I’m currently recuperating after an operation in hospital and as a result, rather bizarrely, have almost completely lost my voice. It’s curious how the body responds to such invasions as surgery and mine seemingly decided it’s best to silence me. Now even the mundane conversations tend to sound more sensual and intimate!
So, let’s backtrack to November for a moment. It was a time to enjoy live music again, from the magnificent King Crimson in Nottingham, to Heaven 17 and Propaganda in Northampton, and listening to all manner of recorded music. I am still so deeply absorbed by music in my life. And time in the studio composing new music towards a host of forthcoming projects. I’m just finishing up new material for a forthcoming BBC radio documentary about the art of intimacy in literature, with particular focus on consensual sex in writing. It’s a most illuminating exploration, both intellectually and sonically. More on this next month.
I was honoured to be invited to speak at BBC Introducing last month in London in a conference to offer support and guidance to young musicians. Sharing a panel with the Musicians Union I spoke on a variety of themes, but with particular reference to exploitation in the music business, again with reference to my recent blog post, Exposure is Not Payment. If you’ve not read this it makes a most sobering read and the comments in themselves are worth taking in!
The truly unique Vex house appeared on Channel 4’s Grand Designs House of the Year and you can now watch the episode back online. Search for Extreme Houses, Series 4, Episode 3, to enjoy ten minutes of exploring outside and inside the house, and my brief appearance explaining how I used the sound of the house construction to create my work. Pure musique concrète! Typical for television, the show completely edited out the context for the work, but for those who don’t know, the architects commissioned a permanent soundtrack to exist in the house, which you listen to in full here. If you buy the CD you will also receive a special signed postcard and Scanner stickers. Buy this special release here.
Make a note in your diary for 5 December, for World Soil Day, as something very special will be revealed. I’ve been working intensely over the last months with the wonderful media artist Kasia Molga, towards this unique digital artwork that will become freely available on this date. It’s very easy to forget the value of good quality soil, but it’s crucial to our survival.
Soil provides ecosystem services critical for life: acting as a water filter and a growing medium; providing habitat for billions of organisms, and contributing to biodiversity; and supplies most of the antibiotics used to fight diseases. Humans use soil as a facility for solid waste, filter for wastewater, and foundation for our cities and towns. And of course, soil is the basis of farming systems which provide us with feed, food and fuel.
By the Code of Soil offers a chance to experience in real time the quality of soil in Europe, both visually and sonically. Here’s hoping it encourages a wider conversation about something so crucial, yet invisible, to so many. Make a note in your calendar!
You only have a couple of weeks left to listen back in full to my new work, A Little Bit of Everything, with the BBC Concert Orchestra, in celebration of British composer David Bedford. I’m super proud of this new orchestral work that incorporates live electronics and am hoping that 2019 will offer further opportunities for it to be heard and performed in the world!
I’ve always been drawn towards possibilities within music technology, from the very extreme digital processing and techniques in software, to more organic analogue tools and instruments that offer a sense of wonder and surprise. The Ciat-Lonbarde instruments present to the viewer and listener a strange and playful world, where wood and electricity combine towards something truly original. Here’s a new piece made in the studio using the most minimal of means, a Tetrax organ effected through an Eventide H9 effects pedal.
An old EP of mine has emerged online for sale at Zero G Sounds from New York. Released in 2002, each of the pieces follows a rhythmic pattern with increasing intensity. As XLR8R wrote of it: “The title track’s blend of whispery rhythms, percussive tones and ominous, buzzy effects bounces nicely against the sensual ambient tech of the flipside’s “Bette” and the elastic, dubby meanderings of “Lambertia.” Quality stuff.” Have a listen here.
2019 is looming just around the corner and I’m delighted to be taking part in a very special festival at Café Oto in London in February. In what would have been the 90th birthday of French composer Luc Ferrari, the festival will present Ferrari’s original compositions in an 8-day program of live concerts, talks, films, readings, installations, exhibitions and the launch of the English translations of his Complete Works.
Ferrari (1929-2005) was affiliated with the influential GRM group in France, but broke away to pave his own path of individualistic expressions of minimalist music, audio plays, musical theatre, soundtracks and installations. His ground-breaking works such as Presque Rien (1967-70) rebelled against the rigid institutions of his day and scandalized the French musical establishment.
I’ll be performing with Erik M one evening, alongside other fabulous performers over the other days, including Brunhild Ferrari, Apartment House, Kassael Jaeger, Áine O’Dwyer & Graham Lambkin, David Grubbs, Tania Chen, Thurston Moore, Alex Ward, Steve Beresford, David Toop, and many more. The full programme, including day-by-day programme and specific works being performed, will be announced on the 10th of December. Stay tuned for more details.
So, in closing, thank you for your support over the last months and years. It means a lot to me, especially in a climate that seems to be ever more challenging and difficult. I work entirely independently, with no support whatsoever. No record label, publisher, manager, live agent, not even a stylist! Everything that happens goes directly through me so your support really does have meaning and genuine impact.
Have a safe and entertaining entry into 2019 and hope to see more of you in the future.
::: listen :::
Epple/Stohl/Rauschenberg: Strategic Structures (Forced Exposure)
Richard Devine: Sort\Lave (Timesig)
Jóhann Jóhannsson: Mandy OST (Invada)
François Bayle: Electrucs ! (Transversales)
::: read :::
Paul Ableman: I Hear Voices (Abacus)
Laurence Dupré: Camouflage (Timeless)
Anthony Burgess: Homage to Qwert Yuiop (Abacus)
Tommy Mackay: 40 Odd Years of the Fall (Daily Reckless)
::: watch :::
Beyond the Black Rainbow: Panos Cosmatos
Widows: Steve McQueen
Arizona: Jonathan Watson
Le Jeu: Fred Cavayé