January is frequently a month of adjustment, scheduling out the year(s) ahead and a time to rethink processes and possibilities. A time in which to try and resolve projects and ideas, and formulate some kind of plan. Having said that January seems to have been rather a topsy turvy month, occupied with deadlines and projects and barely time to think!
What do you do all day is a question I’m often asked. And if it’s not administration, organising travel, invoices, appointments and so on, then I’m busy in the studio. I have a constant list of deadlines at hand so rarely pause for a moment, and am at present engaged in a vast variety of unusual projects.
By the Code of Soil launched last year, a unique project with artist Kasia Molga, which is an online networked digital artwork which invites you to experience soil through a uniquely data-driven generated audio-visual representation on your laptop or desktop computer. Now, the next very physical manifestation of this project is taking place. In the last week, I built a wormery, that’s to say a house for earthworms to live in. With no experience of having pets or children to take care of I never anticipated that the worms might need quite so much attention. On the first few nights they tried to escape and I entered the studio only to find the floor littered with the bodies of worms wriggling their way to freedom!
I was most interested to listen to the sound of the worms and hear what happened sonically beneath the surface. Following advice from celebrated sound recordist Chris Watson I buried a special hydrophone microphone deep in the soil, left some tasty scraps of food for my new friends and waited. An understanding of soil is crucial to our survival yet remains frequently forgotten, so it was truly enlightening to hear such activity just beneath the surface. I couldn’t see anything happening but clearly out of sight it was clearly the rush hour for worms!
This final work will take on physical form in London in the summer in an ambitious installation with Kasia so stay tuned for dates so you can come along and share in the sonic adventures!
“What should good ‘sexual consent’ look, sound and feel like?” This week on BBC Radio 4 novelist Eimear McBride explores the moments just before sex – when consent is still molten and evolving. So where in our literature can we find good examples of this stage of intimacy? And I’m humbled to say that I scored this two part series that will be broadcast later this week and next.
These rather timely broadcasts explore Samuel Richardson’s 17th century novel ‘Pamela’ ( one of the most influential writers on later courtship narratives, including the work of Jane Austen), to D.H.Lawrence’s depiction of consent and rejection, to Shakespeare’s comedy cross-dressers, to W.H. Auden and to contemporary writers such as Sarah Hall, Sarah Waters, and the US Romance writer Nora Roberts. My new music accompanies and compliments many of these sequences. You can listen back to the show for at least a month afterwards too.
It’s a joy to see Qualia, a dance work I created in collaboration with choreographer Wayne McGregor continue to be performed, many years after its debut in 2003. Reviews of the work were rather damning at the time, including one that mentioned my work as almost an afterthought and simply described it as ‘rubbish.’ For the work to still be appreciated and performed in 2019 is a revelation in some ways. The full score is available here too, and watch this recent amazing performance here.
I’m performing at Stereo Spasms in London on 8th February in this very special festival dedicated to the work of French composer Luc Ferrari (1929-2005) at Café Oto. Luc was a witty and engaging character and I had the distinct honour of performing with him in Paris in 2002, performing Archives sauvées des eaux . Now in 2019 I’m repeating this performance with French musician Erik M, alongside Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. The remainder of the festival should be amazing with shows from David Toop, Steve Beresford, David Grubbs, Ashley Paul, Jim O’Rourke and Luc’s widow Brunhild Ferrari, amongst many others.
I’m playing a rare solo show in London in March and encourage anyone intending on coming along to book tickets soon, as last year my show sold out quickly and we had no more space for anyone. It will take place at the beautifully intimate Iklectik Art Lab and I’ll be ably sharing the night with Orphax and Joseph Branciforte, both in their debut UK shows I believe. At present, I have no idea as to what I’ll actually be performing musically as it’ll be an improvised unique set, never to be repeated. And like last year we might be offering a few lucky visitors a very special free vinyl edition, unavailable anywhere else ever! Info here.
My On 45 mix series has expanded with more mixes now than before. Recent additions include Vainqueur, Lorn, Chris Carter of Throbbing Gristle, Pole, the late Mika Vainio, Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, and plenty more. And of course, more to follow soon!
I was so happy to be invited to remix material on the new album by British composer Matthew O’Connor. His ambient electronic album under the Phonseca – Between a Dream is released on 15.02.19 and will be available on iTunes. The album was masterly engineered by Invada Studios in Bath. Take a listen to my remix of I See Stars here.
I often wish I had more time for writing as it’s a genuine joy to embrace the possibilities of language and tell stories. Perhaps one day I’ll write a book on music or biography but for the moment I’m happy to be able to write for Electronic Sound magazine and this month’s edition features a piece I’ve written about the first live performance by influential Finnish group Pan Sonic in London in 1994. Here’s an excerpt.
“The atmosphere grew darker and angrier. And then everything changed. Väisänen, Tenor (in Wild West cowboy shirt and chunky specs) and an unbilled Sami Salo (covering for Vainio who was absent due to illness) stepped out on stage and stood behind a long trestle table with strange scientific equipment balanced on top. None of us could have anticipated what was to follow. A low bass entered the room, as great walls of noise lurched towards us, moving closer and closer. Pitch black but for a laser projection mapping out the frequencies on a screen behind the performers, razor-thin tones resonated about us – unnerving, primeval, ancient and modern in equal measure, building with rhythmic energy and pulsations. And then, without warning, silence, darkness. A time without mobile phones was a time of utter blackness, with only lit cigarettes visible.”
And in a rather timely way, there is a little interview in the very same issue that accompanies a very encouraging review of Mass Observation Expanded and Ash 1.7. “Voyeuristic and haunting, it brought a new human dimension to purely electronic music, and offered weird windows into people’s private lives. Björk famously sampled one of its bleeping phone tones on her track‘Possibly Maybe’, while other innovators of electronic sound, Aphex Twin and Coil, quickly bought their own scanners to further investigate this barely explored area. For fans of experimental electronics, these releases are vital.” Buy these releases here and here. And if you happen to live or be in Paris on March 28th you can attend the world premiere of a live Mass Observation performance at the Pompidou Centre as part of their Mutations/Créations 3 evening.
As always, many thanks for your support and looking forward to sharing more music with you all in the future. I’m off to Melbourne, New Zealand and Singapore for the next month in between everything else for my annual adventures, so escaping the rain and show of the UK.
Until next month!
::: listen :::
Bass Clef: 111 angelic MIDI cascade (Slip)
Knut Wiggen: Electronic Works 1972 – 1975 (O. Gudmundsen Minde)
Laurie Spiegel: The Expanding Universe (Unseen Worlds)
Steven Stapleton: The Threats of Memories (Dirter)
::: read :::
George Loudon: Object Lessons (Riding House)
Andre Bernold: Beckett’s Friendship (Lilliput)
Alasdair Gray: Every Short Story (Canongate)
Paul Ableman: Tornado Pratt (McPherson)
::: watch :::
Roma: Alfonso Cuaron
Contratiempo: Oriol Paulo
Sharp Objects series: Marti Noxon
The Old Man & The Gun: David Lowery