Patti Smith has a new memoir on the way

The inimitable Patti Smith will release a new memoir, Year of the Monkey, on September 24. A blend of reality and dreams, illustrated with Smith's Polaroids, the book captures her experience of a single year, 2016. From the publisher:

Following a run of New Year’s concerts at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore, Patti Smith finds herself tramping the coast of Santa Cruz, about to embark on a year of solitary wandering. Unfettered by logic or time, she draws us into her private wonderland with no design, yet heeding signs–including a talking sign that looms above her, prodding and sparring like the Cheshire Cat. In February, a surreal lunar year begins, bringing with it unexpected turns, heightened mischief, and inescapable sorrow. In a stranger’s words, “Anything is possible: after all, it’s the Year of the Monkey.” For Smith – inveterately curious, always exploring, tracking thoughts, writing – the year evolves as one of reckoning with the changes in life’s gyre: with loss, aging, and a dramatic shift in the political landscape of America.

Smith melds the western landscape with her own dreamscape. Taking us from California to the Arizona desert; to a Kentucky farm as the amanuensis of a friend in crisis; to the hospital room of a valued mentor; and by turns to remembered and imagined places, this haunting memoir blends fact and fiction with poetic mastery. The unexpected happens; grief and disillusionment set in. But as Smith heads toward a new decade in her own life, she offers this balm to the reader: her wisdom, wit, gimlet eye, and above all, a rugged hope for a better world.

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Watch The Cure play the "Disintegration" album in its entirety

Last night, The Cure celebrated the 30th anniversary of their Disintegration LP by playing the entire album at the Sydney Opera House. They opened with an array of b-sides and demo tracks, moved into Disintegration, and encored with "Burn" from The Crow soundtrack, "Three Imaginary Boys" from their 1979 debut album, and a cover of Wendy Waldman's "Pirate Ships." Here's the full setlist.

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Hotwheels Xylophone

5MadMovieMakers shows us the perfect way to ruin a xylophone: "A total of 374 black-and-white '65 Ford Mustangs hit some black-and-white xylophone keys to play the world's first die-cast song. ... Yes this video is edited on the computer but it would've been difficult to film otherwise. Filmed with a Sony VG30H camcorder and edited with Adobe Premiere Pro 2019." Read the rest

On the way, collection of Prince's jams made famous by others

On June 7, the Prince estate will release Originals, a compilation of familiar songs that the artist put to tape as demos but eventually gave to other musicians to record and release. Included are the original versions of killer Prince songs later recorded by Sheila E., Kenny Rogers, Martika, The Family, Sinead O'Connor, and the Bangles. Gavin Edwards writes in the New York Times:

When Prince saw the Bangles on MTV, he wanted to be some kind of friend to the band, and after making a guest appearance at one of their shows, offered them a song.

“I knew it was an incredible gift,” said the Bangles singer-guitarist Susanna Hoffs. “It was like putting on the slipper in a fairy tale.” She drove across Los Angeles to Sunset Sound studio, nervous and excited for the charming Prince to hand-deliver the song to her. As it turned out, he was busy recording, so she picked up a cassette tape and drove back to the Bangles’ studio.

“We all hovered around a cassette machine,” Hoffs said. They listened to the tape, which had two songs: “Manic Monday” and “Jealous Girl.”

The band unanimously opted for “Manic Monday,” which rewrote Prince’s hit “1999” with lyrics about a woman’s 9-to-5 travails instead of a nuclear apocalypse. (“Jealous Girl” was later sung by Bonnie Raitt but remains unreleased.) They recorded the song, carefully following his blueprint — except they rearranged the bridge. “His bridge had almost a psychedelic, classical feel,” Hoffs said. “Looking back, why didn’t we do it that way?”

Pre-order "Prince: Originals" (Amazon)

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San Francisco: Kronos Quartet's Kronos Festival 2019, May 30 - June 1

San Francisco: It's time again for the always-outstanding annual Kronos Festival, several days of fantastic global and experimental music curated by the seminal avant/classical/global Kronos Quartet. Every Kronos Festival I've attended has turned me on to a spectrum of new sounds, artists, scenes, and regions. From KQED:

At SFJAZZ on June 1, singer-composer Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté of Malian group Trio Da Kali performs her new Fifty for the Future piece inspired by tegere tulon, the impromptu hand-clapping songs and dances Malian girls create in the countryside. Ethnomusicologist Lucy Duran, who specializes in African music, will give a pre-show talk contextualizing Diabaté's performance.

