DAILY ART FIX: Music Video-Pablo Picasso by the Modern Lovers

Art world links which caught my eye…

The protopunk classic released in 1976, recorded in in 1972 by Jonathan Richman and his band the Modern Lovers. This video features a retrospective of Picasso imagery to accompany the dry sarcasm.

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RICHARD BLEDSOE is a visual story teller; a painter of fables and parables. He received his BFA in Painting from Virginia Commonwealth University. Richard has been an exhibiting artist for over 25 years, in both the United States and internationally. He lives and paints happily in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife Michele and cat Motorhead. He is the author of Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization:

Remodernism is not a style of art, it is a form of motivation. We express the universal language of inspired humanity.

We do not imitate what came before. We find in ourselves the same divine essence of love and excitement which has inspired masterpieces throughout history. We are strengthened by drawing on traditions thousands of years old.

We integrate the bold, visionary efforts of the Modern era into a holistic, meaningful expression of contemporary life. Remodernism seeks a humble maturity which heals the fragmentation and contradictions of Modernism, and obliterates the narcissistic lies of Postmodernism.

Remodernism is the return of art as a revelation.

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

Learn more About My Art: Visionary Experience

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED- Vintage Music Reviews Shriekback “Oil and Gold”

In 2010, I used to write a monthly column for a local punk zine, AZKAOS. “This is What Happened” was a series of reviews on older alternative albums. This was one of my 2010 contributions.

SHRIEKBACK OIL & GOLD vinyl record - Amazon.com Music

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED

Commentaries on Old Stuff

By Richard Bledsoe

SHRIEKBACK “Oil and Gold” Released on Island Records 1985

Going by the 20-year theory of cultural recycling, we should already be moving into the retro 90’s. Brace yourselves-soon enough, new bands will be featuring white boy funk metal, angry political hip-hop, and repetitive shoegaze-all clearing the way for a flannel tsunami of neo-grunge.

But in the meantime we continue to crawl through the treacherous alleyways of the 80s revival. So much musical went on in that decade, it makes sense it would take longer than the normal two-decade pattern to reabsorb it all. After the punk explosion of the late 70’s, the scene fragmented Tower of Babel style into dozens of genres, movements and sub-movements. Pre-internet, with little mainstream support or exposure, word of mouth and the exchange of cassette tapes (dubbed from vinyl) were the prime ways to keep track of the latest developments in the cultural landscape. For a time, the now obscure band Shriekback were big stars in this underground-they were a mix tape staple.

Shriekback had strong credentials. Bassist Dave Allen was from legendary post punk band Gang of Four. That group’s hard, jittery funk and strident social commentary carried on punk’s spirit of protest. Shriekback’s vocalist and keyboardist Barry Andrews was with XTC while they were still playing spastic, angular Elvis Costello-style pop. With the addition of guitarist Carl Marsh and a rotating cast of support musicians, Allen and Andrews went in the electronic dance music direction.

Oil and Gold was the splendor of their achievement; an intensely moody album, it swings from gospel chorus exuberance to whispering, depressive lullabies. It references many of the musical movements that were active at the time, with measures of Gothic foreboding, New Romantic artiness, Post Punk statacco, and slick New Wave drum machines and synthesizers.

The fast numbers feature Allen’s driving bass lines and Andrew’s shout/chant vocals, featuring complex, rather abstract lyrics. “Everything That Rises Must Converge” channels the Talking Heads while name-dropping Flannery O’Conner. “Hammerheads” is an ominous (but danceable) take on reactionary aggression. And “Nemesis” is the closet thing they ever had to a greatest hit. The guitar roars like prehistoric beast while a lyrical celebration of decadence unfolds:  “Love has no meaning, not where they come from/But we know pleasure/Is not that simple/very little fruit is forbidden/sometimes we wobble, sometimes we’re strong/But you know evil is an exact science/Being carefully correctly wrong.”

There is a profoundly pretentious and entertaining period music video for this song.

