THE VOICE OF ENERGY VOL. 060.75
Greetings, young lovers. Back with another supplemental email for you, featuring suggestions of things to look at and listen to. I hope you get some use out of this. And if you have suggestions, or things to share of your own making, reply to this message and let me know.
WHAT TO WATCH
Listening to Kenny G (2021, dir. Penny Lane) - One wonders at the psychological chasm within soft pop superstar Kenny G that will never be filled. It's not enough that he remains the top-selling instrumental artist of all time and is the name that most average citizens call up when thinking about jazz music, as Penny Lane's fantastic documentary uncovers, the curly-haired sax player remains unsatisfied, seeking a kind of perfection in his life and art that he might never reach. I could take or leave the blathering of the jazz critics bristling at Kenny G's music, but the unsettlingly sunny interview between the artist and director were riveting. More on this below. (streaming on HBO Max)
The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love (1995, dir. Maria Maggenti) - This winning, honest portrayal of a young lesbian couple finding and falling for one another is finally available to stream thanks to the Criterion Channel. Maria Maggenti's film came along during a small wave of films covering LGBTQ+ stories that arrived in the ’90s and has long been a favorite of mine thanks to the adorable chemistry between its leads Laurel Holloman and Nicole Ari Parker and a story that is blissfully free of dark underpinnings or brutal trauma. (streaming on Criterion Channel)
War Hunt (1962, dir. Denis Sanders) - A rarely seen and ugly for its time portrayal of the horrors of war. Robert Redford plays an idealistic soldier in the Korean War who begins to struggle with the brutality of the conflict, as represented by a fellow private (played with a terrifying calm by John Saxon) who sneaks off at night to murder the enemy in a disturbingly ritualistic fashion. Keep an eye out for Sydney Pollack and Tom Skerritt in early roles. (streaming on Hoopla)
In Fabric (2018, dir. Peter Strickland) - With nods to Italian giallo cinema and the hypnagogic delights of the Czech New Wave, British filmmaker Peter Strickland has dreamed up another intoxicating story. This one involves a red dress that causes all manner of havoc and weirdness for the people that possess and wear it. It's an unusual house of horrors and often an illogical one, but the atmosphere and wonderfully off-balance performances by Fatma Mohamed and Leo Bill, among others, helps smooth over any rough spots. (streaming on Showtime)
WHAT TO HEAR
Wobbly: Wild Why - Released in 2002, this thoroughly enveloping and off-putting album was constructed using only samples of hip-hop radio stations from the Bay Area that Wobbly (aka Jon Leidecker) captured over a three-year stretch. The resulting collages of lyrical snippets and skin-pricking beats that burst and dissipate like being fired from a confetti cannon. Also responsible for this brilliant Dadaist lyric sheet.
True West: Kaleidoscope of Shadows: The Story So Far - I have my qualms with the presentation of this three-disc set collecting the recorded work of Paisley Underground-adjacent group True West, as there's no information included about the albums/singles that this material was culled from. But I have zero complaints about this existing even without those details. The band remains undersung amid the rest of the psych-roots-rock groups from the ’80s taking up all the critical oxygen. The band's louche charm and facility for pop hooks have an undeniable allure.
Virginia Genta: Live Rats Week - From a recently released split cassette with Body/Head member Bill Nace we find Italian musician Virginia Genta terrifying the attendees of the Live Arts Week X by Xing event in Bologna with a performance using an amplified sopranino saxophone. And in her blurts and squeals and feedback-laden trills, we find our brains and ears getting a nice sonic power wash.
WHAT TO READ
The digital evolution allowed artists to operate with a direct-to-consumer model, eliminating many of the corporate barriers that kept certain acts obscure. And now artists who make music that’s unabashedly crafted for mass appeal are utilizing the same stratagem as avant-garde artists who don’t even put hooks on their songs. And they’re all a TikTok trend away from a platinum single
Though both Thompsons have made fine albums since the collapse of their romantic and musical relationships in the early 1980s, there is something singular in the blend of her gracefully understated singing and his fiercely expressive playing, a heaven-bound quality that redeems even their heaviest subject matter, which neither can quite reach on their own. As lovers, they could be violently incompatible, but as musicians, they were soul mates.
At another point he talks about unpublished compositions that, if they were used in a movie—and he has very specific imaginary movies in mind—would definitely win an Academy Award. Or about doing an album of his own classical music, which would prompt people to ask, “Is this Beethoven? Is it Bach? Is it Brahms? No, it’s G!” He’s an engaging and diverting person to spend 90 minutes watching on camera, but I’m not sure I’d want to be stuck alone with him for a day.
A 2017 study of more than 700 orchestral musicians in Germany found that two-thirds of them endured chronic pain, many for at least five years. And while it's fairly well understood that music careers are an endurance sport, requiring rigorous practice and few days off, the physical consequences often go unadvertised, hidden from fans for the sake of shows that must go on.
That's it for now, darlings. Back again Friday with the big newsletter. Be well. Do no wrong. Take no shit.
Artwork for this edition is from Birds of India an exhibition of early 19th century paintings on display at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Gallery in Mumbai City.