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Anthony Braxton

Started by Retinend, September 04, 2012, 09:47:08 PM

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Retinend

is completely rubbish. would anyone like to defend him?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox9YNFaXsDA

I've had this album for a while. When I last listened to it I was much more "open minded" clearly, because I didn't delete it on five minutes' evidence of its worthlessness. After five minutes of the above tonight I'd stopped laughing at the endless farty "surPRISE!" notes  and obvious "stalling for time before the next sur - the next sur - surPRISE!" moments and it had become quite bizarre to my stoned mind. I felt as if God was making fun of human music and certain human beings were being let in on the joke - the "true" music fans who trumpet this sort of thing in the face of narrow aesthetic prescriptivity and cloaked conservatism.

The joke's gone too far, though. Why do some of the cleverest people listen to nonsense like this and Schoenburg, Hindemith, extreme Noise & Industrial etc? Actually, just what is good about that song above? After writing this it's now at 18 minutes in and still sounding like the musical equivalent of trying to swat a fly.

#1


Nope, I've now listened to the whole track and it gave me a few chuckles but I must concur that it sounds like garbage to me too.  But then, I must hold my hands up and say that I've never "got" that kind of jazz.

As a non-jazzer, I'd never heard of Anthony "Don't Call Me Toni" Braxton until you posted that racket, and i'm sure that, in certain circles, his oeuvre is met with some serious chin-stroking and appreciative nodding.  But to me, it just sounds like an 8-year old with his first saxophone having a few practise blows before the sax teacher comes in to give him his first lesson.

Retinend

He's definitely something of an historical name for some jazz fans, although my inkling/experience on last.fm is that people who listen to him have likely a pottered interest in jazz that precludes anything from jazz's mainstream period.

That said,

Wikipedia: "The Penguin Guide to Jazz gives For Alto a four-star rating (of a possible four) along with its "crown" token of merit, and describes it as "one of the genuinely important American recordings. While some landmark performances retain only a mystical aura of their original significance, [For Alto] remains powerfully listenable and endlessly fascinating." "

Petey Pate

#3
"For Alto" was a big influence on John Zorn, if that counts for anything.  I do prefer Zorn's output which isn't noisy atonal free-jazz though, from the fraction that I've heard of his massive discography.

Here's some more seemingly hyperbolic twaddle written about the album, courtesy of allmusic reviewer Thom Jurek.

QuoteMany of the recordings from the magical period of the '60s and early-'70s creative movement sound dated now, quaint and diffuse from their original power. For Alto is not one of those records; it still has the literacy and vision to teach us about concentration, vision, emotional aesthetics, and even spiritual possibilities in the world of sound and how that world, that universe, interacts and dovetails with our lives. For Alto is one of the greatest solo saxophone records ever made, and maybe one of the greatest recordings ever issued, period.


kngen

Quote from: Retinend on September 04, 2012, 09:47:08 PM
the endless farty "surPRISE!" notes

despite being forewarned by your post, I was still startled enough to spill some of my cuppa when the first honk arrived, which made me laugh. Don't know if that's enough to warrant it being called the greatest recording of all time[nb]I mean for god's sake, what shite![/nb], but I've certainly derived more pleasure from that than the collected works of, say, The Vaccines.

As for noise, industrial etc, I don't think it's too suprising that folk who are interested in the dynamics of music and sound beyond conventional melodies and song structures start to explore the outer reaches to see what's possible. For me, starting of as a 12-year-old obsessed with electro, the lineage of Afrika Bambataa > Kraftwerk > Einsturzende Neubauten > Merzbow[nb]a progression that took a decade, I should add[/nb] makes perfect sense, and I can't imagine there are many people who said: "Hmm, this Girls Aloud CD isn't really hitting the spot anymore. Whitehouse, you say? Wow, where's this music been all my life?"
It is very chinstrokey, but I'd imagine that the problem most people have is that it's difficult to have an emotional reaction to what at first sounds like TV static and/or clanging machinery. But you can, and gigs by Neubauten and Merzbow are among some of the best and most affecting I've ever attended. There is a huge amount of wanky crap surrounding it though, and that's kind of a bummer. Far too old for that racket these days, anyway.

