Novak (novak) wrote,

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Musical: Describing Mark and Dina

As I mentioned last night, trying to write about music is about as crazy as trying to paint about music. But it has to be done, for one reason or another. In this case, even though I've had to postpone my archive work of the George and the Freeks' live shows until after my doctoral exams are finished, these friends needed immediate attention. So I had to sit with their songs last night and try to say something that captured a mood that shouldn't be represented by anything but the music itself. It's kind of like what teaching a one-semester, 20-century Church History course was like: you so had to condense, select, summarize, and interpret that while being totally honest, it still almost amounted to lying. So much had to be passed by, and so little of your time could be given to actual texts, records and memoirs, of which history is made, and instead had to be given over to a history text with its impossible mission.

And so there I was, listening...:
Mark Lang possesses one of those voices that could only be found in the home-grown, American tradition of classic rock. It’s half gospel, half E-Street, and all soul. Quirky and convincing, Lang is one of those performers who captures an audience with ease for the simple reason that he’s not trying to. All he’s doing is giving himself to the music he’s making. It seems almost unfair that an artist can seize control of an audience as easily with an acoustic guitar as he can with a full band. But once he starts playing, you’re willing to go along with him—just to find out where the ride is going to take you.

Unexpected. Perhaps that’s the best word to offer when you encounter the music of Nadina Bembic for the first time. Melodies, chords and lyrics combine in ways you couldn’t have prepared yourself for. “Cutting-edge” or “avant-garde” are clichés always to be avoided, and are simply inadequate for trying to describe the experience of what is almost like hearing music for the first time, as though Music Itself were something she had just thought up on the spot. Lines that meander like the rain on the window; a kind of passion that somehow conveys exactly that it means to be a Woman; it all makes you pause, if a pause is something that can last for an hour and make you forget to breathe. But it’s okay: it was just Unexpected.

The Sozo Experience, featuring Mark Lang and Nadina Bembic, bring an eclectic array of soulful song-writing and rootsy improvisation to the stage. Blending jazz, blues, classical and avant-garde, Nadina creates harmonically rich chord patterns that embellish her sometimes sultry, sometimes angelic voice. Mark weaves his soulful voice through folk-rock guitar style, reminiscent of George Harrison and Donovan, his guitar riffs punctuating their musical intimacies with decisive exclamations or suspicious questions. Two distinct artists, but together something else, where you can’t be sure where one begins and the other ends.
True? False? Somewhere in-between? Dina's Shipwrecked should be coming forth shortly and will go a ways toward settling that. Online, we can find a rough cut of her "Deetdah", which strikes me as leaning more toward the jazz lounge than is usual in her music, while I wrote the above more under the influence of "Candour," "Woman," and "Breathe." From Mark, one might consider this old and virtually-unknown rarity from the days of George and the Freeks, his "If I Go On My Way", which is what I was listening to with particular pleasure last night.
Tags: friends-notre dame era, george and the freeks, musical, writing

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