Tangents (Ono-Abe, scores, Lethem)

Quick Links, News and Good Reads: (1) In the early 1960s, Yoko Ono was an interpreter for Japanese novelist Kobo Abe (Box Man, Woman in the Dunes), translator Donald Keene recounts in his ongoing memoir in the Daily Yomiuri newspaper (yomiuri.co.jp). Ono’s new album, Yes, I’m a Witch (Astralwerks), is due out this Tuesday, February 6. … (2) Audio cables that flash in response to the music flowing through them (akihabaranews.com). … (3) Month-long festival throughout February in Chicago with much sound-art/installation activity (openportchicago.com), curated by Nathan Butler, Mark Jeffery, Judd Morrissey and Lori Talley. … (4) Belatedly, the Studio Museum of Harlem had a massive sound sculpture by Nadine Robinson up through last October (nytimes.com, davidbyrne.com). … (5) Guillermo Brown and William Parker did improvisatory sound and song work for the interactive project Folk Songs for the Five Points (tenement.org/folksongs), a “soundmap” produced by the Tenement Museum in Manhattan. … (6) “A hitmaker from Heaven 17 [Martyn Ware] is swapping pop for the brave new frontiers of sound art” (timesonline.co.uk).

(7) Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller‘s latest exhibit opened this past Thursday, February 1, at Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona in Spain. It reportedly employs the immersive binaural headphone approach used in many of their other collaborations (macba.es, e-flux.com). … (8) Steve Reich was announced as one of the two winners of the Polar Music Award for 2007 on Thursday at the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in Stockholm. The other recipient: Sonny Rollins. They will receive the awards on May 21, as part of a weekend of related activities (polarmusicprize.se). … (9) A new blog-tune service, seeqpod.com/music, currently in beta, allows users to “search, discover, build, play and share music playlists & videos.” … (10) The Other Music record store in Manhattan will be opening a digital-download store online shortly (digital.othermusic.com). … (11) A sound art installation by Robbie Dingo is part of the virtual world called Second Life (slatenight.com, digitaldouble.blogspot.com). Thanks to Rob Walker for the tip (robwalker.net). … Score Keeper: News on quiet, minimal and otherwise atmospheric music on the big and small screens. (1) Smokin’ Aces, with a score by Clint Mansell, is just out; Wind Chill is his next assignment. … (2) Gustavo Santaolalla, up for an Oscar for his Babel, is next on On the Road, a good choice given his work on Motorcycle Diaries. … (3) One hopes Jeff Rona took the title of his next film to heart: Whisper. … (4) Fresh on the heels of its work with Gabriel Yared on Breaking and Entering, Underworld is now associated with Sunshine, a Danny Boyle-directed sci-fi flick written by Alex Garland; a decade ago Underworld’s “Born Slippy” was a highlight on the soundtrack to Boyle’s Trainspotting. … (5) Just off The Illusionist and Notes on a Scandal, Philip Glass (who turned 70 last Wednesday, January 31) is attached to No Reservations (from the director of the David Helfgott story, Shine) and an upcoming Woody Allen film, Cassandra’s Dream. (Nikola Tesla, who is played by David Bowie in another recent magician flick, The Prestige, is the subject of Violet Fire, an opera with music by Jon Gibson that had its premiere last fall in New York, earning comparisons to Glass [nytimes.com].) … (6) Tyler Bates is attached to Watchmen (John Powell had been). All via IMDB.com and subject to change. (I mistakenly had stated that Bowie was in The Illusionist in an earlier edit of this entry.)

(7) Jon Pareles on the genius of Ennio Morricone‘s restraint: “For the beginning of ‘Once Upon a Time in the West,’ he persuaded the director, Mr. Leone, not to use conventional instruments at all: just amplified ambient sounds, from the creak of a swinging sign to the screech of an arriving train.” (nytimes.com). … (8) Thanks to Jeff LeVine (jl13.com) for recommending Cafe Lumiere (2003), a Japanese film directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien in which a young woman (played by Yo Hitoto) wrestles with her new pregnancy and tracks the mystery of a deceased composer. Her friend (played by Tadanobu Asano) is a bookstore owner who spends his spare time recording the sounds of trains and train stations on his MiniDisc recorder. She asks him, “When you record the train sounds, are you trying to find the essence of railways?” He wonders if the recordings might some day help in an investigation, suggesting Cafe Lumiere (in Japan, Kohi jiko) as a super-slo-mo riff on Brian De Palma‘s Blow Out. … (9) Also worth checking out is a short titled The Red Toy (2004), directed by Dani Rosenberg. It tracks the many brief owners of a small red boombox as it makes its circuitous route, passed hand to hand, through Jerusalem. I caught it on the Sundance Channel.

… Quote of the Week: “Apprentices graze in the field of culture.” From an excellent piece in the February Harper’s by Jonathan Lethem, “The Ecstacy of Influence,” about the thin line between plagiarism and homage, and the role of copyright in the age of digital art. The full piece is online at harpers.org.

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