link harvest (mostly known)


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Naqoyqatsi II

de morgen (belgian broadsheet) has a short review of naqoyqatsi in its weekend edition (11/12 january 2003). it’s mostly about the movie, but there’s a short reference about the music:

(loosely translated it comes to this:)

“… and the very recognisable music by philip glass, a pure pastiche of his own score for koyaanisqatsi.”

i’ve included the full article (in dutch)

Binnenkort verschijnt er een anderhalf uur durende lsd-trip in de bioscoop, een filosofisch, dialoog-, verhaal- en personageloos traktaat over De Mens. De film heet Na-kooi-kat-si. Ik was altijd al een aanbidder van voorganger Koyaanisqatsi (1983), mijn persoonlijk manifest, Nietige Vernietigende Mens vs. Almachtige Natuur. In verschillende opzichten is Naqoyqatsi wel een soort ‘vervolg op’: hetzelfde proc√àd√à om de Boodschap over te brengen (het associ√éren van beelden) en de zeer herkenbare muziek van Philip Glass, een zuivere pastiche van zijn eigen score voor Koyaanisqatsi. Wat vooral opvalt aan deze nieuwe Qatsi is z’n veel modernere look, regisseur Godfrey Reggio filmt niet meer louter bestaande landschappen en toestanden, om ze dan op het ritme van de muziek te vertragen of te versnellen, hij voegt er nu ook (te) veel computeranimatie en digitale filtering toe, zodat niets nog echt lijkt. het probleem van deze flitsende opeenvolging van beelden is de Boodschap.

Naqoyqatsi betekent voor de ondertussen tot de wortel uitgeroeide Hopi-indianen evenveel als ‘Beschaving van Geweld’, een interessante tegenstrijdigheid dus. Koyaanisqatsi betekent ‘een wereld uit balans’, zoals duidelijk bleek uit de beelden: de enorme macht van de natuur, contrasterend met de mierenhoop die de mensheid is, opeengestapeld in metropolen met spaghettivormige snelwegen en een technologie die stilaan boven onszelf begint te stijgen. Met de nieuwe ligt dat heel wat moeilijker, het is allemaal abstracter, het thema komt er niet meteen uit, we zien afwisselend beelden van baby’s, digitale codes, schapen, atleten, vervallen gebouwen, oorlogstuigen, nieuwsbeelden, voetbalsupporters, merknamen die door het beeld flitsen, en dat alles moet ‘Geweld’ voorstellen.

Veel idee√én dus, maar weinig consistentie. Toch, het blijft een trip van jewelste, goed om de psychonautische mens een tevreden “wow, far out man” te laten uiten.

Jan Devries

De Morgen, 11/12 januari 2003

uri caine

the first album i bought from uri caine was the goldberg variations. i was drawn to it for three reasons: 1. it were the goldberg variations / it was bach 2. it stood in the jazz section 3. the winter & winter sleeve design

i like bach. in the late seventies/early eighties i used to visit my then recently divorced godfather, who at the time owned a turntable and some 15 LPs. four of which were bach, and he used to put on the toccata and the goldberg variations a lot (don’t know the performer though).

btw when i say turntable, it was a vast piece of furniture, more like a sideboard, that included the turntable, radio (actually wireless seems a more appropriate word in the context) and the loudspeakers

anyway, i’m rather fond of the goldberg variations; i have a great glenn gould edition and the marvelous dmitry sitkovetsky transcriptions for strings, and i’ve been lurking at the ‘new’ gould release (a state of wonder –read the very positive review by simon barrow; i’ll probably give in and buy it this saturday)

but this version was in the jazz section. what the heck? i had a brief listen, and couldn’t believe what i heard. these are not the goldberg variations. this isn’t even bach. sitkovetsky’s were transcribed for strings, but undeniably bach’s goldberg variations. these were not. still i took it home, and it didn’t leave the cd player for a week.

and now there’s beethoven. the diabelli variations. i am not familiar with the orginal work (if anybody can suggest a solid release…) but i already know i like what uri caine has done (and i did recognize bits from the 9th). it’s jazzy, playful, exciting. it’s probably paraphrasing and retelling (a story) but adding emphasis and colour. it’s just that bit, that detail, that reconfirms your interest in classical music and jazz. it’s eclecticism at its best.

[ bach – goldberg variations ]

Sony Classical – Glenn Gould: amazon uk

Nonesuch – transcriptions by Dmitry Sitkovetsky: amazon uk | us

Winter & Winter – Uri Caine: amazon uk | us

A State of Wonder – Glenn Gould: amazon uk

[ beethoven – diabelli variations ]

Winter & Winter – Uri Caine: amazon uk | us

[ uri caine website ]


uhoh. not good. i’ve yet to read a good review of the movie, and this cd review isn’t going to be any better.

if you ask me, a big waste of both glass’s and yo-yo ma’s talents. of course the album is a re-hashing of the main philip glass theme (the one that features on almost every album, from la belle et la b‚àö√ßte through the secret agent, to the string quartets), but that in itself shouldn’t be a bad thing. glass has proven he can do wonders with it.

however, the music seems like somebody’s taken that theme, and has been running it through all kinds of electronical devices to see what effects they can come up with. at its best it’s solo cello, but at its worst it’s a bad imitation of already a really bad pop song.

glass can say in the notes

my instinct was to balance the quite startling effect of the synthetically composed images with a sound world of ‘natural’ timbres.

