The Galaxy – As our massive roar fills the crumbling sky…

At Folsom Prison

Image via Wikipedia

Here on the Galaxy, we celebrate the beauty of music in its many guises.  I personally find music to be at times representative of life – just as with life, sometimes it is gentle and sonorous, sometimes it is hard and strident.  Sometimes it is laid back and luscious, while other times it is aggressive and demanding.  Tonight we have some musical samplings which fit each of those descriptions, which leaves us with a gloriously varied show for tonight.  Just the way that I like it.

We begin the evening with some Metallica, material that I haven’t been able to play in a while.  Starting off with the classic For Whom the Bell Tolls (with that killer Cliff Burton bass riff that leads off the song), we then led to the title track from …And Justice for All.  We also heard two from Master of Puppets (Battery, and the title track), before closing with a fine track from their most recent album, Broken Beat & Scarred.  I will admit that I don’t play much material from Death Magnetic, owing to the now legendary sound production that really is quite audible when I play the material on the show (it does come across better in certain circumstances, such as a good stereo system or an iPod).  But I really think that I shouldn’t allow my complaints about the album’s sound production to detract from my opinion about the music, which really is quite good.

We then heard a nice set from the Johnny Cash’s great Live at Folsom Prison album.  This was something that I had thought to do last week, as a tribute to the recent passing of longtime Tennessee Two bassist Marshall Grant. It was a lovely set, too, with the recording of Folsom Prison Blues that was released as a single, Busted, the Merle Travis composition Dark as a Dungeon, and finishing off with Cash’s own I Still Miss Someone.

We then proceeded to a gorgeous piece by Robert Schumann, his Trio in A Minor (“Fantasiestucke”), Op. 88.  This was written during 1842, a year which saw the composer write 3 string quartets, a piano quintet and a piano quartet – a great deal of output, which some historians credit as having a negative impact on his mental health.  The piece is actually a compilation of smaller pieces that Schumann wrote that year, and demonstrates his willingness to depart from traditional compositional forms (i.e. the sonata format).

We followed that with another gentleman who not only demonstrated a willingness to depart from traditional compositional forms, but he aimed a shotgun at them and blew them to pieces.  Ornette Coleman‘s Free Jazz was really the end result of the work of such greats as Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy (whom is featured on the recording), Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and others (I would add classical composers such as Stravinski, Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern to that list), yet Coleman took the notion of “free jazz” to new heights.  Of course, in order to make the “free jazz” concept work, he had to enlist some excellent players to help.  This he did, with a killer lineup that features Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, Don Cherry, Scott La Faro, Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins and Ed Blackwell.  Top notch players playing top notch music in the most daring manner possible.

We then took a venture into some truly classic country.  A couple classic tunes from Webb Pierce (I’m Walking The Dog and his excellent rendition of Jimmie Rodgers’ In The Jailhouse Now, and a couple more classic tunes from Loretta Lynn (Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind), and You’ve Just Stepped In (From Stepping Out On Me).

We ended the show with a return to the metallic form.  First, two songs from a fine band out of Toronto, Canada, Cancer Bats (Scared to Death and Sleep This Away), and finally a song from Lamb of God’s 2006 album Sacrament, Blacken the Cursed Sun.

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Style City 8/28/11

Divag – Burino
Divag – Discopop Robots
Divag – Fantasy Dream
Divag – Gangstaz
Divag – Vladino
Divag – Train Travel
Eustachian – Beat Farmer
Eustachian – Bella N Money
Skrillex – Equinox
Eustachian – Skyline
Eustachian – Talking Orange
Kido – Washedout
Kido – Midnightman
Kido – ……
Otto Von Schirach – End Of The World
Yore – Intro
Yore – Insecticide
The Normal – Warm Leatherette
Yore – Drum Machine
Grace Jones – Cooperate Cannibal

Scratchy Vinyl, August 27 2011

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning in Southern Illinois!  Garlic and Basil, Watermelon and Peaches, and some Cream in my Coffee.  The last weekend in August, summer is waning!  Make sure you get out and enjoy the sunshine and warm days before it is sweater time!

