In a sharp Republican rebuke to President Obama’s proposed actions on immigration, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused the President, on Thursday night, of “flagrantly treating immigrants like human beings, in clear defiance of the wishes of Congress.”
McConnell was brutal in his assessment of the President’s speech on immigration, blasting him for “eliminating the fear of deportation, which is the great engine of the American economy.”
“Fear is what keeps immigrants working so hard and so fast and so cheap,” McConnell said. “Remove the fear of deportation, and what will immigrants become? Lazy Americans.”
In a dire warning to the President, McConnell said, “If Mr. Obama thinks that, with the stroke of a pen, he can destroy the work ethic of millions of terrified immigrants, he’s in for the fight of his life.”
He added that Obama’s comments about deporting felons were “deeply offensive” to political donors.
Smokey and dark, shattered in pieces, clanging. Droning a floor of noise. Somehwere in there, a repetition putting order to the disquiet of days among conference calls. Modern music some say in a maze of digits. Different for me in an elastic mind way. For 2014 it makes distant sense and so I agree with its use of rhythms from the broken alarm that keeps its midnight song alive to press 1 to enter.
Punish, Honey. Pain, pleasure. The comma in the title of Vessel's second album denoting some correspondence rather than opposition between the two. On the album's cover, writhing marmorated bodies are locked in the throes of what could equally be ecstasy or agony. In Three Essays On The Theory Of Sexuality, Freud hypothesised that those seemingly conflicting sensations might be interrelated. "Anyone who takes pleasure in causing others pain in a sexual relationship is also capable of enjoying as pleasure the pain that can arise from his own sexual relations," he concludes in a section addressing sadism and masochism. It's this slippage between pain and pleasure which informs not just the imagery of Punish, Honey but also its sonics.
Seb Gainsborough's own definition of Vessel as "physical music to be played loud on sound systems", has similarly framed his work in terms of bodily experience. His debut, Order Of Noise, released in 2012, was exactly that: a series of bruising, concessive takes on techno and dub. That physicality has also come to inform the creation of Punish, Honey. Speaking to the Quietus' Rory Gibb in The Wire last year, Gainsborough described the liberating nature of switching off his computer and recording live with no overdubs. Within dance music, the rejection of software for hardware has become a firmly entrenched narrative, suggesting a return of the repressed. But here the liberation Gainsborough ascribes to working with physical instruments comes from an instinctive need to experiment by introducing more variables (and then "start fucking with them" as he goes on to explain) rather than any fetishism for components.
On Punish Honey, Gainsborough has realised this desire for tactility. His approach to the album's production resembles that of a Foley artist, with most of the album's sounds created with a number of handmade instruments. But equally, the album seems to be a deconstruction of that approach. On the opening track 'Febrile', the first crash of cymbal comes after 12 seconds of silence: jolting and mocking us like a rimshot punctuating a joke at our expense. As the percussion comes to a crescendo, both muscle and metal are worked to their limits. In much the same way, the screeching and harsh string sounds - apparently created from handmade "harmonic guitars" - on tracks like 'Drowned In Water And Light' and 'Kin To Coal' give an immediate sense of the tension and force being applied to them. Gainsborough seems to be testing not only what his crude instrumentation can withstand, but also his listeners.
Punish, Honey, the follow-up to the Bristol producer’s muted debut, Order of Noise, roils along a sequence of tortured biological rhythms. Gainsborough promises illness with opener “Febrile”, a minute and a half of silence disrupted by sudden clatters of percussion, but the songs that follow feel more like motion sickness than a spiking body temperature. Seven-minute centerpiece “Anima” batters its moving parts around a thin but unrelenting bass line like insects swarming the only streetlight in a remote farming town. “Red Sex” seems to point to Joy Division’s “She Lost Control” with its gusts of steam and industrial thumps, but quickly upends its own mechanical stability with queasy, winding synth lines. It breathes like an organism experiencing an unconscious adrenaline response, sick despite itself, brewing a slow panic.
