The Freelance Mentalists.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
  The complexities of name-calling
Not heard Finnissy's latest disc but i found the throwaway comment re: "new complexity" a bit interesting. When I started reading abt classical, new complexity was the first time I came across that sort scene building that is taken for granted over in the pop-world (check yer rock music weeklies). Scene names are designed to provoke exclusivity, signal a break with what has gone before, are quite exciting to the new reader (but not to the older reader nor to the artist a few years down the line), but lead to reactionary responses (in this case complexity being an incredibly loaded term) thus doing a triffic job in promoting but obv aren't that good as a descritpion as to what goes on (how can such scene names be? Wasn't it a laugh when Stanley Crouch uttered his 'free from what?' comment re: free jazz? And in this case Finnissy I don't feel has actually "moved on" from the term bcz really it doesn't exist, if you see what i mean)...and it felt right enough, catching the UK premier of Dillon's 'traumwerk III' for piano and violin that started with a slow, mournful-sounding tune, which is not what you'd expect after the violinist spends a minute laying out the glued music sheets across the support! And micro-melodies are what seemed to come in and out, throughout the however many sections the work seemed to contain. It was long, and at times quite frustrating, but in the best way possible.

Anyway, enough ramblin', more mentalism 4 Xmas!
Well, he did say "so-called New Complexity." Once terms catch on, they get used even though basically b.s., cos everybody knows what they refer to or think they know and mainly it's so conveeenient. Like "politically correct," even though there are smelly little orthodoxies at every stop along the line; ditto "rockist" blah blah. At least "psych" is understood as referring to a subgenre, so "pyschedelic" can sometimes still mean "mind-expanding." Not very often, but then the expansion of the mind was never that much more common (or lasting) than that of the term.(Notice I didn't let myself say "mynd" or "thee" this tyme.)
Yeah - looking back now its just I get slightly peeved whenever I look in reviews and usually there will be a dismissal of something that will include a mention of the micro-genre the artist belongs to, inserted in a way which implies that it isn't v good bcz he belongs to this invented genre.

And looking at Stanley Crouch as an example might be a bit unfair - he has written liner notes for a cpl of "free" LPs I have although I'm referring to his comments on that jazz doc (hope i'm recalling right here.)
Don't give Stanley too much credit. He indicated in JazzTimes last year (before they kicked him out) that Ornette could live a while longer. (Possibly because Wynton went so far as to canonize O. with Lincoln Center Orchestrations, featuring Dewey Redman) But seems like he's renounced all other Free (or the kind unlikely to be orchestrated, anyway).
Ok - Since i've yet to come across a set of compiled essays I've never got to read too much of Stanley's work hence benefit of doubt.

(btw did you see my comment on Louisville Lip? Just pointing it out in case you didn't see it...)
I think Stanley's main (perhaps only?) collection is Notes Of A Hanging Judge. Thanks, I'll check out that thread re harmolodics. (Or is it harmelodics, at least sometimes? Seems like I've seen it spelled that way too, though may be unauthorized!)
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