‘Without music, would we even be Jewish?’ – The Guardian

Posted by Google News | Industry News | Monday 3 March 2014 8:07 am

Early in the 1980s, a pop legend in a mid-life lull reached back into ancient history for inspiration. The song did not come easy. Banging his head in frustration on a hotel-room floor, Leonard Cohen ground out about 80 stanzas before finally achieving the perfect anthem that is “Hallelujah”.

And no one got it.

CBS Records rejected the album. After a 1984 indie release, “Hallelujah” hung in limbo for a decade until Jeff Buckley, sighing deeply over a steel guitar, gave a soft, introspective reinterpretation. Buckley’s death by drowning in 1997 added a tragic aura to the song. The producers of Shrek called in Rufus Wainwright to record it for the soundtrack.

Cohen, having been fleeced by a felonious manager, went back on the road, singing “Hallelujah” in a trademark brown hat. X Factor hopefuls heard it and one belted it out to victory. Suddenly, “Hallelujah” was being downloaded 100,000 times a day and turning into the most covered pop song of the 21st century.

Amid the resurrective clamour, few grasped the leap that Cohen had made into the past. In the depths of despair, he had sought the “secret chord / That David played, and it pleased the Lord” across three millennia of human creation, appealing as one lost Jew to an ancestor for the primal gift of music.

I think I know where he was coming from. Growing up in a devout and learned north London home, I became aware of the taboos and tensions that prevailed between Jews and music. I learned, for instance, that Jews, mourning the destruction of their temple in 70AD, were forbidden by rabbis to sing or play music, all the way down to Moses Maimonides in the 12th century.

I knew, too, that a woman’s voice was proscribed by the Talmud as “nakedness” and that hearing a woman sing was equivalent to having an illicit sexual liaison. Thrilling as that may have seemed to my boyish mind, women’s singing really was taboo. As was listening to music for seven and a half dark weeks of the year and at times of personal loss. In sorrow, music was the first thing to be switched off.

Yet, amid these constraints, music was everywhere. At any solemnity or celebration, someone would start a tune. There would be singing at all Sabbath meals. Since my father was tone deaf, it was my grownup sisters who floated the melodies that I, at three or four years old, learned to harmonise by ear. Music was our means of togetherness. Without music, I remember thinking, would we even be Jewish?

So when Radio 3 commissioned me to make a three-part series about music and the Jews, I made the decision to avoid popular cliches of “Jewish music” – klezmer bands, cantorial wails, Ladino lullabies – and focus on some of the bigger questions. How, for instance, has music shaped the character and history of the Jews? How did Jews influence music? Biggest of all, can music define personal and collective identity?

I started where Cohen did, in search of the elusive King David: poet, musician, warrior, sexual malefactor and author of a book of psalms that forms the basis of worship for Jews and Christians alike. Though there isn’t  much evidence that David wrote all or any of the 71 psalms that bear his name, we cannot read them today without becoming aware of this musician’s private world, his inner ear.

Walking on the ramparts of Jerusalem, Yehoshua Engelman, a London-born rabbi turned psychotherapist, and I discuss Psalm 51, the one about sex with Bathsheba, the one where Cohen sings: “Your faith was strong but you needed proof / You saw her bathing on the roof / Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you.”

How could David, having sent a man to his death so he could steal his wife, sit down and write “Hallelujah”? “With great difficulty,” explains Yehoshua. “The Talmud tells us that David was punished for his sin.”

“How’s that?”

“He was deprived of his music for 10 years.”

Time stops still on the wall of David’s city. Yehoshua’s reading of Psalm 51 is that David was rendered musically, and perhaps sexually, impotent by guilt, an idea that does not exist until Freud adduces it in 20th-century Vienna. Could Jewish guilt be rooted in Jewish music?

American composer Steve Reich came to Jerusalem in the 1970s in search of his Jewish roots. His epiphany arrived while listening to the way Yemenites enunciate the Psalms. “I just had to chant a verse [with them],” he recalls, “and a melody popped into my head. What is that? It was an unconscious dredging up of Bulgarian rhythms from Béla Bartók, changing rhythms in The Rite of Spring, all unbidden. But it introduced a new kind of rhythmic writing for me, a specific idea of combining twos and threes into five/eights, seven/eights; something I hadn’t done before.” Reich considers his psalmic score, Tehillim, to be his towering masterpiece.

Tehillim were the songs of the temple. The search for their lost music is a bimillennial obsession. In 1905, a cantor called Abraham Zvi Idelsohn arrived in Jerusalem from South Africa and, like Bartók in the Balkans, began recording old men’s songs on wire machines. Applying new techniques of academic musicology, he surmised that the Jews of Yemen came closest to temple music. At the National Sound Archive in Jerusalem, I played Idelsohn’s cylinders and consider his boldest conclusion – that Yemenite-Jewish microtones lie at the root of Gregorian chant, and hence of all Christian music.

The creative potential of this source remains limitless. The music of modern Israel is driven by Yemenite singers – Bracha Zefira, Shoshana Damari, Ofra Haza and Achinoam Nini, known as Noa. All are women, therefore silenced by Judaism and Islam. “I am Yemenite and I am Jewish,” declares Noa, who sang on the Eurovision song contest with a Palestinian, Mira Awad. “You find a way to work around the restrictions and that gives you a lot of strength and develops your creativity to amazing heights.”

In a Tel Aviv apartment, I meet the anthropologist Tova Gamliel, an authority on mourning, and ask her to demonstrate the oldest known Jewish sound – the keening of Yemenite women. Gamliel stands, composes herself and sings a visceral, chilling trope that freezes my fingers to the chair. “The role,” she explains, “is to make people cry, to express sorrow in a very aesthetic performance. But the song has a text – the life of the departed – and the singer can vary that according to what the person deserves, good or bad. She is telling the others: when you die, I may not be so generous.”