Like his fellow UK fearmonger The Haxan Cloak, Vessel can be hard to listen to by yourself on a full stomach. But there’s a sense of play inside Punish, Honey that also calls to mind James Holden’s brilliant record from last year, The Inheritors. That mischievousness might actually make this a scarier album; at least Haxan Cloak’s Excavation was straightforward about aspiring to horror. Gainsborough doesn’t give up the game so easily. Like a wild animal, his work is furtive and unpredictable. At points, it’s even fun; despite its uneasiness, “Red Sex” could easily scan as a banger in the right context, and there’s a strange, subtle yearning to the cellos that creep behind the drums on “Drowned in Water and Light”.
Gainsborough gets that what makes Dickinson’s poetry so haunting isn’t its melancholia but its refusal to explain itself. Punish, Honey moves forward powered by the tension between what it keeps hidden and what little it shows.
For decades now, new electronic music hasn’t evolved - it’s simply mutated. Countless producers are emerging, with the underground crafting billions of hours of stubbornly similarly constructed (and admittedly very often just as compelling) loop-based beats, while a glance at the top 40 reveals how the electronic mainstream is still stuck in the same early-Noughties summer in Ibiza - needless to say well away from the radar from ‘proper’ critics. One would’ve thought that digitisation would fuel innovation, but the sonic spectrum of electronica’s remained pretty steadfastly intact. Big beats, washes of synth, arpeggiated melodies, buzz saws and sub bass - it's all as rich as ever, and yet stagnant. And then along comes Vessel.
Punish, Honey is a giant leap for British electronica, but perhaps only a small step for Vessel. While the surface of his last full length, Order of Noise certainly retained the semblance of an archetypal album of dark, dub-influenced instrumental productions, it harboured a far deeper and broader sense of sonic exploration than its user-friendly aesthetic let on. Elsewhere, his contributions to various projects under the Bristol-based Young Echo crew’s umbrella swept almost-archetypal trip-hop tunes under a murky veil of glitches and submersible noises, and his Killing Sound project with fellow Young Echoers, El Kid and Jabu, abstracted the structures of ambient techno into unexplored dark gothic depths. Punish, Honey takes the menacing undercurrent Vessel established on Order of Noise, and melts away the more recognisable, round-edges of dub and dubstep-influenced forms and techniques, ultimately replacing them with the sharper edged scrapes and whirrs of industry. It’s not languid, smooth and dreamy; it’s sharp, heavy and tangible, and steeped in vicious eroticism. Vessel’s focus has irrevocably switched from the visceral, to the physical.
SJ:In your artist statement, you write “’We Are Only Shadows’ … is composed of images of people and places in transition…at the middle of the world”. By creating a “New Ecuador” in your images, how are they informing the viewer of Ecuador in transition, besides adding to their already preconceived notions of third world countries? What do you hope the audience, as outsiders, gain from these images? What do you, personally, gain from making them?
PL: This is what I’ve learned from making art: How much I tend to incorrectly assume and how little I actually know about almost everything. At which point in conversations like these I pretty much start making up things on the fly.
I would love to be one of those people who has an idea, is able to articulate it, and, once it’s executed, be able to tout how successfully everything turned out and what it all means. But I’m not. If, as Robert Rauschenberg says, “Screwing things up is a virtue,” then I’m currently on target to one day become a saint. Consequently, I don’t think much about what an audience might think about or gain from my work. At most, I hope that in the end someone finds the result interesting enough to spend some time with it.
As an aside, I’m not sure I know who the “audience” is in our day and time. The bell curve of people drawn to art has dramatically shifted demographically and become infinitely more convoluted and three dimensional. The Internet culturati don’t speak with one voice. Instead of one art establishment, there are a multitude now with divergent offerings and points of view, serving a multitude of audiences. The degree to which photography and digital imaging alone have been sliced and diced and served up on the web is mind boggling.
In the 1930s, Beaumont Newhall described four photographic categories: Pictorialist, Social, Journalistic, and Modernist. Today, a Google search on the terms “photography categories” turns up 271,000,000 associated links. One of these links, picked at random, lists 50 categories.
