More Scraps


I’m aware that I followed a post expressing a concern that I’m not subjective enough in my artistic pursuits with two posts on Andrei Tarkovsky where I didn’t write anything original. I suppose I enjoy the irony that, at times, subjective works can beautifully express objective truths and that seemingly selfless objective methods can reveal profound subjective truths.

Obvious meta-ironic philosophizing aside, I wanted to step in on this post to return to some things I left out of my more recent post…

Last summer I discovered that the McGill library has a fantastic collection of DVDs available to students for free three-day checkout. Ever since then I’ve been in veritable (mostly) foreign art-house film heaven watching great works by directors such as Bergman, Kiarostami, Fellini, Rossellini, Antonioni, Pasolini, Kurosawa, Ozu, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Scoresese, Godard, Buñuel, Almodovar, Kieslowski, Wajda, Dovzhenko, Forman, Polanski, Eisenstein, Von Trier, Herzog, and Fassbinder a few nights a week. Last autumn, on a particularly patient night I watched Tarkovsky’s “Solaris.” It haunted me like few films had and even made me reconsider what I had long considered as perfection in Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odysessy.”

John Rea and another friend later recommended Tarkovsky’s “The Passion According to Andrei” (or “Andrei Rublev”), which I had to watch over two days to emotionally handle. Over winter his other films “The Mirror,” “Nostalghia,” and especially “Offret Sacrifacatio” left strong impressions on me. Later Tarkovsky’s book “Sculpting in Time” significantly shaped my esthetic stance in a way that only Joyce’s “Portrait of an Artist as Young Man” can directly match.

As for Claude Vivier, to learn more about his music I highly recommend seeking out recordings of all his later (post-1978) works. The Canadian Music Centre is a good place to look for these. I’d also recommend the DVD “Reves d’un Marco Polo” which features a documentary and an extended concert of Vivier’s music featuring the Schoenberg and ASKO Ensembles. The documentary, although insultingly Euro-centric, provides a shattering view on Vivier’s tragic life. The concert features great performances of some of Vivier’s most significant works such as his opera “Kopernikus (A Ritual Opera of Death)” and the only recording I’ve found of “Crois-tu en l’immortalité de l’âme?” The DVD also has subtitles so you can understand the French and language fragments if you, like me, can’t fully comprehend French. If you read French the excellent Montréal-based contemporary music journal “Circuit” has published an issue which features Claude Vivier’s complete writings and tributes by the likes of Ligeti and others that is well worth a good read.

If you want hear some music, here’s the last track from the Café Spies album I produced and performed most of – “Less is More (Parts 1-3).” This track was recorded sans plan in one take as I watched the four-track’s tape run out. Agent N8-10 speaks and I play and process all the instruments and sounds on this most note-y track from a very note-y album. Oh yeah, I’m also ripping off some of the two-keyboard stuff I did on this track for “Inner Music.”

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