Laurence Crane is a contemporary composer who was born in Oxford in 1961. He has said of his music, "I use simple and basic musical objects— common chords and intervals, arpeggios, drones, cadences, fragments of scales and melodies. The materials may seem familiar, perhaps even rather ordinary, but my aim is to find a fresh beauty in these objects by placing them in new structural and formal contexts."
Crane's compositions have frequently been played in concert. Apart from tracks on compilations, it has not been easy to track down recordings featuring his music, the most notable exception being Michael Finnissy's recording Solo Piano Pieces 1985-1999 (Metier, 2008). Consequently, Crane has not become as big a household name as some of his contemporaries. Now, two recent releases seem likely to change that situation in the near future...
Lush Laments for Lazy Mammal is Håkon Stene's debut on Hubro and his first album under his own name, although he has an impressive discography as a percussionist with others. Six of this album's nine tracks are Laurence Crane compositions, with Gavin Bryars, Christian Wallumrød and Stene himself contributing one each. As a result, the Crane pieces are very influential in determining the mood of the album. Played on acoustic instruments, with any use of electricity being subtle and restrained, the music fits Crane's description above, with "beauty" being a key word. His pieces evolve gently at their own pace, never sounding rushed or forced; so each one has a tranquil, meditative quality that draws the listener in and is totally engaging.
Listeners may occasionally have to double check the running time of a track; in a positive way, Crane and Stene have the uncanny knack of creating soundscapes which allow the listener to drift away, making two or three minutes seem far longer. Quite blissful. Crane has resisted the "minimalism" tag being attached to his music, but it is not difficult to hear why it has attracted it; although the music does not have the repetitive quality of much Reich, Glass or Riley, it is stripped back to basics without fat, slack, unnecessary ornamentation or drama. The resulting stark beauty makes it music to be returned to again and again.
Trio Riot formed in Helsinki in 2009, since the they have performed across Europe including dates in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and England. Stylistically, the band relate their sense of energy to the 1980s British punk scene, their approach to sound is inspired by Ornette Coleman and other free jazz pioneers and in their compositional style the group draws inspiration from 20th century contemporary music. With pure performance energy they manage to pull these disparate influences together into a compact and hard hitting musical concept. Their last two tours were in the UK where they played for a full house at The Forge as part of the London Jazz Festival (Nov 2011) and for which they received highly positive reviews. In January 2012 they joined the established UK free-jazz band gaNNEts on a double tour where, among othr dates, they played Band on the Wall in Manchester and to a full house at The Vortex in London. The band are releasing their debut album with Efpi Records in early 2014.
FATdrop: Tell us a little bit about your label or promotion company.
Third Ear: Third Ear Recordings is an independent record label specialising in ‘music made primarily but not exclusively with computers synthesisers and turntables/controllers as the musical instruments’. Nearly all the music we release is with DJs in mind, but not always.
FD: What social media platforms do you use / recommend, and what are your main rules for using them effectively? TE: We use Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr mainly. Soundcloud and Mixcloud, although not strictly social media, are also important for us. But we always consider any platform that we anticipate becoming a way for us to talk to people who either already know about Third Ear and support us, or who might. The basic structure of social media is the dialogue, so the key to using social media effectively is to maintain the dialogue; to keep a trickle of information and ideas flowing.
FD: The digital revolution has seen a shift in the way feedback is gathered, and success is now measured by the amount of shares and feedback a release receives. How do you feel this has impacted music promotion and how do you stimulate customers to buy new music?
The idea that feedback is some sort of capital which translates into something substantial is a fallacy. Shares and Likes are a metric just like any other; an indicator. It is useful for targeting promotion but not to the exclusion of other sorts of market research, which in our case means getting out to the clubs and talking to DJs, artists, promoters, dancers and music lovers.
Love and respect is fine and it’s good for the soul, but it isn’t a substitute for revenues from sales or streaming. We need to embark on a programme of continuous education so that people understand why they need to pay for music.
