October 2019

Hello

Computer troubles continued to plague me to begin the month, so I finally gave in the fight and simply bought a new laptop. This of course then entailed reinstallation of countless applications, adding serial numbers, basically just endless digital housework. I would love to say how rewarding it was, but to be blunt it was minor torture. So now onto more fun things!

In between playing Dr Digital Scanner it was a busy month indeed. It began in Kutna Hora in Czech Republic where I performed at the beautiful GASK contemporary art museum. I was joined by Bristol based artist Roly Porter and we spent the day exploring the city, especially the Sedlec Ossuary. Known to many as the ‘Bone Church’ it displays around 60,000 skeletons in a kind of macabre art installation. There’s even an extraordinary bone chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Our performances for A Day of Sound took place in the evening, outdoors in the museum gardens, and I performed my audio-visual interpretation of Mass Observation, which I’m slowly but surely travelling the globe with. 

Back home I switched back into my judge’s costume as I have been on panels for two music competitions recently. One of which I’m not allowed to publicly share as yet, but the other was for The Engine Room to support emerging sound artists from around the world. There were over 160 entries from nearly 30 countries, so a lot of committed listening in the last week, and the winners will be announced on 4 October at Iklectik in London. It’s such a joy to be exposed to fresh work by new creative minds too. I can’t wait to meet the winners and share them with the world at large! Next up in November is the Experimental Music Award at the Arts Foundation.  

Then I spent a few days down in Brighton East Sussex with my fine friends Colin Newman (Wire) and Malka Spigel (Minimal Compact), taking walks on the beach in the morning, and working in the studio for the remainder of the day. It was a wonderful experience as we managed to produce thirty minutes of new music in a short time, interspersed with much laughter and gossip. We rehearsed the work a few times and then performed it live in the Rose Hill in Brighton on Friday night. 

On the night itself I improvised a new set of largely unheard material and then joined Colin and Malka for our Nanocluster debut, where we channelled the spirit of Krautrock in a minimalist fashion, hammering away at a Korg MS-10 synth and Teenage Engineering OP-1 synth. It was splendid fun and I was overjoyed to find friends in the audience I’d not seen in years at the show. It was that kind of night when you realise how far back some connections go. Colin and Malka and I have been friends for about 25 years, but in the crowd there were friends I went to university with when I was 19 years old, but both of those were beaten by another friend I’d gone to school with from aged 11. Now that’s a lot of memories all in one small room!! 

Here’s hoping we can perform this material again and most certainly make a release of the music we wrote and recorded together that week too. Working together was just like that say when riding a bike, you never forget how to do it, even after many years!  

Earlier this year I was working in the studio for a forthcoming project based around the cassette archive of celebrated British author Anthony Burgess. It was extraordinary to listen to his voicemail messages and amateur recordings of him playing the piano and so on in these hissy recordings. Now Sub-Rosa in Belgium are set to release a double LP of rare archival material and exclusive remixes, curated by artist Alan Dunn in collaboration with Guy-Marc Hinant of the label.

Sub Rosa is a Brussels-based record label specialising in avant-garde music: their catalogue comprises over 250 works of drone, noise, concrete, ritual and film music, and we have a long history of working together. And so on 21st November, I will be presenting a new work This Sound is Not for Listening at the Anthony Burgess Archive in Manchester. This new work will offer up a form of time-travel through sound, reaching back into the past, and especially offering a chance to let the ghosts of the past bring new life to listeners. It’s perfect that the performance itself takes place at the home to the Burgess estate: its collections include the very cassettes that inspired this performance. I hope to see some of you there then!

And whilst on the top of Burgess my copies of New Clockwork Music from Electronic Sound Magazine safely arrived. A simply beautiful double vinyl release on orange vinyl it comes in a gatefold sleeve with liner notes and pull-out booklet. I contributed brand new material to this special release, alongside Chris Carter of Throbbing Gristle, Blancmange, Finiflex, Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto and many more. It’s a twin pop-disc of real horrorshow warbles and no mistake.

Split, my collaboration with choreographer Lucy Guerin, returns to the stage this month and will continue to tour until mid-November and really hope that some of you might have the opportunity to see this extraordinary work. A recent feature in The Guardian newspaper this week contextualises the work but it so needs to be experienced in person. 

Split features in the Melbourne Festival from 2-6 October, then travels to London for Dance Umbrella, then over to Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal. My score was commissioned especially for this work and is a gently pulsing and reductive work that slowly hypnotises! 

Speaking of hypnotic I just performed a new one hour work on my lovely Buchla 200e synthesiser in the studio, for a new website that features exclusive sets from artists working with electronic instruments. Modulisme intends to offer free listening sessions from a host of artists with accompanying interviews. You can listen to my new piece here

Last month I put together a new mix of music for Lyl Radio in France, where I was invited to collate together a playlist that featured music that has inspired me over the years. Naturally this is a huge challenge for any of us but in the first twenty minutes alone you can hear the work of John Cage, Alfred Schnittke, The Virgin Prunes, Glenn Branca, Zoviet France and Faure. I introduced and spoke about each work, offering a context as to how they had an impact upon my life and later work. Listen back here in full.

I’ve just finished scoring a new dance work for Studio Wayne McGregor that will premiere in Orbeliani Square in Tbilisi, Georgia next weekend, on Saturday 5 October. Artists from the London based and internationally renowned company will work with local dancers and people of different ages, interests and cultures to create a commissioned work that celebrates the people and the city of Tbilisi through dance, sound and costume. I’ve composed an entirely original new work to accompany this piece and can’t wait to see any documentation of how it turns out!

Three very different solo shows for myself are scheduled for this month. The adventures begin on 10 October at ROST in Glasgow where I’m performing a new set of material for my first performance in this fair city in many years now! Then there’s a very intimate show at my favourite London venue Iklectik, where I shall be improvising and creating another rather unique performance on 19 October. The month closes with the most challenging of performance of all though in Braga Portugal, where I’m performing on 27 October at the Semibreve Festival. Alongside such luminaries as electronic composers Morton Subotnick, Suzanne Ciani and Alessandro Cortini, I will be presenting an entire set that is created whilst in Braga on a modular synth system I’m unfamiliar with. A Portuguese manufacturer ADDAC is loaning a system for me to explore over three days before the concert which is quite nerve-wracking and with nothing else to back me up. Let’s hope that inspiration strikes in time! 

So, hope to see some of you in future. Thanks as ever for your support!

Best wishes
 
Professor Scanner

::: listen :::
Hainbach: Gestures (Seil)
Strain Crack & Break Volume One (Finders Keepers)
Carl Stone: Himalaya (Unseen Worlds)
Bass Clef: Hard Lessons Hardly Learned (Open Hand Real Flames)

::: read ::: 
John Cage: Love, Icebook Letters (John Cage Trust)
David Toop: MUSICS (Ecstatic Peace Library)
Helene Schjerfbeck: Monograph (RA)
Sense Sound (Fondazione Bonotto)

::: watch :::
Ad Astra: James Gray
Wildlife: Paul Dano
The Dead Don’t Die: Jim Jarmusch
Terminus: Marc Furmie

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