NoSleep

Aww. Did the nasty man's music hurt your poor, sensitive ears[nb]Spoonfed on supposedly "avant garde" simple pop kiddies tunes by the likes of Animal Collective[/nb]?

Have some more:

http://youtu.be/ZUzctEOvsh4


Howj Begg

Lol you've never listened to Schoenberg or Hindemith have you Retinend? I mean seriously, Schoenberg's music might be "difficult" to get into (just like many original composers really, till you put some time in) but in terms of noise or unlistenability those are two of the more approachable 20c masters.

Thanks for introducing me to "For Alto", I had a listen and it seems absolutely awesome. I would agree with Thom Jurek that it sounds less "dated" than some other avant-jazz of the time, not that I don't like "dated" music.

"Dedicated to Multi-Instrumentalist Leroy Jenkins" is very rhetorical, it really feels like a speech Braxton is making about politics and philosophy, with lots of points weighted, applause cues, elaborations and emotional high spots. It's incredible. Once again, thank you for this misguided thread.

Retinend

Quote from: Howj Begg on September 05, 2012, 03:27:48 PM
Lol you've never listened to Schoenberg or Hindemith have you Retinend?

In fact, I've given up my time prepared to enjoy both of them. I own albums of them both. I even like the pre-atonal Schoenberg composition "Verlacht Nacht" a lot. I own Glenn Gould playing the Hindemith piano sonatas and another album of the first two string trios. They leave me cold, in a phrase.

I notice that the two pro-Braxtonites have decided offense is the best form of defense. Get me to defend the qualifications for my reaction. Much easier than defending an extremist viewpoint from outside scepticism.

NoSleep

I see. You have decided Braxton is an extremist who is taking the pee. Thoughtful. I suggest you stick with Paul McCartney.

Retinend

#9
Quote from: Howj Begg on September 05, 2012, 03:27:48 PMthose are two of the more approachable 20c masters.

...suggests to me that you have a narrow idea of who qualifies to be in the "of all time" list of C20th composers. Maybe they'd be "two of the more approachable" if you had a sole say over who was "a 20c master." Any Stravinsky, Bartok, Martinu, Parch, Reich, Ives? All far more "approachable" figures, that is to say, not stiflingly academic.

Quote from: NoSleep on September 05, 2012, 05:50:56 PM
I see. You have decided Braxton is an extremist who is taking the pee.

Or rather his art takes the extreme fringe of the entire artistic scene. That is to say, extremely marginal.

NoSleep

Quote from: Retinend on September 05, 2012, 05:37:52 PMThey leave me cold, in a phrase.

Do you suppose their intent was to make somebody feel all warm inside, or do you think that the music may, to some extent, express some kind of alienation? It strikes me that you're looking for kindergarten rainbow colour schemes in a museum of modern art.

KLG-7A

My scepticism about the linked piece is how it's different from something somebody "non-musical" might have made. Does it take a lot of academic knowledge to make something that "feels like a speech"? Maybe knowing anything about music even gets in the way of that.

Most people would find Coil's "Tunnel of Goats"[nb]is that a Father Ted reference, btw?[/nb] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pP5pYSlwkQQ) quite alien and random, but I think it's very expressive without being pretentious. It's only about feeling, getting caught up by the energy of the performance. I can get something out of it without there having to be a layer of posturing academia to explain it all, and I can't say the same about what Braxton has done.

NoSleep

The piece is perfectly fine (I find Coil's music dull, in comparison). Go and listen to something else.

Retinend

Quote from: NoSleep on September 05, 2012, 06:05:15 PM
Do you suppose their intent was to make somebody feel all warm inside, or do think that the music may to some extent express some kind of alienation?

you mean like Charles Ives's "Central Park in the Dark"? Fine piece.

Music has the capability to create vivid emotional states for listeners. Why choose the limiting boundaries of a Derek Bailey, Hindemith or Anthony Braxton, which elects to express very little emotionally? Was Debussy more emotionally stunted than Hindemith or Schoenberg? How about the entirety of musical history until the second decade or so of the 20th Century? Were they all intellectual, emotional children? Why didn't the 18th Century have any atonal movements? Because they were somehow repressed people at odds with their true expressive capabilities?

