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Archive for the ‘Jonny Greenwood’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RADIOHEAD PUBLIC LIBRARY (2020).

Today, Radiohead changed their website to the Radiohead Public Library.  About which they state:

Radiohead.com has always been a) infuriatingly uninformative and b) surprising. The most surprising thing to do next, therefore, is to suddenly become incredibly informative. So that is what we have done. We present: the RADIOHEAD PUBLIC LIBRARY, an online resource containing videos, music, artwork, websites, merchandise, and assorted ephemera.

As a librarian, I love that this is what they are calling the site, and I love the idea that they will single handedly get the word library into many many search engines.

So what is it?

Well, really it’s kind of a tumbler page, meaning it is weird and chaotic and hard to find things (very much unlike a library).  But there is a vaguely chronological format (color coded).

But like at a library, you can find links to work that has been historically tough to find online.

You can also register for a library card.  The card is a downloadable image file where you can attach a photo of yourself (and then laminate it, of course).  I was kind of bummed that my number was so high (I’m in the 102,000 range), but I didn’t look at the site until late in the day. And actually I’m pretty thrilled that at least 100,000 people had visited the site before me.  Unless these numbers are randomized, of course.

The library contains he band’s albums, B-sides, non-LP tracks, behind-the-scenes photos, TV appearances, promotional performances, webcasts, full-length concerts (2006 and 2012 Bonnaroo) , a store with newly reissued T-shirts and lots of Stanley Donwood’s artwork.

I suppose most Radiohead die hard fans have all of this stuff already, but it sounds like they have updated the quality of a lot of the works.  Plus, it’s fun having it all in one place.

Also, Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, Philip Selway, and Thom Yorke will each serve as a “librarian” for a day.

Get your library card now!

[READ: January 14, 2020] “Visitor”

The narrator explains that a visitor showed up in his doorstep about a month after his father’s funeral. He had flown in from Kingston, Jamaica.  He told the narrator that he was the narrator’s father’s lover.

The narrator said no way but agreed to let the man in.

The visitor was Asian (lots of Chinese in Jamaica, he said).  His boots were too big, his pants were too tight.  The visitor began to tell him things about his father that checked out.  He hated reggae, couldn’t cook and didn’t have a favoirte color.  Eventually he said “your father and I were just kids.  Lasted five years, on and off.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ENSEMBLE SIGNAL PLAYS JONNY GREENWOOD-Tiny Desk Concert #850 (May 20, 2019).

The blurb for this piece is actually by Jonny Greenwood (instead of an NPR staffer), so I’ll keep the whole thing.

I’ve watched a lot of Tiny Desk concerts over the years. It’s good to see musicians in the raw, away from stage lighting and backing tracks — as if they’ve just stopped by an office to play over a lunch break, with desk-bound employees watching on. The performances should expose flaws, but instead they tend to expose musicians being casually brilliant, like the members of Ensemble Signal, who certainly play these pieces beautifully.

Unfortunately, I was nowhere near Washington, D.C. for this recording. And I still find it bizarre that you can put a musical idea on paper and have it reproduced at such a distance — and with such added life. We’re used to sounds and images being shared as exact clones of one another, but the pleasure in using ink and paper is that the music is interpreted rather than just reproduced. All those years of practice, in all those players, distilled into 15 minutes of music. It’s a big privilege — and a continuing motivation to write the best I can.

The first piece, Three Miniatures from Water, was originally a sketch for an Australian Chamber Orchestra commission in 2014. I thought it’d be easier to approach writing for full orchestra by starting with a piano miniature and scaling it up. In fact, only some of the material made it to the final commission, and I always felt the original three miniatures hung together well enough as its own piece of music.

I’m a big admirer of composer Olivier Messiaen, and one of the musical scales he favored was the octatonic mode. It’s a lot like an Indian rag in that it’s a rigid set of notes, yet isn’t necessarily in a major or minor key. There are hundreds of rags in Indian music, but I was surprised to find that Messiaen’s octatonic scale isn’t one of them. Despite this, it sits nicely over a drone — and that was the starting point for this music. That and the glorious sound of the tanpura, the drone instrument that underpins everything in classical Indian music.

The piece is called Water, after the Philip Larkin poem with the same title, and was especially inspired by the final stanza:

And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.

