“It’s Too Damn Early,” 5/28/11

Today is Unexpected Day at “It’s Too Damn Early,” and that’s what you may or may not get. I hope you’ve tuned in for our fine broadcast, because I’d hate to have to drop a radio in your breakfast cereal via remote drone. Milk would be everywhere. Now that I’ve explained things, the Day is as good as ruined. Enjoy your playlist!

Einsturzende Neubauten — ZNS (from “1/2 Mensch,” on Potomak)
The Oval Language — Untitled #5 (from “Tapes Singles And Remixes,” on Monochrome Vision)
Scuff Mud — Scuff Mud (from “!Evil Scuff Mud,” on Eh!)
A. Dontigny, Diane Labrosse — T.S.F. (from “Télépathie,” on NoType)
A. Dontigny, Diane Labrosse — Antenne Parabolique
John Luther Adams — Four Thousand Holes (from “Four Thousand Holes,” on Cold Blue Music)

Lezet, Mike Martini — Watching The Snow On Mars (from “Meld 5,” on Turbinicarpus Records)
Lezet, Craig Furkas — Horizontal
Lezet, Djozr — Notion To Flesh (this album is also freely downloadable at the Internet Archive!)
Lezet, Wings Of An Angel — Poet’s Nocturnal Peregrination Through Ruins Of A Deserted Subterranean Lunatic Asylum
Cheer-Accident — Drag You Down (from “No Ifs, Ands or Dogs,” on Cuneiform)
Cheer-Accident — Trial Of Error
Cheer-Accident — This Is The New That
Torturing Nurse — You Are My Jonky (from “Does Utmost,” on Roil Noise)

Your Community Spirit 2011 May 27

News includes bike sharing in Washington D.C.; apples, nuts, and stone fruit threatened by climate change; Norway plans billion-dollar clean energy fund for world’s poor; mushrooms make short work of dirty diapers. Happenings include Melissa’s cooking at Rice and Spice; Friday Night Fair; Garden of the Gods tour; Farmer’s Market; Vigil for Peace; Soil Chorus Chant and Song Circle; Change, an urban fantasy novel by Treesong about climate change; Bullied, a documentary about bullying.

The Galaxy – The Joys of French Composing

Erik Satie (1866-1925)

Image via Wikipedia

Its amazing what little things can inspire the germ of an idea!  I was listening to a CBS Sunday Morning piece on Diane von Furstenberg, and they were playing some Claude Debussy in the background.  That inspired in me a train of thought – from Debussy to Erik Satie – that led to tonight’s show theme – a celebration of French Composing.

We started with a lovely motet by François Couperin, a composer and pedagogist who was a major influence on composers ranging from Bach to Johannes Brahms, Maurice Ravel and Richard Strauss.  Couperin’s book, “L’art de toucher le clavecin” (“The Art of Harpsichord Playing), influenced J.S. Bach to the point where Bach adopted the fingering system that Couperin set forth in the book.  Tonight’s piece was his Audite omnes et expavescite (a meditation on the Passion of the Christ).  The piece was buried within a private collection that surfaced at a second-hand bookseller’s shop in Paris in the 1930s.  An Australian art lover, Louise Dyer (the founder of the Éditions de l’Oiseau-Lyre) reunited this collection with another collection of Couperin that had been purchased at Sotheby’s by the Bibliotheque nationale de France, thereby retaining for posterity the magic of this great French master.  This compilation of the complete works of Couperin, and the resultant publication, was the first project of the Éditions de l’Oiseau-Lyre.

Next we heard a set of harpsichord pieces by another master of the baroque era, Jean-Phillipe Rameau.  Rameau made his name through the publishing of a “Treatise on Harmony” in 1722.  He spent his time after that as a teacher and composer, and eventually grew to be considered one of the most important composers and theorists in Baroque-era France.  Outside of his operas, his keyboard works are of considerable interest, and we heard one of those works tonight, his Pieces en Concerts (written in 1741), in a lovely rendition by Trevor Pinnock.

