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Currently Targeting... Janelle Monae, Carla Bley, (and a little Tightrope – Asylum)

Janelle Monae, Carla Bley, (and a little Tightrope – Asylum)

If youve ever listened the the classic “Escalator over the Hill” by early female impresario Carla Bley, you know that the position of genius, big-concept, female composer/performer has been severely under-represented in the history of creation. Luckily, the new performer Janelle Monae (interview), (all posts) seems to be stepping up to the plate. While she’s a little more art-soul-rock than, say, an Ornette Coleman, her narrative structure is really in tune with the new cross-media technology, aka, the youth of today, but even better, its got heart: a dance opera about community organizing. And if Marshall mcLuhan is right, getting the medium correct for your message is 60% of the battle.

For example, Wagner’s Ring Cycle (The Nibelungenlied) has incredible music, poetry, and production values, but without the complexity of the narrative, and how it works within the operatic medium to communicate and involve the image and experience, us mortal humans cannot tremble in fear before our own creations. (disclaimer: Jeg er norsk…)

Anyway, Janelle Monae has taken on a similar grandiose theme of contemporary human entrapment, ala Philip K Dick, the human vs the machine, and framed it within one of the most enduring human narratives, (unfortunately), Freedom. With her Arch Android cycle, Cindi Mayweather, and a clear living relation to an ongoing history of civil and human right struggles, I cant recall being as excited about a storyteller since awaiting the first showing of Bladerunner. (although the Gorillaz Plastic Beach did a pretty good job on the environmental front…) Anyway, theres always the expectation, and then the truth. We’ll see what comes around. Until then, just danse:

March 31, 2010
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