s Lettre de Sibérie (Letter from Siberia, 1958), which uses cartoons, texts and voiceover. In the film, Marker questions the objectivity of documentaries by repeating one sequence three times, each with a different commentary. Depending on the commentary, Soviet workers building a road were either “unhappy”, “happy” or “noble”.

The passionate and influential Cuba Si! (1961) contains two interviews with Fidel Castro. It ends with the Bay of Pigs fiasco, which took place in April 1961, during the editing of the film, which had been shot a few months previously. The anti-American tone of the ending caused the French government to ban the film until 1963, but Marker published the text and stills before then. However, this could not amply communicate the expert use of sound, image and text that makes his films so special.

Marker brought the same foreigner’s eye view to bear on his own city in Le Joli Mai (1963), which he compiled from 55 hours of interviews with the people of Paris (boiled down to around two and a half hours) with a linking commentary spoken by Yves Montand (replaced by Simone Signoret in the English version). The interviews assume the form of a dialectic during which Marker’s tone is often ironic and judgmental. For example, when one interviewee says he wants material success, Marker remarks that his view of life is “a trifle limited”.

Marker’s La Jetée (The Pier, 1962), a roughly 30-minute post-third world war story, is made up entirely of stills, except for one brief moving shot of a woman opening her eyes. This futuristic photo-novel film, semi-remade by Terry Gilliam as 12 Monkeys in 1995, abstracts cinema almost to its essence in bringing to life the story of a post-apocalyptic man obsessed with an image from his past.

Set against the backdrop of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Le Mystère Koumiko (The Koumiko Mystery, 1965) consists of a series of conversations with an attractive, French-speaking Tokyo resident named Koumiko Muraoka. Through her, and modern Tokyo, Marker is able to comment on the loss of identity in the face of globalism. Koumiko considers her own features too Japanese, while the director interprets the aesthetics of contemporary Japanese fashion as a subconscious desire to neutralise Asiatic features and erase the otherness that attracts Marker himself to the culture (and to the heroine).

In 1966, Marker set up a company, Société pour le Lancement des Oeuvres Nouvelles, to produce new work. It financed Loin du Vietnam (Far from Vietnam, 1967), a timely propaganda piece with contributions directed by Godard, Agnès Varda, Alain Resnais, Joris Ivens and Marker himself.

Le Train en Marche (The Train Rolls On, 1971) was a documentary focusing on the director Alexander Ivanovich Medvedkin, and his CineTrain of the 1930s, on which film crews travelled through the Soviet Union making documentaries. Using archive footage and photographs, Marker illustrates how the CineTrain functioned as the means by which films could include and educate the masses in Russia at the start of the revolution. More than 20 years later, after the fall of Soviet communism, Marker returned to Medvedkin in Le Tombeau d’Alexandre (The Last Bolshevik, 1992). The film is a series of video letters to Medvedkin (who died in 1989) and provides a broader, incisive meditation on the nature of reality, fiction, art, ideology and history.

Taking an even wider perspective was his 1977 film Le Fond de l’Air est Rouge (a slogan from the May 1968 protests). It was given the English title The Grin Without a Cat. Divided into two 90-minute parts, it tells the story of the New Left activist movement, from its birth as a byproduct of the Vietnam war to the CIA’s ousting of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, which sounded the death knell for ideological hope. For Marker, truth is always a matter of an individual’s point of view: history does not exist apart from through our personal experience and interpretation of it.

“You never know what you’re filming until later,” remarks one of the film’s many narrators, summing up Marker’s distinctive way of working both within the moment and out of it. In Sans Soleil (Sunless, 1983), a fictional cameraman (a Marker surrogate) tries to make sense of the cultural dislocation he feels in Japan, West Africa and Iceland. Using diverse images, letters, quotes and musings, Marker continued to extend the limits of the documentary, making use of new video technology and image-processing by Hayao Yamaneko, credited with special effects. The result is a film that Marker described as like “a musical composition, with recurrent themes, counterpoints and mirror-like fugues”.

“I remember that month of January in Tokyo, or rather, I remember the images I filmed of the month of January in Tokyo,” says the narrator. “They have substituted themselves for my memory. They are my memory … the act of remembering is not the opposite of forgetting.”

