Dusty Wright's Culture Catch - Smart Pop Culture, Video & Audio podcasts, Written Reviews in the Arts & Entertainment http://www.culturecatch.com/node/feed en Music for a Story Running Out of Time: A Conversation with Simon TaufiQue http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3894 <span>Music for a Story Running Out of Time: A Conversation with Simon TaufiQue</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/6777" lang="" about="/user/6777" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Isabella Huang</a></span> <span>November 11, 2019 - 16:55</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/styV7QQpCRU?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>The latest offering from<i> </i>Independent Lens, PBS's weekly documentary television series, is Andrés Caballero and Sofia Khan's <i>The Interpreters</i>, a hard-hitting chronicle of what happened to three of the 50,000 local interpreters the U.S. military employed during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and then mostly left behind, unprotected by the government that promised them a rosy future.</p> <p>As the filmmakers have noted, "Making this film made us feel a little less hopeful in humanity despite having good outcomes. The reality is that most interpreters are still out there, in hiding, being targeted and killed as they wait for their visas."</p> <p>As Sgt. Paul Braun notes in the documentary:</p> <blockquote> <p>"The interpreters were considered traitors to their country . . . traitors to their religion. They either had to wear a mask over their faces or use fake names. But after a while, people found out who they were."</p> </blockquote> <p>So how does one tell the story of people in time-crunch of their lives? And how does one find the right musical notes to accompany such fear and bravery?</p> <p>Co-producer and composer Simon TaufiQue rises to the task, masterfully enriching the tale of these heroes who put their lives at stake. The British-born, award-winning TaufiQue, who has 53 credits for the scores he wrote for various features features and shorts, took a moment off to sit down for a phone chat with us last week. </p> <p><b>You've have worked on quite a variety of projects such as <i> Jesus Henry Christ, She's Lost Control, </i>and<i> Are You Glad I'm Here</i>. How did you get involved in this project?</b> </p> <p>This is through filmmaker Sofian Khan, the director of this movie. I met him when I was the program director for the South Asian Film Festival 11 years ago . . . . [T]he festival [was] inspiring to young south Asian filmmakers. One of those was Sofian Khan. He was the director of photography for a film called <i>Ramchand Pakistani</i>. . . . [W]e became friends from that point on. . .  and we just stayed in touch. When he had some projects that matched my style of music, we started working together.  After I produced <i>Imperium</i> [with Daniel Radcliffe], we connected and discussed this project. I was so moved by the story and the mission of <i>The Interpreters</i> . . . that I offered whatever I could do to help. I wasn't thinking musically, but as a producer, a fan of his work, and as someone that wants to help tell this story. Along the way I became the composer of the film. That was a couple years ago, meeting for coffee trying to catch up and being swept away by the story. Khan was just shooting it because he wanted to highlight stories that weren't being told.</p> <p><b>How did the soundtrack of <em>The Interpreters</em> evolve?</b> </p> <p>We realized that the story is a very much a real-life thriller. These are people that put their lives on the line to help the US troops and coalition forces, and they are being seen as traitors by fellow countrymen because they are helping the "invaders." They believed in the mission of democracy and changing their country for the better with the help of the United States and other countries. So they took that chance, and then when their turn came to leave the country, when the Americans left, and they knew there'd be a bullseye on their back, they were promised a chance to leave, and the promise wasn't kept.</p> <p>We were trying to tell the story of how these people survived and made sense of that, and how the Americans on the other side were trying to get these people out. It's a ticking-bomb scenario type of film because you don't know how it's going to end or if the people will find their way to safety. That was the impulse behind creating the music for this film. Not just telling the story of Iraq or Afghanistan but telling the story of people who are in a very scary place. They are in a pressure cooker, so they don't know if they'll make it out in time. That sense of urgency, anxiety, but also the story of kinship and love between the Interpreters and their American partners who wanted them to be safe were the impulses behind the music of the film. </p> <p><b>How did you start composing and how did you recognize you wanted a career in composing?</b> </p> <p>Both by accident. I didn't realize that I could be a composer for film until I was asked to write music for film. I got into music by chance, and the thought of having a career in music was a fantasy, and not something I never thought I could be.</p> <p>As a first generation immigrant and first in my family to go to college, there were a lot of expectations that I would have a very stable and secure career, and so I was pursuing political science and economics, double majoring in NYU with the intention of going to law school or graduate school for a career in foreign service. I wanted to be a diplomat, an ambassador, and change things for the better.</p> <p>Along the way in my undergraduate studies, I became really good friends with a young filmmaking student. It turns out he was M. Night Shyamalan. We just were best friends, and he would take me to his film classes, and introduce me to his composer and his team of collaborators.</p> <p>While that was happening, I was becoming more immersed in music as a hobby. I was writing songs; I was playing in band just for fun. Along the way, he asked me to write a song for one of his films, and I got to see how tangible creativity could be as a long-term goal. I thought then that "if I saved enough money, if I got to practice enough, I could someday record some songs and maybe an album or something." Then [Shyaman's] career took off, and we stayed friends; I got to visit his sets. I got to visit the post-production. I got to see how his composer was doing stuff. So just because of being a supportive friend and just being really excited for him, I, by accident, was soaking up all these lessons about creativity and collaboration.</p> <p>Seeing his trajectory from doing stuff that was small scale and easy to digest, and seeing all that catapult and explode into very large scale stuff, but still seeing the same person, creativity, and root source behind it all was very inspiring to me. When I was asked to write music for a friend's film, I jumped at the chance even though I didn't know what I was doing. But because of all of that exposure, I knew what I needed to do. I knew what the film needed, and I somehow was able to cobble together music that made that film a better story.</p> <p><b>I've read that one of your methods of composing is muting the television and playing your guitar along with it. Russian composer Mussorgsky did something similar for his piece "Pictures at an Exhibition." According to Leonard Bernstein, Mussorgsky "tried to compose music that would describe them, in other words, do what a painter would do with paint." How would you compare that to your experiences composing along muted TV Shows?</b> </p> <p>I didn't know that. That is fascinating to hear! It's really inspiring because I was not doing it with the intention of scoring a TV show. I was just practicing guitar and the TV was on, and it was interfering with what I was hearing, so I turned down the volume and just played my scales or chords while looking at the TV, and it influenced what I was playing without me knowing it.</p> <p>So the creative influences and spark of painting a visual with sound is what I ended up doing without real understanding of how to do it or what I was doing in that moment, and then when my now wife came into the room, she said, "Wait! That's not coming from the TV? You're doing that?" That's when I got the idea that something was going on here that I was not aware of; I was channeling some inspiration there that I wasn't aware I had the ability to do. I think we will always try to channel that raw instinctive impulse, and our technique allows us to shape it into a form that makes sense but without that spark. I don't think the technique can ever make up for that. I think that it's just the shaping of the initial idea. - </p> <p>(<b><i>The Interpreters</i></b> first airs on PBS this Veteran's Day at 10 PM EST.) Check out the trailer here: <a href="https://www.pbs.org/video/trailer-interpreters-p9m4yo" target="_blank">PBS</a></p> <p><i>Miss Huang</i><i> is a st</i><i>udent</i><i> of </i><i>Macaulay's Honors College at CCNY and an online writer. </i><em>This is her first article for <a href="http://culturecatch.com/">CultureCatch.com</a>.