New York Music Daily

No New Abnormal

A Rare, Turbulent Pauline Oliveros Online Concert Rescued From the Archives

The great Pauline Oliveros played her last New York concert in the spring of 2015, trading soulful accordion riffs and subtly sly musical banter with members of International Contemporary Ensemble at a since-relocated radical theatre space in Fort Greene. The inventor of the concept of deep listening had been such a force in the world of improvisation and the avant garde for so long that it seemed she’d be around forever.

She left behind an enormous body of work. Decades before locked-down musicians desperately turned to Zoom to serenade their fans or make records, Oliveros coined the term “telematic” and participated in innumerable online collaborations. One welcome rediscovery is the new vinyl album Telematic Concert, a duo performance with Argentine electronic musician Alan Courtis, originally webcast in the fall of 2009. It hasn’t hit the web yet, but as Oliveros would be quick to tell you, her work sounds best on vinyl.

This joint improvisation is divided into just two tracks, their long upward drives, swells and sustain mingling to the point where it’s impossible to tell who’s playing what. Much of this brings to mind early industrial acts like Suicide. The treble is really gaining in the mix early on: you may want to bring down the highs, especially if you’re listening on earbuds.

Courtis introduces flitting poltergeist accents, sudden, menacingly responsive drones, sounds of water and wind. A hammering interlude subsumes the accordion, but Oliveros returns resolutely to the mix. The music takes on a decidedly assaultive, disquieting edge from this point, Oliveros choosing her spots amid the looming, toxic whirlpool. The second part of the improvisation begins with its most grim interlude, rising and falling more spaciously and basically falling apart at the end: with a single coy flourish, Oliveros lets it be known she’s done.

It would be nice to hear more of her here in general, although it’s also extremely instructive to see how spaciously and methodically she approaches music this overtly dystopic. With her puckish sense of humor and finely honed improvisational reflexes matched by an unassailable calm, her own music was often dead serious, and the very definition of immersive, but seldom so macabre.

More Junk Science Today From Andrew Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefing today underscored the ugly fact that the lockdown has nothing remotely to do with science. It’s all about maintaining a police state at all possible costs.

By his own admission, the number of New Yorkers currently testing positive for COVID-19 is only four-fifths of one percent. Keep in mind that number doesn’t mean that all those people are actually sick, only that they tested positive, so the actual number who are sick with COVID and contagious is bound to be smaller. As even the World Health Organization has reluctantly acknowledged, there is no scientific study that indicates that asymptomatic carriers are likely to spread COVID.

That tiny four-fifths of one percent figure tells us that New Yorkers are very close to herd immunity. When a population reaches herd immunity, a virus cannot survive and dies off.

But now Cuomo is reluctant to allow restaurants to reopen for indoor dining. The simple fact is that if eating out was spreading COVID, we would have experienced some kind of surge.

People dining out eat off the same plates and use the same silverware that hundreds, ultimately thousands of others have used. Anyone who thinks that restaurants adequately sanitize their dishware and cutlery, especially in New York, has never worked in a restaurant. Bars have been serving customers drinking from the same dubiously smudgy, wet glassware over and over again for weeks now.

And people who work in low-paying service industry jobs tend to live toward the end of the train line, in the outer boroughs. The workers making your tacos and slinging drinks have long daily commutes on the subway, New York’s #1 incubator for disease infection. If there’s anybody remotely likely to infect others at this point in time, it’s probably your waitress or your bartender.

Yet all the while, the official COVID numbers have consistently declined as they have since April. Looking at those numbers, at least as Cuomo presents them, there is absolutely no scientifically valid reason why New York can’t reopen. This is yet another lockdowner attempt to destroy small businesses.

And what’s up with Cuomo’s ridiculous edict about requiring high-density air filters in malls? What filter manufacturer just slipped him a fat envelope under the table?

Disease spreads in malls when people are in close contact with each other. It’s not the air coming in through the AC on the roof – where there are no people – that makes people sick. It’s people inside coughing and sneezing on each other. Of all the ridiculous, pseudoscientific regulations Cuomo has come up with since declaring himself emperor of New York State, this is the second most ludicrous.

The most ludicrous idea of all is the one he floated today, demanding that the President issue an executive order for everyone to wear a mask. Remember, this is the same guy who three months ago scoffed at the idea: “You mean like the bandanna I wear when I ride my motorcycle?” he sarcastically responded in front of a group of reporters.

This is nothing more than a carefully scripted political move, most likely suggested by the lockdowners’ psy-ops strategists. It’s a way to demonize the unmasked: if you don’t wear a mask, that automatically identifies you as an irresponsible, narcissistic, germ-spreading Trumpie, right?

What Cuomo and the rest of the clueless lockdowners fail to consider is that the NYPD will not enforce any six-foot rule or mask rule, and that New York district attorneys will not prosecute those cases. Nor will more and more police departments across the country, and around the world. Cuomo just doesn’t know when to quit – which will ultimately bring him down, along with the rest of the lockdowners. As Robert F. Kennedy Jr. quipped the other day, “Cuomo is a dead man walking.”

And he’s only one of many. Hubris is a bitch.

Good Times and Purist Oldschool Soul From the California Honeydrops

The California Honeydrops have a fun, upbeat new short album, Just One More and Then Some streaming at Bandcamp. It’s going to end up on a lot of party playlists this summer – if we don’t run out of party money first. Lift that insane lockdown, Cuomo!

The first track, Just One More, is a honkytonk song with some classic 50s style piano from Lorenzo Loera,  frontman Lech Wierzynski on his usual guitar along with Johnny Bones and Leon Cotter on saxes.

The second track, Pocket Chicken is closer to the oldschool soul the band have made a name for themselves with: it’s a funny story about finding a bucket of food, literally and otherwise, with more of that oldtimey-flavored piano.

Honey, Sugar has a vintage Allen Toussaint-style New Orleans soul groove. The last song, Shack in the Back is slower, steamier and funkier, with soaring horns and more of a classic Memphis feel. There’s a reason why these guys were such a big draw on the concert circuit before the lockdown: they’ve got a bottomless bag of catchy hooks and real passion for retro styles.