There was quite an interesting debate in one of the darken spaces that thee 20jazzfunkgreats roam regarding the extent to which the trend towards tunes of 10 minutes or longer which has become growingly common in certain genres you know we dig, such as kosmische disco, is a good or a bad thing. We pray at the altar of kraut rock, whose spirit has always been one of expansion broad like the horizon with an intensity which seems way less lightning bolt flash than the progressive and monumental movement of shadows brought by the sun doing its eternal circunvolution over the fields, so you might expect our feet to hang on the side of the fence where things spread open and free.
It is in our opinion interesting that it is precisely now, when it seems that music has become instantly accessible, but also ephemeral, usually embodied in the epitome of disposability, the mp3, when many talented producers have started engaging in the creation of epic odysseys that to be savoured fully require the listener to devote his or her wholehearted attention and a good chunk of time, with the finger away from that pesky iPod clickwheel. This aren’t tunes for mixing either along the traditional lines of the expanded disco edit, although a few magi out there like Optimo are able to use them to compose psychedelic symphonies behind the wheels of steel (of a wagon travelling through the space in time of the spiritual autobahn), because their progression makes sense only when allowed to unfold fully.
And when it does, and it is well done, synth lines rise into the air like ghosts to their scattered bodies going in exercises of slow restrain delivered with gentle and steady pulse, the tension builds metronomically as vast vistas of alien beauty unfold upon our ears, the pleasure is of the journeying, not of the arriving, attention is focussed and thus a strange place is created where the sounds can exercise their spell upon us, slow, slow, good wine requires patience to mature, and has similar effects.
We love it when this happens, and the sorcerers who make it so, we are happy to give them our time so they can fuck around with our perception of reality, here you have two examples, and a little bonus, but what a bonus.
I have always thought that in the Castle of Progressive German Rock where NEU! is the king and Can the Queen, you know which one, that which is surrounded by dark woods inhabited by the fierce Wild Hunt of Amon Duul over which Kraftwerk roam in their silver flying machine, that with vast underground laboratories where Cluster and Harmonia conduct their alchemical sonic experiments, a castle full of dragons and spells and ghosts and (Tangerine) dreams and nightmnares , in that castle Faust must be the jester, the joker, not in the sense of clown, of which they have a bit anyway, but of the crazy enlightened type clad in a custome which is a patchfwork of random colours and shapes, a bit like Bob Arctor’s suit in A Scanner Darkly, facing him can be befuddling and even annoying, feel free to ignore him, but be aware that, when you do, you are missing the true spirit of this place of creation, now, pay some attention to 71 Minutes of Faust, and particularly ‘Chromatic’ aka Party 3, because if they had a Halloween ball in that castle, this is the way it would sound.
Which unfurls sedate and majestic following the green waves of surf raised by the cruising of Brian Eno’s Big Ship, and makes Jean Michel Jarre’s early attemps at crafting thee electronic symphony sound a bit feeble by comparison, this is the march that seals a human marriage with the fairie folk, the veils of melody somehow manage to create a space of weightlessness and transition to a glimmering otherworld, this is an epic success of the weird and inexplicable processes I was talking about at the onset of this article, and whenever I listen to it, its sounds tint the dullness of reality with the glamour of wonder.
I mentioned Tangerine Dream before, well, here you have our definitive changelling disco faves Studio doing a version of Williams doing the Tangerine Dream (Love in a Real Train is in the fantastic soundtrack to Risky Business), through which you gain passage into an alternative reality of ethereal flight through the pastel coloured skies of sunset, or that LSD trip where heaven downloaded itself into Sonny Crockett’s head, the guitar melodies, spaced out synth waves and steady metronomic drumming draw neon lines connecting the stars above into new constellations of blissful content, it doesn’t get any prettier so, once again, be thankful for living in a world where music like this exists.
And we close for the day with a little dessert, shorter but oh so sweet, we mentioned Crockett above, and this gets the Miami Vice Connection started, you know how we are obsessed with Jan Hammer, well, in the 1970s he was in this little outfit called Mahavishnu Orchestra, together with John McLaughlin of ‘Me and Miles Davis fame’, well, we are posting them today and henceforth putting the jazzfunk back into 20jazzfunkgreats, which is a very healthy thing to do once in a while,
Because although the theme of today was in principle one of length, and how in its plains beauty can run, grow and take shape free, that was only an accident of the post, as you know we are at the end of the day concerned with substance, or whatever makes our hearts skip a beat by whatever means, which in the case with this small gem by Mahavishnu Orchestra is the sheer amazingness of placid melodies, delivered warm and gentle, and also the furious coiling of that solo, a whirlwind which sucks you into a place not dissimilar from that where we found ourselves above, intensity spreads perception like butter over the space-time continuum which at the end of the day is not only a sequence, but also a cycle, we are sounding like total hippies here you say, well you know, maybe, we are.
Just joking, scared you there for a second. Off now. Take it well easy kids.
PS- The nice and I think suitable title of the post is taken from a short story written by wonderful Ursula K. Leguin