Thankfully April wasn’t the cruellest month as poet TS Eliot once wrote, but it was most certainly a busy and engaging one. I began and closed the month with the premieres of very different works indeed.
Kamiokande was premiered at the Hayward Gallery in London in collaboration with the London Sinfonietta which turned out to be a wonderful experience. With only half a day of rehearsals I was rather nervous to be quite honest and with a capacity crowd standing all around I can’t deny it was a little intimidating. The piece, at around 18 minutes in length, opened with atmospheric and spacious environmental recordings of water and industrial acoustics, developing into a deeply emotional and pulsing work, featuring live electronics, trumpet, violin, viola and double bass.
The work was inspired by German photographer Andreas Gursky, and especially how his images capture a world that we recognise, on such a grand scale, frequently dystopian, unsettling, abstract and utterly unforgettable. I might well upload the piece online for others to enjoy too. Stay tuned.
Then it was off to Athens for the Borderline Festival where I performed a live show with artist and performer Maria Papadomanolaki. This trip offered a little more exploratory time to enjoy Athens itself, battling with tourists at the Acropolis and admire the extraordinarily colourful street art at every turn in the city. The show was uniquely local as Maria performed outdoors and broadcast her contributions in the gallery space whilst I performed a live score to accompany this and process her voice and recordings.
The very next day I flew over in Amsterdam for the official premiere of GRIMM with Dutch National Ballet and ISH Dance Collective. I was astounded at the responses to this work, with five stars reviews in all the main press, enthusing about the energy and sheer entertainment value of the show. I am so proud to have scored this too and you can pick up the complete score online here, in all manner of formats. The music takes you on a wild journey from cinematic scoring, via ambient melancholia and even a little salsa and techno to keep you on your toes! Find it here.
The show will continue to tour The Netherlands over the next month and then hopefully elsewhere in Europe. I already heard that it’s proven so popular that it’s returning again in two years’ time which is amazing news. Here’s a little peak inside the making of the ballet too.
I had been hoping to close April with this special London show with American pianist Harold Budd but unfortunately the show was cancelled. A most disheartening experience for many people too who had booked hotels and planned to come to London for his first show in 17 years. As small compensation, I’ve uploaded my own interpretation of his tune Late October, originally heard on The Pearl (1984), in collaboration with Brian Eno and produced by Daniel Lanois. Now just imagine sitting in a Church in London, rather chilly, only the creaking of the wooden benches and occasional shoe shuffles and coughs as your only other sonic distraction.
The rare moments in the studio to really just play and explore are more limited than I wish, mostly due to other professional commitments, but here’s the modest results of something that just emerged by accident with my Eurorack modular system. I had been planning out my performance case for future shows, and this moment revealed itself when testing out various possibilities. You are hearing Mutable Instruments Plaits, TipTop Audio ONE, Microbe Modular Equation Composer and Intellijel’s Plonk all driven by Xaoc’s Batumi, and manually played with whilst recording. And if none of that makes any sense then don’t worry, just use your ears instead! No editing, you are just hearing it as it happened.
Back in December 2017 I ran a competition in association with BLEND and ROLI to offer prizes to anyone who wanted to remix my track Footpaths taken from my latest album, Fibolae. I provided all the stems to the music online, featuring the percussion, melodies and so on, and offered these out to anyone who wished to remix them.
I received many entries, and chose Shane Williams / X1L3 as the overall winner. An extremely limited edition 7″ single was then pressed up, with only five copies available in the world and given away randomly for free at my show at London’s Iklectik in February 2018. However many of the other entries were so strong that I didn’t want them to simply evaporate into the ether so here’s a special edition EP featuring my own personal favourites form these remix sessions, offering up all manner of alternative approaches to the original tune. Thanks to everyone who entered the competition!
If you happen to be in Virginia USA a very interesting exhibition entitled Soundscapes opens this month at Virginia Tech on 17 May. It’s an ambitious show that features sound art by five figures in experimental art and music, and I’m delighted to be one of them. Alongside Olivia Block, Maria Chavez, Markus Fischer and Jana Winderen, I’m presenting a 5:1 surround sound work that spectators can completely immerse themselves in.
So now it’s back to the studio to finish up more inspiring projects for 2018. It’s my special birthday month too so an excuse to count the wrinkles and marvel at how close I am to retirement! I’m beginning the month in sunny Berlin too at the Superbooth, advertised as the biggest synth event ever.
Hope to see some familiar faces there then!
Robin Professor Scanner
::: listen ::: Autechre: NTS Sessions 1-4 (Warp) Chris Carter: CCCL (Mute) Jim Williams: Raw (Death Waltz) Alvin Lucier: Illuminated by the Moon (ZHdk)
::: read ::: Damon Krukowski: The New Analog (MIT) Unica Zurn: Alban (Brinkmann Bose) Michael Johnstone: The Freemasons (Arcturus) Dominick Dunne: Justice (Broadway)
::: watch ::: A Quiet Place: John Krasinski You Were Never Really Here: Lynne Ramsay Humor Me: Sam Hoffman Red Oaks (Amazon Prime)