Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I received an e-mail from Burlington's master experimental musician Greg Davis today, and it looks like he has a new musical project & an upcoming local performance.

"Sun Circle" is a collaboration with Zach Wallace, and they are starting an east coast tour with a show at the Green Door (10 Howard St. Burlington) on Saturday, February 10th at 8:00 PM. Also on the bill is Wind-Up Bird (Joseph Grimm). Here's the press release:

SUN CIRCLE is a new musical offering from Greg Davis and Zach
Wallace. Psychoacoustic minimalism meets psychedelic maximalism.
Ecstatic high volume drones, long form trance musics and peace
noise. Bowed strings, voices, organs, percussion and world
instruments. Greg Davis lives in Burlington, Vermont. He has played
shows all over the world with many different people and has released
solo and collaborative albums on many different labels, including
Carpark records and Kranky.
Zach Wallace lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He plays with Memorize the
Sky, His Name is Alive and Psalm Alarm, and has played with people
ranging from Tony Conrad to Anthony Braxton.
New SUN CIRCLE cdr out now on Lichen Records.

THE WIND UP BIRD, Providence, RI: Interior stillness, deep listening,
aural hallucinations; prayer surrogate in sound. Drawing inspiration
from 60's composers like Terry Riley and Gyorgy Ligeti, Joseph Grimm
is an emerging composer and performer whose works straddle the line
between electroacoustic new music composition and underground
experimental noise. Working under the name The Wind-Up Bird, Grimm's
music often explores polyrhythm by juxtaposing many simultaneous
tempos and periodicities. Oceanic, subliminal drones vibrate below
clouds of warm digital pinpricks. Using delay networks, distortions,
and other modulations, Grimm performs gradual but drastic
transformations of input from live sound sources, emphasizing real-
time creation, metamorphosis, and improvisation. His work is often
realized with the aid of custom software programmed in the max| msp
environment. He has used violin, pedal steel guitar, horns, marimba,
and other instruments; but recent work uses only the singing voice as
a sound source for hallucinogenic, surround-sound drone improvisations.

It's an all-ages show and only five bucks. Judging from Greg's last Burlington show (when he opened for Avey Tare and Kria Brekkan @ Firehouse) it should be worth every penny. See you there for some droney goodness!

Oh yeah, here's the tour dates:

SUN CIRCLE & WIND-UP BIRD winter east coast tour:
2.09.07 - casa del popolo - montreal QC - with dead bush
2.10.07 - green door studio - burlington VT
2.11.07 - the sound post - portland ME
2.12.07 - as220 - providence RI - with northern cross
2.13.07 - ark (17 edinboro st) - boston MA - with red horse
2.14.07 - fort sunshine - new haven CT - with landing
2.15.07 - tonic - new york NY
2.16.07 - floristree - baltimore MD - with these are powers
2.17.07 - circle of hope - philadelphia PA - with ramona cordova
2.18.07 - house show (26 commerce) - beacon NY
2.19.07 - smog - bard college

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I made a pilgrimage to PurePop last night to buy things to make me happy. I purchased a few new albums--

Animal Collective, "People" (EP)

I loves me the Animal Collective I does. And while this album certainly isn't a disappointment, I have to admit I was hoping for more. Okay, fine, it's just an EP. But the tracks just seem kind of lazy and not too much of an advancement from the sound on "Feels". Animal Collective could be called a lot of things, but complacent is not one of them. But that's kind of how I feel on this one. "Tikwid" is a good song and definitely the standout here, but it still could have been much more. If you're an AC fan, "People" is worth buying. I certainly wouldn't recommend it as an intro to the group though--they're much better than this.

Arbouretum, "Rites of Uncovering"

I'd never even heard of this band before, but it was in one of the listening booths so I gave it a shot. It sounded like a mix between Will Oldham, Jim Morrison and the Moody Blues. This is usually not a formula for musical success in my mind, but here it works. A very simple, subtle, moody & atmospheric album. Highly recommended.

Mum, "The Peel Sessions"

I haven't had a chance to listen to this one yet, but I'll give a review when I do.