Apart from the Medvedkin documentaries, Marker made further films on directors. AK (1985), profiling the location shooting of Akira Kurosawa’s Ran on the slopes of Mount Fuji, included an interview with its 75-year-old director. This reverential impression of the Japanese master at work is revealing about Kurosawa’s methods and his relations with his crew. Marker also uses the subject for his own brand of poetic-philosophical celluloid essay on the Japanese and on the making of a film. For the French TV programme Cinéastes de Notre Temps, Marker paid homage to Andrei Tarkovsky in Une Journée d’Andrei Arsenevitch (One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich, 2000).

In the 1990s, Marker expanded into multimedia installation work such as Zapping Zone for the Pompidou Centre. In the film Level Five (1997), he made use of the new video technology and paid homage to Resnais’ films on memory and the unconscious. Gradually, a woman called Laura (named after the eponymous heroine of the Otto Preminger film) attempts to reconstruct a true historical event through information derived from a global virtual network known as Optional World Link (or Owl, a wry reference to Marker’s production company Argos Films and its emblematic mascot).

That decade, Marker, always the innovator, made a CD-Rom called Immemory, composed of stills, film clips, music, text and fragments of sound. It is over 20 hours long and can be viewed in many different ways.

Throughout his career, Marker, who was notoriously secretive about his private life, was rarely interviewed or photographed, often responding to requests for his photograph with a picture of a cat – his favourite animal.

• Chris Marker (Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve), film director, born 29 July 1921; died 30 July 2012

first published here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/jul/30/chris-marker?newsfeed=true

July 18, 2012

moscow circus

Filed under: derek davey,music,politics — ABRAXAS @ 12:48 pm

In 1992 a performance called the Moscow Circus premiered at the Grahamstown National Festival of the Arts. The cast included singer/songwriter Vusi Mahlasela, poet Lesego Rampolokeng, the punk/industrial band Live Jimi Presley and dancer/arsonists Chetanya Alexander and Angela Macpherson. The crew was put together by Hannalie Coetzee, who was managing Vusi, Lesego and the Presleys at the time. Some of the Lesego songs were written by Warrick Sony and adapted for the show.

They performed at the Power Station on the outskirts of the Grahamstown precinct, a vast, picturesque, face-brick freezing venue; sacks were stuffed into the windows to seal them and charcoal braziers were set among the audience. Each night the line-up was Jennifer Ferguson, The Moscow Circus, James Phillips and The Lurchers, then Lloyd Ross playing World Music for the after-party – every night an unforgettable experience.

Recently some footage shot by Lloyd was dug out from his archive and given to the Presleys. There are some truly amazing shots, and the sound is top quality, despite the fact that the tapes were so old that they frequently stuck together and broke as he digitised them.

1992 was smack in the middle of Nelson Mandela’s release in 1990 and the first multi-racial elections in South Africa in 1994. It was an extremely troubled time, characterized by massive, ongoing township violence, ANC-Inkatha battles, attempts by the right-wing to destabilise the power-sharing process, the mysterious and deadly 3rd force etc. If you watch The Bang Bang Club you will realise just how close this country came to not becoming a democracy and sliding into total anarchy. The Moscow Circus reflects this zeitgeist, for instance referring to the “violins” that refused to stop playing in the townships.

If anyone has memorabilia from this period – photos, videos, posters, programmes etc – please scan and forward to me. My aim is to put together a short documentary based on the footage of this show, from 20 years ago.

derek davey

July 9, 2012

nick cave and tracy pew, london venue july 1982

Filed under: kagaportraits,music — ABRAXAS @ 8:53 pm

Tracy Franklin Pew (19 December 1957 – 7 November 1986) was an Australian musician: he was the bass guitarist for The Birthday Party from 1975 to its disbandment in June 1983. He was subsequently a member of The Saints and worked with former The Birthday Party band mates’ group, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. As a member of The Birthday Party, Pew became associated with their “prodigious consumption of drugs and alcohol”. At a 1980 performance by James Freud, Pew expressed his disapproval by throwing dog faeces at the singer-guitarist. In 1982 Pew was imprisoned for ten weeks in HM Prison Won Wron on charges relating to driving under the influence of alcohol. Pew died on 7 November 1986 of a brain haemorrhage after head injuries sustained during an epileptic seizure, he was aged 28.

read more about tracy pew here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracy_Pew

Ralph Steadman: Another Freak in the Freak Kingdom – interview by sarah claire picton

Filed under: art,sarah claire picton — ABRAXAS @ 2:37 pm

Mickey and Mallory, Bonny and Clyde, Butch and Sundance… it seems that great murderers hunt in pairs. And so do Gonzo artists. Ralph Steadman was Hunter S. Thompson’s illustrator, collaborator and friend. He captures the essence of Thompson’s words with his iconic cartoons and paintings, adding a visual counterpoint to the dark and sardonic music of the duo’s journey.

