Track: Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten
Artists for this track: Staatorchester Stuttgard (Conductor: Dennis Russell Davies)
Composer: Arvo Pärt
Album: Tabula Rasa
Label: ECM

You have to be on the terrace, on the top of a building. You should be close enough to the city to hear the some default noise of the city and far enough to let you hear and feel the music. Pärt’s “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten” starts playing, you close your eyes, stretch your arms both sides so that strings can circulate on and fully fill your body. You raise your head to the sky (eyes still closed), and immerse yourself even more in the music.

There… you have made your little machine.


Track: Canzone di Laura Betti
Artist: Stefano Battaglia
Album: Re: Pasolini
Label: ECM

Track: Pasolini
Artist: Stefano Battaglia
Album: Re: Pasolini
Label: ECM

I am not really qualified to talk about Battaglia’s music. However, one thing I know is his compositions and musicianship is awesome. Re: Pasolini is his second ECM album released in 2007. This is an album composed (apart from the track “Cosa Sono le Nuvole”) by Stefano Battaglia. He was inspired, as he states and as the title of the album suggests, on the films, poetry of Pasolini, and the characters and actors in his movies. You might also want to hear one piece from Raccolto here and my short mumbling on the same-titled track.

“Canzone di Laura Betti” is the opening track of the double-disc album. Battaglia himself refers to “Canzone” as “a song inspired by the poet’s muse: a sorrowful Marlene, the mad woman who was always right, a real Garbo, a living fossil who wore an eternal changeless mask. She not only acted in movies directed by Rosselini, Bertolucci, Monicelli, Bellocchio, Fellini and of course, many of Pasolini’s own films, but was herself also a film director, poet and singer.” Simple cello parts performed by Aya Shimura, which are accompanied with incredible trumpets played by Michael Gassman and double-bass by Salvatore Maiore… And of course great pianos by Battaglia himself. Other musicians are Mirco Mariottini on clarinets and Roberto Dani on drums.

“Pasolini” is the closing track of the album and it got me struck and stuck. Battaglia himself writes:

This is a synthesis of two different compositions: only subsequently did I realize that they were consequentially linked like two interlocked hands. The first is a simple funeral chant, imbibed with that special sense of nostalgia which is often described as ‘melancholia generosissima’. The second was inspired by the affectionate feelings conjured up by photos of Pasolini playing football. This piece evokes both the tragic voice of an outcast yet simultaneously recalls Pasolini’s contagious vitality. It was the very first chapter on my work dedicated to Pasolini. I had no idea that it would become the first of over thirty.

I am not really a fan of hearing what an artist felt (like) when he or she composed/created something – as what matters is what I feel, and this fact is pretty much exploited by commercial music industry. But Battaglia very well explains what I sensed myself. Affectionate feelings and the tragic voice conjured up in pure emotional minimalism. Simple double-basses that merge with cellos, and the merciless piano… After the crescendo-like calm-rise of cello, the beautiful ending with the beautiful piano is just so sudden, so unfair.

As Salinger’s Holden says “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author who wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.” Just replace book and author with music and composer/performer – and that’s what I think of Stefano Battaglia.


Track: On the Wing Again
Artist: John Surman
Album: Such Winters of Memory
Label: ECM

Just to mark this day. Good night.


Track: Raccolto
Artist: Stefano Battaglia
Album: Raccolto
Label: ECM

Stefano Battaglia is an Italian pianist and composer. And this is the album that introduced him to me – what great coincidence. I fell in love with his music. Actually I wanted to post a track from his Re: Pasolini album but I am still waiting for a replacement for that.

Anyway, Raccolto is the first track from the same titled album. It doesn’t really describe the album as a whole, as the album is mainly improvised and atonal, and Raccolto should not really hurt inexperienced ears. But… What great piano this is! Soft and moving, together with the double bass that slowly develops behind.

This is a kind of music that appeals to the body as a whole, and it is beyond my vocabulary to explain this (Alper, Dr. Lacan wants to see you).

Jouissance…


Track: Edges of Illusion
Artist: John Surman
Album: Upon Reflection
Label: ECM

John Surman is a jazz saxophone, clarinet and synth player, and this song is from his debut 1979 album from ECM. With the awesome continous loop and simple but powerful musicianship… What great minimalism and what powerful emotions… At around 5:10, the song rises with the sax passage in the vein of the cliché saying silence before the storm.

Let this song be my new year’s present to you.


Track: Jericho (lyrics)
Artist: Das Ich
Album: Satanische Verse
Label: Danse Macabre
[audio:dasichjericho.mp3]

Das Ich is a German band that makes something in between these: darkwave, electronic, EBM, industrial, gothic, etc. They usually use distorted vocals and awesome minimalist music, which is hard to find in all these commercial electronic music industry.

This song “Jericho” is from one of their early albums Satanische Verse, which also includes famous songs like “Gottes Tod.” Anyway, “Jericho” is a very theatrical song, which successfuly conveys the psychological depth embeded in the vocals and the piano and minimalist ambient background. You don’t need to understand German in order to be moved away by this song. Stop listening to the lyrics and listen to the music as a whole – how it forms sounds that form images.


Track: Hotel Overture
Artist: Carla Bley & Paul Haines
Album: Escalator Over the Hill
Label: ECM

Recently got this album and fell in love with it. One of the best albums I have heard so far. “Hotel Overture” is the first track in the album that is referred to as jazz opera.

The album is very experimental and eclectic as it mixes quite a lot of different genres. Moreover, it’s dark, grotesque, and carnivalesque – not to mention the musical intelligence behind the music.


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