Thursday, 22 December 2011


words: gian paolo galasi
photos and videos: the internet

... and Merry Xmas
I have to say that I never really trusted in Marc Augé and his radical-chic 'non lieux' anthropology. 

The first thing that strikes me is that at the moment science is developing very quickly and, on the other hand, the inequality between those who are close to the poles of knowledge and those who are disconnected, those who are even unable to read or write, this difference is growing more quickly than the difference between the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. If we project these changes into the future, we may fear a world in which, rather than generalised democracy, there develops an aristocracy around the poles where knowledge, money and power concentrate, and a mass of consumers, and an even larger mass of non-consumers, those who are excluded from both consumption and knowledge. In the end, it may be that this competition between cities has some connection, more or less conscious, with this hypothetical future. It is possible to imagine that the smaller cities are further ahead in this competition than the other, larger and more powerful cities. And all this, this competing between cities to carve out a niche for themselves, is made evident in architecture: there are some ten or twenty well-known architects whose buildings the cities of the world want to have, because having them, having one of their iconic works, means making a place for yourself on this international network. It seems clear that Barcelona might be one of these cities in competition.

The real problem Augé seems to avoid, is the fact that the times of the 'symbolic=connection', or the times of 'connection=symbolic', are finally over and, possibly, forever. And that this is a truth that concerns power (whatever that word means today) so much as 'the poor'. 

Augé talks about places and circulation, and about architrecture as far as rationalizing spaces and communications. Performance art dealt in the last decades so much with the virtual, the symbolic, the connection, the place, the inside, the outside. At the point that, since art is always a way to approach and reflect reality, now we know that such words are completely meaningless. 

It was different at the times of psychoanalisis, the last of the western - materialistic as far as western - religions. Sigmund Freud and his fellows - Carl G. Jung, Mélanie Klein, Wilhelm Reich - and the subsequent surrealistic movement - from André Breton and Louis Aragon to Joan Mirò, Louis Bunuel and Antonin Artaud - were all looking for a connection  almost in the same way. Possibly only Jacques Lacan was really looking far ahead - in the west. The video of the Italian actor Carmelo Bene, from his Macbeth Horror Suite, seem to be the completion of Lacan's reflections on the voice, so people interested in this blog as a vehicle for music are not far from their own commitment here - but not even compelled to. 

The really interesting thing in Jacques Lacan idea - a Freudian concept passed through Saussure's linguistic studies - of the relationship between the self and the other - the other that gives shape to the self, as in every western conception of reality, projective and divided as it is every western idea of the self - is that it is the voice to represent the symbolic liaison, the law, and to be a guarantee for the subject, for the self, that the law will be respectful of its reality, that the self will never be disrupted, distroyed.

If psychosis, schizofrenia, paranoia, is so the result of a lack of guarantee that the other - the mother, the father, society, the law, the power - is respectful of the unity of the self, every artistic representation involving such concepts in reality has gone thus far. Art in some way is kind of affected from a borderline personality disorder: is to push directly the listener, or the seer, or the reader, to elaborate questions about the law, to the order, the symbolic, the self.

That's why since almost a couple of centuries, in which the explosion of codes and rules in every art field was nothing more than a way to break through the aestetics as a matter of consoling - the refusal to be 'bourgeois' - passed through the attempt to give back - over the stage, over the frame, over the lines - to the absence of mediations. 

Do you remember the 'motto': art is antisocial? You got it. But in some way the effort of every creative urge is so totalitarian - think about the attempt of every artist to create its own personal language in order to communicate new contents through new forms and to be recognizable as such, as unique - that can also be considered violent, and so at the opposite of a revolution - at least of a democratic one. Art is fascist? Some artist was accused of that. Glenn Branca, as an example - and by the like of John Cage, nonetheless. Art deals with love, and death is part of it. Think to be able of getting rid of the contradiction? You aren't. Because you are in the middle. As art. So, you got to dance.

I know how risky is to get through similar items and so go ahead with such a discussion, but the whole point is, if big concepts are the same, and we want to avoid to talk in vain about unreal things, what's really, so to speak, real, or true? And, more, are we so sure to really been able to avoid abstraction nowadays? Are we sure that the world of the non-idiomatic is really or, at least, always the world of the essential, of the in-between? 

In a discussion with a famous avant garde trumpet player I had some months ago in Italy, we were at a certain point discussing about the idea that no one now is dealing with creating anything new for a lack of courage in going outside the mainstream. The day after - it was an intensive interview sessions - another musician, famous as such, a saxophone player, told me about his non believing in 'new forms in art'. But it is a fact that, when he started to play, what he was doing sounded really new. And it is new even today, if you approach it for the first time. 

