i've been meaning to write about this for quite some time. thankfully it was tara vanflower (lycia as well as artist in her own right in various media) who reposted a story from npr about the subject that prompted that idea back to the cerebral forefront.
i want to preface this with a disclaimer: i am not a mastering engineer. this saves the embarrassment and hassle of justifying what tools, instincts and knowledge i have compared to other mastering engineers (me) ... and those who are properly called mastering engineers would probably laugh at me for making such an assertion. however, how something will sound in the end is important to me and i make every effort to make it sound as a good as possible. thus what i lack in equipment, experience and even room treatment, i make up for effort, dedication, persistence and a sense of knowing what i want and what can be problematic. i hope that as time goes on, i will get better at what i do.
my favourite metaphor to employ when talking about how i approach recorded music from start to finish is cooking (ironic considering i still haven't developed the care or the knack for it). the writing and plotting is akin to formulating a recipe and assembling a menu. the recording is gathering your ingredients. the mixing is preparing the ingredients and putting them together. and finally, the mastering is when it cooks. if you've done it right, the mastering should be fairly easy and it's simply a matter of finishing the work and giving it that nice final shape. a master is only as good as the mix (like the final meal is as good as the ingredients and its blend). it's easy to destroy a song/meal and it's a miracle to turn a bad dish/song into something passable.
continuing the cooking metaphor, there are times when the mastering process involves, more often than not, very little additional processing: maybe some very light compression to smooth out your peaks, some transistent eq to give it a final shape and maybe a limiter to even out the peaks and give it some slight gain. there are a few times when it needs to be more involved. but again, it depends on what you want to do and how extensive the work needs to be to get to that desired end. of course if you anticipate the master - and even when you send your work to a mastering facility, the best performers/producers/mixers anticipate in some way what the end is going to be and will make appropriate creative decisions accordingly - it saves you some trouble. it comes down to garbage in, garbage out.
for myself, i tend to be fairly conservative in what tools i use. i mostly use compressors (including the multiband kind), eq and limiters. how i use them depends on the song. if it's a gentle ballad or an ambient work, i mostly use eq and maybe some soft compression. if it's an aggressive and loud song, i employ the limiter at a fairly low threshold but not too low as to create unwanted distortion (just because you distort something doesn't mean it can't be clear). my mastering chain tends to be pretty straightforward: compressor, eq, limiter with the ability to add dither. if i'm thinking of an entire album, i think about both the entire work and sections within a work, especially if there's a narrative element (i.e. the narrative climax should be loud; audio buildup should be parallel to the narrative buildup; etc.). and it's using what tools i have, my ears and lots of trials and errors (including listening to it in different environments) to make the best master i can.
this leads into one of the hottest topics (pun slightly intended) concerning audio today ... the "loudness wars."
for those who haven't fallen into the pit that is tv tropes ... the "loudness wars" is a term used to describe the trend commercial recordings have gone in terms of loudness. when the compact disc entered into the scene, mastering was still a fairly conservative practice in terms of volume: the peaks would hardly get above -4db. in the 1990s, the peaks reached near 0db (which is the absolute maximum you can go in digital audio) but there was still an element of "microdynamics" where you felt a clear difference between the peak/transient and the rest of the sound. but then in the 2000s, the microdynamics were nearly gone where there is no distinction between the peak and the decay ... once it reaches 0db, it will stay there until the song fades out/ends. there are plenty of articles and even a well-known video demonstration of this idea found here:
personally, i'm somewhere in the middle of all of this. i'm definitely not in the category of making every single second of music the loudest i possibly can ... it's insulting to a song's character to assume that constant loud is preferred norm. but i also understand that there is some element of dynamic compromise that may be needed in order for the song to be at its best. furthermore, it all depends on what elements you employ. every style has different demands and every song is constructed using different means. just like there is no silver bullet to making a perfect song (and many of us - including the foh [front of house] engineers - are still waiting for the "suck button" on the console), there is no one tool that should be used in making a master. you have to look at what you have compared to what you want to achieve and act in the best way.
for an example ... you have a rock song. it's a typical rock song structure: strong verse, stronger chorus and a few moments to have both face-melting solos and gentle pauses before the grand finale. the tracking and the mixing is much closer to a live performance where everyone is in the room, playing live and together. you still have the individual elements of the mix and they are treated only to bring everything into balance (and not so much for effect). employing a limiter set at a threshold where the softer bits reside and your maximum out ceiling is close to 0db with a slow release time is a sure-fire way to destroy it. the idea is to maintain that live sound as if you were in a club ... just a well-prepared club with no rowdy customers. thus the limiting should only be even out the peaks and the compression* should be very light for similar aims.