</em></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3894&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="AtZyDkFH6F-i_JELtT05npQndk2J27_cq-poA7eNjOU"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 11 Nov 2019 21:55:36 +0000 Isabella Huang 3894 at http://www.culturecatch.com How Charlie Parker Taught Me to Fly http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3893 <span>How Charlie Parker Taught Me to Fly </span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/6775" lang="" about="/user/6775" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brian Boston</a></span> <span>November 11, 2019 - 10:51</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/73" hreflang="en">jazz</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UTORd2Y_X6U?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>It was just another Thursday on campus when my professor put on one of the Bird's popular recordings of "All the Things You Are" as an example of his work. Sitting in darkness in the back row, I found my mind racing as I was suddenly fourteen years old again, trying to make sense of that very same recording and why such a seemingly plain song was so important to jazz.</p> <p>“All the Things You Are” is often the first standard that budding jazz musicians will learn as it encompasses some of the most common chord changes -- 2-5's, chords moving in fourths diatonically, the chromatic walkdown at the end of the form, and that unmistakable intro/outro made famous by Bird himself. However, when lectured on the significance of this just a few years ago, I was left frustrated and confused with all questions and no answers.</p> <p>Coming into high school, I was a drummer -- nothing more. Three music classes a day, five days a week, and I still couldn't tell you what made up a scale or name a note on the staff. Each day brought humiliation. Ready to throw in the towel and daydreaming about transferring schools, those walks to the band room filled me with dread. While my peers worried themselves over Chemistry and History, Jazz had become the bane of my existence.</p> <p>As a teenager, Bird allegedly had a cymbal flung at him on the bandstand. If a sixteen year-old Parker could persevere, why couldn't I? Mama didn't raise no quitter after all. I relocated my lunch period to the practice rooms, and after school I spent hours hulked over the Vibraphone, fumbling over scales and arpeggios. Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, and soon I had upgraded from two mallets to four mallets, working on chord voicings and comping patterns.</p> <p>A summer of regimented practicing came and went, and I began sophomore year confident in my abilities. "All the Things You Are" showed me that I couldn't be any more wrong. I had all my scales down, minor, major, dominant, bebop, diminished, whole step, you name it. I was successful in teaching myself not only treble but bass clef in the span of a year. I could read down a lead sheet and comp the chords no problem. What I could not do, however, was improvise.</p> <p>The sole basis of <i>all jazz music </i>is improvisation. The art of instantaneous composition, of creating <b>your</b> own ideas and phrases over chord changes to tell <b>your</b> story -- that’s what makes the music. It’s what the greats from Monk to Miles were all renowned for. They say that the page is just a road map, a loosely interpretable guide to the music. Even still, staring at the first four chords (Fm7, Bbm7, Eb7, Abmaj7) I had no idea what to do with them, no understanding of what they had to do with each other. I was a dog, and my owner put the leash in my mouth and left me to walk myself.</p> <p>A new door had opened before me, a door to a previously unexplored world. Countless lessons and innumerable hours of practice later, I played my first solo at a concert (over Mingus' "Love Chant," in case you were curious). In time I was piecing together the puzzle, understanding the functions of each chord and what I could do to best serve them in my own playing. Armed with a new kind of confidence, it was hard to believe that music had seemed so grim and daunting just a few months prior. My playing evolved past any and all prior expectations I had reserved, and I began to experiment, pushing past my preconceived limits.</p> <p>The year I learned how to blow over "All the Things You Are" was the same year that I first composed music of my own. The same year that I took up playing the bass to sub in for a musical. The same year that I transcribed my first solo, Miles Davis' two choruses on "So What." The same year that I led a section for the first time, taking control of the drumline to arrange parts for the marching band’s repertoire. Although I began playing as a child, the flower of my musical career found the nutrients to blossom in high school.</p> <p>During those four years in high school, I had the privilege of meeting many great musical minds, orchestrating and performing my own written works, and learning four more instruments than I came in knowing. If I were lucky, I got to go home right after classes three or four days a month as I spent most of my time practicing in rehearsals or solo after school. I’ve played venues from the likes of Carnegie Hall to the streets of Little Italy and Chinatown. All of the things I am today, all thanks to Bird's "All the Things You Are." </p> <p><i>Mr. Boston is a Staten Island native studying Environmental Science at the Macaulay's Honors College at CCNY. </i><em>This is his first article for CultureCatch.com.</em></p> </div> <section> <a id="comment-1428"></a> <article data-comment-user-id="0" class="js-comment"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1573513773"></mark> <div> <h3><a href="/comment/1428#comment-1428" class="permalink" rel="bookmark" hreflang="en">Beautifully written piece ,…</a></h3> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Beautifully written piece , awesome article !</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1428&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="RnxoY28Yw_xKGP6zXvXQWVUYqZ2fCPrAEyO6tQQTfbk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/index.php/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/index.php/user/0"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/extra_small/public/default_images/avatar.png?itok=RF-fAyOX" width="50" height="50" alt="Generic Profile Avatar Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> <p>Submitted by <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Chris </span> on November 11, 2019 - 17:11</p> </footer> </article> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3893&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="AG08D3q5hfbTBFV5oVz2yW1CdfI9RaHpkee0aELoaO0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 11 Nov 2019 15:51:41 +0000 Brian Boston 3893 at http://www.culturecatch.com Song of the Week: "Sunday Never Comes" http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3892 <span>Song of the Week: &quot;Sunday Never Comes&quot;</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>November 3, 2019 - 18:42</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/636" hreflang="en">indie rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LIMpGGDMAmo?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Robyn Hitchcock has always been a smart art/indie rocker -- clever lyrics, hook-filled arrangements, concise songs. His latest -- "Sunday Never Comes" -- is a tasteful mid-tempo ballad that confronts a middle-aged artist longing for his lover. As Robyn claims, "the theme is distance, separation, and resolution." It was written for the 2018 film <em>Juliet Naked</em>. Gorgeous arpeggiated guitars and Robyn's laidback delivery pull you in right from the top. The songs reminds me of his 1991 classic "She Doesn't Exist." Well played, Mr. Hitchock. </p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3892&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="HxgHCGxJT4dGlxXaEYgfKF6-3DY7gj5DB-Erprs1sz4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 03 Nov 2019 23:42:35 +0000 Dusty Wright 3892 at http://www.culturecatch.com The Seduction of the Apple http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3891 <span>The Seduction of the Apple</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/maryhrbacek" lang="" about="/users/maryhrbacek" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Mary Hrbacek</a></span> <span>November 1, 2019 - 19:02</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/art" hreflang="en">Art Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/510" hreflang="en">painters</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="1200" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-11/adamnewton5.jpg?itok=AHolOTsP" title="adamnewton5.