A Walk on the Wild Side . . .

Once again a Sunday evening finds me in haste, as I continue to be immersed in work on the long text I mentioned last weekend, still wrapped up in thinking it and its themes through, of which I’ll divulge this much, that masks and their function in music is one of the main topics, and now with even less time to spare for the usual round-⁠up, as at the end of this coming week I shall be going on the road, hoping in consequence to complete and to post that text prior to my departure, thus also, and more to the point, doing my bit to mark the arrival of a masked holiday par excellence, Halloween. Given these constraints, therefore, tonight I am indeed in the mood to take a walk on the wild side.

It’s not by chance, accordingly, that New York, that quick adventurous city, should loom large in the present selection.

To begin with, on the Soundcloud page of the British record label Barely Breaking Even, a cover of Lou Reed’s famous tune by the new duo – so new that evidently the two have not yet established a website of their own – Hartley and Wolfe, has been uploaded. Not much biographical information about them has been made available, but as for this track, it is the first release from the upcoming album Bespoke Future, which, if their take on “Walk on the Wild Side” offers any indication, will be spoken of often once it is released early in December.

Next in the line-⁠up is a recent soundtrack, as he fittingly calls it, from the Italian-⁠born and Brooklyn-⁠based Nicola Donà, who records under the moniker Horrible Present; it’s entitled “Manhattan Late Night” and, no surprise this, the urban environment as revealed here is deserted, nocturnal, and more than a bit spooky: echoing with anxiety and the sound of things dripping, the city is as though ready-⁠made to feature in some grimy film.

The third of this evening’s tracks is a lovely performance of John Cage’s “Music for Marcel Duchamp” by the young London pianist Eliza McCarthy, whose repertoire is already extensive and in part experimental, comprising some contemporary works, including a couple dedicated to and written for her by their composers.

Since Duchamp has played a role in this evening’s round-⁠up, here I should like to append, as a bonus, an excerpt of his 1959 interview with Richard Hamilton, in which he, that New Yorker by choice, was at his mischievous best.

Hamilton: I wanted to know how you react to the title that has been given to this radio series, “Art, Anti-Art.” What is the concept of “anti-art” for you?
Duchamp: I am against the word “anti” because it is like atheist as compared to believer. An atheist is just as much a religious man as a believer is. And an anti-artist is just as much of an artist as the other artist. “An-artist” would be much better. I don’t mind being an “an-artist.”

A sad piece of news. This text had largely been finished before I heard of Lou Reed’s passing. He shall be missed.