Steadman’s award-winning work includes political cartoons, book illustrations and countless examples of his life-long scribbled homage to whimsy. He failed Art at the same school that now has a Ralph Steadman Creative Suite, and unveiled the plaque himself. His life breaks the rules with the same joyful defiance that his art does. He explains: ‘Gonzo is the essence of irony. You dare not take it seriously. You have to laugh.’

Sarah Claire Picton sits down to share a breakfast of champions with Steadman.

What have you been working on ink-wise?

A book of extinct boids of planet oith.

Could you explain the symbolism of reptiles in your work?

Reptiles always seem cunning and unpredictable. I just don’t trust them… but I quite like Kermit the Frog and his lovely song ‘Why are there so many songs about Rainbows and what’s on the Other Side?’

They sell your art and literature but ban your designs for beer. Would that be a Banzo act?

I wrote a poem about that art ban about Raging Bitch India Pale Ale in Michigan:
‘Summink the matter with Michigan
Being a bit of a bitch again
When all I want is to be Rich again
While the people drink the good beer’

Profits are up and wages are down. Will America survive this Depression?

Of course it will! We’ve been on this planet for over 10 000 years already… in one form or another. We are Homo Erectus. We stood up and walked straight. Isn’t that enough evidence?

What’s your take on the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement?

They are the new population of Great Britain. Folks have had enough of being pushed around.

You’ve worked with Oddbins and Flying Dog Breweries for many years. Do you have a personal interest in the brewing and distilling process?

I used to grow one hundred vines of Pinot Grigio, but it became another career and thus too much. I love drinking white wine but I love drawing more.

Have you had any feedback from children regarding the classics that you have illustrated, like Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island and Animal Farm? How do you find your voice when illustrating an iconic children’s story?

Funny thing: I’ve never received any child’s correspondence with regards to Alice. I probably treated it as an adult book, which in many ways it is. The parodies and metaphors are sometimes quite alarming, and the Jabberwock is too threatening for a twenty-first century child. Then again, ‘kids’ stuff’ on SKY can be pretty scary. Even Ben 10.

Did you ever imagine that the time you spent and the work you did with Hunter S. Thompson would be so widely followed – even working its way into history books and inspiring as yet unjaded dreamers?

When I met Hunter back in 1970, I knew I had met a weird one… but I reckoned he was the reason I went to America: to find some reason and rhyme for my work. I wanted to change the world… for better or worse… and I am glad there is Gonzo.

What is Gonzo all about to you?

Bill Cordosa came up with the word after our first collaboration in Kentucky. He lived in Sausalito across the Golden Gate Bridge. Of course he didn’t know where it came from… but it needs new troops to re-interpret and push it.

What’s your stance on hallucinogens?

I never used them except for that one time in the Kentucky Derby and in Nigel Finch’s Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood. I was curious about the pills Hunter kept popping. It was Psylocybin. It freaked me out and I never touched drugs again.

Had any Coca leaves recently?

No, but I have some Coca Tea from Peru.

How do you compare drug consumption of today to that of the ‘70s?

Leave the shit alone! Alcohol (or Alcohoho) is good and sociable. You can survive on that… but you can’t survive on nuthin’.

Do you vote?

Yes. For a local candidate when I can see the whites of his eyes.

Does the head pendant that Hunter S. Thompson gave you still hang around your neck and does it ward off evil spirits?

All evil spirits are held at bay and had better not fuck with my piece of mind. I still wear a necklace I bought from a Navajo in Santa Fe. I wear it every day next to Hunter’s gift. And a welsh trinket from my daughter Sadie.

Words like ‘creativity’ and ‘originality’ are loosely tossed about. What do the mean to you?

A whole new generation are just recreating what we did. Fuck those people. It’s time they found something of their own.

Have you been in love and is there such a thing?