The power of life after death was vested in a woman. “She was the only one who had this right. People were very afraid of her, very respectful,” says Gamliel. When the keening ends, the woman recomposes herself, then tells a joke. Life must go on.

Myriam Fuks from Brussels is an eighth-generation Yiddish singer whose repertoire has passed from mother to daughter for two centuries. Myriam’s mother, Frania, sang in Warsaw theatres, survived the Warsaw ghetto. Myriam wakes in the morning with fragments of Frania’s hundreds of songs. Unable to remember the refrain, she asks the pianist Martha Argerich to improvise for her on a new recording. The need to keep memory alive by song, I discover, a driving Jewish motivation.

It was the late 1820s before Jews were allowed into western music. There had been isolated intrusions – Salomone Rossi in Monteverdi’s Mantua, Lorenzo da Ponte in Mozart’s Vienna – but it took a pair of bankers’ sons from Berlin, Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer, to change the culture. Mendelssohn, aside from his own concert works, restored Bach’s oratorios to public performance – “giving classical music its Old Testament”, according to one of my contributors. Meyerbeer blew out the walls of existing opera houses with gargantuan music dramas, paving the way for Richard Wagner and the romantic imagination.

Wagner, in a notorious 1850 pamphlet, “Das Judenthum in der Musik” (“Judaism in Music”), named Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer as symptoms of the Jews’ “infinitely small” ability to write music. He demanded the exclusion of Jews from German music, a blueprint for Hitler’s ethnic cleansing. Like most bigots, Wagner lived in fear of the other, the unknown, the unimagined. At the end of his century Arnold Schoenberg, exasperated to his Jewish core by the tonal corsets of German music, ripped them off in two creative revolutions, atonal and serial. Orchestral music would never sound the same again.

Around the same time, on the front stoops of New York brownstones, the sons of Jewish refugees from Russian pogroms and of former African-Caribbean slaves from the deep south found an unsuspected common taste for busy rhythms, minor keys and blue notes. Their conversation signalled the birth of pop music.

How Jewish was that? George Gershwin, the most restless and creative of the early writers, never concealed his Jewish roots. When he sang “It Ain’t Necessarily So“, he not only challenged Scripture with Talmudic argument, he actually sang it in the traditional mode of Talmudic study. Visiting the Yiddish theatre star grandparents of the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, Gershwin talked of the freygish mode as the key to America’s popular music. Freygish is Yiddish for questioning. What Jews added to pop music was a quizzical note.

Michael Grade, heir to an entertainment dynasty and ex-chair of the BBC, explains why Jews were so big in showbiz. “There’s something in the DNA of the Jews that makes us adept at assimilating,” he explains. “There’s a great openness to what’s going on. We are watching the audience, trying to keep in touch with what the audience wants. The best of the impresarios – I’d include my uncles and my late father – would be just ahead, not too far ahead, of public taste. And ready to take a chance on talent. Things are never the same again after the great talent has spoken.”

Jews became tastemakers, Grade believes, because they had learned to listen out for any change in the wind. A key to survival became a tool in identifying and managing public taste without sacrificing a hardwon identity.

Schoenberg’s last words on a sheet of music paper were: “Ich bin ein kleiner Judenbub.” (I am a little Jewish boy.) Gustav Mahler used to say: “A Jew is like a swimmer with a short arm. He has to work harder to reach shore.” Jews made music out of an awareness of their Jewishness.

That perspective makes a generic concept of “Jewish music” uninteresting and largely irrelevant beside the transformations that Jews brought to music wherever they lived, and the changes that music wrought in the matter of being Jewish. Could anyone, I have always wondered, be Jewish without music? “It doesn’t matter which you heard,” sings Leonard Cohen, “the holy, or the broken.” Hallelujah!

• Music and the Jews begins on Radio 3 on 9 March.

Source Article from http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/mar/01/without-music-would-jews-be-jewish

6 Music festival review – Damon Albarn’s Everyday Robots is up there with his … – The Guardian

Posted by Google News | Industry News | Monday 3 March 2014 8:07 am

Only four years ago, the BBC’s alternative radio station 6 Music was threatened with closure and a petition was launched to save it. Today, audiences have doubled and if it’s not quite “the nation’s favourite”, it’s certainly one of it’s best-loved. Taking itself into the live arena – with a two-day, live-broadcast, mud-free indoor festival with an alternative-ish line-up over two beautifully-lit stages – is another clear progression. However, on the first day, the labyrinth-like Victoria Warehouse felt like a maze of music, the puzzle being how to see or hear any of it clearly. Kelis was unmistakable in a gold lamé dress and with enough hair to house a family of small animals, but her slinky, brass-sectioned pop soul sounded as if it was being rendered through a sock. Scheduling acts at exactly the same time meant difficult decisions abounded for festival-goers. The lucky few who made it into Metronomy‘s set on the minuscule second stage before it was closed to further entrants missed John Grant‘s guest appearance with Midlake, whose earnest, heartfelt, beautifully crafted, dull acoustic flute rock was enlivened by an echoey boom that sounded like a unlikely dub remix.

Securing Damon Albarn to debut his forthcoming solo album Everyday Robots with his new band the Heavy Seas as Friday headline was a coup. The songs are up there with his best: haunting personal reminiscences and beautifully wistful reflections on how technology has changed our lives. Alas, the pesky machinery of an inadequate speaker system let him down, and it was a struggle to hear the sublime melancholy of Hollow Ponds over the chattering crowd. The Blur man-turned-cultural-polymath soon realised he had a rare tough gig on his hands and confessed to unlikely nerves. “I should be used to it after all these years,” he sighed. It didn’t help that many in the Friday night crowd wanted to party. “Is he going to do Song 2? Whoo-hoo,” someone asked, although Albarn’s solitary dip into the Blur back catalogue was a B-side, All Your Life. The lovely pop Mr Tembo – about an orphaned baby elephant he met in Tanzania – upped the tempo, but his Everyday Robots material will fare much better in a different setting. One bloke was having a rare old time: the chap who’d wobbled in from the silent disco and was still punching the air with headphones on. Otherwise, it probably all sounded better on the radio.

