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Monday, 30 August 2010

Griff says: Trivial Pursuits

Keen monitors of the 'Griff says' articles will hopefully remember my previous post about one-woman-band and all round creative marvel Julia Kotowski who operates under the name of entertainment for the braindead. As I made clear at the time, observing the continuous and varied expression of her artistic vision has been an enduring joy for me over the last three years. You can presumably imagine the frisson of excitement I felt yesterday then when I saw her myspace bulletin announcing a new release. It's called Trivialities and as ever it's available as a free download, though on this occasion just at bandcamp.

Perhaps not too surprisingly I think it's wonderful and I'd really like to describe it to you. However, rather than do that I'm going to reprint Julia's own description as I love the honesty and feeling of the following passage and I don't think I can top it:
"Now this is nothing for the Greatest Hits Collection. No excellent piece of craftsmanship, no mentionable artistic value. Just stuff that happened, songs that happened while I was planning on something else, like a comma in the short story that is my life. That's how it rolls, you're designing your career, planning out your steps, willing to create something big and meaningful, and in the meantime there are all those little things going on... friends become strangers, strangers turn into friends, maybe one of them reminds you that life's not so bad or meanwhile you've found comfort in nihilism, and then there's this little ukulele that you've owned for years but rarely ever played... yet suddenly it's overflowing with music.

No experiments this time. No exploration of unknown terrain. No concepts, nothing big.
Sometimes I feel so sick of sounding lovely all the time, of always sounding the same, but then again I can't help it. So, fuck creativity! Fuck belief in progress! Maybe I should be elsewhere already. We always feel urged to move forward, do better shit than yesterday, more accomplished, more brilliant, more fancy, and maybe it's almost considered stagnation in personal development if someone just wants to lean back and play some boring ukulele folk songs to comfort himself. Sure I want to be more brilliant and fancy and better than ever, too, but for now maybe there is no need to reinvent the wheel as long as I'm happy playing my rediscovered ukulele for a while. All the flamboyant shit can wait until tomorrow.
So once more I'm not taking a creative leap forward but rather just sitting down on the very spot I happen to stand right now. But maybe someone wants to sit besides me and listen? "

Phew! Quite a statement of intent and a position perhaps best summed up by another rather more famous German; "Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht Anders tun. Gott hilfe mir. Amen." (Just joking, Julia. You're nothing like him, I don't even think he played the ukulele!)

<a href="">A Smile by entertainment for the braindead</a>

Personally, I love Trivialities. I think it's a mature return to the magical sounds of Hypersomnia and Hydrophobia. I also love it that, in the passage above, Julia displays such naked passion in defending an art-form (bedroom folk) that's often portrayed as safe and wimpy. The attention-grabbing, toddler tantrum antics of some musical genres has unfortunately meant that music that is gentle and thoughtful is sometimes mistakenly labelled as bland and insipid. Nothing could be further from the truth, this is music with genuine feeling and sentiment. It exists because of the artistic urge. What more are you looking for?

<a href="">A Friend by entertainment for the braindead</a>

For musos amongst you, Julia has rather helpfully provided an inventory of the instruments used on this recording:
"A soprano ukulele, a bowed guitar, a bluegrass banjo, a mandolin banjo, glockenspiel, one concertina, another concertina, a wooden flute, borrowed drums and a cardboard box, casio mini-keyboard, shaker & tambourine."

<a href="">A Glass of Wine by entertainment for the braindead</a>

I hope that clears that up. Enjoy!


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