Not quite sure… but it fucked up my first marriage.

What’s with the flower in the logo for Hunter’s ‘Sheriff of Aspen’ campaign?

His deep compassion for the human race.

Do you ever feel afraid?

From the moment I wake up.

Do you remember what you were doing when you heard that Hunter S. Thompson had committed suicide?

I was waking up and the phone rang. It was a friend in Kentucky, Joe Petro the Third. They always have to have descendants. He said: ‘Take your phone of the hook. Hunter just put a bullet from a Magnum .44 through his brain. It’s the death of fun, Ralph.’
Hunter always said to me that he would feel trapped in this life if he didn’t know that he could commit suicide at any moment. He was the greatest person I ever met in my life.

You wrote the song Weird and Twisted Nights with him?

Hunter gave me his lines over the phone from Owl Farm in Colorado. ‘Ah… but never mind the nights, my love. It never happened anyway.’ That became the chorus.

Who represented the Savage Beast back then? And who represents it now?

Hunter always thought that I was the ‘crazy’ one. Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner agreed that I was crazier than Hunter. Oh dear.

Do you still write songs?

I have a bunch of songs and occasionally I play this and that on the ukulele, but I rarely touch the guitar now… though I keep looking at it.

What did you and Hunter listen to in the car?

Hunter always drove and chose the music. We both liked Jim Morrison.

Word association time: Red.
My wife Anna.
Picasso and me.
Picasso and other people.

Any last thoughts?

The only thing of value is the thing I cannot say. Wittgenstein.

July 7, 2012

kenyan singers in hate speech trial

Filed under: censorship,music,politics — ABRAXAS @ 3:48 pm

first published here: http://mg.co.za/article/2012-07-04-kenyan-musicians-hate-speech

jitsvinger @national arts festival

Filed under: afrikaaps — ABRAXAS @ 3:41 pm

first published here: http://www.iol.co.za/tonight/music/diverse-sounds-prove-music-to-crowds-ears-1.1334074#.T_g8HHChOGp

July 6, 2012

74. Summer of Sam – Spike Lee

Filed under: film,on murder as a fine art — ABRAXAS @ 2:41 pm

Summer of Sam (1999)
NYT Critics’ Pick
FILM REVIEW; Red Hot Buttons in Lee’s Steaming ‘Sam’
Published: July 2, 1999

Spike Lee’s fiery ”Summer of Sam” has as much to do with the summers of 1989 and 1999 as it does with the tabloid fevers of 1977, which are so electrifyingly rekindled here. It was in 1989 that the film of Mr. Lee’s that ”Summer of Sam” most resembles, ”Do the Right Thing,” arrived on the wave of sensationalism and outrage that continue to swamp some of his best efforts. So here he is fielding complaints about having bruised the tender feelings of David Berkowitz, the .44-caliber killer whose murderous rampage and purple prose brought New York City to the boiling point 22 years ago.

Mr. Lee didn’t make up Mr. Berkowitz’s crimes. And he didn’t make them central to his furiously enthralling ”Summer of Sam,” either. What may surprise anyone following the publicity maelstrom around the director’s latest effort is that its Son of Sam aspects, while fiendishly vivid, are only the backdrop for a film that is much more lurid in other regards. ”Summer of Sam” pushes sexual hot buttons even more emphatically, to the point where it also pushes the envelope for raw talk and raunchy eroticism on screen.

That may be standard practice for the summer of 1999, but it still invites some second thoughts. In a season when Austin Powers has schoolchildren kidding about Swedish penis enhancers and the casual props for ”Wild Wild West” include bondage gear and a severed head, it’s time to wonder how much the traffic will bear. Our notions of prurience require some rethinking when an otherwise routine thriller like ”The General’s Daughter” cashes in on a naked, spread-eagled corpse. That’s an image far more obscene than anything the hilarious, willfully filthy ”South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” has to offer.

Just as ”South Park” earns its smut streak by treating both the foul-mouthed and the self-righteous with a wicked satirical edge, ”Summer of Sam” earns its steam heat. That was, first of all, a legitimate sign of the times. The director plunges his audience headlong into a pre-AIDS libidinous frenzy sweeping enough to encompass disco, punk, drugs, screaming headlines and hysterical prejudices, none of this made any less frenzied by the specter of a killer on the loose. The so-called Son of Sam is used as a deranged catalyst, seen writhing in black socks and boxer shorts as he howls at the dog next door. It’s some measure of the film’s own pressure-cooker madness that David Berkowitz no longer seems like the most tortured soul onscreen as ”Summer of Sam” reaches its savage finale.

