Schnittke and other stuff
I’ve done fuckall on this blog since I set it up. So perhaps I should start now. In any case, there’ll be a Blue Ship website soon, so I might as well just reserve this page for my own more or less private thoughts. (I was going to say musings but held back – what sort of an asshole would reserve a page for his own more or less private musings?). I was going to say something about Schnittke. There’s a section in the 2nd Cello Concerto – a very beautiful passage with long slow solemn chords in the brass – its the sound of one human being sacrificing themselves for another. You hear it as it emerges out of the cacophony and your heart swells with a great noble grief, images of old men going bravely to their death arise before your eyes, you’re lulled into a doleful trance, the sound of flowing water after a terrible catastrophe. Its not cheerful music – there is a deep sadness to it. But then through this mist of emotion start to emerge tracertrails of dischord and doubt, pungent blasts of anxiety in the comfort of sadness. You see that there is a level beneath the suffering of the greybearded sage – the abyss of complete nihilism. Even Job was ultimately reconciled. Schnittke isn’t, and neither are you. Even the deepest despondence of the Scriptures, of Wagner, of Beethoven, had a firm moral foundation. They were suffering for something. But Schnittke’s music is something quite different – it’s a mockery of grief. You’re forced to ask – does this misery have any meaning? Is the whole noble Wagnerian brass band heart pumping double action romantic melancholia really just a form of…self-indulgence? Nostalgia? Saccharine forgetting? Doesn’t it just impose an artificial order – however painful – on the chaos that threatens to engulf us all? And doesn’t it mistake this painful order for pleasure? Ultimately it turns us all into masochists. Investing our suffering with value, we begin to hoard it. But here, on the other side, in the enforced psychosis of modern life, we have nothing to suffer for. And so we never mistake our suffering for anything meaningful. We see only two principles – chaos and order, meaning and meaninglessness – good and bad don’t even come into it. The only thing you can say is this – perhaps Job at the lowest point of his misery, abandoned and covered with boils, was happier than we are – happier than a call centre worker who has just got a raise. Not that his happiness makes him right…Anyway, that’s the thought. Not expressed overly beautifully. Perhaps it didn’t even warrant saying. But then that’s what Schittke wants to tell us – even as I commit myself I never stop doubting. The closest I can come to convictions is the conviction that I have none. I may have more to say in the near future…
The New Album: The Executioner’s Lover.
The album is mixed, in the bag, it waits to be mastered. It will be soon. Then it will be released to the world on March 8th at the CCA, Glasgow.
The Brotherhood of the Blue Ship
This is a blog that will tell the world about the goings on of The Brotherhood of the Blue Ship. The Blue Ship is the new vehicle of Paul Napier, formerly of Punch and the Apostles, now writing and performing as The Blue Ship. Keep your eyes on this page for updates, things, stuff, and more things to do with the music as it progresses.