Ha, the first song I'm familiar with. Better, I reviewed 'Skeleton Tree', Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds' album after the summer in a very favourable way. Cave has strayed far from his starting point in music. Not that I could listen to him at the time. And nor would you, as The Birthday Party certainly does not fit this musical meditation. 'Magneto' does, all mood, all atmosphere with Cave's deep voice prominently up front in the mix. A song to carry me away. So impressive.
The strings of The Bad Seeds slowly morph and then disappear behind the more prominent strings of Lárus Sigurdsson. Hís 'We Are Not Swans' from the album 'We Are Told When To Shine' is a moody piece. Yet totally fitting 'Magneto'. The two songs augment each other totally. In a somewhat warped way they could easily be placed on the same album. Two minutes, less and its all over. Yes, something shone alright, but not the swans, perhaps us, but not as swans. Perhaps the whole album gives away as what we did shine? Or when as what? I can't tell here. It also puzzles me how much music comes from Iceland. I get the impression the whole population plays music (and is a football fan). There's nothing new or unique here, but such a cool beauty. Like I imagine the island itself to be.
Again a change, to piano, notes played far and wide apart in an extremely slow fashion. Woodkid is a new name to me. Together with Nils Frahm he composed a filmscore on a movie about Ellis Island, with Robert de Niro as narrator. Not here though. This is instrumental, typical Frahm playing, my Kairos experience tells me. My patience, I see, will be tested for nearly 10 minutes. So I'm closing my eyes here and see what happens. ...... I see ships sailing on the see, carrying loads of imigrants from Italy, Eastern Europe. Soundless, in black and white on calm sea. All the storms have been left behind. The drama rises as some are not allowed to enter the U.S. for unknown reasons, while others feel the excitement of being let in, to the land of their dreams. The music befits a filmscore but is easily listenable stand alone. It's like Steve Marriott sings: "Close your eyes and drift away".
Time for something darker, a Nocturne, if that has to do with the night that is. Ben Lukas Boysen's 'Selene' is another piano based composition. .No really is into piano's recently, isn't he? The dark-toned notes prevail with a hint at something else going on in the background, that I can't really hear (anymore? or is the simply nothing there?).
Morten Lauridsen's 'Sa Nuit d'Éte is a totally different matter, a choir composition, but again something dark. The bass segment of the human voice is explored, making it a slow composition. Singing low excludes high speeds. It has to resonate and that it does in 'Sa Nuit d'Éte'. I'm in the mood for this, so good.
An organ takes over. Jo Louppen is back in action. A recent discovery of .No, I reckon. Or is it one of his uncles or nephews again from the deep south that are newly released in a series of Limburg composers? All kidding aside. Louppen plays a composition by Margriet Ehlen, 'Paulo minus ab Angelis' on a church organ. Whether this ever made it to church at mass I'm not certain. It's so dark it could be the devil's work if it did not sound somewhat sacred also. Looking at it that way, it could be on the score of 'De Harpij', should anyone ever film the brilliant book by A.N. Ryst. Again things go a little wild, a modest emulation of 'Toccata En Fuga', a signature of Louppen's playing it seems. In this version it's like someone is testing what all the little plugf around the organ do. Well we know now. Thank you, Mr. Louppen. Weird.
Larus Sigurdsson returns with a composition called 'Fina Mündsuchtig'. (No, definitely no shining here.) With him violins return. Also played on the deep strings, with moodiness behind it. Again I'm captured by the mystery Sigurdsson plays out in a slow, but lavish way.
O.k., brace yourself folks, we are in for a second part of Ellis. I've put the music on hold to get myself some tea as it's a full 15 minutes and I want to listen to it without typing. If I sit through it that is. No 'Ships' please, .No. First, I'd like to tell you that Woodkid is a French singer, composer, filmer of videoclips and graphic designer called Yoanne Lemoine. A latter day humo universalis? He has the biggest names in modern music to his name, Del Ray, Williams, Perry, but comes up with music like this. There's money and there's art for monsieur Lemoine? Let me get my tea and then let's get to it.