But is in the slower pieces that Shriekback really accomplishes its finest work. Spacey progressive passages that would not sound out of place on a Peter Gabriel record incorporate a sorrowful, beautiful atmosphere. Here Andrews is subduded, oozing melancholy over delicate passages of soft percussion and introspective, lilting melodies. The vocals are also sweetened by soulful female voices harmonizing. “Only Thing That Shines” is a cutter’s anthem, a paean to both the beloved and the razor. “Faded Flowers” is a rueful rumination on the end of road: “We had some good machines, but they don’t work no more/I loved you once, don’t love you anymore.” “Coelacanth” is an instrumental, haunted and dark as the ocean floor. And “This Big Hush” is an epic, an eerie, echoing dreamscape about the eternal conflict between fear and desire.

Director Michael Mann recognized the power of these last two works. He featured them prominently in the 1986 film Manhunter, the first of the Hannibal Lecter movies. Forget the poorly cast remake Red Dragon, which featured such ridiculous images as Ralph Fiennes as a ruggedly handsome serial killer, Edward Norton trying to act tough, and Anthony Hopkins taking a stab at being hip by wearing a tiny ponytail. Manhunter used towering freak Tom Noonan as the Tooth Fairy, Miami Vice style minimalist design and artful music video inspired cinematography. The two songs from Oil and Gold are incorporated into scenes as the monsterous murderer toys with redemption-“Coelacanth” when he arranges for a blind girl to caress the body of a sedated tiger, and later “This Big Hush” over a truly ambiguous love scene.

Oil and Gold is very much of its era-80’s synthpop with a dark undercurrent. But the intelligence, energy and strong song writing it incorporates makes it an album that has stood the test of time.

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RICHARD BLEDSOE is a visual story teller; a painter of fables and parables. He received his BFA in Painting from Virginia Commonwealth University. Richard has been an exhibiting artist for over 25 years, in both the United States and internationally. He lives and paints happily in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife Michele and cat Motorhead. He is the author of Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization.

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

Learn more About My Art: Visionary Experience

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: Video-Bob Ross Remixed | Happy Little Clouds

Art world links which caught my eye…

The magic and wisdom of an inspiring painter, set to music.

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: Daniel Johnston’s Psychedelic Drawings: A Swirling Trip Through ‘Outsider Art’

Art world links which caught my eye…

Musician and artist Daniel Johnston was the real deal.

See the full article here: THE QUIETUS – Daniel Johnston’s Psychedelic Drawings: A Swirling Trip Through ‘Outsider Art’

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: THE EARLY BEATNIK-STYLE ARTWORK OF FRANK ZAPPA

Art world links which caught my eye…

“Art is making something out of nothing, and selling it.” – Frank Zappa

Before he became America’s most famous avant-garde rock star, young Frank Zappa dabbled in art.

Read the full article here: DANGEROUS MINDS – THE EARLY BEATNIK-STYLE ARTWORK OF FRANK ZAPPA

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: Punk Icon Patti Smith Sings William Blake’s “The Tyger”

Art world links which caught my eye…

When worlds collide. Legendary performer Patti Smith shares how she got to examine the sketchbook of visionary artist William Blake. She encountered the original manuscript of the poem, “The Tyger.” She composed a moving, reverent hymn to accompany the verses.

Art is a form of spiritual communication. This performance was a wonderful discovery which resonated with me, both as an artist and a retired punk.

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

DAILY ART FIX: 10 Surprising Album Covers by Contemporary Artists

Art world links which caught my eye…

How Sweet It Is

Jackie Gleason And Salvador Dali Show off the Cover Art for “ Lonesome Echo

I always paint to music. It sets the tone for the art being made. So it makes sense musicians would turn to artists to add a visual enhancement to their records.

Key quote from the article:

“The following – far from exhaustive list – gathers record sleeves by twentieth century artists, sometimes as artistic statements in their own rights and sometimes simply as a paying gig. Some follow the general style of the work the artist in question is known for, and others depart from that style (or styles) in interesting ways.”