On May 30, the quartet will also premiere a Fifty for the Future piece by Stanford professor Mark Applebaum, whose playful compositions have been known to include junk-as-instruments, non-musical players such as florists and even a piece for three conductors and no musicians. Plus, there's a new work Fifty for the Future work by Missy Mazzoli, a boundary-pushing rising star of the classical world and the Chicago Symphony's current composer-in-residence.

Also on May 30, Kronos Quartet pays homage to the work of left-wing historian Howard Zinn. Ethio-jazz singer-songwriter Meklit, cultural critic Rebecca Solnit, folk musician Lee Knight and poet/actor Michael Wayne Turner III will accompany the musicians with readings from works by Zinn and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Zinn's A People's History of the United States highlights how abolitionists, labor organizers, feminists, civil rights leaders and other dissenters shaped American history.) Meklit performs with Kronos once again on June 1.

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How software sterilized rock music

It's not just pitch correction: with modern music-making software, it's as easy to snap analog recordings of instruments to a time signature as it is to program EDM. When everything is quantized, says Rick Beato, it loses its humanity—and becomes boring.

People actually do this. This is why everything sounds like it's on a computer now. Because it is. ... A live drummer turned into a drum machine

Beato's a master of the software and he shows you how to do it, so his critique is technically instructive instead of just a YouTube rant about something he doesn't like. The tracks he uses really do sound uncannily "off" after being quantized. But I can't help but point out that now I want to get Beat Detective.

A good terrible project would be to quantize hits by The Beatles and other artists where isolated tracks are readily available, then reupload them to YouTube without disclosing what's been done, and watching as the quantized versions displace the originals in online media embeds, and TV and radio play, because so many people just get everything from YouTube.

For years I subtly photoshopped famous photos and paintings, posted them at inflated dimensions to fool Google Images into thinking they were the highest-quality versions, and waited for them to turn up elsewhere. I've spotted "my" versions in news stories, TV segments, even a handful of books and magazines. I have no plans to disclose them, but if you ever see, say, Henry Kissinger with mouths for eyes in a school textbook, you know who to blame. Read the rest

The "Uber of Live Music" will charge you $1100-1600 to book a house show, pay musicians $100

Sofar Sounds is an "uber for live music" startup that just closed a $25m round of investment for its product, which books house-shows -- where musicians show up and play in your living room for you and your friends -- at $1100-$1600/each. Read the rest

Video for Patti Smith's gorgeous tribute to avant-garde poet/dramatist Antonin Artaud

The great Patti Smith collaborated with New York City experimental audio artists Soundwalk Collective on the forthcoming LP "Peyote Dance," a celebration of French avant-garde dramatist and poet Antonin Artaud (1896-1948). I've been fascinated with Artaud's "Theater of Cruelty" since my first exposure to him in my friend Adam Parfrey (RIP) and Bob Black's seminal 1989 anthology Rants and Incendiary Tracts: Voices of Desperate Illumination 1558–Present. Knowing Smith's admiration for French 19th century poets like Arthur Rimbaud, this glorious homage to Artaud makes perfect surrealist sense.

"The will of that man, the energy," Smith said. "If we, the living, send out radio and energy waves, the energy of those last poems is still reverberating."

Above, the track "Ivry." Background from the Bella Union record label:

The Peyote Dance focuses on a brief part of Artaud’s time, who travelled to Mexico City in early 1936 to deliver a series of lectures at the University of Mexico on topics including Surrealism, Marxism and theatre. In the summer, he travelled by train towards the Chihuahua region, and saddled by horse to the Tarahumara mountains with the help of a mestizo guide – which the album’s opening track, recited by Gael Garcia Bernal, evokes. Artaud was drawn to the story of the Rarámuri: Native Indian people who live in the Norogachi region of Mexico’s Copper Canyon, the Sierra Tarahumara. One of Artaud’s goals was to find a peyote shaman who could heal him; allowing him to recover from an opioid addiction.

