So here I am, sitting in the Waldo Cottage, on over twenty acres of land in Captiva Florida, surveying the land before me. It’s around thirty degrees centigrade, woodpeckers are joyfully hammering away at a tree outside my window, Osprey and vultures circle the skies above me and now’s an opportunity to catch up on the last month.
I’m here at the invitation of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation to take part in their residency programme. This is residency number 25 and I’m sharing time and space with some extraordinarily talented artists from Chicago, New York, Cambodia, The Netherlands and more. My ambitions here were simple – to write a book, tentatively called Wrong Stories, a collection of tales relating to all the humiliation and mistakes I’ve made in my professional career, as well as memories of disfunctional collaborations and difficult moments. In addition I’ve been recording a new album based entirely around the Kilpatrick Phenol synth, with almost a track a day so plenty of material to explore.
Having said that, plans can so easily change so I’ve been learning about screen printing, photography, transfer prints, welding, whilst exploring the locality and joyfully watching manatees and dolphins play in the water a moments walk from where I’m based. You can watch and listen to some new work I’ve produced here at YouTube, where you can also marvel at my surroundings. You can also freely download a new piece of music I created in my first days here.
March was another entertaining month, with a series of dance works that I sound tracked playing around the globe, with premieres in Australia and the USA with new original scores, with absolutely rave reviews coming through for these works. Split, with Lucy Guerin, in Melbourne for example, was warmly reviewed as “Ruminative, poignant and provocative, it is a work of intricate yet unadorned artistry. This fascinating work is both beautiful and stark.’
I also just completed work on a new radio work for BBC Radio 4, entitled The Stately Pleasure Dome. It’s a fascinating work where poet Michael Symmons Roberts gets under the glowing domes of Manchester’s Intu Trafford Centre, the largest shopping centre ever seen in the UK when it was built in 1998, to argue that it makes a unique poetic and architectural statement.
The main dome of this shopping centre is one of its most evocative and striking features – Michael has long thought of it as a relative of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘stately pleasure dome’ from his great poem ‘Kubla Khan’. Michael discovers that this ‘people’s palace’ has uncanny echoes of ‘Kubla Khan’ – from the dome itself, through to the ‘intermittent fountains’ and the presiding figure of ‘Kubla Khan’. Throughout my score offers a surface driven, artificial versus real character to colour and direct the piece. You can still listen back to it online here.
My reworking for organist James McVinnie’s Cycles_1 came out at the end of March on Iceland’s Bedroom Community. I was recently asked to speak about my variation on this tune by Nico Muhly and responded with the following.
“I was looking towards expanding upon the original piece, whilst retaining its elegance and grandeur. It explores a form of cinematic expression with pulsing light and dark, with a series of repetitive motifs that gradually develop into a percussive workout that continues to envelop a skeletal adaptation of the original Prelude throughout. Most of the string and keyboard parts I added were played live with no computer trickery to improve the timing. It closes in a very intimate way with additional vocal and guitar parts. I always enjoy the flow and tension of performing live to tape.” Download it here.
Alien Tourist, a new short film directed by Maria von Hausswolff, is beginning to be shown in film festivals around the world as well as her debut exhibition at the Johan Berggren Gallery in Malmö Sweden. A deeply unsettling work, Alien Tourist takes place during the night in the wilderness in the Northern part of Jutland. Moving through fields, forests and sand dunes, the landscapes blur together to become a singular disoriented place and space and time are loosened. I was honoured to work on the soundtrack to this extraordinary film. Watch a clip of the film here.
An in-depth interview has just appeared on Last Day Deaf website, where I speak about my beginnings in sound, the late filmmaker Derek Jarman, British band Coil, contemporary dance and the inspiration of modular synth technology these days. Read it in full here.
Having largely withdrawn from live performance I’m playing a very special solo show in Salford UK on 22 April. It’s the premiere of a special evening where I present and perform live soundtracks to films I’ve scored over the years, followed by a talk after the show with a Q&A session so you can ask all those searching questions you’ve been desperate to ask in years! How to Make Art From Life premieres at The Lowry.
I will be performing a similar evening at The Blue Orange Theatre in Birmingham on 9 July 2017 if that happens to be more local to you too. Hope to see some of you there!
Until next month I send you greetings from this quiet paradise.
Until next time
::: read :::
Maria von Hausswolff
Alien Tourist takes place during the night in the wilderness in the Northern part of Jutland. Moving through fields, forests and sand dunes, the landscapes blur together to become a singular disoriented place and space and time are loosened.
Collaboration with United Visual Artists as part of a group show curated by four scientists. This immersive interactive work explores how sound originated from the sounds of the human body and how we interact with the natural world.
Artangel Interaction invited