Jospeh Bodin de Boismortier (1689 – 1755) was accused in 1780 by theorist Jean Benjamin de La Borde as being a “competent musician [who] took only too much advantage of this tendency [for easy music] and devised, for the many, airs and duets in great numbers which were performed on the flute, the violins, oboes, bagpipes and hurdy-gurdies… He so abused the ingenuousness of his numerous buyers that, in the end, the following was said of him: ‘Happy is he, Boismortier, whose fertile quill each month, without pain, conceives a new air at will.”  Indeed, Boismortier was a prodigious writer (although apparently not quite as prodigious as J.S. Bach, his senior by four years) and pedagogue who wrote for the entire array of instruments available at the time.  Considered along with Rameau to be part of the French Rococo movement, he is also considered to be one of the first French composers to write concertos.  He is notable for being one of the first composers who was able to go without patronage, having been given a royal license for engraving music in 1724, thus being able to make enormous sums of money by selling his music to the public.  Tonight we heard his Deuxieme serenade ou simphonie francoise, a lovely dance suite that is crisply performed by Le Concert Spirituel.

Georges Bizet is easily best known for his enormously popular opera Carmen.  But Bizet wrote more than just opera.  Indeed, Bizet was considered by many to rank among the greatest European pianists of his day, with such a notable skill for sight reading that he is said to have given a faultless sight reading of a work of Franz Liszt in the presence of the composer.  Liszt ranked him among the three best pianists in Europe, and his skills were praised by Hector Berlioz, among others (Berlioz wrote in 1863, “His talent as a pianist is so great that no difficulty can stop him when sight-reading orchestral scores. After Liszt and Mendelssohn one could see few sight-readers of his ability.”).  Tonight we heard a set of songs of his, settings of various French authors, including the great French literary colossus Victor Hugo.  Of the five Bizet songs we heard, two were from Hugo, Adieux de l’hôtesse arabe (from 1866) and La Coccinelle, from 1868.  We also heard settings of another French Romantic, Alphonse de Lamartine‘s Chant d’amour,  and settings of Édouard Pailleron and Louis Delâtre.  Of course, one cannot say enough about the pleasure of hearing this gorgeous material in the interpretation done here by the great mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli.

Part of the inspiration for tonight’s show came from a hearing of a piece of Claude Debussy’s.  I would be tempted to refer to Debussy as the quintessential French composer, except that there is such a wide breadth of music that falls under the French tri-color flag, not all of which I am able to play tonight (for example, there is a lovely French pipe-organ tradition that goes back to the 1800s, and includes such lumineries as Maurice Duruflé, Marcel Dupré and Charles-Marie Widor, all of whom are worthy of further examination).  Yet, to me, it would be shameful to devote a program to French music and not include at least a sampling of the glorious wonders of Debussy.  For tonight, we have included a set of three piano pieces, referred to as Pour le Piano.  Written betwen 1894 and 1901, he borrowed the names for the three movements (Prelude, Sarabande and Toccata) from the Baroque tradition.  Yet the phrasing and the innate poetry of Debussy’s arrangement is uniquely Debussy’s.  Indeed, Debussy was an admirer of the aforementioned Rameau, even going so far to write a Hommage à Rameau as part of his first set of Images.  Yet Debussy’s music was solidly rooted in the times he lived in.

We followed Debussy with the great Erik Satie.  Satie’s work occupies the opposite end of the musical spectrum from that of Satie, a purposeful sort of minimalism that contrasts directly against Debussy’s aggressive musicianship.  Satie at times referred to his music as “furniture music”, music that was to be experienced without necessarily being noticed.  Yet such exquisite melodies as tonight’s set of three Gymnopédies (written in 1888, and ranking among Satie’s earliest compositions) just beg to be luxuriated in, with all their sensual beauty.  Jean Cocteau, who saw Satie every morning for an extended period, said this of Satie:

“He inherited a grave eccentricity from his Scottish ancestry… Egotistical, cruel, obsessive, he would listen to nothing that did not conform to his dogma and would fly into furious rages with anything that disturbed it.  Egotistical, because he thought only of his music.  Cruel, because he defended his music.  Obsessive, because he polished his music.  And his music was tender.  And so he was, too, in his own way.  He cleaned himself with pumice stone.  He never used water.  At a time when music surged forth in floods, recognising (sp) Debussy’s genius but fearful of his despotism (they remained in friendly but quarrelsome terms right up to the end), he turned his back on the latter’s school and became, at the Schola Cantorum, the odd sort of Socrates we knew.  There he pumiced, defied, smoothed himself, and forged the little orifice through which his exquisite force needed only to flow from its source.”