Set in a xenophobic, embattled Bronx neighborhood where non-Italian-Americans are regarded with deep suspicion, ”Summer of Sam” shares the ”Do the Right Thing” affinity for local color. That the color is white this time makes surprisingly little difference to Mr. Lee’s approach. These characters roam the neighborhood, affect macho posturing and endlessly shoot the breeze just as the filmmaker’s Bedford-Stuyvesant characters did. And they become embroiled in a story with similar slow-building but unstoppable momentum, as that scorching summer’s craziness starts to tear old friendships apart.

In a raging, startlingly visceral performance, John Leguizamo plays Vinny, a blend of sexual insatiability and status quo. Vinny hews loyally to the community’s provincial attitudes, but he also has a libido that’s spinning him out of control. Like every major character in just about any of Mr. Lee’s films, he is thinly conceived but wildly vibrant anyhow, especially when the story pits him against Ritchie (Adrien Brody), a boyhood friend who has taken on rebellious affectations.

You could say that the tension between them boils down to nothing more interesting than a schism between punk and disco. (Like all of Mr. Lee’s fiction films, this one is steeped in pop cultural references and a hugely effective musical score.) Or you could just sit back and watch two tough, furious actors making their moves.

The film’s interesting if tricky conceit is to give each of them, and many of the other figures in a busy screenplay written by Mr. Lee, Victor Colicchio and the actor Michael Imperioli, some kind of double life. These dichotomies rivet attention even when they’re hackneyed, like Vinny’s Madonna-whore cheating on his wife, Dionna (Mira Sorvino), or farfetched, like Ritchie’s allegedly heterosexual yen for the world of gay porn.

Credible plotting doesn’t always come easily to Mr. Lee, but wild verve does; this film, like the dazzling but many-tentacled ”He Got Game” before it, makes up in fury much of what it lacks in form. It overflows with lurid, posturing characters who define the limits of the small world in which they live.

Mr. Lee’s love-hate relationship with cultural stereotypes remains alive and well. He brings the same jokey familiarity to this film that he has to his Brooklyn stories. And for every blunt, dead-end detail (there is quite literally a ”Dead End” sign here, flanked by the colors of the Italian flag), there’s a sharp one, like the addict in this waterfront neighborhood who tries to sell broken lobsters at cut rates. If many of the particulars and much of the talk here are exceptionally coarse, that too is a well-established part of Mr. Lee’s arsenal. ”Summer of Sam,” which easily accommodates a brief scene at Plato’s Retreat and the knock-down, drag-out marital fight that follows it, is intent on making this a long, hot summer in more ways than one.

Ms. Sorvino is radiant and poignant as Vinny’s disco queen with her own double life as a girlish waitress; Jennifer Esposito makes a tough foil for Ritchie; Bebe Neuwirth turns the local beauty parlor into her personal den of iniquity, and Patti LuPone vamps frighteningly as Ritchie’s slatternly mother. But ”Summer of Sam” unfolds in what is very much a man’s world.

And there are more than a couple of Michaels (Rispoli and Imperioli) linking it to ”The Sopranos,” or to the Martin Scorsese ambience it vaguely echoes. But Mr. Lee’s Italian-American world and the mounting anger that consumes it are consistent enough with his earlier work to be his own more than anyone else’s. Ben Gazzara (as a cool mobster), Anthony LaPaglia (as a detective), Ken Garito and Brian Tarantino are among those who bring it to life, with Michael Badalucco seen briefly as the eerie killer.

”Summer of Sam” is loaded with visual energy thanks to Ellen Kuras’s bold, inventive cinematography, a nonstop array of tricks (time to give those lengthening, distorting lenses seen in ”Crooklyn” a rest), and editing that’s sometimes abrupt, sometimes formidable. Two standout montages edited to suit hard-hitting, emblematic Who songs (from ”Who’s Next”) perfectly capture the blazing chaos of the season in hell that Mr. Lee recalls.

”Summer of Sam” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It includes strong profanity, sexual situations, frequent references to oral and anal sex and intermittent brutal but quick glimpses of violence.