In addition, there are now scores of online photo competitions, themselves competing for our dollars and attention. Dog Photographer of the Year (thekennelclub.org.uk). Check. The World’s Best Private Aviation Photographer (privatefly.com). Check. Seize a unique opportunity “to capture the diversity and beauty that is the fabulous mining industry – and win $10,000!” (snowdengroup.com). Check.
In other words, the art world, and, in particular, the world of photography and digital imaging, has become flatter, more populous, less concentrated and correspondingly less hierarchical. The medium has inevitably evolved into a global, democratic art form; the most democratic in history. And, like every good democracy, the landscape it occupies is chaotic and unruly. The playground I started playing in over 20 years ago is now very, very crowded.
The point I’m trying to make here (I think) is that, nonetheless, I still come to the playground everyday and for the very same reasons as before. I don’t bring an agenda or a set of expectations with me. If someone is impacted by the content I leave behind, I’m all the happier for it, but that isn’t the goal. If one half of the process is to screw things up, the other half, of necessity, should be to have as much fun as one can while doing it.
Era dia 19 de setembro de 2014, uma noite de sexta-feira quente em Belo Horizonte, em que um cantor pega pela primeira vez o seu violão em público, encara a plateia, geralmente pouco numerosa por ser uma estreia, e canta. Nesse caso acompanhado de uma banda. Dessa vez tendo como repertório seu primeiro disco, lançado há um ano e meio – é essa a distância do primeiro ato para o primeiro show, mesmo tendo figurado em algumas das listas de melhores do ano de 2013. Nessa noite não tinha pouca gente para ver o cantor e sua banda. A Casinha estava cheia.
É curioso e adequado que a estreia tenha sido em BH. Curioso porque, depois de realizar “Esses Patifes” em meio a uma vida nômade, Ruy Sposati acaba por fincar os pés na capital mineira para fazer mestrado em Comunicação na UFMG. Segue sua jornada na luta pelo direito fundamental dos índios: a terra, e, de tabela, a vida. Também adequado por dois motivos: há alguns anos BH dá sinais de que pode florescer uma nova cena independente e autoral. Nisso, a Casinha presta um serviço inegável. O coletivo/centro cultural/produtora ocupa uma casa multi-funcional no Barro Preto, bairro famoso pelo comércio popular de roupas e tecidos e próximo ao centro da cidade, e tem marcado seu lugar na vida viva da cidade, servindo de palco/laboratório para incontáveis estreias. Além disso, moram em BH pessoas que são co-responsáveis, de muitas maneiras, pela afirmação do Ruspo cantor. Marina Ribeiro e Alexis Gotsis têm uma banda chamada Os Amantes Invisíveis. Ruspo e Os Amantes se conheceram pelo MySpace e em 2010 Ruy quase entrou para a banda. Calhou de BH reunir as condições ideais de temperatura e pressão.
A noite de 19 de setembro começou quatro ou cinco meses antes quando se reuniram pela primeira vez para os ensaios, no entorno dOs Amantes Invisíveis. Marina nos vocais e teclados e Alexis na guitarra e nos samplers são os pilares, aos quais se somam Gustavo no baixo, Geovane no trompete e Gabriel no cavaquinho. As coisas só engrenaram mesmo e foram tratadas com mais seriedade quando pintou o convite da Casinha. A formação ao vivo não fica devendo em nada e ganha muito com o contraponto lindo da voz de Marina, a que Ruy se refere como sendo uma dádiva.
At first there was a torrent of writing. Lee reveals that in 1977 Fitzgerald was writing five books at the same time, though three of them were to be abandoned. She produced a novel a year for four years, each drawing on a period of her early and middle life, so that there was a quick retrospective using up of personal material that in a more conventional career might have been worked through at the time. The Bookshop and Offshore found fictional form for a difficult phase in her married life, when she lived first in Southwold on the East Anglian coast, and then in a leaky barge on the Thames. Human Voices went back to her time at the BBC during the war, and At Freddie’s to the period when she taught at a children’s acting school in the early 1960s. Then came her biography of the vividly subjective poet Charlotte Mew, published in 1984, a further exploration of a world she just remembered, the other Bloomsbury, of shabby lodgings, stifled feelings, and Harold Monro’s Poetry Bookshop, which had been a beacon of Fitzgerald’s own childhood.