*it's worth pointing out the difference between a limiter and a compressor. when talking about the "loudness wars", both of these words are used to describe the process. however, there is a clear difference. a compressor is a device that reduces the volume of a signal once it reaches a certain threshold and only by a particular ratio. the higher the ratio, the more prominent the compression. a limiter can be thought of as a "limiter whose ratio is infinity to 1" [thank you roey izhaki]. typically a compressor is used to control the shape of a sound whereas a limiter is used to even the peaks. thus the former can be applied at any stage of the recording process whereas the latter is best used at the very end during the mastering stage ... if at all.
next you have a dance club song. you have your sampled beats taken from your favourites, processed at 12-bit sampling and given some further tweaks to make it "your own." you have various sounds that come in and out of the mix. some are melodies that are rhythmic. some are rhythmic that are melodic. (this is sounding more like an autechre track =D ). but chances are it is mostly digital except for that dependable prophet 5 and newly acquired minimoog voyager. the rest are samples or virtual instruments. all of it was tracked and mixed digitally. here i don't worry too much about clarity since it was already abstract to start. and since this is going to be at a club, i don't worry too much about dynamics. however, i wouldn't want to push it so loud as it will actually distort the club's loudspeaker system. so i can be more aggressive in how i use the limiter but not too much.
finally you have a ... well, it can be anything else. you have a chamber piece performed using period instruments. or you have an ambient work that utilizes soft pads and maybe a few melodic lines low in the mix. or you have a coffeehouse/homebrew situation where it's just you, your guitar and your poetry notebook all serving bear out your soul to an attentive (hopefully) audience. this is where it's definitely about not only maintaining clarity but also leaving space/headroom so you can be "into" the music. i wouldn't use a limiter at all and if i do, it would be at a very high threshold (and maybe even at 0db) and the out ceiling will be anywhere from 0 to -3db. or perhaps use a multiband compressor instead where i can control the levels within certain frequency bands and work on maintaining frequency balance as oppose to making all things loud.
also the thing to consider with the whole loudness debate is that there are times when being loud is not a bad thing. but then again, it depends on your intent and your audience. chances are likely that your 1950s cool jazz tribute will not be first consumed by those who frequent current nightclubs. but keep in mind that not everyone can be privileged with audiophile-level sound equipment, well-treated rooms or powerful noise cancellation headphones that can turn the red line t during rush-hour into a beautiful and posh living room out [in the] country. sometimes you need have it loud enough so it can stand out. but the problem is insisting that every song have the same loudness and furthermore that it should be so loud that it will render it unlistenable and undefinable.
the point is that mastering should be the point where the final shape of a song or a series of songs is determined. if you anticipate it correctly, the mastering should be easy ... like a final read-through of a manuscript after some thorough editing and revising. and it shouldn't be so radical that you enter the facility with your neo-folk symphony and leave with an aggressive club mix. going back to the cooking metaphor, you should just put it into the oven and wait for it to come out what you want ... but don't leave it in the oven too long because then you have to throw it out and then order out.
wow ... five years since i wrote one of these. granted i was inspired at the time and then focused on music for about four years. now that my attention has been primarily on film, i'm thinking about it more and taking the little steps necessary to make it happen this time. and thus, i've developed some new thoughts to share on the subject.
the vision and the path
in film, the fundamental key to the enterprise is vision. i can even find "scriptural justification" for it ... courtesy of proverbs (29:18a): "without vision, the people parish." and the film that taught me this explicitly when i was starting to take cinema seriously as a potential means of self-expression was federico fellini's otto e mezzo. and this point has been iterated and reiterated by many people in the film business, especially directors. but what does it mean to have vision?
