“It’s the start of 2016, and Smith’s friend Pearlman—a producer and rock critic—has been hospitalized after a brain hemorrhage. As he lies in a coma, Smith recounts the tumultuous year that follows—the loss of friends (Sam Shepard is nearly bedridden), the horror of the imminent election and rise of nationalism, and the impending climate crisis. A reflection on mortality, the book retains Smith’s characteristically flat tone as she wanders through stretches of Arizona, California, Virginia, and Kentucky, stopping at diners for black coffee and onion omelets and conversations with strangers. She hitchhikes from San Francisco to San Diego and back, travels as far as Lisbon, and returns home to the quiet of her Rockaway bungalow to stare at the flowers. All the while, she describes the mundane details of life with incredible vividness…”

Camille Jacobson on
Year of the Monkey,
a new memoir from Patti Smith.

theparisreview.org/blog/2019/10/11/staff-picks-monsters-monkeys-and-maladies/

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“I felt very strongly that the communal suffering, and our ability to transcend it, was the thing that held us together. This was not some pessimistic worldview, quite the opposite really. It became clear that as human beings we have enormous capabilities that allow us to rise above our suffering – that we are hardwired for transcendence. […] [W]hether the lyric writing has changed, I would say that it has shifted fundamentally. I have found a way to write beyond the trauma […]. I found with some practise the imagination could propel itself beyond the personal into a state of wonder.”

Nick Cave

As we enter a new phase of social, political and economic uncertainty, Christopher Petit’s 1979 film Radio On has a new relevance.

Released forty years ago this year,
Radio On‘s dark vision of Britain
on the cusp of inevitable change
speaks to our time
in stark and revealing ways.
(more…)

The Washington Post

“Producer Giles Martin shares the remarkable stories, early demos, outtakes and stunning new mixes from the just-released deluxe version of the album.” NPR

“Bob Dylan had crucial second thoughts just as he was about to release “Blood on the Tracks,” the indelible 1975 album filled with songs of separation, heartache, sorrow, rage and regret. Now it’s getting a revealing close-up. “More Blood, More Tracks: The Bootleg Series Vol. 14,” […] unveils all of the initial sessions: the solo, duo and small-group versions of songs that Dylan replaced, for half of the album, with more extroverted full-band recordings. There are an exhaustive deluxe six-CD version with every surviving take and a one-CD compilation of alternate versions of the album’s 10 songs plus one that was omitted, “Up to Me. […] The [set] includes a hardcover volume featuring a trove of Dylan lore: a page-by-page reproduction of a spiral notebook of lyrics, full of cross-outs and alternatives.”

The New York Times

“David Lynch relives his days in Thought Gang, the band whose music was even wilder than his movies” — The Guardian.

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“Again, it’s like going to church whether you want to or not. If you know it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s just beautiful. Beautiful’s the only word I can say.”

— Chan Marshall (Cat Power), The Quietus

“Ambient Music has arrived at middle age. 2018 marks 40 years since the release of Brian Eno’s Music For Airports, which effectively introduced the term. As a musical form it has endured, even though its sense of self as a genre has become arguably obfuscated at best and ineffectual at worst. Genres, like human beings, can undergo periods where direction and clarity are lacking. When such periods take hold in the middle years, a mid-life crisis can often occur. With that in mind, I am reconsidering ambient music and its place looking into the 21st century. What might ambient music’s next decade (let alone 40 years) be concerned with?”

FACT Magazine

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Mark E. Smith

“Tributes to artists often end up being more about the person writing them, but MES provided me with an alternative education, looping me into Camus, and Arthur Machen, and William Blake, and Can, and dub and old garage punk and rock’n’roll. I saw the Fall 52 times and without MES my life would have been utterly different and nowhere near as much fun. What on earth are we all going to do with ourselves now?”

— Stewart Lee, The Guardian

david-byrne
David Byrne

American Utopia comes as part of Byrne’s ongoing ‘Reasons to Be Cheerful’ series in which he curates hopeful writings, photos, music, and lectures. ‘These songs don’t describe an imaginary or possibly impossible place but rather attempt to depict the world we live in now,’ he said in a statement. ‘Many of us, I suspect, are not satisfied with that world—the world we have made for ourselves. We look around and we ask ourselves—well, does it have to be like this? Is there another way? These songs are about that looking and that asking.'”

Pitchfork
See also: The Quietus.

John Corbett on a new pocket-sized field guide to free and spontaneous music
John Corbett, A Listener's Guide to Free Improvisation (University of Chicago Press, 2016)
John Corbett, A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

What led you to write A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation?

I’ve been involved with improvised music from several different standpoints over the last 35 years, as a listener, as a critic, as a teacher, as a presenter, and as a producer.  In the process of moving around in the music’s netherworlds, I noticed that many potential listeners were curious about it but just had no way to enter, no accessible points of reference.  It’s sometimes seen as “difficult” or “complex,” and it can be both, but approaching free music is very different from listening to music composed using mathematical algorithms or with elaborate preconceived harmonic inventions.  To listen to it you basically need to be attentive.  That’s it.  But that’s also not easy.  Having some historical framework can help, and the more experience you have as a listener the better.  But it’s really open to new listeners, and I wanted to find a way, in as down to earth a way as possible, to suggest that openness.  To invite new listeners from other walks of music and to give a few tips on listening, things that might help get over the initial hump.    (more…)

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ince I’m unable to visit the True Faith exhibition running at Manchester Art Gallery, I am doing everything I can to experience it vicariously through the accounts of luckier folk. I discovered the music of Joy Division when I was sixteen, and found that it wasn’t just the songs that appealed to me, but the sparse beauty of Peter Saville‘s record sleeves. According to reports, the multimedia exhibition delivers a number of thrills, while offering a testament to the groups’ ongoing cultural legacy. (more…)

In a fascinating interview published in The GuardianMichael Hann talks to the members of REM about the twenty-fifth anniversary of Out of Time, the record that made them global superstars. Through a set of revealing conversations, the former members reflect on life in the band, their cultural legacy, and recent American politics. (more…)

Manchester Art Gallery • 30 June – 3 September 2017

Manchester Art Gallery is hosting an exhibition exploring the “ongoing significance and legacy” of Joy Division and New Order:

“Curated by Matthew Higgs, Director of White Columns, New York and author and film-maker Jon Savage with archivist Johan Kugelberg, True Faith is centred on four decades’ worth of extraordinary contemporary works from artists including Julian Schnabel, Jeremy Deller, Liam Gillick, Mark Leckey, Glenn Brown and Slater Bradley, all directly inspired by the two groups.”

The exhibition also includes Peter Saville’s distinctive cover designs, and work by figures including Jonathan Demme and Kathryn Bigelow. [Read More]