Promotion takes time and dedication. This hasn’t been changed by the impact of digital media and social media.
It’s the avant-garde touch that the 1982 trio of Økland, Apeland, and Skarbø applies to their minimalist chamber music that draws the ear in. A variety of strings, keys, and percussion establish a quick foundation of serenity, then immediately goes about chiseling peculiar formations into that peacefulness. Ultimately, they never come close to shattering that penultimate serenity, but they do shape it into something that is vaguely disquieting and supremely compelling.
After a couple trio albums, 1982 added pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole on their self-titled 2012 release. Aside from the intriguing results of an additional element added to the mix, there was the observation at how seamlessly Cole and his pedal steel fit into the odd framework of the 1982 sound… that something as differentiated as 1982 could incorporate an outside element (and, in its own right, the pedal steel on a chamber music album could be considered a little different) and not skip a beat is more than a bit illuminating. It’s a scenario that repeats itself on 1982′s newest release, A/B.
Your album personnel: Nils Økland (Hardanger fiddles, violin), Sigbjørn Apeland (harmonium, piano), Øyvind Skarbø (drums, percussion), and guests: Fredrik Ljungkvist (clarinet), Erik Johannessen (trombone), Sofya Dudaeva (flute), Hanne Liland Rekdal (bassoon), Matthias Wallin (tenor horn), and Stian Omenås (trumpet, composer).
According to conventional wisdom, it’s been over a dozen years since Mark Turner’s last turn as leader on record. The tenorist was among the ill-fated crop of “young lions” courted and signed to major labels in the 1990s and summarily dropped when sales didn’t meet corporate bean counter expectations.
A harrowing accident with a power saw in late 2008 sidelined him for several months, but Turner has kept impressively busy, most recently as a member of quartets led by Billy Hart and Tom Harrell. He’s also co-led the cooperative Fly with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, so the leader claim above becomes a bit of a misnomer.
Lathe of Heaven may be long overdue, but Turner doesn’t appear the least bit hindered by his hiatus from the driver’s seat. He makes the most of it on a program comprised completely of his own compositions. He’s no stranger to ECM either (both of Fly’s albums grace the label), and the imprint’s austere acoustics fit well with the dry, fine-grained tone he favors on tenor. His sidemen are equally suited with trumpeter Avishai Cohen completing the front line and bassist Joe Martin joining drummer Marcus Gilmore as the rhythm section. Gilmore is the grandson of jazz icon Roy Haynes and that enviable lineage comes through in the nuanced complexity he brings to his kit.
Sans piano the ensemble is free to engage in an open and elastic melodicism starting with the opening title piece. A spacious unison theme by the horns gains gradual rhythm support with Gilmore laying down a porous beat that seems to recede and propel simultaneously. Turner’s tone is rich and round, filling the studio surroundings as bass and drums parse a fluid time signature at his flank. Three of the six pieces stretch past ten minutes with two more surpassing eight, and all that temporal space allows for plenty of contrapuntal interplay and multiple seamlessly integrated solos. The ensuing atmosphere, at times dreamlike, but never soporific, directly references the thematic thrust of the science fiction novel by Ursula K. Le Guin from which Turner adopts the album title.
“Year of the Rabbit” expands off a thrumming bass ostinato and an extended tandem statement by the horns, Gilmore adding cymbal and snare accents to the forward trajectory. Cohen’s burnished improvisation is ripe with timbral effects as Martin keeps the tension ratcheted by working over another vamp. Turner’s response glides through his instrument’s registers from bottom to upper as fluttering phrases peel off with disarming alacrity. Drums and bass annex the tail end of the piece for an extended conversation. “The Edenist” pivots on Martin’s steady pulse as well and anchor around which the other band members orbit with lush voicings.