• Did you catch this gig – or any other recently? Tell us about it using #GdnGig



Source Article from http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/mar/02/6-music-festival-review-damon-albarn-manchester

6 Music festival review – Damon Albarn’s Everyday Robots is up there with his … – The Guardian

Posted by Google News | Industry News | Monday 3 March 2014 3:05 am

Only four years ago, the BBC’s alternative radio station 6 Music was threatened with closure and a petition was launched to save it. Today, audiences have doubled and if it’s not quite “the nation’s favourite”, it’s certainly one of it’s best-loved. Taking itself into the live arena – with a two-day, live-broadcast, mud-free indoor festival with an alternative-ish line-up over two beautifully-lit stages – is another clear progression. However, on the first day, the labyrinth-like Victoria Warehouse felt like a maze of music, the puzzle being how to see or hear any of it clearly. Kelis was unmistakable in a gold lamé dress and with enough hair to house a family of small animals, but her slinky, brass-sectioned pop soul sounded as if it was being rendered through a sock. Scheduling acts at exactly the same time meant difficult decisions abounded for festival-goers. The lucky few who made it into Metronomy‘s set on the minuscule second stage before it was closed to further entrants missed John Grant‘s guest appearance with Midlake, whose earnest, heartfelt, beautifully crafted, dull acoustic flute rock was enlivened by an echoey boom that sounded like a unlikely dub remix.

Securing Damon Albarn to debut his forthcoming solo album Everyday Robots with his new band the Heavy Seas as Friday headline was a coup. The songs are up there with his best: haunting personal reminiscences and beautifully wistful reflections on how technology has changed our lives. Alas, the pesky machinery of an inadequate speaker system let him down, and it was a struggle to hear the sublime melancholy of Hollow Ponds over the chattering crowd. The Blur man-turned-cultural-polymath soon realised he had a rare tough gig on his hands and confessed to unlikely nerves. “I should be used to it after all these years,” he sighed. It didn’t help that many in the Friday night crowd wanted to party. “Is he going to do Song 2? Whoo-hoo,” someone asked, although Albarn’s solitary dip into the Blur back catalogue was a B-side, All Your Life. The lovely pop Mr Tembo – about an orphaned baby elephant he met in Tanzania – upped the tempo, but his Everyday Robots material will fare much better in a different setting. One bloke was having a rare old time: the chap who’d wobbled in from the silent disco and was still punching the air with headphones on. Otherwise, it probably all sounded better on the radio.

• Did you catch this gig – or any other recently? Tell us about it using #GdnGig



Source Article from http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/mar/02/6-music-festival-review-damon-albarn-manchester

‘Without music, would we even be Jewish?’ – The Guardian

Posted by Google News | Industry News | Sunday 2 March 2014 9:57 pm

Early in the 1980s, a pop legend in a mid-life lull reached back into ancient history for inspiration. The song did not come easy. Banging his head in frustration on a hotel-room floor, Leonard Cohen ground out about 80 stanzas before finally achieving the perfect anthem that is “Hallelujah”.

And no one got it.

CBS Records rejected the album. After a 1984 indie release, “Hallelujah” hung in limbo for a decade until Jeff Buckley, sighing deeply over a steel guitar, gave a soft, introspective reinterpretation. Buckley’s death by drowning in 1997 added a tragic aura to the song. The producers of Shrek called in Rufus Wainwright to record it for the soundtrack.

Cohen, having been fleeced by a felonious manager, went back on the road, singing “Hallelujah” in a trademark brown hat. X Factor hopefuls heard it and one belted it out to victory. Suddenly, “Hallelujah” was being downloaded 100,000 times a day and turning into the most covered pop song of the 21st century.

Amid the resurrective clamour, few grasped the leap that Cohen had made into the past. In the depths of despair, he had sought the “secret chord / That David played, and it pleased the Lord” across three millennia of human creation, appealing as one lost Jew to an ancestor for the primal gift of music.

I think I know where he was coming from. Growing up in a devout and learned north London home, I became aware of the taboos and tensions that prevailed between Jews and music. I learned, for instance, that Jews, mourning the destruction of their temple in 70AD, were forbidden by rabbis to sing or play music, all the way down to Moses Maimonides in the 12th century.

I knew, too, that a woman’s voice was proscribed by the Talmud as “nakedness” and that hearing a woman sing was equivalent to having an illicit sexual liaison. Thrilling as that may have seemed to my boyish mind, women’s singing really was taboo. As was listening to music for seven and a half dark weeks of the year and at times of personal loss. In sorrow, music was the first thing to be switched off.

Yet, amid these constraints, music was everywhere. At any solemnity or celebration, someone would start a tune. There would be singing at all Sabbath meals. Since my father was tone deaf, it was my grownup sisters who floated the melodies that I, at three or four years old, learned to harmonise by ear. Music was our means of togetherness. Without music, I remember thinking, would we even be Jewish?

So when Radio 3 commissioned me to make a three-part series about music and the Jews, I made the decision to avoid popular cliches of “Jewish music” – klezmer bands, cantorial wails, Ladino lullabies – and focus on some of the bigger questions. How, for instance, has music shaped the character and history of the Jews? How did Jews influence music? Biggest of all, can music define personal and collective identity?

I started where Cohen did, in search of the elusive King David: poet, musician, warrior, sexual malefactor and author of a book of psalms that forms the basis of worship for Jews and Christians alike. Though there isn’t  much evidence that David wrote all or any of the 71 psalms that bear his name, we cannot read them today without becoming aware of this musician’s private world, his inner ear.

Walking on the ramparts of Jerusalem, Yehoshua Engelman, a London-born rabbi turned psychotherapist, and I discuss Psalm 51, the one about sex with Bathsheba, the one where Cohen sings: “Your faith was strong but you needed proof / You saw her bathing on the roof / Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you.”

