Friday, February 14, 2014

more sketches and CD reviews

It's been for ever since I last posted a CD review here! Like I said before, call me old school but I insist on buying my music on CDs - I've seen enough music formats, supports and online hosts disappear over the last decades, and killed enough computers and various players, to want to store the music I buy on passive standard physical support… Anyway, these are the last CDs I bought:  

Body/Head - Coming Apart: Like everybody, I was pained when I heard that Sonic Youth had split up but to be honest I didn't buy their last albums, and I listen mostly to their 1990s stuff. I heard here and there what Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo are doing with their current bands, but I wasn't convinced - that's different with Kim Gordon's new project Body/Head with guitarist Bill Nace. I was already a fan of Free Kitten since Unboxed, but now I'm sure that Gordon has always been the soul of Sonic Youth, even if Moore and Ranaldo were more visible - well, they play guitars and, you know, rock music is still a macho world… 

Anyway, Coming Apart is quite minimal and radical - just two guitars and a voice, none very melodious or harmonious - this album would probably never have been released and listened to if Gordon was not already famous, but this time it's a good thing! Gordon's fragile voice is poignant, and let subtle tiny things go through, just like the guitars let you hear vibrating strings, electricity, skin and nails combined to produce a strange musique concrète with notes… Having worked a long time in the dance field, I always looked for dancers whose dance don't hide their bodies - something rare - and I have this feeling here with Body/Head: their music isn't made to hide something, there are no tricks, no pretending, no showing-off. And I feel that what I can reach through their music is… just me!

Melanie de Biasio - No Deal: But a certain minimalism and a female singer, these two albums have little in common! Melanie de Biasio is a Belgian jazz singer and flutist - I love flute and even more jazz flute - and No Deal is a perfect mix of cool jazz, blues, trip-hop and pop. I first heard her live on the radio and I was afraid that the album would be overproduced and lose the simplicity and straightness I enjoyed but it's just perfect: voice, flute, drums, piano, clavinet/synth, and a lot of silence… I just regret that the texts of the songs are not as deep as the music, but that's being very demanding!  

There are many ways of being emotional in music - de Biasio does it by playing with familiar blues/jazz patterns - in sound and composition - and gently twisting them, removing everything that is unnecessary - that leaves a lot of room for acoustic and electronic resonances and harmonics, and there we are in pure physical aural pleasure! The musicians sound like they listened to every kind of music and distilled them in something very plain and dense, more based on honesty than genius or originality, and performed this with great care and feeling. It's the kind of album I'll certainly listen to when I don't feel like listening to anything!

And as I was playing these two albums again to write my reviews, I was imagining what it would be to merge them into one - to have Kim Gordon's experimental uncompromising roughness combined with Melanie de Biasio's creative suavity - it would be the best music of the 2010s! Let's hope Portishead will released their next album soon!

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