READ THE ARTICLE HERE: The Quietus-Slipped Discs: Record Sleeves By Contemporary Artists

Andy Warhol “Diana Ross-Silk”

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

BOOKS: The Cthulhu Blues and Other Stories-by Richard Bledsoe

Richard Bledsoe and Michele Bledsoe

“Blind Mugwump Johnson” acrylic on canvas 10″ x 8″ 

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“We were led away from the others and sat under the shade of trees in the cemetery. As he arranged himself, sitting rather irreverently on a crypt, it gave me a chance to consider the hardships he must have suffered to reach such a condition. He was exceedingly tall but thin to the point of gauntness. His coloration could be described like that of an albino’s but instead of a pinkish tone, his pallor displayed a greenish tinge, with mottlings of purple. His unseeing eyes were squeezed shut, bulging behind lids that almost seemed to be sealed over. Unmindful of facial expressions, as the blind often are, he seemed to have a terrible snarl always about his lips, exposing his gums and a surprisingly strong looking set of teeth.

“Once he started to play his talent was evident, but it was not to my liking at all. The sounds he produced on his guitar I can hardly credit as music; his voice fluctuated between an eerie falsetto warble and an impossibly low croaking or gasping sound. Many of lines were delivered in some harsh language or dialect completely unknown to me. Those words which he sang that I could discern have shaken me to my very core.”

From the short story “Blind Mugwump Johnson and the Cooloo Blues” 

August 20th is the birthday of horror author H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937). I have been a fan of his writings since I was a teenager. It’s amused me to watch his influence spread over the years, becoming mainstream commercial to the extent you could go on a Cthuhlu-themed shopping spree, if you wanted to.

Lovecraft invented an underlying myth for a series of short stories he produced during the early decades of the twentieth century. In his nightmare world, prehistoric Earth had been colonized by monstrous demonic aliens. These evil beings were still here, slumbering under oceans and desolate wastelands, waiting for their time to rise again. Encounters with these creatures or their human accomplices led to madness, death and destruction.

Many other authors have built on the haunted universe Lovecraft suggested. Here in Phoenix, H.P Lovecraft’s Birthday was a performance art event for many years, held at various venues. I took part in these shows, doing readings of a series of short stories I wrote, my contributions to the Lovecraftian Mythos.

These stories are collected in an ebook available on Amazon. The Cthulhu Blues and Other Stories.

My wife and I made a book trailer for it, which had us shrieking – with laughter.

The painting currently on the cover is a Lovecraft inspired painting I made in 2001; “Tendrils of the Dreamer.” However, when Michele Bledsoe and I first conceived the book, I decided I was going to create a new painting for the cover design.

I was going to produce a portrait of the character Blind Mugwump Johnson, the mysterious and sinister Delta blues singer. I started right away. However, as Michele assembled the e-book, I couldn’t get the painting right. It happens sometimes. Here is an earlier version, long before I quit working on it:

 

I covered this base coat with purples and unbleached titanium and then piled on more green, and redrew the mouth. It just wasn’t happening. Rather than delay the book, we went with another image, and the work in progress hung on the wall of our studio for months, unfinished.

Recently Michele and I started collaborating on paintings. After we finished our first one, she had another idea of how we could share a work. She asked if she could put her hand to finishing “Blind Mugwump Johnson.” She didn’t want to change it, just tweak it a little. I loved the idea.

She brought it to a wonderful resolution. With a light touch, she brought substance and subtlety to the image, and made it complete.

My next book is going to be “Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization.”  We are in the final editing stages now, we want it out this summer if possible.

But once that’s all complete, I look forward to returning to the shadowy depths spawned by Lovecraft, and discovering some more stories to tell about them.

 

 

MUSIC: Remodernism Resonates with Composer George Pepper

MC Escher: Inspiration for a Perpetual Canon by George Pepper 

 

One of my sayings is, “if your life is not a spiritual adventure, you’re doing it wrong.”  It applies to music as well.  I feel connected to the Holy Spirit when I’m in the zone composing.

 -George Pepper 

A mighty wave is crashing through the culture. The elitist strategy of Postmodernism has gone stale, and people are tuning out the institutions it has corrupted. The crisis of relevance that the visual arts have been undergoing for decades has spread. Now the media, entertainment, sports even, are paying the price for converting themselves into virus-like Postmodern replication vehicles. In larger society, viewership and trust are way down.

A healthy art movement spreads its influence into positive developments across varied forms of expression. As I’ve written about Remodernism in this blog and elsewhere, many have reached out to me to share their stories. Many truly creative people have been exiled by an establishment art scene that promotes the falsities and facades of Postmodernism.