NoSleep

There's nothing limiting or bound in free improvisation. Sorry you can't enjoy the genius of Derek Bailey (or Anthony Braxton); he's a favourite here.

prwc

Quote from: Retinend on September 04, 2012, 09:47:08 PMWhy do some of the cleverest people listen to nonsense like this and Schoenburg, Hindemith, extreme Noise & Industrial etc? Actually, just what is good about that song above? After writing this it's now at 18 minutes in and still sounding like the musical equivalent of trying to swat a fly.

Nothing "clever" about it to me, it can just offer a nice primal kick. I don't have the best ear for jazz but there's some very talented "noise" artists out there (sounds daft, but if you make electronic music it's easy to see how skilled people like Florian Hecker and John Wiese are for example).

NoSleep

Quote from: Retinend on September 05, 2012, 06:19:53 PM
you mean like Charles Ives's "Central Park in the Dark"? Fine piece.

Music has the capability to create vivid emotional states for listeners. Why choose the limiting boundaries of a Derek Bailey, Hindemith or Anthony Braxton, which elects to express very little emotionally? Was Debussy more emotionally stunted than Hindemith or Schoenberg? How about the entirety of musical history until the second decade or so of the 20th Century? Were they all intellectual, emotional children? Why didn't the 18th Century have any atonal movements? Because they were somehow repressed people at odds with their true expressive capabilities?

Quite a few things changed in the 20th Century; do you suppose the changes in music reflected that? It's peculiar how this music you are so adamant has no expressive possibilities works fine in, say, the context of a film score, where it may be exactly the statement required for the moment in view. The boundaries of music have been broken open to new territory, just as life has changed for better and worse in the same period.

KLG-7A

Quote from: NoSleep on September 05, 2012, 06:15:01 PM
The piece is perfectly fine (I find Coil's music dull, in comparison). Go and listen to something else.
I must be totally misunderstanding what you're saying there, because to me that reads like:

"That piece does not harm my sensibilities, which are attuned to things far more experimental than Coil. Now off you toddle to broaden your horizons, for I have decided that you have just shown me the limits of your musical discovery".

NoSleep

I just don't get the whingeing[nb]Not particularly you, more retinend's transformation into a reactionary in this thread.[/nb] about something that doesn't appeal, that is clearly something that doesn't want to be everybody's cup of tea. Free improvisation challenges the usual relationships between audience and performer and the commercial concerns of the music industry, which is why, for instance, it has done away with that most marketable commodity, the composition, the song. Ideally they would have done away with recordings, too, but they bring people to the gigs. Braxton, of course, also "does" jazz and composition on top of the free improviation aspect of his work. Bailey is far more happy chucking "all that" in the bin, to the extent of having no preconceived idea of how a performance might unfold, other than to invite a group of musicians to join him.

Retinend

Quote from: NoSleep on September 05, 2012, 06:23:04 PM
There's nothing limiting or bound in free improvisation.

Obviously there is. The musicans we're talking about can't create the effects that Debussy can with all his conventions. They can make music that would fit on a slasher soundtrack, but how ridiculous that you would cast that as evidence of it's expressive superiority! Yes, I can experience feelings of unease, confusion, alienation etc with these artists, but there is some niche ground left in the emotional spectrum - y'know - melancholy - nostalgia - triumph - disillusionment - tragedy - love - spirtuality - hope - dread - euphoria - I'm clearly much better off listening to something inflexible and rainbow coloured like Faure, Debussy, John Adams[nb]nothing significant about this trio, but I'm willing to show up my taste for what it means to whoever's reading[/nb].

