Friday, August 15, 2008

Taking Transylvania (by Strategy)


From John Cale & Terry Riley's collab LP, The Church of Anthrax. A monster storm of two pianos and two drums, a testament to free rock improv, a track I hold dear and which, as you'll see, has everything to do with hiking in Romania.

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I am down from the mountain. Much could be said about this. I know that I was there, I can prove it, I have images in digital. I and my colleague Alex spent a week in the Fagaras mountains in Romania. This is how these mountains appear through the eye of Google Maps.

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A trip initiated by a 3am drunken handshake over pierogis in the East Village, and borne to success by two friends who are both essentially adventurous, dumb and lucky. I have no urge to recall the details of the mountain mission here, for rather obvious reasons. In the absence of the sort of insightful, witty account the reader might expect from these pages, let me instead recommend perusing an online photo album. The further curious are encouraged to buy me and/or my travel partner beers in order to hear all the tales.

Taking Transylvania (by Strategy)

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I thought a great deal about what track to post that would link up with the mountains in the most satisfying way. I thought about Popol Vuh and Sunno))) and these things. Then I realized that the best way to mirror this mountain mission would not be to soundtrack it. Instead:

"The Ides of March" is a really fantastic example of improvisation, and reminds us how group music improv becomes a sort of utopian model for social relationships. Because it's all about negotiating and exercising your own freedom in relation to those around you. This is the politics of the thing, that you are free to do whatever you want, play however you want, but you're constantly affecting and affected by the decisions of others, there's a constant dialectic of freedom and limitation. Successful improv in music is a beautiful example of people getting along together, and it's not unlike the kind of exchange that can be practiced between two friends, especially two friends on a slightly bold, quixotic excursion, who are able to trust one another in their own freedom, and who by virtue of their respective decisions grant the other the chance to first become free. I've played improv-based music with Alex for several years now, and I can't help but think that seven days in the mountains was somehow..playing music by other means.

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