Directed by Spike Lee; written by Mr. Lee, Victor Colicchio and Michael Imperioli; director of photography, Ellen Kuras; edited by Barry Alexander Brown; music by Terence Blanchard; production designer, Therese DePrez; produced by Mr. Lee and John Kilik; released by Buena Vista Pictures. Running time: 145 minutes. This film is rated R.

WITH: John Leguizamo (Vinny), Adrien Brody (Ritchie), Mira Sorvino (Dionna), Jennifer Esposito (Ruby), Michael Rispoli (Joey T), Bebe Neuwirth (Gloria), Patti LuPone (Helen), Mike Starr (Eddie), Anthony LaPaglia (Det. Lou Petrocelli), Ken Garito (Brian), Brian Tarantino (Bobby Del Fiore), Roger Guenveur Smith (Det. Curt Atwater), Ben Gazzara (Luigi), Jimmy Breslin (himself), Michael Badalucco (Son of Sam), Spike Lee (John Jeffries) and John Turturro (voice of Harvey the Black Dog).

first published here: http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9401E7DB143DF931A35754C0A96F958260

henkjan honing – iedereen is muzikaal

Filed under: music — ABRAXAS @ 12:54 pm

order it here: http://www.musiccognition.nl/x/Iedereen_is_muzikaal.html

July 1, 2012

Classic Albums: Herbie Hancock – Thrust.

Filed under: mick raubenheimer,music,reviews — ABRAXAS @ 7:39 pm

Haters can hate, but that molten decade sprung between the mid-Sixties and mid-Seventies was a smorgasbord of innovation and adventure in music.

While the heady spirit of freedom – and hyper-stimuli of psychedelics – didn’t exactly wreak genius upon the average human mind (whose imaginative reach crested at tie-dye shirts, living in tepees, and emancipating body hair), artists went and dove over the edges of all kinds of edges.

Music, for one, would never be the same; nor, perhaps, ever be as rampantly inspired.

Most of us know what cliffs and rainbows were scaled in the woodlands of Rock music, but Jazz was turning into something of a chameleonic panther – hunting in stark, steaming forests slivered with stars and explosions of light.

As per usual, it was Miles who’d taken the brazen first steps into electric instrumentation (a big taboo at the time). After that, the floodgates heaved open.

Leading the Fusion campaigns were rhythmic polymath Tony Williams’ Lifetime, John McLaughlin’s solar flare Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea’s Return To Forever and Hancock’s uber-funky Headhunters. The latter was the only one to eschew the electric guitar – that then seemingly crucial part of the electric equation.

Golden flights.

By the late Sixties Herbie Hancock was already a legend in the Jazz world. At the age of 23 Hancock had joined Miles Davis’ new band, which history would dub Davis’ Second Great Quintet. Davis was looking to freshen up his sound again, and in 1963 launched said new band featuring young up-and-comers Ron Carter on bass, 17-yr old Tony Williams on drums, and Hancock on keys.

This rhythm section went on to reach unheard-of sophistication and originality, helping shape the Post-Bop movement. During his period in the quintet Hancock also released solo albums ‘Empyrean Islands’ and ‘Maiden Voyage’, two of the most popular Jazz albums of that decade.

Fired from the quintet in ‘68, “for returning late from his honeymoon” (a rather unsympathetic ground for dismissal, although typical of the sometimes icy Davis), Hancock started focusing on his own music, which would increasingly incorporate mainstream elements into his otherwise challenging compositions.

Following the peak of his experimental thrust, with the three commercially disappointing ‘Mwandishi’ albums, Hancock decided to ground his then-stratospheric explorations, rooting them in the earthy foundation of Funk. It was a brilliant move.

The result, in 1973, was ‘Headhunters’, a hip-swanging, finger-snapping Jazz Funk outing, which crossed over into the mainstream Billboard charts. This was followed by ‘Thrust’, which, across its four monstrously tight, yet galaxy traversing epics, seemed to perfectly meld the alchemic reaches of Jazz sophistry with the dizzying musks of Funk.

Like Darth Vader.

The best of Funk has a lot in common with the best of Cheese (well, for those brave of palate; the others can stick to Fourplay and cheddar) – they contain layers of intrigue, and something almost a little bit off. It’s got Whiff.

