jueves, 10 de marzo de 2016

de aarde scheurt





















de aarde scheurt onder je voeten slokt alles op 
moet zeker haar woede koelen
wat overblijft zijn smalle paadjes modder 
waar op handen en voeten de overlevenden krioelen
paarden mensen poezen (honden) volgen de drift van grazers 
vluchten voor gevaar
duwen de ander in de diepte 
hebben eendrachtig geen oog voor elkaar
we kunnen nergens heen zeg je na weer een dodelijke val 
blijf toch staan
maar verstand is wel het laatste 
waarmee de door het lot gekusten zijn begaan
jij wendt je blik af naar de hemel waar groene wolken stormen
die ten afscheidsgroet de letters liefde vormen
en dan verwaaien in het zwerk zo dat zijn we tenminste kwijt
lijkt de aarde te zeggen en je vraagt je af wat nu dan nog respijt
langzaam raken de paden leger wie nog niet in de afgrond is gestort
vermindert vaart ziet comfortabel hoe het beter wordt
we zijn al met lekker weinig! roep je jolig maar niemand die erom lacht
op deze onverwachte dag waarop de werkelijkheid wordt opgebracht
de stilte heerst zolang de zon schijnt wanneer regen uit de hemel plenst
komt het spul weer in beweging uit een diep gevoelde ongeweten wens
begint het duwen en geploeter van voren af aan glijden velen
langs spiegelgladde hellingen de schachten in 
klinkt ijselijk gegil uit duizend kelen
de aarde scheurt en het leven verdwijnt en wie het nog kunnen vertellen
bevechten elkaar het recht om het laatste oordeel te vellen
ook jij bent er nog altijd bij nou ja je ogen beter gezegd
je lichaam heb je eerder die middag in het Vondelpark te ruste gelegd
waar het ontspanning vond in het zomergras terwijl jij de stilte overdacht
een vorm van meditatie waarmee je de pijn in je harses verzacht
toen je getroffen werd door dit naakte visioen van drift en nood
dat uit de bodem opstaat zoals onvolwassen zielen uit de dood
en je blikveld binnendringt onverschillig of je wil of niet
jij doet er hier niet toe het gaat puur om de beelden die je ziet
om wat er aan de hand is achter het behang van alledag
om wat schijnbaar onze doodangst allemaal vermag
je ziet wat in de diepte sluimert als voldongen feit
en weet je kunt nu nooit terug meer naar de prerealiteit
want waar je straks ook komt in je geliefde stad
altijd zoek je wel geweten naar dat ene smalle onbetreden pad

martes, 1 de marzo de 2016

High On Low

photo by Christian Simonpietri

After the hype of being the world's current top rock act while simultaneously drowning in cocaine had come crashing down round 1976, Day Vid Beau Wee came up with an album which transmitted his state of despair and self-loathing in an amazingly direct way. From the very first grungy tones on, Low is every emotion someone may be going through when they are trying to kick a life threatening habit. Low is joy and pain, revolt and submission, flight and fight, a whole lot of shaking going on. Low is pop and electronics, simple and intricate, low brow and high brow, bad taste and good taste, boring and exciting, repulsive and attractive, to listen to in total solitude and to dance to at parties. Low is most likely quite precisely what it was like being Day Vid Beau Wee at the time of making. It is, in that sense, a remarkably honest account by a man who was used to hiding behind masks. Low is naked music, to be listened to in an empty room with few clothes on and preferably hung over or otherwise weak.

There is something truly wonderful about Low and it starts with the fact that the title comes before the music. This seems obvious, the first thing you do with a new album is read the title, if only to give yourself something to munch on while listening to the music – why on Earth would the man call this music low? - until you realise the title is about how he felt before he started making the album. There is after all nothing low about this collection of songs. With the implicit intelligence of youth I had always sensed there was no immediate connection between title and music and had therefore considered it more of a name than a word with a clear meaning. For all I knew, Low was a bar in Berlin. If there is a link at all, Low is about fighting low. It's about being desperately up beat, about staving off demons, about getting rid of oneself and running away from low.

In its attempt to create something out of nothing, the only way available to someone who has just flushed his daily routines down the sink, Low is a work under construction, ideas more than fully edited songs, dreams more than realities, outlines more than anything so banal as content.If anything, Low's incompleteness is about shaping hope, hope for escape, hope for rebounce and for new and hopefully more natural highs. From a man running away from his nightmares and his illness, Low could never be anything other than a signpost signalling a new future.


