Over half way through the year and many plans in action, as always, balancing several plates in the air at the same time like a circus performer.
June began with a visit to Brussels to the Belgian Modular Festival at Beursschouwburg, a journey that is always pleasurable on Eurostar trains, watching the countryside pass by, reading, playing on my laptop and a moment to simply think. I closed up the festival with a performance using only my Eurorack modular system in a beautiful theatre space, and here’s an excerpt from the middle of the show where I suddenly began to channel the spirit of American composer Terry Riley.
It’s always a pleasure to return to writing as a break from music and as a regular contributor to Electronic Sound magazine this month was extra special. I had the opportunity to chat with old pals, Paul and Phil Hartnoll, otherwise known as Orbital, for a main feature, then wrote about raster-noton publishing a new catalogue and encouraged people to listen to the work of Tod Dockstader in another article. You can buy the magazine online, read it digitally and even find it on the shelves of newsagents, which is always reassuring.
Meanwhile the last weeks have been spent developing and creating a major new installation that will open at Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire UK this month. Entitled ‘The Dreamer is Still Asleep’ the work explores the ‘golden age’ of sleep in in Tudor England. Like many homes of the time, Little Moreton Hall was a space of social engagement where many came to visit, and, with hustle and bustle all around and irregular patterns of life for guests and household alike, a sound night’s sleep was an impossibility for many.
The Dreamer is Still Asleep is a sound and aromatic installation that explores the transcendent state between sleeping and waking with sounds that would once have filled the hall. Visitors can expect a sonic experience of blurry dreamfulness, where voices, music, footsteps and glasses clinking together merge with a musical ambience to create an atmospheric and cinematic experience. Set up outside this extraordinary building the installation encourages visitors to listen and smell through the use of sound and scratch and sniff cards, the first time I’ve actively used smell as part of my work, although some folks think my work stinks anyhow 😀
To accompany the installation I’ll be giving a series of talks over the next months, the first of which takes place on Thursday 6th July at Macclesfield Library and is free. It’ll be an opportunity to ask questions and chat about other projects too. More details here. The exhibition itself runs from 29 July – 31 October
With the arrival of new machines in the studio this month it was an opportunity to have a little play time and I rather overindulged in recording and uploading youtube videos, all of which you can view at my channel. With a new Elektron Digitakt sampler and drum machine and also an Elektron Analog Heat, it was the inspiration to write new music as well as returning to my generous Eurorack system.
Slow Satie resulted at the end of an especially troubling workday, as a way to alleviate some of the anxiety and stress.
Klee Didge appeared as if by magic again, completely unplanned, a hypnotic and simple piece with no traditional melodic content, but rhythmically driven. Rippling Chords was another surprise as this elegant sonic science fiction suddenly appeared on the horizon.
Ripples of my stay at the Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva Florida continue this month with the release online of a short interview with me regarding my work there. I’m still working on the book Wrong Stories (a working title) at present and hope to find a publisher for it one day soon so you can all share in the tales I tell.
Some of my collaborative work with Slovenian artist Uršula Berlot has recently appeared online. Her recent works have focused heavily on scientific practices and organic materials which I’ve illustrated through sound. Some of our recent works are Liquid Solidy (2017), Inverse Space (2017) and Observatory Nanotubes (2017), abstract and simple works but beautiful and strange at the same time.
The other major project I’ve been working on recently opens this month in Manchester as part of the Manchester International Festival, in a free public performance at The Whitworth Gallery. Artist Susan Hefuna is creating both a performance and exhibition addressing some of the most potent issues of our time: migration, movement and sensations of separation.
The focal point of ToGather will be a free public event to which everyone is invited on Sunday 9th July. Local residents, originally from as far afield as Iran and Sierra Leone, will trace individual paths through Whitworth Park. Featuring dancers from Company Wayne McGregor, the work will take creative inspiration from migrants’ experiences and stories, whilst my new original score uses recordings of the participants saying ‘together’ in their own languages as the inspiration for the piece. More details here.
In addition I have worked on the online interpretation of this project, which will be launched later in month, as well as the gallery installation, so visit anytime to enjoy the work.
In closing my apologies to anyone who had booked tickets for my forthcoming show in Birmingham but this had to regrettably cancelled, for circumstances beyond my control. I most sincerely hope to return one day soon to make up for this.
So, until next month
::: listen :::
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe: Two Orb Reel (More Than Human)
Amon Tobin: Electronic Music for the Sydney Opera House (DL)
Mika Vainio: Reat (Elektro)
Jaap Vink: Jaap Vink (Recollection GRM)
::: read :::
Chance & Circumstance: Carolyn Brown (Northwestern)
Ray Johnson: Correspondences (Wexner Center)
Reading the OED: Amon Shea (Perigee)
A World View: John Latham (Serpentine)
Life: Daniel Espinosa (USA)
House of Cards Season 5 (Netflix)
The Red Turtle: Michael Dudok de Wit (France)
Better Call Saul: Vince Gilligan (USA)
29 July – 31 October
The Dreamer is Still Asleep is a sound and aromatic installation that explores the transcendent state between sleeping and waking with sounds that would once have filled this grand National Trust building.
Open Space 2017: Re-envisioning the Future
Between the Bullet and the Hole
ICC Tokyo Japan
27 May 2017 – 11 March 2018
A group show, featuring Between the Bullet and the Hole, a film by artist Aura Satz that I designed all the sound for, which examines the role of women in ballistic research, early computing and pattern perception in warfare.