All posts filed under: Music

The Verbal Harmony of Milan Kundera (Translation)

His father, Ludvik Kundera, was a musician, and Milan learned to play during his early childhood as a result of a certain infectious harmony: Ludvik had studied music with Leos Janacek, the great Czech composer, and from there came the essential concepts that would influence his later writing. For the first twenty-five years of his life, Milan Kundera was fixated on music, including a composition for quartet that he had written under the influence of one essential concept, polyphony. Analyzing the structure of both Beethoven and Janacek, he learned the intention and pace of movements in a piece of music. In his early years, he studied musical composition and musicology, and only afterwards did he settle into giving himself completely to literature. Nevertheless, you are what you are and as a musician, that never changes. Kundera would apply everything he had learned throughout his musical education to the formation of concepts he had already found in authors such as Hermann Broch and Robert Musil, but with a more complete mastery over language, the novel, time, …

Notes on “Sleep Stir” by Jacob Sachs-Mishalanie

There’s a quote from John Frusciante that came out shortly after the release of one of his records. In a letter addressed to his fans, he explained that his album “should be played as loud as possible” and that it was “suited to dark living rooms late at night.” So when I listen to Sleep Stir and I’m reminded of that quote, I think of lying in bed with a pair of headphones on, quietly drifting inward, appreciating a sort of peaceful resolution that seems fitting to end the day. The airy vocals, simplified drumbeats, and three-piece string section all help to establish the pensive, surreal mood of the album. Yet the shrewd use of instrumentation (also featuring celesta and a moog synthesizer) is contrasted by an emphasis on seemingly mundane lyrical themes, ordinary details that are distorted into dreamy, restless fragments. “Book” is a perfect example, with the narrator floating between quaint images, yet preoccupied by the neglect of an old library book that had not been checked out in years. It’s these kinds …