The Gaudi of Music?.. Wooden submarines?

I’m sitting in the colossal shadow of one of the most incredible manmade (well, halfmade) structures on the planet.  I’m in Barcelona, staring up at Gaudi’s infamous Sagrada Familia, and it’s impressive to say the least.

Now usually these ‘tourist landmarks’ are a major letdown, somehow they always look much less spectacular in real life than you expect.  Not so here. Despite being clothed in towers of ugly scaffolding, cranes and workmen, surrounded by a swarm of sombrero-wearing tourists (the irony of it looking like some huge termite hill),  the great monolith is still a surreal and awesome sight.

Sagrada Familia
Its bells ring, and the melody is even original, pleasant even – a far cry from the usual sombre, oppressive tones of the typical cathedral.    Inside it’s a building site – Gaudi’s masterpiece still unfinished (100 years under construction to date), not helped by his untimely death in 1926 when he was hit by a tram whilst standing back to admire his own work (perhaps a lesson for us all)

 Gaudi workshop  (Gaudi’s workshop)

Last night I stopped by one of the artist’s smaller works, Casa Batllo,  a townhouse he designed as a commission for a rich statesmen, now owned by the family behind the famous Chuppa Chups lollipop empire)

Now architecture in general does not float my boat, far from it, I think it is rarely the ‘art’ it claims to be.  But I am just blown away by the artistry and sheer originality of Gaudi’s work.  The design of this house for example, was like something from a wild post-seafood dream,  sublime waves of ‘melted’ structure and hints of alien worlds.

Casa Batllo

I just stared at it for about half an hour, daydreaming.  It seemed the more I looked at it, the more hidden detail of the world it was part of revealed itself.  I found it as captivating as hearing a truly original piece of music (Rite Of Spring, Dark Side of The Moon,..) for the first time.  It was quite late at night, which helped,  the drama of the building enchanced by unusually tasteful floodlighting.

The next day I visited Park Guell.   Gaudi turned landscape gardener in 1900 when Count Guell hired him to create a surreal ‘minature city’ on a rural hillside (then) outside Barcelona.  The project was aimed at the super-rich on the time,  it was a commercial disaster.

Now owned by the city, Park Guell is an enchanting place,  and an almost hallucinatory place to wander around – dreamlike fairytale cottages, Moomin valleylike winding paths, and strange bridges with arches like giant dinosaur ribcages.   I am rarely ‘influenced’ by other musicians,  but I certainly want to create music with the same originality, attention to detail and mind/world-altering quality Gaudi’s legacy of work has.

Park Guell cottage

Park Guell sign
                              Park Guell : so magic your dog will poo ice cream

Of course here in Catalonia, there are two other very famous, and highly unique artists – Dali and Picasso.    It is interesting how modern, forward thinking and prolific this period in history was there and for Art in general.   The beginnings of electroacoustic music and film for one.

Of course, there was conservatism,  most famously at Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring premier in Paris in 1913.  It’s strange rhythms and pandiatonic harmony literally shocked the audience into rioting.  But now the same piece (after years of being very closely copied in film scores, good example being John Williams “Jaws” score), seems almost quaint, certainly unthreatening, today.

Anyway, enough of my little love affair with Gaudi.  I’m certainly feeling inspired now.  Isn’t it amazing how us artists can inspire so much from each other?  It’s like our collective work (the genuine stuff, which is unconcerned with fashion, conservatism, materialism and the like) has a life of it’s own,  and one artist’s Vision can go on to form a small part of another artist’s Vision and so on.. It’s kind of like the genetics of creativity.   Aside from any kind of direct inspiration (eg “I like the way this artist does that”),  there is also a higher type of inspiration involved,  that of aspiring to create truly exceptional work,  and no being afraid to take risks, remaining true to one’s own Vision no matter what and so on.

We live in artistically quite conservative (and also perversely materialistic) times.  If Gaudi were alive and working today, I’ve no doubt the same happy-snapping tourists who ogle his work would consider it “weird”, as many original work is.  Maybe it’s always been like this.

