martes, septiembre 29, 2009

Projecting happiness

Charles Spearin gathered a group of neighbors and some of his family members to talk about happiness. He recorded their speeches. And then he made music from those recordings...

He called this experiment The Happiness Project. It is an album made of 8 songs. Each song is named after the person he interviewed -and inspired him to make music.

Click on this video to find out more about this amazing work of art:

jueves, septiembre 24, 2009

Ledisi: R&B, with and edge

Ledisi suffered an intensive 6-month writer's block when it came down to write the songs for Turn me loose (2009) -her sophomore album. To overcome this issue, a friend suggested her to listen to Buddy Miles' Them changes and then she felt immediately seduced by how the drums sounded on that rock-soul classic. Listening to that music brought back the inspiration and freedom to make new songs. She decided to record Turn me loose with a live band -no samples, no beats- probably encouraged from what she heard on Miles' album. She also gathered a great group of remarkable urban music producers like Raphael Saadiq, Jimmy Jam & Eric Krasno (Soulive). All of this talents helped her to develop an amazing album filled with organic R&B tunes sang by a voice that manages to be, at the same time, sexy, funky and heartbreaking.

viernes, septiembre 18, 2009

19 minutos y medio

Puedo asegurar con absoluta sinceridad que cuento con bastantes amigos creativos.

Y eso me enorgullece, profundamente.

Mis panas creativos son personas que generan novedad, que le dan vida a la nada bien sea escribiendo, haciendo música, actuando o dibujando.

El solo hecho de admirar lo que cada uno de ellos crea, me inspira a mí también para crear.

Tengo panas creativos por todo el mundo. Seguramente están deslumbrando, con su arte, cada rincón desde donde se encuentran.

Quisiera dedicar este video especialmente a cada uno de mis panas artistas.

Sólo una pequeña recomendación: tómense su tiempo -que en verdad son 19 minutos y medio.

19 minutos y medio de una magnífica conferencia impartida por la escritora Elizabeth Gilbert sobre el proceso creativo.

19 minutos y medio que espero de todo corazón les sea útil para enfrentar esos momentos de duda que todo artista debe combatir.

19 minutos y medio que seguramente encenderán la llama que toda persona creativa necesita para fascinar al resto del mundo con su arte:


martes, septiembre 15, 2009

When the soul and the darkest of nights share the same color

What is it about night?

What happens in that part of the day in which we are -and we feel- most vulnerable?

Why can we watch those movies that some call dreams and others call nightmares?

Why do we get to feel in those hours our most unrealistic illusions and our most realistic fears?

Who are we at night?

Are we those bodies lying down with our eyes closed?

Are we our minds traveling between the heaven of our fantasies and the hell of our realities?

Why is the darkest color of all the color of nights?

Why do we have to sleep in the same place where we feel our most primitive pleasure?

Are we still living when we're sleeping?

Do we love when we sleep?

Why do we sleep?

Is it only to rest?

To take a break from reality?

To take a break from life?

What happens to all of those dreams/nightmares when we wake up?

What happens in between?


This poem was inspired by Dark night of the soul (2009), which, more than an album is a work of art crafted by the music of Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse, and a group of photographs taken by David Lynch. The first two invited a selected group of singers to write some lyrics and sing them over a group of instrumental tracks: Julian Casablancas (The Strokes), Iggy Pop, Nina Persson (The Cardigans), Black Francis (The Pixies), James Mercer (The Shins), Jason Lytle (Grandaddy), Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), Vic Chesnutt, Suzanne Vega and David Lynch himself.

Dark night of the soul was supposed to be a CD with a book including the photos taken by David Lynch -who begged the two composers to let him collaborate when he learned about the project-, but a legal dispute between Danger Mouse and the record label didn't make possible the release of the record.

Instead, the book includes a CD-R with a label on it that says: "For Legal Reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will". So if you buy the book and you get to download this record -which is the only way to listen to it, and it's what I strongly recommend you to- you can burn it in that CD.

I couldn't be able to write you review of this CD. The only thing I could do to describe you how it's like to listen to this record was to write you this poem.

A poem that was inspired by Dark night of the soul, the best record I've listened to this year.

Listen to Little girl feat. Julian Casablancas, my favorite song of the record

sábado, septiembre 12, 2009

Mayer Hawthorne: corny soul

Soul is back in town. Well, it's back in all around the world, actually. Over the last couple of years, artists like Amy Winehouse & Duffy (both from the UK), Raphael Saadiq & The Roots (both from the USA) have arranged their latest works into that marvelous genre that experienced it golden age in the 60's and 70's. Mayer Hawthorne is the most recent revelation among this trendy soul comeback. And it has become in one of my most beloved discoveries since I first learned of him thanks to the girl that collects cachivaches. The idea of recording "silly romantic soul tunes" started as a joke, according to Hawthorne. He showed his songs to his friends and they suggested him that he'd better start taking that music seriously, because it was too good to end up like a mere inside joke among buddies. He took that advice, recorded some other tracks and finished the record. Finally Stones Throw Records signed him, and A strange arrangement was edited. This is the kind of music that plays in the background when you fall in love like a fool. (It is also pretty good for dancing like a fool, as a matter of fact.) A strange arrangement's got to be the sweetest record I've listened to this year.

