R.I.P. David Darling…

Sad news this morning as I learn of the passing of cellist David Darling. His “Dark Wood” solo series, as well as “EOS”, his exquisite release as a duo with guitarist Terje Rypdal, all on ECM, remain in my list of essential listening that has accompanied me throughout the years: sombre yet warm, solemn yet intimate, melancholic yet transcendent…

I first heard him on the aforementioned “EOS” on late night radio in 1983, on the improbable combination of cello+electric guitar… a combination that was as unlikely as it was alchemic; I had to get the album, and I revisit it regularly to this day.

True, some of Darling’s output is simply too “new age” for me to enjoy, but IMHO it does not detract from the brilliance of pretty much every note he released on ECM.

Rest in Peace, David Darling, and thank you for the light you revealed throughout the darkness.

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Voices

Re: the controversy regarding caucasian actors dubbing black characters in the Portuguese version of a recent animation film. IMNSHO it’s not possible to say “cartoon characters have no skin colour”, as I’ve read at some point today – and it’s not just because of a coherence and legitimacy in cultural roots. It’s also the evidence that all.freakin.professional.voiceovers.in.Portugal.have.the.same.freakin.vocal.pitch.

All male voices in ads sound the same. All female voices in ads sound the same. News anchors speaking of COVID could be selling ice cream or announcing the arrival of the next train. It almost seems like everyone with a microphone goes to the same freaking voice-formatting school. All learn the same pitch, the same generic, anodyne, strangely whispering-bombastic vocal acrobatics.

It’s this interchangeability that drives me crazy, this inability (or laziness?) to acknowledge nuance. And with nuance comes all else, including a respect for distinct heritage.

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DGS Walk

Passeio de Domingo de manhã, com todos os cuidados.

Ou como diria a DGS:
Certificando-me de que cumpro com todos os requisitos que viabilizam uma deslocação fora do domicílio para fins profilácticos ou higiénicos, desde que asseguradas pelo próprio todas as normas e comportamentos estabelecidos ao abrigo do actual estado superiormente decretado em consequentemente em vigor, de cumprimento obrigatório.

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Argh…

The news on TV in the background… it’s politician after politician, and often the same one shows up three or four times per news block. The world does not seem to exist beyond the corridors of power and their almost invariably ugly dynamics. When a citizen appears on camera, it’s on an improvised street interview where a random extra is meant to passively confirm the pre-determined narrative. “Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s worrying. Yes, it’s a tragedy. Yes, it’s a shame. Yes, I feel there is nothing we can do”.
But hey, no worries, a couple minutes later the parade of white teeth zombies come in jumping around driving audis and opening christmas presents and having cute pillow fights… Followed by live shows of provincial clones of turbo pop singing the nth variation of romantic kitsch.
All of the above supported by over-compressed acoustics that manages to make even the stereotypical whisper of pseudo-sophistication hurt the ears.
An ongoing soap opera…
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Repressed Wanderlust?

For four nights in a row now, I’ve been having very vivid dreams where I’m traveling or living abroad. China, Sweden, Germany, U.S., London… The dreams are quite detailed and include narrative plots, such as having to deliver a sound piece, delivering a presentation at a groovy hotel lounge, treading narrow paths facing an abyss across country borders, being a bank investment guru, visiting stationery shops in Texas while on a bus tour, or running through London underground station corridors that are partially closed for renovation. Friends and family are present throughout.
Normally I hardly remember any dreams at all, so it is highly unusual for me to remember them in such detail, let alone with such a clear narrative pattern – four nights in a row. It could be that I AM missing the joys of travel, despite not being aware of it… On the contrary, I’ve been quite happy to stay put. Or so I thought.
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29 years later, staring into the abyss…

In August 1991 my parents came to visit me in the U.S… We traveled around a bit, and sure enough made it to Washington DC. Here they are in front of the White House.
 
The contrast with recent WH photos doing the online rounds speaks for itself. It is telling: we find it hard to believe that once upon a time we could just hang out by the gates of the White House undisturbed. Imagine even attempting such a thing now. For beginners, it would imply jumping five barriers, and no doubt you’d be caught along the way. i.e…. just don’t.
 
I’m sending my best, kindest thoughts to my U.S. friends and colleagues, as their country is about to enter completely uncharted territories, whatever the outcome… Fully aware that anything that happens in the U.S. always resonates around the World. We are all in this: for better or for worse, it’s called History, that thing so many philosophers throughout time proclaimed had come to an end. Not quite, after all…
 
A deep breath, then, and onwards.

Blindness, 2007

Cabaret of Complexity – Blind

With thanks to Oliver Schupp for the timely reminder, here’s a version of Blind by an impromptu band I gathered in 2007, along with Len Massey of prior London-based antics…

We called ourselves The Esemplasm on the night of the gig (3 May 2007), but later, as we contributed to the “Tuxedomooning” tribute CD, decided to use the “Cabaret of Complexity” moniker. Long story and not that interesting.

The gig, at a friendly venue / “second home” called Maus Hábitos, was about two hours long: lots of improv upon a ritual that involved tearing loads of paper. The audience drifted in and out, unsure what to make of it. It all came to a halt as one of the musicians drank a bit too much and started causing real trouble… Rock and roll, as it should

Years later, all of our Tuxedomoon guests would step onto the same stage: Blaine (2010), Peter (2011), Bruce (2013) and Steven (2017).

The “Blind” track is a collage of various ingredients throughout the night. I’m on vocals and toy horn, and edited the track as well.

Photo by Rui Espírito.

A Willful Fever

Regarding the current COVID crisis in the White House. I have long believed the narrative in the U.S. to have an intrinsic hallucinatory quality to it; not that hallucination isn’t an inherent component of the experience of reality to begin with, but when it becomes a cultural consensus whose premise is a surface of prosperity that is actually founded on all kinds of conflict (social, historical, cultural, personal)… well, it can only lead to a massive wake-up call.

Besides all else, I believe Trump has been the logical endpoint of this hallucinatory crescendo. Thus the deeply perplexing, aggressively defiant levitation from facts, from perception, from evidence that the whole Trump universe has put into practice throughout the last few years, and the impossibility to dismantle it: it’s been a willful fever, akin to a drug-induced state of escapist euphoria.

All of which could only bring us here. The White House is today in a state of controlled panic, according to the news, upon the realisation that the sheer will to ignore the virus, coupled with the hallucinatory layer of immunity (and impunity) rooted in any governing elite – this whole hubris has just crashed-landed into reality. Truth is, no amount of mediation, of artifice, be it technological, cultural, political or magical, will emancipate us from Biology.

The junkie goes through a second hell when made to withdraw. Many fall into relapse. “We’ll see what happens”.

33 years in one day

35 years separate these two photos…

On the pretext of the release of our archives on The Tapeworm… what a joy to meet up again, our whole eighties band, all six of us, 33 years after we split – all in good spirits and sound mind. Old memories were revived, a bit of wisdom throughout that we wish we had had back then.

And it may just be that the story doesn’t end here. We have ideas. Fingers crossed.