September 18, 2016

FILM REVIEW: "One More Time With Feeling"

Nick Cave Tries to Deflect
His Most Upfront Hurt in Doc
     As Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds rehearse Else Torp sings her part on the new song, “Distant Sky.” The camera zooms out the pace of rising mist through the ceiling to show the recording studio, its neighborhood, its little corner in southern England and the whole of Earth as it turns into another Sunday.
     “We are a tiny blue dot in a moonbeam,” Cave narrates over himself riding in a car through London’s night streets in a scene from One More Time with Feeling, the group’s new in-studio documentary. We are particle size when seen from a distance. Insignificant, scant, a blip. We live and we die and on the world turns. Cave knows this. It’s the very principle lurking behind each lyric.
     One More Time with Feeling, directed by Andrew Dominik, follows Cave, along with dark-eyed, black-whiskered instrumentalist Warren Ellis and the other Bad Seeds during the recording for their new album, Skeleton Tree. More specifically, though, it’s about Cave caught in a whirlpool of emotion as he attempts to create art in the aftermath of the tragic death of his 15-year old son, Arthur.
     In July of 2015 Arthur fell 60 feet off the Ovingdean Gap cliffs overlooking the English Channel in Brighton. Reportedly, he had taken LSD with friends and separated after experiencing a bad trip. In the film the horrific event is spoken about only in background statements without context and never with detail. There is talk of something unfortunate happening, a far-off hurt, but what or to whom is unclear. Arthur’s name isn’t even mentioned until near the end when it becomes very clear what this is all about.
     Arthur, the beautiful blue-eyed boy, left behind his twin brother, Earl Cave, to mourn with his parents. In One More Time we get a peek into Nick Cave, the Well Adjusted Family Man, a fairly rare sight. We see the family joking around, finding strength together. Cave speaks lovingly of his wife Susie Bick and how they worked through the tragedy together. “Happiness is our revenge,” he says about getting over the cruelty of what happened.
     The result of all this becomes the nine songs on Skeleton Tree, their sixteenth album. Deliberate cameras capture the process. Some of the footage was filmed using “this ridiculous black and white 3D camera,” Cave says. It soars around the recording studio, embedded in corners of walls and falling through circular stairwells. It captures the quiet moments between creativity, focusing on plugs in walls, sounding boards, cracks in door frames and conversations in the next room.
Still from One More Time With Feeling
     Throughout One More Time the film crew is often visible, becoming almost another character. Everyone is very self-aware that filming is in progress and how foolish it seems. In a sense this is a movie about making a movie about making an album. A circular track is laid out around Cave’s piano in the middle of the studio. As he plays gloomily a team of six men huddled on what looks like a toy train circles slowly around him.
     To allow a camera crew to capture you unguarded is some kind of artistic bravery. Cave keeps it together, even shares a few laughs, but there’s an intense sadness hiding behind the hard outer Cave exterior. He is very open and honest detailing the difficulty of trying to make a record, trying to structure songs, while surrounded by trauma. Arthur’s death, he explains, disrupted the creative process.
     Cave paces the room, dejected about his work, unsure of certain piano notes, overdubbing in doubt. So much vulnerability underneath those dark black bushy brows. He recoils, unable to make sense of the tragedy, unwilling to find within it poetic justice.
     When asked about his recent lyrical distancing from the personal narrative, he struggles to explain how incredulous it is to try and define an event in measured verse. Writing from the depth of his personal experience in this tragedy, he says, would be a disservice to Arthur.
     “Time is elastic,” he says. We get further and further from a particular moment in time, but like a stretched out rubber band, we eventually snap right back.

source: http://imp

September 15, 2016

REVIEW: "Lovers" by Nels Cline

Nels Cline scores
your life on 2-disc Lovers
     If you’ve ever seen Wilco live you’ve noticed the tall guy in nice button-down dress shirts playing the guitar stage left. That’s Nels Cline and he shreds in equal parts beauty and chaos. He’s able to make his guitar sound like the morning dew under a sky blue sky or the train skidding off its tracks below.
     Cline officially joined Wilco in 2007 on Sky Blue Sky. In every album since, he’s changed the dynamic of the band. Cline adds the perfect accent to Jeff Tweedy's songs and gives Wilco that spontaneous edge (along with percussionist Glenn Kotche) that keeps them from being Mumford and Sons or some other folky yawnsman.
     In addition to Wilco, who's newest record, Schmilco, came out this month, Clines has played on billions of records and also records under Nels Cline Trio and The Nels Cline Singers. His last solo record was Dirty Baby in 2010, but in the time since he’s appeared on seventeen albums.
     Nels is a busy man and he’s got ideas that can’t be contained in one group. On Lovers, his new double-disc solo album on the Blue Note label, he pulls back the curtain on his musical mind. He leads a flock of musicians to conjure the songs in his head with help from arranger Michael Leonhart. There is no limit to the tools needed to accomplish this. On Lovers you’ll hear electric and acoustic guitars, trumpet, flugelhorn, cymbalon, contrabass, percussion, trombone, bassoon, vibraphone, marimba, harp, violin, viola, cello and others that would make this sentence too long.
     The result is cinematic with many arcs. It could be the soundtrack to the silent film adaptation of your life. Some of the song titles even read like scenes headers for a film: "Hairpin & Hatbox," “The Bed We Made,” “The Night Porter/Max, Mon Amou,” “The Search For Cat.”
     Lovers stretches into two records like a long day stretches into the night. The first disc opens with "Introduction/Diaphanous" a sedated jazz number with hi-hats lazily spinning against each other and Cline strumming like the morning wind. Ideal for deep morning coffee reflections.
"Glad to be Unhappy" comes next and sounds like the entrance music for a sneaky villain. Cline employs a full orchestra with French horns rising and falling. Disc One is the more calming of the two, but they pretty much go hand-in-hand. Cline's muted guitar creates an opium buzz on "Cry, Want" while the cymbals move like sand in a breeze.
     "Lady Gabor" drops into deep space, an orchestral spiral, with only the faintest glimmer of a bassline to keep you steady. If you listen hard enough you can see Sun Ra's ghost levitate out of the frame.
     Disc Two stretches out even more. With the snare-head tilted off, “Snare, Girl” begins a six-plus-minute, slow-rocking lull. A steady droning drum beat caked in fuzz keeps pace with Cline’s guitar and eventually turns into alarm. When the induced grip lets up, you fall into "So Hard It Hurts/Touching." A room full of instruments warms up tapping without direction then dissolves into unraveling notes of feedback. Right as you're about to crack you're let out into an open field of oboes and clarinets. This would be the scene when you fall down the stairs drunk, bang your head and wake up four hours later drenched in confusion.
     "The Search for Cat" holds all the despair and helplessness of its title's scene. Disc Two closes out with "The Bond," a beautiful piece of classical guitar noodling and symphonic interlacings.
     Cline's work on the guitar is some of the greatest put to record. He manages to find that sweet sixteen spot of being technically advanced with his playing, but also utterly incoherent and jarringly experimental. He could play with any group past, present, future, and fit right in. Lovers is Cline let loose on his musical playground.
source: http://imp

September 09, 2016


pages of S u m m e r S h a r e

S u m m e r  S h a r e -- Mouthful poetry written in the summer of 2008 between shifts in the Sonoran Desert where the sun shines harshly 16 hours a day. The swimming pool feels like falling through Space. Stream of consciousness gone loopy in the heatwaves rising from the pavement. Available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon and from