Saturday, March 17, 2012

He wanted to write Buddhist bubble-gum music

'For this we needed musicians, and Allen [Ginsberg] made contact with a Japanese tantric Buddhist sect, known for their choir and instrumentalists, who lived in San Francisco in an old house at 2362 Pine... They were called Kailas Shugendo (Yamabushi) and practiced fire-walking... The most active was a younger, more energetic cello-playing adept called Jigme, whose real name was Arthur Russell... Jigme... joined Jonathan Richman's proto-punk band the The Modern Lovers. After this he became a central figure in the New York gay disco scene and made a number of disco records under his own name featuring his amplified cello under layers of echo and reverb which revolutionised dance music. Tracks like 'Is It All Over My Face' and 'Go Bang' became great favourites at Studio 54 of composers such as Philip Glass. Allen Ginsberg said, 'He kept saying he wanted to write Buddhist bubble-gum music.' Arthur died of AIDS in 1992.'
From the newly published In the Seventies, Adventures in the Counterculture by Barry Miles. Fellow blogger and KALW Music From Other Minds host Richard Friedman also gets a mention in the book, but not I hasten to add in connection with Jigme. And talking of Budhist bubble-gum music and Philip Glass, the soundtrack for this post is the Nonesuch recording of Glass' Fifth Symphony - Requiem, Bardo and Nirmanakaaya. This symphony hits all the right buttons with its texts from the Rig Veda, Genesis, Qur'an, Rumi and Buddhist sutras. But despite this, I am afraid that for me Glass' symphony lacks both the narrative structure and development needed to sustain its 90 minute length. But no problem at all with this incaranation.

* Header image by Aloka shows Padmasambhava the sage who transmitted Vajrayana Buddhism, which incorporates Tantric practices, to Bhutan and Tibet countries in the 8th century. Padmasambhava taught "Pay urgent attention to impermanence, then strongly turn your mind to Taking Refuge" and impermanence was an important concept for Zen Buddhist practitioner John Cage.

Also on Facebook and Twitter. In the Seventies was borrowed from Norwich Library and Philip Glass' Fifth Symphony was bought online. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

1 comment:

Gavin Plumley said...

You may be interested to hear that I've just written a critique of Glass's symphonics for The Hudson Review in New York. I'll let you know when it's printed.