A minimal sort of music enfolds, an organ rising and falling over a continued drone alternated with the voice of Robert de Niro who recites memories of immigrants or made up memoires. Believe it or not what I imagined over the instrumental that was before comes out here. Someone is sent back. After which a story enfolds. There is a bell. The Pärt bell as I call it. De Niro returns. I'm afraid, this is just what I do not like on albums: spoken word. For that I go the the movies, watch television or a documentary, but not as part of music. While listening to music there's just no place for spoken word in my universe. In that sense Eno's ship is not so far away. Here comparisons stop. This doesn't erk me. The music itself is simply too elementary to impress, so I could not have enjoyed this for 25 minutes without De Niro either. There's just too little happening in 'Winter Morning II'. I'm sure the story as a whole impresses though. Ellis Island was so important to many people. Very probably De Niro's own ancestors passed through there. The medium is just wrong for me.
A piano moves in on a slightly lighter note this time around. 'The Pool Of Memories' enfolds in my ears. Lubomir Melnyk's piano takes me through space and time and in a way complements the stories just told. You could have fooled me if you told me this was a part of 'Winter Morning II'. I am in a sentimental mood as this music really moves me. Everything seems to be at its right place in this song. Busy as it is, notes fly in from all sides. How many hands does this guy have? More than one person has if I listen correctly; and there's one duff note. Funny that it sticks out although it's almost hidden in there.
Ten minutes fly by. I have to pay attention as the next fragment is something like 30 seconds. A fragment of Emmanuelle Errante's 'Later Earlier' comes by, but what can she expect with such a title? Too confusing to be allowed more that 40 seconds?
The final contribution is by Martin Stephenson, 'Rain'. This guitar based composition, the first on this Kairos, is melancholy, but so much lighter than most of what came by before. This changes again when Stephenson starts singing. He sounds like Lee Hazelwood's younger brother. That is not to say that this is not beautiful. The guitar playing is Leonard Cohen's style, like the song is alike 'Bird On A Wire' or 'The Partisan'. (I expect a Cohen tribute soon .No.) I had never heard of Stephenson, but I certainly appreciate the acquaintance.
You can listen to this Kairos here:
Playlist Kairos 6 October 11 PM / 23.00 CET. www.concertzender.nl
00:07 Nick Cave. Magneto. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Album: Skeleton Tree. Bad Seed Ltd. BS009CD.
05:12 Lârus Sigurdsson. We are not swans. Album: We are told that we shine. Volkoren 65.
07:03 Woodkid. Winter Morning I. Nils Frahm. Album: Ellis. Erased Tapes Records ERATP086CD.
16:05 Ben Lukas Boysen. Selene. Album: Spells. Erased Tapes Records ERATP085CD.
18:44 Morten Lauridsen. Sa nuit d'été, uit Nocturnes. Tekst: Rainer Maria Rilke. Polyphony o.l.v. Jaqueline Shave ; Morten Lauridsen, piano. Album: Nocturnes. Hypérion CDA67580.
21:58 Margriet Ehlen. Paulo minus ab Angelis. Jo Louppen, orgel. Album Positief. Stichting Limburgse Componisten.
28:47 Larus Sigurdsson. Fina Mondsûchtig. Album: We are told that we shine. Volkoren 65.
30:40 Woodkid. Winter Morning II. Nils Frahm keyboards; Robert de Niro, voice. Album: Ellis. Erased Tapes Records ERATP086CD.
45:00 Lubomyr melnyk. The pool of memories. Album: Rivers and Streams. Erased Tapes Records ERATP077CD.
55:18 Emanuelle Errante. Later earlier (fragment). Album: Time Elapsing Handheld. Karaoke Kalk CD 75.
55:53 Martin Stephenson. Rain. Album: ‘Boat to Bolivia. Kitchenware Records 828 012-1
59:21 Emanuelle Errante. Later earlier (fragment). Album: Time Elapsing Handheld. Karaoke Kalk CD 75.