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1200" /></article><figcaption>Adam's Apple/Newton's Apple</figcaption></figure><p><em>Yungtae Won: Something, Nothing, Differential   </em>  </p> <p>Elga Wimmer PCC, NYC</p> <p>Oct. 21–27, 2019</p> <p>Elga Wimmer PCC presents "Yungtae Won: Something, Nothing, Differential" curated by Paris Koh, is an ambitious thought-provoking series of conceptually based works executed in oil and in lenticular acrylic, a variation of the traditional hologram format. The artist expounds a narrative that probes philosophical, scientific and religious questions that find their focus in the lush, ripe red properties of an apple that functions as the central protagonist of the artist's inquiry. At first glimpse, the conceptual show appears to accentuate the visual luster and sensual appeal of a piece of fresh fruit, but on deeper contemplation the titles, "Adam's Apple/Newton's Apple," awaken the realization that the works delve far deeper than superficial appearances indicate. The ripeness of the singular fruit with its unabashed saturated red hue calls to viewer consciousness a visceral recognition of the indomitable life-force signified by the correlation of blood with the color red. The apple acts as the human equivalent in the show’s equation, as it recalls Newton's Law of Gravity as well as the apple plucked illicitly from the Tree of Knowledge in response to the devil’s temptation of Eve in the Biblical story of Garden of Eden. The artist's queries about reality parallel those of René Magritte, in his iconic visual/text statement "This is not a pipe" indicating that the painted picture of a pipe is only a surface representation, not to be confused with the genuine object. Won paints an apple from a photograph of an apple with the same doubt in mind: "Which is the authentic apple?" Obviously, the answer is "neither," but he feels the question must be raised.</p> <p>The use of the apple as the focus of the show conjures sumptuous art historical still life images that display the sensuous abundance of fruit, produce and game to nourish bodies and spirits alike, in a micro and macro scientific art method that mirrors the "invisible and ultimate" concepts driving Buddhist beliefs. In Buddhism, the ultimate goal is to become empty of the "self." Similarly, the scientific lens of macro imagery becomes so vast that no traces of specific qualities or characteristics remain detectable. The field of vision becomes empty. The artist cleverly depicts this state in the "Apple differential I," "Something/Nothing 2," "Apple differential 3" and "Something/Nothing VI," presented in a refreshing curatorial sequence of panels. The micro viewpoint is sensitively illustrated in "Apple differential 2."</p> <p>In Buddhism, there is no core "self" as it exists in Christianity. The self is deemed to be empty, subject to changing character, depending on who or what the individual is relating to. In these works, Won researches the shifts in essence to be found with various facets of the subject on view.  In "Apple differential 2" (pigment and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 72.7" 2019), the apple skin is seen through a microscopic vision to reveal the tiny white dots that are spewed across the surface of the fruit. In a less intense view, in a five-panel pigment and acrylic on canvas work, the fruit's surface appears to have natural ridges, within changes of hue. The work, "Adam's Apple/Newton's Apple I," is intended to be an exact replica of a photographic piece but as there is no way to create a completely precise reproduction, the question "which is the 'real' apple" arises without an easy answer. The two apple works created with lenticular acrylic, to create a kind of hologram, change as one views them by walking from side to side, to shift from shades of gray to tones of bright red; these changes indicate what seem to be variations in ambient light that arises from the inner depths of the pictures of fruit, giving rise to mysterious, inexplicable diffused gray tones that hint at the process of aging in the natural course of time. In the piece entitled "Adam's Apple/Newton's Apple III," 2019, the artist paints the apple from a frontal view at the top to disclose an apparent crevice from which the stem arises, which provides a surprising viewpoint; it suggests that the apple moves toward the viewer as if propelling forward like a thrown ball. In the "Homage to Rectangles I and II," joined with the "Something/Nothing I," the artist investigates the rectangle in a series of views that pay homage to Joseph Albers's famous squares, but seen in deep bright with varying degrees of texture to subtly delineate the rectangle.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="830" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-11/won_yungtae.jpg?itok=LZGNHppx" title="won_yungtae.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1000" /></article><figcaption>Apple differential 2, 2019, Pigment and Acrylic on Canvas, 60 x 72.7"</figcaption></figure><p>The artist's use of a single red apple as the key subject of his philosophical and religious probes is at first disconcertingly suggestive of a 17<sup>th</sup> century Dutch still life gone slightly awry. In contemporary art the Still Life genre has fallen quite far from favor, to the extent that it is rarely if ever on view. But Won's use of the apple as an example that illuminates through imagery the principal tenets of the Buddhist faith is revealing and enlightening. The ingenious method he uses to examine science and religion through the creative process of image making is a procedure that exudes a sense of purity and wonder that is not usual despite or because of the fact that almost everything has previously been investigated and nailed down. Won raises the question of "which item is the real and which is the replica," or is the apple fundamentally all and none of the views he has taken.</p> <p>The show is playful yet serious; at first glance the large ultra-red fruit is a bit dominant, yet one becomes accustomed to following the artist's deliberate illustrative permutations as he expounds his ideas via the size and surface of the apple. The apple tree in ancient religion was considered a symbol of knowledge; in Christian art it is a source of redemption for humankind in combatting the evil of original sin associated with the devil's temptation of Eve leading to the expulsion from paradise (1000 Symbols, p. 255, Rowena and Rupert Shepherd). The color red is linked with fire and blood by Australian Aborigines and the Navaho. In Japan and Korea, it is connected to the sun (p.343). Fire keeps us warm but if fire goes out of control it becomes destructive.  In ancient times blood was the equivalent for life-force (p.638, "The Book of Symbols," Taschen). These associations are embedded in our unconscious minds only to stir when we reconnect with familiar sources and meanings.</p> <p>In the exhibition, Won considers the deep-rooted conflict in the West between science and religion, where science is to debunk traditional views of the "self" embodied in the Christian faith, the opposite to the nothingness that is considered the peak achievement in Buddhist religious belief. The ideas presented in "Something, Nothing Differential" are not unfamiliar, yet the freshness and liveliness of the depictions bring renewed force to questions brought forth with the vigor to engage a new generation of thinking artists.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3891&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="PJjA8hUKMt0u40sm5mnwlW1zRpeCskAjybm0p61euA4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 01 Nov 2019 23:02:50 +0000 Mary Hrbacek 3891 at http://www.culturecatch.com Trump's Mentor http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3890 <span>Trump&#039;s Mentor</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/6767" lang="" about="/user/6767" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dennis Rohatyn</a></span> <span>October 31, 2019 - 15:43</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/399" hreflang="en">documentary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lTrHL7Vo_SQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, no recent film could be more congenial to anyone with a heart or a brain than <i>Where's My Roy Cohn?