How could David, having sent a man to his death so he could steal his wife, sit down and write “Hallelujah”? “With great difficulty,” explains Yehoshua. “The Talmud tells us that David was punished for his sin.”

“How’s that?”

“He was deprived of his music for 10 years.”

Time stops still on the wall of David’s city. Yehoshua’s reading of Psalm 51 is that David was rendered musically, and perhaps sexually, impotent by guilt, an idea that does not exist until Freud adduces it in 20th-century Vienna. Could Jewish guilt be rooted in Jewish music?

American composer Steve Reich came to Jerusalem in the 1970s in search of his Jewish roots. His epiphany arrived while listening to the way Yemenites enunciate the Psalms. “I just had to chant a verse [with them],” he recalls, “and a melody popped into my head. What is that? It was an unconscious dredging up of Bulgarian rhythms from Béla Bartók, changing rhythms in The Rite of Spring, all unbidden. But it introduced a new kind of rhythmic writing for me, a specific idea of combining twos and threes into five/eights, seven/eights; something I hadn’t done before.” Reich considers his psalmic score, Tehillim, to be his towering masterpiece.

Tehillim were the songs of the temple. The search for their lost music is a bimillennial obsession. In 1905, a cantor called Abraham Zvi Idelsohn arrived in Jerusalem from South Africa and, like Bartók in the Balkans, began recording old men’s songs on wire machines. Applying new techniques of academic musicology, he surmised that the Jews of Yemen came closest to temple music. At the National Sound Archive in Jerusalem, I played Idelsohn’s cylinders and consider his boldest conclusion – that Yemenite-Jewish microtones lie at the root of Gregorian chant, and hence of all Christian music.

The creative potential of this source remains limitless. The music of modern Israel is driven by Yemenite singers – Bracha Zefira, Shoshana Damari, Ofra Haza and Achinoam Nini, known as Noa. All are women, therefore silenced by Judaism and Islam. “I am Yemenite and I am Jewish,” declares Noa, who sang on the Eurovision song contest with a Palestinian, Mira Awad. “You find a way to work around the restrictions and that gives you a lot of strength and develops your creativity to amazing heights.”

In a Tel Aviv apartment, I meet the anthropologist Tova Gamliel, an authority on mourning, and ask her to demonstrate the oldest known Jewish sound – the keening of Yemenite women. Gamliel stands, composes herself and sings a visceral, chilling trope that freezes my fingers to the chair. “The role,” she explains, “is to make people cry, to express sorrow in a very aesthetic performance. But the song has a text – the life of the departed – and the singer can vary that according to what the person deserves, good or bad. She is telling the others: when you die, I may not be so generous.”

The power of life after death was vested in a woman. “She was the only one who had this right. People were very afraid of her, very respectful,” says Gamliel. When the keening ends, the woman recomposes herself, then tells a joke. Life must go on.

Myriam Fuks from Brussels is an eighth-generation Yiddish singer whose repertoire has passed from mother to daughter for two centuries. Myriam’s mother, Frania, sang in Warsaw theatres, survived the Warsaw ghetto. Myriam wakes in the morning with fragments of Frania’s hundreds of songs. Unable to remember the refrain, she asks the pianist Martha Argerich to improvise for her on a new recording. The need to keep memory alive by song, I discover, a driving Jewish motivation.

It was the late 1820s before Jews were allowed into western music. There had been isolated intrusions – Salomone Rossi in Monteverdi’s Mantua, Lorenzo da Ponte in Mozart’s Vienna – but it took a pair of bankers’ sons from Berlin, Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer, to change the culture. Mendelssohn, aside from his own concert works, restored Bach’s oratorios to public performance – “giving classical music its Old Testament”, according to one of my contributors. Meyerbeer blew out the walls of existing opera houses with gargantuan music dramas, paving the way for Richard Wagner and the romantic imagination.

Wagner, in a notorious 1850 pamphlet, “Das Judenthum in der Musik” (“Judaism in Music”), named Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer as symptoms of the Jews’ “infinitely small” ability to write music. He demanded the exclusion of Jews from German music, a blueprint for Hitler’s ethnic cleansing. Like most bigots, Wagner lived in fear of the other, the unknown, the unimagined. At the end of his century Arnold Schoenberg, exasperated to his Jewish core by the tonal corsets of German music, ripped them off in two creative revolutions, atonal and serial. Orchestral music would never sound the same again.

Around the same time, on the front stoops of New York brownstones, the sons of Jewish refugees from Russian pogroms and of former African-Caribbean slaves from the deep south found an unsuspected common taste for busy rhythms, minor keys and blue notes. Their conversation signalled the birth of pop music.

How Jewish was that? George Gershwin, the most restless and creative of the early writers, never concealed his Jewish roots. When he sang “It Ain’t Necessarily So“, he not only challenged Scripture with Talmudic argument, he actually sang it in the traditional mode of Talmudic study. Visiting the Yiddish theatre star grandparents of the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, Gershwin talked of the freygish mode as the key to America’s popular music. Freygish is Yiddish for questioning. What Jews added to pop music was a quizzical note.

Michael Grade, heir to an entertainment dynasty and ex-chair of the BBC, explains why Jews were so big in showbiz. “There’s something in the DNA of the Jews that makes us adept at assimilating,” he explains. “There’s a great openness to what’s going on. We are watching the audience, trying to keep in touch with what the audience wants. The best of the impresarios – I’d include my uncles and my late father – would be just ahead, not too far ahead, of public taste. And ready to take a chance on talent. Things are never the same again after the great talent has spoken.”

Jews became tastemakers, Grade believes, because they had learned to listen out for any change in the wind. A key to survival became a tool in identifying and managing public taste without sacrificing a hardwon identity.