Either way, I’m wary of people who describe anything as “weird” – it implies “this does not fit in with what everyone else says is ‘normal’, and therefore suspicious to me.  I have no mind of my own.  I am a sheep. I have either been brainwashed by a current sociological trend (eg fashion, conservatism) or I had no brain to speak of in the first place.  The idea of thinking or judging (properly) for myself scares me, and being weak minded, I will take the easy option and not do so.”. 

Ok, maybe that’s a bit harsh and seriousy.  I’ll change the subject..

From the sublime to the ridiculous,  I came across this little curiosity.

wooden submarine

Allegedly the worlds first submarine, “Ictineo II” (from Icthys (fish) + Naus (ship), was made in 1862 by Narcis Montriol (I don’t think the then 10 year old Gaudi was involved).  Anyway its very cool and quite steampunk, so I took a pic.

There only seems to be one slight minor design flaw..  I could be wrong of course, but doesn’t wood erm, float?

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Explore the weird and wonderful world of KK at : www.kkthemusic.com

KK’s new album “Telescopes” is available to download now at iTunes, Amazon and KK’s site. 

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New KK album : ‘Telescopes’

I suppose here is as good a place as any to tell you about my new album.  It’s called ‘Telescopes’, and is also the first to bear my name (ok well, my initials) on the front (I am transcending my shyness at last, haha).  The whole thing was kind of an accident really – all the music on it was made purely for the love/hell of it (with the exception of one track, “Andromeda”, which I originally wrote for Hans Zimmer for the opening scene of the “Da Vinci Code” movie, though it was rejected for the final score at the last minute), all in a kind of existential haze (from which I’ve only recently emerged) 

KK looks to the stars..

As it was created this way, it’s quite a personal journey (though the books of Carl Sagan, the music of Ennio Morricone, Danny Elfmann, Pink Floyd were all great influences at the time of writing.  I’d also been incredibly lucky in having the experience and encouraging words of some fantastic artists, most notably Bjork and Brian Eno, both heroes of mine, giving me the confidence that it’s quite okay to go do something really different, and not fear the dumb rejection this can involve from some people)


And different it is.. As a ‘concept album’ (though I don’t much like the term), it’s quite unfashionable (in the current album-less world) in commercial terms – but then, since when was all music have to be focused on commerciality and viability as commercial ‘product’ (or the rather creepy new term “content”) ?   Yes sure your average person does like James Blunt, Scissor Sisters or whatever, but why should ALL music be aimed at your ‘average person’, why is the primary (and often, sadly, only) driving force behind art the aquisition of more money?anyway, the point is,  what an album in this format can offer (which individual mp3s can’t) is a complete sense of identity – I didn’t so much create a few disparate pieces and throw them together in this format, but rather worked on the album as one whole ‘opus’.
 
Not everyone will ‘get’ this record,  and that is absolutely fine with me. Like I say, few people actually have any real taste beyond the obvious. What I do may not always fit with the current fashion (though sometimes co-incidentally it does), but I’m never willing to compromise on Vision (either my own or a collaborators),  this kind of integrity is not only important for my sanity(!), but for the quality of the music.  
Anyway, the point here was to think about where we came from and where, ultimately, we’re going.. I tried to cover this rather vast subject in a way which is both touching and dramatic – ie human.  It’s a fleeting glimpse at it all,  but then so is life!

It’s about many things, most of which I can’t fully explain as they came to me in dreams, or simply from the ether.   I’ve been told it’s quite ‘grand’ and ‘epic’ in nature, (other interesting quotes – “Stephen Hawking/Vangelis on acid”(!), “Riverdance in space suits(!)”, “great to chill out to, gets you thinking..”, “the bastard child of Pink Floyd and Neutral Milk Hotel”..  things like that (which I think are generally complimentary but can’t be sure).. anyway I’m glad a handful people (of the few people that have a copy) enjoy it already, and clearly ‘get it’ despite it’s weirdness..(not something which – despite words to the contrary – most people are cool with these days)


Click the space rocket(!) on my site (spot the Tintin fan), or visit www.KKTelescopes.com to find out more..   CD is available to buy now at my online store (click the shop in the clouds), and also on Amazon (US & UK).. The digital version will be available from April 8th on iTunes and all the others (though this one works better as a full CD, retro huh?)

KK