“Ethan’s Line.” dedicated to Turner colleague Ethan Iverson, is outfitted with an ear-worming melody. “Sonnet for Stevie” is slowed down and aerated to a relaxing shuffle quite removed from the versions included on a recent Billy Hart record and a duo project with pianist Baptiste Trotignon. That sort of willingness to revisit and reshape past pieces offers additional evidence of Turner’s quiet confidence in both his own faculties and those of his colleagues.
La Femme: a French band plying us with jangling West Coast surf pop, undercut with doom-laden kraut coldwave. It’s as unusual as it sounds – Google 'surfpop coldwave' and they’re on their own. Add to that mix a serious dose of wackiness and a general Halloween vibe, and the whole thing should be a disaster.
Their debut album Psycho Tropical Berlin sounds like the Beach Boys jamming with the Velvet Underground and Françoise Hardy, covering ‘Monster Mash’ – and though that sentence has to be up there with “Santa, the Armadillo and I” in terms of implausibility, it’s a style that is astonishingly catchy, natural, and flat-out fun. It’s time to surf the coldwave.
Throughout the album, most tracks have the same broad blueprint. A thudding, ominous intro laden with thwacking bass that blooms into sharp, punchy surf guitars. A spooky ambiance lent by droning organs or synths, and yéyé, aggressively rhymed vocals from one of the group’s many femmes. There’s a constant aura of kooky upbeatness – most of Psycho Tropical Berlin could be featured in a zany advert for French cars, wasted in that context but still prompting you to reach for Shazam.
A standout is former single ‘Sur La Planche’, a pleasingly repetitive romp through the pleasures of surfing, updated here to be faster, tighter and more synth-dominated. Frantic, glorious and lighthearted, it’s all you can ask surf-pop to be. Elsewhere, opener ‘Antitaxi’ pushes the Sixties Californian influence further, flexing razorsharp guitars and a Theremin whilst slightly menacingly extoling the benefits of taking the bus (“Antitaxi! Prends le bus!”).
Good as these tracks are, 16 of them would perhaps be too much. This is where La Femme’s odd genre combination comes into its own, as their surf side can be played down, and their other interests pushed to the fore. The excellent ‘Le Blues de Francoise’ is a case in point, demonstrating a more sombre style with not a jangle in sight. Over a haunting organ and subdued strums, a perfect monotone spoken delivery details Françoise’s blues as she sits alone with her tissues and cigarette ends, “pas un email, pas un coup de fil”. The chorus chimes in, and another Femme jollies things along, insisting “Tu n’es pas belle quand tu pleures”.
Another gentle success comes in ‘It’s Time To Wake Up’, a slow ballad which captures wheezing synths and soothing organs, calling to mind their compatriots M83. Initially a simple lovesong, it quickly unravels into brilliant post-apocalyptica, as we learn they are together forever, the survivors – “Tout le monde se fait tuer / La silly cause / La guerre était finie – Mata Hari!”.
Though La Femme’s music is often irreverent and their female singers anonymously ever-changing, the women of Psycho Tropical Berlin are packing ideas behind their sultry vocals. Whether or not you can be bothered to translate the lyrics, their manic, rollercoaster pop and fierce hooks should be enough of a draw for the most Anglophone listener.
Getting some music together for my best friend, he had asked me to find some cuts that he had used in a mid-70's film he had made and one of them was from the timeless Elis & Tom album from 1974 that so clearly demarcated my life. Years later I named my first child after her. . .
Un disco ideal para comenzar a empaparse de este inigualable género: la bossa nova, y como no, para conocer a la camada pionera del llamado MPB (Música Popular Brasilera). Un disco y una dupla trascendental en la historia de la riquísima música brasilera.
