you may wonder….

So you may wonder given the nature of my posts; what are my favorite YouTube channels?

Well hang on to your britches because I’m about to tell you. And some may surprise you. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all channels I follow – but just favorites that regularly and consistently post new content. For examples there are many music channels that I follow but the vast majority have sporadic postings or inconsistent in featuring work that interests me. These are not in any particular rank. Just a list.

  • https://www.youtube.com/user/usgs is the site for the United States Geological Survey. It features viddy’s and information on volcano’s, earthquakes and tectonics and other geological interests. More than some other sites it reveals my geeky interests in scientific study.
  • keeping with a theme, https://www.youtube.com/c/veritasium : Veritasium is a hybrid word that combines the latin word for “truth” (Veritas) and the suffix of most elements on the periodic chart (ium) therefore creating Veritasium (i.e. an “an element of truth”). These videos explore various scientific topics both in physics, biology, geology, as well as some more philosophic subjects. I find them informative, entertaining and just plain interesting. The creator of this chanel, Derek Muller, also has children so there are several videos that are science subjects geared for children as well as learning resources. I highly recommend it.
  • I also love Bonsai. https://www.youtube.com/c/EiseienBonsai is a great channel to learn about and understand Bonsai craft in great detail. While I personally do not have Bonsai, I have always wanted to start but have been a little intimidated. Maybe this is the year I will finally Start.
  • Another channel for Bonsai that I follow is https://www.youtube.com/c/HeronsBonsaiUK this UK based nursery has great videos that I would describe as Bonsai for the Common Person or for the beginner. The presenter is very down-to-earth and very relatable.
  • Next up is https://www.youtube.com/c/bbcearth This channel really has some remarkable nature videos. While I am not a fan of having “pets” I absolutely do love wild animals in their natural habitat. And this channel fills that “cup of interest” to the brim.
  • Along similar lines is the National Geographic website https://www.youtube.com/c/NatGeo with it’s own unique perspective on the world we live on and the people, flora and fauna that we share it with.
  • Now something may not be much of a surprise because I’ve posted videos from this channel here on the blog. https://www.youtube.com/user/TheLouisianaChannel The Louisiana Channel is an arts channel with in-depth interviews discussion and analysis with artists, musicians and writers. For me it is an endless source of inspiration and exposure to some things I might not normally find.
  • https://www.youtube.com/user/Nerdwriter1 Nerdwriter is another channel I absolutely adore. Posts are less frequent that most other channels featured here – but when there is a post it blows my mind. It has taught me so much about art, writing, philosophy etc.
  • https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_43mQmHwHPTBBqImFrWU3Q Sean Tucker is a professional photographer who has some amazing insights into not only photography but photography in the age of the internet. His videos are informative, instructional and at time philosophical. What an amazing personality.
  • And lastly to go back to the beginning of the list https://www.youtube.com/user/NASAgovVideo the official NASA channel is amazing and wonderful for all things NASA related. I especially like their “Spacecast Weekly” which is a weekly digest of news and information direct from NASA for all you space geeks.

And that’s it my friend. Of the 56 channels I follow on YouTube these are my absolute favorites that bring me an endless source of enjoyment, inspiration and information. And to re-iterate – these are not ranked in any particular order. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend everyone.

difficult listening

I grew up in a safe environment. Everything was safe. The food was safe. Society was safe. School was safe. Home was safe. But as I got older I learned that it wasn’t safe it was just protected.

There are people who still want to live in their own comfortable “protected” worlds. But protection is a myth. A legend elders tell children. It does not exist. And insisting it does exist, does not make it so.

Further I suggest that propagating this delusion is more harmful than preparing for the facts. The truth. Example: Climate change deniers often use their arguments as an excuse to keep from preparing for the consequences of climate change and taking action to slow it’s impact. And now with the pandemic, humanities approach to disease belies their own unpreparedness. Death and sickness has become unacceptable (even though it is inevitable) So they wear masks, they fight over it, they try to shame those who are “awake” and not afraid.  They want a safe world where things don’t change. The climate doesn’t change. People don’t get sick and die. The world doesn’t change. Everything is safe.