there's probably several ways to think about it but the first one i usually arrive at when thinking about it for myself is: i try to imagine what the film is going to be if i read a review of it or talk about it with a friend or read an imdb entry of it. while it may be a "backwards way" of doing it, i try to imagine it as a final product as much as i can. the one thing i like about it is that it provides an incentive for me to complete it or to bring it as close to completion as possible. for an example, i could see the final sequence of on nights like this, including the use of film school's "like you know" overlaid on the final shots and then on the end credits. it's so vivid in my mind and it excites me so much that i really want to see it happen. but i'll get more into that later.
a film for me usually starts with a general idea but it can also arise out of a particular scene. i try to turn the spark of inspiration into an all-consuming flame and i find that i have something i want to do fairly quickly. the rest of it comes in thinking about it more: who the characters are, where are they in the beginning, where do they go, who or what helps them along the way, where are they in the end. i do enjoy the process of figuring out what the film should be on the page. and even if something doesn't end up on the script, i have it stored as some kind of note. and i even try to think about different ways of realizing a scene and have it tell the same story or convey the same sentiment.
at this point in my film career, i'm still in the pre-production stage. i think i have a fairly good handle on how screenwriting works or at the very least putting my ideas down on paper (which is really the important thing to do ... in fact, i would like to be able to put down my ideas on paper regardless of the format used and have that be basis of making the film instead). and i'm starting to figure out how to do the actual production though i'm far from being my own production manager. i'm certainly nowhere near the ability of being my own cinematographer. (production designer maybe but i'm going to assume that i can't get there). but i think the thing that have for me is this vision and this desire to apply that vision into the different aspects of film production. for an example, i think about shots and what kind of shots i need. i don't know every single detail about the camera and lighting but i know a fair amount to explain what i want. in that sense, i'm looking forward to finding a cinematographer who can help me in my understanding of cinematography as well as help me to tell whatever story i wish to tell.
there is the vision and there is the path. for me, they are dynamically interchangeable. sometimes the vision shows you what the path is. however, there will be times where you have to alter your path in order to get to the vision. this is why i feel i can work well as a director. for me, i have the vision and i have an idea of how to get there. but i also anticipate that you have change it from what you originally wrote. and i want to be there in the process because 1) it'll help me be a better [fill in the blank] and 2) i want to make sure it is in line with the vision. for an example, while i think i've gotten better at dialogue writing, i'm always open to better lines and better readings of lines. i'm not going to be someone who insists on the script. if you have a better line or a better way of doing something, i'm for it. my ego is not in the script. as long as it tells the story i would like to tell, i'm all for it.
in thinking about the path of things, i'm also thinking about how people become filmmakers. recently i watched a debate of sorts on pjtv. basically it was between the boomers and the gen y'ers [by most measures, this is my generation] and the quality of films. the boomers were lamenting a decline of film quality as filmmaking shifts from the older apprentice system into a "free-for-all." the gen y'ers were praising the expansion of possibilities and that a great film can still be made if you utilize what is great. yes i'm much more inclined toward my generation and thus i favour their points more. i think that cinema is a flexible and malleable medium, capable of expressing ideas in a variety of ways. also i think the approach to making cinema is varied. yes i valuable apprenticeship but i also understand that it's not readily available to everyone. so you have to make use of what you have and find ways to "fill in the gap." i think what i have is a vision and enough character and drive to see it through in an ethically sound and even likable way (no backbiting or backstabbing here ... i like my relationships in a respectable way). and i even have enough of a skill set to be a leader and a manager of a project. but i don't have everything. yet i've oriented myself to a geography and a network to find the people and the resources to get me where i want. and thus i think i can make a film without going through the usual channels.