Nine months after, and I'm sometimes so frightented about how much new stuff I'm discovering, and about how much I feel the need to have more informations and skills about even the old stuff I love and I want to write about, that I'm still grateful for not living only with my writing about music, and to have the opportunity to take my time. Possibly, the most interesting and - as far as me - truthful concept elaborated by a living artist in depicting the situation, is Anthony Braxton 'tri-centric vibrational dynamics'. 

The idea that we are dealing everyday with informations in order to manage with our own lives, that art and music is part of that and that creativity can be dangerous for every wrong circulation of informations: Braxton states that usually establishment gives informations about the 'lower partials' - e.g.: 'Charlie Parker was a genius and a drug addicted' - without any regard for the 'upper partials' - the social conditions and the artistic background of every Charlie Parker - diffusing so an idea of 'revolution' - even of 'artistic revolution' that is mutilated and an idea of artistic personality mediated through romanticism and psychologicism.

That's what probably, outside of the psychoanalitic mythology, Lacan was referring to with the term 'manque' ('lack', in English). The same Diamanda Galàs was referring to when talking about the 'plague' of the AIDS as provoked by mass media. The same Amiri Baraka was referring to when talking about the lack of a sociological study on the 'negro music' in the USA. But what about today, in 2011, in London?

Since my first three months here, it seems to me that there's no such an artistic movement or artist nowadays able to express the contradictions I'm beginning to see there. After three months living in the Zone 2, I relocated at the borders of the Zone 3, in East Ham. Not that far there is Canary Wharf, one of the most important financial districts of the city, while at the border of my block there is a building used as a mosque. 

I'm so happy, at least for the moment, to be able to pass through all those different environments, since I really fear every definite form of steadiness. As far as my own experience, when you get to a point in which you staunch it all forever, you really begin to die. And to vanish. Back to London as a topic, no. There is no artistic form that try to condensate, to express, all the complexity of what you can see. 

Improvised music, the one you can find here, is different than in the USA. Not different musically: avant-garde jazz in the US is really an interesting and almost complete expression of the American society at its best - you can check my alter blog Complete Communion for that, though I have never been personally in the USA. Here in the UK instead, improvised and avant-garde music is, in a typical English style, a 'particular' that want to avoid by definition to reach a wider landscape. 

Sabo Toyozumi and Adam Lindson at the Oto Club - my photo
It has interesting aspect reflecting totality as every particular, but in a manner not always conscious of its contradictions, sometimes even at his best, showing itself as disconnected. Skim through my past reviews and you'll see at what extent, and with what risks. 

Same is for the myriads of ethnic related and non ethnic related music: East-Europe folk, reggae, afrobeat, house, metal. The two vectors are: respect of a tradition and sometimes the direct presence of a legacy in the shape of lieutenants of the prime movers - but rarely this get to a pure and void cult of personality, usually the promises are maintained - and on the other hand every crosspollination possible - but inside the boundary of given coordinates: you can listen to Algerian afrobeat mixed with a balkan tinge played onstage by musicians coming from Italy - horns players moslty, Egypt and Nigeria together, or to an entire night of 'noise' music that is mostly mutant heavy metal, with bands composed by two drumsets, a bass and a singer, or two guitars and drums, or a sigle guitar, but you will never meet - at least, i still didn't meet - a crossover in the proper sense of the world. 

Go to the Southbank Centre, and there is a place for jazz, ethnoworld and contemporary music, but it is the same - and again, you'll hear Ornette Coleman or Toumani Diabate, but not Stephen O' Malley and Sunn O))). The effect so, is sometimes - mostly on the European side, to tell you the truth - the one of an orde of illegitimate Lovercraft sons. And that's why I completely disagree with Augé analysis of society - even if in the quote he's talking about Barcelona, and not London. Everyone of us seem to have access to communication and to express ourselves and realize ourselves (vertical relationships).

What's really missing here is the ability - for reasons still unknown to me: since my arrival here I communicated with few Italians, and mostly, and for my precise will, with English, French, Romanian, Brazilian, Bangladesi and African-American people - to build horizontal relationships. Artistically, there is not such. You know what that mean, socially speaking. That's why I was quoting Lacan: as far as it seems, we here are all (over?)protected, but not communicating between us. 

And this is the - unconsciously but precisely expressed - judgement we have on the symbolic: we all don't believe in it nor in ourselves, but we try to relate first and foremost with it and each other through it. And the art here, at least music, is a pure and clear reflection of it all. As always.

Friday, 16 December 2011

mauro sambo @ london_resonance

words _ gian paolo galasi

Mauro Sambo, "Raw Materials and Residuals", 2009
Strange relationships can come to your mind if you open your chackras while listening to music. As far as Mauro Sambo (Venice, Italy, 1954), one of the many possible references are Ives Klein paintings. That bright, vivid blue. 

