Thursday, February 17, 2011

Listening with fresh ears

I'm discovering a ton of sounds and samples in Björk's 'Vespertine' that I never heard before! How could I miss them? It's like paying a visit to an old friend, having a nice cup of tea, and then you look up and discover she has a different hair color than you remember, and it's always been this way, nothing's really changed. Surprising and refreshing, but still the same friend. Listening with fresh ears (and headphones), it's almost too many good sounds to handle.

Also, I wish I had discovered (or paid more attention) to David Lang's music, which is now on the forefront of my playlists (currently listening to: The So-Called Laws of Nature). He, along with Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe, founded the contemporary-music group Bang on a Can. I had his older piece 'Cheating, Lying, Stealing' on an old 8th blackbird CD from around 2000, but I hadn't ever really listened to it before. I then bought his 'Little Match Girl Passion' which is a Pulitzer-Prize winning work for motet-like voices that double on percussion. Lang combined the seemingly-incongruent texts of The Little Match Girl story by Hans Christian Anderson with the Passion of Christ, and they work beatifully together: cold, crystalline, and indeed passionate.

Now I have several more works of his- I have to admit that watching the movie 'Untitled' was sort of the gateway into his other works- perhaps listening in a new place, a new context, was all it took. I love the minimalist rhythms, but also the rock music influence that one can hear nestled into the music. He has works for bells, pieces of wood, flower pots, nearly movement-less voices, bass clarinet...The man knows how to work rhythms into something fascinating that I only hope to aspire to.

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