What does this have to do with difficult music/difficult listening?
Like the quote from William S Burroughs in the Laurie Anderson video,

“language is a virus from outer space.”

Difficult music challenges a listeners perception of the norm. It suggests there is something else we need to consider. It suggests that we look into the dark corners. Difficult music is to sound what abstract expressionism was/is to art. And most people who have abstract art work treat if more as wallpaper than as something that has something to say/contribute to the conversation of our times. And in music, people typically do not choose to engage it because it requires them to think about what they are listening to. It is often difficult if not impossible to just hang it on a wall as pretty wallpaper for the soul. Difficult music is often derided as messy, juvenile, scary, ugly, inaccessible (not conforming to any known genre parameters) and ultimately ignored. It is the red-headed stepchild of the music world.

But we can learn much from difficult music. It is not something to be afraid of. The shadows are not scary if you enter with a flashlight. It can teach us about ourselves in ways we haven’t considered or dared think about. But to encounter and engage difficult music one must be prepared and perhaps that is the problem with our “protected”, “safe” elders they are not prepared and they do not know how to prepare the younger generation for the facts and truth of existence.

So, do you want to explore difficult music? Don’t know where to start?
Step One: Turn off the radio and TV – they are notorious “taste makers” that would rather keep you safe than expose you to truth. There are many artists that have helped me in preparing for the real world. I started learning about many “difficult” artists just from reading the underground music press (back in the 1980’s) when popular music was experiencing an explosion of variety. But difficult music existed long before I started reading about it.

Here are some artists you can start with (in no particular order):

Laurie Anderson                                                Public Enemy
Einsturzende Neubauten/Blixa Bargeld        The Last Poets
Alva Noto                                                             Lustmord
Laibach                                                                Rapoon/Zoviet*France
Robert Fripp/King Crimson et al                     Ornette Coleman
Diamanda Galas                                                 Lester Bowie
Sun Ra                                                                  Terry Riley
The Art Ensemble of Chicago                          Steve Reich
Philip Glass (early works)                                Markus Reuter
Robert Rich                                                          Scott Walker (after 1994)
Merzbow                                                              Cabaret Voltaire
Swans                                                                   Nurse With Wound
Matana Roberts                                                  Godspeed You! Black Emperor

The above artists all have work available on Youtube so enjoy your excursion into difficult music. Maybe in the future I’ll write about some of the specific recordings. Again this is just an introduction to difficult listening. Maybe not what you want to listen to in these difficult times but the music does speak to the truth of the times we are experiencing.

I’ll start you off with this Nurse With Wound video for the song BOTTOM FEEDER

music theme for summer 2020

Do you ever pick a theme song to get you through the summer? I do because the music feels cool no matter how hot the temperatures may get.   I started doing this in 2003.   That first year the album was THE THORNS – with their songs “Runaway Feeling” and “I Can’t Remember”.

This year with everything that’s happening culturally, politically, globally it just feels like a nonstop hurricane.   I choose to sing and dance.   Most people think these things are just about feeling good, joy, celebration etc.   But you can also sing and dance in protest.   And that’s my mindset this year.   So my theme song for 2020 is “Dance In The Hurricane” by Toya Willcox.   I listened to Toya occasionally back in the 1980’s when she was just starting her career.   In addition to music she is a gifted actress and author.  She never really broke big here in the United States.  I lost track of her over the years.    I recently re-discovered her with her new remastered collection, when she recorded with a band simply called THE HUMANS.   I started doing some googling and reading and found that somewhere after I stopped listening to her she married Robert Fripp –  yes, that Robert Fripp, of KING CRIMSON fame (**see note at end).   Now my curiosity was piqued and started seeking out her most recent music.   She just released (in 2019) a remastered edition of her last studio album IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON QUEEN (2008) re-imagined w/bonus tracks (a deluxe 2 disc set).    I listened to a couple of snippets on YouTube and thought “Oh what the heck”… and I bought the album.   It blew me away.  One song, especially, just grabbed me in the fiercest way – its ideas and the driving rock sound.   “Dance In The Hurricane”  features some narration by Robert Fripp. Its an encouraging and powerful song to be listened to repeatedly during difficult times.