Thereafter her novels were set in times and/or places she had not herself known, and sometimes involved real historical figures, as in the unforgettable visit to Antonio Gramsci in prison in Innocence. Her pace of production halved as she moved into her seventies, but is no less astonishing in view of the complex research that went into each of these last four novels: Innocence (set in Florence in the mid-1950s), The Beginning of Spring (pre-Revolutionary Russia), The Gate of Angels (1913 Cambridge), and The Blue Flower (late-eighteenth-century Germany). At the same time she came to prominence as an acute and profoundly knowledgeable reviewer and essayist.
At the age of seventy-eight, suffering from an irregular heartbeat, she tried what was clearly a novel experiment for her, “a day’s absolute laziness…. But the laziness makes me feel guilty for that is how I was brought up.” She was a Knox to the end; and proud to be one. Her second book, The Knox Brothers, is a portrait of her father and her three uncles, written with the keen wit, contained feeling, and cultured insiderliness that were to be features of her later novels. Children of an Evangelical bishop, the brothers formed a remarkable quartet (there were also two sisters, barely seen in their niece’s account).
Penelope’s father, Edmund, known as Evoe, was the editor of Punch and a celebrated writer of “civilized” light verse, “able to treat serious things gracefully.” Dillwyn Knox was a textual scholar and a brilliant cryptographer who worked on the Enigma code; Wilfred and Ronald both became priests, one an Anglo-Catholic who took a vow of poverty and devoted himself to prayer and to the poor, the other a Roman Catholic who favored the other end of the social spectrum, but also had a mass readership. He published a new translation of the New Testament, dozens of books on religious subjects, and best-selling detective novels.
All reacted in different ways to their upbringing. Dillwyn was from his student years an unwavering atheist. Evoe married the daughter of another Evangelical bishop. Such an upbringing, Fitzgerald said in old age, was something one “never, never, ever” escaped from. Its high principles and work ethic drove all of them, as they drove her until the end of her life.*
A surprise recording by a choral group I should have known much better based on their true renditions of Pärt’s choral music on this new album. Stephen Layton, the director of Polyphony, exhibits a knowing and sure hand guiding the group through spiritual and aural delicacies composed by this contemporary composer of high regard. This is late night music. Goalllll.
From Gramaphone Magazine via Polyphony's website:
It should be said, before anyone has the chance to object to the appearance of yet another disc of Pärt’s choral music, that this one is something special. In part this is because of the choice of repertoire, which mixes the familiar and the less-often heard, and includes two first recordings, and in part it is because of the exquisite sound produced by Polyphony.
The lesser-known pieces include Peace upon you, Jerusalem and Morning star, here given outstanding renditions that exploit the ensemble’s crystalline upper voices to perfection. Another of Polyphony’s strengths is their diction, and this is more than evident in their beautifully fluid and very moving renditions of the highly text-driven The woman with the alabaster box and Tribute to Caesar. Pärt’s setting of the Lorica of St Patrick, entitled The deer’s cry, is also text-driven but in a very different way, and what appears initially to be merely eccentric proves to be an extraordinarily profound and rich response to the words.
The hypnotic Virgencita, a prayer to the Virgin of Guadalupe in Spanish, is altogether more curious – the melodic line of the first section irresistibly suggests a slowed-down tango – but its conclusion, the final iteration of ‘Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe’ is surely one of the composer’s most arresting conceptions. The other first recording is of the oddly titled Alleluia-Tropus. This is in fact a setting of the apolytikion to St Nicholas set in Slavonic, with the addition of the word ‘Alleluia’, meaning that it is not usable liturgically, and it was originally scored for choir and eight cellos. It’s as curious as Virgencita but has a similarly stunning climax. The disc ends with a wonderful rendition of Da pacem, Domine. Highly recommended.
Arvo Pärt is one of the few living composers to find popularity beyond the borders of classical music. R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Bjork are big fans. Although the 78-year-old musician usually shies away from acclaim and the media, he is currently attending a festival of his music in New York and Washington, and he made time to talk about his music, bike riding and bells.