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Watch this 1986 report about house music on Chicago's local TV news

In 1986, Chicago's local TV news discovered the city's pioneering house music scene, featuring the likes of Farley "Jackmaster" Funk and Steve "Silk" Hurley. From this groove came the groove of all grooves.

Below, two classics of the genre:

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Lou Rawls sings about why you should take your blood pressure medication (1970s)

In the 1970s, the great R&B singer and actor Lou Rawls urged everyone to take their high blood pressure medication. With soul. "Do it for them." A public service announcement from the Ad Council.

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Listen to a young Edward Furlong sing The Doors

Just after teenage Edward Furlong blew up in Terminator 2, he released an album, titled "Hold On Tight," in Japan. It also enjoyed a CD and vinyl release in South Korea and sweet sweet cassette in Indonesia. Here's 14-year-old Edward doing The Doors' "People Are Strange."

(via r/ObscureMedia)

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Watch the new short film by Mike Mills and The National

"I Am Easy to Find" is a short film by esteemed experimental (and Hollywood) director Mike Mills in collaboration with The National. A two-way street, Mills took inspiration from The National's new album, also named "I Am Easy To Find," while the film, starring Alicia Vikander, fueled The National's songwriting. (I've heard the record, to be released on Friday, and it is truly magnificent.)

“The National gave me the stems for their songs, some were sketches some were finished and encouraged and allowed me to create my own versions of the songs to score the film,” Mills said in a statement. “The album then features different versions of these same 7 songs – and 9 new songs which sometimes refer to the themes, texts, ideas from the film – but are their own work, their own piece of art.”

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Multi-talented fellow beatboxes while playing the flute

My friend taught himself to beatbox and play the flute. You might want to unmute this one. from r/toptalent

Henceforth, this genre shall be known as hip-prog.

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Cable management with Bob Marley

Perfect for those who dread coiling their patch cables.

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Man builds 15 ft-tall pianos

David Klavens was told that pianos are made one way, all over the world, and that's that. But he wanted to make an enormously tall piano, "emanating the sound" to the audience instead of the ceiling, so he did.

David Klavins is a pianist who, for years, could not find pianos that made the sounds he imagined in his head. So he began building pianos to his own specifications in a workshop in Vác, Hungary, and they are truly unique creations. To wit: Klavins’ vertical concert grand stands over 15-feet tall, and he actually has to climb a ladder to play it, which he does, beautifully, just for us.

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New song from Brian Eno's forthcoming expanded edition of "Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks"

In 1983, Brian Eno with collaborators Roger Eno and Daniel Lanois released "Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks," a stunning ambient score for Al Reinert's glorious space documentary "For All Mankind." On July 19, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Eno is reissuing that record accompanied by 11 new tracks -- five composed by Brian Eno, three from Lanois, and three from Roger Eno. The new collection is titled "For All Mankind." Above is a video for one of the new tracks, Brian Eno's "Like I Was a Spectator."

More details in this announcement.

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Joel Gion, the psychedelic tambourine man from the Brian Jonestown Massacre, is writing a memoir

If you saw the critically-acclaimed 2004 documentary Dig! about the frenemy neo-psych bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, you'll remember that the real star wasn't either of the bands' frontmen but rather the BJM's inimitable, lovable tambourine player Joel Gion.

Rocking his impressive mutton chops and 60s shades, Joel has spent the last 25 years performing with the BJM and releasing his own excellent music while slinging vinyl to make ends meet in the impossible city of San Francisco. Combine that unconventional life with Joel's skewed sense of adventure, razor wit, and relentless pursuit of laughs, and you end up with some killer yarns. Joel's got stories for ages. And now he's writing a memoir to share the weirdness with the world. I've read bits of what he's been writing and it is far fucking out, a modern Beat's notes from the underground.

Support Joel Gion's Patreon so he can get it all down on paper.

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I’ve just launched a Patreon page for my book focusing on the few run-up years before the documentary-era. Click on the link on my profile page and become a patron to read over 3K words posted right now. I’ll be posting new writing or project related stuff every week. #joelgion #bjm

A post shared by Joel Gion (@joelgion) on May 3, 2019 at 8:11pm PDT

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