Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Cousin Bob

I'm such a trendy music blogger. Someday I hope to get my own ideas. Nevertheless, my recent Dylan kick actually preceeded all the hubbub over his new album Modern Times. I haven't heard it yet, but the sense seems to be either "You better watch out, Jesus is risen!" to "You better watch out, Grandpa's going inside to get his shotgun!". It should be noted that the latter doesn't really say anything about the album itself, more about his Rolling Stone interview.

I haven't heard Modern Times yet, but have heard Time Out of Mind and Love & Theft, Dylan's two most recent discs. Supposedly the new CD is a rough and tumble cowboy band like the last two. That's fine and all, but it's been nine years since Time Out of Mind came out. Nine years! Earlier in his career that's the same span it took him to go from the sparse arranging of John Wesley Harding to the big band sound of my current stage in my Dylan phase, the oft-maligned Street Legal. (That I actually investigated on the suggestion of the Rolling Stone article! Might as well put tape on my glasses)

Why have I taken to this ugly duckling of his catalogue? It's closer to Foghat than "Masters of War", but the songs are still there. My personal favorite, "No Time to Think", is reminiscent of another 70s Dylan trainwreck "Jokerman" in that it holds a slavish devotion to a verse-chorus ad infinitum format, much like a Minnesota hymn one might think. The downside is that without a bridge the song seems so damn long, hammering just two hooks into the deepest parts of your soul. Another thing that makes it seem long is that it is long, about seven and a half minutes.

Unlike some acts that have earned their carte-blanche through numbing consistency (*cough*AC/DC*cough*) Dylan has changed styles so much that, much like Bowie or eventually Radiohead, he could put out a album of farting and have reviewers peeing their pants over it. It might be a little disappointing that he's not taking more advantage of his invincibility star, at least he's putting out quality albums. And, you know, not the farting album.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Facebook/Shenanigans/Sounding the Alarm

I've publicized this blog to all of my private students, some of whom are as youthful as 8. So no more cussing. I'll try at least.

I'm also taking advantage of Facebook's mirroring feature or something. So no cussing from you guys either.

In more musical news Alarm Will Sound announced their 06/07 season, and they come within striking distance. As in two blocks.

Friday, February 16, 2007 at 7:00pm
Composer Portrait: Conlon Nancarrow
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 280 The Fenway, Boston, MA

Conlon Nancarrow, Piece No. 1 for Small Orchestra
Conlon Nancarrow, String Quartet No. 1
Conlon Nancarrow, Sonatina for Piano
John Orfe, piano
Conlon Nancarrow, Septet
Conlon Nancarrow, Three Movements
Conlon Nancarrow, Player Piano Study No. 2 arr. Gavin Chuck
Conlon Nancarrow, Player Piano Study No. 6 arr. Yvar Mikhashoff
Conlon Nancarrow, Player Piano Study No. 3A arr. Derek Bermel

But who's this Conlon Nancarrow guy? I only know him from his player piano studies, which are supposed to be beyond human ability. That's the sort of hubris I like from a modern ensemble, but those studies are beginning the taxing slope of academicism in my mind. I'll go anyway.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Unacceptable hiatus

I thought since Alex Ross was taking the summer off I might as well too. Not really, I'm still just biding my time until arriving in Boston. I'm writing a book too, but his will be cooler than mine. Unless you live in Oshkosh. However, on his blog I did stumble upon a column concerning Frank Martin, whose "Quatre Pieces Breves" I've been working on throughout the summer.

In the column Alex Ross freely admits that Frank Martin is no household name, but he holds a special place in the hearts of many guitarists since his "Pieces" is one of the first great breaks with the Iberian tradition that Segovia firmly enforced during his tenure as "the" guitarist. Martin wrote the gnarly, angular work in 1933 for Segovia, who promptly rejected it, and it wouldn't see much light until Julian Bream (who service to post-tonal music is often overlooked compared to his work with early music, funny how those always seem to go together) championed it in the 60s just before Martin's death.

However like most guitarists I haven't explored much beyond that, so when Alex Ross describes him as "one of the greatest religious composers of the past two hundred years" it's a bit like being handed a locked box. Is there anything it? Does it matter? Such concepts are harder to decipher when you don't have, you know, words. Searching for meaning within the brambles and tone rows should be a acceptable musicological challenge until I arrive on the East.

Sorry if it's a bit anti-climatic. I found $5.