Today I Love Everybody,  Lena Horne
Goin’ To Town, Luis Russel and his Orchestra
I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jelly Roll, Victoria Spivey
Sweet Sue Just You, Dukes of Dixieland
My Gal Sal, Del Wood
Bless Her Beautiful Hide, Rose Marie and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
I’m a Woman, Peggy Lee
It’s The Darndest Thing,  Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra
Goodbye Blues, Connie’s Inn Orchestra
That D Minor Thing, The World’s Greatest Jazzband
Everybody Love’s My Baby,  Doris Day
Runnin’ Wild, Red Nichols and His World-Famous Pennies
Bird of Paradise, Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra
I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, Vera Lynn
Smoke Dreams, Benny Goodman and His Orchestra
With Your Life You Can Do What You Will, Sophie Tucker
What People Do, Hap Palmer
Love Life, The Ruttles
If I Had All the World and Its Gold,  Avant Garde
Colours, Kingston Trio
Swinging the Devils Dream, Spade Cooley
You Cooked Your Goose With Me, Doc Souchon and His Milneburg Boys
Farther than My Eyes Can See, Lefty Frizzell
I Can’t Help the Way You Feel, Spade Cooley
A-Sleepin’ at the Foot of the Bed,  Little Jimmy Dickens
Besame Mucho,  Los Panchos
Lucky Crossing Polka
Duldula, Music of the Middle East  Artie Barsamian and his Orchestra
Raga Bhupal Todi Tala Ardha Jaital,  Ravi Shankar
Chim Chim Cheree, Mary Poppins
Dream A Little Dream, Ella Fitzgerald with Count Basie and His Orchestra

“It’s Too Damn Early,” 8/27/11

Ralph White & The Hora Flora Sound System — A Space Between A Chimney And A Swift (from self-titled album on Resipiscent)
Charlie Morrow — Wave Music I for 40 Cellos (from “Toot!,” on XI Records)
Dan Warburton — Al-Dhahiira (from “Profession Reporter,” on Aural Terrains)
If, Bwana — Hoffman, Bored (from “I, Angelica,” on Pogus)
If, Bwana — Furry
If, Bwana — The Railway Station Fire
If, Bwana — Quad or Knee?
Seeded Plain — Kneaded Gum Eraser
Robert Ashley — Improvement, Act I

Your Community Spirit 2011 August 26

News includes Energy Tip of the Week; climate refugees are already a thing; airport beekeeping a win-win-win project; Fox admits that the facts back human-made global warming; public opinion on climate has tipped; one billion cars in the world; buying soda with food stamps; how to save money when eating out; Virgina’s earthquak triggers nuclear reactor shutdown; ConAgra sued for calling GMOs natural. Happenings include International Coffee Hour; Critical Mass; Turkish Iftar at Rice and Spice; Gasland film showing at Longbranch Coffeehouse; Farmer’s Market; Vigil for Peace; lots of Gaia House events for the Fall.

The Galaxy – Music, Glorious Music!

J.S. Bach's The Art of Fugue, breaks off abrup...

The last, unfinished page of Art of Fugue, with CPE Bach's writing inserted where the music left off (Image via Wikipedia)

“In this work are contained the most hidden beauties possible to the art of music.”

Such was written in 1752 by F.W. Marpurg, a leading musical scholar of the day.  He was referring to a work that was published in an unfinished and disorderly form, its true order lost due to the death of the man whose life vision this work epitomized.  Yet, in spite of its haphazard collection by this man’s heirs, the colossal beauty of this work shone through, like a beacon in the darkness.  Even after music such as this lost public favor over the course of years, the writer of this piece was never forgotten, nor was this piece, the climatic achievement of his prodigious career.