Perfect medicine

Because of its brutal honesty, Low is the perfect medicine for anybody going through rough times. When you are trying to quit smoking, are facing the side effects of a broken relationship, need to get to grips with the loss of a friend or even just have difficulty waiting for spring to come, those 35 minutes are your ideal companion. They take you on a roller-coaster ride which almost always leaves you feeling slightly better. Do at least include Warszawa, and know the full length gives best results. (You register you're listening to Brian Eno as well and you promise yourself to dig into him.)

The healing qualities of Low are well known among fans of the day, while later on many newbies hooked up to the feel, rendering belief to the idea. You start with a spaced out dance hall band on speed of life. That's a dose of energy you need to tune in to. I always thought Station to Station was his first attempt at not being nice. Now he was just making it hard for all. You have to get through this, because you know there's great music waiting. As always with Beau Wee, some songs fall smoother than other ones, but in the end they're all good. It only takes time to like them.

Breaking Glass in your room again, is the story of a man who is psychologically mistreating his girlfriend with calculated absence. This was a tough one early on. Next up: What in the world can you do, I'm in the mood for your love. The band make it sound like the cry of a horny wolf. The Dallas 78 concert opens with this song, in a more danceable rhythm, same intensity.
Sound and vision offers the first chance to relax and is an early favourite, a very well reduced dance routine of floating beauty, the kind of song you play twice when it comes along. The song's blue room, claims a not necessarily trustworthy news source, is what the man's lodgings looked like. He was apparently writing his diary in as few words as possible. It sure makes you wonder sometimes.
Always crashing in the same car is a drunken garage drive routine, according to rumours adventured with Mr. Pop on shotgun. There's a sense of unpleasantness which smoothes out in synthesizer tones. It's a song to have to like every time again. And it almost always succeeds.
Be my wife is an exquisitely balanced lament on rock guitar. It's not too difficult to feel sorry for the singer, an early sign of refound lust for life by the way, as it is a heart wrenching cry of a man filled with self-loathing, still not coming to grips with the situation though he was in the process of crawling back. The video showed him faking it, adding an extra instrument to the score. Great song. By now you have shaken of your early inhibitions and are totally committed to Low. You go with the low. By my wife is danceable of sorts.
A new career in a new town signals the moment when Beau Wee lets go. The orchestra slip into melancholy. You know here is where he leaves you behind, now you had better find your own reason to give it another try. The rest is chamber music, with the band hidden behind the wall. And every time at this point you realise, yes, he's right, one might as well be serious. It is Low's main quality and the source of its healing powers. But it is also something which you have to go through every time again, the whole ordeal, although in the end emotions flatten. It needs to be laid aside for periods, sometimes long ones. Personally, my main retreat from Beau Wee lasted twenty years, ever since breaks have been for sanitary reasons only.

There are other ways to listen to Low. It's well-made music, as usual. Beau Wee is always convincing. This drives many people mad. They hate Beau Wee with an equal fury as fans adore. They don't like the truth to be lied about, I guess. I say, as long as you know what he is talking about, who cares if he's lying.

Low is worth money, if you are willing to feel the groove. It only featured significantly in the first post album tours of 1977 and 1978, with “Heroes” included along the way, and some found its way onto Stage. I have played an early show once but I never came to copy it. I don't know if it still exists. The Dallas 78, was about the time that we in Europe were getting to groove the new Beau Wee, with Low, “Heroes” and Stage in quick succession. The first I have found is the dancehall band on speed of life in May 78, playing heroes in Bremen in the bandleader's early rock god days. But that is next time's story. There's been something before this on the web is all I can say. Seek if you can. And remember, Beau Wee offers the subject but he doesn't give answers. He always refused to bear responsibility.

The Killing And Subsequent Resurrection Of David Bowie™

picture stolen from nydailynews

The first time I saw Bowie on television he did not make the proverbial devastating impact he had on virtually every semi-famous musician pretending to have been inspired by the man. To me he was just another glam freak on our black and white tv screen, with the song he playbacked, Rebel Rebel, never high on my list of favourite compositions. How was I to know that this fake pirate had been one of the founders of the celebration of bad taste which had aroused my first real interest in music, taking me away from mainstream pop to the glitter and glam of hairy men on platform shoes, a realm where music was still considered dangerous to a young man's healthy development?

Almost two years on, I would make up for my failure to see the light first time round. At the high school I was attending there was a basement decorated as a recreational room for senior graders. Admittance, in the minds of us aspiring middle graders, evolved around the willingness to take up smoking. Downstairs, thanks to the thickness of cigarette fumes in the unfiltered air, openly not smoking was an utterly ridiculous statement available only to the most senior of sixth graders, people too cool to even be considered school mates any longer. So I invested in a pack of tobacco and nervously lowered myself down the steep stairs, entering the full sound of Bowie. The basement, a square space with wooden cubes to sit upon under a customary low ceiling, had been originally dedicated to New York music. A record player and a collection of albums contributed to by people with money (considered wildly rich by the vast majority of us high schoolkids who hadn't got a dime to spare), would introduce many of us to Lou Reed, Patty Smith, NY Dolls, Television and the foreign body which had teamed up with the anti everything feel so very attractive to us orphans of the late nineteen sixties, David Bowie.