Schoenberg’s last words on a sheet of music paper were: “Ich bin ein kleiner Judenbub.” (I am a little Jewish boy.) Gustav Mahler used to say: “A Jew is like a swimmer with a short arm. He has to work harder to reach shore.” Jews made music out of an awareness of their Jewishness.

That perspective makes a generic concept of “Jewish music” uninteresting and largely irrelevant beside the transformations that Jews brought to music wherever they lived, and the changes that music wrought in the matter of being Jewish. Could anyone, I have always wondered, be Jewish without music? “It doesn’t matter which you heard,” sings Leonard Cohen, “the holy, or the broken.” Hallelujah!

• Music and the Jews begins on Radio 3 on 9 March.

Source Article from http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/mar/01/without-music-would-jews-be-jewish

The National bring first ever BBC 6 Music Festival to a close – NME.com

Posted by Google News | Industry News | Sunday 2 March 2014 9:57 pm
The first ever BBC 6 Music festival ended yesterday (March 1) with a headline performance from melancholic Brooklyn rockers, The National, at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse.

The group’s eighteen song set spanned across their six album career and ended with an acoustic rendition of ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’, which was un-amplified by microphones and caused the crowd to sing frontman Matt Berninger’s lyrics back to him.

The band opened with ‘Don’t Swallow The Cap’, from 2013′s ‘Trouble Will Find Me’, then segued into ‘I Should Live In Salt’ from the same record after taking to the stage at 21:35. Berninger climbed over the barriers and into the 5,000-strong audience during ‘Mr November’ and stood atop a speaker during ‘Fake Empire’, in an energetic show lasting an hour and twenty minutes.

Earlier in the day, Scott Devendorf and Aaron Dessner from the band joined Steve Lamacq for a conversation at the 6 Music Fringe event which was also taking place alongside the live music. Dessner explained how he felt their latest album, ‘Trouble Will Find Me’, was their most liberated record: “It’s more relaxed, and I think you finally here more of the musicality of the band… It’s less tense than ‘High Violet’,” he said.

He also revealed how ‘Squalour Victoria’, which came mid-way through their headline slot, almost made it onto the album ‘Boxer’ as an instrumental: “At the last day of mixing, late in the night, he sang to it, and Peter Katis the producer got really upset and said ‘Matt, you’ve just ruined the song’, and we defended him (Matt) because we could see that it was a good song, but it was a funny moment.”

On the second stage at the same time Mercury Prize winner James Blake adapted his usual repertoire to suit the venue, which is usually a club space.

The artist wore a 1-800 t-shirt referencing his side-project 1800-dinosaur and reworked material from his self-titled debut and the award-winning ‘Overgrown’ with added loops and samples. He followed on from Wild Beasts whose frontman Hayden Thorpe spoke of their love of 6 Music before the show: “I think this festival goes to show what a loss it would’ve been if 6 Music had closed down. You’d have been losing a whole strata of art. It’s one of the main places to find creative music. It’s quite a special event. We can’t thank 6 Music enough for having us and supporting us. They play you when no-one else will, and we really appreciated that when we were beginning. “

The Kendal-born art-rock four-piece played songs from their new album ‘Present Tense’, which cameout on Feb 24th. “You spend years designing songs to have these epic moments of subtlety and when people don’t know the songs those moments don’t quite work but now the album’s out the response has been fantastic,” Thorpe told NME before the show. The band described Manchester as their adopted home and relished playing: It’s a proper rave venue. There’s no soap in the toilets. I like the feel of this place.”

Bombay Bicycle Club, who also released their latest album in February – ‘So Long See You Tomorrow’ – played a ten song selection of new record favourites plus ‘Always Like This’ from debut ‘I Had The Blues But Shook Them Loose’. “I think it’s amazing this festival exists considering that not long ago 6 Music didn’t even look like it was going to have a future. To turn it around in such a short space of time is amazing,” bassist Ed Nash told NME before the gig. “They also have one of the best festival line-ups I’ve ever seen,” he continued.

Also performing at the festival were Franz Ferdinand and Jake Bugg, who took to the same stages as Manchester artists Kiran Leonard and PINS.

Source Article from http://www.nme.com/news/the-national/75806

6 Music festival review – Damon Albarn’s Everyday Robots is up there with his … – The Guardian

Posted by Google News | Industry News | Sunday 2 March 2014 9:57 pm

Only four years ago, the BBC’s alternative radio station 6 Music was threatened with closure and a petition was launched to save it. Today, audiences have doubled and if it’s not quite “the nation’s favourite”, it’s certainly one of it’s best-loved. Taking itself into the live arena – with a two-day, live-broadcast, mud-free indoor festival with an alternative-ish line-up over two beautifully-lit stages – is another clear progression. However, on the first day, the labyrinth-like Victoria Warehouse felt like a maze of music, the puzzle being how to see or hear any of it clearly. Kelis was unmistakable in a gold lamé dress and with enough hair to house a family of small animals, but her slinky, brass-sectioned pop soul sounded as if it was being rendered through a sock. Scheduling acts at exactly the same time meant difficult decisions abounded for festival-goers. The lucky few who made it into Metronomy‘s set on the minuscule second stage before it was closed to further entrants missed John Grant‘s guest appearance with Midlake, whose earnest, heartfelt, beautifully crafted, dull acoustic flute rock was enlivened by an echoey boom that sounded like a unlikely dub remix.

Securing Damon Albarn to debut his forthcoming solo album Everyday Robots with his new band the Heavy Seas as Friday headline was a coup. The songs are up there with his best: haunting personal reminiscences and beautifully wistful reflections on how technology has changed our lives. Alas, the pesky machinery of an inadequate speaker system let him down, and it was a struggle to hear the sublime melancholy of Hollow Ponds over the chattering crowd. The Blur man-turned-cultural-polymath soon realised he had a rare tough gig on his hands and confessed to unlikely nerves. “I should be used to it after all these years,” he sighed. It didn’t help that many in the Friday night crowd wanted to party. “Is he going to do Song 2? Whoo-hoo,” someone asked, although Albarn’s solitary dip into the Blur back catalogue was a B-side, All Your Life. The lovely pop Mr Tembo – about an orphaned baby elephant he met in Tanzania – upped the tempo, but his Everyday Robots material will fare much better in a different setting. One bloke was having a rare old time: the chap who’d wobbled in from the silent disco and was still punching the air with headphones on. Otherwise, it probably all sounded better on the radio.