Anyway, I'm maybe drawing together Bailey, Braxton and Atonalists from three different genres too vaguely, but you see where I'm coming from. "Breaking down boundaries" (the self-indulgent refrain of so many 20th century avant gardists) isn't purely positive freedom. You at least lose some of those effective, time-tested methods of expression. I would say that if you go to the extremes of Bailey and Braxton, you end up losing most of your ability to express anything, and the most odiously self-congratulatory babble fills the gap left by emotional response.

thugler

Quote from: Retinend on September 05, 2012, 06:50:25 PM
Obviously there is. The musicans we're talking about can't create the effects that Debussy can with all his conventions. They can make music that would fit on a slasher soundtrack, but how ridiculous that you would cast that as evidence of it's expressive superiority! Yes, I can experience feelings of unease, confusion, alienation etc with these artists, but there is some niche ground left in the emotional spectrum - y'know - melancholy - nostalgia - triumph - disillusionment - tragedy - love - spirtuality - hope - dread - euphoria - I'm clearly much better off listening to something inflexible and rainbow coloured like Faure, Debussy, John Adams[nb]nothing significant about this trio, but I'm willing to show up my taste for what it means to whoever's reading[/nb].

Anyway, I'm maybe drawing together Bailey, Braxton and Atonalists from three different genres too vaguely, but you see where I'm coming from. "Breaking down boundaries" (the self-indulgent refrain of so many 20th century avant gardists) isn't purely positive freedom. You at least lose some of those effective, time-tested methods of expression. I would say that if you go to the extremes of Bailey and Braxton, you end up losing most of your ability to express anything, and the most odiously self-congratulatory babble fills the gap left by emotional response.

Your only missing the possibility of those emotions due to the cliched way they have been expressed through music over time. It's quite possible for free improv to express all of those things.

I think the biggest strength and weakness of this kind of music is that the freedom can make it completely amazing or utterly shit.

I think that piece in the opening post is pretty good by the way.

I really don't think all of these artists are doing this kind of music to be pretentious and to annoy you, since it's probably a pretty niche artform, and they undoubtedly have the skill to play more traditional music.

NoSleep

Quote from: Retinend on September 05, 2012, 06:50:25 PM
Obviously there is. The musicans we're talking about can't create the effects that Debussy can with all his conventions. They can make music that would fit on a slasher soundtrack, but how ridiculous that you would cast that as evidence of it's expressive superiority! Yes, I can experience feelings of unease, confusion, alienation etc with these artists, but there is some niche ground left in the emotional spectrum - y'know - melancholy - nostalgia - triumph - disillusionment - tragedy - love - spirtuality - hope - dread - euphoria - I'm clearly much better off listening to something inflexible and rainbow coloured like Faure, Debussy, John Adams[nb]nothing significant about this trio, but I'm willing to show up my taste for what it means to whoever's reading[/nb].

Anyway, I'm maybe drawing together Bailey, Braxton and Atonalists from three different genres too vaguely, but you see where I'm coming from. "Breaking down boundaries" (the self-indulgent refrain of so many 20th century avant gardists) isn't purely positive freedom. You at least lose some of those effective, time-tested methods of expression. I would say that if you go to the extremes of Bailey and Braxton, you end up losing most of your ability to express anything, and the most odiously self-congratulatory babble fills the gap left by emotional response.

It's you that is bound, because you find it necessary for one view of music or another to be "superior". Nothing is lost for Braxton or Bailey, in what they do, because they are pursuing exactly what they want to pursue. Bailey, particularly, saw playing as continuous research. He also saw himself as a conventional musician, dealing with notes (as exemplified on the album "Standards" where he applied his lexicon of sound to performing standard songs; a very good introduction to his work for somebody looking for a way in). It's evident in his work with Paul Rutherford and Barry Guy in the trio Iskra 1903, also. Once you hear the music in his work, it's difficult to accept the standard explanation of his work as noise. FFS, I saw him live many times and he always tuned his guitar before undertaking a performance. There is precision in his approach (which includes opportunities for happy accidents and humour) and dedication to extending his knowledge of his instrument; he has truly explored what a guitar can do and how it sounds.

The Βoston Crab

Quote from: NoSleep on September 05, 2012, 07:06:02 PM
It's you that is bound, because you find it necessary for one view of music or another to be "superior".

Retinend

Quote from: thugler on September 05, 2012, 06:59:33 PM
Your only missing the possibility of those emotions due to the cliched way they have been expressed through music over time. It's quite possible for free improv to express all of those things.

Of course music is a part of a tradition that's in conversation with the past. If you completely sever those "cliches" there are no associations left. Just a vague sense of unease and confusion.

