Posts Tagged ‘Philip Glass’

Robert Ashley’s Perfect Life Ends

March 4, 2014


ashley-at-WTC2.1975Well, it may not have been so perfect, but Perfect Lives, Private Parts was the name of Robert Ashley’s multi-part meditation on life.  It was loosely called an opera, in the way that his contemporary, Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach was an opera, but less so.  Robert Ashley was ambient before Eno, composed avant-garde opera’s years before Philip Glass and did a form of rapping before rapping.  Check out Perfect Lives, Private Parts: The Bar below.  Ashley is from that post-John Cage generation that included David Behrman, Alvin Lucier and LaMonte YoungPerfectLivesBookAshley worked in the regions of the subconscious, those inner murmurings that bubble to the surface between sleep and waking.  Pieces like Automatic Writing created an ambient scrawl of his spoken word, including his uncontrolled murmurings from his Tourette’s Syndrome.  I interviewed Robert Ashley in the late 1980s for the radio series, Totally Wired.  You can hear it here: (Ignore the playlist and address spiel at the end)

Here’s a couple of Ashley’s signature tune.  My favorite remains Perfect Lives, Private Parts: The Bar with it’s psychotic boogie woogie piano from Blue Gene Tyranny and drunken ruminations making brilliant connections.  Unlike a lot of avant-garde composers, Ashley had a wry sense of humor in his work.  Robert Ashley was an American maverick’s who musicians and art cognoscenti knew, but who never rose about the avant-garde surface.  Explore his body of work and you might wonder why.  Robert Ashley had been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and died on 3 March at approximately 1:30pm.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

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Akara – Music from Other Worlds.

September 4, 2013

“There are other worlds they have not told you about.  They wish to speak to you.” -Sun Ra

Hear Akara Interviewed On Echoes Tonight

WorldsBeyondThe band called Akara has returned from another trip to other dimensions with a new CD The World Beyond.  Their previous CD, Extradimensional Ethnography, was an Echoes CD of the Month in 2011. Akara is a recording project from Joshua Penman who thinks that he’s glimpsed an alternate dimension with music that he’s brought back to this side, including lyrics written by the “luminous beings.”

“Akara to me is the songs of a luminous race of interdimensional beings,” claims Penman,  “these beings from the other side of the veil of reality singing to us in their language, their songs, their dreams, their prayers, their rituals. ”

If Afro Celt Sound System had brought Philip Glass and Dead Can Dance into their trans-global orbit, it might have sounded like Akara. It’s a fantasy meeting of orchestral, electronic and world-music elements with a couple of wrinkles tossed in that are strictly from the imagination of Joshua Penman, including the imaginary language sung by Femke Weidema.  Akara wants you to believe that their music actually comes from another world and  Penman posits the idea that there is another dimension that he  has tapped into, that was here before us and maybe even begat us.

3243905517-1“I will say that I’ve had in my life mystical experiences where I’ve had feelings of connections to entities outside of myself,’ reveals Penman.  “And you know, at a certain level this is talking about the numinous and this is talking about something that’s very difficult to quantify and touch.  But I feel in this music that there’s a way that I can catch onto a certain kind of melody, a certain kind of set of words that don’t necessarily feel like they belong to me.  There’s things that I make with this that clearly belong to me and clearly belong to my training; and then there’s some aspects of it that I feel work in a certain way that I feel is beyond my own creative designs.”

Unlike Sun Ra, who lived in his otherworldliness, Penman leaves some wiggle room between belief and metaphor.

“I would say it’s somewhere between the two, mostly a metaphor but not 100%,” he says

Akara has a new album called The World Beyond.  We spoke with Akara in 2011 about their Echoes CD of the Month, Extradimensional Ethnography.  We return to that entertaining interview and some beautiful music, wherever it’s from, when we revisit our interview with Akara tonight on Echoes.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

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Philip Glass Echoes Podcast.

February 1, 2013

Hear the Echoes Philip Glass Podcast

Philip Glass

Philip Glass

It’s hard for me to think of Philip Glass at 76.  Even though he’s a lot older than me, I still think of him as a composer who I came up with through music.  Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Terry Riley all helped bring me over from rock into a different music world.   It  seems like they just haven’t been around long enough to be septuagenarians.  None of them are taking the usual route of composers their age of becoming elders and teachers.  Glass in particular is more active in more forms than ever.  His recent film scores include Elena, The Illusionist and Notes On A Scandal.  His latest opera is The Perfect American, based on the life of Walt Disney. At 76, Philip Glass is looking like he’s just hitting his stride.  We’ve interviewed Glass many times over the years.  This week, we took a look back at maximum minimalism with Philip Glass.  You can download the Echoes Podcast with Philip Glass’s Profile for free.

