Monday, February 14, 2011

Introducing: The Perpetual Calendar

I am very excited to share this with you all--although somewhat of a change of pace from the normal posts at The Oxen of the Sun, I hope readers of the blog enjoy this new project. In addition to my book endeavors, I've got an ever-evolving list of musical ventures with friends here in Brooklyn. Off and on over the past seven years or so, I've been working at a classical project of short piano pieces, and only last year did I see how these songs should finalized.

"The Perpetual Calendar" is a cycle of the first five pieces in what I hope will be a long-form, ongoing recording project. The title comes from the aria to Richard Powers's exquisite novel The Goldbug Variations, which very much influenced me. An excerpt:

What could be simpler? Four
scale-steps descend from Do.
Four such measures carry over
the course of four phrases, then home.

At first mere four-ale, the theme swells
to four seasons, four compass points, four winds,
forcing forth the four corners of a world
perfect for getting lost in

Now, to give this project a little bit of blog-relevance, I'm excited to announce that I'm in the process of assembling a limited, lettered edition of 26 handmade CDs (very much influenced by Black Sparrow Press). Each case is cloth bound, and features a unique found-photo collage like the image above.

Once the CDs are done, I will certainly let you all know. But, until then, here's a link to the music, where you can stream, download, and click through selected artwork. Hope you enjoy.

Jeff Alford: piano
Derek Piech: upright bass

Chris Kiehne: production, vocals on "Part III"
Emily Young: artwork

Mark DeWilde: lettering

Currently listening to:
Black Moth Super Rainbow, " The Autumn Kaleidoscope Got Changed"

Currently reading:
Ander Monson, Vanishing Point

Friday, February 4, 2011

Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers

"With the Void, Full Powers" is a wonderful little monograph on the artist Yves Klein published last year by the Hirshhorn Museum and the Walker Art Center to coincide with a traveling exhibition of the same name. Yves Klein is an artist I'd always been intrigued by, but it was until I'd seen a piece of his in person that I was really won over. Last fall's contemporary and modern art auction at Phillips de Pury & Company featured a small blue flower growing from a craggy chunk of rock (the viewing hours at these auction houses are a great opportunity for casual art enthusiasts to see some important works in person). Klein's piece made quite an impression on me; there was so much control imbued in such a small, simple thing.

I feel this monograph has the same feel of strength through control and simplicity as the flower that was auctioned at Phillips. The book is dwarfed in comparison to the other monographs on my shelf (Taschen, specifically), but "With the Void, Full Powers" manages to make those other books look more swollen than they do luxurious--"With the Void" reminds consumers that a really special and well-made art book does not need to be enormous and hundreds of dollars to be a treasure.

The book design alone is pretty amazing. There isn't really a jacket, just a title band around the middle of the book. The boards run straight through to the edge of the page trim, all of which have been coated in that iconic Yves Klein blue.

Currently reading:
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King

Currently listening to:
Twilight Singers, "Dynamite Steps"