(plus i think the creative industries are not known for its clear-cut paths of career advancement. it's not like law where it's clear that in order to become a lawyer, you need a degree in law and you need to pass the bar. or like an accountant where you obtain a degree and work a certain number of hours and obtain a number of credits to be certified and accredited. there are no guarantees in the arts ... which makes it both exciting and terrifying. so don't assume that there's this clear and present path to become a filmmaker ... because as the history of cinema has demonstrated, there isn't *one* way to do it.)
i say this as a concluding thought ... working on it is exhausting. and i haven't even reached the shooting stage. but at the same time, it has its own rewards. after all, it's an exercise in creative thinking. it's also trying to integrate the imagination with the practical. and finally it's a way of bringing people together to achieve a common goal.
and so ... i continue on the path toward the vision in sight.
something occurred to me while i'm doing the day job, doing the dream job, reading new atheist books and having my thoughts drift to those piercing moments i'd rather not revisit ...
i keep in mind the moral axiom of "do unto others as you will have others do onto you" and the preferred end of "love one another as I have loved you." i have not been able to execute this consistently, either in terms of action or intent. but this is my aim as long as i walk the earth. so this is how i try to operate at all times, in the flesh or amongst the wired.
if you cannot appreciate this, then i really have no business interacting with you at all. i will not treat you any differently (i.e. treat you as some lowly entity without dignity). but there will be walls between us and more to protect myself from the barrage of projectiles hurled at me. if this concept of a wall between us bothers you, then take the effort to find out why there is one and maybe together we can dismantle it. otherwise, i forgive you as GOD forgives and i ask for your forgiveness for any transgression made against you.
the mood in our hearts: blah the sound in our ears: kraftwerk - la forme
as i stated earlier, autechre came at the cusp between high school and college. prior to that time, i was looking at the surface of music more or less and it was limited to what was immediately accessible either at the shoppes or amongst friends. but then i got to a point where i felt confident in exploring the music scene in my own way and using more of my sensibilities and accumulated aesthetics. in other words, i wanted to find something like vangelis in other artists. and autechre was a strong and solid answer for me at the time ... and in some ways, still is.
in thinking about how to organize and explain autechre's career, i found a strong parallel with stanley kubrick's 2001: a space odyssey ... and thus ...
from moonwatcher to the moon ... incunabula to lp5 (anti to peel session 2)
for every artist who manages to reaches into the stratosphere, the same artist has to start from the primordial ground. incunabula (1993) - as the title suggests - is autechre's humble beginnings: a reflection of their fascination with electro, hip-hop and ambient. interestingly this marks the only time where there's a significant "third man"/"silent partner" involved: darren fitton, who would be better known as bola and jello. this addition, i see it, as a jumpstart for future explorations and while there is an evolution to the sound, it follows a similar model laid out initially in incunabula. the next step is in the ep entitled anti (1994) where their melodic rhythms really come into the fore, particularly on the track called "flutter." while it was an experiment they [sean booth and rob brown] had always in mind at the time, it was also given a political weight with the passage of the criminal justice and public order act of 1994, which prohibited public performance of "music with repetitive beats." 1994 also saw an absence of beats - a not-as-common occurrence (though not rare) - with the lp amber and a year later, the companion ep garbage. while the duo have dismissed it recently as cheesy, it still has a certain warmth and charm that can be quite inspiring. 1995 also saw the ep anvil vapre, which showcased a kind of harder edge, almost industrial sound with more abrasive beats and textures. this continued to the third lp, tri repetae, which sounds like a culmination of everything done up to that point. for me, tri repetae, anvil vapre and garbage are the means to provide my own mental rave party ... and hence no reason on my end to go to actual clubs.
1997 would soon see two eps and an lp. the first ep - envane - is more abrasive but doesn't lose its melodic sensibility. the lp - chiastic slide - is the most abrasive and mechanical. the second ep - cichlisuite - is allegedly a remix ep of "cichli" but the tone closer to the softer electro sounds of tri repetae. at this point, the individual tracks seem to be more amorphous where the starting point is quite different than the endign point. this amorphous quality is present prior to this year but here the transitions seem less apparent and obvious to where you wonder how exactly *did* you get from point a to point b. in 1998, the group released their fifth lp ... commonly known as lp5 [their "led zeppelin 4" perhaps? =] ]. here the overall song structures are more dynamic and the timbral quality is more sophisticated, where it's not just simply one or the other: there can be soft harshness or harsh softness or both. this trait is again affirmed in the 1999 ep, ep7*. before that, there's a nod to the past with the first peel session release of a show they did back in october 1995 (which affirms amber and tri repetae and anticipates chiastic slide)
*this is a tangent that merits its own paragraph. it is not entirely clear how this release is the 7th ep. if you count backwards from this ep to the other ones, there were seven before it. you could argue for either one but i favour peel session over lego feet as 1) the latter was a limited release and 2) it used a different moniker than autechre, whereas the former is under autechre and it's far from limited. and for the record, i agree with their designation of an ep ... it's just a double vinyl ep played at 33 1/3, which makes it equal to full-length cd album.
