Mary Halvorson – Meltframe

Meltframe

Mary HalvorsonMeltframe Firehouse 12 FH12-04-01-021 (2015)


Mary Halvorson is one of the most talented guitarists of her generation.  Her approach might be compared to that of Bill Frisell.  Both guitarists have eclectic interests, a generous spirit towards collaborations, penchants for odd — almost contrarian — improvisations, and a willingness to employ distortion.  However, especially in his later years Frisell has gravitated toward a pastoral Americana in his work that can come across as sedate and complacent.  Halvorson, on the other hand, is much more willing to dabble in dissonance and incongruous leaps.  That is to say, Halvorson sounds like Frisell turned up to eleven, with a more adventurous sense of composition.

Meltframe is a collection of solo guitar cover versions of generally lesser-known jazz tunes. For the most part, this is yet another tremendous album from Halvorson.  She opens the set with a ragged, willfully jagged and loud take on Oliver Nelson‘s “Cascades.”  Then there is “Cheshire Hotel” by the French guitarist Noël Akchoté, a sometimes collaborator with Halvorson, with a sort of pop derived melody and an emphasis on rhythmic reverb.  Duke Ellington‘s “[(In My)] Solitude,” probably the most widely known composition to appear here, is played with a solemn yet sensitive emotional palette — another of the disc’s highlights.  Carla Bley‘s “Ida Lupino” gets an acoustic treatment, recasting the tune’s tender, nostalgic sympathies for a charismatic female actor/director fading from view by newly emphasizing a kind of scrappiness.  The album does drop off toward the end, with compositions that impress much less and performances that only occasionally spark interest.  So the album is a tad uneven, but most of what is here is good-to-great.

Mary Halvorson Octet – Away With You

Away With You

Mary Halvorson OctetAway With You Firehouse 12 FH12-04-01-024 (2016)


Away With You is much less overtly “jazzy” than, say, Saturn Sings from six years prior.  Halvorson seems much like the rightful heir to the kind of music her former teacher Anthony Braxton has been making for half a century.  These recordings feature an octet with a horn section playing charts set against abstract solos.  The charts aren’t exactly conventional, but they do provide an organized reference point that contrasts with other aspects of the proceedings.  In Halvorson’s hands, it isn’t that she merely juxtaposes the strange and conventional, or that she fully integrates them either, but rather she plays those distinct approaches off each other in varying degrees.  This lends a dynamism to what she does that seems the key to the album’s success.  There is a totality evoked that contains disparate approaches and their synthesis, while extending equal respect to each and all of them.  This is how Away With You achieves the much talked about but rarely delivered notion of music that is “inside” and “outside” at the same time.

Paul Lyons – YouTube’s Content ID: A Case Study

Link to an article by Paul Lyons:

“YouTube’s Content ID — A Case Study”

 

The DMCA was pejoratively referred to as the “Microsoft Bill” when it was passed, and few had any illusions at the time that it was anything other than industry-written special-interest legislation.

 

Bonus links: The People’s Platform and “The Limits of the Web in an Age of Communicative Capitalism” and Platform Capitalism and “The Market Economy: Theory, Ideology and Reality” and Articles on Silicon Valley Monopolies and Alternatives (“instead of fighting this monopoly through the state apparatus (remember the court-ordered splitting up of the Microsoft Corporation), would it not be more ‘logical’ simply to nationalize it, making it freely accessible?”)

Jodi Dean – Four Theses on the Comrade

Link to a video of a lecture by Jodi Dean:

“Four Theses on the Comrade”

(Note: Dean begins speaking at about 12:00 minutes in; fast forward to that point)

Her distinction between “survivors” and “systems” here, and suggestions for moving past that dichotomy, are very useful.  See also Crowds and Party Review and “The Limits of the Web in an Age of Communicative Capitalism”

Joe Lauria – Clinging to Collusion

Link to an article by Joe Lauria:

“Clinging to Collusion: Why Evidence Will Probably Never Be Produced in the Indictments of ‘Russian Agents’”

 

Rather curious how much press this unsubstantiated “Russian meddling” trope gets, whereas the old story of tampering with voting machines by Republican party operatives received little: “The Ghost of Rigged Elections Past: New Revelations on the Death of Michael Connell”See also “Reflections on Media Gone Russia-Wild” and “The Utility of the RussiaGate Conspiracy”