unfortunately the ‘synthetic’ feeling overrules any ‘natural’ perceptions that might have been intended, and even the nice ‘voice’ of the cello (notice how, all of a sudden i’ve been using quotes).

the notes (both by glass and by reggio) keep droning on about how ‘acoustic’ the music is, about the ‘human’ aspect and the ‘forces of nature’. don’t be deceived, if this is the fruit of a 25 year effort to write this score, then please, he shouldn’t have bothered.

patience is a virtue

okay. so you have to be patient. but so do i. i placed my order with amazon a little over a week ago, and i’ve only just now received a message that ‘my items have been shipped’ when they arrive is another matter. esp. in this holiday season.

so i’m waiting for glass’s early voice, and a descent into the maelstrÀÜm, and reich’s tehillim / the desert music. delivery estimate: december 27-january 8. sigh.

meanwhile i got adams naive and sentimental music, which i ordered from the fnac (don’t hold your breath, i think it’s a bad album), and i noticed they now have glass’s new naqoyqatsi, which i’ll probably get saturday or monday. (btw the fnac is cheaper than if ordered from amazon –unfortunately they can’t order everything, such as the items from glass’s orange mountain music label)


if i’m a bit slow in updating, it’s because i’m doing some research. i’d intended for this week to be soundtrack week, so i’m digging up and (re)listening to some favourites. i’ll skip the obvious, and exclude michael nyman, wim mertens and philip glass, but the list includes jocelyn pook, eleni karaindrou and tan dun. also, the list probably will not include what’s referred to as soundtrack composers (such as john williams)

meanwhile here are a few sites of interest: soundtrackcollector, filmtracks, soundtracknet, soundtrack express (listed in no particular order)

link harvest

i’m ever searching for information on minimalist and (other) mainstream contemporary classical music. i’m especially looking for any kind of weblogs in a similar fashion as so far without any success, with the possible exception of newfrontears (last updated 20 Oct)

this week’s links of note:

catching up {III}

dvds of note: michael nyman / dziga vertov Рman with a movie camera and jean cocteau / philip glass la belle et la b√çte

this may be old news (as said, i’m catching up), but here’s one dvd i’m looking forward to: la belle et la b‚àö√ßte will be released on the criterion collection in the spring of 2003. i already got the nyman dvd a while back, neatly packaged in a light steel encasing, cd-size, published by the bfi.

there’s two reasons to buy that nyman/vertov dvd: one is for the nyman music that you’ll otherwise miss out on, and the other one is the classic montage pioneer film by vertov. the music is’n really grafted on the motion in the film, and i’m not sure that’s such a bad thing. either way, nyman managed very adequately to avoid breaking up the continuity of the film.

» more info: amazon uk | bfi | imdb

as for la belle et la bÍte, it says on the criterion website:

renowned composer philip glass has created a new 5.1 surround mix of his beauty and the beast opera for inclusion on criterion’s upcoming dvd re-release of jean cocteau’s classic film. glass’ opera will be one of four audio tracks available on the newly-restored beauty and the beast, along with audio commentary by film historian arthur knight, a second commentary by writer and cultural historian sir christopher frayling, and the film’s original soundtrack. look for criterion’s beauty and the beast re-release in early 2003.

» more info: criterion release page | imdb

catching up {II}

BL!NDMAN quartet. i once had the privilege of seeing bl!ndman quartet performing live in the vooruit in gent. not just a regular concert, but they played (performed ?) the accompanying music to a silent movie, kurutta ippeji (something old and beautiful). i was blown away by their technique and the amazing soundscape they laid out. i think that afterwards, a cd of their performance was for sale in the lobby, and to this day i still regret not having bought it then (–of course i haven’t been able to get it since).

two cds i have been able to buy: bl!ndman plays bach (2000) and the recently released multiple voice (2002). they’re not available through amazon (at least i didn’t spot them), but i got them from the fnac (in gent) where they are readily available. you could also try via their website

music reduced to its essence. where reduction stands for minimalism, not loss in any way. the music as performed by bl!ndman is very broad and overwhelming indeed, with lots of colour and intonation. it’s where you can hear each individual note very clearly, but never do they sound isolated, or stuck.

from the notes from bl!ndman plays bach

Having just started as a saxophonist, I experienced a great shock when I was practising J.S. Bach’s flute sonatas on the soprano saxophone. The ‘open sound technique’ I used when playing the instrument […] gave these scores the stunning sound range of woodwind and brass, voices and organ sounds.


My choice was ettled by the Choralpartiten. In these little-known organ works I discovered a sparkling inventiveness and deep emotion. What is more, when the four saxophones unravelled the young Bach’s ingenious intertwining of the parts, the result was a disarming transparency.

This modest and broadly coloured, essentially religious work assumes a secular dimension of pure enjoyment and goes back to the source of all music: the breath.

from the notes from multiple voice

Contemporary works have always reflected age-old compositional techniques; the organum technique used by Leoninus and Perotinus, in which the continuous voices develop in parallel, the 13th-century hoquetus technique in which the meldoic line is divided between several instruments, and also the imitation canon repeating themes several times.


New music is played alongside early music and the two merge apparently seamlessly into one another. Centuries are made relative, and the consciousness of historical time fades.

Apart from Leoninus and Perotinus, multiple voice also features work by Thierry De Mey, John Cage, and Jonathan Harvey. (warning: the cd says copy protected; haven’t tried to import it to iTunes yet)