Eleven strange music blogs: Free jazz, rock, kosmiche, international, and noise

Drinkin and rockin -- beer bong, big hair, and guitars Here is a list of 11 music blogs. Some feature a few tracks from an album for a limited time, and others have links to high quality mp3 downloads of entire albums. Online music sharing is great for hard to find out of print music. For current releases we need to support the musical artists. Consider these downloads a preview for you to enjoy now, and hopefully you'll give back to the artists if possible. If you have other favorite sites that fit into this sort of musical aesthetic, please share them in the comments. And thanks to the folks who turned me on to these blogs!

  1. Destination:Out  - Rare and out of print adventurous jazz. Also home to the online mp3 store for the great FMP label.
  2. Know Your Conjurer - Kosmiche, drone, international, jazz, and noise. This blog is scary close to my own taste in music. Edo also has a KYC radio show on KALX in Berkeley.
  3. Holy Warbles - From electronic noise to dub to Turkish psych freakouts, the owl runs one of the best music blogs around.
  4. Awesome Tapes from Africa - Just got turned on to this site recently. Some amazing albums you'll find nowhere else.
  5. Moroccan Tape Stash - If you love the music of Morocco, this blog is a must.
  6. P.A. to da Reggae - Rare roots, dub, and dancehall.
  7. Killed in Cars - Just started reading this one. More analysis, Q&A, and ramblings than most music blogs -- which is cool.
  8. Music is a Better Noise - This Japanese blog features rock, psychedelic, kosmiche, electronic, and noise.
  9. Murky Recess - In addition to a great mix of music, this blog features some fun photos, too!
  10. Madrotter - Fans of gamelan and Indonesian music will be floored.
  11. Weird Brother - 70's rock, industrial, ambient -- a really great mix.

23 epiphanies: Ramblings on artistic influences

Power plant accoutrements -- by Joe Reifer
Power plant accoutrements -- by Joe Reifer

My presentation at last week's Mono Lake Night Photography Festival was about the value of cultivating a diverse set of artistic influences. You are already doing this informally. The idea is to talk or write about your artistic input, as a playground for better understanding how these things are influencing your artistic output.

I had 45 minutes to talk, and spent just under 2 minutes talking about how each of these artists has influenced my night photography. As the presentation was both fast and media intensive, I've reproduced the list of artists below for those who attended the conference.

I encourage you to make your own list of influences. This could be a desert island list of your favorite films, photography books, novels, museum exhibits, dance performances -- whatever you're into. Making a list is the first step -- the epiphanies are born out of process of articulating why you love this work, and how the work has influenced you. The writing doesn't have to be lengthy -- start with one sentence for the why, and one for the how. Have fun, and feel free to share your list.

  1. Gordon Matta-Clark: Conical Intersect [video on UbuWeb] [photos & bio on artnet]
  2. John Divola: Vandalism Series [photos on divola.com]
  3. Roger Ballen: Outland | Shadow Chamber | Boarding House
  4. John Pfahl: Altered Landscapes
  5. Draw on your image: To be discussed in a future blog post
  6. Gaspar Noe: Enter the Void [Netflix]
  7. Matthew Barney: Cremaster Cycle
  8. Werner Herzog: Of Walking In Ice
  9. Mark Rothko: Rothko's Rooms[Netflix]
  10. William Vollmann: Imperial
  11. Michelangelo Antonioni: Red Desert [Netflix]
  12. David T. Hanson: Waste Land
  13. Flotation Tanks
  14. Haruki Murakami: A Wild Sheep Chase
  15. Ikeda Carlotta: Butoh Dance
  16. Yasujiro Ozu: Tokyo Story [Netflix]
  17. Master Musicians of Jajouka: Apocalypse Across the Sky | Pipes of Pan
  18. Lotte Reiniger: The Adventures of Prince Achmed [Netflix]
  19. Caspar David Friedrich [friendsofart.net]
  20. John Hind: Our True Intent Is All For Your Delight
  21. Chris Verene: Family | Chris Verene
  22. Jacques Tati: Playtime
  23. Erik Kessels: In Almost Every Picture #9 Black Dog

Note: Book and movie links go to Amazon, and help put a few extra pennies into the epiphany research jar.


Learning from films: Red Desert / We Give Our Lives

Criterion recently released a restored version of Michelangelo Antonioni's 1964 masterpiece Red Desert (il deserto rosso) [Amazon | Netflix | IMDB]. On the second viewing, I made screen captures of scenes where the composition caught my eye -- mainly focusing on the theme of people set against industrial settings. Many of the still images could stand alongside work from my favorite photographers.

