Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hi again! Nice to be back after spending a beautiful but all too short July in Berkeley/San Francisco. The month just flew by. It was a working trip but all the same it was great to reconnect with friends and family out there. We rented a quirky, no-frills bungalow from an English professor with an amazing library (not surprising) and record collection (surprising!). One day as I was leafing through her records I emerged from absentmindedness to discover I was holding some extremely rare avant garde electronic and percussion LPs -- original promo Iowa Ear Music, Gravity Adjusters Expansion Band, etc. A lot of records from the Creel Pone catalog. Anyway, it turns out the professor's father is a very famous French percussionist and music theorist, who I now noticed was name-dropped on the liner notes of many of the albums themselves. What a treat to have access to his personal collection, if only for a month. One private press record by Pierre Marietan, especially, left a deep impression. I'll try to blog about it soon.

Music-wise, we also made it out to a show/happening at the Berkeley Art Museum, featuring an installation piece by Grouper. Liz Harris channeled Popol Vuh with some looped, treated guitar and ethereal wordless vocals accompanied by her own wall projections cast through a huge chandelier. Here's a video shot by someone with a much better view than mine. Some great people watching was to be had, since nobody really knew what pose to cop or how to react to the evening's aggressively slow and deliberately monotonous soundtrack. The audience was also forced to negotiate Thom Faulder's large orange floor sculpture in the middle of the performance space, which we were encouraged to sit or recline on (no shoes!) on as Grouper performed.

Pretty amusing seeing students and even a few middle-aged Berkeley folks closing their eyes and blissing out to the music as the sun went down. I was also pleased to see the museum devoting an entire exhibit (curated by Scott Hewicker, the guy from The Alps) to the idea of "Hauntology." Nice to see some unexpected figures dealt with in that context (Bernard Maybeck, Diane Arbus, Francis Bacon, recreations of 12th c. Japanese prints) Also the ghosty boat image above -- "Ship drawing" by Paul Sietsema. I wonder if Scott Hewicker is a fan of Ghost Box, Simon Reynolds, etc.? For more of the curatorial side of The Alps check out this compilation mix on their label's website.

Anyway, it's good to be back. Here is a picture of me waiting for dim sum.