Brian Eno – Brutal Ardour (1975)

Discreet Music (1975) is an album [liner notes here] by the British ambient musician Brian Eno. While No Pussyfooting may be his first ambient album and Another Green World features many ambient pieces, this is Brian Eno’s first purely ambient solo album. It is also Eno’s first album to be released under his full name “Brian Eno”, as opposed to his previous rock albums released simply under the name “Eno”. Brian Eno’s concept of ambient music builds upon a concept composer Erik Satie called “furniture music”.[citation needed] This means music that is intended to blend into the ambient atmosphere of the room rather than be directly focused upon. The inspiration for this album began when Eno was left bed-ridden by an accident and was given an album of eighteenth century harp music. After struggling to put the record on the turntable and returning to bed, he realized that it was turned down toward the threshold of inaudibility and he lacked the strength to get up from the bed again and turn it up. Eno said this experience taught him a new way to perceive music. This album is also an experiment in algorithmic, generative composition. His intention was to explore multiple ways to create music with limited planning or intervention. The second half of the album is three pieces collectively titled “Three Variations on the Canon in D Major by Johann Pachelbel”. These pieces were performed by The Cockpit Ensemble, conducted and co-arranged by Gavin Bryars. The members of the ensemble were each given brief excerpts from the score, which were repeated several times, along with instructions to gradually alter the tempo and other elements of the composition.[citation needed] The titles of these pieces were derived from inaccurate French-to-English translations of the liner notes of a version of Pachelbel’s Canon performed by the orchestra of Jean Francois Paillard. In “Fullness of Wind” the tempo decreases relative to the pitch of the instrument. The violins have the fastest rate of decay while the basses have the slowest. This piece features effects and processing by Brian Eno. In “French Catalogues” notes and melodies of similar tempos are gathered into blocks from different parts of the score. In “Brutal Ardour” each performer plays a sequence of notes of a different duration, so the original composition eventually breaks down into chaos.




[via Bryan Black]

Advertisements

Philip Glass – Sons of the Silent Age [From the symphony “Heroes”] (1997)

“Heroes,” like the “Low” Symphony of several years ago, is based on the work of David Bowie and Brian Eno. In a series of innovative recordings made in the late 70’s, David and Brian combined influences from world music, experimental avant-garde, and rock’n’roll and thereby redefined the future of popular music. The continuing influence of these works has secured their stature as part of the new “classics” of our time.

Just as composers of the past have turned to music of their time to fashion new works, the work of Bowie and Eno became an inspiration and point of departure for a series of symphonies of my own.

As I have been involved with the world of dance for many years I naturally mentioned the “Heroes” Symphony to the American choreographer Twyla Tharp. Straight away she wanted “Heroes” for her new dance company, and soon after, we met with David. He immediately shared Twyla’s enthusiasm and I found myself writing a symphonic score shortly to become a ballet.

I’ve taken six tracks from the original Bowie / Eno recording and made each of them the basis of a dance work. By combining these themes with original music of my own I ended up with a six movement work which is symphonic in scale and, at the same time, serves the dramatic purpose of Twyla’s ballet. The result, hopefully, will be as enjoyable for the listener at home as well as a new dance work for the stage.

– Philip Glass, New York city, 1996.

Philip has put more of himself in this new album, but the irony is that I believe that he’s actually put his finger on more of my original voice. Hearing this material is a bit like being introduced to a brother or sister that you’ve been told you had, and you weren’t really aware of their existence. And when you do meet them, obviously the very familiarity of the family features registers, but there’s a whole life and all these things have grown up without your knowledge.The music has characteristics that I immediately recognize, but it has its own life. It has nothing to do with me. It’s had all these experiences that I didn’t know about. It really runs the gamut of emotions, from deep despair in “Neuköln” through to that upward spiraling of “V2 Schneider,” and those two particularly for me capture really what I was trying to do. It really excited me. It was though Philip had fed into my voice…but somehow had arrived, I feel, a lot nearer to the gut feeling of what I was trying to do.

– David Bowie.

Music composed by Philip Glass.
From the music of David Bowie and Brian Eno.
Performed by The American Composers Orchestra.
Dennis Russell Davies, principal conductor.
Michael Riesman, associate conductor.
Produced by Kurt Munkacsi and Michael Riesman for Euphorbia Productions, Ltd.
Executive producers: Kurt Munkacsi, Philip Glass and Rory Johnston.
Associate producer: Stephan Farber.
Recorded at The Looking Glass Studios, NYC.
Engineered by Rich Costey.
Assistant engineer: John Billingsley.
Art Direction: Gordon Jee
“Sons ot the Silent Age” written by David Bowie 1977
All films used in this video are the work of Auguste and Louis Lumière.