• Did you catch this gig – or any other recently? Tell us about it using #GdnGig



Source Article from http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/mar/02/6-music-festival-review-damon-albarn-manchester

The Week in Music Writing – Complex.com

Posted by Google News | Industry News | Sunday 2 March 2014 9:57 pm

There is as much good music writing now as there has ever been. There are gross inequalities in the system still, in who gets heard and who is silent. But more than ever, people are able to let their experiences and expressions be heard.

Thinkpieces, essays, reviews and features: the internet has overwhelmed us with writing. There’s so much of it out there, and it’s all so easy to lose perspective. The more our Facebook feeds tell us what’s worth reading, the less likely we are to stumble across something outside of our worldview.

In an attempt to get a handle on all of the music writing out there, we’ve decided to put everyone up on the music writing we’ve enjoyed reading during the course of the week. If you’ve read something that we’ve missed, feel free to put it in the comments.

Written by David Drake (@somanyshrimp), Brendan Frederick (@bfred), and Kyle Kramer (@KyleKramer).

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That Chop on the Upbeat by John Jeremiah Sullivan for Oxford American 
Every internet-savvy music nerd has experienced it: a lost night spent wading through endless YouTube streams while researching some newly discovered corner of musical history. Seasoned magazine writer John Jeremiah Sullivan admits that a pretty intense YouTube binge fueled this 7,000 word article that strives to uncover the roots of popular Jamaican music. The first half digs into the origins of The Wailers—namely the group’s forgotten, pre-Bob Marley leader, Bratty—while the second half goes even further back and tries to pinpoint the origin of the accented offbeat that became the defining musical feature of ska and reggae music. He makes a pretty compelling argument that the sound can be traced back to the records of an obscure Memphis R&B singer named Roscoe Jenkins, exposing the fascinating influence of Southern American jump-blues on 1950s Jamaica. Like all investigations of musical evolution, Sullivan admits that this one has too many complicated layers to truly find that singular origin story. But it sure seems like he had fun trying.Brendan Frederick


Word Is Bond: Black Hippy and the Power of Repetition by Jayson Greene (@Jayson_Greene) for Pitchfork 
Jayson Greene discusses the way our brains are wired to recognize patterns in music, such as references to other lyrics, and he points to the way Black Hippy’s rappers use this trick to develop a sense of unity throughout their songs. With the release of ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron, it’s a unique take on what makes the Cali crew a crew and a new way of thinking about what happens when you listen to music. —Kyle Kramer


It Might Blow Up, and It Will Go Pop by Sean Fennessy (@Sean_Fennessy) for Grantland 
Sean Fennessy’s widely-discussed piece for Grantland jumps off from the success of novelty rap song “Achy Breaky 2″ by Buck 22 and Billy Ray Cyrus to make a wider point about the state of hip-hop and popular music more broadly. He argues that the sudden success of the song is “that moment when commercial instinct overpowers all good taste.” He goes on to lay out a map covering the major constellations of hip-hop as it stands today. He makes twin points about how “Achy Breaky 2″ is a canary in the coal mine: first, that new rap songs are being weighed down by the “detritus” of other styles; and second, that hip-hop is a genre without center, or as he put it, “a ghost ship, piloted by the swaying waters of What’s Hot. A genre can withstand only so many novelty songs before it becomes a novelty.”

I would contest that final point on the facts; hip-hop has always been a genre packed with novelty songs, and the success of one is no more indicative of hip-hop’s health than the success of Rednex meant the death of electronic dance music. There is definitely a sense among hip-hop fans that the genre is becoming whiter by the day, that the Mac Millers and Macklemores feel more comfortable—and more popular—than ever. (Former Music Editor Dave Bry wrote an article about this phenomenon last week.) But Fennessy has a good point about hip-hop’s seeming directionless-ness, as the separation of artist, sound, hit, and style has left the genre feeling like a bunch of individual pieces detached from the wider whole.

I would argue that the problem is being looked at backwards; it isn’t that hip-hop doesn’t have a huge audience still generating creative, forward-thinking music. But perhaps the investment has all but dried up with the industry’s fall. At the same time, measuring what is popular with the genre’s core audience has becoming increasingly complex and disjointed. Until DatPiff and WorldStar streams are incorporated into chart mechanisms and “what’s hot” to the media isn’t primarily filtered through an inefficient blog A&R system, until hip-hop can return to the Rhythmic radio format, rap music will remain the primarily underground phenomenon that it has become today. —David Drake

Free Samples by Geeta Dayal (@geetadayal) for Slate
On Valentine’s Day, De La Soul released their albums for free online. As it turned out, many of the MP3s they had uploaded had originated with a Russian music pirating site. Perhaps this was a sly commentary on the confusing status of De La Soul’s current masters—which remain unavailable on streaming services and digital download sites like iTunes. Geeta Dayal took a closer look, interviewing a number of sources to get to the bottom of why a platinum-selling act like De La Soul has a catalog that remains under glass, and looks at the ramifications for history. One of her sources suggests that “De La Soul’s contemporaries—groups like A Tribe Called Quest—vastly exceed De La Soul in their currency with a younger crowd, in part because their music is much more readily available.” —David Drake

RELATED: The Week In Music Writing [Last Week]

Tags: the-week-in-music-writing

Source Article from http://www.complex.com/music/2014/02/the-week-in-music-writing-march-2

America’s Most Hated Bands, by State – PolicyMic

Posted by Google News | Industry News | Sunday 2 March 2014 9:57 pm

Earlier this week, we revealed your state’s favorite band. Mostly, the results made sense — Springsteen for New Jersey, George Strait for Texas — but some were pretty bizarre — Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes for Pennsylvania, for starters. I mean, really, were the creators of that map just polling art school students in Philadelphia?

