by carl wilson

Guest Post: Brook No Argument

brook.jpg
Michael Brook @ Joe's Pub, New York, July 18/06. Photo by Kevin Yatarola from Brook's MySpace.

Erella Ganon (aka "Erella Vent"), a graphic artist, writer and much more, has been a nurturing presence in Toronto music since the Queen Street scene of the '80s, and it's been a pleasure and an education to have her helping me out with the Zoilus gig guide for the past couple of years. She knows Michael Brook, the Toronto-born guitarist probably best known as a Brian Eno collaborator and Real World producer, from those days. When she mentioned that she worried his show here might be at risk of cancellation because of weak ticket sales, I suggested she write a post to fill people in. I'd second the notion that Lisa Germano's presence alone makes this show worth attending - I'm a huge fan of her music. And local hero Mary Margaret O'Hara is on Brook's new album, so the prospect of a cameo appearance should also sweeten the deal. (Though with the mercurial O'Hara, of course, nothing's ever guaranteed.) (Sorry, I was misinformed about that.) In any case, hope to see some of you there. - CW

It is hard not to sound like a namedropper when talking about Michael Brook. As a pretty hands-on-style producer, he's contributed to the musical releases of an enormous collection of musical artists.

Look at the range: He's produced or collaborated with Brian Eno, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Youssou N'Dour, Dan Lanois, Cheb Khaled, The Edge, The Pogues, Djivan Gasparyan, Claude Chalhoub, Jane Siberry and countless others. I was introduced to Chalhoub because of Brook's involvement - a classically trained, Lebanese Stradivarius player who is amazing for his sensitivity and scope. What he adds to Brook's current release, Rock, Paper, Scissors, is another haunting layer among many.

Harnessing his abilities as a rock guitarist in local bands, Brook modified the instrument so much that he invented a new one. The "Infinite Guitar" simulates a kind of feedback loop that replicates sounds similar to ones heard in some Indian music - U2's the Edge used it on The Joshua Tree album's With or Without You.

Of late, Brook has written film soundtracks including the music for Albino Alligator, Mission: Impossible II and the recent eco-documentaries, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth as well as Who Killed the Electric Car? Actually a great soundtrack to a pretty good IMAX film is one he composed for India: Kingdom of the Tiger, which has shown on the big Ontario Place screen for the last few summers and will likely be there again this year.

With a kind of graciousness or an implied elegance, Brook is able to make the artists he produces sound more like themselves than had he not been involved. That's a remarkable feat. Experimenting and really listening to the musicians, he seems to draw a very human sound of what is presented. His third album is a compilation of distinct songs that distill much of what he presumably takes from personal musical musings and travels.

Not really much of a touring artist of late, Brook doesn't offer many opportunities to see him live - even though this is his home town. Joining Brook here at the Revival Jan. 30 is Rich Evans (of Peter Gabriel's band), his collaborator on the new cd. Multi-instrumentalist, Lisa Germano (with releases on 4AD and now on Young God Records) will play a solo set and then join them later on in the show. She's worth the price of admission, if only to see who could possibly work with Simple Minds, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Neil Finn, John Cougar Mellencamp and Smashing Pumpkins and still keep a distinctive solo style together. Tickets are a reasonable $20 at Rotate This, Soundscapes and Ticketmaster.

Brook also appears in Vancouver on the 28th, Montreal on the 31st, and plays Boston, Philly, New York, Baltimore and Chicago in the week following that (tour dates here). Tomorrow morning he's on the radio show Morning Becomes Eclectic at 11:15 am PST (2:15 pm Toronto time) - you can hear it in simulcast from the KCRW website. - Erella Ganon

| Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, January 23 at 2:08 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (4)

 

COMMENTS

It's nice to see Brook get some attention. I've enjoyed his work for a long time now. I recall one particularly nice experience seeing him play with Sylvian/Fripp in Chicago. I'd say my favorite Brook album is Live At The Aquarium, the live album he released around the time of Cobalt Blue in 1992.

Posted by Bruce on January 24, 2007 2:02 PM

 

 

Yes thank you, very interesting to read about.
I like a lot of the music that you mentioned here Erella, but didn't see a link between the artists.

Speaking of links, this is my kind of blog post that makes me love the internet more. It gives me ideas of people to research. If I can, I am definately going to try to see this show.

I just checked out Mike Brooks' myspace page and like what I heard.

Thank you Zoilus I love checking out things like this.

Posted by Kim on January 23, 2007 10:55 PM

 

 

thank you Erella, at the very least, for the explanation of 'infinite guitar'. I used to ponder that one in the wee hours, as I sat poring over the sleeve and liner notes to Miss Mary Margaret's 'Miss America'.

this, of course, was in the days before the inertnet.
I wasn't thinking of going but now I am, thanks.

Posted by miss spitz on January 23, 2007 6:40 PM

 

 

Can't be there, I only have a half a tank of gas and I'm not sure that'll be enough from Victoria. But I can say Michael Brook is a genuinely nice guy and played a significant role in a personal life highlight when he and Sir Eno sat down at a T.O. restaurant where I was working at in the late eighties...and I just about had a Henry Cow when I was introduced to Eno himself...So go, you goddam utopians...it'll be a fantastic show...guaranteed.

Posted by Phil on January 23, 2007 3:49 PM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson