Music

My life in the bush of sounds

Brian Eno and David Byrne created some 35 years ago the best record in the history of modern music.

“My Life in the bush of ghosts” tells the story of a boy entering a forest inhabited by ghosts and spirits written Nigerian author Amos Tutuola. Published in 1954, this very same book was the source of inspiration for an eponymous record by Brian Eno and David Byrne. This record follows “Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics”, an album Brian Eno recorded with Jon Hassel. By combining the extra-terrestrial trumpet of Hassel with the soundscapes of Brian Eno these two musicians opened the door to what could be the music of a fourth world, one as mysterious as the one we know as third world. The whole record invites us on a journey through a world unknown flying over green landscapes, deserts, crossing small villages and bathing in soothing lakes. It was released in 1980 and is considered by many as one the best by Brian Eno, the avant-garde master of ambient music. Vol. 2 was never released but one year after Brian Eno launched what could be its rightful successor, “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts”, a record of possible musics for the world we think we know but which still holds numerous mysteries, hidden in bushes and forests we do not dare to enter for fear of succumbing to its enchantment. Released in 1981 it is the most beautiful, disturbing, complex and intense album of all times. Eno and Byrne lead us on a voyage through enchanted bushes. The combination of the mastery of Brian Eno in designing soundscapes with David Byrne’s sense of rhythm, assisted by the natural curiosity of both musicians for world sounds and rhythm, along with their mastery of the techniques of cut, paste, mix and match of sounds and samples delivered a record that results in the perfect soundtrack for the life in hectic cities, in faraway lands or in the heart of lively jungles. In summary the perfect soundtrack for the global village.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

 

O pequeno gigante de mármore

antonio-sergio

António Sérgio foi o encarregado de educação de uma imensa minoria de gente que, graças a ele, tem o melhor gosto musical do mundo.

Estão 22 graus ainda e as escadarias de mármore da igreja vão libertando devagar o calor acumulado durante o dia de Sol intenso. Estamos em pleno Verão alentejano, em plenas férias e a noite convida a ficar ali deitado sobre a pedra quente a olhar as estrelas que lá em cima desenham constelações. Do gravador estéreo de cassetes sintonizado numa estação de rádio sai uma canção poderosíssima que se espalha pelo ar. “Love my way” de Psychedelic Furs, anuncia uma voz grave e forte. Nem tive tempo de carregar no botão de gravar. Fiquei ali minutos a digerir aquilo, era muita informação, era muito bom. Não tinha onde escrever, mas também não era preciso. O nome e a banda estavam registados graças a ele. Nessa mesma escadaria, à mesma hora tardia, no largo onde estacionava uma vez por mês a carrinha dos livros da Gulbenkian descobrira meses antes “The Book I Read” dos Talking Heads. “I’m embarassed to admit it hit the soft spot in my heart”, dizia a canção. ‘Na na na na na’, ia eu cantando pelas ruas. Aquilo era mesmo bonito! António Sérgio era o nome desse homem que há dois anos andava a mexer com as minhas emoções a formar os meus gostos, “hitting the soft spot in my heart”. Por sua causa fui a correr comprar o “Heaven up Here” dos Echo and the Bunnymen”, aguardei impaciente a saída de “Juju” de Siouxsie and the Banshees”. Graças a ele comprei em 1980 numa loja para os lados da Praça da República em Coimbra “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” de David Bowie, esse Deus supremo que me marcou a vida e os gostos e tudo. No dia em que me safei da tropa por excedente de pessoal, António Sérgio deve ter sabido e passou “Troops of tomorrow” dos Exploited. O homem parece que adivinhava os meus estados de alma e as suas músicas andavam sempre comigo no Sony walkman recentemente inventado. Estudava na altura em Coimbra e atravessava meio país desde o sul profundo com a sua voz gravada a anunciar canções que me marcavam os dias e as noites. O homem era de uma sensibilidade incrível e, sempre que viajava, lá ia para as lojas de discos com uma lista de compras que ele me ajudava a preparar. Desde os 16 anos e a cada ano que passava aparecia na loja Saturn de Colónia ou no MusicLand de Bona com mais um pedido. “’God’ dos Rip Rig and Panic? Gostas disto?”, perguntava-me o gajo do Saturn, surpreendido, enquanto procurava o disco na secção dos discos mais obscuros”.  “‘Westworld’ dos Theatre of Hate? Nem sei o que é mas acho que tenho ali. Onde é que raio vais descobrir estas bandas”, perguntava-me Günther, o freak do MusicLand. E eu lá lhe explicava que havia no meu país um locutor de rádio que passava estas músicas e que havia uma imensa minoria de gente com gostos semelhantes graças a ele. E voltava a Portugal com um molho de discos tudo por causa dele. Esse mesmo homem que, em 1980 e em 1981, me deu a conhecer dois discos que mudaram a vida: “Remain in Light” dos Talking Heads e “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” de Brian Eno e David Byrne. Lá estava ele a brincar com os meus sentimentos. Aquilo era eu em dois discos. O homem sabia ler-me a alma, não havia outra explicação. A cada emissão a minha lista de álbuns ia crescendo, Simple Minds, Shriekback, The The, Young Marble Giants, Comsat Angels, Romeo Void, Triffids, Gary Numan, Cabaret Voltaire, This Mortal Coil, tudo com o selo António Sérgio, o homem que um dia quase me fez desmaiar quando passou “Song to the Siren” pelos This Mortal Coil. Aquilo era lindo e grandioso. Um dia conheci-o num bar chamado Ritz Club em Lisboa. Falámos já não sei de quê, de música certamente. Acho que nem me apresentei. Tinha quase a certeza que ele já me conhecia há muito. Só podia. E eis que há sete anos nos deixou de repente. O seu corpo jazia ali naquela capela da Basílica da Estrela e no ar ouviam-se temas que passara em tantos programas desde o Rotação ao Rolls Rock, Som da Frente, Grande Delta, Hora do Lobo, Viriato 21. A sensação foi indescritível. Uma sensação de arrepio correu-me a espinha, algo avassalador. E com o mais profundo sentimento de gratidão fechei os olhos e fiz, e repito, uma grande e devida vénia a esse pequeno gigante de mármore.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