I quickly got into everything he had published up till then, with a preference for the gloom of Hunky Dory and Diamond Dogs, and I had my first new release thrill with Station to Station. The sometimes difficult but always marvellous Berlin trilogy followed and when I had left school behind, there was Scary Monsters. Bowie wrote the sound track of my teens. Of all the records he had made in ten highly productive years I perhaps liked Young Americans less because it didn't tap into my taste for guitar noise, but all the others were equal favourites, it simply depending on the weather and my ever changing young mood which record I would play that day. In fact, I used cassette tapes with an album on each 45 minutes side, which I played over and over through an old radio amplifier until the sound had completely worn off and I, by now in the position to choose music over food if I so wanted, converted to vinyl, quickly collecting the full series. Bowie was to me what I made of him, a seductively convincing voice, mostly. I remember how I forced myself to buy other artists' albums as well just as not to end up with a 100% monomaniac record collection.

And then there was Let's Dance. The title song was okay and I understood Bowie's desire to cash in on his efforts after being nicely squeezed out of any earnings during his most prolific years, but it wasn't my cup of tea. Especially the spectacle of a new generation of teenage girls idolizing his good looks and supposed sweetness in stead of his dark noise and cocaine abuse, put me and many of my contemporaries off. Suddenly, Bowie had moved on to a different world. I accepted the harsh reality and set my sights on new wave and post punk and that great hero of nineteen eighties' music, Prince. Gradually I would listen less and less to Bowie, feeling his newly acquired mediocreness infesting his older work until one day I couldn't take it any longer and with a youthful sense of drama and exaggeration slowly and deliberately one by one broke all of his records. No more David Bowie for me, no reminiscing his former impact nor anticipating new releases. I freed myself of the image. Bowie, as far as I was concerned, was dead.

I managed to keep Bowie out of sight until the year 2002 (Prince having gone a similar path after belief had smothered rebellion), when a business partner burned a copy of Heathen for me as a birthday present. I wasn't too impressed with his choice for sophistication over excitement, but hearing his voice did make me wander back through time to those electrified happy days of my own personal Bowie mania. I decided listening to some old stuff once in a while wouldn't hurt and soon enough found myself recollecting his back catalogue, this time on cd, meanwhile discovering that at least Black Tie White Noise and Outside were more than decent productions worthy of my undivided attention. Thanks to youtube I also found out he had been touring with a pretty good band since the mid-nineteen nineties. I had perhaps been stupidly harsh on my own dreams.

Then came the heart attack and the final cigarette and I assumed David Bowie, the chain working, chain smoking startist had gone forever. By now I had completely rehabilitated my interest in him, giving the albums I loved the place of prominence they deserved in my private pantheon of favourite musical expressions. I kept playing his music every now and again, with periods of feverish dedication to one or two records of choice not unlike my obsessed cassette years.

All of a sudden, ten years down the road there was another record, apparently made without the help of nicotine and carrying a couple of good songs, though the voice had inevitably lost a lot of power. It was above all a very cleverly made album, composing a carefully balanced amount of rock and rebel around his newly acquired vocal limitations. And behold, two years later, there was even more. A play and a record all at once. But wait, the voice was absent, one of the tracks called Lazarus, his skin looking like he was on chemical abuse, it didn't bode well. And for sure he went the next day, if he hadn't gone already before the release. A deep sadness touched me. The rock god who had slowly become a man making music, had left his body.

Mr. Jones has disappeared but Bowie will probably hang round for a while. The many live performances and curiosities people are uploading like mad these days will take care of that. Don't forget to copy and steal the ones you like! I leave you with this little gem.









miércoles, 1 de abril de 2015

Never trust a politician




The subterranean traveller reports

Führer International had been heavily spraying the glorious blue morning sky for over an hour when I entered the roof garden with a brand new orgonite in my hands. I put the shiny cone made of crystals, copper spirals and scrap held in transparent resin in the full sun and started preparing some vegetable beds, adding earth and water, the works. Stretching my back after some time I looked up and noticed how the milky veil above my head was pulling away. There was a hole growing and soon the haze over my part of town had completely gone. Were these truly the workings of my little pyramid? More planes came and their thick, double trails just flew away like they had never been laid. Finally the sun turned behind the apartment building next door, leaving my garden in the shade. Soon enough the thinnest of veils came growing back. Führer International is a mighty adversary, too strong for sure to take on alone.

