Tag Archives: Art

Walter De Maria, R.I.P.

Reports across the internet indicate that Walter De Maria has died. He is one of my favorite sculptors and musicians of all time, his most famous works being the installations “Lightning Field” (in New Mexico), “The New York Earth Room,” and “The Broken Kilometer” (both in New York). He also briefly played drums in the Primitives, a precursor band to the Velvet Underground. Back in 2005, I wrote a review (for Swingset Magazine) of his self-released compact disc Drums and Nature, containing two pieces of his from the 1960s, in contrast with then-new works by Watersports:

Painting, sculpture, hell even being in a regular rock band wasn’t enough for Walter De Maria. After moving to New York in 1960, hobnobbin’ and theorizin’ and fluxus-izin’ with crazyman composer La Monte Young, playing drums for a stint in The Velvet Underground, and establishing himself as one of the prominent sculptors in the emerging “minimalist” scene, De Maria looked for – and found – the ever-larger gesture. In search of an art that was more than just “art,” De Maria in 1968 filled the Galerie Heiner Friedrich in Munich with dirt, kicking off the whole earthworks movement. That same year, he recorded “Ocean Music,” which along with “Cricket Music” (from 1964) is available for the first time on Drums and Nature. “Ocean Music,” recorded with the help of rediscovered minimalist badass Tony Conrad, is a meditative piece beginning with – you guessed it – the sound of waves crashing along some shore somewhere. Some heavy solo tribal drumming eventually mixes in, then subsumes the ocean sound, and what we’ve got is something akin to New Age if New Age wasn’t fucking lame. That is, a perfect representation of the “natural,” but with an acknowledgement of the “human” (incidentally, La Monte Young also recorded a vocal piece with the ocean off Long Island as his backin’ band around the same time for Columbia, but it has yet to see the light of day). “Cricket Music” is less meditative, but no less amazing (and no less truth-in-advertising, title-wise). Listening to these compositionally simple, yet striking pieces, it’s too bad that De Maria hasn’t seemed to have done much since, musically…

De Maria’s Drums and Nature will be available for download here for a limited time: http://www.sendspace.com/file/9vcr0i. If you miss it, you can also download it from UbuWeb here: http://www.ubu.com/sound/demaria.html.

UPDATE, 7/26/13: The Los Angeles Times has confirmed De Maria’s death by publishing an obituary here: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-walter-de-maria-died-20130725,0,1642854.story.

UPDATE, 7/27/13: The New York Times has published their obituary of Walter De Maria here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/27/arts/design/walter-de-maria-artist-on-grand-scale-dies-at-77.html.

MUSIC and ART This Weekend, 11/17-11/20

There’s a lot of things going on this weekend to tell you about, so let’s get started…

Tonight, at the Clifton Center, none other than BASSEKOU KOUYATE AND NGONI BA will be performing. We wrote about their album Segu Blue way back in 2009 here:

Given the recent collaboration between Bela Fleck and Malian kora player Toumani Diabate, it’s possible that there’s been no greater spotlight on the West African nation at any other time than right now. Fortunately, all the attention on Mali is casting some light on other worthwhile players as well. Countryman Bassekou Kouyate plays the ngoni, a six-stringed instrument, which is arguably less complex than Tiabate’s 21-stringed kora, but still retains a beautiful melodicism. Kouyate’s 2007 album Segu Blue, issued in the United States this year, contains all the beauty one has come to expect from acoustic music from Mali. And on the blue “Lament for Ali Farka,” a requiem for the departed guitarist Ali Farka Toure, Kouyate and his group Ngoni Ba emerge from the shadows cast by their better-known comrades.

You can buy tickets here: http://www.cliftoncenter.org/?post_type=events&p=144. The Clifton Center is located at 2117 Payne Street, just off Frankfort Avenue. Tickets are $20 and the doors are at 7:30 PM.

Tomorrow night, KING’S DAUGHTERS & SONS make a rare appearance at 21C with SELUAH. Read an exciting interview with KD&S in this week’s LEO here: http://leoweekly.com/music/justice-served-king%E2%80%99s-daughters-sons. Doors are at 8 PM, and it costs $10.

Finally, tomorrow night is the opening reception of THE EXPANDED MUSIC PROJECT, a new show at the LAND OF TOMORROW gallery exploring the relationship between music and art. Here’s their description (with more information here: http://www.landoftomorrow.org/events-exhibitions/expanded-music-project/):

Land of Tomorrow (LOT) is pleased to present the Expanded Music Project, a showcase of work illustrating the intersection between art and music.  The opening reception will be held at our Louisville location on November 18th from 7pm, and the show will run through the 3rd of January.  Included in this exhibition will be work by Heather Cantrell, Aurora Childs, Saiman Chow, Hirsuta, Geneva Jacuzzi, Leslie Lyons, Andrea Stanislav, Thieves Like Us, as well as Raurouw with Shedding, Peaking Lights with artist Letitia Quesenberry, and musician EMA with artist Jacob Heustis.

The premise of this show is to highlight the fluidity between creative forms and artistic practices.  The influence of album art, video production, stage design, graffiti, and the appropriation tactics of remixing have established an ongoing conversation between artists and musicians.  This dialogue between visual artist and musician continues to play a major role, and creative forces as diverse as Elvis, The Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, Pink Floyd, and Afrika Bambaataa have delved into the realms of the visual and the auditory to produce work that both fields accept and champion.

The show will be up through January 3rd, but tomorrow night is a great chance to see it first. And it’s free! LAND OF TOMORROW is located at 233 W. Broadway, in the St. Francis High School Building.