Consagrado ya como uno de los máximos exponentes e importadores (logro que le valió el éxito de haber grabado con nada mas ni nada menos que Frank Sinatra) de la bossa en todo el mundo, Antonio Carlos Jobim (Tom), se junta con la mayor voz que ha dado Brasil: la gran e irrepetible Elis Regina. El encuentro en cuestión se debió a un regalo que hizo la discografica Philips a la cantante por cumplir 10 años con dicho sello. Al ser consultada por el director, Elis no dudo ni un instante y pidio grabar con uno de los padres de la bossa nova, Tom Jobim. Es asi que viaja a Los Angeles junto a su marido, donde se encontraba Tom por entonces. Esta legendaria dupla exhibiría una perfecta mixtura entre la genialidad compositiva de Tom acompañada de la fuertisima calidad interpretativa de Elis. Es importante la participación del marido de Elis, el pianista César Camargo Mariano, quien innovaría con la inclusión de instrumentos electrónicos al clasico repertorio de Tom, también seria el arreglador del disco.
Un comienzo muy alegre y muy irrepetible, vigente al dia de hoy por su frescura: "Aguas de Março". Una bossa impecable. Compuesta por Jobim en marzo de 1972 y salida por vez primera en el ábum "Matita Perê". Pero esta versión con sus voces en cada estrofa y entrelazadas en el estribillo, obtiene su mejor resultado. La canción describe ese momento especial del año en que termina el verano y comienza el otoño en el hemisferio sur. Su letra, evidentemente muy premeditada y evidenciable en su rima, es una genialidad. Su atmósfera de carácter de loco espiral nos va llevando hacia el final, haciendo un sinnúmero de comparaciones con elementos, personas entre otras tantas cosas mas. Su estructura es un "motoperpétuo" (Perpetuum mobile). La letra de las estrofas esta conjugada en el verbo "ser" de la tercera persona del singular. No pasa lo mismo con el pegadizo estribillo que se encuentra en plural: ..."São as Águas de Março...". Las palabras que conforman las estrofas juegan utilizadas con varios recursos , como por ejemplo la redundancia y el uso del antagonismo. Más tarde Jobim la grabaría también en ingles manteniendo, (dentro de lo posible) el significado de la canción. Como dato de color , tambien podemos decir que la decada del 80, la canción inspiró a la compañía Coca-Cola a utilizarla en un comercial, pero con una versión mas "rockera", si se quiere, y con cambios en la letra.
En contraposición a lo que es el sentimiento brasilero de la alegría y la felicidad, el resto de las composiciones del disco, son en lineas generales tristes. Basta con escuchar temas como "Pois É", "Modinha", u "O Que Tinha de Ser". Una de las grandes composiciones de Jobim es "Corcovado" (en ingles " Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars "). inspirada en el cerro de Corcovado, en la ciudad de Rio de Janeiro. De carácter acongojado, sobre todo en el final donde podemos apreciar la bellísima voz de Elis imitando a las partes de flauta, voz a la que luego se le suma la de Tom.
"Retrato em Branco e Preto" ("Retrato en Blanco y Negro") de Tom, Vinicius De Moraes y letra de Chico Buarque, una de las canciones mas intimistas y tristes que dió la musica brasilera.
Las canciones mas cercanas al sonido de la bossa nova son sin dudas "Só Tinha de Ser com Você", "Triste", "Brigas, Nunca Mais", "Fotografía" ,"Triste" y "Inútil Paisagem" estas tres ultimas con claros aires jazzeros. En ellas podemos descubrir esos innovadores arreglos para la época de César Camargo Mariano y también la buena intención de implementar pianos eléctricos y guitarras eléctricas (pese a algunas reticencias de Tom).
Dos genialidades también son "Soneto de Separação" y "Chovendo na Roseira". La primera teatral, cantada a dúo, con una fundamental inclusión de orquesta de cuerdas de lo mas incidental. La segunda una de la mas puras y dulces canciones que pudo cantar Elis. Forma parte de las llamadas "canciones ecológicas" de Tom, al igual que "Águas de Março", "Correnteza", "Passarim", y los instrumentales "Rancho das nuvens" y "Nuvens douradas", entre otras de su rico repertorio.