Music is the most visceral of the arts. It puts the outpouring of the human spirit into a form that can be physically felt. This is probably why the efforts to redefine serious music was one of the least successful areas of the Modernist gambit. Nobody wants to listen to the meandering, atonal noise offered up as a substitute for the thrilling beauty of great music. Listen to this selection by Anton Webern, if you want to be bored: Symphonie op.21. Like the old joke goes, if you get near a song, play it.

Postmodernism made things even worse, like it does. It brought us John Cage. His masterpiece was 4’33. Spoiler alert: it’s 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. Watch it “performed” here, if you’ve got some time to waste. Such a gimmicky mockery of the artistic abilities of humanity.

Charles Thomson and Billy Childish, the co-founders of the art movements Stuckism and Remodernism, were both musically engaged. Childish, with his band Thee Headcoats and its many mutant offshoots, in particular spawned a whole subgenre of punky garage rock, such as Thee Oh Sees. But there’s more to music than thrashing guitars.

Based on what I’ve been exposed to, I assumed there was no one who was interested in creating music with the same ambition, scale, and profundity of traditional music. Thank God for the internet! It proved me wrong again. A link from Instapundit  led composer George Pepper to contact me.

He had an intriguing story to share about his own life. He responded to the spiritual emphasis of Remodernism, in contrast to the soulless stylings of most contemporary culture. George understands we need to build on the traditions of the past to create a vibrant contemporary culture. Best of all, he shared his work with us: graceful, soaring, inspirational music.

This is his five-voice Ricercare for symphony orchestra, the last movement of his first symphony.  It is filled with perpetual canons and was inspired by the art of M.C. Escher, who he had loved since he was a boy.

http://www.hucbald.com/Fugal_Science_01/FS_V2_N4.aif  (download)

This sonata he describes as a thought experiment: what if J.S. Bach knew the swing style?

Remodernism is rising to take the place of crumbling Postmodernism. Although it started in the visual arts, there will be Remodernist authors, film makers, and composers as well. Remodernism will reprogram and improve the efforts and expectations for the arts across society. Remodernism as a creative force is accessible to anyone who works with integrity to create the timeless, uplifting communal experience of art.

I asked George Pepper to share his experiences as he pursued his craft, moving against the ideological tides that have diminished our culture. It is a Remodern story.

Question: When did you begin your musical training? What was the first instrument you learned? Who influenced you? 

George Pepper: The first albums I asked my parents to get me were Meet the Beatles and Beatles ’65, so I was about six or seven when Beatlemania hit. Saw the movie Help at a Saturday matinee, and so I was a huge fan. Later I got into all the wonderful popular music of the 60’s. Everything from Peter, Paul and Mary and Burl Ives through The Mamas and the Papas to Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. Motown too. My taste has always been eclectic and fairly inclusive.