to jupiter and beyond the infinite ... confield to oversteps (gantz graf to move of ten)
at this point, autechre is reaching to ever greater heights. but in spite of the timbral and structural experimentation, it can still be thought of a simply advanced techno/electro. it's rooted in loops that make you move. but 2001 saw a big change where autechre was not looked at in the same way again. the precursor to this change can be found in the second peel session release, only the performance was in 1999, again showcasing the dense timbres and dynamic structures found in lp5 and ep7. but then comes confield. this is the moment where autechre was thought to have completely lost it in terms of audio abstraction. this can be heard from the very first track - "vi scose poise" - where the rhythmic element is almost completely scattershot and the only through-line is a recurring melody (which may serve as a consistent leitmotif for the lp at large as some variation of it appears in each of the tracks). at the time, i loved it and i had only recently got into autechre ... and at the time, i thought it as their kandinsky moment.
2002 saw the release of gantz graf, a nice transition from the experimentations of confield to what will be apparent in the 2003 lp draft 7.30. the ep's title track also has the best visual representation of an autechre track with an elaborately animated abstract object in tune with the abrasive textures and dynamic rhythms: do space stations drop and rave? in draft 7.30, the sonic experimentations remain but go back to something a bit more familiar in terms of something somewhat danceable. this trend continues into the 2005 lp untilted except it feels more rigid. this is where the artwork makes a difference in perception: compare the alex rutterford digital abstract expressionist artwork for draft 7.30 with the flat shapes in untilted.
2008 saw an interesting departure in terms of structure and approach. up to this point, autechre's music can be described as meticulously created soundscapes where every minute is worked out. but with quaristice, the approach is more spontaneous, something akin to a live jam. in fact, it has been observed that this lp is microcosm of how their live shows operate. with 20 tracks and many of them lasting about three minutes, this is more autechre genes rather than autechre genomes. interestingly the genome model returns with a venegance of sorts with the digital companion ep quaristice.quadrange.ep.ae where the familiar six-minute track returns. this also includes a 58 minute track where it's a subtle dub of one of the rhythmic elements of its source track. 2010 sees another slight paradigm shift. while the music has carried an air of precision, the sounds found on oversteps and in the companion ep move of ten are more precise and minimal. yet the timbres are still just as complex as anything you find from confield ... but the complexity is not as overt. also, the mood is more consistent and apparent than in anything autechre has put out since amber.
i must apologise for the vagueness of the explanations. it's hard to describe an artist with an abstract propensity without resorting to certain verbal repetition. furthemore, the abstract track titles don't help much either (i.e. "chenc9" or "pt2ph8"). and while there are particular moments with each work i like and even whole works i like, i enjoy autechre in its totality. it's very easy to see them as an ever-evolving entity, constantly embracing new technologies and approaches as well as challenging their own sensibilities to try something new. it's also very easy to see them retain a certain consistency where the end result should be about something that makes you move and feel such like any other song that you come across in a mixtape. and with autechre, it's easy to notice both occurring simultaneously. this is perhaps why i don't go into shock every time autechre puts out something new.
so autechre ... a journey into the outer limits of a certain approachable sound =]
i'm trying to prepare a trajectory look at autechre in anticipation for the physical release of move of ten ... if you pre-ordered either cd or vinyl via bleep, you get mp3s for free and immediately. you can also just get the mp3s and .wav (both 16-bit and 24-bit) as well and forgo the whole physical idea. but since it's going to be a massive undertaking, i figured i would lay some groundwork and discuss first what autechre has meant for me.
