15 that remain with me after a dense and various year of films, most viewed in a theater. Some were late 2021 releases that lacked found single night or festival screenings in LA this year (six at 2220 Arts & Archives).
A New Old Play – Qiu Jiongjiong
A Night of Knowing Nothing – Payal Kapadia
Aleph – Iva Radivojevic
Decision to Leave – Park Chan-wook
EO – Jerzy Skolimowski
Fire of Love – Sara Dosa
From the Planet of the Humans – Giovanni Cioni
Geographies of Solitude – Jacquelyn Mills
Incroyable mais vrai – Quentin Dupieux
Memoria – Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Men – Alex Garland
Murina – Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic
Neptune Frost – Saul Williams, Anisia Uzeyman
Riotsville, USA – Sierra Pettengill
The Girl and the Spider – Ramon & Silvan Zürcher
A few more I think about: The Sacred Spirit (Chema García Ibarra), Watcher (Chloe Okuno), Tár (Todd Field), El Lado Quieto (Miko Revereza, Carolina Fusilier), The Cathedral (Ricky D’Ambrose), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells)
A busy month, shy of contemplative spaces and moments – music in the near-background often, but also scattered in the clatter of work and building. A big project came on – launching an art center to share and broadcast musics among other forms. But much new music did find its way in, though, as ever, and a few special collections no less.
Any month that sees a Jeanne Lee reissue is a good one, and this month saw two, Gunter Hampel’s rerelease of far-too rare 1975 LP Conspiracy, and a strange Spotify-only collection of uncertain vintage (’61? ’62?), with a number of live tracks with Ran Blake. The mastering is terrible, and it’s one of those things that may just mysteriously disappear from platform, but there are some wonderful cuts, including “Left Alone” from The Newest Sound Around. Along with the Lee from 1975, we also got a first reissue of the great Tezeta from 1975 by Hailu Mergia. Great year for film, great year for music.
Geneva continues to collect everything good – another terrific Bongo Joe comp, and a big, wild, hybrid, unpredictable release from Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp. Lots of surprises on that album, and lots of velocity. Nothing was stranger than the new Lightman Jarvis Ecstatic Band project, which sounds like the frinkiest 90s lost avant-pop disc ever (it’s not), but Nick Hakim & Roy Nathanson’s Small Things comes close at times. And speaking of frinky things, the latest Scallops Hotel / RAP Ferreira was back in rotation again – I’d listened to it a lot early in the year, bundle of earworms that it is, and then a friend noted he was in town, so good luck for us.
Most relaxing night sounds: Guatemalan cellist Mabe Fratti’s latest. Or classic Mina, take you pick.
A month of meager viewing relative to others this year. I was heads-down building a cinema instead of seat-down viewing it this month. So, some family viewing, some weekend horror, and some summery Varda for Father’s Day weekend.
I did make it to an actual cinema twice though, making for three public screenings since ‘reopening’. Gaia healing and all that.
Film (recent releases)
Censor – Prano Bailey-Bond, UK, 2021
A Quiet Place (pt II) – John Krasinksi, US, 2021
The Mitchells vs the Machines – Michael Rianda, US, 2021
Circumstantial Pleasures – Lewis Klahr, US, 2020
Girl on the Third Floor – Travis Stevens, 2019
Ten Skies – James Benning, US, 2004
Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, US, 2008
Moonbird – John Hubley, US, 1959
The Host – Bong Joon-ho, 2006
Cleo from 5 to 7 / Le Bonheur (double feature) – Agnes Varda, France, 1962 / 1965
Early in the month, I finally received a copy of William Parker’s 10-volume masterwork, Migration of Silence Into and Out of Tone World, and have been working through it, segment by segment for much of the month. The maximalism of it is astonishing enough, but so is its variability and off-path experimentation. And by ‘experiment’ I don’t mean it in a genre sense, as in the muscular improvisation and challenging sonic spectrum Parker was known for as a player in the 90s/00s – in this expansive collection, Parker is testing his limits as a composer, often in more familiar song, folk and vernacular forms, and vernacular forms. It’s sobering to take a step back and consider how much work this collection contains, and how little talked about this achievement is. Parker is one of the great surviving risk-takers in the jazz and creative music tradition, and he only has ~6000 monthly listeners on a global platform like Spotify, despite 40+ LPs being available there. In the archive, only the lonely know the way I feel tonight.
Another thread this month was geographic – like last month with recent Francophone releases, in May I turned to the Iberian coast, listening to contemporary fado and its hybrids – the new Bastarda & Joao de Sousa collaboration is really interesting – and made my way down to Catalonia to dig around there. Finally, I found myself listening to a fair amount of contemporary Brazilian work, with Tiganá Santana being a voice I returned to often.