Thursday, 31 July 2008

That room will always remind me of the tense rising sound of a slowing train, or perhaps of nightly lit cityscapes gently scrolling, or even choruses of unknown choirs. It will also remind me of presuppositions about dictaphones, the late, telephoned entrance of a man dressed for somewhere else and early, early encounters with a distant path.

Last night it was different, I cycled there alone in rolling heat, avoiding Karl Marx Allee and instead darting down sidestreets, over steps and through parks until I could avoid the roads no longer. I arrived early, too early, so took to the streets once more, on foot this time with a beer for company. Neukolln is a nice area, we intend to move away from these hot, empty roads and towards there, where candlelit restaurants are overlooked by ornate, run-down balconies and large sweeping treelines.

Inside, having returned via a circle, we were presented in stifling heat with three acts. The first, a duo. An upright bass and a contrabass clarinet entered into a conversation that reminded me that while I used to like strings, as I get older I prefer brass and wind instruments. It strikes me that stringed instruments are loops and wind instruments are drones. Moments worked as a conversation, but this improvisation is not mine to understand. There are schematics being subverted that I wasn’t aware of in the first place, so it loses me somewhere. When I do appreciate it, which happened a few times last night, is when the sound can be felt and not heard. I also liked the figures playing the two instruments. The clarinetist stood straight and tall, like his upright instrument and the double bass player, although taller, hunched over the round shoulders of wood in a visual mimicry.

The second act was Matteo, he who was caught dancing in photographs to my Tears For Fears insert in a live show. Tonight he was an exhibitionist, displaying a catalogue of yelps, groans, gulps, smacks and shrieks. Onomatopoeic stage fright seemed to engulf him as he shuddered and blurted his way to the microphone, puling in sharp intakes of air that seemed only to fuel his writhing limbs. Once at the microphone, he proceeded to slowly mix in dislocations of voice and vocal sound once more, occasionally descending into effected feedback, all the while continuous start-stop and with a mischievous glint in his eye.

The third was Rinus van Alebeek, he of the tapes, with colleague on mandolin. A multi-lingual introduction followed by an ascent in addictive tape sounds. Something happens when barely identifiable sounds mix – other sounds appear as if aural visions were descending from the trees. The things I swore I heard may or may not have been there, but their very nature suggests not and this is a good a reason as any to remain silent about what I heard and sustain their impossibility. Occasional mandolin shifts now, brought towards a loop, but all the while underpinned by the exaggerated whine and low frequency hum of the unspooling cassettes. We became lost for some time.

Riding home I thought of nothing but books. I am bound at the minute, fascinated by what I see at my almost nightly ventures into the music scene, yet dedicated to remaining ahead of myself with my own creations. The same usually happens with writing, spending as I intend to do most of the day at the word processor or in a book. At the moment though, no threat of bleeding from the read into the written: Pynchon is too established, his myths have already been absorbed by too many. It is a peculiar and yet frequently experienced sensation, that of reading a cult book long after its peak of fame has been achieved, long after it has been recommended, and feeling as though its effect on you is dampened, the wound has already been cauterized. I marvel at the winding plot, the elaborate prose (which on a first read nearly killed me) and the surreal cast, yet feel very little. He has had his dues. There are those with the tattoos and conspiracy theories who read and re-read; he has them he does not need me. There will, no doubt, be something more accomplished in his opus. This is only a way in and so the author does not get judged by his work. Feeling the potential for this progression gives those of us on our first trip into structured, extended form a little further faith.