I started writing this sometime back in February, but then somehow the months just flew by, so my apologies for the intervening radio silence.
Back in late December and early January, I spent a week and half in Beijing and Shanghai with MUTE. We made the hang and then some, and here are a few video highlights from our gigs there:
With plenty of time on my hands, I finally got around to revamping my website, and I also finally obtained my long-coveted domain name, so I was quite happy about that.
Friends know that Charlie Parker has been on my brain pretty much non-stop since April or so, and I've written a few blog posts about some of my discoveries over on my website. One recent post has been getting some traffic on the internet, probably because it's something strange I came up with deep in the midst of quarantine, which is about listening to multiple takes of Charlie Parker recordings at the same time (using some speed correction to line things up). Despite the doubled sensory impact, the logic of his musical constructions allow the takes to dovetail nicely and sometimes in surprisingly complementary ways.
I wanted also to let you know that I'm finally wading into the world of live-streaming, but with my own version, a "streaming live" event on the auspicious occasion of Charlie Parker's 100 birth anniversary:
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Saturday, August 29, 2020
One 45-minute set at 8:00 PM (20:00) EDT
Free! The music of Charlie Parker, featuring myself, Christian Li, Walter Stinson, and Matt Honor
Watch it exclusively on my website (virtual doors open five minutes or so before showtime).
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It's definitely not the same as a live show and it's not the same for us playing to an empty wall, but we still have to keep doing our thing and we hope you'll join us if you're interested. I'm planning on doing more, but it's a work in progress (including audio, video, and the dreaded paywall, forthcoming).
In other news, I've been having a good time learning about various simple home improvement/cleaning projects through tutorials on YouTube (you can learn anything, pretty much!), and underwent an intensive period of caulking, spackling, and other cosmetic maintenance.
Early on in the quarantine, I dug into the transporting books of W. G. Sebald, re-reading The Rings of Saturn and then diving into Austerlitz, The Emigrants, and Vertigo; all recommended if you're interested in the mental equivalent of taking a meditative stroll through history and ruined locales.
In the moving pictures department, I can thoroughly recommend the shocking and moving Beanpole by a remarkably young Russian director, Kantemir Balagov, which is probably the most memorable thing I watched in the past few months. I rewatched David Lynch's Fire Walk With Me, which turned out to be the missing piece for understanding a great deal more of the Twin Peaks universe(s), and am as a result partway through a rewatch of The Return, which is still so good.
Other highlights include the Les Blank documentaries Garlic Is As Good as Ten Mothers and Burden of Dreams, the former about garlic enthusiasts and the latter about Werner Herzog's insane making of Fitzcarraldo; Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, a beautifully shot and dream-like film about death and loss with a touch of the supernatural; and Kobayashi's Samurai Rebellion, which has Toshiro Mifune in an interestingly restrained role. Oh, and pre-quarantine, I enjoyed the non-stop action of the Safdie Bros. pre-Uncut Gems feature, Good Time, as well as John Carpenter's creepy action film with killer soundtrack, Assault on Precinct 13.
All this to say, I'm doing OK and hope that all's well where you are. It's been a tough time for a lot of people (including freelancers and musicians), but we're doing what we can and it seems like crisis is precipitating changes of sorts.
Thanks again for reading and listening, and talk soon.