Moby sings the bitter truth

More than 25 years after his first appearances as musician, DJ and remixer and later as world acclaimed artist, Moby returns this year with another project, ‘Moby & the Void Pacific Choir’ where he tries once again to make sense of this obsessed world.

“These systems are falling” is Moby’s new album and marks his return in 2016. Fast, loud and epic, the sound in the new record brings us back to the wild energy of Moby’s early rave albums that secured his reputation as one the best musicians and producers in the dance scene. In the early nineties he combined his work as musician with that of DJ having remixed songs from bands and artists such as B 52’s, John Lydon, Bowie, Eno or Blur. Years passed and in 1999 he would become one of the most popular artists on the planet thanks to the album “Play” and mellow melodies like “Porcelain”, “Why does my heart feel so bad” or “Natural Blues”. His planetary success made him a household name and expanded his reputation as a musician. Now, more than 25 years after his first appearances as musician, DJ and remixer, the man everybody would love to invite for a drink, instead of inviting us for tea, bringing out his best tea set, prefers to break the china through sound, hitting us hard with powerful sounds and poignant messages. “These systems are falling” comes with a handful of videos that are there to help convey his message, particularly “Are you lost in the world like me” where he draws our attention to this phone-obsessed world. This record follows the release of his book “Porcelain: a memoir” released this Spring and where he tells of his life in New York City, from “the broken and dirty city to the bizarre and stratospherically expensive city it has become”. Moby, the nicest guy around, comes back in force in 2016. He is someone like us, someone we clearly identify with. “I’m not a cool narrator or a disaffected anti-hero” he wrote on his book. “I’m just a clueless and panicked human being trying to make sense of the strange world I find myself”, adding that “I tried to be as honest as I could”. The nice thing about Moby is that we believe every word he says.

Carlos Tomé Sousa  

Kraftwerk play eight consecutive gigs at Guggenheim Bilbao

robots_3xq_2

A Kraftwerk album a day keeps the doctor away. If you wish to embark in a full electronic experience move to Bilbao these days where this German band will perform for eight consecutive nights at the Guggenheim.

