Bliss in an art gallery goes something like this: scores of gregarious zebra finches free in a room full of rock instruments. It's called 'from here to ear v19' and it's a captivating installation/live show by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot. What I found most surprising was the level of activity in the room, not coming from us transfixed human spectators but from the birds themselves: hopping on guitar strings, feeding, singing, attempting to build a nest on a guitar, snoozing in the sand... the whole had an air of purposefulness and order far from the disarray I had expected to find. Here's a great article in Slate that clarified some questions I had. It even goes into how birds of the same species can develop different dialects based on environment, something I've always wondered about since observing urban chickens and wondering if they would develop different calls to cope with the loudness of the city.
I love this film. It is a spirited, unconventional search for concrete connections to Man Ray's 1926 film Emak Bakia. At first it seems all about the journey, as filmmaker Oskar Alegria follows the slightest whims to faraway tangents, but then we actually do arrive at real destinations and they are delightful. Such a fine balancing act of interior and exterior worlds. A highlight for me was the sound design, which at one point breaks the fourth wall and reveals its surprising origins. It is a documentary (played at Vancouver's DOXA Festival) but beyond that it defies categorization.
I was lucky to catch Jennifer Castle performing at the Hemlock Tavern this past September. I've been meaning to write a post about her because she is one of my favorite singer-songwriters working/touring today. Stuart Berman at Pitchfork says it better than I can:
Jennifer Castle is an enigma hiding in plain sight. On the surface, she’s a Canadian singer/songwriter like so many others, often performing with just a guitar and a stool, singing songs that conjure bygone country, folk, and blues traditions and that are lyrically steeped in richly detailed agrarian scenery and the travails of being a working mom. But Castle’s music is not so much of the earth as floating above it, untethered to the natural order of time and space and often eschewing typical verse/chorus/verse structure to roam according to its own wandering spirit. As Lou Reed famously sang, “between thought and expression lies a lifetime,” and that’s where Jennifer Castle’s songs live—that grey area where observation mutates into rumination, and where the physical world dissolves into psychic terrain.
Alone on the tiny backroom stage with her semi-acoustic guitar, she plunged us into the vibrant world I had previously encountered through her recordings. I highly recommend any of her LPs. Her latest, Pink City, is one of those records I keep going back to on cold nights with warm lighting. Here is a song (and video) from that record:
Sparse highlights from the great spinning sphere of publication.