The second piece, called 88 (No. 1), is also in one of Messiaen’s modes in the first half, before becoming a celebration of the mechanical nature of the piano. The performer has to put fingerless gloves on halfway through, partly in tribute to the immortal Glenn Gould, and partly because the technique requires some painful hammering. But don’t let that fool you into thinking the music is dark or angry: It is — or is meant to be — joyful.

“Three Miniatures from Water” features lots of drones from the strings ( Lauren Radnofsky on cello and Greg Chudzik on bowed upright bass).  There’s also the excellent tanpura drones from Paul Coleman and Elena Moon Park. The violin from Olivia De Prato plays a slow melody that seems to appear and disappear while the piano plays a somewhat spooky pizzicato melody.

“88 (No. 1)” is a solo piano piece by Lisa Moore (who played piano on the other piece as well).  It does seem to use all 88 keys in various fashion.  Indeed, she does put on fingerless gloves a little more than half way through the piece where she does play quite possibly every note (I can’t imagine what that looks like on paper).  For the last 45 seconds, she seems to be banging relentlessly (but tunefully–are there chords?) all over the keys.

Neither one of these pieces seem particularly joyful to me–they both seem kind of scary, but I am fascinated at the kind of compositions the guy from Radiohead makes.

[READ: June 1, 2019] “Then Again”

This is an excerpt from The Other Half, a manuscript that Ciment is writing to rebut her own 1996 memoir, Half a Life.

In that original memoir, she wrote about meeting her husband.  At the time she was seventeen and he was forty-seven (and her art teacher).

She asks what should she call him now.  “My husband”?  Yes, if it is the story is about the man she married and lived with for forty-five years.  But what if it is about an older man preying on a teenager.  Should she call him “The artist” or “the art teacher.”

She says he didn’t know what to expect when he kissed her for the first time–she could have screamed or slapped him.  But she had fantasized about him for the last six months, so that was not going to happen. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 1, 2018] Radiohead

I have never really seen a band two times close together.  Sometimes with smaller bands if they are playing two clubs, but never a stadium show.

But I had already gotten my Radiohead ticket for WellsFargo, so I was sure as heck not giving it up.

I saw Phish twice on the Baker’s Dozen run–two shows 16 days apart.  Now here was Radiohead 21 days apart.  For some reason their tour didn’t go NY to Philly, it went NY to Canada, to Ohio to Boston and then to Philly.  This was a cool way to see the band twice with some decompression time in between gigs.

Strangely enough, these tickets which were literally at the side of the stage–I was parallel with the gap between the stage and the crowd and 23 rows back–and they actually cost more than the General Admission floor seats at Madison Square Garden (although the fees at MSG were more, so these tickets were technically cheaper when all was said and done).

Since I had trouble getting to the arena for Pearl Jam, I decided to leave work a bit early, drive in and beat the inevitable traffic.  Which meant I arrived 45 minutes before the gates opened.  Duh.  So I sat in the car and continued my book.

Then I went in and got some merch that hadn’t been available at MSG and found my seat.  As with the MSG show I was surprised at how uncrowded it was.  I guess many people didn’t care about Junun.  But when the lights went down for Radiohead, my section (and everywhere else) seemed full.

I had a pretty great view of the stage (except for one lighting pole which was directly in my view of whomever was up front (usually Thom).  I also couldn’t really see the screen in the back (which was ok) and the lights are obviously very different from off to the side instead of head on.

But what was most important was the music.  And despite what I thought was a terrible sound for Junun, Radiohead sounded amazing once more   The music was crystal clear and powerful without being too loud. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 11, 2018] Junun

I thought traffic might be out of hand getting to the Wells Fargo Center (I had a bad experience parking when we saw Pearl Jam there).  Plus the show started at 7:30, which is pretty much heart of rush hour if you’re trying to get there at a reasonable hour.

So I left straight from work and wound up an hour earlier than when the doors opened.  I thought here was a chance I’d miss Junun if I got there late, but here I was super early again.  So I had a nice parking lot chat with Sarah while I waited.  Then I continued with my book (same book as the previous show–it’s a pocket-sized paperback (Terry Pratchett), perfect for this sort of thing).

I had a seat this time, so I wasn’t in a hurry.  I bought some small merch (socks!) and took my seat.

