A fascinating history for the film obsessive in your life. While being focused on the development of synching sound to image in movies, it is also a decent history of the studio system.
If you’re already interested in the morbid, melancholic, and macabre, then there will be some old friends here. I found the biggest value in discovering contemporary artists mining the strange and bizarre.
A movie that’s been on the list for years, probably ever since I used to obsessively look through mail-order catalogs like the ones for Janus back in the VHS days. It manages to capture both an outlandish premise based on a true story–a man pretends to be a famous, reclusive director and gets put on trial–and a quiet quotidian beauty and existential angst.
A Japanese microbudget salute to Evil Dead (and maybe the energy of Hausu?). I don’t want to oversell it because I think most people are just not going to enjoy this, but I had a blast. I love stop-motion animation even in its most amateur form and this showcased even some rudimentary paper cut-up animation that was unexpected.
A documentary on free jazz (or avant-garde or avant-jazz or new music as it is called at various times within the movie). Focuses on Peter Kowald, William Parker, and Charles Gayle and their approaches to the music and the difficulties and rewards of pursuing it.
Some great performances: solo Kowald, early Zorn duo where he’s playing mouthpieces, bird calls, and bowls of water, Rashied Ali cooling off on the drum throne and sipping a Budweiser while Brotzmann, Gayle, (David S. Ware?) and others set in on fire.
Part of the Free Jazz Collection on Criterion is a short spotlight on Alice Coltrane from 1970. I can’t imagine a full-length one won’t happen at some point given her influence in free music and beyond.
Great set of music from 1974. A range of big band, free, and funk playing.
Fantastic electronic score by jazz saxophonist and composer Gil Mellé. I’m definitely going to be diving into his catalog.
Not a band I know well, but like a great deal. I feel like I’ve taken the Peel Sessions for granted, knowing their reputation, but not checking them out more. The versions on here make it hard to go back to the studio versions in several cases.
Daniel Bachman’s new Almanac Behind is a further chronicle of his experimental side. Bachman is one of my favorite contemporary fingerstyle guitar players, but he has also been more often pursuing electronic and experimental music. Almanac Behind is a chronicle of the weather patterns of the river region he lives in and a longford meditation on larger climate issues.
Below I’ll post one of the new videos and the movie for his last release Axacan, which is worth taking the time to sit with. The record was reflecting on the individual’s relationship to large and challenging aspects of society and history: the pandemic, climate change, colonialism, and genocide.