Saturday, February 23, 2013

Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy

In 1974, Brian Eno released his second solo LP, Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy. Eno's work always stood apart as he charted the course others would try to follow. Taking Tiger Mountain was like nothing I had ever heard before and Eno became one of my biggest musical influences. His own "strategy' in using and finding inspiration was Duchampian. There was so much chance. He even invented a "deck of cards" othat he titled "oblique strategies" to with ideas and phrases to be drawn by chance when creating in the studio with his own work or producing and collaborating with other artists. The Talking Heads/Eno collaborations, Fear Of Music and Remain In Light remain as perhaps the most powerful pieces in their catalogue and they acknowledge that his techniques were a way to open the doors of creativity. U2 acknowledged that the Eno oblique strategy method opened doors into thinking about music in a totally different way. He and Daniel Lanois have been responsible for some of their most radical reinventions of themselves like the brilliant Achtung Baby! recording. It allowed them to reinvent themselves again and again over their almost 30 year long collaboration. Do you remember the U2, Eno, Luciano Pavorati collaboration called Miss Sarajevo as they became the conceptual band, The Passenger Project?
Here's a link to an on line version of Eno's Oblique Strategies. Maybe it might help you in your next creative dilemma.
Here is The Chinese “model” opera that inspired Eno to create Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy after finding it in a book of postcards (such as the one pictured above) in San Francisco. I’ve always been curious, so it’s another marvelous artifact of the Youtubes that it’s here for easy perusal. A description of what we’re seeing via the Wikipedia:
Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy (Chinese: 智取威虎山; pinyin: zhì qǔ wēihǔ shān) is a Beijing opera, and one of the eight model plays allowed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The story is based on the novel Lin hai xue yuan (林海雪原), which in turn, is based on the real life story of an incident in 1946 during the Chinese Civil War, involving a communist reconnaissance team soldier Yang Zirong (杨子荣) who disguised himself as a bandit to infiltrate a local gang of bandits, eventually helping the main communist force to destroy the bandits. Unlike other characters depicted in the opera and novel, the protagonists’ name and the bandits’ names were real.
A film version directed by Xie Tieli was released in 1970 and currently Hong Kong film director Tsui Hark is making a new version of it. His movie is scheduled to be released at the end of 2012.
And the instrumental Brian Eno composed as the title track of his LP. It was an amazing, unique recording. Here's the lead in track, Burning Airlines......
and of course, last but not least, before Roxy Music, Brian was an Art Major and in 1969/70 helped organize the legendary Portsmouth Sinfonia. A Sypmhnoy Orchestra which "played" the classics. It was composed of non musicians, most of who chose their instruments for some vague esthetic reason, but the results were like nothing ever heard before or ever again. Brians first effort as a producer and he is one of the clarinetists. Here, they do homage to Tchaikovsky with their "rendition" of The Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy from The NutCracker Suite:

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