To extend its power to the furthest corners of the planet, Führer International relies heavily on lies and intimidation. A wide spreading web of propaganda and publicity has been set up to this end. In virtually none of the countries already under its spell even a single independent news outlet can be found. All newspapers, radio and TV stations repeat the same made-up stories, carefully crafted in the most inner circles of power. In fact, so well-hidden are these sources of information that nobody knows where any given day's headlines originate from. They are spread through press releases and spokespersons, but clearly these people, hungry for attention as they are, haven't got a clue what they are talking about. They simply repeat whatever is put under their noses and when a journalist has the nerve to ask for clarification or proof, they shrug off the nuisance and simply start all over again, rephrasing the same line, and again, until the news hunters in front of them give up and duly write down whatever is fed to them. Come to think of it, when there is no alternative voice available to offer even the slightest deviation to the original statement, what is the point of verifying the claims?

And so the people of the world are given the impression that the empire is a benign force bent on spreading prosperity and safety around the globe when in fact Führer International is a murderous monster, killing people, animals, nature and the rules of life alike in its quest for dominance and destruction. It's a clever scheme, no less. The inhabitants of the world are neatly stratified with regards to their income and chances of finding work, making sure that most people have no idea what life is like outside their particular social environment. The poor dream of the lies they know from their televisions, the rich wait for their parents to die. Whereas the poor seem to have a general understanding of how the system is preying on their labour, leaving them unable to improve on their circumstances, the middle and upper classes in the core countries mostly in all honesty believe that poverty is caused by a lack of industrial intent. They also go along with the gotspe that the numerous wars fought all over the planet by Führer Intl are without exception instigated by local adversaries of the golden rule of competition. Even in a time when Führer has grown so powerful and all-encompassing that the opposition feels compelled to resort to desperate rebellion, the lie is perpetually swallowed. Over the course of half a century, Führer International has been fighting communists, anarchists, religious fanatics, nationalists and terrorists and people generally in its way. With every next war, next intervention or show of force, Führer has managed to expand its sphere of influence, not just territorially but in hearts and minds as well. At the time of writing there are hardly any independent countries left. This has steered the empire's insatiable thirst for violence onto its own sacred middle classes.

As the reader may recall, over the second half of the twentieth century the peoples of the core countries enjoyed growing prosperity and liberty (at least a sense thereof), reaching a point where citizens began openly questioning the righteousness of their respective governments once again. So a crisis was invented. An easily solvable financial problem was used to cast austerity on the masses, taking away their incomes, their job security and whatever real influence they still had. Under the guise of fighting terrorism, nome du jour of the frequent and well-orchestrated atrocities the classes have to endure, a military style police force is mounted, to be deployed wherever people take to the streets to demand justice and practical solutions to their predicaments.

After five dark years, some say seven, people seem to be gathering steam for a final wave of protest. Further away the 20 teens have been uproarious all along, still further people are dying, but now at last the western masses are moving. Unfortunately, many of the widely springing grassroots movements are not to be trusted. Invariably such uprisings either lead the populace into a dead end, succumbing to the so-called realities of power, or they are seen as the perfect excuse for military intervention. The colour revolutions of the 21st century have all led to levels of destruction and repression, leaving one to wonder whether the perpetrators were genuine local madmen or rather the worst scum to go around in a well-written psyop. Führer International is everywhere and everything, inventing new realities while people are wondering about the nature of old ones, always a step behind, always trying to protect what little joy and possessions they have left.

Where I live, people have been encouraged to dream of independence from the repressive and at times outright fascist state apparatus they resort under. For many years they have been crowding the streets of their capital city, demanding the right to take care of themselves, yet their political leaders fail at every opportunity to engage in what they were hopefully chosen for. Slowly the city is losing its faith in the dream. And behold, suddenly there's a new ideal, a nationwide uprising, rendering the wish to go it alone empty, even elitist. Unfortunately, once again, the leader of the new movement is not to be trusted. He hijacked an honest beginning and proclaimed himself sole heir to its principals. Soon the local councils are polled, with later this year the chance to ditch the current president of the state apparatus, a highly corrupted servant of power who promised his voters a cure to their financial woes and ended up instilling a return to the mentality of this country's darkest days. I will be allowed to vote for my council, but not for the country. So I watch. I hope my countrymen will make the right decision for the betterment of all, without fear of how Führer International will react. Because react it will.

With love,

the subterranean traveller