autechre came at crucial point in my life. it was my graduating year in high school and in several months, i would be a student at william and mary. it came during the aftermath of two musical impressions: nine inch nails through the fragile and radiohead through kid a (and to a certain extent ok computer). it was both kid a and autechre's temporary association with nothing records and tvt records that drew into the electronic duo from rochdale, greater manchester. the first release i bought was the american edition of tri repetae (or tri repetae++), which had on the second disc the anvil vapre and garbage eps). listening to it for the first time was a great experience for it was both familiar and unfamiliar, simple yet complex, common yet uncommon. i still stand by the description that it's basically the rave party for my head ... and thus i will be quite alright in not going to nightclubs (what nightclub would ever play autechre? =] ). autechre in a way would help shape my college years. certainly in terms of listening as it will be the entry point for electronic music beyond what's normally experienced in the mainstream. there are plenty of tracks that take me back to william and mary. i think of autechre as another important influence in my musical sensibilities, even though nothing i've made thus far even remotely resembles what autechre does. and as i'm working on pre-script development for all that we are, autechre (and kraftwerk) are played in its entirety, keeping strictly to the lps and eps. i have yet to see them live though i'm sure that's an experience of itself.
what's appealing about autechre overall to me is their relentless experimentation with timbre. they have gone from harsh fuzzes to glacial pads and everything in between. they also blur the lines at times between melody, harmony and rhythm where sometimes a melody can be rhythmic and a rhythm melodic and a harmony melodic. also while they can and do venture into abstract realms, it doesn't lose sight of certain graceful curves and lines. you feel that somewhere there is either a tune buried in the complexity or the rhythm drives you to dance. (yes it is possible to dance to idm =D ). this is not a duo who is a mere slave to some aleatory method ... they think about what they do. and finally they also know when to back off and let something just be ... case-in-point: "vletrmx21" from garbage ... a melodic ostinato on a single sound manipulated only with filters and playing velocity. and yet it's one of the most beautiful music moments i know ... and one where i go "damn i wish i had done that."
or: how you learn to start thinking and love good movies instead of turning off your brain and enjoy movies made by fucktards ... or maybe if you have to watch dumbshit movies, you can at least snark at it and laugh at it mercilessly
oh yeah ... this should have been obvious from the beginning but this is definitely nsfw. apart from the fact it's a 70-minute rant, there's an abundance of colourful language (can't blame him given what he has to review) and a whole bunch of serial killer jokes (just imagine jame gumb having a side project reviewing films on the level of kenneth turan, a.o. scott or roger ebert).
this is for nothing beside remains, the ep (after the rose of al basrah) about the chernobyl nuclear disaster of april 1986
i'm basically looking for someone who is or knows very well ukrainian language and culture and preferably local to me (i.e. boston metro area). anyone who can point me in the right direction, either comment me or message me through the usual private channels
(comments made here will be screened for privacy purposes)
Tags: the spangle maker the mood in our hearts: creative the sound in our ears: vangelis - invisible connections
thanks to bill cosby and his classic stand-up routines ... you can find this on 200 m.p.h.
First of all, I want to draw out for you the mother:
Mothers ... are ... beautiful. They are really beautiful. For one ... real ... reason. They cry ... for anything. Any reason they cry, man. You can find a piece of wood in the gutter ... just a piece of old raggy wood ... just a piece of wood. You take it ... you don't even have to wipe it off. You just take your little penknife and put a nick in it. And just carry it on home with you. Then you give it to your mom and say "Look ma. See what I made for you?" Then she starts with [crying voice] "Oh my heavens! ... You made this for me! Oh come here, I forgive you for everything."
See that's where mothers have it over fathers. You take that same piece of wood ... give it to your father ... "Dad I made this for you." [father's booming voice] "What the hell is this piece of wood that you found in the gutter? Get that thing out of here!" That's why father's don't get good presents because they don't cry. And on Fathers' Day he says "Do you know today is Fathers' Day for cryin' out loud?"
