Kenny Malhiesnn considers the parallel enuntry del‘eetinns of k d
lang and Maria McKee.
Maria .\lel\'ee and k d lang dnn‘t haye an awl'ul Int in enmmnn these day s. but they dn share at least twn things. The first is that bnth play in (ilasgnw in the same week this mnnth tlang‘s twn shnws at the (‘nneert llall are already snld nut l. and the seenntl is that bntli are pereeiyed as artists w hn started nut with strnng enuntry rnnts and then outgrew them.
Despite her [wrinauent nutsider’s rnle in the eyes nl the enuntry musie establishment (being gay is bad
ennugh. but u malaria/1m iw'll
\lels'ee. meanw hile. was baek in her natiye l-.-\. eranking nut a high-eharged brew nl punk—inllueneed enuntry-rnek with l.nne Jtistiee. and winning lnts nl' eritieal plaudits intn the bargain. Bnth the enwpunk and new enuntry phennmena shnnk up the musieal landseape til the late Xlls. but as the ‘)()s began tn streteh nut. bnth lang and McKee started tn manenuyre their musie in dillerent directinns.
Lang‘s ehange nl emphasis was signalled with the brilliant lllfJHIIH’. a dark. subtle. beautil‘ully eral‘ted album nl~ almnst timeless pnp music. but a lnng way li'nm the stnniping linnky-tnnk rnnts nl her early albums with The Reelines. She remains adamant that the whnle l’atsy (’line inlhtenee nn her life was a
bad news in enw enuntryl. k d laug gnt mueh elnser In its eentre than .\lel\'ee. ller brash. \ ibrant take nn updating l’atsy (‘line's elassie enuntry musie ltmk‘ her l'rnm her natiye .-\lberta in (‘anada tn Nashville. where .‘llM'U/lllt' litre/1 glutl lining and the subsequent .\’/ilitlmrlim(l. reenrded with the legendary enuntry prndueer ( )w en Bradley. made her a star in the new
alnng \ery dil't‘erent lines.
yery intense experienee. even a ease nl‘ snme kind nl~ spiritual guidanee. hit! her nwn musie is nnw mnying
That was evident again nn last years All l’uu (1m lz'iil. a highly sensual albutn abnut the grnwth nl a line all‘air w hieh she elaims tn hay e initially .
Both the cowpunk and new country phenomena shook up the musical landscape of the late 805, but as the 905 began to stretch out, both lang and McKee started to maneouvre their music in different directions.
Bjt’irk and Yma Sumae‘. The ﬁnal prnduet snunded like neither nl~ thnse singers. but rather quintessential althnugh delinilely tint enuntril‘ied In a phrase that may enme baek tn haunt her. .\lel\'ee has said that her gnal ‘is in he a san nl' pnst- punk lidith l’ial" (she was referring tn ‘Searl‘aee‘ nn the life Is Sweet album at the time l. and ynu ean hear snmething nl' what she means in the guitar-meets-
Both lang and McKee started with strong country roots
k d lang.
strings snundseapes and fraught \ neals til the album. It's a tar ery l‘rnm l.nne .lustiee‘s lusinn nl‘enuntry. rnek and gnspel. and the ti'ansl‘nrmatinn has nnt been
She brnke tip l.nne Jlistiee alter a perind nl inereasing l'rtistratinn with the path they were nn. but envisaged as ‘a kind of nbera. snmewhere between my three. Wk.) album" hint [mailed “me Sign M 3
~ - settled direetinn emerging. ller epnnymnus snln debut in l‘JR‘) retained a enuntry-rnek llaynur. while l‘NZ's l’nu (in/m s‘m Ii) (lei th'ml added a gnspel edge tn its rnntsy leel. lili’ l.\ Swirl tnnk a lureh away limit that area. linweyer. with a grungier snund
w hieh makes sense nl her name-eheeks l'nr the likes nl' Kurt (‘nbain and (‘ntutney Line as inlluenees.
:\s l'nr the rnnts-rnek she grew up nn. MeKee says that ‘l'nriust putting a lid nn that whnle thing. My music is abnut being an adult wnmau nnw. and l‘m laseinated with explnring that. l‘nr a lnng time I ‘ nthers guide me tnnk angel. but in reality. my tastes were prngressing. I wished l had the enurage tn dn things like Sinead ()'('nnnnr nr l’l llaryey. and eyentually l deeided that it was time In try.’
.llurlu .llt'Km' plays 'l'llt' .ll'('/l(’.\'. (ilusgmr m1 Sun 2/: k (/ lung is .\ll(tll‘.\‘ (1/ the (ilttsgmi' lx’nyul ('wit‘i'rl llull (U1 I'll 36/511! 37 (ll'(' xii/(l (ll/l.
l was eyerybndy 's perl’eet hnnky-
unam— Crucifixion depiction
Continuing their series of The Glasgow Commissions II, a commissioning project where leading composers work with artists from a different discipline the $00 is performing the world premiere of Haflidi Hallgrimsson’s Crucifixion. Inspired by the painting of the same name by renowned Scottish artist Craigie Aitchison, the piece will be performed while the painting is on display in the concert hall. Explaining the background to the composition,
Hallgrimsson: painting a musical canvas
Hallgrimsson says, ‘I looked at the painting every day in my room, then eventually simply turned my back and tried to feel as tree as possible when writing.’ The painting is, he says, ‘Almost a fresco painting. Craigie Aitchison — a wonderful old man, very special — is very much influenced by early Italian primitive paintings. It’s very sparse, very severe and in that respect is Scottish. It makes you think of Orkney or the Caithness landscape. I’ve tried to bring this sparse landscape and this tragic event into the music - as the painting is very stylised and disciplined, so is the piece. It’s not sensational or violent.’ The fusion of art and music in this way is, admits Hallgrimsson, ‘a big question mark’ as far as the audience
is concerned. ‘In the whole truth,’ he says, ‘I think that this sort of fusion doesn’t take place in anyone‘s mind unless they are really willing for that sort ot idea to happen.’ The presentation is not, he feels, ideal in that he would prefer people to have had longer to get to know the painting, rather than just see it for the first time on the night of the concert. However, his enthusiasm for the idea and admiration of Aitchison run deep. ‘Anything that stimulates a composer to write is wonderful. And if a painting does so, it will lead to a work which is very different from anything else.’ (Carol Main)
The 500 play City Hall, Glasgow, Wed 24 Apr; Queen ’5 Hall, Edinburgh, Thurs 25 April.
The List l‘) Apr-2 May l996 37