~John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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HAP-HAP-HAP-HAP-PY-PY-PY-PY Birthday Philip Glass

January 31, 2012

Philip Glass turns 75

Do you remember the first time you heard Philip Glass?  It’s something that’s pretty hard to forget.  For me it was Music with Changing Parts, a double LP released on the Chatham Square label in 1973.   I heard it in 1974 at WXPN where it was on the essential listening list put together by Emmett Ryan and Pat Sherbourne.   Nearly 40 years later, this would still be diving into the deep end listening.   The relentless arpeggios and cycles played on Farfisa organs, saxophones and voice would lead me to call Glass the heavy metal of minimalism.  This was Glass at his strict minimalist best.  To the uninitiated, it was a wall of unchanging noise, but deep listening revealed a wealth of changes and detail.  The repetition itself became something of a sonic mandala, taking you deeper in although it wasn’t nearly as repetitive as some would have you believe.  In concert, watching the musicians keeping up with the dervish pace, it was exhilarating to hear.

This video of a live performance from 1982 samples the Glass oeuvre from the strict minimalism of Music in Similar Motion to the more lyrical side he revealed on the album, Glassworks, with “Facade.”

Over the years, the melodies became more expansive, elements of straight classical music emerged, especially in his symphonies.  The operas actually became operatic after Einstein on the Beach and the sound Glass created became imitated and adapted throughout music from rock to electronic to classical. His trilogy of films with Godfrey Reggio, Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi ,  revealed an emotional and evocative core to his music that Hollywood has been ripping off ever since.

At 75, Glass is still churning out works, often pillaging his own materiel, reinventing it for new efforts.  He’s just released his 9th Symphony on iTunes.

Happy Birthday Philip Glass who turns 75 today, January 31.

John Diliberto ((( echoes ))) 

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5 Essential Ravi Shankar CDs for 90th Birthday

April 7, 2010

Celebrate Ravi Shankar’s 90th Birthday with 5 CDs

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Ravi Shankar turns 90 today.  He was born  April 7, 1920 in Benares, India.   Tonight, April 7, we’ll feature an interview with the sitar master on Echoes.   His impact on Indian music is undeniable.  His impact on world music is still being calculated, but may be even more significant.  Since the 1950s he’s released dozens of albums so pairing them down to any number is difficult.  But for the novice and the aficionado here’s a selection from across Shankar’s career.

In Concert 1972
This is really a threefer in that you get Shankar, and the other two icons of Indian music, sarod master Ali Akbar Khan, who passed away last year at 87, and tabla player Alla Rakha, who passed in 2000.  This super trio was in high form for this 1972 live recording, playing on a three extended ragas that span 2 CDs.

West Meets East
The meeting of Shankar with classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin was monumental in the career of Ravi Shankar.  Although the raga is high art in India, it was still folk art in the west until Menuhin engaged in this set of extended duets, trading licks with Shankar like a jazz cutting session, but also reaching some beautiful, Paganini dipped in patchouli  heights.

Full Circle
This 2000 live performance from Carnegie Hall was something of a passing of the torch as Shankar was joined by his then teen aged daughter Anoushka who has gone on to stake her own claim as the premier sitarist of this generation.  Virtuosity a given, the two artists trade licks and create that serene mood and mad rush to edge that characterizes the best ragas.

This is one of several collaborations between Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar.  Glass cites his work with Shankar in the 1960s as being a seminal influence on his music.  On this album, Glass and Shankar each takes themes from the other and orchestrates and arranges them for sitar, orchestra and voices.  A beautiful and under-rated album.

Vision of Peace
This is a collection released by Deutsche Grammophon culled from recordings made in the late-1970s and early-1980s.  Unlike Columbia Records’ fragmented Essential Ravi Shankar, this features extended ragas as well as a few bitesize tracks including collaborations with Japanese koto and shakuhachi players.  Shankar was always the consummate world music traveler.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

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