Pärt is a major composer, and I was a little nervous meeting him. So I brought along a bell for good luck. I set it on the table between us and gave it a little tinkle.
"Oh, this is a good beginning, thank you," he said in his heavily accented English.
Pärt likes bells, literally and figuratively in his music. He also likes space and silence. Fans tend to use words like "timeless" to describe his contemplative music. But for Pärt, time has deep meaning. In conversation, as in his music, he takes his time to unclutter his thoughts. They come out like poems.
"Time for us, is like the time of our own lives," he says. "It is temporary. What is timeless is the time of eternal life. That is eternal. These are all high words, and so, like the sun, we cannot really look at them directly, but my intuition tells me that the human soul is connected to both of them — time and eternity."
Pärt has gravitas to burn. But he didn't start out that way. As a kid in Soviet-era Estonia, he practiced on a battered old piano and rode his bike around the town listening to Finnish radio broadcasts. I told him that I strapped a transistor radio to my bicycle when I was a kid. "It's very interesting," he responded, with a slight twinkle in his eye.
Early on, Pärt wrote thorny, atonal music in the style of the day. But in 1968 he hit a wall. He went nearly silent for eight years, and when he returned, it was with something completely different. Slow, pure, simple, yet powerfully focused is how conductor Stephen Layton describes the music: "If you had to give an aesthetic for his compositional output, less is more is certainly it," Layton says.
A choral specialist, Layton has recorded two albums of Pärt's vocal works (a third is scheduled for this fall). Layton says after the complicated music that dominated the mid-20th century, Pärt's new style, with nods to Gregorian chant and Renaissance music, wiped the slate clean. Part of Pärt's breakthrough, Layton says, came from hearing just three notes in a supermarket.
“ Silence is like fertile soil, which, as it were, awaits our creative act, our seed.
- Arvo Pärt
"Over the public address system one hears the sound 'doo, doo doo' " — Layton sings three descending tones — "'Could so-and-so please go to till No. 25?' Now that sound is called a triad in music, but it's actually the building block of all music in the Western world."
Pärt realized the beautiful simplicity of the triad and ran with it. He called his newfound style "tintinnabuli," a word referring to little tinkling bells. Another ingredient in the recipe is silence.
"On the one hand, silence is like fertile soil, which, as it were, awaits our creative act, our seed," Pärt says. "On the other hand, silence must be approached with a feeling of awe. And when we speak about silence, we must keep in mind that it has two different wings, so to speak. Silence can be both that which is outside of us and that which is inside a person. The silence of our soul, which isn't even affected by external distractions, is actually more crucial but more difficult to achieve."
I used to visit all the very gay places Those come what may places Where one relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life To get the feel of life from jazz and cocktails
The girls I knew had sad and sullen gray faces With distingue traces that used to be there You could see where they'd been washed away By too many through the day twelve o'clock tales
Then you came along with your siren song To tempt me to madness I thought for awhile that your poignant smile Was tinged with the sadness of a great love for me Ah yes, I was wrong, again I was wrong
Life is lonely again and only last year everything seemed so sure Now life is awful again a trough full of hearts could only be a bore A week in Paris could ease the bite of it All I care is to smile in spite of it
I'll forget you, I will While yet you are still burning inside my brain Romance is mush stifling those who strive I'll live a lush life in some small dive And there I'll be, while I rot with the rest Of those whose lives are lonely too
Though it was written in the '30s, "Lush Life" was not recorded for public release until Nat "King" Cole sang it in 1949 with a free and easy feel. Since then, it's become one of the most standard of pop standards, with no signs of fading away. It was even a highlight of a recent Grammy Awards gala, performed by Queen Latifah.
"Lush Life" conveys such a vast range of emotions that more than 500 musicians have explored it. Some, like Joe Henderson playing solo saxophone, have chosen a hushed approach, while singers like Nancy Wilson have given it a shot of drama.
