Experience

Do you know the feeling when something you are experiencing, a book, a piece of music, a movie, a work of art, is sad and you can tell it’s going to become even more sad… but you can’t stop now because it’s just so beautiful and well done? You have to take it to the end just so it’s complete, you have to finish it, fully knowing that it’ll sting for a while? “Bewilderment” has been like that for me. Tomorrow I will finish it–enough for today.

Little Thoughts

  • “Bewilderment”, by Richard Powers, reminds me of “Stranger in a Strange Land”, by Robert Heinlein. Very different, decades apart, yet both cover some similar ground. Trying to wake the sleepwalking?
  • The original meaning of bewilderment was not confused. Rather, it literally meant a return to wilderness. The bewildered human, living in nature, with nature.
  • Humans as a species need to evolve. It seems so simple: we either change or go extinct. Sooner or later. It’s a natural cycle, of course, but it sure would be nice if we made an attempt. As it is we are running off a cliff, unwilling to change. Can the rapacious caterpillar turn into a butterfly?
  • I am over the largely sensationalist response of the media to a new variant of covid. I limit my news intake but of course I receive clips and links forwarded by friends. Of course the virus will mutate. That’s what a virus does. Some variants will be more dangerous than others. I think I am sick of the distraction. Yes, the virus is dangerous… but is it more dangerous than our industrial poisoning of rivers, destruction of forests? Is covid more dangerous than climate change? Why does the press have so much to say about the pandemic and so relatively little about climate change?
  • Several friends bought this little machine and recently I acquired one as well. It’s a little wonder. Four inputs, and microphone preamps, and the ability to record files up to 32bit and 196kHz. The Nagra of the 21st century. I also learned that the machine can record up to 12 audio tracks – albeit at 24bit instead of 32bit. Recording without a computer. Imagine, this machine will be able to record guitar parts for a new album anywhere… all I will need is this little MP6, a microphone, a cable for connecting the mic, and a pair of headphones. Electric power is optional. In my studio I was never able see the screen while recording so I am used to working without the visual. Record lots of ideas and edit later.
  • Mati Klarwein

    The cover art for Santana’s “Abraxas, Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” and “Live Evil”, and many more were created by Mati Klarwein. This blogpost is about the man and his amazing imagination.

    Dali was not the only one in attendance. Musicians loved the place, where eclectic music from Klarwein’s large record collection played in the background. One such musician in particular loved to perch himself in the temple, wash his eyes with the surrealistic paintings, listen to the psychedelic music in the background and engulf himself with purple haze. You guessed it, Jimi Hendrix. Under the influence of dubious substances, some of the musicians started asking Klarwein to create album sleeves for their albums, Hendrix one of them. Klarwein: “We used to share the same tailor, and we would spend afternoons dropping acid and trying out new sets of clothes together. I actually was working on a painting for a record cover to an album that was never finished, where Jimi and Gil Evans were collaborating. Unfortunately Jimi died during the recordings and it was never released.”

    and this quote, about the album title (and coffee) “Bitches Brew”.

    Miles’ original idea for the title was Witches Brew, but his wife Betty, a young a free spirit very much in tune with the times, suggested changing the first word to Bitches. Notice the absence of an apostrophe at the end of the word “bitches,” making “brew” a verb, not a noun.

    Seeing his cover art reminds me of how much was lost when we switched from Vinyl to CDs, not to mention to the present time when cover art is tiny, miniscule.

    Message in a Bottle

    Let’s imagine that our days are numbered. I don’t mean our personal days–we have always known those days to be numbered–but the survival of wo*mankind (* = tongue click). Millions of species have gone extinct before us and we have watched many of them pass without getting worked up over it. So let’s look at the end of the human species in the same dispassionate way. Leave a comment and tell me what you think the human weakness was. Too rapacious? Too callous? What would a warning sign look like? Let’s imagine humans go extinct, the planet takes thousands or millions of years to recover and eventually another sentient species starts strutting around like they own the place. What should they know? What can we tell them?

    and yet they continue to squabble…

    the current population has grown, very rapidly, from something much smaller. The result is that, as a species, H. sapiens is extraordinarily samey. There is more genetic variation in a few troupes of wild chimpanzees than in the entire human population. Lack of genetic variation is never good for species survival.