If ‘Headhunters’ was embraced by the hip mainstream for its melodic, even rhythmic accessibility, ‘Thrust’ ventured deeper into the vines and stars.

In the cd-reissue’s liner notes, drummer Mike Clark (who created that impossibly groove-infested drumbeat for album opener ‘Palm Grease’, and burns throughout) recalls being invited to join one of Fusion’s most exciting and rhythmically daunting groups, and waxes appropriately lyrical. He speaks of ‘the zone’ and meditation, of telepathy with bassist Paul Jackson Jr. He speaks of ‘higher levels’, and at one point describes Hancock striding into rehearsal with a long black overcoat, looking “like Darth Vader”, before swishing down to sit behind the keyboards and letting ‘em rip.

The four tracks on ‘Thrust’ are blistering sonic events. Even the relative ballad, that gorgeous dream ‘Butterfly’, crackles with energy.

As beautiful and cool as the melodies weaving from Hancock’s hands and flautist Bennie Maupin’s mouth are, it’s the rhythms (inter-clasped/ sidestepping/ inventing beats like some kind of flexible, temporal Rubick’s cube) that both root the album and let it flourish into Space.

Higher level stuff.


June 27, 2012

interactions: a strategy of difference and repetition – south african premiere 1 july during national arts festival

Filed under: 2012 - Interactions: A Strategy of Difference — ABRAXAS @ 1:47 pm

shot, produced, edited, sound recorded & mixed and directed by aryan kaganof
music by afrikaaps and brian eno

book tickets here: http://www.nationalartsfestival.co.za/show/the-bowl-interactions/

June 26, 2012

Eugène’s Dream (3:24 min)

Filed under: anton krueger,poetry,south african theatre — ABRAXAS @ 5:48 pm

by Anton Krueger (2006)

Appearing daily at The Arts Lounge
17a Somerset Street, Grahamstown
for the duration of the festival,
(28 June-7 July, 2012).

Eugène Marais’ seminal poem “Diep Rivier” (1926) is a lyric suffused with lament. Within its unsettling, tortured beauty one finds
clues to the poet’s addiction to morphine. It’s also eerily prescient of his suicide, speaking of his endless longing (“die groot verlange”),
of the blade of love wedged into his heart (“Die lem van liefde wroegend in my hart”), and of the pain which will be eased by the embrace
of the dark river (“In jou omhelsing eindig al my smart”). The last lines exhort the river to rise, to come quickly (“Kom snel”), to wash away
the pain of love.

But “Eugene’s Dream” turns this darkest of poems inside out. Here the murky river seeps through the pores of the individual’s shell, and
flows, brooding, through the valley of a strenuously pixelated Pretoria. Instead of referencing an inner emotional landscape, the poem
becomes about the mass, about the social structure embodied within the architecture of the city. This is a cityscape dominated by the
looming presence of the Reserve Bank, the highest building in the capital city. The building towers over all the other constructions, dwarfing
mosques, temples, and churches.

In this video you won’t see the famous historical sites synonymous with the capital city; no Voortrekker Monument or Union Buildings.
Instead, the viewer is thrown into a wild melange of ugly urban constructions from the 1970’s, juxtaposed with the Hindu temple in
Marabastad and the mosque in the city centre. These images are woven together with scenes from a farm outside Pretoria – the windswept
silhouettes of trees, the dark pit of a barren spring, a sick rose – creating an hallucinatory vision of instability within the shadow
of the tower.

In this way the dark river of dread becomes equated with the flow of money, with the imposing behemoth of the Reserve Bank, flowing
through a multitude of social streams, buffered against a swirling melee of contesting systems of value, over which it, eventually,
presides. A dark tower. Mordor. A temple to Moloch.

With music and voices by Werner Mouton & Brendon Roelofse.


O, Diep Rivier, O Donker Stroom,
Hoe lank het ek gewag, hoe lank gedroom,
Die lem van liefde wroegend in my hart?
– In jou omhelsing eindig al my smart;
Blus uit, O Diep Rivier, die vlam van haat; –
Die groot verlange wat my nooit verlaat.
Ek sien van ver die glans van staal en goud,
Ek hoor die sag gedruis van waters diep en koud;
Ek hoor jou stem as fluistering in ’n droom,
Kom snel, O Diep Rivier, O Donker Stroom.

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