"Lush Life" seems simple, but it's quite complex — emotionally and musically, with a very unusual structure. It even gave Frank Sinatra a hard time when he tried to record in 1958. He gave up on the song, laughing that he would "put it aside for about a year." But he never did return to it.
"Not everybody could sing it," says Andy Bey, a celebrated jazz singer and pianist with a strong personal connection to "Lush Life," a song he has returned to repeatedly throughout a 55-year career. "A lot of songs had verses and refrains, you know, but it's like a mind boggling thing. It's not about 'ring-a-ding ding' when you do "Lush Life."
"It's about somebody's life. There's a worldliness, about a person who has lived. You really have to kind of understand the story and try to keep the mood, keep the focus."
The pun in the song's title suggests that "Lush Life" might be speaking of a life of elegance, or of boozy despair. In both senses, the song reflects the life of the man who wrote it. Billy Strayhorn was the piano prodigy Duke Ellington recruited in 1938 to compose material for his band. Through a 30-year, on-and-off relationship, Strayhorn wrote many of Ellington's most memorable and sophisticated tunes.
"He was like Duke Ellington's right-hand man," says Bey.
Strayhorn was born in 1915, and fell in love with classical music before developing a fascination with jazz. Growing up in a working-class neighborhood in Pittsburgh, he dreamed of a more cultured and cosmopolitan way of life. He was only 16 when he began to write "Lush Life," which he first called "Life Is Lonely" — and which we now know as "Lush Life."
In fact, the words Strayhorn wrote as a teenager predicted the life he did eventually lead. He did become a socialite, he did make it to France. And he did become an alcoholic.
The song's lyric reveals both poetry and a maturity that's surprising coming from a teenager. It also seems to suggest another significant side to Strayhorn's identity: his sexual orientation.
Bey quotes the first line of the song — "I used to visit all the very gay places..." — and adds, "Who knows? He might have been thinking about the gay bars, but I think it was something broader than that, because he was too broad of a person. I see it as places that are happy and carefree and gay."
As his biographer David Hajdu wrote, Strayhorn was a minority three times over — African-American, gay and open about his homosexuality. His offstage role in Ellington's band made it possible to avoid the public spotlight.
"I think he loved taking a back seat," Bey says. "Because that way, it gave him the freedom to be himself, even though it might have hurt him, because he wasn't given the credit that he deserved as an artist. Billy had the strength and the balls to come out and be who he was."
What are your thoughts on the current state of album art? There aren’t many instantly recognizable artists floating around, but rather certain trends, like vintage collaging, that are being widely used. Do you feel a part of any specific movement like that?
I am pretty turned off by a lot of current record cover art. So much of it seems tossed off and lazy, but then again so does a lot of the music it is framing. It seems that with so much anonymous imagery being available on the internet, appropriation has stopped being a tool to transform the existing in something new and has become an easy way out. People seem so eager to adopt an aesthetic they view as desirable without trying to add anything of their own to it or creating something new. I’m sure this is a byproduct of the immediacy of the internet and the fact that most people only see record covers as a tiny thumbnail on a screen now.
People often see my work and assume it is appropriated because of the techniques I use, but I hope I am bringing something new to a tradition that I feel is greatly neglected now. I don’t think people are used to seeing so much work being put into something that for most people is secondary to the music. I try to make each cover fit the music as well as I possibly can and also put as much of myself into the work as possible. It’s very easy with Tumblr and other such blogs to just become another anonymous jpeg in a never ending stream of imagery. All in all, I’m just trying to make the best work I can for the music that I’m doing it for and always pushing myself to do new things and avoid falling into any sort of trends.
Do you see any merit in really simple collage art then, where two or three images have been thrown together? I guess it depends on the piece, but with your work you typically have at least some drawn element in there, right?
I am a huge fan of collage and a lot of the work I do is basically collage at the core, just made of elements that I created. I use collage all the time for show fliers and other things that a lot of people don’t see, but I try to always add something or combine things in an unexpected way. I’m not against appropriation at all, I just feel a lot of times it stems from laziness and imitation. The simplest solutions are most of the time the best and I often wish my work ended up being simpler than it is.