Saturday, 19 January 2013

Live Blog from New Projects Weekend (4)

Mack makes a delicate start - almost Spanish flamenco style on an electric guitar, with added echo and now a drone. Notes emerging from the hum and buzz of the sound system, until the crackle drowns and submerges the melody. The crack of cables echoes the rattle of castanets. He’s very Spanish in his mood, running melancholy scales up and down the fret board and tumbling into clusters of low notes.
It’s gentler than Caries. The sustain and feedback hovers, threatening to destroy the fragile picking. He’s applying an acoustic method to the electric, moody and melancholic again. Or am I slightly sad and applying this to every piece?
The sound of a guitar in the distance: Mack’s playing seems to come from the other end of a tunnel, or through a weak radio signal. The sound system is simply obscuring the clear, firm pizzicato. These are transmissions from another world, another cliché.
Certainly, his actual playing is accomplished and precise. He’s problematising the performance. The electricity has been made audible – thanks to some fiddling with wires. It’s a battle for a thing of beauty to survive.
Eric talked about a message. Old school music journalists weren’t afraid of overdoing it. This musical monologue tells a story about life. Life, represented by the guitar, is delicate yet beautiful. Rich in emotion and evocative of tales that are barely comprehensible in their complexity and detail, life tries to survive against a hostile universe – here represented by the feedback, the nasty crackle of the speakers.
This is an opera for solo guitar that contains the basic narrative of existence. It’s mysterious, frail, frightening. I’m loath to call the universe of noise that tries to subjugate the melody godless (the guitarist might be God, anyway), but it is in some sort of conflict with the guitar’s life.
However, the sources of the sounds that threaten are also the reasons that the guitar is audible. The universe may sound tough, but it is also sustaining. The music is a duet between guitar and PA.
The actual melody has traces of heavy metal exhibitionism and folk refrains. This might well be the most beautiful thing I have ever heard. And I bet I would have called it doodling if I were not trying to write about it.
I was not expecting music to need as music thought as performance.  
Damn. Eric noticed that the style was very blues. He has beaten me. That is what this is: not delta blues, but the blues of the universe, which makes the noise that eventually will destroy it. 

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