</i>  (2019, dir. Matt Tyrnauer). Tyrnauer, whose repertoire includes <i>Citizen Jane: The Battle for the City</i>, <i>Studio 54</i>, and <i>Valentino: The Last Emperor, </i>presents us with a disarmingly simple thesis: Donald Trump was made in the image of Roy Cohn (1927-1986), the "sinister" sidekick of red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who was as "evil" as he was brilliant, both as an attorney in high-profile cases and in his private life. I will not argue about Cohn, because the point of the film is not that Cohn was a sleazy, corrupt, no-holds-barred bastard (he was), but that he and he alone taught Donald Trump everything that Mr. Trump knows about lying, cheating, stealing and (for the most part) getting away with it without the slightest remorse or shame. That is the thesis of this documentary -- indeed, the only one. The analogies are certainly there, and are worth examining. But the thesis is so one-sided, so formulaic, and so reductive that it invites refutation.</p> <p>For one thing, it leaves Trump's father out of the picture (<i>sic</i>) entirely, yet everyone knows, and Trump himself admits, that his father had a formative influence on him, both as a person and as a "builder" in the real estate construction industry (see Mark D’Antonio, <i>The Truth About Trump</i> [2016] and <i>Never Enough: Donald</i> Trump and the Pursuit of Success [2015], for all the relevant biographical details).</p> <p>For another, it doesn't deal with the fact that Mr. Cohn was a gifted lawyer, notably erudite, exceptionally well prepared, armed with a photographic memory (which only deserted him in the last stages of his life, when he was dying of AIDS) and a rapier-like wit, plus a keen ability to reason from premises to conclusion without committing <i>non sequiturs</i> that even Mr. Spock might envy.</p> <p>Whereas, Donald Trump has none of these (or any other) mental attributes, or else he keeps them well hidden.  Which raises the question, how (if at all) did Roy Cohn manage to teach Donald Trump anything besides being a jerk? Or was that somehow innate in both men -- all in their respective genes? Trump's greed and rapacity seem downright instinctual, whereas Cohn's were acquired (as the film shows) as a consequence of diasporic exile, re-enacted in the Bronx, where Cohn grew up, and within the walls that imprisoned him at home, like Kafka's wandering fly, darting every which way to avoid being swatted. Trump was to the manor born; Cohn was from an upper-class family whose wealth he squandered. How could a bad businessman serve as an exemplar or role-model for someone who constantly boasts of his wealth, and calls everyone who is not quite as rich "losers"?</p> <p>The similarities between Cohn and Trump are strained to the breaking point, before they are even drawn. Instead of insight, we get interviews with important people who knew Cohn when, observed him for many years, were wronged (or appalled) by him, scarred by him, are still (rightly) embittered, and see clear resemblances between Cohn and Trump, which leads them to issue dire warnings, echoing a Greek chorus, even as they prophesy about the past -- that is, things Trump has already done. The problem here is not one of bias: or, if it is, I share it. Rather, it's that you can't connect all the dots when there aren't that many to connect, and they veer off in ways that defy Rubik to erect a new cube -- a high-rise, open only to lawyers for Cosa Nostra and their sleazy clients.</p> <p>What's left isn't even a polemic, but a rant -- an<i> a priori</i>  judgment, based on scant evidence mixed with spite. It is not propaganda, but something far worse:  shoddy journalism, which plays right into the dirty hands of ideology. The search for "Citizen Cohn" is both fascinating and undeniably important. But you need a search warrant, or else the whole project is bogus and invalid.</p> <p>Lest I be accused of doing the same (vague generalities, as opposed to making specific criticisms supported by verifiable claims), I present some pertinent items for public inspection. Here are some of the many errors of omission and commission that mar this film, and make it unworthy of being called documentary, except in a fanciful or Pickwickian sense:</p> <p>1.  No mention is made of Cohn's touchy and troubled relationships with the two Kennedys, dating from his appointment in 1951 as McCarthy's chief aide, when Hoover chose him over Robert Kennedy, to his censure by the Senate in 1954, on a date when Senator John Kennedy was hospitalized and therefore conveniently unable to vote. RFK disapproved of Roy Cohn's methods but liked him personally, as did so many others. They worked out an uneasy truce; Bobby never disavowed him openly, nor refused any assignments. They were seated together at most of the televised sessions of HUAC, in 1953-54. JFK did not wish to appear “soft” on anti-Communism, nor to betray a fellow Irish Catholic, and risk alienating both church officials and his Massachusetts followers. His operation for Addison's disease was behind him by the time that McCarthy came up for censure, but he lingered in the hospital to avoid having to appear on the Senate floor and cast a ballot. As Eleanor Roosevelt said of him in 1957, "he needs less profile and more courage." A concise synopsis of the man, and of the book he didn’t write (as Sorensen confessed, much to the dismay of Jacqueline Onassis, when he could no longer keep it a secret).</p> <p>2.   Cohn helped Ronald Reagan defeat John Anderson in the 1980 NY State Primary. But Anderson's campaign had problems of its own, from start to finish. No money, poor showings in various states, a trip to Europe to burnish his foreign policy credentials that cost him precious time at home, wooing voters who didn't care about that, and didn’t even know his name.</p> <p>The idea that Cohn was responsible for Anderson's downfall is ludicrous. Anderson would be the first to admit it -- and he did. Similarly, the idea that Cohn was the "fixer" who was instrumental in getting Ronald Reagan into the White House is preposterous, not because Reagan deserved to win, or because he had clean hands, but simply because it didn't happen that way. Cohn's role in Reagan's victory was minimal. Jimmy Carter was the architect of his own defeat: he beat himself, from OPEC to the Iranian hostage crisis, and from Bert Lance and Hamilton Jordan to the ill-fated "malaise speech." No further analysis or explanation of the decisive phase in Reagan’s ascent to power is necessary.</p> <p>3.  Geraldine Ferraro had IRS woes, a loose tongue (racist remarks), and purported connections to organized crime. Her boat sank as it left port. Again, whatever Cohn did to her is nothing compared to what she did to herself.   </p> <p>4.  Thomas Eagleton was a victim of prudery and prejudice (against psychiatry). McGovern lost his nerve, and his senses -- he should have gone to a shrink.  Eagleton was not "improperly vetted," as some allege; but Robert Novak's column tarred him with a broad brush ("amnesty, abortion, acid"). Unfortunately, Eagleton handed Novak the brush, thinking it was confidential and "off the record." Yet he was more sinned against than stupid: replacing him with Sgt. Shriver was the height of absurdity. So was doubting his mental state or stability, compared to Richard Nixon. Roy Cohn was not the issue. The chaos within the party (left over from 1968) was.</p> <p>5.  The lawsuits involving Trump's apartment houses were settled between 1975 and 1978, not (as shown in one piece of footage) 1982. This is a very minor point, but it illustrates the sloppy editing and lack of diligence that are apparent throughout.</p> <p>6.  Photographs of Cohn during various phases of his life always show him in an unflattering, unfavorable, hideous and threatening light. Granted, he wasn’t a matinée idol, but the mugshot approach is overdone. Alas, poor Nixon: only the five o'clock shadow knows how hideous (and damning) the aberrant lens can be, even when it reflects upon its own refractions, rather than distorting by default, let alone, demonizing us by design. If Cohn stepped from the grave to complain about his close-ups, he would have a very compelling case. It is obvious that he was framed -- but the audience is still a captive.</p> <p>7.  G. David Schine wasn't in the military, but (as was customary among select and privileged post-war peers) he wore crisp, neatly pressed uniforms to appear both authoritative and patriotic. In a nation of images, be <i>it I Love Lucy</i>, the Kefauver hearings or the Army-McCarthy trials, it was already imperative to have one that was spotless, all-American, and therefore above reproach. Unlike Donald Trump, Schine was not a con man or (as Holden Caulfield would say) a spoiled and vapid prep-school "phony," devoid of taste and bereft of character and intellect. But the regalia was part of his act, and (like the Music Man, minus the trombones) it did work, at least as a shield -- now there's an idea that Trump may put to defective use. Pity he didn’t think of it when he was of draft age -- or was Cohen unavailable to guide him through the Vietnam era, in such style that he might have faked it "perfectly," all the way from a Marine landing on China Beach to being "first responder" on 9/11, and on to being "chosen" to play (<i>sic</i>) the Messiah, coming to a resurrection near you.