London. Im here. My bag isn’t. Which is fine except for the odor of disuse coming from my armpits after the long haul across the world. (At this time I’d like to thank the inventor of noise cancelling headphones for eliminating the bludgeoned feeling often born of aircraft hummmmmmmmmmmmm). Emerging from the underground is a revalation at first, it could be in anywhere, not particularly London. What makes this unique beyond its landmarks?
Now sitting in Green Park, having walked a few blocks through the delightfully sheltered Berkeley Square. The Park is beginning it’s march into winter; through the long strip tease of Autumn. I shall visit tomorrow with running apparel and join the throngs. The English seem at first glance to run differently. There’s a knowing about them that seems to say with each step: not to worry, I’ll be home soon. The colors of Autumn make sense to me. They speak to my childhood memories and to the desire of my adult condition. These inner city parks that will soon permit the sun to the grass beneath, rot the leaves and canabalise themselves, are immensely peaceful to me; almost as much a forest. The peace doesn’t last as long, but its proximity to the edge of the urban is exciting and full of possibility. Like it feeds on the park to give it credit that urbanity alone cannot provide. Cities celebrate human achievements as they separate from nature; a disconnected engineering. But city parks justify the human city build and hint at the origins of us. But don’t be fooled, they are a hint only and can never fully balance humanity in the city scape. They are a trick, albeit a delightful one.
Without a local phone, I’m somewhat bound to my apartment today waiting for the airline to email with good news. I’m remembering last night at the Royal Albert Hall. Max Richter and his ensemble played ‘Re-Composed – Vivaldi’s 4 seasons’. Max is an enigma that has found a wonderful crack between classical and modern that has filled the Albert Hall with mostly the young (guessing 20s and 30s). With an unassuming character and a music that album by album is quite repetitive and without chaos, Richter has spoken to the world with a voice of simplicity and melancholy but with just enough hope be interesting.
He is a perfect storm; a storm where a new voice was needed, old instruments were needed, film -like qualities of soundscape are accepted as ‘classical’ by a new, hip generation of students, and a subtlety of technological sound to appeal to a generation with Dr. Dre on their heads. His music is a tomato concentrate; boiling down the access, eliminating the frill, but maintaing just enough for it to have a unique dignity. Simplicity as we understand it from the hands of Pärt, Glass or Yann Tiersen. They get the modern riff, even phrasing and repartition, but they have gone one step further towards a minimalism that allows us to hear, not music, but time. A time that feels with every moment. Thats rare in an age of fluff. Last night the thousands of people who filled the Royal Albert Hall felt time together. And we breathed unknowingly together. Our inner clocks slowed a little, giving us a peace that no city can take away. Not even the Saturday night of post-summer London.
Now, where’s my bag?