Here’s a snippet of the lyrics:

“…Don’t write my rules,
Love your life, Dance in the Hurricane…Only heaven knows how life will write your song. Be loud, be heard, be proud…”

[chorus] “I danced in a hurricane with the god who has no name, I had to run or face the pain, hold on to love, and learn to trust again…”

Final line in the Lyrics – “One constant law remains, if the light goes out dance again.

So I dare you to DANCE!
DANCE IN THIS HURRICANE!! Let this song be your dynamo to re-charge your soul battery so your light can shine again.

Another great track from this 2 disc set is the track, “Sensational”.

(** I don’t know if you’ve followed them at all but since the lockdown Toya and Robert have been posting “…Sunday Lunch” videos that are weird, quirky and just good fun like when her and Robert dress up in bee costumes…. or when they dance Swan Lake in their back yard. Just a real hoot and a holler!)

uplifting music for troubled times ~ part 1

I’ve recently noticed that the times we are living in are not unlike the late 60’s early 70’s with cultural and political unrest, deep division and social dysfunction. I’ve also noticed that there is some incredibly inspired music that is made during troubled times.  So go ahead and get your uplift on and let the sun shine in.  Sunshine is the protest against darkness.

Enjoy this classic from the musical HAIR performed here by the 5th Dimension.

And this classic also by the 5th Dimension

imagination and practical reality

Imagination And Practical Reality
(6/11/19)

Where are the words
that have escaped me?
All I find is an empty wire cage
I hear the fluttering of wings
in the darkened corners of the room
Yet I see nothing clearly
vague inferences and impressions
opaqued shapes
undulating slowly
in a heavy pre-dawn fog
Yet I am happy

And once the sun rises
and the fog is burned away
all will be made clear
Without mystery
Without inspiration
Forgotten worlds
Like the man who looks in a mirror(*)
and when he turns away
immediately forgets what he looks like
Left to wander
groping in the clarity of
the harsh light of day
Lost in the multi-sensory overload
Writing without understanding
the words on the page
And I am sad once more.

 

*  James 1:24

whissspers

WHISSSPERS

You whisssper in my ear
your palpable smile
some mystery
or a secret that only I am privileged to know,
some master plan,
some wisdom or
some knowledge
or just “I love you.”

The warmth of your breath
softly radiates
entering by hearing
and “hearing by the word of god.

Familiar as a breeze
rustling the leaves
on a humid Summer’s day
under the shade tree.

These whissspering waves
ripple through my body
steadily quickening
the beat of my heart.

My pulse registers . . . . .
excitement, a cherished connection
words and meaning lost in anticipation
virtue swirls into sweet sin
tingle of unending hope
inspiring passions aplenty
I dream of grabbing you and
holding you closer
than my own skin.

the writing blahs

The hand lies
limply on the page

Pen flip-flopping flaccidly
insipid, impotent inspiration

Desire, a
vacuous turncoat
betrays me

What to write.
What to write?
What To Write!

nothing.

… on… becoming….

58 years ago at this time I was in the second trimester before my birth.

In only a few months I will come into being for the 58th time.

So much has happened since I was first conceived.

I continue to change and evolve –

Into a being who is genetically predestined by choice.

I am the paradox.

I am the quandary.

I am the essence of joy and sadness –

Working out my own salvation with care and understanding.

My own manifest destiny.

 

….on….universal witness…

“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself.
Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies.
We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes
conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”

― Alan W. Watts

12-shadows-frozen-reflections-evn-smlr

…on… new works!

These new works* were created while listening to one of my favorite
ambient/electronic/glitchy bands named LOSCIL**.  It’s hard to say how the music impacted the artworks because I was not trying to duplicate or create/represent anything specifically heard in the music or its structures. It was all subconscious.

As an after-thought; layers of sound = layers in the image.
*In addition to the slides you can click on the individual images below to view larger.