</p> <p>But then, Trump only went to the Wharton school at U. of Pennsylvania. (Cohn went to Columbia.  He got his law degree at age twenty -- as the film recounts, he was too young to apply for admission to the NY State bar! Young Joseph McCarthy was smart, too, as all of his biographers attest.</p> <p>Smart in conventional terms: so is Trump, which is why he outsmarts himself -- every day of the week. If he weren't such a fool, it might be fun to watch. Since we pay for his mistakes, we're the "morons," not Trump. How dim-witted can you get? Ask George Bush, but don't wait for an answer). </p> <p>Like Alger Hiss, who typed his epitaph when he "Whittiered" Richard Nixon's ravenous appetite for vengeance (or blood sport), Schine was a Harvard man, class of 1949, and (like Roy Cohn) part of the old <i>echt</i> Jewish Borscht Belt<i> bourgeoisie</i>. Is that why they hit it off, and became such good friends, if not more than good friends?</p> <p>Like Cohn, whom the film all but denounces as a "self-hating Jew" (an accusation hurled at any number of individuals, including Karl Marx, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Barenboim, Rosa Luxemburg, Emma Goldman, and me), Schine was eager to assimilate, given the Hiss case, not to mention the Rosenbergs.</p> <p>He married a Swedish woman in 1957, a former Miss Universe (<i>echt </i>gentil), fathered several children, and became a prominent movie producer as well as an accomplished musician. He and his wife died in a private airplane crash in 1996, in a plane piloted by one of his sons, who died in the same accident.</p> <p>He never discussed his involvement (if any) with Cohn after 1957. Was he gay? Some say yes, others say no. At the very least, he was, uh, bisexual. My guess is that his relationship with Cohn was asexual, but had homoerotic overtones, analogous to (e.g.) Leopold and Loeb, or (as a fictional archetype) Billy Budd and John Claggart. Indeed, if Cohn's malignity is the master trope, Melville is your main man-- no need to chase after white whales, "self-hating Jews," or Machiavellian masterminds.</p> <p>8.   Finally, what about Dora?  As it happens, Dora was the pseudonym of one of Freud's most famous patients. But the film makes her out to be the mother of Satan -- or Adolf Hitler, to be precise (doting mother, an indifferent father, spoiled from an early age, yet insecure, lonely, sexually ambivalent).</p> <p>But let's not exaggerate those parallels, either, or jump to absurd conclusions.</p> <p>Where is Mr. Spock when we need him? In his absence, I must rely on my all too human logic, which tells me that there's no equivalence -- only some coincidences.</p> <p>The difference is, Hitler was . . . poor. Hence his hatred of the rich . . . Jews, in particular. However, Hitler has a lot more in common with Donald Trump than with Roy Cohn. But that is not the point. Rather, the depiction of Dora is a textbook case (<i>sic</i>) of literary misogyny, posing as historical fact. I am sure she had flaws, and was in denial about many aspects of her son's life -- not just sex, but what he did for a living, how he 'earned' his money, and who all his friends were.</p> <p>But from the moment she is introduced, we hear nothing but bad things about her: ugly, unattractive, overbearing, can't get or hold a man except through parental intervention (and extortion), bad marriage, more or less frigid, and saw or heard no evil, especially where her only child was concerned. Is there nothing about this woman that is even slightly redeeming? Did anyone bother to ask, or find out? </p> <p>Is this a documentary or a film noir, with <i>cherchez la femme</i> as its classic: sexist signature? </p> <p>And what of the (absentee) father, the judge whom we dare not judge, lest we be judged, too?</p> <p>Add it all up and what do you get? A film that is half-baked, half-done, and totally bad.</p> <p>Not only does it raise more questions than it solves, but it indicts itself more than it succeeds in portraying Donald Trump as the protégé of Roy Cohn. Trump may be many things, but when it comes to being a political sorcerer, he was never a mere apprentice, even to his own father. It is tempting to reduce a complex individual to a simple formula. In Trump's case, there is only one formula that fits him: he wants to be all things to all people, because he is no one, even to himself.</p> <p>Roy Cohn was a despicable individual, but his battered, bartered and bruised soul was his own. Trump has no soul, no heart, and no brain: only the will to power, and an abiding faith that there is a sucker born every second, waiting to be cradled in the arms of a con man. The question is, will we make a liar out of him before the sad truth sets us free? </p> <p><em>Mr. Rohatyn is a retired philosophy professor in California who writes poems, plays, essays, and is now meditating on a book about Descartes.</em></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3890&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="LTyqV2J5G1ZtaW89XpnwGK6QwVJGtqUaHakU9709250"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 31 Oct 2019 19:43:28 +0000 Dennis Rohatyn 3890 at http://www.culturecatch.com Missing Feat http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3888 <span>Missing Feat</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>October 30, 2019 - 09:19</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/144" hreflang="en">obituary</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9IyRNKleyyg?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Little Feat may have been one of America's greatest rock 'n' roll bands in the mid-1970s. With the tandem guitar duo of Lowell George and Paul Barrere, their funky, swampy gumbo mix of rhythms and rhymes were hard to top. I was fortunate enough to see them on the 1977 <em>Waiting for Columbus</em> tour which would sadly be Lowell's last major tour with the band as he died of a heart attack in 1979. But Paul kept the Feat flame burning bright. His songwriting, singing and playing was just as integral to Feat's rockin' boogie sound as Lowell's tasty slide work. Best one let the music do the talking. I would suggest listening to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLz6cAheObZcg_WXTIn-YKPOr3PUOkrXG0" target="_blank"><em>Feats Don't Fail Me</em> <em>Now</em></a> right now.</p> <p>Roll on, Paul Barrere. </p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3888&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="zzUYIIWNj6CCfgBJkZHwi-J5IIWrpgWrqs1E7dlf6Q4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 30 Oct 2019 13:19:56 +0000 Dusty Wright 3888 at http://www.culturecatch.com Seeing, Believing and Understanding http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3887 <span>Seeing, Believing and Understanding</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/349" lang="" about="/user/349" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dom Lombardi</a></span> <span>October 25, 2019 - 14:48</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/art" hreflang="en">Art Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/510" hreflang="en">painters</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><figure role="group" class="embedded-entity align-center"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="599" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-10/image_1.jpg?itok=lQOb2T0a" title="image_1.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="902" /></article><figcaption>The Writing’s on the Walls, 2019. Housewrap, oil, plastic tubing, razor wire, sand panel, 96 x 144 in.</figcaption></figure><p>The Frist Art Museum in Nashville does two things remarkably well. Like other capitol city museums throughout the United States, they present fully resolved, educational exhibitions filled with extraordinary works of art supported by thoughtful text and labeling. Most recently, the exhibition, <i>Monsters &amp; Myths:</i><b><i> </i></b><i>Surrealism and War in the 1930s and 1940</i>, which features works borrowed largely from two prestigious institutions; The Baltimore Museum of Art and The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, offered a great number of iconic works such as the mesmerizing <i>Europe After the Rain II</i> (1940-42) by Max Ernst. In addition to this, the Frist offers a very special form of community outreach in their programming that speaks directly to the citizens of Nashville, giving a much needed public forum to those with perpetual urgent concerns. One of their current exhibitions, <i>Murals of North Nashville</i>, which closes January 5, 2020, is a strikingly energetic and social-political collection of murals created by local artists. Each participant has, in some very personal way, a deep connection to North Nashville's African American neighborhoods -- areas that are in the midst of great change due to encroaching gentrification. Curated by The Frist's own Katie Delmez, this exhibition sheds much needed light on "both the persistent problems such as displacement, gun violence, and incarceration, as well as positive elements like thriving black-owned businesses, a revitalized art scene, and valued educational institutions."