October has been a very mobile month in terms of travelling and November continues to be just as busy. I do love the opportunity to see friends all around the world like this though!
I don’t perform live nearly as often as I used to. In the past I would have weeks where I would literally lose track of which country I was in, which wasn’t a joyful situation I must confess. And that’s from someone who doesn’t even drink alcohol or take recreational drugs! So, today it’s much more focused and I play less shows but find them personally far more rewarding.
I’m just freshly back from Semibreve in Braga, Portugal, which honestly has been the finest ever festival experience in my career. It’s clearly a festival run by other artists as they understood all the needs, from food, sleep to just simple hospitality. This was a far more unusual live experience for me though as I arrived with absolutely nothing prepared at all. Instead, I was on a short residency writing an entirely new live set using a synthesiser set up from Portuguese manufacturer ADDAC that I was completely unfamiliar with! Now, that was partly like being back at school, learning so much in such a compressed time, and taking an absolute risk in front of a capacity crowd at Theatro Circo.
So, I spent day after day sitting in a quiet room, exploring, experimenting, and entertaining the curious local homeless cats that would wander up and inquisitively peer through the glass door to the studio. Three course meals for lunch and dinner, and then a concert every evening, with an extraordinary variety of live acts from Alessandro Cortini, Deaf Center, Drew McDowall, Felicia Atkinson, Kode9, Robert AA Lowe, and Oren Ambarchi. It was thrilling to connect with so many friends I’ve not seen in ages, and hang out for days with synth legends Morton Subotnick and Suzanne Ciani, both of whom were as charming and enthusiastic as I’d hoped. Truly amazing! And my performance was okay too!
Last month I was up in Glasgow at ROST, a new underground industrial space. I played a deep, dark, dubbed out rhythmic set mixed up with abstract textures. The PA offered a rather devastating low end too so there were certainly some good vibrations there!
Then it was a joy to return to Iklectik In London to play a very intimate show, alongside British composer Jo Thomas. I relied heavily on live radio broadcasts from around the world, and improvised a set using spoken word from science fiction shows in the USA, random poetry readings and even a World War 2 play. The entire set was recorded and I’m now considering a new library series of live sets from the last 25 years of performance. An excerpt from my last London show at Iklectik can now be downloaded for free at Soundcloud. Listen here.
November begins at Spazio Tondelli Riccione Teatro in Italy on 3 November, when I will perform 52 Spaces, a work of mine that has been consistently popular since it was first presented in 2002. Originally commissioned by The British School at Rome for film director Michelangelo Antonioni’s 90th birthday in 2002, 52 Spaces uses sounds and elements of The Eclipse (1962) to create a soundtrack of an image of a city suspended in time, anonymous and surreal. Over the years it’s been presented in museums and theatres across the globe, so it’s an absolute pleasure to share this again. You can watch a clip from the work here.
Then later in November, I’m off to Manchester to present new work based around the cassette archive of celebrated British author Anthony Burgess. I was offered access to his voice mail recordings and cassette tapes and will be using my portable Eurorack Modular Synth system to take these and process them into something completely new. The label 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.
November finishes up in Paris at Nouveau Théâtre de Montreuil with a tribute the late great French avant garde composer Luc Ferrari (1929-2005). On 29 November I shall be performing live with French musician ErikM in a version of Archives sauvées des eaux. How wonderful to continue supporting the legacy of such an influential figure too.
If you can’t make it to a live show of mine you can now listen back to a recent performance in Brighton for Nanocluster. It’s the night where I reunited with my old creative friends Colin Newman of Wire and Malka Spigel of Minimal Compact, and played an entire set of new material. Tune in here.
Another archival discovery is a talk from Music Tech Fest in 2016 where I gave a short presentation about my work, and spoke in more detail about my sound installation at Rijeka Airport in Crotia. Have a listen here.
Out this is month is a very special release with Amsterdam based clarinet player Gareth Davis. Footfalls is a full-length album that presents two musically theatrical scenes, both inspired by literary connections – TS Eliot and Samuel Beckett. It’s worth quoting the press release to capture the true essence of this release:
“In “Towards the Door”, Gareth Davis’s bass clarinet breathes slow, wave-like tones that merge with the oft-rhythmic electronic textures from his counterpart. A third of the way in, Robin Rimbaud’s synth erupts into a Blade Runner-esque epic harmonic section that disappears as suddenly as it arrives — leaving ripples of oscillation in its wake, slowly unfolding into the sound of waves, as it arrives back where it begun: as a full circle, drawn in echoes of sound. “Smokefall” begins with the words “Invisible Choirs”, subtly spoken by a woman’s voice among a blurred distant conversation, as textural sound effects creep forwards to the point where a slow progressing but steady LFO rhythm enters. Water, metal, and smoke are absorbed into a creeping tribal passage, accompanied by long clarinet tones. The piece expands further and further into a state of ecstatic harmonic noise that fulfils all parts of your body. Footfalls is a euphoric trip from two artists that — although prolific — manage to arrive at the perfect meeting point to deliver two hard to shake pieces of dizzying electro-acoustic perfection.”
It’s available from Miasmah in a special edition of just 300 copies on orange vinyl, with metallic pantone spot coloiur artwork. And, of course, it includes a download code. More info at the label and available from Boomkat in the UK and Forced Exposure in the USA.
Split, my collaboration with choreographer Lucy Guerin, finishes up this month in Montreal and Toronto. I was so delighted to see this again in London last month at Dance Umbrella. Lucy and I had to smile too as we were a clue in a recent crossword puzzle in The Age newspaper in Melbourne. Now that’s most definitely the mark of success! And if you happen to live in Canada I implore you to see this show. Even after 70 performances it continues to impress me!
::: listen :::