As I write this we are experiencing a month’s worth of rain in just three hours, a week after experiencing some of the hottest ever recorded temperatures in the UK and Europe. Presumably this is nothing to be concerned about though? Of course not, everything is perfectly balanced as we all know. Hmm…
Undercurrent was premiered at Greenwich Peninsula, London in July. Marketed as London’s new flashy residential neighbourhood and cultural hub, Greenwich Peninsula promises to become the new hot destination for art, design and architecture, and to launch this initiative the Turning Tides festival took place, featuring many live music performances, DJ sets, food, dance and all manner of celebratory events!
It was a gloriously sunny day for the launch and I was delighted at the response from the public who could listen to my work by borrowing a set of wireless headphones, and then traversing the 9-metre-high elevated walkway The Tide, flowing through native trees, providing a unique landscaped route for running, walking and meditation. It was designed by Diller and Scofidio, the very same architects who created New York City’s The Highline if you’ve ever have the chance to visit this amazing location.
Over several months I collected recordings from beneath the ground, capturing the sounds that we never hear. From earthworms burrowing their way through the soil, to fish in the Thames, to the electrical hum of machinery deep beneath the surface, Undercurrent celebrates a world invisible to the eye but ever active. Collaging these into a cinematic work for the ears, the listener was encouraged to follow the walkway and tune into this unique world of sonic exploration, where even in the seeming silence there is a magical sound world.
On the Saturday afternoon, I was thrilled to give a public talk with my fine friend American sound artist Stephen Vitiello, who stepped in at the last minute to replace David Toop who was sadly too ill to attend. Stephen literally jetted in from Paris where he was working just to help out, like an emergency sonic superhero! Read more about the project here too.
Fibolae, my last studio album, was released in 2017 on Pomperipossa Records, the label run by the extraordinary Swedish musician Anna von Hausswolff. Since then I’ve had a number of requests regarding availability. Now a short-limited run of vinyl is available exclusively at Bandcamp, and every purchase is accompanied by a scented postcard, signed and dedicated to you, and stickers. Thanks already to everyone who has bought a copy. To accompany the release, I created two videos. Nothing Happens Because Of A Single Thing can be seen here, whilst Seaven Teares can be viewed here.
The Great Crater is also now available at Bandcamp. “Rather than just utilizing field recordings of similar phenomena, it seems as if he was able to capture these sounds and images just with processing and modular synthesis….massive rumbles like far off ice cracking is peppered with wet synth pulsations, creating a slushy introduction that he then casts layers of frigid, shimmering electronic space. A compelling and fascinating record that further cements Rimbaud’s legacy as a multi-talented and peerless, diverse composer.” Brainwashed
The album explores an immersive, fragile and moving exploration of themes inspired by this simple tale. At moments, the ice moves and a sonic scar if formed, at others the chill wind blows across the exposed water. The Great Crater captures a moment in our time, unsettling and a cause for concern. Rather like the climate right here, right now!
If you are familiar with my career trajectory you might be aware that one constant in my life is scoring work for contemporary dance. Celebrated British choreographer Wayne McGregor was one of the first to invite me to collaborate, and over the years we’ve created a host of projects together. An excerpt from Nemesis (2002) is now featured on this new release out in September on Mercury KX. Wayne McGregor: Collaboration. A personal collection curated by Wayne himself, it features some of his favourite pieces from many adventurous composers in modern classical and electronic music.
I’m honoured to find my work sitting amongst such names as Ólafur Arnalds, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Joel Cadbury, Ben Frost, Gaika, Jon Hopkins, Jlin, Nico Muhly, Max Richter, Kaija Saariaho and others.
I’m also flattered to be acting as a judge on two forthcoming opportunities for musicians. One must remain top secret (and it’s not The Voice or Britain’s Got Talent, don’t worry), the other is with The Engine Room in the UK. It’s currently inviting entries to its second international sound art competition. The competition will celebrate some of the best new work from emerging sound artists from around the world. This year’s competition and events are organised in collaboration with IKLECTIK to celebrate their 5th anniversary.
Selected works will be eligible for a number of prizes and will be invited to exhibit and/or performs in a public exhibition at IKLECTIK Art Lab in London, during October 2019. And I will be performing at the same event so it’s even more exciting! The deadline for entries is 15 September 2019. Successful entrants will be notified by the end of September 2019. Good luck!
For those of you with longer memories you might recall Githead, my band with Colin Newman of Wire and Malka Spigel from Minimal Compact. We released several albums together and toured across Europe and Canada in the past, and Colin and Malka are two of my oldest friends from way back! Well, after several years absence, we are returning to the studio and premiering it in Brighton in September, but in a very different vein. Swapping guitars for electronics Colin and Malka are performing in their Immersion guise and I’ll be performing solo. But to close the evening we will premiere this new work, whatever it may be. Who knows, it might even feature guitars again!
In between other projects I always like to inject a little bit of playfulness and experimentation into the studio. A couple of years ago I bought the Syncussion SY-1 by The Human Comparator, which is a faithful reproduction of an extremely versatile drum synthesizer from the late 1970’s by Pearl. It’s capable of everything from classic 70’s disco “peeoww” to tight bells, thunderous Kick drums and Gnarly Bass sounds, and you will have heard it on countless records in the past. I decided to take it a far darker place indeed.
And taking minimalism to an experimental extreme I used one keyboard playing single notes and ran it through my pedalboard of guitar effects to produce this rather epic new work, which builds until something quite unexpected.
August is a holiday month for many but it seems that my schedule refuses to recognise that. I’m off to premiere new work at LISTEN at Frome in Somerset. Other People’s Stories is a touching sonic artwork that focuses on the detritus of lost lives and Somerset voices. It came to life from a dusty old box of photographs I picked up in an auction in Frome, featuring hundreds of abandoned photos of a family presumably in the area from 1900 onwards. The thought of all your lives simply disappearing like that was very affecting. The sound installation runs at the Round Tower Gallery at Black Swan Arts from 10-16 August. I’ll also be performing Mass Observation live at the Silk Mill on Tuesday 13 August in its British premiere, so hope to see some friendly faces there!
I’m then back in the studio to continue working on a yet to be named project with composer Michel Banabila, which for me is a first, since I’m singing throughout the record. But please don’t let that scare you away. I’m very excited at the challenges this recording has put on me and how rewarding the results have been so far! And I’m finishing up edits on an album with American writer, academic and composer David Rothenberg which we’ve been recording on and off for the last two years!
So, thanks as ever for your support and hope to see some of you in my travels.
::: listen :::
Zoviet France: “Châsse” box set (VOD)
Normil Hawaiians: What’s Going On? (Upset the Rhythm)
Datach’i: Bones (Timesig)
Maggi Payne: Crystal (Aguirre)
::: read :::
Harry Mathews: The Solitary Twin (New Directions)
Michael Duncan: Semina Culture (DAP)
Wallace Berman: American Aleph (Kohn Turner Gallery
)Unica Zurn: Bilder 1953-1970 (Neue Gesellschaft)
::: watch :::
Toy Story 4: Josh Cooley
Dead to Me: Liz Feldman
In Fabric: Peter Strickland
Apollo 11: Todd Douglas Miller