The Knife, "Silent Shout"

I've been playing a burned copy of this for a couple months now & decided that I should buy it to salvage my conscience. If you haven't heard this album yet, I recommend it--very dark and moody, but also fun & danceable. It even makes me want to do my White Guy Overbite dance--

Sunday, January 28, 2007


After much delay, here is the list of my ten favorite films.

10) David Holtzman's Diary (Dir. Jim McBride)

This is the first of several films that fit into the "films about making films" (or 'self-reflexive' works, for you academic types) genre. This movie is unfortunately relatively unknown, and is long overdue for re-discovery. It's an incredible mock-documentary about an independent filmmaker named David who is making a film about his life while subsequently alienating the people around him. A powerful critique of "subjective" filmmaking styles (Cinema Verite; Neo-realist) that were popular at the time for being "direct truth at 24 frames per second"

9) Midnight Cowboy (dir. John Schlesinger)

This was one of the first films that made me interested in cinema as an art form, and one of my first experiences with "experimental" film style. "Midnight Cowboy" was truly a revolutionary film, one of the first features to address homosexual themes, commercialization, 60's NYC counterculture, etc. It was also the first "X" rated film to ever win an Oscar for Best Picture (though it's a pretty tame film by today's standards and would probably garner an R or even PG-13 rating today). "Midnight Cowboy" was also the first big-screen roles for Jon Voigt (now better known as Angelina Jolie's dad) as the hick hustler Joe Buck and Bob Balaban (probably best known as the NBC exec on "Seinfeld") as a gay teenager. Most importantly, it was arguably Dustin Hoffman's greatest film role, as the TB-ridden con-man with a heart of gold, Ratso Rizzo.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the "Exploding Plastic Inevitable"-esque party scene uses actual Warhol Factory members such as Viva, Ultra Violet, Paul Morrisey & Taylor Mead?

8) Annie Hall (dir. Woody Allen)

Woody Allen is one of those filmmakers you either love or hate. I put myself in the latter category. While he's had a pretty inconsistent output as of late, he's still one of the most productive filmmakers in the biz & even his worst films are more entertaining than most of the drivel being churned out of Hollywood studios.

It was hard choosing just one Allen film for this list. I thought of "Manhattan", with its beautiful B&W cinematograpy and Gershwin score; the Bergman-esque "Interiors"; the lovely "Hannah and Her Sisters; the brilliantly complex relationship drama "Husbands and Wives"....but I always end up going back to "Annie Hall". It's Allen at his best and most creative, mixing Brechtian direct camera addresses, inner-dialogue subtitles & even animation sequences into a hillarious comedy with some deeper issues weaved throughout. While it's one of Allen's best on-screen performances, Diane Keaton steals the show as the adorable Annie Hall. Also look for cameos by Paul Simon and then-unknowns Sigorney Weaver, Christopher Walken and Jeff Goldblum

7) Untitled (For Marilyn) (dir. Stan Brakhage)

While it's tempting to choose an epic like "Dog Star Man" or "Text of Light" or a classic like "Cat's Cradle" or "Mothlight" as my favorite Brakhage film, I usually come back to the shorter "chamber works". Whether it's "Kindering's" anamorphic lens distortions and creepy modulated child singing, "Black Ice's" beautiful shifting fields of color and depth or "Commingled Container's" transformation of the banal to the beautiful, I tend to find a tremendous amount of depth in these seemingly simple films. "Untitled (For Marilyn)" probably has had the greatest influence on my own work (most obviously in Solah #3 & 4) in its bold mixture of hand-scrawled text, hand-painted film & film footage.

I hated Brakhage in college. I was big into political documentary filmmaking at the time and thought that Brakhage's "pure formalism" was escaping having to address bigger political issues (despite his "Psalms" film, created as a response to the Vietnam War). But the images never left my mind. And I soon came to realize that Brakhage was doing something much deeper than political rhetoric ever could. Political films can change ideologies; changing the way people see can change the world.

