Friday, March 25, 2011

Brad Mehldau

The jazz genre, as defined in the new millennium, comprises several distinctive factions, one of which is a rather adventurous bunch that possess this rather pleasing habit of pushing the envelope (and occasionally, setting it on fire) on the "typical" definition of how jazz should be in this post-modernist age. These adventurous souls, heavily influenced by the intellectual approach of neo-classicists like John Cage and Steve Reich, have a penchant for introducing odd time signatures and odder instrumentation. making music that is breathtakingly brazen in their structures. One of the most visible figures amongst these bold practitioners is pianist Brad Mehldau, who has carved a reputation as one of the most intrepid performers, even within the circle of experimentalists to which he clearly belongs. Mehldau is known to take an intensely cerebral approach to performance, frequently engaging unusual harmonic constructions, mutated modal chords and an austere, Zen-like simplicity in overall presentation. Check out one of Mehldau's more well-known pieces, an audacious, freeform-jazz interpretation of Radiohead's dark Gothic crawl 'Exit Music (For a Film)', done with his customary technical assurance and an inherent sense of musical adventurism.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Diamond Sea

Immediately hailed as a groundbreaking rock act at their inception about three decades ago, noise-pop pioneers and erstwhile sonic terrorists Sonic Youth have weathered numerous obstacles and presented the world with a series of revolutionary records that simultaneously stamped their name in rock-music history and introduced the concept of guitar feedback to the rock overground. Atonal and dissonant almost to a fault, the group were dead set right from the beginning to foist their inimitable brand of rock on an unsuspecting world, whether the music-listening public liked it or not. Make no mistake, Sonic Youth are one of the genuinely original (in every sense of the word) rock acts ever even if commercial success has been elusive, and looks to be perpetually out of reach, given the current sorry state of the music industry. Check out one of the band's latter-day highlights, the cinematic avant-garde noise epic 'The Diamond Sea', which was trimmed down to a more manageable five minutes for radio play, a marked difference from its original gargantuan twenty-five-minute length.