Today (Nov. 29, 2010) marks a sad event: the ninth anniversary of the passing of George Harrison from cancer.
As he himself said in “Within You, Without You,” off of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band:
“We were talking – about the space between us all
And the people – who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion
Never glimpse the truth-then it’s far too late – when they pass away.
We were talking – about the love we all could share – when we find it
To try our best to hold it there – with our love
With our love – we could save the world – if they only knew.
Try to realize it’s all within yourself
No one else can make you change
And to see you’re really only very small,
And life flows on within you and without you.
We were talking-about the love that’s gone so cold and the people,
Who gain the world and lose their soul-
They don’t know – they can’t see-are you one of them?
When you’ve seen beyond yourself-then you may find, peace of mind,
Is waiting there – And the time will come when you see
we’re all one, and life flows on within you and without you.”
As a sold-out crowd packed into The Bowery Ballroom last night, four slender young people quietly took the stage. If they were trying to buy beer, you would have carded them. But on this night, the age and modest presence of Tame Impala’s members only set to underscore the impressive lineage of the band’s influences and sound. Their debut album, Innerspeaker, is comprised of ’60s-style psychedelic rock recently revived by bands like Dungen and Oh No Ono. Described by lead guitarist and vocalist Kevin Parker as “a steady flowing psychedelic groove-rock band that emphasizes dream-like melody,” Tame Impala crafts songs that tap into the spirit of the Beatles circa Sgt. Pepper’s and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
At first the timid bunch, looking like the cast of Dazed and Confused, moved quickly through album opener “It’s Not Meant to Be” and their first single, “Solitude Is Bliss.” Be it jet lag or jitters, the band looked uneasy at the beginning of their set. However, Parker soon picked up the energy with his effected guitar solos and trance-inducing vocals, and by the time the group got to “Lucidity” and “Expectation,” he had unassumingly lost his voice, which did little to detract from the vocal melodies and perhaps led to the eventual emphasis on instrumentals.
During these extended breakdowns, bassist Nick Allbrook and drummer Jay Watson created a pulsating, hypnotic rhythm section that fueled their psychedelic jams. This, matched with a frantic visualizer projected on the screen behind the band, aimed to evoke the mind-altering state associated with their music’s tradition. And, in the moments where all four members locked into a steady groove, they seemed truest to themselves and their sound. Eventually, even their most stoic member, guitarist Dominic Simper, loosened up and smiled.
(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)
At its most basic level, music is an arrangement of sounds. While instruments range in their capacity to express sound, they’re all equal in terms of functionality, namely to produce sound. Disparate in appearance and mechanics, a piano and the human voice nevertheless share in the same activity when it comes to creating music. Both, through the manipulation of sound waves, change our environment, bringing tone and melody into existence and earshot. This perspective on music is particularly valuable as electronic music continues to push the boundaries of sound and song. Although computerized bleeps feel different than live instrumentation does, it’s worth questioning why this is so given that both simply create sound waves.
For composer and performer Cameron Mesirow, the woman behind the recording alias Glasser, the range of possibility that technology allows for sound is an endless pool of inspiration. Even a cursory listen of Glasser’s debut album, Ring, makes clear that rhythm and melody may vary greatly in their source and means of expression. But the most striking element of Glasser’s music is the primacy of her voice over all other sounds. And on Tuesday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Mesirow, backed by three other musicians, showed that sounds, equal in functionality, differ greatly in their emotive capacity.
Dawning a red frock, in striking contrast to her bandmates’ army green jumpsuits, Mesirow announced her presence with a musical introduction. And once she positioned herself behind the glittery sequined microphone, the focus shifted from her outfit to her incredibly expressive voice. During Ring standout “Home,” Mesirow belted out verse and chorus with natural force and grace. Interestingly, her band plays conventional instruments—that is guitar, drums and keyboard, although in turn, the instruments express midi signals that trigger different sounds. Although this effect is jarring at first, it’s certainly better than watching someone bob up and down in front of a laptop. Ultimately, though, Mesirow’s voice transcends the songs she sings. In that sense, singing contributes a quality that electronic sounds will never equal.
Additional pictures I took from the show after the jump: (more…)
If are an avid reader, you know that I have been hinting at some big changes on the horizon for Playtonic Dialogues. But now, my friends, wait no further. As of last Saturday, PlaytonicDialogues.com exists (note: the current design is not final, rather it is stand in for the time being) and soon this modest blog will move toward the vision of its forefathers; an engaging meeting ground for ideas in music, philosophy, and beyond.
But, before we say goodbye to the old and usher in the new, I’d like your input on how we can improve the new website. Please respond to the poll below, asking the question, “What do you want to see on PlaytonicDialogues.com?” If you have an answer that is not included in the poll, feel free to write your suggestion(s) in the comment section. See you all in the future!