|Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch — The Mystery Of Heaven (2012)|
Jozef Van Wissem And Jim Jarmusch — The Mystery Of Heaven
Born: 1962, Maastricht, Netherlands
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Album release: November 13, 2012
Record Label: Sacred Bones Records
Catalog #: SBR-079
01. Etimasia 3:13
02. Flowing The Light Of The Godhead 11:03
03. The Mystery Of Heaven (Long Version) 9:56
04. The More She Burns The More Beautiful She Glows (Feat. Tilda Swinton) 10:56
05. Etimasia (Reprise) 1:44
06. Flowing Light Of The Godhead (Eternal Sun) 11:07
• Dustin Dis Photography
• Sara Driver Photography
• Jim Jarmusch Composer, Feedback, Guitar (Electric), Primary Artist
• Robbie Lee Mixing
• Tilda Swinton Featured Artist
• Jozef Van Wissem Composer, Guitar (12 String Electric), Lute, Primary Artist
Website Jozef VW: http://jozefvanwissem.com/
¶ Jim Jarmusch and Jozef Van Wissem met on the streets of New York in 2006. They shared a lot of interest and background so a collaboration and a friendship was born. ¶ Jarmusch was looking to have Van Wissem compose a score for a film he had been trying to make for years, what he described as a “crypto-vampire film” about two lovers, outsider types who have been in love for hundreds of years. Van Wissem’s work comes from a tradition of avant-garde minimalism and lends itself well to the director’s stark cinematic works. Jarmusch has played guitar in bands on and off since the late ‘70s. Van Wissem’s compositional style involves hypnotic circular musical phrases that allow for a lot of contemplative space between the notes.
¶ Their first live performance was in Issue Project Room in Brooklyn in October 2011, where they appeared together for a Van Wissem curated concert program called “New Music for Early Instruments.” The idea for their first album, Concerning the Entrance Into Eternity (Important Records) developed from their live performance. Jarmusch has said that he considers these songs as Van Wissem’s compositions, and sees himself as someone filling in the background to Jozef ’s foreground, like the “scenic” on a film shoot, the one who paints the backdrops. “The sound of the lute is as bright as the sun, a beautiful red color and my stuff sounds sort of like the moon, more like blue, like mercury.” This newest album, The Mystery of Heaven was recorded in New York with help from hypnotic Tilda Swinton on guest vocals.
¶ "Beautiful music. Stark. Sad. Timeless, haunting music. The soundtrack to an interesting life. Highly recommended. The musical equivalent of a Jarmusch film. Well done, guys.! — Neil MacLean
By Bob Boilen; November 04, 201211:13 PM
¶ Film director and screenwriter Jim Jarmusch makes music an integral part of his films: He often casts musicians in key roles and frequently incorporates music into his plots. Think about his film Down by Law, with saxophonist John Lurie and singer Tom Waits, or Stranger Than Paradise, in which "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins is a key character.
¶ Jarmusch is a musician himself. In the '80s, he was playing with Robin Crutchfield in something called the Dark Day Project. He's played electronics in The Del-Byzanteens, and more recently put out a record under the name Sqürl. Jarmusch can often be found creating dense, languid guitar textures, and this recording with Jozef Van Wissem is a fine example. Van Wissem plays the lute with his heart equally in the 17th and 21st century. His love for the baroque seems equal to his love for cut-and-paste techniques and finding adventure in the antique.
¶ Together, the two musicians have made an ambient record called The Mystery of Heaven, which works both as background and foreground music — and that's a compliment. The album is gritty but not in-your-face; it's pretty, but there's nothing delicate about it. It's a rich, appropriately cinematic sound.
By Nick Neyland; December 7, 2012 / Rating: 6.4
¶ Jim Jarmusch's films often give life's bit-part players a central role. There's Eddie from Stranger Than Paradise, played by former Sonic Youth drummer Richard Edson, whose weatherworn existence revolved around placing bets at the dog track. Ghost Dog deposited an ice cream salesman played by Isaach De Bankolé as the best friend of the titular character. The musical choices for Jarmusch's films, so often pivotal to the action, reflect his decision to cast Hollywood stars alongside relative unknowns. The Broken Flowers soundtrack featured contributions from Mulatu Astatke, Marvin Gaye, and Sleep. His forthcoming vampire feature, Only Lovers Left Alive, will pull another musician out of the shadows, with Dutch lutist Jozef Van Wissem providing music for the film. The Mystery of Heaven is the pair's third musical collaboration this year, following Concerning the Entrance Into Eternity (on Important) and Apokatastasis (on Van Wissem's own Incunabulum label).
¶ The story of how this duo met, in a chance meeting on a New York City street, where Van Wissem pushed a CD into Jarmusch's hand, feels like it was pulled directly from one of the director's movies. The music they make together retains certain tenets of those films, too. There's a strong sense of magic and mystery, all delivered with a beautiful simplicity. If you strip away the stylistic heft of Jarmusch's films, there are often deceptively basic human emotions underpinning the narrative, albeit ones revealed through the eyes of emotionally damaged individuals. The tracks on The Mystery of Heaven reach down to the same spot, as told through Van Wissem's forlorn lute playing and Jarmusch's feedback-addled guitar parts. Their only diversion is to employ actress (and Only Lovers star) Tilda Swinton to provide a stern spoken word passage over "The More She Burns the More Beautifully She Glows".
