There Is No Cat

Hollering into the void since 2002

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Dancing about architecture

What do you do if the purpose of weblogs is to write about what you're thinking about, but what you're thinking about is essentially unwriteable? The past few days, I haven't been able to get the Kronos Quartet's Pieces of Africa album out of my mind. It's an incredible piece of work. I could tell you how it contains pieces of music written by composers from all over the continent of Africa, ranging from South Africa and Zimbabwe to Sudan to Ghana, but that wouldn't really tell you why I love the album. I could talk about the way Kevin Volans used regional folk motifs in his piece "White Man Sleeps", and how I've heard the same motif show up in music by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra and Thomas Mapfumo, but that wouldn't really explain the sense of intense joy I felt when I figured out that the music by these three very different musical groups must have been based on folk culture and then found out that I was right when I sent away to John Schaefer's program on WNYC for a playlist for the show where he played the Penguin Cafe Orchestra piece based on this motif and he confirmed my theory. I could say that my heart soars when I hear the western strings of the Kronos Quartet mixing with the kora of Foday Musa Suso, but that wouldn't really tell you what the mixture sounds like or why it does that to my heart.

I could talk about the time I went to see the Kronos Quartet play Summerstage in Central Park on a Thursday night, and how I laid on a blanket on the grass under a tree and stared at the stars while letting this music (they were touring this album at the time) wash over me, but you wouldn't feel the sense of peace and rightness with the world that I felt at the time.

I could even sit you down and ask you listen to the music, and you wouldn't have the same reaction to it as I do.

Damned words. They're all I've got, and they don't do the job.

Excuse me, I have to go perform an interpretive dance about some architecture.

Posted at 11:23 PM


Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

Believe it or not, I'm hunting for listeners. How's that for independent? No label, no distribution, but a wonderful recording that calls to mind the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. So I googled them and came to you. You can hear a few songs at if you're interested.

Posted by Chris at 9:12 PM, August 7, 2005 [Link]


This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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