So here I am on the other side of the globe, having just spent a week exploring Melbourne and driving down the extraordinary Great Ocean Road, and then jetting over to the wilds of the South Island of New Zealand for further adventures. As always there have been challenges on the way, with our hotel in Melbourne burning down before arrival as a good example of that! It’s my annual break from routine and a chance to breathe again. We finish our trip off in Singapore before returning to the UK, so looking forward to discovering new sounds and places everywhere!
From almost nothing to almost everything. Life is full of chance encounters. These moments are often the most rewarding. Points in time you could not have anticipated happening or prepared yourself for. One of these was meeting legendary French composer Luc Ferrari in San Francisco in 2003. Luc Ferrari was taught by Arthur Honegger and Olivier Messiaen. At the end of the 1950s he co-founded the Groupe de Recherche Musicale with Pierre Schaeffer, “the inventor of concrete music,” but broke away to pave his own path of individualistic expressions of minimalist music, audio plays, musical theatre, soundtracks and installations.
His development of ‘soundscapes’ were enormously influential on generations of other creatives, and with Presque Rien (1967-70) he showed listeners how location recordings of nocturnal life can retune the entire experience of how we actually hear sound.
So here we are here, many years later in 2019. Luc Ferrari has sadly slipped off to explore sonic realms in another region, but it’s no reason not to celebrate his 90th birthday, and what better way than a festival of his music, with performances, film screenings, talks, readings and more. An 8-day programme, Stereo Spasms, took place at Cafe Oto in London, in association with Brunhild Ferrari, Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace Library, where I washonoured to play Archives sauvées des eaux Exploitation des concepts n°1 with French composer and DJ eRikm as my companion. It was a wild sonic ride, from itchy percussion to melancholic piano, with voices lost in the ether buried beneath archival personal recordings.
A busy Cafe Oto seemed most appreciative, and the following set featured Thurston Moore with eRikm performing Les ProtoRythmiques (2004-5), now a deeply immersive work, moving from skittering voice cuts up and jittery guitar clangs, developing into an entrancing drone piece, with feedback and live radio broadcasts.
Most excitedly Thurston’s publishing company, Ecstatic Peace Library has just put out the Complete Works of Luc Ferrari. It’s a heavyweight tome, filled with facsimiles of Ferrari’s original compositions, notebooks, and the first English translations of his writings, including poetry and fictional works and correspondence, as well as a special full-colour section that includes the composer’s own collage artwork. A truly essential item to own! Read more in detail about this night with many photos here.
I just put together a very special mixtape focusing on synthesisers in a very gentle fashion which you can listen to here and even download it. Listen here. It features the work of Coil, Aphex Twin, Alessandro Cortini and Lawrence English amongst others, and even features two exclusive and unreleased works of mine. I hope you will enjoy it.
Over the last months I’ve been working intensely on the score and sound design for a new film by Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck. We previously collaborated on his celebrated Staging Silence (2) film in 2013, a magical little work that offers up a playful film noire style mood. Now the final sequence, Staging Silence (3) is complete and premiered at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York City on 23 February, running until 6 April so if in NYC then take a look!
Staging Silence (3) takes the viewer on a journey through a series of desolate scenes, gradually constructed and deconstructed by a pair of anonymous hands that act as either divine creator or grand puppeteer. Ranging from hyper-realistic fictional land and cityscapes to absurd, almost surreal, dreamscapes, the various locations are connected by the sense of mystery and melancholy that pervades them. The emergence and disappearance of these interiors and views evoke a wide range of sensations, from nostalgia to tragedy to optimism, and, in some instances, even to humour. My score further accentuates the evocative mood offered up. Staging Silence (3) will continue to tour across the globe, so stay tuned.
Our age is confused about sexual consent; what should it look and feel like? I was delighted to score this two part BBC Radio 4 series exploring The Art of Intimacy last month. It’s a chance to meet the cast of Dracula who are working with an Intimacy Director to ensure the sexual contact is authentic and ethical; find out how comedy, and drag can help us address the greyest areas of ‘consent,’ and take a fresh look at the way some of the old masters in our galleries depict sexuality. You can listen back online now for the next month in case you missed it. Part One is here, followed by Part Two.
By the Code of Soil is continuing to grow in strength and if you’ve not downloaded the App yet please do. Until a certain number of downloads has been reached it will lie dormant on your computer, and then suddenly one launch when you least expect it to. Just saying 😀 As part of this I’m still taking care of my worm family in their dark wormery, and have been listening to their conversations and slithering movements beneath the earth with a very powerful microphone. I am really feeling the responsibility of enforced worm parenthood now! Kasia Molga, my fine collaborator, and I will be releasing more information about talks and installations to follow in 2019 soon. Kasia and I wrote a detailed blogpost about the genesis and development of this project, which you read here.
A very intimate solo show of mine is happening this month in London. On Saturday 23 March I’ll be performing at the inviting space, Iklectik, ably supported by Orphax and Joseph Braniforte in their debut London shows. When I played at this very venue a year ago the night sold out so I encourage you to pick up tickets if you intend on coming down. It’s very much up close and personal with this performance, so I’m very much looking forward to presenting all new music to the crowd.
Then I’m off to Paris to premiere Mass Observation as a live performance at the rather prestigious Pompidou Centre. Following on from the releases on Room40 in 2018 and Ash 1.7, this new show explores the role of surveillance in our culture using telephone calls, sonic data, information in a film piece featuring a live performance. Using live and mixed radio signals, each performance depends on its localization and situation, so let’s await the joys that the airwaves present to us on this night. The night is a part of “Mutations/Créations 3” and also features performances by the video collective OpenEndedGroup with composer Natasha Barrett, and saxophonist Raphaël Imbert and computer music designer Benjamin Lévy.
In other news, I’m currently developing ideas for a massive outdoor performance and sound installation in the summer in London, hopefully with an orchestra and choir too. More on that soon. Now, it’s back to climbing mountains, admiring the wildlife and trying to remain screen free for a while.
Until next month!
::: listen :::
Carl Stone: Baroo (Unseen Worlds)
Autechre: AE_LIVE (Warp)
Demdike Stare: Stitch by Stitch (DDS)
Stephan Mathieu: FOLIO (Schwebung)
::: read :::
Luc Ferrari: Complete Works (Ecstatic Peace Library)
Bruce Conner: The Afternoon Interviews (Re/Search)
Lorna C Beckett: The Second I Saw You (British Library)
Jan Svankmajer (C Press)
::: watch :::
Henry Darger In the Realms of the Unreal: Jessica You
The Kominsky Method: Chuck Lorre
Stan and Ollie: Jon S Baird
Free Solo: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi