Monday, May 30, 2016

In Praise Of Shadows by Eraldo Bernocchi and Shinkiro

I remember being in my hotel room on a business trip checking my Facebook page and reading that the new album from guitarist Eraldo Bernocchi and Shinkiro was available for purchase. Giddy with anticipation, I could not order it soon enough. After all, Bernocchi is responsible for one of the most beautiful pieces of recorded music I have ever heard, 2011's Winter Garden with Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie (read a nice review and hear a bit here).

Like being in my hotel room, ambient music for me is about creating a sense of place, within or without, real or imagined. Last year's From Worlds Unseen a Light Yet Streams A Sound Replete created a vast, distant place. From 2012's Sublunar rose a gritty, nearby landscape. For Please Stop Loving Me, it was a singular eternity inside my own head.

In Praise of Shadows takes me to places only feet away, to the corners, crevices, shadowed nooks, and hidden voids inside this very room, making audible the invisible, giving voice to the unseen. As I type this, the outside light is fading, the album is playing, and the effect is like hearing through a fish-eye lens. I've seen the album described as dark ambient, as industrial. I'm reminded of a quote that Bernocchi shared online "I have found so much beauty in the dark, as I have found a lot of horrors in the light."

The album's eight tracks are Fluorescent Memories, Shadow Ghosts, A Scene of Kaleidoscopic Changes, Old Man Looking At A Window, Bloody Footsteps On A Ceiling Temple, Hikari, City Vultures, and Black Magic Train. My ears found the tracks to be wonderfully grouped.

Begin Inadequate Descriptions

Fluorescent Memories weaves its languid melodic line through the mechanical workings of clock-like percussion. Shadow Ghosts flips that motif on its head, with the beat almost reduced to a scratching static and while keyboards and bass exchange a throbbing dialog. Almost vocal in quality, Kaleidoscopic Changes beckons you to come closer, to fall, to swirl into the shadow.

Old Man Looking At A Window (perhaps not unsurprisingly) resonates with me, a barrier I can only look "at" and not through, a barrier to true understanding of what these artists have created, a detachment between seeing versus experiencing what's beyond. Old Man may also be the most "traditionally" structured track on the album. And then along comes Bloody Footsteps and tradition is gone and replaced by the need to hear and see things from an entirely new perspective. After all, why would there be footsteps on the ceiling?

Hikari (Japanese for Light) brings back a traditional percussion line and covers it with layer upon layer of rich, pulsing, sparkling, suffused sound. City Vultures indeed evokes a sense of tense scavengers waiting in the dark. And Black Magic Train leaves us with the sense of a ticking, hulking beast shrouded in steam, waiting to take us somewhere.

End Inadequate Descriptions

You can get a taste of the entire album in this video:

And hear Shadow Ghosts on Soundcloud:

The album's title refers to an essay by Junichiro Tanizaki on the contrast between Western and Japanese aesthetics, light vs. dark, shine vs. gleam, new vs. worn. What Bernocchi and Shinkiro have achieved is nothing short of a sonic exemplar of Tanizaki's aesthetic.

I highly recommend In Praise of Shadows by Eraldo Bernocchi and Shinkiro for all who enjoy ambient music and all who enjoy good music.
"I don't know much about music, but I sure like the way it sounds."

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

True nobility lies in...

Google Chrome messed up my bookmarks again so I'm having to spend time sorting through them and figuring out why a bookmark I archived months ago is now back in my current bookmark list - and repeated multiple times. Granted, when I export bookmarks out of Chrome to HTML the resulting file is 50 MB. But I would prefer it not do this. So today's post is another uncategorized link dump. (Isn't that what it always is?)

Joel Shapiro's sculptures are currently on display at the Nasher in Dallas. Anyone want to go?
Here's a nice video interview with Frank Stella about his 60-year retrospective, currently on display in Fort Worth.

Use Linify to recreate any image as line art.
Google's Tilt Brush and Virtual Art Sessions.

Also from Google is Art Camera, preserving works of art with ultra-high resolution images.

If you thought there were only four fundamental forces (gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear) you might be surprised to know there might be a fifth.

Clyfford Still's paintings were so impactful on the 20th century art world despite the fact that only 6% of them were outside his estate at the time of his death. Take 7 minutes with this video to find out how and why.
Well, they discovered yet another species of dinosaur.

Craft pr0n: wood turning (i.e. wordworking on a lathe). One nice touch in the video is the parallel between sawdust falling inside the studio while snowflakes fall outside.

Visually learn about flags of the world at Flag Stories.

Find music albums by their dominant cover color with Predominantly.

...being superior to your formal self. ~Ernest Hemingway

Saturday, May 21, 2016

We are perishing for want of wonder...

Excerpts from a live performance by J. Peter Schwalm, Eivind Aarset, and Sophie Clements.

What do physics and jazz have in common? More than you might think, starting with Pythagoras of theorem fame who also created the Western music scale. But Coltrane and Einstein?

How Fort Worth got its name.

How much money you need to live comfortably in Fort Worth is $51,759 which corresponds nicely with $52,492, the city's median income. (While the precision of those figures is doubtful, the article's criteria of income uses (50% necessary expenses, 30% fun, 20% savings) is perhaps the more thought provoking factoid.)

Fort Worth is also the 21st best city in the U.S. to start a career. Madison, WI is lucky #13.

How loud is it where you are? Get a rating between 50 (loud) and 100 (quiet) using Soundscore by just typing in your address. (Work got a 70, home got a 78.)

Frank Stella 

Frank Stella, Chodorow II, 1971. source

An article about the Frank Stella retrospective at The Modern. Frank's body of work makes younger artists think "Man, I hope I can still piss people off when I'm 80 years old."

Fort Worth Texas magazine includes this quote about Stella: "I would argue that they are the most physical paintings made in the 20th century."

The WSJ wrote about Stella's retrospective at it appeared at the Whitney.

A Stella-inspired floral arrangement.

Frank Stella was interviewed on the Modern Art Notes podcast.

A bit about Michael Auping, curator of the Stella retrospective.

Recording of Auping interviewing Stella at The Modern.


Space Geeks: a photo essay on the evolution of spacecraft cockpit displays. Sci Fi geeks: fold an origami Tie Fighter.

The periodic table of typefaces. See this one and more here
Eric Schlosser's excellent book Command and Control, about a 1980 incident in Arkansas that had the potential to detonate a 9 Mt nuke, has been turned into a film that I would really like to see. Since it's one of those American Experience films, I'm hoping it'll end up on PBS some day.

In 1956, the U.S. nuke target list included over 1,100 targets in Europe, Russia, and China. See them here.

Physicists tell us our universe only has three spatial dimensions because of the laws of thermodynamics. Interesting, but the article is a bit hard to follow. What would be more interesting to me is why our fourth dimension, time, is the only one in which we can't travel backwards.

Sleeping Beauty, long exposure photograph by Jason Shulman. See more at his site.
A new outfit for the Predator's 2018 movie?

This video series is from 1999 but it's still good. This is Modern Art by Matthew Collings.

  1. I Am a Genius
  2. Shock! Horror!
  3. Lovely Lovely
  4. Nothing Matters
  5. Hollow Laughter
  6. The Shock of the Now

Can deep learning help create The Next Rembrandt?

If we can create the next Rembrandt, will CaptionBot recognize it?

Of these 16 body language mistakes that make people mistrust you, I do seven. Crap.

Why do old statues have small penises? (Answer: they really don't relatively speaking.)

...not for want of wonders. ~G.K. Chesterton