6) Red Shovel/Wood/Glass (Memory of Water)

My mentor in film school, Simon Tarr, turned me on to Leighton Pierce in my junior year. Pierce makes short experimental works that rely on a combination of simple imagery (most footage shot in his backyard or kitchen) with subtly complex effects work. Pierce uses a ghostly, fluid effect to his imagery, a technique I explored myself in my music video for The Interior called "Gossip of Flames". Zen-like, slow, gentle shifts of perception and reality make for a deceptively deep and transformative viewing experience.

Pierce's films were previously near impossible to get a copy of, but he just started his own website ( with compilations of his work for sale on DVD. Highly recommended.

5) Don't Look Back (dir. D.A. Pennebaker)

I've been fascinated with the "rock documentary" genre for as long as I can remember. It's a combination of my two greatest passions, music & film, and it's always a great way to explore a creative process that is not normally seen. It doesn't hurt that rock stars are born actors; they know the importance of creating a persona and selling it to an audience. It certainly explains Elvis movie and Ice-T on Law and Order.

"Don't Look Back" was an incredibly innovative film that initiated the verite, "behind-the-scenes" rock documentary movement that followed & that is stil popular today. The film also (arguably) contains the first music video: the famous "Dylan with cuecards" opening sequence for "Subterranean Homesick Blues". While many "rockumentaries" are near and dear to me (Maysles' "Gimme Shelter", Demme's "Stop Making Sense", Jem Cohen's "Instrument" and "Benjamin Smoke"), "Don't Look Back" will always be my favorite for catching Dylan at a turning point, going from folkie poster-child to rock rebel at the peak of his career.

4) Faces (Dir. John CĂ„ssavetes)

Cassavetes is the man. The first true American "indie" filmmaker, a hard-drinking man's man & a damn good artist. He's like an Italian, clean-cut pretty-boy version of Charles Bukowski. And like Bukowski, he had a very unique & insightful take on human relationships, especially those between men and women.

In "Faces", Cassavetes explored the ups, downs and ups-again in a marriage, delving into the way that men & women love, cheat, flirt & hurt. Certainly not an original theme by any means, by Cassavetes explored it in a way that, while structured (the idea that Cassavetes' films were completely improvisational is a myth; they were actually carefully scripted) left a lot of room for truth and spontaneity to shine through, capturing the idiosyncracies and embarassments that define true human beings as, well, human.

3) Weekend (Dir. Jean-Luc Godard)

It was tough to pick just one Jean-Luc Godard film for this list. JLG is the man, the absolute arbiter of cinematic hip starting with "Breathless", the film that almost single-handedly (along with Truffaut's "The 400 Blows") launched the film movement known as the French New Wave. His early films dealt mainly with youth culture, language, art and society, with a political undercurrent that would soon overtake his work.

"Weekend" was the true turning point for Godard. An apocalyptic prophesy of a world overtaken by global capitalism & bourgeois greed, the film explores a surrealistic journey of a young, rich Parisian couple who are headed to the country to plan the murder of the woman's parents to collect their estate. On the way, they encounter historical political figures, philosophers & Emily Bronte, along with a Mozart snob who plays his grand piano to the salt of the earth and group of cannibal revolutionaries with a drum kit. Add in some beautifully saturated cinematography by Raoul Coutard and an 11-minute tracking shot of the most bizarre traffic jam in human history & you have one of the most unique films ever made.

"FIN DU CINEMA" indeed.

2.5) Persona (Dir. Ingmar Bergman)

Ok I cheated with the "2.5". But Bergman's experimental masterpiece exploring fragile psyches and the concept of duality & transference of souls was too good to pass up. All of the trademarks of Bergman are here--the stark landscapes, the beautiful cinematography by Sven Nykvist, the gorgeous blonde Swede actresses. But "Persona" is one of Bergman's most experimental works, especially the avant-garde opening credits sequence. And it's also one of his most penetrating psychological studies (alongside "Through A Glass Darkly" and "Hour of the Wolf").

2) 8 1/2 (Dir. Federico Fellini)

Fellini's ode to the art of filmmaking, "8 1/2" is a deeply autobiographic film that explores not only Fellini's art but his childhood, Catholic guilt & sexual relationships, along with his deep fascination for magic & mysticism. An incredibly influencial & oft-imitated film (Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories" pays direct homage), "8 1/2" is a dream-like labyrinthine trip through the mind of a filmmaker trying to follow up after his masterpiece. Is it a "film-within-a-film"? Is it a "film-about-making-the-film-itself"? Either way, it's an amazing experience.

