The past year had me scurrying to listen. I have favoured Eno, Britten, Glass and
Verdi. Verdi’s “Va, Pensiero” contains a melody and chorus that reminds me of the scripted ecstasy, and sing-along obsession of the average Millennial’s top 40 now; songs by the band Broken Social Scene, such as “7/4” come to mind.
Verdi’s contemporaries had strong nationalist leanings to project into the
experience of the performance, and much later, Jews in the concentration camps sang
Verdi’s “Requiem Mass”2. I have heard that East Germans longing for the West sang “Va,
Pensiero” with fervour during the second world war, expressing an un-punishable and
subversive desire to an assumed shared experience and identification with the Italian
penned, Jewish tale of exile. It is still used by Italian politicians and movers, more than 170 years later, as inspiration to act for one cause or another.
And that’s one crux of it for me. A melody, the dynamics laid down. The libretto is
inseparable from the piece. The context is forever changing, yet the piece still resonates like it is made for its time. Any time.
Conversely, my feelings that context and the human experience can alter the
narrative of any piece (think of Stanley Kubrick’s movie “A Clockwork Orange” and it’s use of Rossini and Beethoven on the outside edge) are in opposition to my admiration for
I don’t need or want music to take me away. I want it to take me to it. What is
it? I don’t want fantasy. I want insight. I like the here and now. It might be due to my secular nature; I have no God or heaven to aspire to.
Brian Eno’s development of the “Ambient” genre, and specifically the recording
Music For Airports, was not meant to be listened to, as much as it was meant to be heard,
and lived inside of. There is plenty of room to insert whatever narrative you desire,
although in the case of an actual hearing in an airport, a conspirator/co-composer would be influenced by the fact that they are travelling. I mean ‘co-composer’ as audience member, listener or interloper/innocent. I’m starting to view composition as a kind of environmental activity, in that it can alter a person’s experience of a moment or event, or a season or a thought, whether they encounter a work wilfully or unwillingly.
Two months ago I assembled a group of musicians that I’ve called “The Luck
Factory”(I’m projecting). I’m working with the phrase authenticity is the death of creation. I Googled it, and I and found no competition; it’s mine. We’ve got a few shows lined up; the first is at the Horseshoe Tavern on May 15. The gig will support the release of a book about Toronto’s post punk scene of which I was a part. There is a captioned picture of me in the book, at 21 years old, mid solo and grimacing after fending off an aggressive fan. I’m hoping to improve on that minor legacy, with a major run. Away with the metaphorical, physical and local bar! I want to work outside of any concern for a notated and calculated affectation in public, but also with respect for new knowledge, and my own myriad, primal beliefs.