Secondly, free improv is so marginal that the sorts of claims made about it, like "it's quite possible for free improv to express all of those things" deserve some  basic skepticism. Who are these "seers" who can tell if free improv can express one thing or another? I am unfortunately lacking the ability to discern it. Can this insight be taught, or is it a biological endowment?

If it's not a case of seers or genes, please give me a piece of free improv that illustrates great sorrow, and then another that illustrates great joy.

NoSleep

Do you think those emotions actually reside within music? Everyone reacts to a piece of music differently; there's nothing objective you could put a finger on. A piece of music that moves many people to tears in one country leaves most people cold in another (or even another region of the same territory) . There are devices and conventions that manipulated by musicians and composers within different cultures and also with genres to represent emotion and there are also many composers who would deny their objective lies in dealing that sort of thing; that music is an abstract expression.

Regards particular performances of free improv signifying a particular emotion; I know of pieces and groupings of musicians who have a reflective, sometimes mournful, sometimes introspective, sometimes off elsewhere (it's the nature of the music for some musicians to confound the normal processes found elsewhere). I mentioned Iskra 1903 in its earlier incarnation of Rutherford, Guy & Bailey. Or try some AMM.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is the in-your-face flesh-stripping sound of Machine Gun by the Peter Brotzmann Octet which is the joyous, albeit brutal, sound of eight people responding to the accusations of just playing noise with the response "No, this is noise!" They manage to out-metal any metal before the genre was even born.

NoSleep

I must say my normal reaction to conventionally "happy" music is very similar to the one I have toward people that tell you to cheer up because it may never happen; I find it simply annoying. I much prefer the company of some Miles Davis-style melancholia, assuring me of how shit life can be at times (which can raise a smile all of its own).

KLG-7A

Quote from: NoSleep on September 05, 2012, 06:48:20 PM
I just don't get the whingeing[nb]Not particularly you, more retinend's transformation into a reactionary in this thread.[/nb] about something that doesn't appeal, that is clearly something that doesn't want to be everybody's cup of tea.
Ah, well, I'm happy it exists and that I've heard it. I can't enjoy it, and because it immediately leaves me wondering why it's different from the improv I did on violin at primary school to represent rabbits playing[nb]Which I played on stage at The Albert Hall! No, really! Our school won a competition.[/nb] which I know had very little depth due to me being a empty-headed eight year old grade 2 violinist.

It might be that it's just a recording of a live, personal event (as you or somebody else mentioned above) that it doesn't communicate well with some of us.

The Βoston Crab

Quote from: NoSleep on September 05, 2012, 08:36:54 PM
I must say my normal reaction to conventionally "happy" music is very similar to the one I have toward people that tell you to cheer up because it may never happen; I find it simply annoying. I much prefer the company of some Miles Davis-style melancholia, assuring me of how shit life can be at times (which can raise a smile all of its own).

But despite your individual outlook at the moment, other emotions are equally valid. Music can sound 'happy' but lyrics or the inspiration can come from somewhere quite different to the resulting 'sound', resulting in exactly the light and shade you favour. In fact, that's one of the greatest tricks of pop music.

NoSleep

Quote from: KLG-7A on September 05, 2012, 08:46:46 PM
Ah, well, I'm happy it exists and that I've heard it. I can't enjoy it, and because it immediately leaves me wondering why it's different from the improv I did on violin at primary school to represent rabbits playing[nb]Which I played on stage at The Albert Hall! No, really! Our school won a competition.[/nb] which I know had very little depth due to me being a empty-headed eight year old grade 2 violinist.

It might be that it's just a recording of a live, personal event (as you or somebody else mentioned above) that it doesn't communicate well with some of us.

Ah, you've pulled the old "a child could do it" card[nb]Sun Ra's answer was, "but could he write it down afterwards?"[/nb]. I remember my music teacher (the guy that taught me how to work out music for myself; nothing to do with school) telling me that even when a good musician just sits on his keyboard, it somehow sounds better than anybody else doing the same. it's a lesson I never forgot and one that I've found to be true.

KLG-7A

It's not a card. I'm not trying to win an argument (I'm not on Retinend's "side"). I'd like to know what's different. All you've told me is an anecdote that smells of thoughtless elitism (there is NO REASONING behind it).