Saturday, 1 April 2017

The Classics, Old-Time Jazz Religion and New Victuals

I only listen to old stuff

Currently, on this morning of April 1st, Andres Lewin-Richter's Space Electronics album for CAM...'s sublimely austere electronic sounds still resonate as prime examples of how less can be more; the joy of electro-primitivism.

I don't only listen to old stuff, as regular visitors will know, but the Old Stuff question came to mind as I cycled home from Work the other day, contemplating Jazz, specifically. It's not unusual for me to contemplate Jazz but it was a subject of speculation principally because of jokes exchanged on Facebook with a friend who can't stand it....

...I'm not here today to defend Jazz. For my thoughts on the genre from the post-WW2 to mid-70s period, there's my book. Yes, currently at a ridiculous price, I know, but it does crop up for much less than that now and again.

Gimme That Old-Time Religion

The Art Ensemble of Chicago playfully referenced religion and the 'old-time' tradition on their 1969 album, Message To Our Folks...

...I confess that Jazz was a religion once upon a time in my life. I enjoyed seeing new 'live' bands, but even after the learning stage (which lasted a good three or four years, being pre-internet days when research took longer) that old-time religious Jazz canon was always what excited me the most. 

I cannot say that it's impossible to compete with the 'classics' of any art form. I may have said that once upon a time. I may have said a lot of stupid things. Haven't you? The arts are not a competition, despite the pressures to make them just that as applied by the capitalist marketplace model of consumerism and 'success'. Within the wide parameters of any creative mode the most an artist can hope to do is make her/his own version which contains enough of themselves, their vision, to add distinction to a piece.

Apologies for stating the obvious. We need to remind ourselves of these things sometimes.

Talking of old/new dreams, contemporary and classic forms, from an example of great library music via Space Electronics, let's move to Leyden Jars' Victuals album for Mordant Music. My initial response was lukewarm, but now I feel a glow of satisfaction with each listen. What makes something work? We may ponder this, even when the answers are obvious. In some cases, a radical new approach, in others, the application of skill or natural talent. Victuals is all understatement in the manner of H****ology, with few of the cliches. Natalie Williams and Mark Courtney are smart enough to have created an interesting sonic climate throughout, one of muted patterns and engaging detail. As happens these days, the idea of nostalgia for past dance areas is alluded to on Where The Dancehall Used To Be, except in that title there could be other references; dancehalls of old in the mode of The Caretaker? Dancehalls in villages where local discos were held? Either way, Leyden Jars blend the hushed electric tones with enough subtle sub-bass to form a brilliantly suggestive echo-chamber of whatever memory you choose. There's much that's of interest on Victuals, not least the inclusion of a baritone saxophone on Sawn Off, played naively, as if tentatively practising a simple riff, yet it's totally effective in adding an extra dimension.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...