Have you had some contact with ny scene groups? In NY, in the 80's, there was a great artistical scene(Schnabel, Haring, Basquiat, graffiti-art).Have you ever had contact with these artists? I think Glenn Branca was one of the first musicians we had the good fortune to meet. And it was he who told us that Ed Bahlman from the 99 record store was going to release his record. So I was there with a tape shortly after. Later we became friendly with other bands who joined the label like Y-Pants and ESG . The band Konk were friends of ours. We played a few shows with them. We played a New Years show in 1980 opening for Suicide, it was at a party in a loft. Alan Vega was incredibly nice to us. He even came backstage to say hello the first time we played Paris. I remember Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth stopping me on the street once asking me if we needed a gutiar player. He was in a band at the time called The Coachman they sounded like a Talking Heads. I knew Kim Gordon a tiny bit because she worked in the same toy store that Sal worked. Much later we opened for the Talking Heads, they were all as shy as we were and we barely talked to each other. I remember playing the Roxy and Afrika Bambatta jumping up on stage with us when we played "Cavern", I was kinda annoyed but that, but now I think it's kind of funny. I remember Madonna was in our dressing room when we played The Fun House, she was going out with the DJ, Jellybean Benitez. I don't remember her being too friendly. I was friends with both Basquiat and Haring. I was a big grafitti fan. I was very into what Jean was doing with his Samo tag. They were very poetic funny and intelligent. In response to his work I made drawings and I would paste them around the city along with the posters for the band. We played a show with Jean's band Gray at a loft party, this must have been in 1980. I was so happy to meet him. In my eyes he was a star, but he was still living on next to nothing selling t-shirts that he had painted in the streets. I remember bumping into him once when I was on my way to a rehearsal with the band and he came along with me. We all decided to all improvise very short little songs, it was really hilarious. I don't think it was ever recorded I've searched all the tapes from that time. I met Keith at a party at the artist Jenny Holzers loft. He was going to the School Of Visual Arts at the time. After I was already pasting up my drawings in the street a friend of mine said they wanted to introduce me to a fan of my work and it turned out to be Keith. I remembered him from the party. He invited me to his first show at Club 57 and he gave me a drawing. He was a very generous guy. In1981 Jean, Keith and I were all in a huge group show called New York New Wave that was at PS1. This was the first major show for a lot of people, the show included everybody from that time, Robert Mapplethorphe, David Byrne, Brian Eno, Futura 2000, so many others. Later, after Keith was becoming more successful he introduced me to his gallery and I had a show of sculptures there. This was at the same time that Jean was working out of the basement of Annia Noisi gallery, I guess '82. The gallery was right around the corner and one day he invited me over to see what he was doing. He was working on a few canvases simultaneously. I remember him setting up two enormous lines of coke! It was hard to keep friends with them after a while because the circles they were traveling in. I remember going over to a party at Keith's place and opening the front door and banging it right into Andy Warhol! This was in a tiny East Village apartment. Madonna was also there. She was just starting to become famous. I remember they hooked a microphone up to the stereo and she was kinda singing along. I never met Schnabel, I really wasn't interested in what he was doing. I did meet Francesco Clemente. He even painted a fresco of me. It was in a show of large almost life size portraits , in the same show he did one of Jean-Michel, Keith, Fab Five Freddy, I can't remember who else.
You told me about your contact with NY group.So,have you had some contact with english groups? English groups... We played a show with PigBag at a club which doesn't exist anymore called the Peppermint Lounge. They were incredible. Nice guys too. But I honestly can't remember any other English band we ever played with, or any interesting story to tell you! Of course all the English bands coming over in the 80's were getting huge press and local bands like ourselves were never given the same respect, it's the same old story. I remember seeing The Clash at the Palladium, The Cramps opened. I remember being at the Public Image show that turned into a riot at the Ritz. That was fun. I tagged along with ESG when they played the Hacienda in Manchester on opening night. I was introduced to some of the guys from New Order at the show, nothing note worthy to say about them. I do remember seeing Nico walking around, it was also great catching a glimpse of her. I saw her a few times walking around the East Village. It's funny, we only recently played our first show in England.