</p> <p>All nine of the 8 x 12 foot works for the <i>Murals of North Nashville</i> exhibition are installed in the Conte Community Arts Gallery. This is a very important feature of the Frist, since this space in the museum is accessible to all visitors, as it has no entry fee. All of the installed works have very powerful messaging ranging from violence and despair to hopeful progress. Omari Booker's <i>The Writing's on the Walls (above)</i>, features a woman in a rocking chair on the front porch of what looks to be a home built during the Arts and Crafts era. The house, which has its outline overtly defined with red razor wire, refers to "redlining," a process used by certain institutions, primarily in the financial and real estate fields, in order to separate out minority neighborhoods for the sole purpose of perpetuating their economic woes. The subsequent encroaching gentrification takes up the entire background of this work, as it is covered with newly placed construction materials, while the somewhat less obvious pink-vest-wearing upscale pooch enters the picture plane from the bottom right corner, a detail that is contrasted by the fiery shaped, dying bushes in front of the porch on the left side of the house. This more than metaphorical battle between the underrepresented and oppressed, and the more privileged "protagonists" in this never-ending drama speaks volumes of the inequities based on wealth, which brings political and private access, and race.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="800" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-10/rest-in-peace_art.jpg?itok=R7ID0NZG" title="rest-in-peace_art.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1200" /></article><figcaption>Brandon Donahue. Rest in Peace, 2019. Airbrush acrylic on panel, 96 x 144 in. Photo: LeXander Bryant</figcaption></figure><p>Brandon Donahue's <i>Rest in Peace </i>lists all the names, in various styles of eye-catching graffiti, of all the individuals struck down by guns in North Nashville. What first appears as a joyful and celebratory list of local names ends up leaving viewers with a strong feeling of loss and thoughts of what could have been. Conversely, hope and change comes in the form of energetic children and strong women. Elisheba Israel Mrozik's <i>Unmask 'Em</i> shows the power of women who will lead the way, being best equipped to overcome the many sides of suffering built upon the unfortunate truth that justice is not blind. The central figure in the composition, which is a cross between the <i>Madonna and Child</i> and the <i>Pietá</i>, has an otherworldly feel, while the corruption that surrounds is about to be uncovered by righteous disciples. In the end, there is a path to the Promised Land, once the spoilers of future fairness are eradicated.</p> <p><i>Forever</i>, created by the Norf Art Collective, also holds quite a bit of promise, as it features children who will continue the work of all those who have come before, aided by greater opportunity and better education leading to the promise in true equality. The dominating figure, a girl in a yellow dress, runs through the composition as she leaves her tag in ecru paint across a world of blue chiaroscuro painting that clearly defines her path to happiness and success. LeXander Bryant's <i>Opportunity Co$t</i> is a six-stationed stream of powerful graphics and unifying text in red, black and yellow -- all making one think of revolution at first. Only this time, the revolution is about progressive, positive change for people of color; community outreach for all, and the kept promise of a sustainable and sustaining jobs. Additional works by XPayne, Nuveen Barwari, Marlos E'-van and Courtney Adair Johnson round off this field of powerful and compelling murals at the Frist, while other public sites can be found with the exhibition's accompanying map, which locates numerous outdoor wall paintings throughout North Nashville.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="675" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2019/2019-10/murals_of_north_nashville.jpg?itok=ybjBixa2" title="murals_of_north_nashville.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1200" /></article><figcaption>Murals of North Nashville Now. Courtesy of the Frist Art Museum</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3887&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="-oIbLr2n1sot65mXJaP7e9iHszR2zhXJuR6tA4RsL7o"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 25 Oct 2019 18:48:00 +0000 Dom Lombardi 3887 at http://www.culturecatch.com A Darkened Light http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3885 <span>A Darkened Light</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/460" lang="" about="/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>October 23, 2019 - 14:47</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/636" hreflang="en">indie rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-mjQd2YnnEE?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>Pat Dam Smyth: <em>The Last King</em> (Quiet Arch Records/Rough Trade)</strong></p> <p>Pat Dam Smyth couldn't be described as a man who hurries his muse along. Seven years have passed since the release of <em>The Great Divide</em> his perfectly structured debut album, so <em>The Last King</em> has an unfettered air and an inherent conciseness infused with flashes of darkened insights, painfully honest revelations and a playful kind of gloom. It is an album that resembles a broken diary, confessional, introspective and candidly revealing, but one that builds and captures the attention of the listener, to return, again and again to for fresh solace and rewards. It also has an assuredness of touch and tone that distances it from the crowd. Belfast born, but London based this Mr Smyth is the embodiment of a troubadour at large. His back story reads like a musician's version of Kerouac's <em>On The Road</em>. From a sojourn in Paris, to a breakdown in Berlin, and hanging out with comedians in Hollywood, this rolling stone has gathered and dispensed with some interesting variations of moss. </p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OAD73abAx_g?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>The album opens with "Kids" a Pink Floyd-ian dirge that references The Troubles, and their backdrop aspect to a childhood in Belfast that sets the controls to the hurt in this son. "I miss the sound of Chinooks/ in stormy weather/ Soundtrack to my youth/ That's all you'd ever hear," A powerful introduction that grows from a gloom of synths into a dark and melodic statement of remembrance and admission. This perfectly sets the tone for "Catch A Fish" where he confesses "I never understood the virtue/ Of the happiness I kept inside / with every dream and wish I ever had/ I watched myself die." There is a haunting honesty at play with his self-revealing that never slips into self-indulgence. With the title cut "The Last King" a menacing nursery rhyme with the quality of a bewitching melody of catchy poppiness reminiscent of early Prefab Sprout the album hits a confidence of stride. He deals lightly but powerfully with his breakdown in that city via "Goodbye Berlin" -- "And everyman's got pain you know/ The trick is to let it go/ I've got mine but it's not yours to see/ Only when you get to know me" is curiously prosaic and uplifting in manner which sublimates well with the Gothic country touches that annotate it. He follows through with 'Doesn't Matter Now' a confessional lament with certain lilting qualities that suggest Chris Isaak, albeit a rather gravel-laced version drowning in an eloquence of strings.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WZTYDzKdcJQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>"Another World" features the exquisite tones on Ren Harvieu on backing vocals. "We'll go walking in the city/ That never used to sleep/ And to listen to the silence/ Of the great and unwashed souls," suggesting "Ghost Riders In The Sky" on heavy downers. A Nick Cave-like tone and phrasing imbues "Juliette" via its uplifting swagger and surefire hook of a refrain that builds and grows till it gracefully burns low. With "Dancing" one is presented with a perfectly paced, country infused lament that slithers and twitches like the final throes of a dying snake, whilst "Teenage Love" is burdened by the kind of regret that the title infers, "And now I suffer in silence/ I'll take those words you never said/ To the grave." It blossoms to become a sinister mini epic based upon a swagger of growling guitar all power chords in dark attire. 