Friday, September 15, 2006

Drawing in Space, ‘Art’ in the Landscape

A recent walk in the nearby countryside led to the discovery of, an encounter with, what might be termed an unintentional sculpture, or perhaps, given the thing’s linear nature, a drawing in three-dimensional space. ‘The thing’ is in fact a broken down section of wire fence, barely noticeable against the grass upon which it lies when walking close to it, past it, yet striking when approached from below, walking uphill towards it, viewed against the sky, as I hope the following photographs may illustrate.

Viewed from a variety of angles, ‘in the round’ as any 3D object should properly be appreciated to achieve a full sense of its form, the fence/drawing displays a pleasing combination of, & play between, horizontal & vertical elements, a free-flowing, open tracery of sensual, curving, delicate-yet-purposeful lines & more massive, scribbly agglomerations or ‘passages’, which gives it too a sense of energy & something of a dynamic quality suggestive of movement, of flow. The lines, of course, exist in three dimensions, creating interesting forms such as – dependent upon viewpoint - helix-like combinations of curves, loops & more severe, jagged peaks & aggressively twisted folds, these latter similar, indeed, to aspects of the landscape such as rock formations. Whatever, these accidental transformations wrought have something of a ‘rightness’ to them & bring this to the whole & an appreciation of it, as art (designated). Also present may be observed a certain 'measured', point-to-point or join-the-dots effect appropriate to drawing, courtesy of another of the fence’s physical features, the loops that serve to keep separate the individual squares of the design.

The whole, I think, has a certain elegance and aesthetic quality that transcends its damaged state & consequent removal from a functional context, & provides an interesting addition to the landscape of which it is an organically-evolving, interactive part (note the tufts of sheep’s wool adhering in places to the fence).

The images are presented in a sequence that intends to convey something of the experience of encountering the ‘drawing’ in the landscape, seen & composed in relation to other aspects of its surroundings such as telegraph poles & wires, trees, the long grass in which it resides & which constitute another element of pictorial ‘mark-making’, etc.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

King Ink’s Silver Jubilee

On a whim, browsing through the CDs for some sounds to provide entertainment & perhaps inspiration, I decided to give my self-compiled Birthday Party collection (its contents in fact very similar to the officially-released ‘Hits’ CD) a listen for the first time in a while. Recalling experiencing the band in concert some 25 years ago, at the Royal Court in Liverpool (bottom of a bill that also featured Vic Godard & the Subway Sect during Vic’s lounge-crooner phase and headliners Bauhaus with, even more bizarrely, a selection of reggae records played between the bands), it struck me forcibly how fresh & vital the ’Party’s music and, for example, a classic song such as ‘King Ink’ in particular, was then and still sounds now, across that passage of time: such a silver jubilee seems worthy of recognition and celebration, I believe. In fact, other than a couple of gigs at a local FE college, featuring a selection of local bands, that gig was the 1st proper one I attended and thus the ’Party could claim to be the 1st proper band (as in one on a bona fide record label – 4AD – and heard on Peel, the ultimate stamp of authority as it were) I was fortunate enough to see live: wow - what an intro to the experience. I recall the sheer spectacle of Nick Cave's performance, a retching, bent-double stick insect, Rowland Howard a deathly-white, chain-smoking caryatid, Tracey Pew's stetson, Mick Harvey's keyboards tottering atop a stack of plastic milk crates - what a great, great band. The violence of some of this music is still shocking, and liberating. The Friend Catcher, Zoo Music Girl, A Dead Song, Nick the Stripper, Figure of Fun, Release the Bats, She’s Hit, Big-Jesus-Trash-Can, Kiss Me Black, 6" Gold Blade, Junkyard: all that howling and screeching and squawking and flailing and flaying and (death-)rattling and pounding and clattering and battering, antic, frantic and breathless, those songs teetering on the edge of tumbling down the stairs, arse over tit, to be consumed in the dark, bat-infested voids they melodramatically describe with such unwholesome relish &/or disgust, and left broken, twitching, smouldering, bloody. It might, in fact, be more appropriate to term The Birthday Party’s dank, swampy, scratchy music collectively as ‘abattoir blues’ rather than Nick Cave’s recent album of that very name. Interesting too, to compare it with Cave’s later crooning balladry, most fully realised on ‘The Boatman’s Call’ album and other, numerous examples scattered across his oeuvre, especially perhaps something as lush as the gorgeous, swooning, string-drenched ‘Love Letter’, which is quite a sonic journey to have travelled, along which may be experienced many peaks.

More Australian music, or music by Australians.

I posted in the New Year, more than once, enthusiastically and with great anticipation, on the subject of the wonderful sounds of Sol Seppy, and eventually took delivery of her album some time ago now. And most engaging it’s proved to be, too, a worthwhile addition to the music collection. I’ve found it to be, overall, a quieter listen than expected – the tantalizingly-offered likes of ‘Slo Fuzz’ and ‘Move’, sonically recalling My Bloody Valentine, being exceptions rather than the album as a whole’s rule, which is much more acoustic and reflective, where piano and cello predominate the instrumental soundscape - a lovely, intimate experience, best enjoyed through headphones to appreciate the drifting subtleties of the music and the spaces it creates. As previously noted, all sorts of references and influences can be discerned – there’s a delightful Cocteau Twins moment during ‘A to N’, just as it takes off, for instance, in addition to Sparklehorsey-type wheezings and such, My Bloody Valentine, etc - yet still the result is highly idiosyncratic and more than merely the sum of such parts: well worth a listen & getting to know.