But now some Tumblr wizard has given us a far more coherent sense of state identity: a map of each state’s most hated band:

Image Credit: Tumblr

This is a representation of the least-listened-to artist of the Top 100 on Spotify for each state. That may not sound very scientific (hint: it’s not), but the results are actually pretty legit:

There are some random entries: Kansas hates Tupac, which makes sense since there isn’t enough concrete out in Kansas for listeners to feel where Pac is coming from. And, of course, Hawaii hates Sufjan.

But then there are some pretty definite regional differences: The East Coast hates country. I’ve never heard of Jason Aldean, but he’s wearing a cowboy hat in every one of his pictures on Google Images, so it makes perfect sense that he’s despised in New York. And, despite the fact that all the housewives of Connecticut love watching Blake Shelton on The Voice, they still can’t stand to hear him sing.

Things are a little more bitter and focused on in-fighting in the South and Midwest: Missouri is obviously jealous Atlanta got Andre 3000 and Big Boi, while all St. Louis got was Chingy and Nelly.

Alabama seems to hate ch-ch-changes in its politics and music. And the fact Florida loves Rick Ross and hates The Head and the Heart makes complete sense, because even Mozart and Rick Ross have more in common than The Head and the Heart and Rick Ross.

If these maps prove one thing, though, it’s that nothing brings states together like a good healthy hatred for R. Kelly.

Source Article from http://www.policymic.com/articles/83811/america-s-most-hated-bands-by-state

‘Without music, would we even be Jewish?’ – The Guardian

Posted by Google News | Industry News | Sunday 2 March 2014 4:56 pm

Early in the 1980s, a pop legend in a mid-life lull reached back into ancient history for inspiration. The song did not come easy. Banging his head in frustration on a hotel-room floor, Leonard Cohen ground out about 80 stanzas before finally achieving the perfect anthem that is “Hallelujah”.

And no one got it.

CBS Records rejected the album. After a 1984 indie release, “Hallelujah” hung in limbo for a decade until Jeff Buckley, sighing deeply over a steel guitar, gave a soft, introspective reinterpretation. Buckley’s death by drowning in 1997 added a tragic aura to the song. The producers of Shrek called in Rufus Wainwright to record it for the soundtrack.

Cohen, having been fleeced by a felonious manager, went back on the road, singing “Hallelujah” in a trademark brown hat. X Factor hopefuls heard it and one belted it out to victory. Suddenly, “Hallelujah” was being downloaded 100,000 times a day and turning into the most covered pop song of the 21st century.

Amid the resurrective clamour, few grasped the leap that Cohen had made into the past. In the depths of despair, he had sought the “secret chord / That David played, and it pleased the Lord” across three millennia of human creation, appealing as one lost Jew to an ancestor for the primal gift of music.

I think I know where he was coming from. Growing up in a devout and learned north London home, I became aware of the taboos and tensions that prevailed between Jews and music. I learned, for instance, that Jews, mourning the destruction of their temple in 70AD, were forbidden by rabbis to sing or play music, all the way down to Moses Maimonides in the 12th century.

I knew, too, that a woman’s voice was proscribed by the Talmud as “nakedness” and that hearing a woman sing was equivalent to having an illicit sexual liaison. Thrilling as that may have seemed to my boyish mind, women’s singing really was taboo. As was listening to music for seven and a half dark weeks of the year and at times of personal loss. In sorrow, music was the first thing to be switched off.

Yet, amid these constraints, music was everywhere. At any solemnity or celebration, someone would start a tune. There would be singing at all Sabbath meals. Since my father was tone deaf, it was my grownup sisters who floated the melodies that I, at three or four years old, learned to harmonise by ear. Music was our means of togetherness. Without music, I remember thinking, would we even be Jewish?

So when Radio 3 commissioned me to make a three-part series about music and the Jews, I made the decision to avoid popular cliches of “Jewish music” – klezmer bands, cantorial wails, Ladino lullabies – and focus on some of the bigger questions. How, for instance, has music shaped the character and history of the Jews? How did Jews influence music? Biggest of all, can music define personal and collective identity?

I started where Cohen did, in search of the elusive King David: poet, musician, warrior, sexual malefactor and author of a book of psalms that forms the basis of worship for Jews and Christians alike. Though there isn’t  much evidence that David wrote all or any of the 71 psalms that bear his name, we cannot read them today without becoming aware of this musician’s private world, his inner ear.

Walking on the ramparts of Jerusalem, Yehoshua Engelman, a London-born rabbi turned psychotherapist, and I discuss Psalm 51, the one about sex with Bathsheba, the one where Cohen sings: “Your faith was strong but you needed proof / You saw her bathing on the roof / Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you.”

How could David, having sent a man to his death so he could steal his wife, sit down and write “Hallelujah”? “With great difficulty,” explains Yehoshua. “The Talmud tells us that David was punished for his sin.”

“How’s that?”

“He was deprived of his music for 10 years.”

Time stops still on the wall of David’s city. Yehoshua’s reading of Psalm 51 is that David was rendered musically, and perhaps sexually, impotent by guilt, an idea that does not exist until Freud adduces it in 20th-century Vienna. Could Jewish guilt be rooted in Jewish music?

American composer Steve Reich came to Jerusalem in the 1970s in search of his Jewish roots. His epiphany arrived while listening to the way Yemenites enunciate the Psalms. “I just had to chant a verse [with them],” he recalls, “and a melody popped into my head. What is that? It was an unconscious dredging up of Bulgarian rhythms from Béla Bartók, changing rhythms in The Rite of Spring, all unbidden. But it introduced a new kind of rhythmic writing for me, a specific idea of combining twos and threes into five/eights, seven/eights; something I hadn’t done before.” Reich considers his psalmic score, Tehillim, to be his towering masterpiece.