'Where The Light Goes' holds elements of Bill Fay in its implicit but almost casually dour folkiness, a throwaway lament that hammers sorrow home with an optimism at odds to the sentiments it is laying bare.</p> <blockquote> <p>"After summer I could /Barely look you in the eye/ 'Cause what do you say when/ Somebody's lover has gone forever?" </p> </blockquote> <p>A perfect signing off to an album of subdued elegance and power. It can only be hoped that there won't be another gestation period of seven summers before we are gifted with further gems. Albums like this arrive all too rarely, are meant to be savoured, shared and valued, but primarily to be celebrated. It is easy to see what attracted Bad Seed Jim Sclavunos to this project. Integrity is a quality that's nigh impossible to manufacture. Bathe and savour in the darkening light of an honest and rewarding piece of work. In many ways it seems an album perfumed and informed by the powerful strains of exile.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3885&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="I6Fjs9q2oituhFjzO95T2SLPLm_whM71p4DOdJgDh0I"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 23 Oct 2019 18:47:14 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3885 at http://www.culturecatch.com The Return Of The Modern Masquerades http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3884 <span>The Return Of The Modern Masquerades</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/460" lang="" about="/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>October 20, 2019 - 15:56</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/629" hreflang="en">prog rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RmolfAAmTf4?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Fruupp - <em>Wise As Wisdom: The Dawn Albums 1973-1975 (</em>Esoteric Recordings)</p> <p>Fruupp always were a strange confection with an odd name. Depending on which story suits your taste the best, it was either the left-over letters from a sheet of Letraset or the moniker of the female ghost that haunted the crumbling house in Belfast in which they rehearsed. An inspired and eclectic sound. A fusion of folk, an underlying jazziness, with subtle classical shades they embodied the diversity at large in the early '70s, but they also packed a formidable punch both live and in the studio. Lilting and haunting they shared the stage with Queen, Genesis, and King Crimson, but despite consistent touring they never stepped beyond a cult following, and were finally eclipsed by the advent of punk. Formed in Belfast in 1970 the band that finally hit London had matured from rock covers into sophisticated and symphonic combo that could stir the heart, yet rock the soul.</p> <p>Their debut album <em>Future Legends</em> arrived in October 1973. Dynamic and blindingly original it showcased the strength and diversity they embodied, that rather put them against the grain of their contemporaries. Vocalist and bassist Peter Farrelly proved a charismatic interpreter of their songs. His voice had a restrained yet subtle theatricality that never dominates the drama of the music. The album has an inherent folk element that sets it apart, and yet is driven on by the dynamic drumming of former circus percussionist Martin Foye, the intricate guitar meanderings of Vincent McCusker which threads along neatly with Stephen Houston's exquisite classical keyboards, a boy from the Malone Road in Belfast on whom piano lessons were never wasted, even if they weren't necessarily utilised as his teachers might have desired. Entirely written by McCusker it is a perfect indicator of what lay ahead.</p> <p>The title track is a winsome Irish instrumental, steeped in strings and sentimentality, but is briefly and exquisitely beautiful.  "Decision" has an odd jazziness that wanders through the song giving it an unusual edge whilst "As Day Breaks With Dawn" rattles along with a rumbling intensity and heavy organ interspersed with lilting oboe. "Graveyard Epistle" is another hefty exercise in sublime vocals and driving rock. Heavy but definitely far from humble, and with an almost Indian element lurking.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_Wr_s2Wis3A?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>"Lord Of The Incubus" is altogether more catchy and instantly memorable, with a bit of cod rock 'n' roll thrown if for good measure, whilst "Olde Tyme Future" could almost be a patriot's lament and betrays some of the band's members prior showband histories. "Song For A Thought" is a combination of discreet classicism and a manic Irish jig which Farrelly delivers with sublime, leisurely confidence. A pastoral facet slips between the symphonic aspects and builds to a manic and crazed crescendo signed off with a wilful guitar screech. Exhilarating and almost exhausting it is an utter masterclass of a song. "Future Legends" closes things in a sad sing song way. They had also intended to feature "On A Clear Day" on this album and it snuck onto initial pressings before objections from the Holst estate meant it had to be removed since it borrows heavily from his "Jupiter" one of the movements from the "Planet Suite." It can now be included with the lapse of copyright, and it is a valuable addition to proceedings.</p> <p>A mere seven months later they delivered <em>Seven Secrets</em> in April 1974. Produced by former <em>Andwella's Dream</em> maestro David Lewis it is a more fluid and restrained affair. The opening track "Faced With Shekinah" beguiles via an ethereal aspect of voices in the opening track neatly underscored by Farrelly's pulsating bass lines ending as a baroque dance piece. This neat elegance is followed via picked and plucked strings and oboe in "White Eyes" an elegant ghostly song that again has an almost medieval theme, underscored by a certain off-kilter folk motif. The album seems deceptively effortless but is complex and and confident. Despite the beauty it contains it is less commercial in feel than <em>Future Legends</em> but is none the worse for that. More pastoral than symphonic "White Eyes" is a masterclass in restraint with Chopin-like piano that descends into a jaunty easy listening lounge-core of an ending. "Garden Lady" has a cohesive jazzy conceit with crazed organ and ethereal passages, meditative and flowing with some perfect guitar work from Vincent McCusker and perfectly understated piano from Stephen Houston, it builds to a swirling, dizzying conclusion. In "Three Spires," the most restrained cut on the album, a chamber baroque delight that merges and reminds of Clifford T. Ward at his most eloquent and wistful, and the end refrain is catchy enough to have seen it emerge as a strong if somewhat unlikely single. "Elizabeth" is a baroque hoe-down all strings and sparkling piano, Liberace meets Liszt, with Farrelly signing off at his most intimately mournful, a true and beautiful closer rather spoiled by the irritating whimsy of the ditty at the end "The Seventh Secret." A Jackanory-like travesty that mars slighty the sophisticated nature of things.</p> <p>Not resting on their laurels they delivered <em>The Prince of Heaven's Eyes</em> in November 1974. Widely viewed as their masterpiece I find it something of a curate's egg. The cover isn't one of Peter Farrelly's fetchingly mystical servings, but a rather heavy-handed cartoon that doesn't best serve the project  There are moments of stupendous beauty and delight but the production, their own alas, has a muffled dullness about it that deadens the majestic elements that it contains. Much of the music sparkles whilst most of the production fails to. "It's All Up Now" is a perfect example of Fruupp at their most hauntingly eloquent best, building to a symphonic delight interrupted by "Hold on! Hold on! What'll I do? I don't want to end up in a pot of stew!" which still sounds irritatingly cringeworthy as lyrics go, yet the song transcends that carried by the spirited aspects of Farrelly's delivery and Foye's delightful drum fuelled ending.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CZrCMdlRZjU?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>"Prince Of Darkness" sounds laboured and twee, a nursery story set to music with a Beatles-esque undercurrent. Opaque and irritating. I recall a review in the NME that said the album reminded the reviewer of the theme music to a Czech cartoon and this track belies that opinion perfectly, as indeed does the kitschy sounding "Jaunting Car" that appropriately ended up as the radio theme to a show in Northern Ireland by Gloria Hunniford. Things improve with 'Annie Austere' a dynamic piano driven epic perfectly embellished by some fine guitar adornments by Vincent McCusker, and again Foye spars manfully with Houston's sparkling piano. 