Mothers' Day you work and break your back, working to buy some presents. Fathers' Day you go up to Dad and say "Dad, give me thirty-five cents I wanna buy you a pack of cigarettes." Then you smoke half the pack coming home. And that isn't even his brand.
happy mothers' day to one and all (appropriately of course) and through the prayers of our most pure mother, i say "xronia polla!" =D
it was a year of great turmoil and change. and there were those who resisted it quite violently and could only express it through violence. everything that could be expressed was and there was always someone else who cringe upon hearing the manifesto. there was devastation, chaos, dismay and anguish. some of it our own making and others thrusted upon us. it seemed the world all around was coming to an end ... all around ...
then we got some perspective. we learned how to look at ourselves. and like GOD when he created, we can see it was good.
and that year ... was 1968. and it was forty years ago this date, william anders took the "earthrise" photograph onboard apollo 8, the first manned mission to orbit the moon. it was the first time we saw the earth from another world.
it's a beautiful image (i would even say more so than the apollo 17 photo of earth that has become the symbol of any and all ecological concerns). you see how beautiful the earth is and you can't help but stand next to GOD (if possible) and say in harmony with Him "it is good." and that image and its context (nearing the end of a very tumultuous year) helps put a lot of things into perspective.
my hope as we near the festivities of the nativity is we remember that beauty and GOD loves it and loved it that He as Creator became one of His own creation to save us and to restore, renew and fulfill creation ...
... for it is good.
"in the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth" ... "in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with GOD and the Word was GOD" ... "gloria in excelsis DEO, et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis"
Tags: contemplation the mood in our hearts: hopeful the sound in our ears: brian eno - an ending (ascent)
i can't help but notice the neat symmetry of having one man enthroned (metropolitan jonah, archbishop of washington and new york and primate of all america and canada) and one man reposed (metropolitan alexy ii of moscow)
to the one, axios! [much delayed]. to the other, vechnaya pamyat.
i've been recently getting into them more. this is due to large part finally being able to acquire the four-disc heart and soul box set, a fairly complete (though not quite according to massive lists) collection of everything they recorded in their three short years as a band. of course they weren't a total mystery to me. i had already listened to both unknown pleasures and closer whilst at college and was all too aware of their influence on immediate contemporaries (u2, the cure) and future groups (radiohead, moby and nine inch nails ... were do you think the title still came from? =] ). the funny thing was i had already in my possession the repressed 180g vinyl editions of both their albums ... but was unable to play them due to a lack of turntable (something i'll have to remedy sometime next year).
i do believe everyone born after 1977 or so has their "punk group" with whom they can identify. for me, it's joy division. makes sense in a way. i was never going to be just interested in just a "fuck you" attitude of sex pistols. and while i can admire their dedication and persistence, i'm not the biggest fan of the clash spite of "growing up them" of sorts (and i do have the legacy edition of london calling). joy division seems to sit very well with me. yeah they are punk but they are not afraid of utilizing eno in their production and artistic academia as their sleeve art. and to use an insight by tony wilson (co-founder of factory records), joy division was able to take punk beyond just its initial "fuck you" premise and express more complex emotions and states of mind.
i'll get the obvious out of the way. ian curtis. in the fear of what i'm about to say being judged as blasphemous, i hear ian curtis - vocally and lyrically - as the closest punk ever got to having someone sound like a monastic. his baritone drone does make him sound russian (more the harmonized kind; although i'm sure some znammeny can be heard in there somewhere). then of course one of his favourite writers was dosteovsky (an unofficial patron saint of sorts to all modern artists ... myself included). but what makes me think monastic is that his lyrics and his life was in search of elevation from the grimy, mundane and alienating world of the present and reaching to something higher. but of course how he fell short of it was he felt suicide was the answer to his problems or would provide an answer/relief.
while ian curtis ended up defining joy division (especially after his death/suicide), it's hard to think of joy division with anybody but, not just ian, but also bernard sumner, peter hook and stephen morris. musically, the whole collective were able to provide a pulse through sumner's rhythmic riffs (and later synthesizer leads), hooky's melodic bass playing and stephen morris mechanized yet emotional drumming. the pulse they provided was also very otherworldly: the reversal of roles between the guitarists and the ever-increasing sonic palette between sumner and morris (this includes using an aerosol spray as the hi-hat component for "she's lost control."). and this pulse can be both inviting to another world and in sync with the one you're in. while the music can be defined as being characteristic of manchester, it's still relevant anywhere. in fact, it can even work in the boston metro area.
joy division also had a wonderful "supporting cast" of sorts and two figures stand out in my mind: martin hannett and peter saville.
