Archive for the ‘music’ Category

The shape of thought to come: Musings on The Ornette Coleman Quartet

January 7, 2010

I take jazz improvisation to be a model for permanent revolution in society at large” Eugene Holland, Deleuze and Music

The album Ornette! is electrifying. The fluctuating pitter-patter cross rhythms and squeaky choppy eruptions of unexpected sounds feel like they’re blasting Being apart with snare and sax. Patterns grow and fade-out becoming intense with a gradated tempo and flickering motifs of delightful repetitions with a difference. There’s a forcefulness to it, an aggression one could say, but in the sense of trying to create new objects, unthought objects. To make objects that burst out between the gaps of the apparatus of mobilized rational society, its marketed castrated intensities and conceptualized modes of living.

The Quartet float out effervescent enunciations, crystalline things that re-set the rhythm of you body from an ordered structured clock time of contiguity and predictability to one a liquidated dimension of the joyful uncalculated being-there. This music is a sensual drenching, a celebration and reminder of the edifying and contingent experience of being that erupts in the gap between the thing and nothing. If consciousness is memory, as Bergson would proclaim, the experience of listening to music is the pattern matching of ever new layers of fresh memories. Memories that come and go yet linger on as remembrances of patterns and intensities.

The Quartet acts like a de-tuning process, taking one away from the register of the world as concepts, as structure, as order, yet forms these things organically, harmonizing to patterned resonance, disarray and back again. They play in the cracks, filling them up, bursts them open to let our ears feast on the fertile-soils and strange ripe fruits that are passed over by the unadventurous.

The freejazz of the Quartet is the finest example of a playful music of sporadic rapid movements between experimental existences. There is no imperative of beat, tempo and direction. The instruments wrap themselves around each other, like interweaving rainforest undergrowth that symbiotically spread and multiply. It is jarring, distorted and uneven; it strikes as rough waves of noise, especially if one is used to calmer warm seas that caress you in polymorphically perverse comfort. Beat chop and change, waves splash, bubble and morph into eddies and currents that move with relentless creative force. However, it is not random and neither is it anarchic. The weeping sounds that open Peace are not unstructured as such, but create an ephemeral mood that is welcomed like Rumi’s guests at his Guest House: “A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all!”.

There is an emotional logic of sensation, as Deleuze would say, an instantaneously apprehended magnitude, where the irrational logic of a spasmodic sharp spontaneous reaction lingers in the memory-consciousness of the listener and player. Understood as a unit operation, it is “an understanding, largely arbitrary, certainly contingent, of a particular situation, compacted and taken as whole”. It is the procedure implementation of non representational randomness where man experiences himself as an accident… and likes it.

The Quartet do not battle against their sound’s structure like musical deconstructionists, but create in the playful seriousness of children’s games which morph through praxis that feeds back into the memory of a malleable given of the game structure. The music of the Quartet is not in fear of structure.However, there is always a fidelity to the enterprise of their collaboration: the fidelity is not to a mood, a sound, a rhythm or a idea, but to the exploration of the unknown and unforeseen.

The form and content of the music is creative and fecund. There is no obligation or expectation other than in playing with the possibilities of objects created by sax, drums and bass. These possibilities are generated inside the immediacy of their local assemblage, the apparatus by which they speak being from the depths. I feel in freejazz, the light and lightness of a deterritorialized line of flight, the permanent revolution of subjectivized freedom whose message is echoed in the instructions of Deleuze and Guattari who can bring this article to a close:

“This is how it should be done: Lodge yourself on a stratum, experiment with the opportunities it offers, find an advantageous place on it, find potential movements of deterritorialization, possible lines of flight, experience them, produce flow conjunctions here and there, try out continuums of intensities segment by segment, have a small plot of new land at all times. It is through a meticulous relation with the strata that one succeeds in freeing lines of flight…” (ATP, p.178).