Listen to the new Harold Budd album on NPR

Metaphorically speaking, Harold Budd is a soaring bird, and rock music a supersonic rocket ship. Budd may play as few as six notes in 10 seconds — I’m guessing the average rock band plays 60. It’s the space left between those few notes that makes Budd’s music so alluring, so calming and so timeless. Budd has been making music with a minimal number of notes for a long time. Sometimes his music is filled with drones, sometimes solo piano; sometimes the piano is altered physically or electronically, and sometimes there are string ensembles. But the music is always thoughtful and thought-provoking.

If you’ve never put on a record by Harold Budd, put your headphones on and watch the world change around you. I find that the visual world shifts cinematically, with clouds and people seeming to move as one big bit of choreography. (No, I’m not high.)

The constant background nature of music can deaden its impact. Budd’s music is a slow trickle, a source of appreciation for the sounds and sights around us. His collaborations with Brian Eno in the 1970s provided a counterpoint to the progressive rock of the day, much the way reggae was a counterpoint to punk. We need that — one enriches the other. The 75-year-old composer brings the landscape of the desert, where he’s often lived, right into the heart of the city.

In the Mist, out Sept. 27, is an album most Budd fans thought we’d never hear. Seven years ago, he told his friends and fans that he’d said all he wanted to say with music, and was retiring. But he had a change of heart, and now we have this rare gem. I’m glad he’s back — and I’d love to know how you feel after hearing it, especially if you’ve never heard his music before.

Listen to Harold Budd. You deserve the vacation, and the listening you do to anything else for the rest of the day will be supercharged. [Source]

Listen to the album in its entirety here. Listen to the album track by track here.

Philip Glass' Music in 12 Parts / Philip Glass Ensemble / Brighton Festival

Though not among the bespoke events that guest artistic director Brian Eno has endorsed at this year’s Brighton festival, the appearances by the Philip Glass Ensemble chimed nicely with Eno’s own career and musical preoccupations. Glass and his group gave two performances: his score for Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi, to accompany a screening of the film; and a complete performance of Music in 12 Parts.

Along with Terry Riley’s In C and Steve Reich’s Drumming, Music in 12 Parts is one of the defining statements of what might be called the “pure” minimalism of the 1960s and early 70s. Glass intended it as a compendium of all the musical techniques he had devised for building large-scale rhythmic structures, assembling it movement-by-movement over four years until it acquired epic proportions. Complete performances are rare – the Brighton one, with three intervals, lasted well over four hours.

The problem with the work is that a sense of didacticism runs through it. As one part follows another, it’s difficult to suppress the feeling that the audience is being taken by the hand through some treatise on minimalism, with every point rather too painstakingly explained. The amplified sound – three electric keyboards (one played by Glass), three winds (doubling flutes and saxophones) and a hard-worked female vocalist – is unremitting and congested, so that teasing out individual lines or doublings quickly becomes wearying.

Read the full review in The Guardian here.

Timothy Andres and his many, varied musical influences

Timothy Andres grew up listening to Brahms and Beethoven as he studied piano at the Juilliard School’s precollege program. When he enrolled at Yale in 2003, he discovered a new canon. “I gravitated to the, shall we say, stoner hippie types who were listening to really interesting music,” he says. Suddenly Pink Floyd and Brian Eno were on the menu, as were classical minimalists Steve Reich and John Adams.

What began as his senior project at Yale is now his debut album, “Shy and Mighty,” a work for two pianos, to be released May 18 by Nonesuch Records. The composer, 24 years old, says he thinks of his music as architecture. In a piece called “The Night Jaunt,” one piano sets up a spiralling series of chords, while the other piano weaves phrases in lengthening strings.

The composer says his pop inspirations include Scottish electronic act Boards of Canada and Radiohead (“amazing range and sense of space”). The challenge now is to avoid getting lost in the sprawl of his influences: “How can you possibly synthesize all that into something that makes sense? That’s something that I struggle with in my writing every day.”

The composer’s top iTunes plays*

Radiohead 1,157 plays
Beethoven 1,134
Brahms 1,102
Brian Eno 964
John Adams 901
J.S. Bach 868
The Beatles 787
The Beta Band 718
Benjamin Britten 676
Arcade Fire 641

*Source: His Last.fm profile

[via wsj.com]

Listen to his album on Spotify here.

‘Pop Music’ vs. ‘Classical Music’, Part One

Written by Ronnie Rocket, Classical 2.0 (www.classical20.com)

The recent debate on the influence of classical music on indie rock and vice versa, originally initiated with this post in the excellent Flavorwire (cultural news from the übercool, digital cityguide Flavorpill) and later commented in The Guardian here, seems to have touched an interesting nerve among music buffs. It is always interesting, when artists crossover or show new, surprising sides of their talent. Sometimes, they create a whole new genre, like Rufus Wainwright in recent times with ‘popera’.

For more than 30 years I have followed the developments and firsthanded experienced some defining moments, that are examples of meetings or outright clashes between genres. Karlheinz Stockhausen live with punkrockers in the audience, Balanescu Quartet playing Kraftwerk and releasing records on the esoteric electro-label Mute Records, Elvis Costello performing live in a concert hall with the Brodsky Quartet, Glenn Branca with 100 electric guitars in an auditorium in Rome, and many more.

