2011 marked the 100th Anniversary of the birth of film composer, Bernard Herrmann, known for his iconic musical (and pure music concrete in the case of Hitchcock’s The Birds) landscapes/backdrops for films like Citizen Kane, Cape Fear, Taxi Driver (his last) and memorable and numerous Alfred Hitchcock works. Psycho has long been a favorite film of mine, and Herrmann’s score is perhaps more indelibly inscribed on my memory than even the violently etched black-and-white images Hitchcock created.
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Documentary Channel celebrates Women’s History Month with a series of films. This week’s offerings include Pink Skies and Carpet Racers. The first film concerns the ongoing struggle against breast cancer, focused through “Jump for the Cause,” a group of women skydivers who perform mass dives for money. In 2009, 181 women from 31 countries joined in a jump to raise almost $1 million for breast cancer research. “Don’t be a victim,” says the group’s instructor, “Be the hero.” Just so, Gulcin Gilbert’s film asserts that the best cure for breast cancer is prevention, a point underlined by researchers more than once here. “We live in a very toxic environment,” says Dr. Lauren Swerdloff near the beginning of “And we are able to handle some toxicity. But the environment is probably getting more toxic, more rapidly, than most of us are able to handle it.” To battle that trend, individuals need to watch out for themselves, rather than hoping that government agencies and corporations will come up with answers. The energy, drive, and earnestness of the women skydivers seems a model of pressing ahead in the face of disappointment and difficulty.
Perhaps the most rewarding examinations of Radiohead’s recent album, The King of Limbs, is in the realm of remixes. Several surfaced over the course of the summer after the album’s release, collected and available now in album form as TKOL RMX 1234567. The whole matter of remixing as a creative venue has gained more recognition and respect in the last few years, but has been percolating happily for as long as the old release by the Cure, “All Mixed Up” and lots of Björk-related singles.
My collaboration with cellist, Matt Haimovitz, in the double-album CD set, Shuffle.Play.Listen and its eponymous and ongoing concert tour was a natural meeting of two musical paths. Matt’s been known to take classical works, like Bach’s “Cello Suites”, to unlikely venues such as the old CBGB’s and other non-classical venues, juxtaposed with my introducing classical concert halls with my own takes on Radiohead, Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, Nirvana, et al. In exploring our mutual musical loves, the first name to spontaneously spring up was John McLaughlin. Matt actually was joined by John on his cello-ensemble, Grammy-nominated Meeting of the Spirits. So, for our first concert, I meticulously transcribed John McLaughlin’s hyper-virtuosic guitar solo from his Mahavishnu Orchestra’s “Dance of Maya” from The Inner Mounting Flame and our very first concert together, a year ago in Billings, MT, featured it as the show-closer to an intrepid and enthusiastic crowd there at the Alberta Bair Theater.
Radiohead have, especially in the more Thom Yorke-primary pieces, shown a proclivity for deconstruction. “Like Spinning Plates” is, on record, an amalgam of reversed vocal recording spliced in with recordings of Yorke’s singing backwards, in live performance, an ingenious piano/vocal piece (for which I get credit for unwarranted originality only by being super-fan familiar with the released live version on the EP, I Might Be Wrong).
More recently, one got a bigger dose of this live/studio disconnect when Thom Yorke’s solo album, The Eraser was released. To my ears, the album sounded like someone too enamoured of his laptop, while the live versions of the Eraser songs sounded like a songwriter at his creative peak.
// Notes from the Road
"McCartney welcomed Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt out for a song at Madison Square Garden.READ the article