    Scientific American

    A Few Notes About BW2

    Thank you for your comments and messages. They are appreciated. And thanks for buying the album. Here are a few notes about the music:

    I like the way the album begins. A single melody line, without accompaniment. The song title is a hint. “Black Rose” uses the same chord structure as “La Rosa Negra”, from “Borrasca”. I called the idea “RePLay” – like Re-Use or Recycle. Same chords, new melodies and arrangement.
    The same is true for “Uma Dança”. The chords are from “Dancing Alone”, from the album “Dune”.

    “Saudade” – I already mentioned Jon’s beautiful bowed bass work on that piece in an earlier post. The piece starts with a chorus that plays 3/4 against 4/4. During the chorus the rhythm guitar on the right side accents the waltz, which also makes that part sound a little slower, since three beats per bar move more slowly than four beats per bar. I love the way the melody stretches forward and starts to play ahead of the beat at 2’45”, before rejoining the beat at 2’53”. I added the section that starts at 4’05” to feature the bowed bass and because I wanted to hear more of it.

    I already mentioned “Uma Dança”. I love the way the piece shifts into high gear at 2’14”, love the low harmony melody guitar at 2’39”, love the way the cajon, on the left, urges the music on while the djembe, on the right, sounds relaxed, and the way the bass holds everything together. I like that this last section is too short and that I want to hear more of it every time I listen to it – even after a hundred times it feels too short.

    The fourth new piece is “The Sea Between”. A couple of friends expressed that they felt this piece might be the sleeper of the album. The stereo introduction was a surprise. I performed the part, a tremolo played by three fingers while the melody was played with the thumb, a couple of times and when I listened to the recording decided they might overlap nicely if panned left and right. Most of the time it sounds as if only one tremolo is playing and only briefly can one hear that these are actually two tremolo parts that happen to line up very well.

    Coffee

    I bought this bag of coffee beans while I was in Santa Fe for the concert at the Lensic this month. The name is the title of an album by Miles Davis. That’s the only reason I chose this bag, because I knew nothing about the brand.

    Would you buy coffee based on the title of an album? Which album title would entice you?

    I didn’t love the coffee, by the way.

    BW2 Release

    So, it’s decided then. The album will drop on Black Friday. It will be available on Bandcamp ONLY. Apple Music and Spotify and other streaming services will have the album six months later – at the end of May, 2022.

    Why can’t I stream the album on Spotify on Friday, you ask?

    Because…
    – I love the album experience and spend time crafting the sequence of the songs. Buying the album on Bandcamp makes it more likely that every song will be listened to.
    – People who are willing to buy an album should be rewarded with exclusivity.
    – $9 for an album is a fair price and for a high definition recording of 24/88.2 it is actually very cheap.
    – Streaming services “don’t rice me” – that’s a West Indian expression and means they don’t pay my living.

    If you are wondering what I am on about you could read this article from NPR – link

    Spotify and Bandcamp could not be more opposite. Where Spotify highlights playlists, most often of its own creation, Bandcamp sticks to the album (or any other format, as determined by the artist). Where Spotify pays royalties according to little-understood formulas that can only be analyzed by reverse calculation, Bandcamp lets artists and labels choose their own prices. Where Spotify requires working through a limited number of distributors to access their services, Bandcamp is open to anyone. Where Spotify has revenue streams dependent on ads and data, Bandcamp operates on a simple revenue share with artists and collects no information on its users.

    Spotify is now worth an estimated $54 billion on the stock market, despite having never shown an annual profit. Bandcamp is privately owned, has been in the black since 2012, and continues to grow… slowly. You might be tempted to say that one is a 21st-century business, and the other belongs to an earlier age. But neither could exist at any other time.


    A couple of other links worth checking out:
    L.A. Times
    Pitchfork

    If you should decide to buy the album on or after Friday I thank you very much for your support. If you want to wait until the music becomes available for free (essentially) that’s okay too. I feel that operating in this way is the fairest solution for everyone involved.

    BW2


    I have been playing around with lots of different ideas for the cover but today I arrived at something I like. I can’t wait for you to hear it. The album was uploaded to Bandcamp and sometime this week I’ll hit the publish button. Perhaps Friday, the day after Thanksgiving? Is that good for you? While everyone is hunting after Black Friday deals, and people beat each up to get toaster ovens in big box stores, this album could quietly be released. A little antidote to the hectic life.

    View

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    Early morning view out of a hotel room window, last week. I like this photo because it seems part of a story, like a still image from a movie. There is tension and I can almost hear the music informing us that something is about to happen.

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