Inspired by the current discussions, I have put together a list of 20 important events, where the popular music genres of the day, be it jazz, pop or rock meets the established world of classical music. They have since, in their own right, changed the future of music, no less.

1. Miles Davis playing Manuel De Falla on “Sketches of Spain” (1960)

The jazz trumpeter studied at Julliard School of Music (his father let him drop out to pursue a career in jazz). Davis was frustrated about the focus on white, European composers. Later in his career, working with arranger Gil Evans, he went back to the European tradition and quoted references on the landmark ‘Sketches of Spain’ album. Read a review of the album here. He was a big fan of Karlheinz Stockhausen, an important inspiration for his late electric period.

2. The Beatles putting Stockhausen on the cover of “Sgt. Pepper…” (1967)

Everybody knows that the most famous songwriting couple in the world, Paul McCartney and John Lennon, had their differences. They even could not agree on who discovered the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen first. You can see the archived correspondance about the inclusion of Stockhausen’s face on the Beatles’ album cover here and here and  a christmas card John Lennon sent to Stockhausen here and here. Stockhausen himself hated pop music.

3. Walter/Wendy Carlos releases “Switched-On Bach” (1968)

Wendy Carlos not only introduced (and collaborated with Robert Moog) the Moog synthesizer, but did it with music written by the Godfather of classical music, Johan Sebastian Bach. Later, she worked closely with movie director Stanley Kubrick, creating futuristic sounds for the innovative cinematic experiences that would later be regarded as some of the most important movies ever made. However, several of the recordings were rejected by Kubrick. Carlos later released some of these out-takes on two CD’s (1, 2). The introduction of the synthesizer, the adaption of classical music and the soundtrack work for Kubrick were very early experiments connecting popular culture with the classical music world.

4. Stanley Kubrick introducing György Ligeti on the “2001: A Space Odyssey” soundtrack (1968)

The film introduced the avantgarde composer György Ligeti to a wide public. Ligeti’s Requiem (the Kyrie section) and Atmosphères act as recurring leitmotifs in the film’s storyline. Other music used is Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna and an electronically altered form of his Aventures, the last of which was so used without Ligeti’s permission.

5. Ornette Coleman writing “Skies of America” for orchestra (1972)

Skies of America is a third-stream composition, meaning that it encompasses parts of traditional classical music and parts of contemporary jazz. This work was meant to be a collaboration of a full orchestra, in this case the London Symphony Orchestra (conducted by David Measham) with Coleman’s quartet, but conflicts with the musicians’ union in Britain forced the quartet players from the recording. Skies of America is Coleman’s epic “harmolodic manifesto.” Read a review of the reissue here.

6. Electric Light Orchestra’s first single (1972)

“10538 Overture”, released in 1972, was the first single by Electric Light Orchestra. 15 overdubbed, cheap Chinese cellos played by the legendary Roy Woods creates a new sound, that became part glam rock, part symphonic rock.




7. Brian Eno & Obscure Records (1975)

Ex-Roxy Music glamrocker was instrumental in introducing classical music to the rock world. The 10-album series issued on the Obscure Records label introduced an unsuspecting audience to Gavin Bryars, John Adams, Michael Nyman and more. Not since the Beatles album have a single act had such an influence on exposing classical composers to a ‘rock’ audience.

8. Manfred Eicher from ECM Records releasing Steve Reich’s “Music For 18 Musicians” (1976/1978)

The Bavarian record producer Manfred Eicher had already established one of the most innovative records companies ECM Records, releasing records with Keith Jarrett and Art Ensemble of Chicago among many others. Early on, he began expanding into and focusing on so-called classical music and released several records with Steve Reich reaching a new, more mainstream audience. These releases eventually became the platform for the ECM New Series, a sub-label and a ‘market leader’ in contemporary music today.

9. The soundtrack for Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” (1980)

György Ligeti (again) and Krzysztof Penderecki‘s music introduced to a massive audience in a soundtrack to a popular horror movie earning almost 100 million dollars was a major breakthrough for contemporary classical music into pop culture and the hard-to-find soundtrack is still a favourite in the indie crowd today.


10. Glenn Branca writing symphonies for electric guitars, like “Symphony No. 1”, and releasing them on underground cassette tape labels! (1981)

Music from the pioneering no-wave artist, Mr. Glenn Branca – here making a modern classical masterpiece with four guitar parts, including axe-man Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth:

Here is a clip from the Rome performance of “Hallucination City: A Symphony for 100 electric guitars”:

Part Two of this article will be posted here next week – stay tuned for 10 more groundbreaking moments in the grey area of popular and classical music!


On a personal note, I would like to add that I am promoting a chamber music concert in Copenhagen next week, where the programme goes from baroque, impressionism and modern to contemporary 20th century and completely new music including a version of Kraftwerk’s “Die Roboter” arranged for treated piano and amplified cello thrown in for good measure. The music is performed by Eriko Makimura & Co. More information about this special event here
.

###