Thursday, June 26, 2008

Materialism / Immaterialism


Hooray for Christie's. They've now sold some water lilies for the above sum. Monet's Le bassin aux nympheas went for double the previous record for a Monet, his Le Pont du chemin de fer a Argenteuil, sold not long ago. I guess in the digital era, originals are even more valuable to many. Interestingly--but not surprisingly--Russian and Middle Eastern oil magnates are the top buyers, replacing hedge funds.

In the world of invisible networks, Tim Risher's Second Life performance space is ready for shows. Email him if you're a composer or performer interested in playing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU: Gabriel Prokofiev and Nonclassical

Sergei Prokofiev wrote Neoclassical, and his grandson, Gabriel, writes Nonclassical. The elder was and is still a huge figure in instrumental music, and the younger will certainly be hailed as one of the most important figures in updating the classical tradition.

Gabriel Prokofiev has set up concerts in clubs that include chamber works and remixes, as well as a record label that puts out albums with an instrumental work and a series of remixes. The upcoming release, Cortical Songs, includes mixes by Thom Yorke and others:

Prokofiev describes his frustration with classical music in an interview at timesonline:
I got very frustrated because I knew that at least 50 per cent of the people who came to hear my music had white hair and the other 50 per cent would all be composers or academics themselves...I wanted my friends to hear my music. Classical music has kept itself isolated in a lot of ways. It’s time to loosen up and take a look around and stop being afraid to embrace other genres.
Another producer of 'club classical' talks about his path towards this type of concert setting in the same article:
When Matt Fretton set up This Isn’t For You, he realised he was in uncharted territory. “I felt it needed to be done,” he says. “Someone had to take the initiative and look at the way classical music was being presented. I hated the fact that people were not allowed to clap or make any noise during concerts. And I don’t like the ridiculous waiters’ outfits. Musicians are not there to serve people; they are artists and should be respected.”
So Britain has its counterpart to what Mason Bates and company are doing on the U.S. West Coast. Prokofiev wrote a Concerto for Turntables and Orchestra recently (video below); the orchestra makes vocal noises and plays motives as DJ Yoda scratches similar sounds on his tables. Violinist/composer Daniel Bernard-Roumain has made a lot of music with DJ Scientific, including a piece for turntables and orchestra (performed by Scientific and the ACO) in 2006. Hip things are happening...
again, like nonpop, in nonclassical, we have a term of negation rather than a new word in itself, but I think in this case, it's an important first statement in the postgenre era - the stuff is an embrace of classical music, but a conscious rejection of the entire culture that still surrounds it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Girl Talkin'

New Hampshire Public Radio interviewed DJ Spooky (Paul D. Miller) and Girl Talk (Greg Gillis) recently, about Spooky's Antarctic recording project and Girltalk's new album, Feed the Animals. Spooky's project sounds interesting--though his aim to "create the sound of ice" is a little dubious--and you can hear an extended interview on American Public media here. He'll actually be playing a preview version of this multimedia work at the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this summer.

Girltalk continues to put out polished, wildly popular, fast-paced mashups. This time, in his fourth album, he's appropriately made it available for free download. I'm surprised, because he uses exclusively others' hit songs as source material, that he hasn't done this in the past. Particularly effective is the track "What's It All About," which combines Busta Rhymes and the Police at one point. GT, as the world's premier mashup artist, has developed an extremely successful genre; the legal system has a lot of catching up to do so musicians like him don't have to publish their work on

He does compose these tracks, with nice transitions and various dynamic and energy levels. My main criticisms have to do first with timing and second with flexibility. He's so good at mixing that I'd actually rather hear some of his superimpositions last a little longer; he tends to get bored quickly, and may underestimate his audience's attention span.
His numerous combinations of tracks are virtuosic, but maybe not as virtuosic as they seem, because he rarely superimposes singing from one song over harmony or basslines from others. Usually, he opts for rap, which, largely unpitched, can sound good on top of anything in the same tempo. I'd like to hear him use more vocal tunes over other tracks that go well with them. Still, this shit is tight. I'm diggin' it. And plus, the cover art is perfect: a giant tag on a suburban lawn.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Human Redundancies

Here's a recent email I got from Zenph Studios:

First, Sony’s new Tatum album with Zenph is getting remarkable reviews. For example, this review appeared in Sunday’s Buffalo News (page down to ‘Jazz’):
Come see the show!! We’re presenting a new production at New York’s Apollo Theater this week. It’s a one-man play; on stage is actor Paul Butler playingm the owner of a jazz club. Throughout the show he’s discussing his lifetime friendship with Art Tatum. As events in Tatum’s life are introduced, the high-resolution reproducing piano on stage plays Tatum’s re-performances. It’s been great watching Paul’s reaction during the rehearsals – he’s truly mesmerized. If you are in New York June 19, 20, or 22, you really should see this historic, world-premiere play. Our Web site has details and a link for buying tickets:
We’re been working closely with the Tatum family, and at the Sunday show, will be donating items from the estate to the Jazz Museum in Harlem – including Tatum’s own grand piano. Here are the details: Artwork! The author and painter Robert Andrew Parker will show his original paintings from his new children’s book on Art Tatum at the Thursday, June 19th show, in the Apollo lobby. Painter and jazz saxophonist Scott Gordley will be showing his jazz paintings at the shows on the 20th and 22nd:
BMI, the music licensing organization, is featuring our show on their MySpace site:
We appreciate your support and feedback at Zenph Studios. Thanks – John Q. Walker, president
In other hands-free news, read about the upcoming robotic 'flying trucks' that will transport supplies to troops, and troops themselves, without a pilot.