martin hannett has been criticized as "changing" the joy division sound to suit his own purposes. but it wasn't a radical change. it wasn't as if he suddenly turned joy division into ... 1970s disco. i maintain what hannett did was create an enhanced aural space for the sake of the listener. the pulse they were able to convey through their live performance was still present. but the separation is clear and well-balanced. it's as if hannett was able to create for the listener his own personal nightclub for joy division to perform for all eternity and it's just you and them and no one else. i will say that hannett's production also created a very cold sound. and by cold i mean i could feel wind chills making my hair stand on end and the feeling of having saline injected into you. so this eternal concert is very likely at a masoleum than at a club.
if martin hannett was able to articulate joy division through a polished and well-crafted studio recording, peter saville was able to provide the right visual articulation of said studio recording. for unknown pleasures, it's simply a reproduction of the recorded pulses from cp 1919/osr b1919+21 (located in vulpecula ... southern hemisphere constellation). for closer, it's a bernard pierre wolff photograph of the appiani family tomb in the cimitero monumentale di staglieno in genoa. for the individual albums, it's very appropriate. i've considered unknown pleasures to be more science-fiction and extraterrestrial and closer to be ... like a tomb. (and yes the photograph was chosen long before ian curtis' death). but what's neat it that the two albums work well together. they both share the same colour scheme and in fact they are inverses of each other. their contrasting designs supplement each other in a somewhat yin-yang like manner: heaven and earth, future-present and past-present, life and death, the stars and the soil.
i think the best way to describe joy division is that they were able to reclaim the artistic sensibilities from being either commercial or devoid of life/energy, much in the same way sex pistols was able to reclaim (sort of) the classic rock-n-roll attitude from a similar fate. i also see them as being a musical equivalent of the great romantic artists such as caspar david friedrich and j.m.w. turner. and perhaps they were the last great artistic group to utilize the vinyl record to its fullest.
to ian curtis (d. 18 may 1980) ... love will tear us apart
Tags: life-changer group, music the mood in our hearts: creative the sound in our ears: joy division - she's lost control (the factory, 13.07.1979)
qui habitat in adiutorio Altissimi in protectione DEI caeli commorabitur. dicet DOMINO: susceptor meus es tu et refugium meum DEUS meus sperabo in eum. quoniam ipse liberabit me de laqueo venantium et a verbo aspero. scapulis suis obumbrabit te et sub pinnis eius sperabis scuto circumdabit te veritas eius non timebis a timore nocturno a sagitta volante in die a negotio perambulante in tenebris ab incursu et daemonio meridian cadent a latere tuo mille et decem milia a dextris tuis ad te autem non adpropinquabit verumtamen oculis tuis considerabis et retributionem peccatorum videbis quoniam tu DOMINE spes mea Altissimum posuisti refugium tuum non acce dent ad te mala et flagellum non adpropinquabit tabernaculo tuo quoniam angelis suis mandabit de te ut custodiant te in omnibus viis tuis in manibus portabunt te ne forte offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum super aspidem et basiliscum ambulabis et conculcabis leonem et draconem quoniam in me speravit et liberabo eum protegam eum quia cognovit nomen meum clamabit ad me et exaudiam eum cum ipso sum in tribulatione eripiam eum et clarificabo eum longitudine dierum replebo eum et ostendam illi salutare meum
gloria PATRI, et FILIO, et SPIRITUI SANCTO; sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. amen.
KYRIE eleison. CHRISTUS eleison. KYRIE eleison.
Tags: 11 september 2001 the mood in our hearts: contemplative the sound in our ears: william basinski - d|p 2.2
CHRISTUS resurrexit! [latin] KRISTUS er opstanden! [danish] le CHRIST est resurrecté! [french] CHRISTUS ist auferstanden! [german] CRISTO e' risorto! [italian] KHRISTUS zmartvikstau! [polish] CRISTO ha resucitado! [spanish] KRISTUS är uppstånden! [swedish] tá CRÍOST éirithe! [irish]
and to the few CHURCH locales
KRISTUS on ülestõusnud! [estonian] KRISTUS nousi kuolleista! [finnish]