I didn’t start my musical training until sixth grade, when I took violin lessons for a year. That got me started with the basics of reading music and the mechanics of string instruments. Seventh grade I made an abrupt shift to trombone, so I learned how brass and wind instruments worked, and bass clef that year. Then in eighth grade I was at a school that had guitar classes, so that was that. We learned easy guitar pieces like “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” and others in that vein, so I learned the open chords that year.
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Q: How did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a vocation?
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GP: It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I realized I didn’t love anything in life as passionately as music. I had gotten pretty good on the guitar by then with the usual garage bands one went through in those days – I was just before the Wayne’s World generation, and of course I had the Frampton Comes Alive album, which came out my senior year – so my plan was to go to Berklee [music college in Boston -Ed.].  However, I decided to attend Texas A&M for two years to get the required courses out of the way. I didn’t want any distractions from music at Berklee. Then, a miracle occurred. Two guitar teachers from The Guitar Institute in California opened up The Guitar Institute of the Southwest in San Antonio, along with jazz guitar legend Herb Ellis.  It was a one year course, and I used it as a prep school for Berklee.  My earliest compositions that I’ve kept are from that time. A bossa nova that is an Aria in a sonata for two guitars now, a samba I’m planning to use for a guitar concerto, and a swing tune that is now the scherzo of my first sonata for solo classic guitar. Those were in the bag before I got to Berklee.
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At Berklee I took the Professional Music degree program, which was their, “build your own degree” offering. I was going to major in Jazz Composition and Arranging, but it required a portfolio of pieces, and I knew they would be half-baked if I was forced to check off boxes. Many people used PM to make an easy degree, but I took every theory and composition course Berklee offered. A swinging jazz fusion piece from that time ended up as the scherzo in my sonata for two guitars, so I throw jazz pieces into my classical compositions. It’s a natural part of me, and that’s that.
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Q: What were your experiences as you studied music in higher education?
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GP: Berklee was a 24/7/365 blast. Just a wonderful experience all around. I developed so much those years – I went every semester including two summers, fall of ’80 to graduation in May of ’83 – that I was an entirely different musician when I got out. It was a super productive whirlwind.
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After my rock band and electronic music days in NYC, I decided at 30 I’d had enough of that, and went to Texas State University (Then Southwest Texas State) for an MM (Master of Music) in traditional theory and composition. I figured a small program would allow me more freedom and would also allow me to rectify any shortcomings in my understanding of traditional theory and composition. As an aside, I began my voracious study of classical theory/comp when I was in NYC. Every week I’d go to Joseph Patelson Music across from Carnegie Hall and buy a theory or composition book. I was writing simple counterpoint pieces for classic guitar by then, and had eight keepers by the time I started at SWTSU. It was there that I first encountered some resistance to my quest, which I was quite firm about. But the school’s only composition prof was a fan of atonal music, which I always detested. It was a weird situation, because I was a professional musician and 31 years old, and I didn’t even consider him a peer of mine. But we got along well enough that I was able to earn the degree, but then another weird thing happened. When I got the degree, it was in Music Education and not Theory. A much more marketable degree than Theory! I never did get an explanation for that.
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During that stint, I composed my first keeper fugue, and another half-dozen guitar studies, plus six or so preludes.  So I was on a roll by this time.
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I spent a lot of time trying to decide if I wanted to get a PhD in Theory, a PhD in Composition, or a DMA (Doctor in Musical Arts) in Composition. The Composition PhD and DMA programs were the same except for the thesis; the DMA didn’t have one, but they both required a composition of about twenty minutes duration. I decided I’d had enough theory, and I just wanted to compose. So, I went to The University of North Texas to pursue a DMA in comp. It was there that I began to encounter more direct conflict. I’m kind of a larger than life character in some ways, and these comp profs were very strange people to me. A couple of them flat out didn’t want me to compose traditional music! I had to toe the line with their postmodern views, or they wouldn’t award me the degree. Well, again, I considered myself to be a better musician and composer than any of them, so I wan’t going to do that. I took all the coursework, and composed a lot more great music, and then I moved on to greener pastures. But before I left, I had to play a colossal joke on them. I composed a subjective bit of BS I called “Division.” It was based on random pitch wedges opening and closing, and it was just valueless as music. The comp profs loved it! I didn’t say anything, but it was hard to keep a straight face.
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I composed another set of guitar studies, more preludes, my first sonata process pieces, a fugue in J.S. Bach’s late Art of Fugue style – a huge breakthrough – and a fugue on a subject that is a twelve-tone row just like the atonal guys used, only it’s beautiful and not ugly.  Beating those guys at their own game was deeply satisfying.  So, I went on to other things and kept composing.
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Q: What are some of your favorite compositions you’ve created?  
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GP: I have a literal lifetime of pieces now, and they have to have, “the magic” for me to keep them, so it’s not an easy task to single out a few. I would say the traditional Scherzo I wrote while still in NYC was a breakthrough piece – it’s in a pre-sonata I call Sonata Zero now – and the fugue I wrote at SWTSU was another. The J.S. Bach style fugue for sting quartet I wrote at UNT is a biggie, as are the two super-fugues I call Ricercares; One that is the Finale of Sonata One for solo guitar (Composed in 2005 after years of prep work), and the other is in five voices for symphony orchestra (From 2013, again, after many years of research: Ricercare means a researched piece).