1) Lost Book Found (Dir. Jem Cohen)

Jem Cohen is easily the most under-appreciated filmmaker working today. He is a master of intensely personal character study & landscape cinematography, and has helped to revolutionize the rock documentary and music video genres. But what appeals to me most about his work are his city portraits, where he can bring a New York street or small European town to a hyper-realistic state despite using the most non-realistic of mediums: Super8, 16mm & DV.

His short film "Lost Book Found" is one such city portrait & is also one of the truest examples of cinematic beauty that I have ever experienced. It captures a fragile New York in the 1980's, the schizophrenic pre-Gulliani days when you feared mugging more than a terrorist attack. It's a now-lost world of discount shops & street vendors & dirty strets & manic pamphlets & old immigrant women. If the breathtaking Super8 visuals were not enough, a beautiful gamelin soundtrack (a collaboration between Cohen & Fugazi's Ian McKaye) & a perfect story that seems simple on the surface (a mysterious book of lists) but takes on Biblical allegories and explores whether there is a grand plan or order in the chaos of our lives, and the ridiculous strives we make to make the false connections to try to prove that there is a logical answer to why we are here.

This film is not commercially available on DVD or VHS so I'm going to post it here. If Mr. Cohen or anyone representing him has any issues with me posting this, please contact me at & I'll remove it immediately.

The file is pretty large (355 MB) so expect a long download even with a cable internet connection. It's worth the wait.

(Right-click & "Save As")

Lost Book Found (355MB)

Sunday, January 21, 2007


There will be a slight delay in getting the "Top 10 Films" list posted...should have it up by Tuesday night.

In the meantime, here's a clip from one of the films that will be on the list. Enjoy the nice psychedelic visuals...and keep an eye out for some Warhol Factory regulars.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I was introduced to Leighton Pierce's work when I was in film school & it has had a huge influence on my own films (most noticeably in the music video I did for The Interior's "gossip of flames". This is one of his more recent works and is absolutely beautiful and I had to share it.

(Right Click and "Save As")


My "Ten Favorite Films" list will be posted this weekend & some other works by Leighton Pierce may be making an appearance.....



It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Animal Collective & that I'm eagerly awaiting their new album. I figured it would be coming out on Fat Cat, and I was surprised to find out today that they signed with Domino Records. Here's the official statement from Domino:

"We here at Domino are hugely excited to have signed a long term worldwide recording agreement with Animal Collective, one of of the most unique and visionary and extraordinary groups in America, and indeed the known universe. Animal Collective have decamped to a desert state to record their next album and we 're hoping to release the results later on in the summertime. Watch this space..."

Domino is the label for Adem, Arctic Monkeys, Bonnie Prince Billy, Clinic, Four Tet, Franz Ferdinand, Juana Molina, Steven Malkmus, Jim O'Rourke and many other great artists, so the AC is in good company.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I'm currently working away on creating my Top Ten Favorite Films of All Time list...expect to see it soon.

Here's a sneak preview of one of the top three--

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


This album has grown on me more than any other release of 2006. It just has a perfect blend of gentle harmonies, thick, warm ambience and just enough sonic experimentation to make it interesting but not pretentious. Great album.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Just got back from a long, crazy week in Chicago filled with long days of work meetings & long nights of heavy drinking. Unfortunately I didn't get to hear any live music or visit any of my usual haunts...but I still got to have some good single malt scotch, went bowling for the first time in years at the 10 Pin, stayed at a nice hotel & had the largest slice of cake I've ever seen at Smith & Wollensky's. So a good time was definitely had.

After being hungover all day in meetings & then dealing with the stress of airports & flying, I'm in for a quiet night at home. I was going to go to an art auction tonight (where some of my paintings are up for bid) but I don't have the energy. I think I'll be staying in & watching a movie instead.

So now the big question....Cassavetes or ....Dreyer?

