Saturday, January 30, 2010

urban surrealism: michael nyman

the story begins around 12 or so years ago, when i was about eleven.
visiting a newly rennovated embassy theater, after a couple of months that it had been temporarily closed. a huge affair... back in the 90s, or at least in san antonio, stadium seating was a big deal. the rich velvet fabric on the seats caught my eye, i remember this day so accurately because my older sisters´ boyfriend raúl, a colombian artist and guitar player, had on a wine colored velvet shirt that matched each row and the curtain over the screen.

the film was andrew niccol's gattaca.

i sat quietly as the movie played on, the photography and art direction are still irreprochable, for my age and understanding, i'd never seen anything quite like it, the burnt colors, the greens, the blues, the cross process effect the images had, that impeccable wardrobe, the architecture, the sixties aesthetics applied to the future..... the music. this day imprinted in my conscience/subconscience for the remaining years that have followed.
the music is what this whole post is about, and how what happened a couple of weeks ago ties into that autumn day.

how can melodic air be described?
the changing of the years, our minds evolution, all acting in an ephemeral state. it plays for an instant, it disappears in another, and then it comes back note by note, above and below and all around, inside each crevice, touching each pore. as claude debussy said, "music is the space between the notes." (dp)... so then music must be everything.
with this abstraction, comes the point to my poetic and maybe tedious text on "when i was a little girl i went to the movies".

"i think i always know everything except one thing, so that makes me infinetly ignorant... you can always subtract something from everything". i found this quote so intensely wise and beautifully abstract. that day has to start with this. the person who said this was the man who composed the score to gattaca, michael nyman.
i feel a bit strange and not to mention a bit ignorant tying this story to that particular film, but it´s still such a vivid memory that for me, this was the only beginning.

the date was january 28th, around 9pm, we were invited to a small get together at mr. nyman´s home, each of us were asked to bring food to accompany the evening.
i made:
asparagus wrapped in prosciutto with grain mustard and lemon sauce.
a asian pear, hearts of palm, baby corn, and jìcama salad, with a lemon/honey vinaigrette.

i called my mother (a pro on etiquette) and asked her if i should bring flowers, evidently i wasn´t sure, she said, "sí nena, es muy buen detalle llevar flores a una cena", so i did, i made the arragement out of purple cabbage flower, peach tree branches, dried berry branches, and this green and white flower i don´t know the name of... it was tied with ivory tulle, and champagne colored silk i had left over from my past collection.

mercedes (we owe this dinner to her), called me up and said, "michell, michael doesn´t have plates, can you take some"... i took the ceramic plates elena, mercedes, dea and i had bought on our trip to oaxaca.

i felt like martha stewart after that.

so we arrived, said hello and handed him the flowers, "lovely, thank you."
he gave us a tour of his house, some prepared ceviche in the kitchen, others poured mezcal, he offered us some wine, then we stood around the kitchen chatting, asking questions, talking about music, he mentioned something about mexican chill out... forty five minutes later we headed towards the dinning room.
the food was excellent, nath´s ceviche was amazing (nath´s peruvian), mercedes´s smoked tuna, pasta salad, my strange salad invention, etc... we relaxed and felt a bit more comfortable in the surrounding (only three out of ten of us had met michael previously).. so it turned out being somewhat of a question and answer night... we all listened.

he told us he had gotten into music thanks to a very good music teacher he had when he was a child...

someone asked if he had children, he joked and said, "yes i do have children and grandchildren... some of which are much older than all of you..."

...i also asked him about his recent collaboration with david mcalmont, and how it sounds so much different from other things he´s done...
the album is called the glare.. he commented that this project is somewhat of a collage of past and present projects, and that it´s one of his favorites.
we went upstairs and he played it for us...
that was the surreal part. he played THIS song which has a fragment from the gattaca soundtrack, we danced, talked, drank some more wine.

i complimented him on his don shoemaker furniture.

couldn´t resist the urge to ask him on his most commercial film, the one i mentioned before.. he said the film is beautifully executed, aesthetic wise, but that it didn´t rank on his top ten compositions... i insisted it was wonderful.
he went on saying that the piano was amazing, during the screenings, he must have seen it eleven times.

after the session michael suggested we go to a performance that was going on a couple of blocks away. so we went, had some more mezcal, continued chatting, and had a lovely night.

i once wrote that music is the paradoxical container to everything, music is the soul, music is the untouchable, intangible, invisible, the cathartic.

how can one actually describe the flow of feelings that linger as notes play on? after everything has been written on music, every word and sentiment, as accurate as it may "sound"... it all just falls short.

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