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  • Charlemagne Palestine

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    Amanita Records | Brian Duguidapproaches a piano like a climber approaches a mountain He does not play the instrument so much as he lets it test him: he starts each performance like an ascent, knowing that somewhere ahead there are the limits of the piano, and also the limits of him. It is entirely possible that he will reach neither, or both - when I saw him play in 1998 he finished the piece exhausted and the piano finished the piece with two of its strings at the lower end broken from the relentless pounding waves of music Palestine had forced from it. We heard the strings go, a sudden cracking sound after maybe fifty minutes of the music building. I had been looking at Palestine at the keyboard, swaying back and forth, drumming his leg relentlessly against the piano's leg to try and fight off the pain in his arms and fingers. Had been looking at the light catching the glass of brandy next to him and the shadows on the ten or so soft animals clustered upon the piano and round the stool: his real audience, the rest of us watchers reduced to shades as the ritual progressed.......

  • Charlemagne Palestine | Interview

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    EST Magazine | Brian Duguidone of minimalist music's unjustly neglected figuresLike Phill Niblock, Tony Conrad, Philip Corner or Yoshi Wada, Charlemagne Palestine (born plain Charles Martin in New York to Russian Jewish parents in 1947) is one of minimalist music's unjustly neglected figures, known to the lucky cognoscenti but perhaps too austere to survive the commercial crossover of late 70s minimalist music. This year, Robi Droli have reissued Charlemagne Palestine's long out-of-print Strumming Music (originally on Shandar in 1974), while Dutch label Barooni have reissued his Four Manifestations On Six Elements (originally put out by the Sonnabend Gallery). Palestine's earliest musical memories are of singing in a synagogue choir, a sacred drone that resurfaces throughout his own music. By the early sixties, he played carillon (the church bells) at St Thomas Church, near the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and performed music for the carillon by John Cage and Oliver Messiaen. He says: "I lived near the bells, played them right next to my body. The sound became physical, visceral, each crack of the clapper was like a small earthquake". This later led to an interest in tubular bells. At one performance in New York in 1973, he......

  • Charlemagne Palestine

    ()

    Amanita Records | Brian Duguidapproaches a piano like a climber approaches a mountain He does not play the instrument so much as he lets it test him: he starts each performance like an ascent, knowing that somewhere ahead there are the limits of the piano, and also the limits of him. It is entirely possible that he will reach neither, or both - when I saw him play in 1998 he finished the piece exhausted and the piano finished the piece with two of its strings at the lower end broken from the relentless pounding waves of music Palestine had forced from it. We heard the strings go, a sudden cracking sound after maybe fifty minutes of the music building. I had been looking at Palestine at the keyboard, swaying back and forth, drumming his leg relentlessly against the piano's leg to try and fight off the pain in his arms and fingers. Had been looking at the light catching the glass of brandy next to him and the shadows on the ten or so soft animals clustered upon the piano and round the stool: his real audience, the rest of us watchers reduced to shades as the ritual progressed.......

  • Lisa Germano | Review

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    Rolling Stone | Lorraine Ali What is Victoria's secret? 1996Excerpts from a Love Circus Lisa Germano makes music so beautifully tragic and depressing that it seems nearly fatal. When Germano – a former backing violinist for John Mellencamp and Bob Seger – became a solo artist, it wasn't the weepy moan of her instrument that touched a universal nerve but the resigned cadence in her voice and her self-deprecating lyrics. She represented all those girls who used to hear, "Hey, smile, it's not that bad," and instead of answering with a hearty "fuck you," just cracked a half-assed grin and swallowed hard. On her fourth and best solo album, Germano deadpans lines like "Coffee in the morning, wine in the evening/And everything else is boring, boring, boring" and accents her songs with comically lifeless exclamations like "yeah, yeah" or "hey, hey." She mixes that dry humor with self-loathing in the fragile "Victoria's Secret": "What is Victoria 's secret?/She says you are ugly, and I am pretty/Your man wishes you looked like me." There is a surreal quality to the music – accordion, violin, the meowing of her cats – that is enhanced by the woozy, underwater feel of the production, washing the......

  • Lisa Germano | Review

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    Spin Magazine | Sia Michel She values mood and texture over structure 1996Excerpts from a Love Circus In one painful scene in Welcome to the Dollhouse, “grade-grubbing” Dawn wiener degrades herself as she stumbles through an oral report on dignity.  On Excerpts from a Love Circus, Lisa Germano proclaims “I suck dignity” like a card-carrying member of the Special People’s Club.  Dawn and Lisa are our sacrificial Wiener Dogs: They suck so we don't have to. The difference is, Dawn can’t help it; pushing 40, Germano rubs our noses in her misery with the desperation of someone convinced her loserdom is the only noteworthy thing about her.  Her brilliant last album, 1994’s Geek the Girl, welcomed you to the bell jar with creepily beautiful apologias for the “angry and dumb and not too cool.”  She couldn’t get past cult status though:  Beck was the Loser, baby, and, more important, Courtney Love was bringing grrrl attitude to the mainstream.  You oughta know how much such anthems are sounding increasingly escapist and phony; Germano captures a reality of deep-rooted self-disgust and masochism many women are too ashamed to admit to in a supposed era of empowerment. “What is Victoria's Secret?” she breathlessly repeats......

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