**UPDATE**--- There may be a lack of photos here for a little while. The Blogger image upload isn't working for my blog right now & apparently I'm not the only one according to the Blogger help forums. Hopefully it will be fixed soon.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Ok, I'll admit it--I first heard about the Kronos Quartet after the release of the soundtrack for Darren Aronofsky's "Requiem For A Dream". It's an amazing soundtrack, a collaboration between Kronos and Clint Mansell, and it's still the most enduring part of the film for me. While the special effects & storyline become less and less interesting each time I see the film, the soundtrack always remains powerful. Of course I'm a sucker for highly-emotive string-based classical music (hence my addiction to Schubert quartets).

A few years back, the Kronos Quartet came to the Flynn Theater and I was able to attend (it was the first of two mind-opening concerts at the Flynn that year, along with Philip Glass' orchestra's performance of Koyaanisqatsi (playing in time to the projected film image). It was amazing to hear the "Requiem" theme live, but what struck me even more was Kronos' interest in modern avant-garde composers. With the exception of a passing acquaintance with the work of John Cage, Steven Reich and Glass, I was largely unaware of the amazing work that contemporary avant-garde composers and musicians were writing and performing.

I left the concert with the intention to buy some Kronos Quartet albums, but somehow it never happened.

This week I took a couple of much-needed vacation days and made a solo trip to Montpelier. After picking up a new turntable at the wonderful vinyl shop Riverwalk Records, I stopped in to Buch Spieler's and browsed through their inventory. While I rarely browse the jazz & classical sections at other music stores, for some reason I'm always drawn to them at Buch's--it's a small collection, but well thought out & I've found some unexpected choices on several occassions.

After grabbing John Zorn's "Moonchild" (I've never really been able to get into Zorn, and I'm giving him a second chance), I saw the Kronos Quartet section & out in front was the album "Black Angels". I'd been intrigued by this album since hearing that it is a concept album of sorts, with each song being in some way about war and violence. The title track is a composition by experimental composer George Crumb, whom I first became fascinated with during a Western Musical History survey course I took in college. I remembered that with the exception of Gregorian chant, Schubert & Mahler, I was pretty bored with a lot of the music in the class. And then we listened to a few minutes of Crumb's "Black Angels", which was like a musical version of a locust plague. I loved it, though I was one of the few in the class of 500 who seemed to even be able to tolerate it.

The Kronos rendition of "Black Angels" (which supposedly was written by Crumb as a response to the Vietnam war) is amazing; their dedication and feel for the music evident in every dissonant note. It's obvious they have a respect for not only the harsh and tearing aspects of the music, but also for the delicacy and silences that occur throughout. An incredible performance, and one best listened to alone.

They follow up Crumb with a gentle, melancholy piece by Thoma Tallis, and then back into the eardrum-ringing sounds of Istvan Marta's "Doom: A Sigh" ("Romanian angst" a little? I think so...). The next piece, while seeming a bit out of place at first, has become one of the album's highlights for me--a strange composition by Charles Ives, written during WWI & updated during WWII. An early recording of Ives singing this patriotic ditty (acetate pops & all) is played in the background, while Kronos adds some hard & angry screeches over the top. It becomes a strange discourse, like the ugly truth of war & violence is fighting for recognition over the poppy patriotic propaganda. A neat little postmodern studio experiment by Kronos.

The album finishes out with Shostakovich's "String Quartet No.8", which brings the album back to the heavy, droning melancholy introduced with the Tallis piece. It's a beautiful & sad work, and brings the album to a gentle close. My only complaint is that the Quartet takes up nearly 1/3 the disc, and it would have been nice to have had a couple other selections near the end that bring the mood down a bit more slowly. But all in all, this is a fantastic album filled with some wonderful compositions & performances. Highly recommended.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


This guy reimagines children's drawings into detailed 2D and 3D artwork. Pretty cool stuff.

You can view more of the work here.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Sorry for the lack of updates lately! I was on vacation earlier in the week & I returned to work with a backlog that I'm just starting to catch up on. I have a few album review posts coming soon (Kronos Quartet, Comets on Fire, Fourcolor) so bear with me!

Hope everyone had a happy holiday season and that you're enjoying 2007 so far!