Strange as it can seems, since Sambo's attitude is in some way at the opposite pole of Klein's. For sure Sambo's not that much a surrealist. Not only as a multi-instrumentalist (electric and acoustic bass, alto sax, bass clarinet, percussions, samplers, wind controller, Akai S3000XL), but also as a video artist and as a photographer he is really far from the kitsch, so often a (collateral?) product of what Bréton and his followers were planning when dealing with their own creativity (Ives Klein is a different topic, though ... I strongly suspect his negative attitude towards psychoanalisis preserved him, in some way).

It is a matter of fact, if you go and see some of the most celebrated movies made by Louis Bunuel ('Un Chien Andalou' above all), some of the most famous Salvador Dalì paintings; they all have in common (with some notable exceptions) an attitude towards movement that is at the opposite of the mainstream avant garde (since Charles Baudelaire's "Les Fleurs du Mal"), going along in the XXth Century artistic expressions, with Artaud's 'theatre de la cruauté' and avant-garde music (post-serialism, improvisation, minimalism, electroacoustics, sound art), while the body art movement was a strange, sometimes impossible but real melting of the two tendencies. 

The art of Mauro Sambo in some way creates a field of immanence in which movement, standing still, music, visuals, sculpture, painting, photograph, are not clashing again but, instead, synthesizing by a tactile quality of the space coming out of the cage of sounds. This is clearly reflected by his videos, photos and sculptures.

Mauro Sambo, "Conversazioni" (2004)
Sambo is tracing a trip right in between stagnation and movement. If you're finding it all so boring, call it 'time' and I think you can get it anyway - if you know for sure what time is, that is not that obvious.

Take for instance "Il perdono purifica l'offeso" ('forgiveness purify the offended party'), his June 9th, 2011 performance with Matilde Sambo on oboe for the exhibition 'Sconfini 2011' in the Archeological Museum of Modena. 

It begins with a reference to the zen concept of Mu ('the void'), while the superimposed images of Sambo's nude torso and of ancient Roman tablets gave space to a site for extracting marble and the process of the extraction itself. Matilde and Mauro Sambo were improvising over the images in real time with wind controller and then manipulating a piece of marble, amplified with a contact microphone. 

"I don't take myself as a musician, but as a visual artist. I deal with sounds the same way I do with materials related to my visions. Maybe in another life I've been a musician: in my family I was listening to Frank Sinatra, Claudio Villa, while from 16 on, with no one teaching, I was putting an ear to John Coltrane, Stockhausen, Van Der Graaf Generator, Anthony Braxton -- I don't know music in any way, I can't read it, all I do is coming from my passion and my insight".

Pleased and displaced at the same time by the growing attention of music journalists for his music, also since his last outputs with the Turkish label re:konstruKt, Mauro Sambo - as younger artist Sabrina Siegel possibly - is here to show us an alternative to the cristallization of improvised music in a pure style while on the other hand it really attempt as a result to put the video/sound art movement away from the dialectics 'becoming minor' (=staying of the subject of the molecular) vs 'becoming major' (=absorbing structures from contemporary music or popular electronics). Precious hints for future developments? I strongly believe so. 

In "Conversazioni" ('conversations'), his live performance I loved the most (I suspect because the nearest to a free jazz concert, as far as the urgency coming out of the music) Sambo and his mates are playing while people is building around them cages. The 'percussion cage' Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman were building more than 40 years ago is no more (exclusively) a rhythmyc/coloristic issue, but a true hint to visualize and open (instead of caging) music itself. 

Mauro Sambo, without title, 
I'd wish to have enough time and space to narrate his entire video and audio production, but an article on a blog is not the right place, unluckily. But putting his videos under a radar, it is possible to notice many particles resonating part of the  alternative culture of the Sixties and Seventies.

One video is entitled 'Inner Mountain Flames', while 'Polaroid' can call to mind a similar work by Mario Schifano, and the first part of the time Mauro Sambo and I spent since September exchanging audio and video material of all sorts, was dedicated to both historic bands from the Industrial music scene in Russia, and to ethnic music from all over the world.

All this snapshots, metaforically speaking, are far from being re-sistematized. The best way to describe Sambo's way of dealing with sounds and materials is referring to Jorge Louis Borges 'Transmutations', epigraphising Sambo "Apparente controllo del tempo" ('Apparently controlled time'). 

It is impossible to control the ageing of an artwork, but at the same time the oxidization on the metal plates is representing the individual scream, the revolt of the artwork itself against death; oxyde, rust, as the fire of the ancient myths, is constantly changing the way the artwork looks like, and so, through ageing, it comes really to life. It's almost the same with water in two of Sambo's most touching video: the long, merciful "The Long Hello (a Virginia mia madre)" and "My father, my job, my life". 