The Spanish city of Bilbao saw its appeal increase massively after Guggenheim museum was built in this city. With its modern architecture designed by Frank Gehry it became a place to go to visit important exhibitions, such as the current one “Francis Bacon: From Picasso to Velázquez. But the main reason to take to this museum in the next eight days has not much to do with paintings but rather with soundscapes. As of tomorrow this city located in Spain’s most industrialized region welcomes the pioneers of industrial electronic music. Kraftwerk, the band formed in 1969 in Düsseldorf chose this museum for a true music marathon whereby they will play live each of their eight albums starting with “Autobahn” on the first night and ending with “Tour de France” on October 14. A true gem for the band aficionados and a good opportunity for younger generations to hear the full catalogue of a band that played a major role in modern music inspiring the likes of Bowie, Joy Division, New Order, Africa Bambaata and whole generations who would not play the way they do if these four robots with human flesh, red shirts and black ties hadn’t launched the seeds for electronic music to grow as it did.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

The big artist with a little name.

prince xxx

Prince died on 21 April 2016 at the age of 57 and the whole world cries once again the loss of yet another artist who managed to cross so many dimensions of modern music. 

It’s August 1988, Waldstadium in Frankfurt is almost packed and hundreds of people are still getting off the tram that has been taking thousands from the city’s main station to this stadium by the forest. Some have been dancing on the train that brought them all the way to Frankfurt. Special trains were organized to bring fans from the north and the south of Germany to the gigs in Frankfurt and Dortmund, trains that felt like a discotheque, and thousands have been partying for hours before the gig. While I wait, I look around at the crowd. And what a crowd! There was a bit of everything: new punks and rockers, disco queens and poppers, blacks, white, yellow, GI Joes by the thousands from the nearby American bases, street kids and rich kids and nearly all the youth cultures you could think of, all ready to take off. The place felt a bit like a big pow wow, a modern-day Woodstock with a high level of extravaganza. I had never seen anything like it. No one looked like the other, everybody had something special, odd, original, groovy on. By making dance music with such a big degree of groove, sexiness, mastery and rhythm, with power drums and long guitar solos, street beats and great lyrics he appealed to all music lovers from all sides of the music fences. His persona and his looks, both vibrant and sexy, and his sexy motherfucking appeal, did the rest. Prince was not a disco star, a rock star or a pop star. Prince was just that. He was a musical cross dresser who managed to touch all music dimensions of modern music. And this would prove it.

Prince frankfurt

The party mood was there. And when the first lights were lit and Prince showed up in a huge American pink cabrio the crowd just went mad. “Housequake” was one the first songs, a true earthquake of rhythm assisted by Prince’s guitar riffs and the powerful drums of Sheila E., the sexy drummer who would drive the crowd mad for the duration of the concert with her power drumming. There we were dancing in a concert by a black funk star with all the typical elements of a rock concert, from the riffs to the drumming. This explained to a great extent the huge diversity of the crowd. In 1988 Prince’s was at its peak and in ten years he had released his best and grooviest songs, a bit like the late David Bowie who passed away this year and whose main body of work was composed also in one decade. Prince’s first album was released in 1978 and recognistion would come one year after with his new LP and the track “I feel for you”, a song later covered by Chaka Khan in 1984.  But the record that set the tone and fired him to stardom was “1999”, released in 1982 and which featured the powerful song “1999”, one of his best tunes ever. Two years after “Purple Rain” was there and did the rest, consolidating his career thanks to the powerful “Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry”, and notably “Purple Rain” the song most people remember by this small prince from Minneapolis. The man was unstoppable and one year after more was to come under the form of great hits, contained in the album “Around the world in a Day”: “Pop Life”, “Raspberry Beret”, “Around the “World in a Day” and “Tamborine”. In 1986 another big hit would catapult him once again to stardom. “Parade” had just been launched and “Kiss” was the song being aired everywhere, a song and a video clip of overt sexiness no one could be indifferent to. “Girls and Boys”, both sexy and daring was another, along with the beautiful “Sometimes snows in April” the sentence used as headline by most of the world media to report his tragic passing this April. Death was also a sad reality in the mid-eighties as thousands died from a disease with a little name. This was the motto for “Sign of the times” from the eponymous album launched in 1987 and his most coherent album featuring some of his best songs from “Starfish and Coffee” to “Sign of the Times” through “The Cross” or “If I was your girlfriend”, just to name a few. In 1988 he launched “Lovesexy”, the album he was promoting at this concert in Frankfurt. But most of the people had been drawn to this stadium to listen to the magnificent “Sign of the Times” and to the the great body of work he had released from 1978 to 1988. Prince died yesterday at the age of 57 and the whole world acclaims him as one of the best artists ever in modern music. I saw him live after this but this German gig will remain in forever in my memory – I had seen the huge small artist at the peak of his career.

Carlos Tomé Sousa