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But there’s also the electronic pop music I wrote in my twenties that is just otherworldly, and the jazzy pieces are also all gems. Those electronic pop pieces are arrangements of band pieces I did on the Synclavier, which was bleeding edge tech at the time.
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Q: How does music express spirituality?
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 GP: It always has for me. Even music by other composers moves my spirit. And lots of genres too. The first thing I learned to jam on was the blues, so Stormy Monday Blues is one I’d say moves my spirit. Then lots of Charlie Parker, Larry Carlton, Jimi Hendrix – “Rainy Day Dream Away/Still Raining Still Dreaming” always moves me – The Who – I wore Quadrophenia out in high school – many others.  In classical music, my single favorite piece in all of the symphonic literature is the Scherzo from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It is, in fact, my first musical memory. When I was really little, like three to five years old, that Scherzo was the intro music to the Huntley Brinkley Report news program. My dad watched it every night, and I would just stand there spellbound until it faded out. I remember it like it happened five minutes ago. But that piece takes me on a spiritual journey, as does the opening movement and the slow movement. The Finale, for some reason, doesn’t really work for me.  It’s a sublime masterpiece by any objective measure, but it’s stubborn or something. The vocals and chorus don’t help for me. In fact, I actually prefer Liszt’s transcription of the finale for solo piano!
As a composer, every genera I touch has to move me spiritually. Latin jazz was the first jazz I fell in love with and started composing. Then swing, bebop, and fusion. Pop in my band days in NYC, with electronic on the side. Finally, classical. The feeling of spiritual connectedness is the same in whatever genera I’m working in, and the sense of satisfaction is profoundly deep when I complete a piece. Larger forms are deeper, but the euphoria after creating a simple and novel tune is indescribable. Just last year I wrote a Waltz. It was inspired by a theory and composition book I was studying. One of the examples was of a melodic formula Mozart used in several compositions, that was already ancient when Mozart discovered it. I took it someplace entirely different, and it ended up as the Scherzo for Sonata Three, which is for solo guitar again (Sonata Two is for two guitars). I listened to it over and over. It’s just a pluperfect little gem.
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One of my sayings is, “if your life is not a spiritual adventure, you’re doing it wrong.” It applies to music as well. I feel connected to the Holy Spirit when I’m in the zone composing.
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Q: How would you describe the state of music today?
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GP: Awful. Symphony orchestras are unionized and sclerotic, playing the same music my grandfathers listened to. String quartets are the same. Pianists are the same, and forget classical guitarists; some of the most arrogant and opinionated musicians there are (Many are cool too, but not nearly enough). There are two other composers of guitar music I like, and both are friends of mine.
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How many recordings of the Ninth do we need? If I never heard a Beethoven piano sonata again, it wouldn’t matter, because I have them all already! In a vibrant musical culture, conservatories would be producing composers with real, actual technique, and orchestras would have composition talent scouts.
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Q: What changes are needed in the music world?
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 GP: Real requirements for composition faculty at universities and conservatories. If I took over, I’d demand first a simple 32 bar tune in AABA form with eight bar phrases. Just harmony and melody. If they couldn’t pass that test, bye. Then, if they want to head the department, they better be able to compose a four voice fugue, otherwise, hit the road, Jack.
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As I mentioned above, orchestras should be open to playing new music, but that’s the catch-22; if there isn’t any good music, and/or they’re not looking for it, nothing will happen. I just do my thing and shake my head a lot.
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Also, get politics out of music. If your music is a political statement, it certainly isn’t art and it’s probably not even music at all (Talking about instrumental music here). And if your politics makes you tell other composers what they should and should not write, you’re just a talentless scold who should probably have nothing whatsoever to do with music. Much less should these people have teaching positions.
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In three years at UNT I heard exactly zero faculty compositions that were musical in the slightest. None of them could really, actually compose real, actual music. And this was in the 90’s, it’s way worse today.
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This is why I only compose instrumental music. Absolute music’s it’s also called. No words, just music.
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Q: What are you working on currently?
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 GP: A lot of things have started to gel over the past several years. Sonata Zero and Sonata One for solo guitar are settled in their final configuration now. Sonata Two for two guitars is 90% complete, and Sonata Three for guitar has just come together over the past few months. So Sonata Two is occupying my thoughts right now.
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I have managed to rescue the electronic music I composed in the 80’s last year – from thirty year old 5.25” floppies! – by getting a Synclavier again, and I’m going to release that this year.
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I’ve been working on a symphony since I was at Berklee, and one movement of that is now finished, the Ricercare for Orchestra. Plus, there are always a few ideas I’m tossing around in my head at any given time. I’d say only about one in ten ever see the light of day.
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Here’s the title track to the electronic album.  I’ve decided to realize all of my music with the Synclavier now. It’s the only instrument I was ever a virtuoso with. Almost all of the sounds I programmed from scratch.
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Yes, it’s an AIFF file.  I think you can get QuickTime free for any OS or browser now.
Edit: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED: Vintage Music Reviews-Rudimentary Peni “Cacophony”

