Souffle Continu is one of the best record stores in Paris. It’s usually the first that I visit when I’m in town, and one of the few in the city that retains a focus on avant-garde music. Over the last few years they’ve also been running their own fantastic imprint. Though it’s output has been relatively small and covers a range of sources, it has a strong focus on the more obscure depths of French avant-garde and Prog from the early 1970’s. 2015 found its gaze resting on the iconic Jazz and free-improvisation label Futura. Continue reading “four reissues from the obscure depths of the early 70’s french avant-garde by souffle continu”
Within the history of underground music there are few movements as inspiring as New York’s Free-Jazz “loft scene” of the 1970’s. It’s also one of the least recognized. When I first began listening to avant-garde Jazz as a teenager, many of my favorite recordings were located within a period (the late 1960’s) during which many players fled the unsympathetic audiences of America and settled in Europe. These records were largely concentrated on two French labels – America, and BYG’s Actuel series. They offered a window into a period of incredible creative ferment. What they failed to render was any sense for what happened next.
Dan Graham – Rock My Religion, 1983-84
Dan Graham began his creative career during the mid 1960’s as an early member of the visual arts movement known as Minimalism. While most of his peers (Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Robert Smithson, Dan Flavin, etc.) explored materiality, and its relationships to meaning and action, Graham was quick to drift toward pure idea and concept. He is one of the most difficult and exiting thinkers of his generation. His ideas and creations are layered with metaphor and complex meaning. His avoidance of easily accessible aesthetics often puts him at odds with the world in which he rests. Rock My Religion is one of his most famous works. Made across 1983 and 84, it explores the connections between religious practice and music. Threading through Native American, Puritan, and Shaker cultures, and spanning Early Rock & Roll to Punk, it defies categorization – existing as both an anthropology of American culture, and an artwork. I first saw the film during the mid 90’s. Over the years I’ve found myself going back to it again and again. Every viewing gives more and more. It’s a difficult, dislocating experience which I think everyone should have. Set aside an hour and sink in.