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Rick Owensqatsi

from Friday, August1st of the year2008.

The other night, I went to a free screening of Philip Glass’s Powaqqatsi in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. It is, for those of you who don’t know it, a wordless exploration of what we now call the Global South. The camera fixates on manual laborers: miners in Brazil, dhobis walla in India, cattle herders in sub-Saharan Africa. The score, which the good people from the Philip Glass Ensemble performed live, is a sort of riotous, Benettony world musicgasm which I think was probably really necessary and urgent in the 90’s, mildly racist in the early 00’s (when I was in school) and now, joyful and riotous again. I had a great time. I was struck, though, by the sorts of free-associations my mind went through while watching the movie (which is, of course, meant to be the point of a wordless movie with a Hopi title: you can make of it what you will). I was most struck by the fabrics. I had spent a bit of that afternoon perusing the Rick Owens store in the weirdest possible neighborhood to perform commerce (by the mouth of the Holland Tunnel). Rick Owens is a wonderful, wonderful, designer whose whole Þingg is unfinished hems, quasi asymmetrical silhouettes, and slightly oversized cuts. I’m being reductive, but what I’m trying to say here is that while I was watching this movie about, like, workers in mines in Brazil, immediately I was thinking about the most extremes of luxury. Maybe that’s part of what you’re meant to do, too, but I just thought it was insane. Perhaps it was the case that the delightfully flamboyant Baritone next to me was brown-bagging champagne that got me in the right mindset. Shh. Also: just look at this fabric:

A few things, in list format, for clarity.

Last week, I experienced an unbelievable sequence of Travel Nightmares, including one that I hadn’t experienced before, which was getting to the airport two hours before my domestic flight and still missing it. What happened was that the interface between the AirTrain and the Delta terminal at JFK was the most confusing and undernotated experience I have ever had. I ended up behind a large family with a huge pile of luggage blocking all possible exits to the train. If we had had a fire, it would have been over. Then, a family having just adopted children from China (four of them!) was waiting in the line in front of me at the Delta domestic terminal (I guess they had arrived to a different terminal and were transferring domestically to their final destination?) was in front of me, and there was Major Passport Confusion. No amount of my begging could get somebody to help me, and I ended up missing the flight. It was unbelievable.

I have just downloaded with great delight the King’s College Cambridge recording of Bach’s Jesu Meine Freude motet, which they sing in English. Check it out here. I am so glad they are putting up all these recordings from King’s from the 60’s up on iTunes, too. I also just love love love love love how iTunes renders titles like C*m Sancto Spiritu. I would love to see them write the code that goes through all the titles and blanks out all instances. However, it is amazing to me that anybody who writes a Gloria setting gets expurgated while R. Kelly can still have the song, “I Like the Crotch on You” unblemished. PS, that’s a great song. Download it here. Maybe I’ll make a Dirty Latin Playlist featuring such outrageous classics as, “Antiphon: Facta est c*m Angelo (mode VII)” and Byrd’s “Ad Dominum c*m tribularer” and Handel’s “C*m dederit dliectis suis somnum” and Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s genius “You have C*m in your Hair and your Dick is Hanging Out” which actually is one of the most beautiful songs from the late 90’s. Buy the whole album Here. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun as when I worked on The Letting Go. He is such a weird genius.

My album Mothertongue came out last week officially in the states, which is pretty exciting. I noticed that the top review on iTunes is by a certain “JOHN WILLIAMS CLARINET CONCERTO FAN,” which is a pretty insane way to identify yourself online. Evidently he didn’t like the music very much, which is too bad! I always feel bad when people don’t like what I’m up to, especially if they paid cash money to see it. A few years ago, I had this show at Carnegie Hall, and there was some h8r blogger who kept on leaving comments everywhere saying that he and his friends bought tickets and were desperate to leave. I wish he (or she) would send me his (or her) routing number and I will wire his (or her) ass the $80 or whatever it was.

As always, check out information about the 802 tour (more on that soon) on the main Nico page.


  • If the comments at iTunes start to get you down, just check out your Onion review where apparently all of the commenters are having weird sexual fantasies about you.


  • Mothertongues:

  • Of course now that you’ve suggested you’d refund the money you may be receiving a ton of comments here saying, “Oh, that was me!” and each and everyone might include a routing address. Just because.

    Ya know? 😉

    Now it wasn’t me that wrote that rotten comment.

    Of course if you want to send me $$ anyway, I could still send you my routing number.

  • (And yes, everyone should be every one … I think)

    I’m an oboist. We can be a bit nerdy that way. And more.


  • Why 802?

    My Uncle Nookie played that number whenever he played the numbers, which was frequently. So I’m feeling lucky.

    My wife and I have tickets for the New York installment of the tour. We do not anticipate need of a refund.

  • “Mothertongue” has been on my pod for some weeks now. It has a loopy grandeur and a clean, digital tenderness that seems to be an ideal soundtrack for, among other things, runs across the Manhattan Bridge into Chinatown and back. Now why would that be?

    I expect to enjoy watching you work on the 23rd. I asked a guy to come with me who has since fallen wildly in love with someone else. So now I’ve got this ticket….

  • Have you seen this month’s Elle magazine where they write about Mothertongue??

  • I’m so disappointed. iTunes Store –> Nico Muhly –> Mothertongue; only two reviews, and none from JOHN WILLIAMS CLARINET CONCERTO FAN. There is a narc amongst us.

    I listened to the iTunes samples of Mothertongue, which, though of a dissimilar genre, immediately refreshed childhood memories of listening to a terrifying vinyl record of electronic music from the 1970’s my father owned. It had a scary picture of a dancing man-bull on the album cover.

    That this vivid flashback was evoked by a taste of Mothertongue is not necessarily a bad thing.

    But I think Speaks Volumes is a bit more my pace.

  • Just heard you’ve had to cancel Birchmere tomorrow and hope all is OK. Never have so many looked so forward to something…
    Was hoping to catch you next week in Toronto with Owen. Please tell me we’re safe to make the trek to the frozen north. Thanks a lot.