Given that The Galaxy revels in an examination of contrasts, it is only fitting that we should enjoy the contrast of styles that one gets when going from Debussy, to Satie, and then finally to Olivier Messiaen.  Whereas Debussy was inspired by the literary Symbolist movement, and Satie would construct his own method of minimalism that is now considered a direct predecessor to our modern “ambient” musical styles, Messiaen was inspired by a number of things, ranging from the sounds of birds to his devotion to Roman Catholicism.  He was an innovator in the field of serialism (Arnold Schoenberg’s twelve-tone serialism was but one method of serialism).  Tonight’s work, La Bouscarle (in English, “Cetti’s Warbler”) is a “moment musicaux” that depicts a series of birdcalls, inspired by the bird commonly referred to as the Cetti’s Warbler, and was written between 1956 and 1958.

“It’s Too Damn Early” End of the World Special, 5/21/11

In honor of the Macho Man’s hearty efforts at keeping my childhood weird, his courageous actions which went beyond the call of duty in preventing today’s Scheduled Rapture, and his fine taste in sunglasses; I would like to send out a special “Ooooohhhh yeaaaaaah!” and dedicate today’s broadcast in his memory. We’ll miss you!

Le Syndicat, Merzbow, NBN — Vaccine (from “Timespace Losses,” on Monochrome Vision)
Morceaux de Machines — Multivision Espacial (from “Liberum Arbitrium,” on No Type)
Merzbow, Richard Pinhas — Rhizome 1-010011010011011 (from “Rhizome,” on Cuneiform)
Merzbow, Richard Pinhas — Rhizome 2-100101000111010
Merzbow, Richard Pinhas — Rhizome 3-001101010011001
Merzbow, Richard Pinhas — Rhizome 4-110100100010000
Merzbow, Richard Pinhas — Rhizome Encore-0110101011
Nihil Communication — Sea of Ideology (from “We Are Violent,” on Edgetone)
Nihil Communication — A Supplication
Nihil Communication — End Dialogue

“Rock with The Ox!” May 20th, 2011 special in-studio guests Owls & Crows!!

May 20, 2011

“Rock with The Ox!” Playlist Friday May 20th, 2011

Pink Floyd – Us & Them
Owls & Crows – Pro-Death
Alice In Chains – A Looking View
Ghost Of An American Airman – King of Nothing
Owls & Crows – In A Fit Of Fury
Owls & Crows – Sign Of The Times
Owls & Crows – Facade
Led Zepplin – No Quarter
Mazzy Star – Halah
Alice Cooper – Schools Out
Metric – Empty
Allison Iraheta – Robot Love
MGMT – Kids
Peter Gabriel – Red Rain
Phoenix – Love Like A Sunset
Oasis – Champagne Super Nova
Steely Dan – Beautiful World
Bryan Ferry – Don’t Stop The Dance
B 52’s – Follow Your Bliss……..

I would like to thank Dan & Clay from Owls & Crows for coming into the studios and being my very special guests today on “Rock with The Ox!”
Be sure and check out their music on Reverbnation.com and other sites!!

Your Community Spirit 2011 May 20

News includes Osama bin Laden and oil; Al Gore saves the planet with an iPhone app; San Francisco voters could ban circumcision; Republican gets slammed for listening to science; homebuyers willing to pay premium for solar. Happenings include Bike to Work Day; Friday Night Fair; Rice and Spice; Farmer’s Market; Vigil for Peace; Tiny But Mighty, a hummingbird event; Kickstarter campaign for Change, an urban fantasy novel about climate change by Treesong.

The Galaxy – Is it Spring Yet?

Title Page of Dieterich Buxtehude's Membra Jes...

Title page from Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri - (Image via Wikipedia)

Its been a few weeks since I’ve blogged the show.  Some of that was due to the interesting situation that we’ve had with the weather, then the studio.  Its about time that I returned to my formerly happy practice.

We started tonight’s show with an interesting cantata cycle from Dietrich Buxtehude.  Dating back to 1680, Membra Jesu Nostri is a passion-meditation that contemplates the seven different parts of the body of Christ (feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart and head).  Most of the text is drawn from a popular medieval poem, ‘Salve mundi salutare’, and may have been compiled by Buxtehude himself from an edition published in 1633.

Its been a while since I’ve done some Bob Dylan.  So tonight we did some scaldingly hot performances of his from 1965.  Starting off with his rendition of Maggie’s Farm at the Newport Folk Festival – it truly is something special to hear the attitude in his voice as he sings “I won’t go to work at Maggie’s farm no more!”  The performance of the Bloomfield Blues Band isn’t perfect here, but the guitar work of Mike Bloomfield is something special.  We also heard Ballad of a Thin Man and Like a Rolling Stone, both from his European Tour of that same year.  The Like a Rolling Stone recording is notable for Dylan’s response to the fan yelling out “Judas!”, all of which can be heard here.