On April 14, 1916, Dada co-instigator Hugo Ball wrote in his diary:
„Unser Kabarett ist eine Geste. Jedes Wort, das hier gesprochen und gesungen wird, besagt wenigstens das eine, daß es dieser erniedrigenden Zeit nicht gelungen ist, uns Respekt abzunötigen. Was wäre auch respektabel und imponierend an ihr? Ihre Kanonen? Unsere große Trommel übertönt sie. Ihr Idealismus? Er ist längst zum Gelächter geworden, in seiner populären und seiner akademischen Ausgabe. Die grandiosen Schlachtfeste und kannibalischen Heldentaten? Unsere freiwillige Torheit, unsere Begeisterung für die Illusion wird sie zuschanden machen.“
“Our Cabaret is a gesture. Every word that is spoken and sung here says at least this one thing: that this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect. What could be respectable and impressive about it? Its cannons? Our big drum drowns them. It’s idealism? That has long been a laughingstock, in its popular and its academic edition. The grandiose slaughters and cannibalistic exploits? Our spontaneous foolishness and our enthusiasm for illusion will destroy them.”
97 years later to the day, The Late Now undertook an evening of Dada Dinnr Theatr at Andina, an upscale Peruvian restaurant in downtown Portland. Dada as a fun night out. Dada as dinner-and-a-show. Dada — that explosion par excellence of anarchic and (putatively) nihilistic, all-smashing Anti-Everything — as tonight’s entertainment to accompany your fine dining experience. In a word, Dada as bourgeois diversion.
The Late Now Trading Cards: The Dada/Peruvian Food Series continues with Number 2: Cabaret Voltaire co-founder Emmy Hennings paired with choros à la chalaca (Peruvian mussels with corn salsa). ¡Que rico, oder?
It’s all about our Dada Dinnr Theatr show live at Andina, Portland’s fine Peruvian restaurant — Sunday, April 14, 2013.
> Reserve your place at the show — call Andina at 503-228-9535.
Everybody loves Dada, and everybody loves Peruvian food. Most of all, everybody loves those two things together. That’s why The Late Now is doing Dada Dinnr Theatr live at Andina, Portland’s fine Peruvian restaurant — Sunday, April 14, 2013.
To accessorize the whole craze, we’re publishing an all-new set of The Late Now Trading Cards: The Dada/Peruvian Food Series. No. 1 is Dada founder Hugo Ball paired with the great Peruvian dish, causa de atún (tuna causa)! Mmm, ausgezeichnet und ¡delicioso!
> Reserve your place at the show — call Andina at 503-228-9535.
TIME: 6:00 PM Doors open + beverage service & tapas starts
Admission: $18 cover + $20/person minimum
Apologies to our Starving Artist and Pale Poet friends: because this event is managed by the restaurant we can’t provide our usual artist-friendly tiered pricing. But hey, if you can manage the splurge, it will be worth it!
Every now and then an idea turns up that’s so to the point it’s a shock never to have run into it before. Tuia Cherici is an Italian filmmaker (video) working in Berlin who calls her practice and its results Manucinema, as in “manual cinema” (or, if you’re Italian, mano + cinema). Setting up her camera, her lights and her materials as if for stop-motion animation (which she also does) she leaves the camera running and manipulates the materials in realtime, pushing and pulling cutout images, objects and talismans, bits and pieces through landscapes of variously textured materials, liquids and particulate matter.
The result is uncannily like stop-motion animation that we viewers have slipped into, through-the-looking-glass style: the visual laws and rhythms of animation are in full effect but we, too, are subject to them, occupying the temporal vernacular from the inside. Indeed, fifteen minutes into the Thollem Electric concert one of my fellow viewers marveled at the work-intensiveness of what he still thought was stop-motion. I had to extricate him from the looking glass.
Ideas, of course, are cheap, and the greater their Aha! factor the greater the peril of inane realization. And — the greater the satisfaction of seeing that peril avoided. A glance at Cherici’s bio confirms that Manucinema was not a moment’s glib brainstorm, but the organic outcome of an abiding commitment to rigorous principles of experimentation and improvisation: how to make moving pictures in the way of improvised music? (Cherici is also a musical improvisor.) The deeply lived questions that gave eventual rise to Manucinema resound in its results, carving out for them inhabitable spaces.
Not that we necessarily want to inhabit those spaces. They are demystified looking-glass portraits of our sociopolitical circumstances too vivid and raw to be anywhere we’d want to live, if we didn’t already. Which is one of the many planes of perfect intersection between Cherici’s visual work and Thollem’s music. To keep it concise, let’s just say that everything said above applies, mutatis mutandis, to Thollem’s animated, sui generis keyboard genius — and to his fully committed positive anarchism: Thollem’s peripatetic, perpetually-on-tour life, always making music and always radically collaborating, expresses itself at every level of scale from how he navigates the socioeconomy to how he plays. (And even, yes, to how he interviews, as those of you who saw him on The Late NowMarch Music Modern Special 2013 know: the mischief he gave his poor interviewer! That’s why those flaccid name-brand talk-show hosts stick to the vapid mercenaries and steer clear of the anarchists! I loved every minute of it.)