Unlike last time when I was on the floor, for this show I was stage left almost exactly parallel with the stage.  It wasn’t a great location for seeing the light show, but Junun doesn’t have one.  The main gripe for me was that the lighting pole was in the worst spot for me to see the front of the stage.

For my post from a few weeks ago, click here. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 11, 2018] Radiohead

I remember hearing “Creep” when it first came out and really liking it.  And I remember thinking that Radiohead would be a fun grunge band to follow.  Well, that changed pretty quickly and soon enough Radiohead released “Paranoid Android,” and I couldn’t stop listening to the song and the album.

Then, by making deliberately quirky and somewhat hard to fathom albums, Radiohead became the biggest band in the world.

Their live shows were supposed to be spectacular.  But I had never managed to go.  They played Madison Square Garden in 2016 and the tickets sold out so fast it was a trending topic.   Previously, they had played NY and Philly back in 2012, but I wasn’t as fully cognizant of concerts then like I am now.

So, when they announced a brief tour of the States, I tried, once again, to get tickets through the proper channels (with the understanding that they were trying to control bots and scalpers).

Tickets for Philly went on sale first and I couldn’t believe that I got one!  The seat was close but on the side of the stage.  But who cared?  It was Radiohead.

When MSG tickets went on sale I wanted to see if I could do better.  And I scored a floor seat, general admission!  I nearly passed out. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 11, 2018] Junun

I was so excited to get tickets to see Radiohead that I didn’t even consider that there would be an opening band.

I was so excited to get General Admission floor spaces that I didn’t really think about anything else.  I took off from work that day, drove to the City and did not heed the advice of crazy fans who were going to camping out all day.  Rather, I arrived sometime around 5PM.  The line wasn’t that bad, I was able to get a snack and a drink and I had my book with me, so I didn’t mind waiting the 90 minutes until the doors opened.

And when I got in and saw that there weren’t even that many people on the floor, I bought a poster and a water and then I stood in a cluster and waited (with my book).

Eventually the lights dimmed and Junun came on stage.

Even after seeing their performance I didn’t quite understand what was going on with this melding of minds.  So what I’ve learned is that Junun is actually the name of an album.  But the performers and composers go by the unwieldy moniker Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood, and the Rajasthan Express.  So I get why they were called Junun.

I found the creation of the album to be rather interesting: (more…)

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chesilSOUNDTRACK: There Will Be Blood Motion Picture Soundtrack (2007).

therewillbeThis soundtrack was composed by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead.  I have not yet seen the movie so I can’t speak about its use in the film (which I assume is very good given all the raves I’ve read about it).

Anyone expecting something Radioheadesque will be disappointed in this soundtrack.  There’s nothing electronic or weird (well, not too weird), or anything resembling any of the work he’s done with Radiohead.  Rather, the entire work is “classical”: strings abound!  Now, I like classical music, and I have some favorite composers.  I also like some younger/avant garde composers.  So, the fact that this release is on Nonesuch Records, home of Kronos Quartet (one of my favorite classical artists) among other similarly minded artists should tell you something.

The first two tracks are the most gripping.  I assume that “Open Spaces” is the “theme” of the movie, and the strings are really arresting.  It certainly sets the tone for the movie and the music within.  While “Future Markets” presents a very tense, fast score.  Another interesting track is “Proven Lands” which is primarily percussion with some pizzicato strings thrown in as well.  The rest of the disc consists of very moody, very scene-setting pieces.

By itself the music is rather tense, and you certainly don’t expect a happy ending by the time “Propectors Quartet” finishes up the disc. It sets a dark mood.  As Sarah asked when she walked into the room, “What’s this depressing music?”  That sums it up right there.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s used in the movie.

[READ: November 13, 2008] On Chesil Beach

My friend Ailish encouraged me to read an Ian McEwan book several years ago called Enduring Love.  I really enjoyed it.  And they have now made his book Atonement into a film.  But I hadn’t read any other books by him until now.  This book was on our donations shelf at the library, so I grabbed it.

It’s a tiny book…200 pages and the dimensions of a paperback, but it seems even smaller.  I was able to polish it off in a couple of days.

This is the kind of story in which, as they say, nothing happens.  (more…)

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