Driff Records: Making a Case

June 11th, 2014


Matchbox: Pandelis Karayorgis, Nate McBride, Jorrit Dijkstra, and Curt Newton performing at the LilyPad in Cambridge, MA on June 4, 2014.

If there is strength in numbers, Driff Records is taking a stand against the general indifference with which improvised music is met in the Boston area. That is not say that there are no enthusiastic supporters of the music here, but over the last couple of years a stack of recordings on the relatively new label—often local artists working with musicians from other cities in the U.S. or Europe—is asking the world to pay more attention. In fact, the albums are a public statement about connections and sympathies that have existed for years.

The label was founded in 2012 by musicians Jorrit Dijkstra and Pandelis Karayorgis in 2012 to release “transatlantic” improvised music. They are both from Europe, so the emphasis on music with feet on both sides of the “pond” should come as no surprise.

On Friday, July 18, the Second Annual Driff Fest (and CD release party) at the Lilypad in Cambridge will be featuring many of the bands on the label: Matchbox, Bolt, Tony Malaby, and the Driff Large Ensemble. That translates to many of the best improvisers in Boston. For more information, check their website. You have your marching orders.

Summer Research, Part II

August 23rd, 2012

Summer Research

August 20th, 2012

Wishlist: a history, not just for applications

June 22nd, 2012

How about a history for the operating system? Each “state” would visit an application—in order of usage—showing the most recent version of the document that was open at the time of closing. It would also save this history by calendar day, for referencing later. That could be very useful for locating documents for which you’ve forgotten the names, as well as reminding you of what you worked on in any given day. Who do I call?

Work Happens #1

June 5th, 2012

New work by Robert B. levers

The Problem with Video in Museums

May 29th, 2012

The Clock

Maybe it’s my problem. I just can’t help imagining that most of the videos I see in museums were made with a beginning and an end. That is, that the intended experience is based on a linear immersion that takes place over time. Is it enough to see only a section or start with the end?

Maybe it’s because we’ve come to understand Art as encompassing such a large range of expressions, the only way we know how to anoint it is by sticking it in a museum. If that’s the case, should there be timed entry—like a movie theatre—to the spaces that are showing videos? As it stands, chances are that you will not arrive at the beginning.

The only video—actually I’ve seen only a part of it—that celebrates an unplanned arrival is Christian Marclay’s The Clock. The 24-hour-long video is keyed to the actual time of day through its constant showing of clocks of all types from hundreds of different movies.

I can’t imagine that the video-makers haven’t considered this issue. Maybe my short encounters are exactly what they’ve imagined. If this is the case, then I confess—I’m not that interested in a lot of what I’ve seen. Or am using the wrong yardstick, one based on a lifetime of movie-watching?

The 2012 Whitney Biennial

May 22nd, 2012

Whitney Biennial 2012

I just saw the 2012 Whitney Biennial. The fourth floor was closed to get ready for K8 Hardy’s Untitled Runway Show, so I didn’t see any performances during my visit. What I did see was a lot of art so unsure of itself that it hedged its bets with lots of references to other works or masqueraded as agents of social change.

We appear to be at a point where there are clear rules for what constitutes “high” art. And I’m not just talking locally. Just look at any of the large, regularly occurring exhibitions around the world and—even if the names are unfamiliar—the language the art employs is not. Unfortunately, it feels like terms more dictated by a marketplace than a set of shared aspirations.

The fact that artists and art viewers are aware of what art is supposed to look like doesn’t mean that compelling work is not being made within that set of expectations—I just didn’t see much at the Whitney.

As an artist, perhaps the best takeaway from this visit is the inspiration to make something that really matters.

Origami Ukulele

May 18th, 2012

A freelance engineer who’s won awards for his mobile phone concept designs has taken his passion for origami and applied it to music. Brian Chan has invented a folding ukulele, made of laser-cut pieces of bamboo plywood. The engineering makes it even more portable than a normal ukulele. By disengaging the strings, one can fold the neck and headboard into the body of the instrument. The result—something that resembles a turtle—can be easily thrown into a pack. If you really want to connect with the design, there’s a kit available. Get details on where to buy it and watch him describe here.

The Search for Magic

May 15th, 2012

I just saw a film about a man driven by his desire to create and share new experiences in the dining room. Not yours, though—you had to go to his place to have his vision shared with you.

El Bulli: Cooking in Progress was about the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià and the restaurant located north of Barcelona that he led. It recently closed, and I suspect the intense quest for the new and unexpected probably wore out the man. His curiosity was responsible for changing how we think about the experience of eating—an opportunity for good-tasting nourishment and shared conversation, or, better yet, an orchestrated series of surprises and delight?

Adrià’s pursuit of magic made it necessary to close the restaurant every year for six months for “research.” The kitchen staff would retire to Barcelona during the winter months to play with food, examining texture, taste, and presentation. The meticulously documented results were put into play upon their return and fine-tuned in the actual restaurant environment.

What made this all work was not just the intensity and focus of the man, but his willingness to experiment and look beyond the “rules” of the kitchen. I suppose the lesson is that we all need to be open to what lies outside the box—the potential rewards are too great to ignore.

[The movie site.]

Updating the terms

May 10th, 2012

Message Therapy for businesses

A recent piece of direct mail from a gym has provided a new phrase that does a pretty good job of describing what I do for businesses: Advertising, Website Design, Marketing Material Development and now…MESSAGE THERAPY. (Try to get that somewhere else.)