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15 Slices of Sanity, Part Two

September 8, 2016

[Another fragment being kicked out of the nest. I only made it to #8 on my top 15. I don’t even remember what the top 8 were. I think my computer took a shit around this time. Plus, many of these youtube clips are long gone. Fascinating!]

Here’s where we left off: John Cage was blowing minds in TVLand, ABC kept hearing voices while trying to do their lesser-known hit, Long White Beards came back into fashion, Noise-capital-N was explained to their people who gave us the phrase je ne sai quois, and Nicholas Cage was caught being a dick to women and children…first.

So much for introductions. Let’s continue to race to number one! These are the fifteen Youtube clips that helped preserve my sanity during the very hectic year of 2009.

10. Neo-Eggeling

It’s interesting to me that, of all the videos Autechre specifically commissioned as visual interpretations of their work, this fan animation captures their prismatic, cubistic approach to abstract electronic dance music better than any I’ve seen so far. Granted, the video for Ganz Graf comes close, but, technical innovation in music/image syncing aside, it’s not that interesting. The rhythms of the ‘Dropp’ video, the speed-up/slow-down/micro-macro motions, the way the black lines overrun the white background, sometimes plunging the patterns into darkness, the violent shifts in perspective, and, most of all, a strict reliance upon compositions that are balanced and engaging to the eye, regardless of how ragged and strange they may appear, recreate that same mental scrambling that comes during a high fever, when your internal narrator is discombobulated into near-insanity, while still managing to allude to the work of one of my favorite Dadaists of all time:

Sure, it’s a lot slower and cruder, but just look at the way each frame, each individual composition is so damn BALANCED, how every buttress, every I-beam, every aspect of these visual architectures plays against every other, creating an inner harmony that can never be achieved (except by accident) through mere doodling. I could say a lot more about Viking Eggeling, and may do some some day in a separate post.

9. Symphony For A Stylophone

Just as Braxton has been to my 2009, so was Rahsaan Roland Kirk to my ’08. I tend to go whole hog in my obsessions, but when my Kirk obsession wore off, it just dissipated like dew after the sunrise. I’ve got a number of theories as to why, which I’ll tease out further in an upcoming post. [apparently not. -ed.] Suffice it to say that this video, capturing Kirk’s band on a film called Supershow, stands tall. After the strange, tense intro (dedicated to Martin Luther King, who was shot just days before), during which Kirk manages to apply John Coltrane’s modal concepts to the simplest of all synths, the Stylophone, the band thunders into a cover of Burt Bacharach’s ‘I Say A Little Prayer,’ a song that, at its best, is often played for sexiness, maybe even coyness a bit. Kirk and co.’s full-throated, rigorously minor-key rendition turns this into a respectful, anguished elegy for Dr. King, a pivot seldom seen on such a literal, single-meaning song. To use Steve Lacy (by way of Thelonious Monk)’s phrase, the group really lifts the bandstand here.


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