Those of you attached to fast moving modern films with plot may find this film difficult -- I hope the still images convince you that a viewing will be rewarding. The cinematography and use of color are amazing, and Monica Vitti's performance is riveting.

The slideshow is set to a song by the group Sabbath Assembly who have a new release called Restored to One [MP3CD]. The album is a modern response to the music of a cult called The Process Church of the Final Judgement. Psychedelic gospel music by way of The Family and NNCK? And Jex Thoth has an amazing voice.

The video is best watched full screen at 720p.


Through the filter: Bat for Lashes

I usually don't pay much attention to pop music, or music videos. But while reading the always entertaining Bummer Life, I found the video above by the group Bat for Lashes. The video evokes such a great, eerie mood -- made me think about photographers Gregory Crewdson and Ralph Eugene Meatyard.

How often do you see a movie or a video that inspires your photography? I'm not just talking about just the technical aspects such as lighting and cinematography, but something that strikes an emotional chord with what you're trying to achieve in your images? Do you consciously see cinema through the filter of still photography?

If you had to identify the influence of one filmmaker on your most important body of photographic work, who would it be? Or perhaps here's another way to attack this question -- if you think of your favorite directors, can you find their influence in your work? I explored some of these questions last year by taking screenshots of Soderbergh's film Bubble. And the influence works both ways -- Soderbergh mentions both Crewdson and Joel Meyerowitz in the DVD commentary.


5 disc shuffle, and Noisy People

I'm addicted to putting 5 CD's into the changer and putting it on shuffle. Yeah, you can put a bunch of discs in your computer and have a random jukebox all day long, but 5 discs in the changer is how I've been rocking out since the early 90's, and it works well for me. Here's what's playing on a rainy weekend while I do some image cataloging and finish framing for my upcoming show:

Yeah, it's a strange and eclectic mix, but it's really working. And speaking of strange music, my friend Tom Djll is featured in the documentary Noisy People that screens next Wednesday at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. The filmmaker, Tim Perkis, will be appearing at the PFA for the premier with guest performers. I've been a fan of the out there improv scene in the Bay Area for a long time, and I'm excited to see the film!


New Topographics

The pivotal turning point in modern jazz was 1959, when Ornette hit New York. You can argue that Coltrane or Miles or Albert Ayler forever changed jazz, but there is no doubt a big shift in the continuum occurred in 1959. John Litweiler's books The Freedom Principle: Jazz After 1958, and Ornette Coleman: A Harmolodic Life dig deeply into this pivotal time in music. With photography the rise of modernism isn't quite as clear, but 1975 was clearly a big year due to the exhibition at the George Eastman House called New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape. This exhibit was a turning point in modern landscape photography. The Grove Dictionary of Art provides a nice, concise definition of New Topographics:

Term first used by the American William Jenkins (1975 exh. cat.) to characterize the style of a number of young photographers he had chosen for the exhibition at the International Museum of Photography, Rochester, NY, in 1975. These photographers avoided the ‘subjective’ themes of beauty and emotion and shared an apparent disregard for traditional subject-matter. Instead they emphasized the ‘objective’ description of a location, showing a preference for landscape that included everyday features of industrial culture. This style, suggesting a tradition of documentary rather than formalist photography, is related to the idea of ‘social landscape’, which explores how man affects his natural environment. Jenkins traced the style back to several photographic series by Edward Ruscha in the early 1960s of urban subjects such as petrol stations and Los Angeles apartments.

The photographers included in the exhibition included:

  • Robert Adams
  • Lewis Baltz
  • Bernd and Hilla Becher
  • Joe Deal
  • Frank Gohlke
  • Nicholas Nixon
  • John Schott
  • Stephen Shore
  • Henry Wessel, Jr.

Because the New Topographics is the photographic lineage to which I feel the most connected, I've been making an effort to sit down with books by these photographers. I've been a big fan of the Bechers and Stephen Shore for a long time, but a few of these photographers have escaped me. I've had pretty good luck tracking down expensive and hard to find books through the Link+ interlibrary loan system. I tried to obtain the actual exhibition catalog, but it turned out to be quite rare and expensive. A few years ago a stained copy sold for $610 at Photo Eye.

In the next few weeks I'll be talking about some of the books by these photographers that I've checked out recently. Stay tuned.