The writer of which we speak is Johann Sebastian Bach, and the masterwork referred to here is his Kunst der Fugue, or “Art of Fugue”.  This is one of several works that Bach attended to during his final years (along with the two Passion works, the B Minor Mass and his Wohltemperierte Klavier, the “Well-Tempered Clavier”), revising, reordering and refining.  While the exact circumstances surrounding the composition of Art of Fugue are not clear, it is believed that Bach began writing on the piece during the early 1740s, with the first surviving edition dated 1745 (with 12 fugues and 2 canons).  It was eventually revised, over time, to include 14 fugues and 4 canons, plus the legendary unfinished fugue, which was the only one of the fugues to not be in D minor, and which scholars believe was intended to summarize the rest of the piece, with a restatement of the original theme as part of what was left unwritten.

One of the interesting things about Bach was his ability to combine teaching and pedagogy with artistic beauty, often while simultaneously making deep statements of faith in a living God.  There are numerous examples where Bach used his art to make distinctly intellectual statements about the possibilities that were available to the interested composer and player (for example, his Musical Offering, or his Goldberg Variations, in addition to the aforementioned Well-Tempered Clavier).  Such was the case with Art of the Fugue.  Here, Bach took a simple 4 bar theme, heard most clearly in the very first fugue, then pulls and twists the theme like a candymaker twists taffy.  He inverts the theme (turning it “upside-down”), applies stretto passages (the imitation of the subject in close succession, often done at the end of a fugue, that makes the texture of the piece more intense), uses counter-fugues (where the regular and inverted forms are played simultaneously), adds diminution (where the note lengths are halved), augmentation (where the note lengths are doubled), separates the two voices by an octave, plus numerous combinations of the above.  There are mirror fugues (where the complete score, not just the theme, is inverted), places where the theme and its inverse are played back-to-back,  and a mirror fugue in 3 voices.  This goes on for 18 sections.  Then we get the closer – a 4 voice fugue, probably intended to be a quadruple fugue (in 4 sections), with the third subject set up to spell the word B-A-C-H in musical notation (a favorite technique of Bach’s, done numerous times over the course of his career).  The piece is left off right where the third section is preparing to transition into a fourth section, which is believed to have been a summation of the main theme.  Truly, there is hardly a more brilliant workout in the existing musical theory of the day than what is provided here.

Art of Fugue was roughly an hour and a half – so, I have a little bit of time to play with at the end of the show tonight.  A little bit of St. Vincent is a nice way to spend some of that time.  St. Vincent is the stage name of Annie Clark, a talented musician who played most of the instruments on her 2009 release Actor.  As talented on stage as she is in the studio (she does some cunning guitar parts in concert), I feel that this is a talent with much more to say in the coming future – in fact, her new album, Strange Mercy, comes out in mid-September.  From Actor, we heard Save Me From What I Want, Marrow and The Party.

Below, I include a sampling of St. Vincent, from a 2009 appearance on Austin City Limits, an absolutely transcendent performance of The Party, and a performance of a song, Your Lips are Red, that we did not hear on the show, but which serves as a fine example of her guitar work:

We close the show with some Deftones.  It is hard to resist the call of some Deftones, and it has been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to do something from this fine band, a longtime Galaxy favorite.  Tonight we heard Feiticiera (from their excellent 2000 disk White Pony), and Deathblow (from their equally excellent self-titled disk from 2003.

Style City 8/121/11

Buskerdroid – God Bless His Mess
Buskerdroid – I Want You
Cheapshot – Chigu
Cheapshot – Ieyasu
Cheapshot – Roopy
Cheapshot – Shudder
Cheapshot – Skeptic
Sycamore Drive – Chills
Sycamore Drive – Mortimer’s Melody
Anamanaguchi – Jetpack Blues Sunset Hues
Buskerdroid – 3D
Buskerdroid – Blast
Buskerdroid – Gameboy Love
La Roux – Tigerlily
Roman Slavka – Null
Roman Slavka – Complete Absorption
Roman Slavka – Memory Plane
Roman Slavka – Effusively
Roman Slavka – Some Talk About Seventy Four