'Knowing You' has all the melody and aching eloquence one expects from Fruupp. A beautiful vocal it pulls at the heart strings till it builds to an epic ending of pure dynamic fury and melancholy.</p> <p>"Crystal Brook" continues the upward turn in proceedings and 'Seaward Sunset' is a delightful piece of piano prettiness that perfectly preludes "The Perfect Wish" which really brings to the fore Fruupp at their sophisticated best. Fleeting, effortless and strident it is seamlessly sophisticated with Houston delivering glittering piano crescendos and motifs whilst Farrelly indulges his finest Cleo Laine jazziness. The closing embers of the song is about as magical as it gets, and builds from nowhere to an exquisite moment of pure grace, beauty Dynamism and poise combine to leave the listener sad, beguiled and longing for something more.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/S6H1aZ-vV6I?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>February 1975 saw the release of <em>Modern Masquerades</em> completed in the wake of Stephen Houston's departure to enter the business of bothering God. His leaving also scuppered their audition for Seymour Stein at Sire Records, which in his absence proved a disastrous affair. Their fourth opus was a marked change of direction. Houston's replacement John Mason gave the band a more warm and enveloping feel, a shimmer of sublime sophistication aided and abetted by the production duties being transferred to the capable hands of former King Crimson member, and future stalwart of Foreigner Ian MacDonald. It opens with "Misty Morning Way" a delightful slab of mystical meandering. Mason's keyboards have a shimmering sheen and blends perfectly with the guitar dynamics of Mc Cusker. It resembles European proggers Nova and PFM, with elements of Greenslade to boot. 'Masquerading With Dawn' skips and dives with effortless ease. This is Fruupp at a more cohesive and strengthened level, refined via a freshened lightness of touch but delivering a calculated symphonic punch. Mason composed the Mervyn Peake inspired 'Gormenghast' again a sweepingly assured palette of textures and poignancy that wends well with Farrelly's sensitive vocal delivery via the implicit fluidity of the backdrop, perfectly abetted by some sublime sax from Ian McDonald. 'Mystery Might' lives up to the title, a forceful slab of driven sophistication, yet sensitively interspersed with achingly eloquent vocals and sense of exceptional drama driven furiously along by Martin Foye's relentless drumming. With 'Why' we can see the bare subtle refinement of Vincent McCusker's song-craft and the precise beauty implicit in Peter Farrelly's voice. A beautiful piano track underscores the simple sentiment of wondering about making a phone call. It has more in common with piano drenched maladies of the late Jobriath. A tender and exceptional masterpiece of a song.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ec1egL7rcE8?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>"Janet Planet" -- a single in Ireland and a lost opportunity elsewhere -- is a wonderful ditty about Van Morrison's muse and lover. It skips along like an utter gem that reminds me of the Beatles and and the effortlessly whimsical nature of many of the songs of John Howard. Proceedings swerve to a resplendent conclusion with "Sheba's Song" a searing and glinting fantasy about a big cat, it shows the band at the height of their powers, full of distinctive riffs and a wonderful dynamic effortlessness, A cinematic aspect, it hints at much more in the future, but the future can rapidly change, and often sadly does.</p> <p>Fruupp ground to a halt in September 1976 after a final gig at The Roundhouse. John Mason had already departed and despite recruiting a new member and recording a fifth album <em>Dr Wilde's Twilight Adventure</em> they called it a day after a fire at their flat in London almost killed Vincent McCusker and Paul Charles, destroying the master tapes for their new album, and the recordings for a projected live one. John Mason died a few years ago, but the original members remain. With this re-issue they might regroup for a final masquerade whilst time and health prevails. One can only dream. They had a strange revival of sorts in 2007 when Talib Kweli sampled "Sheba's Song" featuring Norah Jones for "Soon The New Day" on his <em>Eardrum</em> album which hit number 2 on the Billboard chart.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WPPVnu0LqQ8?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Despite the prettiness of the package, there are numerous faults and flaws afoot. Bar the release dates and recording details there are scant biographical details. The whole enterprise has the air of an a swiftly assembled repackage, and yet previous re-issues had copious informative liner note from Paul Charles their former manager and occasional lyricist. These could have been easily utilized to make <em>Wise As Wisdom</em> the tribute it deserves to be. There is nothing here that hasn't been previously available yet there are numerous quality live recordings out there that are calling out to be compiled, and deservedly so. There is also a plethora of ephemera concerning them that would have better served this re-issue than the instantly available stuff that has been lazily appropriated. It is perfectly imperfect primer for the uninitiated, but is far from definitive nor an improvement on prior re-issues. </p> <p>Still, as was once said, "Best to be looked over than be overlooked" and Fruupp remain a band worthy of remembering or discovering afresh, even if on this modern masquerade they are not best served, they still have a future from their extraordinary past.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3884&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="IqAb5cOYGMJyllhhEFwKOac4ZCf7rDya2wpVS9FM0PA"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 20 Oct 2019 19:56:00 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3884 at http://www.culturecatch.com Under-Stated Portrait of Genius and Loneliness http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3882 <span>Under-Stated Portrait of Genius and Loneliness</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/mark-weston" lang="" about="/users/mark-weston" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Mark Weston</a></span> <span>October 6, 2019 - 11:26</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/831" hreflang="en">biopic</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/98t7aXRaA6w?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>It could have been an over-the-top disaster.  Or a cheeky send-up.  It could have been a snooze.  Instead, it is a devastatingly under-stated portrait of genius and loneliness.</p> <p>What stays with you in Renee Zellweger's fearless embodiment of Judy Garland in "Judy" is the eyes - the fire that burns in them when she is on stage in front of an adoring (or at times not-so-adoring audience) and the weariness in them when she is not.  What the film and that performance do is something quite unexpected, they peel away the star trappings and reveal the fragile person inside.  And that is quite unlike most biopics that bounce off the glassy surface of their celebrity.  Here, the camera is unmercifully close to the eyes of its subject, and lingers there.  And we experience the emotional injuries, the terrible loneliness and the harrowing fear of what it is like to be an icon.</p> <p>You will hear a lot about how this is an Oscar worthy performance by Zellweger.  But what most critics won't tell you - focused too much on the horse-race handicapping of the award - is why.  The why is in the bravery of a performance that is so vulnerable as to be an open wound.  Yes there are moments of thrilling triumph in the London stage performances, but they are no match for the pain of  watching Renee/Judy pluckishly trying to overcome a broken life in full view of a tabloid world.</p> <p>Judy Garland was not a great singer, a great dancer, a great actor or a great beauty.  What she had was a great big heart.  And when she sang that big heart of hers was full to bursting with raw emotion -- thrilling and exhausting and completely devoid of artifice. And Zellweger uncannily captures this -- the raw genius  that fueled Judy's stardom.</p> <p>Other parts of the film are not as successful, falling into many of the traps of the celebrity biopic, with incomplete relationships, ancillary characters and too much pop psychology.  But these are quibbles next to Renee Zellweger's career-defining performance.  It's in those gorgeous eyes.  Those haunting, gorgeous eyes.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3882&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="_H0p-dliHM5EYp9nt12Ub8gt6cmG4UpYue7-ZTbsjm4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 06 Oct 2019 15:26:03 +0000 Mark Weston 3882 at http://www.culturecatch.com