How much do I love the visuals here?
It’s the live, stand-up equivalent of a full-bleed photo in a magazine. And it’s calibrated just right: the flip-flop from light to dark, the sharp-edged forms. Top notch.
(Via General Projects, whose summation supplies the title of this post.)
Nico Muhly, the terrific composer, is also a terrific blogger. It’s all about the voice. The voice! He’s in the Netherlands—look at the conversational flow, the thinking-out-loud, the high and low:
Dutch is one of those languages I wish I had a quicker time with. I’ve mastered ordering coffee and sparkling water without people switching to English, so, that’s good. There’s something slightly disturbing about the visual scan of the language (I don’t even know what the term is for that: you know when you see a page, or a sign, written in a language and you have an immediate impression of the content of the text? This works also in your native language: look at a page from, like, Dickens, and you can sort of get the Shudder of the Text, or whatever, anyway, what I mean is that some languages, like French, always seem to bear a melismatic philosophy behind the page; German, an authority, Amharic, a crooked delight…) … with Dutch what I get is a sort of childlike pornography: hoog, sneeuwt, poesje, standplaats.
It might seem like I’m overreacting, but no, this is a really good blog post, and they’re often like this.
“Amharic, a crooked delight.” I love it. “The Shudder of the Text”—I’m not even 100% sure what that means, but I love it, too. I want to write a story called “The Shudder of the Text.”
This post is also ace.
And Nico Muhly’s music is, of course, also great.
I’ve got one! But you’re going to have to be quick.
Right now, press play on the soundtrack here:
While that’s playing, drag the sound down to zero on this clip—from Prince Achmed, made (impossibly) in 1927 and
thought to be the first one of the first animated films:
Hit play on the Prince Achmed clip when the music hits 0:22.
Matt: best genre ever.
Prince Achmed via the always-great Jillian Tamaki.
Update: Lots more on Lotte Reiniger, the director of Prince Achmed, here and here, thanks to Britta. You must click those links, scroll down and look at the stills. They just sent me spinning into a beauty-induced fugue state; I think I saved every single one into my Dropbox.
Ah. I have to admit: these old TV news clips from the fall of the Berlin Wall made me feel nostalgic. Not for the event, which I can’t really remember. Mostly for the music, I think. The anthems of the nightly news. We’ll never see the world this way again—never through such a narrow tube. That’s for the better… but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the way these broadcasts felt, the way they sounded.
Hmm. Maybe more websites need theme songs…
Pomplamoose is back with another production-as-performance video!
There are some crazy chords in this video. Prepare your brain.
This is, no question, my favorite new genre: the production-as-performance video. This is Pomplamoose’s Single Ladies cover, which is probably the paragon of the form so far:
Characteristics of the pro/per video:
☑ Normal duds, normal environment. No spandex, no fog machine.
☑ Gear. Lots of it.
☑ Subdivision of the video frame: overlapping tracks visualized as overlapping views.
☑ Performance! This isn’t just a hidden camera in the studio. It’s natural, it’s unpretentious—but it’s still a performance.
(In some ways, this newer Pomplamoose video is an even better example of the pro/per form, but the music is not as perfectly ear-tickling, so stick with Single Ladies.)
What I love about the approach is that it’s showing us a complicated, virtuoso performance, but making it really clear and accessible at the same time. It’s entertaining, but it’s also an exercise in demystification—which of course is exactly the opposite objective of every music video, ever. Their purpose has been to mystify, to masquerade, to mythologize in real-time.
Even live performance videos mystify in their own way: “Jeez, how did they get so good?” What I appreciate about the pro/per, at least in Pomplamoose’s hands, is that it acknowledges: Yes, to make music, you need a lot of tools, and you need a lot of tries. And I really like (maybe even need) the notion that things can be assembled. They can be built from parts, improved piece-by-piece. You don’t have to do it right the first time through. That’s what Pomplamoose seems to be saying, and showing.
I know I’ve seen some other videos in this genre, but I can’t dig any of them up… and, ha ha, searching for “production as performance” on YouTube doesn’t get you anywhere. Can you think of any?
Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová—the couple first fictional then real-life from the movie Once—are making new music as the Swell Season.
Listen ’til 2:05 at least. I can’t believe it’s not mixed. Markéta Irglová just sort of sneaks in—fades in—in the subtlest, sweetest way. A small thing, but a very good small thing.
(Via Maya Baratz.)
This has been on YouTube for months now, but it’s new to me: a beat-boxer sets up shop near an NYC subway exit and offers “free beats” to passerby. The range of responses is pretty excellent.
Here’s my favorite line. “Where my dogs at? Where my frogs at? Where my squirrels and my birds and my hogs at?”
This goes in the direction of my dream busker: somebody set up with an amp, a laptop and Ableton Live, sampling and remixing the sounds of a street-corner in real-time. Totally melodic and musical; it wouldn’t be an abstract experiment. You’d just hear familiar honks and wails in the mix. And obviously—per this video—she’d have a mic stand for speaking and singing, too.