Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Phillip Bimstein's Sonic Landscapes

Phillip Bimstein heads out into the world with a microphone and gathers samples to create musical portraits of the environments in which he lives. He's based in Zion and happens to be coming to my Creative Visual Communication Class today. The piece of Phillips which struck me the most was his journey through the Youth Prison in St. George, Lockdown. The jaunting pace with classical instruments creates an operatic feel, swinging through different stories and different emotions.

In that way I was reminded very strongly of Damon Albarn's Monkey, Journey to the West. Monkey is a modern Opera by the same musical mastermind behind the Gorillaz. It's an hour long, in Chinese, and incredible. The strongest thing about the piece taken as a whole, and Phillip's, is that the moods evoked are not dependent on each other, but they add up to a complete sonic piece. The imagery that the music compels is strong, and individual. This was Jamie Hewlett's visualization of one of the songs off of Monkey:

Monkey Bee on Vimeo.

Where Albarn and Hewlett's Monkey is pretty heavily performative and spectacular, Phillip's stories combine that arrangement with an element of human interest. The almost documentary aspect makes it a good way to get a feel for the kid's stories, and turns their bare and sometimes self-conscious statements into lyrics. Behind the words is the sonic buildup of the clicks, ratchets, and slams of the detention center. Together the words and the noises create a whole experience of the center, and the musical arraignment arrangement (thanks to tom for pointing out how unintentionally clever I am) emotionalizes it.


Tom said...

Podium ! ! !

Sometimes you and Al post stuff that is so surreal I feel like I'm in an altered state or two, three or more if you're counting Utah. I liked your 'arraignment' pun, very nice. In totally unrelated news, I created a Latin epithet for Greg this morning because I'm so goddamn clever I can't help myself. I often feel that I come across a lot better on paper, the problem with this is that I often overlook the fact that I'm the one reading it. Let me know what you think.

Davey D said...

2nd! you're hilarious.

and I TOTALLY didn't mean to include a judicial pun in this post, I wish I had the cajones to take credit for it. You ARE so goddamn clever.

Oh, and how and I to let you know what I think of Greg's epithet if I don't know what it is? Is he going to come into the library any moment, enraged, and declaim whatever name you've given him? Because that would be awesome.

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