*Update: Richard Bledsoe will be offline for an extended period due to an unexpected medical situation. I am Richard’s wife, Michele Bledsoe – and for the interim I will act as his hands and eyes. 

A few years ago, Richard used to write for the punk ‘zine AZKAOS. This was one of the vintage music reviews he contributed from 2010.

Rudimentary Peni “Cacophony” Album Cover Art by Nick Blinko

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Rudimentary PeniCacophony

1989

Outer Himalayan Records

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And then the matter of that phonograph record…It must mean something; whether animal noises deceptively like human speech, or the speech of some hidden, night-haunting human being decayed to a state not much above that of lower animals.

  -H. P. Lovecraft   

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Does genius lead to madness, or is the other way around? Mental illness in reality is usually a drab and frustrating situation. The romantic cliché of the brilliant lunatic persists though, supported by the occasional rise and fall of some inspired martyr; there is some truth to the template. When an inventive mind gets caught up in a wave of mania, astonishing creations can occur.

The Rudimentary Peni album Cacophony feels maniacal, as if it were recorded at the height of some delusional frenzy. A rare hardcore punk concept album, an obsessive riff on horror pulp author H.P. Lovecraft, it captures that writer’s atmosphere of melodramatic creepiness. The recording seems like an organic whole; songs blend into one another, connected by snippets of dialogue and sound effects, racing along at breakneck speed. It is one of those records to be played in its entirety, to better appreciate the story arc.

Rudimentary Peni (named for a biology class definition of clitorises) grew out of the busy London anarcho-punk scene nurtured by the musical collective Crass. RP’s front man Nick Blinko is the songwriter, guitarist and singer; he also produces the horror vacui outsider art that illustrates the albums-teeming landscapes of grimacing faces, skulls and religious icons. Blinko could be a character out of a Lovecraft work-a talented outsider whose mind was broken by the pursuit of arcane knowledge. Diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, Blinko has spent some time institutionalized for his condition.

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Nick Blinko Artwork 

 

Despite the burdens of Blinko’s mental state, and all the growling death rock themes explored, Cacophony is a rollicking, playful album, bursting with excitement at its own inventiveness. The lyrics echo Lovecraft’s quaint verbose style in a manner that is both tribute and satire. The content veers between Lovecraft’s biography, his works, and more oblique rants. The original vinyl fortunately came with a 6 page lyric sheet, because the elaborate, articulate poetry Blinko wrote is often buried in layers of distortion and noise, or is barely intelligible. Blinko produces literally dozens of accents in his vocals-he chants, mutters, shrieks, hisses, croons and babbles; it’s an amazing theatrical performance. “Things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl,” he croaks in one interlude. Some pieces are nothing but sounds-chattering teeth, rude squishy noises, wheezing or screaming; others are little collages of tombstone inscriptions or buzzing alien voices.

The music swings between tight little punk gems and ominous droning soundscapes. The catchy hardcore passages throughout the album suggest Zen Arcade vintage Husker Du. In “The Only Child, ” about a bad seed murderous little girl, the delivery is a snarling Exploited style stomp; “Arkham Hearse” swings with a Sex Pistols sneer. “Dream City” warbles like the Buzzcocks: “The weedy old spires like veins in marble/The old gold domes/were just ancestral homes/The citadels of yore with their broken bronze bells/ tottering towers/shadowy staircases/spiral like ammonites…”

Rudimentary Peni, despite some hiatuses, continue to release albums, though nothing has ever topped this perfect storm of cult influences. Cacophony works on many levels-it ranges from being sinister and aggressive to being literate and tongue in cheek. It presents horror with mighty impact but doesn’t take itself too seriously. This highly personal and entertaining experimental album is a neglected masterpiece.

More Nick Blinko Artwork