Tehillim were the songs of the temple. The search for their lost music is a bimillennial obsession. In 1905, a cantor called Abraham Zvi Idelsohn arrived in Jerusalem from South Africa and, like Bartók in the Balkans, began recording old men’s songs on wire machines. Applying new techniques of academic musicology, he surmised that the Jews of Yemen came closest to temple music. At the National Sound Archive in Jerusalem, I played Idelsohn’s cylinders and consider his boldest conclusion – that Yemenite-Jewish microtones lie at the root of Gregorian chant, and hence of all Christian music.

The creative potential of this source remains limitless. The music of modern Israel is driven by Yemenite singers – Bracha Zefira, Shoshana Damari, Ofra Haza and Achinoam Nini, known as Noa. All are women, therefore silenced by Judaism and Islam. “I am Yemenite and I am Jewish,” declares Noa, who sang on the Eurovision song contest with a Palestinian, Mira Awad. “You find a way to work around the restrictions and that gives you a lot of strength and develops your creativity to amazing heights.”

In a Tel Aviv apartment, I meet the anthropologist Tova Gamliel, an authority on mourning, and ask her to demonstrate the oldest known Jewish sound – the keening of Yemenite women. Gamliel stands, composes herself and sings a visceral, chilling trope that freezes my fingers to the chair. “The role,” she explains, “is to make people cry, to express sorrow in a very aesthetic performance. But the song has a text – the life of the departed – and the singer can vary that according to what the person deserves, good or bad. She is telling the others: when you die, I may not be so generous.”

The power of life after death was vested in a woman. “She was the only one who had this right. People were very afraid of her, very respectful,” says Gamliel. When the keening ends, the woman recomposes herself, then tells a joke. Life must go on.

Myriam Fuks from Brussels is an eighth-generation Yiddish singer whose repertoire has passed from mother to daughter for two centuries. Myriam’s mother, Frania, sang in Warsaw theatres, survived the Warsaw ghetto. Myriam wakes in the morning with fragments of Frania’s hundreds of songs. Unable to remember the refrain, she asks the pianist Martha Argerich to improvise for her on a new recording. The need to keep memory alive by song, I discover, a driving Jewish motivation.

It was the late 1820s before Jews were allowed into western music. There had been isolated intrusions – Salomone Rossi in Monteverdi’s Mantua, Lorenzo da Ponte in Mozart’s Vienna – but it took a pair of bankers’ sons from Berlin, Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer, to change the culture. Mendelssohn, aside from his own concert works, restored Bach’s oratorios to public performance – “giving classical music its Old Testament”, according to one of my contributors. Meyerbeer blew out the walls of existing opera houses with gargantuan music dramas, paving the way for Richard Wagner and the romantic imagination.

Wagner, in a notorious 1850 pamphlet, “Das Judenthum in der Musik” (“Judaism in Music”), named Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer as symptoms of the Jews’ “infinitely small” ability to write music. He demanded the exclusion of Jews from German music, a blueprint for Hitler’s ethnic cleansing. Like most bigots, Wagner lived in fear of the other, the unknown, the unimagined. At the end of his century Arnold Schoenberg, exasperated to his Jewish core by the tonal corsets of German music, ripped them off in two creative revolutions, atonal and serial. Orchestral music would never sound the same again.

Around the same time, on the front stoops of New York brownstones, the sons of Jewish refugees from Russian pogroms and of former African-Caribbean slaves from the deep south found an unsuspected common taste for busy rhythms, minor keys and blue notes. Their conversation signalled the birth of pop music.

How Jewish was that? George Gershwin, the most restless and creative of the early writers, never concealed his Jewish roots. When he sang “It Ain’t Necessarily So“, he not only challenged Scripture with Talmudic argument, he actually sang it in the traditional mode of Talmudic study. Visiting the Yiddish theatre star grandparents of the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, Gershwin talked of the freygish mode as the key to America’s popular music. Freygish is Yiddish for questioning. What Jews added to pop music was a quizzical note.

Michael Grade, heir to an entertainment dynasty and ex-chair of the BBC, explains why Jews were so big in showbiz. “There’s something in the DNA of the Jews that makes us adept at assimilating,” he explains. “There’s a great openness to what’s going on. We are watching the audience, trying to keep in touch with what the audience wants. The best of the impresarios – I’d include my uncles and my late father – would be just ahead, not too far ahead, of public taste. And ready to take a chance on talent. Things are never the same again after the great talent has spoken.”

Jews became tastemakers, Grade believes, because they had learned to listen out for any change in the wind. A key to survival became a tool in identifying and managing public taste without sacrificing a hardwon identity.

Schoenberg’s last words on a sheet of music paper were: “Ich bin ein kleiner Judenbub.” (I am a little Jewish boy.) Gustav Mahler used to say: “A Jew is like a swimmer with a short arm. He has to work harder to reach shore.” Jews made music out of an awareness of their Jewishness.

That perspective makes a generic concept of “Jewish music” uninteresting and largely irrelevant beside the transformations that Jews brought to music wherever they lived, and the changes that music wrought in the matter of being Jewish. Could anyone, I have always wondered, be Jewish without music? “It doesn’t matter which you heard,” sings Leonard Cohen, “the holy, or the broken.” Hallelujah!

• Music and the Jews begins on Radio 3 on 9 March.

Source Article from http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/mar/01/without-music-would-jews-be-jewish

Damon Albarn, Kelis perform at BBC 6 Music Festival – watch – Digital Spy UK

Posted by Google News | Industry News | Sunday 2 March 2014 4:56 pm

Source Article from http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/music/news/a554831/damon-albarn-kelis-perform-at-bbc-6-music-festival-watch.html

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