This is the video for Just ain't gonna work out

miércoles, septiembre 09, 2009

My first time at the Museum of Art and Design

Every time I walked around Columbus Circle I wanted to enter the Museum of Art and Design (MAD), but something always got in the way. Extranjera had also suggested me to visit it, so I already had more than one reason to go.
Since 2005 I've found a great pleasure in visiting modern art galleries, no matter if I couldn't understand the art in exhibition -actually you don't have to understand art in order to like it, right? The possibility of discovering an art proposal that delights me is what I enjoy the most by walking through a gallery -even though some times I like even more entering to its store...
If by any chance I happen to like a particular artist, then I begin to search more about him and almost instantaneously I become his follower. (In that way I've discovered the works of artists like Diana Lui, Jenny Holzer and Kara Walker.)
But let's get back to the MAD. The story of my first visit began at the Borders store at 34th street. Going inside that store and reading the magazines has become one of my habits in the few weeks that I've been living in New York. I picked the last issue of Time Out New York and I read that on thursday there was going to be a DIY workshop in the MAD that consisted of bringing an old t-shirt and re-making it with a bunch of cool techniques.
I got interested in going as soon as I read that. The event was free too. But what I haven't read yet was that the event was free basically because on thursdays' afternoons at the MAD -from 5 to 8- you can "pay what you wish" for an admission ticket -which means that if you want to pay a quarter you could just do that. (This also happens in other museums of New York like the MoMA and the Whitney on friday's afternoons.)
The opportunity then seemed perfect to go and visit it. In that way I'd have the chance to assist to the workshop and to check out the exhibitions. I took the subway and I got off at 59st - Columbus Circle. I walked a few blocks and there I was: at the gates of the MAD. I was truly excited.
The museum has 7 floors. It has a store at the Ground floor -which is the other thing that I love about modern & contemporary art museums, I've said it already, right?-, a Studio at the 6th floor -where the workshop was going to take place- and a restaurant at the 7th floor that opens this fall. The rest of the floors are galleries. I decided to see the exhibitions before going to the workshop.
I didn't find especially interesting the first two galleries. There were products made out of wood and glass. Nothing extraordinary. I kept on going up 'til I entered the 4th floor, in which the main exhibition was been displayed. And that was the best thing durnig my first visit at the MAD: Painting with glass by Klaus Moje.
Moje is an artist born in Germany who reinvented the way glass was seen in the art domains in the 20th century. As the title of his exhibition suggests it: he paints with glass. He makes these paintings with little pieces of glass that are melted so they can merge into one another, and then he polish the final product to take off the glass shine. He doesn't want us -the observers- to see his works of art as pieces made by glass. His emphasis relies on color.
All of this information was given to us by Judy, and enthusiastic guide of the Museum who practically imparted us a lecture about the work of this terrific artist: "He has the mentality of a painter and he invented this technique. He sees his work as an emotional response to his environment. He is the greatest glass artist nowadays".
When you see his work and then you see how he made it -there was a video showing how he made one of the pieces in exhibition- you can't do but confirm Judy's last statement. Moje's paintings blew me away. His pieces amazed me so much that I nearly forgot to go to the t-shirts workshop. So after I finished looking at Moje's paintings -I still see them inside my head- I went to the studio.
The place was packed. One more participant could hardly join in. So I decided to stare at all those people reinventing their t-shirts. The results were quite surprising. But I couldn't leave the building without taking another look at Moje's work. So I went down to see one more time these incredible works of art.
I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing. Moje's work is astonishing. It is hard for me to try and describe you a faithful image of what I saw that day. So if you happen to be in New York these days of if you have the chance of catching an exhibition of this artist, don't hesitate in seeing it.
I'm afraid that's the only way you can feel what I did at my first visit at the Museum of Art and Design of New York.

miércoles, septiembre 02, 2009

Grizzly Bear: bittersweet indie

After releasing Yellow house in 2006, Grizzly Bear opened for acts like TV on the Radio, Feist & Radiohead and played a concert with the LA Philharmonic. Long story short, this band from Brooklyn achieved an enormous success with their opera prima. Three years later, they released Veckatimest, an authentic music triumph already considered by a lot of people -including me- as one of the best indie records of 2009. The most peculiar -yet pleasant- thing about this album is that it offers some sort of 'dark optimism'. I mean, they play sad songs with a enchanting beatlesque touch, but after you listen to them you don't feel down, you can almost feel hopeful instead. I'm afraid this might get pretty tricky for you to understand, so the best thing you could is listen to Veckatimest? Because listening to these songs might be a good start upon feeling happy.

This is the video for Two weeks