**I’ve included a video below and a link to their website.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

http://www.loscil.ca

…on …laundry…

laundry

The early morning had an autumnal chill in the air and was overcast like so many clouded minds waking to the new day.

I was at the laundromat; not one of my favorite things. I go early, making every attempt to avoid the greedy rush of individuals jockeying for machines.

This morning eight other people had the same idea.

I had a book by Peter Handke that I was reading – ON A DARK NIGHT I LEFT MY SILENT HOUSE. It’s a short novel with prose that reads like poetry. It travels the razors edge of reality and dreams, so-much-so that, at times, I wasn’t sure if I was reading a really great story or if I was dreaming of reading. As I slipped farther and farther into the world of the story the sounds of the laundromat seemed more distant, muffled, even murky.

My quiet reading repose was interrupted by the RAT-A-TAT-TAT of machine gun fire – the sound of death – blasting from the mobile device of a seventy-year-old gray-haired grandmother playing an obviously violent video game and sitting near, too near me, lost in her own oblivion.
Annoyed by the cruel aural assault I just closed my eyes and let the sounds of the laundromat merge into a cacophonous free-jazz experiment; Albert King was playing on the overhead sound system swinging with updates about Hurricane Matthew, on the television, merging with the friendly chatter of others who seem to enjoy laundry – and company. Suddenly, a searing break of five washing machines whirring and buzzing, in their wild interlude, on the spin cycle in complete synchrony eventually to subside and merge with the rest of the sounds in this social sound-fest ending with the click click click click click of the same five machines stopping, signaling the cycle was over.

After drinking in all the sounds it was time to dry out, fluff and fold. The feeling of warm, fresh softness carried out to the car. Another week has ended. Now ready to start a new week, clean and clear. Ready to carry-on after this unpleasant sensorial massage. Ultimately satisfied. Paradox of mundanity.

A Staggering Work of Stunning Beauty

I’ve been thinking lately about thinning out my music collection (now several thousand CDs strong).  I’ve been thinking about what I want to keep and what would I consider a master work.   I’m going to introduce you today to a recording that fits the description of Masterwork for me.    I bought this recording on a whim.  I had never heard of this artist before and came upon his music by chance.  I liked the cover art.   The name of the artist was intriguing because it didn’t seem to fit the category of jazz that it had been saddled with and it also didn’t fit the record label it was recorded on.   The description which was so general as if the writer wasn’t even sure how to categorize this music made me want to investigate this music.  While each track has it’s own title – I will not be singling out song titles in this review because one needs to look at them as a series of movements in the larger work.   To focus on titles would do a disservice to the overall recording.

Dhafer-Youssef-Birds-Requiem-500x495What is that recording?  BIRDS REQUIEM by Dhafer Youssef on Okeh Records.  Released in 2013.

Dhafer Youssef is an Oud player, vocalist and composer. His music is probably the most perfect fusion between jazz, muezzin, quranic and sufi musical styles and influences.  The EPK (electronic press kit) that was released for this album had Youssef talk about his experience with observing birds in flight.  For example, how a flock of birds hovering in their aerial ballet have a perfect ebb/flow, rhythm and pulse like a murmuration of starlings. The overall rhythm and pace of the album is expertly crafted with energetic and quiet points that are perfectly timed.  In fact listening to the entire album in one sitting is an audio equivalent of a massive murmuration.

While listening I find myself at times quietly inspired then lifted up in elation to the point of ecstatic release. The instrumentation is an absolutely wonderful surprise.   A real delightful feature is Youssef’s imaginative yet sensitive playing of the OUD (for those not familiar with this instrument: one might call it an anscestor of the lute and then later, guitar).  Piano playing by Kristjan Randalu lilts through the entire album adding snippets of melody.  I was surprised at the masterful contributions by trumpeter Nils-Petter Molvaer and electric guitar and effects man Elvind Aarset (both on the ECM label).  The drummer Chander Sardjoe is a study in both minimalist accents and a strong backbone of support.  The delightful contributions by Aytac Dogan on the zither-like kanun add such beautiful dressing on this feast for the ears.  And not to be left out is the surprising use of clarinet, which I have never, NEVER heard used this way.  The Clarinet is played by  Hüsnu Senlendirici who plays with soul and adds a sense of life that would be sadly missing if it were absent.  The musical cast is rounded out by the Bass playing of Phil Donkin which adds the appropriate bounce and lift.  I would be completely incompetent if I didn’t mention the voice of Dhafer Youssef which starts low and builds; rising in registers.  His voice (singing in arabic) starts mixing tones on overtones and is at times hard to distinguish between voice/clarinet/guitar ending in a climax, a musical grand release, a staggering work of stunning beauty.