¶ Much of this record is a gentle advance on the ideas of Concerning the Entrance Into Eternity, with Jarmusch again taking a back seat to Van Wissem's lead. It's a meditative piece, and one that passes naturally from bristly, repetitive motifs ("Flowing Light of the Godhead") to more subdued material ("The Mystery of Heaven"). Even when they reach peak noise, about two thirds of the way through "Flowing Light", it's more hypnotic than aggressive. This is material with a firmly contemplative edge to it, casting a spell only broken with the occasional fluffed note or lapse into accidental dissonance. There's a definite sense that this was recorded live and with little practice beforehand. The title track feels sloppy and aimless at times, perhaps deliberately so. But this is music that benefits from a certain amount of discipline, such as the feral splendor of "The More She Burns", where the pair sync up perfectly following Swinton's wonderfully haughty vocal.
¶ The fact that Jarmusch worked on this album with an actress and musician involved in his next movie makes this feel like an important step toward that project. There's even a filmic feel to some of the work here, particularly in the two versions of "Etimasia", which echo with a lonely, lovelorn ambiance. It makes sense that Jarmusch would want to break away from music that could superficially resemble "soundtrack" work, and he mostly has achieved that on his various collaborations with Van Wissem. ¶ But the versions of "Etimasia" on The Mystery of Heaven shift closer to a place in which he's become more comfortable since his nascent musical efforts in the no wave scene. It's one of stark, pensive thought, populated by characters who don't make connections easily, whose attempts to make sense of the world are largely a solitary pursuit. At its best, this music feeds into a similar sentiment, pushing close to the kind of deep introspection at the heart of Jarmusch's films.
• Retrograde: A Classical Deconstruction (2000, Persephone)
• Narcissus Drowning (2002, Persephone)
• Simulacrum (2003, BVHaast)
• Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (2005, BVHaast)
• A Rose by Any Other Name: Anonymous Lute Solos of the Golden Age (2006, Incunabulum)
• Stations of the Cross (2007, Incunabulum)
• A Priori (2008, Incunabulum/Audiomer)
• It Is All That Is Made (2009, Important Records)
• Ex Patris (2010, Important Records)
• The Joy That Never Ends (2011, Important Records)
• Arcana Coelestia (2012, The Spring Press)
• Diplopia (2003, BVHaast) with Gary Lucas
• Proletarian Drift (2004, BVHaast) with Tetuzi Akiyama
• The Universe of Absence (2004, BVHaast) with Gary Lucas
• Das Platinzeitalter (2007, Incunabulum) with Maurizio Bianchi
• Hymn for a Fallen Angel (2007, Incunabulum) with Tetuzi Akiyama
• All Things Are from Him, Through Him and in Him (2008, Audiomer) as Brethren of the Free Spirit
• The Wolf Also Shall Dwell with the Lamb (2008, Important Records) as Brethren of the Free Spirit
• Concerning the Entrance into Eternity (2012, Important Records) with Jim Jarmusch
• The Mystery of Heaven (2012, Sacred Bones Records) with Jim Jarmusch
• Apokatastasis (2012, Incunabulum) featuring Jim Jarmusch
Review by Thom Jurek
¶ The Mystery of Heaven is the second collaborative album between lute revivalist and innovator Jozef Van Wissem and guitarist Jim Jarmusch to appear in 2012. The first, Concerning the Entrance Into Eternity, appeared on Important in the spring. It showcased a seemingly natural intimacy and near instinctive rapport between the pair. This date on Sacred Bones is very much a continuation of the dialogue begun on the earlier album, but also stands on its own with a few key differences. The brief "Etimasia" opens with Van Wissem using an alternate tuning to execute a minor-key progression on his swan neck lute. As Jarmusch answers and paints the margins with reverb and droning distortion, an element of tension and drama are articulated. They are resolved in yet another tuning in a shorter reprise near the end of the album. In "Flowing the Light of the Godhead," Van Wissem duets with Jarmusch directly by playing a 12-string electric guitar. Eleven minutes in length, it's a long, spacious, psych drone where feedback and distortion are melodic devices. The interplay is not unlike Spacemen 3's on Dreamweapon, though it's far more musically adventurous. Its textures, use of space, and restraint spiral out from the center into the unknown. The digital version of the set contains a bonus cut: a very different version entitled "Flowing Light of the Godhead (Eternal Sun)." The addition of actress Tilda Swinton's narration in the first half of "The More She Burns the More Beautifully She Glows" (based on a text by medieval mystic Mechthild of Magdeburg circa 1260 AD) sets up a gorgeous interplay where Jarmusch's feedback offers both support for Swinton and an introduction to Van Wissem's repetitive, nearly hypnotic lyricism on the lute. The guitarist then spins off, swirling and flowing in and out of the lutist's fingerpicked chord voicings, into an extremely colorful ether of single notes and skeletal yet expansive melodic lines of his own. Certainly The Mystery of Heaven is a standalone recording and is to be enjoyed on its own. That said, knowledge of Concerning the Entrance Into Eternity is edifying, because taken together, these two albums offer listeners a more complex portrait of a unique dialogue, where all elements -- spacial, sonic, lyrical, and textural -- create a profoundly beautiful musical language.
© Jozef Van Wissem at AudioMER Festival; 2008 © Photo credit: Laurent Orseau; Ringkirche Wiesbaden, 11.09.2009
|Jozef Van Wissem And Jim Jarmusch — The Mystery Of Heaven (2012)|