My first encounter with Thollem was at a house concert in very warm, intimate space with a baby grand piano. It was Thollem acoustic, astounding us with “comprovised” tours-de-force somewhere at the transcendent juncture of free post-post-jazz, Debussy, and three million other things. We invited him to bring that world to The Late Now at The Piano Fort on March 9, four days before I saw him do his Thollem Electric work at Backspace as part of his March-April US Tour, Thollem Electric: In The Valley Of The Cloudbuilder.
Driving a Fender Rhodes steampunked with a tangle of effects pedals, Thollem took us on a guerrilla expedition through a craggy and varied topography of, you know, anarcho blues lullaby noise avant circus free jazz punk. Further armed with a mic, Thollem sang us the hard way through our amply, and not everywhere just literally, war-torn times.
Thollem’s acoustic work is undomesticated chamber music. Thollem Electric is feral taser-opera.
Take a look/listen for yourself below — even if, as Thollem sings, “Maybe you don’t even exist.” And if the Thollem Electric tour comes your way, catch it. (Say hi to Thollem and Angela.)
Support your local (well, world-local) anarchist-musician-artists! These are our modern dark age’s troubadours and monastics, keeping it real. See Thollem wherever you get the chance, and check out Tuia Cherici’s Manucinema, and her work on vimeo.
Leo Daedalus hostsThe Late Now, the thinking mammal’s avant-variety-talk show. He also writes about and engages polymorphously in things art-cultural.
The Late Now March Music Moderne Special won’t be all music. Inspired, indirectly, by the performances of all 15 of Shostakovich’s string quartets by the Jerusalem Quartet beginning the day after our show, we’ve invited poets David Abel and A. Molotkov to read some Russian poetry of the early 20th century, in English and Russian, respectively.
On the program is Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938), the great Acmeist poet and essayist who perished under Stalin, in a SIberian transit camp.
For your advance delectation, have a listen to this recording (click play above) of Mandelstam reading his own 1924 poem, Нет, никогда ничей я не был современник… (No, I was never anyone’s contemporary…).
Then, come see our poets reading his work live & bilingually on Saturday night, along with an energetic program of lively new musicians from Portland and beyond, at our March Music Moderne Special (March 9, 2013).
Нет, никогда, ничей я не был современник, Мне не с руки почет такой. О, как противен мне какой-то соименник, То был не я, то был другой.
Два сонных яблока у века-властелина И глиняный прекрасный рот, Но к млеющей руке стареющего сына Он, умирая, припадет.
Я с веком поднимал болезненные веки — Два сонных яблока больших, И мне гремучие рассказывали реки Ход воспаленных тяжб людских.
Сто лет тому назад подушками белела Складная легкая постель, И странно вытянулось глиняное тело,— Кончался века первый хмель.
Среди скрипучего похода мирового — Какая легкая кровать! Ну что же, если нам не выковать другого, Давайте с веком вековать.
И в жаркой комнате, в кибитке и в палатке Век умирает,— а потом Два сонных яблока на роговой облатке Сияют перистым огнем.
Pierre Boulez: Sonate pour piano nº 2 (1948) — I. Extrêmement rapide Maurizio Pollini, piano (recorded 1978?)
We’ve done Pierre Boulezalready, but here’s the thing: I was listening for the first time to his “fearlessly complex and nerve-janglingly dissonant” second Piano Sonata and the thought just hit me: Is this thing for real? I mean, does a human being play this, or is it some kind of diabolical mechanical-turk, three-guys-and-an-octopus thing?
Turns out I’m not the only one who might have wanted to hail an octopus. David Fanning reports, in his liner notes for the 1995 Deutsche Grammophon CD, that the pianist I’ve been listening to, Yvonne Loriod, “is said to have burst into tears when faced with the prospect” of performing it.
Not that difficulty equates with quality, but nor is it immaterial. It is an undeniable part of the experience of a piece, another aspect as legitimate of notice as any other, as why wouldn’t it be? I gather that this piece is contentious (Boulez certainly is) but I for one am enjoying the hell out of it. And although I’m No Expert™, I greatly appreciate the humanity of Loriod’s 1961 performance, in both the tear-inducing and the less octopedal bits.
“Repudiating all the compromises with tradition which, he claimed, marred the work even of composers as progressive as Schoenberg and Stravinsky, Boulez set about creating a brave new musical world, untouched by sentiment or retrospection – as in the fearlessly complex and nerve-janglingly dissonant Piano Sonata no. 2, which expresses an exuberance bordering almost on rage, making clear Boulez’s determination, not so much to wipe the slate clean as to smash it to bits.”
And now I’m off to check out George Rochberg’s Sonata-Fantasia for piano (1956), thanks to this post in which composer James Primosch opines, “If I had to pick an atonal piano sonata from the post-war era, it would be George Rochberg’s Sonata-Fantasia, not the Boulez 2nd.”