It is not impossible now to understand why the brightness of Sambo's creativity can be compared with Ives Klein: both are jumping into life, and both are in some way giving shape to an art that is more than one form of art, but that let materials and styles pass through life itself. 

Mauro Sambo on Soundcloud:

"quel mutamento era il primo di una serie infinita" (self-produced, 2010)
"... di origine oscura" (re:konstruKt, 2010)
"presto (dicono) giungerà la neve" (self-produced, 2011)

"Mauro Sambo video & musica" (ossido video, 2008)
"Sconfini 2011" (self produced)

"Un lungo viaggio immobile" (Fondazione Querini Stampalia Onlus, Venice, 2002)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

best of 2011 @ london _ resonance

selections + live photos _ gian paolo galasi


Live Acts: 

Peter Broetzmann / Masaiko Satoh
Henie Onstadt Art Center, Hovidokken (NO), Jan. 16

Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith / Gunther Baby Soemmer
Cinema Teatro Torresino (IT), Padova, May 12

Sainko Namtchylak / Arto Lindsay
Teatro dell'Arte, Milano (IT), May 31

Rogelio Sousa - Cafe OTO, London (UK), Sep. 30

Havard Skaset - Cafe OTO, London (UK), Sep. 30

Sunday, 4 December 2011

reviewing @ london _ resonance [pt. 7]

Wilhelm Matthies is a composer, videoartist and photographer living in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He builds and performs his original instruments - have a look at his own Kokeka, developed after years spent preparing guitars "in order to maximize the 'prepared' aspect of playing guitar".

Listening to the eight tracks composing "RiverFoot-RealityRubs" (Field Noise Records, 2011), just released four days ago, the first impression is that of a record staying at the crossroads of different streams of contemporary music. There is a noble tradition on the American side in projecting new instruments, while at the same time Matthies' Kokeka comes also from his studies on Japanese koto, Indian vina, Persian rebab and Chinese erhu.

But there are also influences from John Cage's preparations and Iannis Xenakis' dry quality of microtones. A record full of nuances revealing a richness in approaching music that is near to a state of grace. This record possibly is one of the best outputs you would be able to find out in this 2011. From the link in this post it is possible to download an mp3 version of the album, and also to buy HQ sound files of it.

Amirani Records is an Italian label whose owner is soprano player Gianni Mimmo. The first issue was in 2005, while with this "Sylvano Bussotti Brutto, Ignudo" is opening Amirani Contemporary. Sylvano Bussotti is an Italian composer, who debuted in 1958 in Germany with David Tudor playing some of his first compositions.

Attracted more by John Cage than by the structuralist wave dominating from Darmstadt the world of European composition of his time, Bussotti most peculiar aspect is his recurring relationship with theatre, and his reshaping of music according to it.

Interestingly enough, while one of his first theatre works is based on Alfred De Musset's 'Lorenzaccio' - rewritten it the same years by actor/writer Carmelo Bene, that quite often teamed with Bussotti's fellow Sandro Luporini later on, his music is an attempt to give life to a sensual approach to the sound avoiding both decadent tendencies and the disrupting eroticism that from Antonin Artaud and Jerzy Grotowski on was part of the avant-garde theatre heritage.

The four pieces for piano and clarinet collected here are performed by Gianni Lenoci and Rocco Parisi (a long time Bussotti collaborator) and interspersed with excerpts from interviews with the composer made by Gianni Mimmo himself.

Steve Dalachinsky is a poet and performer born in Brooklyn, NY, 1946. A kind and gentle descendant of Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, he performed over the years with players as diverse as pianist Matthew Shipp, guitarist Loren Mazzacane Connors, experimental musician/producer/composer Jim O' Rourke and drummer Federico Ughi.

Bambalam Records, a French label devoted to 'krautrocksamples', has released this August a collaboration between Dalachinsky and the french duo The Snobs titled "Massive Liquidity - An Unsurreal Post-Apocalyptic Anti-Opera in Two Acts". Coordinates of the music are in the lineage of Miles Davis at the height of 'On The Corner', Can's attempt to enlarge the boundaries of contemporary music with instruments and semantycs taken from the rock world, and the Brian Eno/David Byrne African/Asian movie titled 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts'.

It is difficult to approach a music clearly derivative from one of the most creative period of the seventies and that, from the end of the '90s through the middle of the last decade, was finally acknowledged and widely reissued to a larger audience of people than that following it at its creative peak; the real problem anyway is that the excellent and imaginative poetic vein of Dalachinsky suffers a little bit once boxed with a music that most of the time results as a kind of juxtaposed landscape. It remains an experiment in dealing with forms of music not related to the impro world, even if pertaining.

Steve Dalachinsky and The Snobs - Massive Liquidity (2011)