In a world that is constantly on the move where music is more of a background soundtrack to the journey – this album definitely sets itself apart by becoming a destination.   A place to stop,close your eyes, be quiet, listen and feel.  I would strongly encourage you to purchase the downloads or (if you’re like me) the CD.   It is one of those things that while purchased actually becomes priceless.  A Masterwork in its own right.

Here is a video of a live performance of track 3 from the album titled Blending Souls & Shades (to Shiraz) the instrumental lineup is different (sans trumpet and clarinet) from the album but the song is still quite powerful.  Enjoy.

And Lastly, Here is another video of the track Soupier Eternal (from the DIVINE SHADOWS album) filmed in Tunisia. This trio format will give you some idea of the Clarinet/voice/guitar interplay that can frequently be heard on the album and how these three “voices” are a perfect complement to each other on both recordings.

Your Weekend Gift ~ If You Want It

Peace of mind. 3 words just loaded with meaning when joined together as an idea. They suggests not only mental but also spiritual and physical states of existence. It is, [sadly] too often, something longed for but seldom experienced. So how does one experience peace of mind? I think it is a gift that we need only receive to experience. Can you receive it? Can I? Do we need help receiving it? One of the beautiful things about peace of mind is that it doesn’t remove us from life’s difficulties but gives us a way to deal with difficulties that is both positive and beneficial not only for ourselves but others. So for those who want to escape life’s difficulties – I’m sorry peace of mind will not provide escape. But it will allow you to perceive life struggles as if they were moving in slow motion giving you time to respond effectively. Peace of mind is natural state of existence that, in this day and age, is constantly under attack from exterior forces – often created by ourselves. We tend to blame others and don’t take responsibility for how we have had a part in creating this noise that disrupts our natural state of being.

So, how do I achieve peace of mind? Here are some easy steps. Once the practice is established it doesn’t take long to receive this gift.

1. Stop – just stop what you are doing.

2. Find a quiet place that you enjoy being in. [I have several places I can go – even at work – if I need just a couple of minutes to reconnect to this gift.]

3. Sit. [close your eyes if needed] Focus on your breathing for a couple of minutes. Then…

4. Take responsibility and admit to yourself that you have also had a share in disrupting peace of mind – either for yourself or others.

5. Think about and see the things around your daily life that disrupt your peace of mind. It might be technology or other people – even family.

6. Letting go: Forgive yourself for how you have disrupted your own peace of mind and the peace of mind of others.Then forgive others for how they have disrupted your peace of mind.

7. Receive your peace of mind [you may have to verbalize it at first saying, “Thank you, I receive this peace of mind”]. Imagine how to carry it with you through out your day at work, with family, strangers and friends.

Some people may need help receiving peace of mind. Look for ways to help them receive and achieve peace of mind. Give them peace of mind. This will also help your own peace of mind. Give the gift of peace of mind. I give it to you. Right now. Can you receive it, and accepting it, be grateful?

Music often plays a role in my experience of peace of mind. The video is for one of my favorite Japanese artists Missa Johnuchi. Enjoy this song. I apologize, in advance, that I don’t have a translation for the Japanese lyrics. But again it’s the music itself that I find to be the very expression of peace of mind – like it’s title. [If any reader does have a translation of lyrics please post in your comment. Thanks.]

PEACE OF MIND by UNESCO Artist for Peace, musician/composer/conductor Missa Johnuchi

Go in peace.