|Artwork: Astrid van der Meijs|
There is a theme this month: Time. Time is a serious topic, I'd say. It defines modern life. Without it life must have been very different. Time is what gives stress, deadlines, attendance, being too late or too early. Although I do not have the illusion that these sort of feelings did not exist before clocks, but certainly in a different way. A harvest that had to be in on time. landlords with impossible demands, serfdom, unexpected, unexplainable events, all will have given rise to stress too, in ways we don't know any more. These thoughts all come to me listening to Francis Poulenc's sonata for clarinet and piano. Have we become serfs to our clocks and belatedly our smarter and smarter cell phones? Time: a fascinating topic.
The split from Poulenc with 'Lost' by Barzin is immaculate, as I have come to expect in Kairos. No matter how different this switch to modern music is, it is becoming. Barzin plays music that I listen to quite often, so I even have made a discovery here. The band or artist could have been released on Snowstar Records, but is not. The treated vocals are somewhat irritating at first, but I grew into that and started to enjoy all that goes on underneath, tending towards country, because of the pedal steel sound, but enough indie to be very credible, but more importantly, interesting.
The jump to church music is a large one. Especially when a counter tenor is involved. A different kind of shudder goes down my spine than one of pleasure. Gavin Bryar's 'Incipit Vita Nova' is a very serious piece of work. You'd say that the new life we are allowed to view brings joy, but not here. Almost downcast as if we know the ending already and are singing about it. We know, of course, but they at the time did not. So why not rejoice the new life?
Next up is a German song. Another serious affair. The way Ewald Spiss makes music reminds me of Broeder Dieleman, exempting the birds. An acoustic guitar and sharp, almost screeching violins. 'Nacht. Jahrtal' is a song that impresses in its basic simplicity. He also reminds me of a show I saw in December of Jesse Mac Cormack. Spiss also attempts to make things more ugly than they at heart are. There are aspects to 'Nacht' that become unlistenable. Close to the fingernails on the schoolboard. A phenomenon that is disappearing in time, I realise. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Broeder Dieleman, Sun Kil Moon, just some names that jump to mind listening to Ewald Spiss. I want to learn more for certain.
The poem in 'A Child's Prayer' is so personal that I refrain from comment here. A very short life is remembered and in a way celebrated. Underneath the poem are voices like the voices of angels, drifting up in a large cathedral in such a way that almost makes me believe there must be something up there. They are so soothing, so comforting. Music to dissolve in. Exactly everything what beautiful music can achieve.
Hans Kockelmans is also a jazz guitarist! I was not aware of that. The short improvisation of spiraling notes, called 'Mijmer', fits beautifully with the angels from just before.
The switch into true jazz of the Thomas Baggermann Trio is a bit of a shock. The music is far more traditional that Kockelmans' lead and solo playing. That late night sort of jazz where a lazy sax leads a band towards the closing of the evening. As it is it is very befitting, but also very neat and nice. Pleasant, let me stop there.
The first sounds made me think that I heard a song by Broeder Dieleman that I hadn't heard before, but it is Ries de Vuyst. The music changes into a sort of blues. The guitar and harmonica remind me of Hot Tuna's first acoustic blues album from around 1970. 'Snijwblind' is a kind of song that stands like a pillar in time. A monolith, so solid it is. With great, extremely self-assured playing and a voice so gritty that I believe it instantly. 'Snijwblind' is, caught in one word, beautiful.
Anouar Brahem's song 'Les Jardins de Ziryab' is presented next. In this song south meets north. North African sounds blend with western piano sounds and accordion (or something like it). The instruments and notes float around each other and exclude one another as if in a push and pull game of attraction. With no one winning, as there is no need for win or lose here. Just the music.
During a poem on this month's theme, time, on Kairos, Brahem's song changes to John Tavener's 'Last Sleep Of the Virgin'. A mesmerising piece of work, where a sort of weightlessness is played by the instruments of the Chilingirian Quartet. The defining instrument here are the bells, played by Lain Simcock. They have a somewhat strange lead role as it is the bells that move up and down the composition, at times even as if they don't really belong. Estranging yet fascinating. The string section gets its role as lead instruments as well, moving into the composition, where it gets darker, (even) moodier. It gets too moody for me, so I don't sit it out, with full attention, until the end. Time caught up with me, I'm afraid.
You can listen back to what I tried to describe here:
Playlist of October 2016 Kairos
00:01 Francis Poulenc. Romanza uit Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. Janet Hilton, klarinet; Keith Swallow, piano.
Album ‘Rhapsodie’. Chandos Records Chan 6589.
04:50 Barzin. Lost. Van album ‘Notes to an absent lover’
Monotreme Records MONO-35
07:55 Gavin Bryars. Incipit Vita Nova. David James, countertenor; Annemarie Dreyer, viool; Ulrike Lachner, viola da gamba; Rebecca Firth, cello.
Album ‘Vita Nova. ECM New Series 1533445 351-2.
13:28 Ewald Spiss. Nacht. Jahrtal (Ewald Spiss, zang, diverse instrumenten; Christine Spiss, zang).
Album Lieder Von Unschuld Und Widerfahren. Ahnstern39
21:11 Pēteris Vasks. Coming into Bloom uit String Quartet no. 2 Summer Tunes (1984). Navarra Quartet (Xander van Vliet, viool; Marije Ploemacher, viool; Simone van der Giessen, viola da gamba; Nathaniel Boyd, cello).
Challenge Classics CC72365.
27:58 James MacMillan. A child’s prayer. Gabrieli Consort olv. Paul McCreesh.
Album A Song of Farewell. Signum Records SIGCD 281.
31:48 Hans Kockelmans. Mijmer (improvisatie). Hans Kockelmans, gitaar.
Eigen opname Hans Kockelmans.
32:14 J. Roelofs. Smiling in the cold. Thomas Baggerrman Trio. Album: live Sessions.
Uitgegeven in eigen beheer.
37:19 Ries de Vuyst. Snijwblind.
Album Oondert. Uitgegeven in eigen beheer.
41:02 Anouar Brahem. Les jardins de Ziryab.
Album: Le voyage de Sahar. ECM 1915 9874651.
44:56 JohnTavener. Last sleep of the virgin (gedeeltelijk). Chilingirian Quartet (Lain Simcock, bellen; Philip de Groote, cello; Simon Rowland-Jones, viola da gamba; Charles Sewart en Levon Chilingirian, viool).
Virgin Classics VC5 45023 2