I’m currently digitising all old film and video footage of works from the last thirty years and it’s been so revealing. So many projects that I’ve forgotten about, including such strange commissions including such as a documentary on the band AC/DC on VPRO Television in the Netherlands where I am interviewed in bed in my Amsterdam hotel, as well as countless film scores, performance videos, collaborations with artists and dancers. I’m going to upload some of these online to my YouTube channel so stay tuned.
It was actually really great to rediscover this rather revolutionary documentary on Techno music in the last 1990s too. It was directed by Ian Kerkhof | Aryan Kaganof where I was interviewed alongside David Toop, Peter Namlook (of FAX), Thomas Fehlmann, Paul Schutze, Ken Ishii and many others. It remains a fascinating documentary about techno at this period in time. Watch it here.
Now, I’ve just contributed new material to a very unique release out this month. As the label itself best describes it:
In a world saturated with technology and digital culture, this project offers a stop, a breath, and a unique meeting of ancient customs with contemporary artistic practices and artists’ visions of the future. It takes inspiration from the past in a search for raw energy, cultural roots, and unique sound material. This compilation contains sonic metaphors and ways of preserving, reflecting upon, and using culture as a sound source. Buddhist chants and ancient instruments from Japan serve here as a case study, highlighting the relationships between technology, tradition, and culture.
I-go-I-e is a limited edition of 50 microSD card with over 4GB of data full of audio content from recording sessions from the temples. You can listen to my mix online too. It’s something especially peaceful and exclusive to this release.
Thanks to everyone who bought items at the Scanner Bandcamp Shop last month. I’ve just added a couple more items. The first of these, Europa 25, was originally released in 2004. Europa 25 was created in response to a request from the British Council Brussels to find a way of celebrating the expansion of Europe in 2004 – represented Europe’s diversity and unity. Taking themes from every existing member’s national anthem and collaging them into a single sacred song, I tried to offer an alternative and playful approach to a possible contemporary interpretation of what an anthem might sound like.
The accepted European anthem is based on the final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s ninth symphony, which is based on Friedrich Schiller’s ode An die Freude (Ode to Joy). Due to the large number of languages used in Europe the anthem is purely instrumental and has no lyrics. The anthem was originally adopted by the Council of Europe in 1972. Europa 25 was not intended to replace the national anthems of the Member States but rather to celebrate the values they all share and their unity in diversity.
In making this available in 2020 feels like an especially surreal experience, and from a personal point of view an acknowledgment of how borders are again being built between people, culture and ideas, in a most disheartening way. There is literally only one box of CDs left in the archive and that’s it, so don’t delay if you can fancy picking up a copy, and a little piece of history too. All come with a signed postcard and stickers too.
The second release on digital and very limited vinyl was originally released in 2018 and offers up material I recorded with my old friend Terre Thaemlitz. It also features a remix from Premature label owner Ben Galyas. It’s a very quiet and abstract work. A review at the time reported:
On Terre Loves Robin the artists also known as DJ Sprinkles and Scanner render a side of timbral thizz and low-end fluctuations nestling soft piano keys and crackle like a fragment of some joint project between The Caretaker and William Basinski. Ben Galyas sweetly reads between the lines with his Cloud Version, expanding the cut to the peripheries of the soundsphere resulting high register prickles and bottom end disturbances stressing the original’s quiet, receding beauty.
The digital is widely available, but the vinyl is in two editions. There are just ten copies left of the standard edition, but I also have three very exclusive ‘adult’ alternative 12”s which were never commercially available. The music is identical but the sleeve is rather more grown up in nature. Check the link to find out more. None of these will be made available again. Buy it here.
As I’d mentioned before I was recently invited to contribute a short mix to this new series from Toneshift. Well, I listen to music constantly, from the moment I wake until I go to bed. Trying to choose what sounds to include in such a compressed mix was a challenge until I simply thought, what have I listened to in the last days? So, what you will hear is an example of what I also just recently listened to. As simple as that. And a couple of my tunes to balance it out, not that I ever listen to my own music that is! Enjoy the almost random choices, including music from Nurse with Wound, Robert Ashley, Organum, Robert Fripp, Basic Channel, Stephen Vitiello, Throbbing Gristle and many more!
And whilst thinking about special mixes I was reminded on Valentine’s Day about this very unique show I created for BBC Radio Scotland back in 2002, that featured all the sounds found in love in nature, from mating calls to animals getting funky with one another. And then humans were interviewed about their own favourite personal sounds of love. Ah, whoever said that romance was dead. Listen here.
The way in which we listen to and experience music has radically changed in the last one hundred years as we have seen. In 1890 when a group of musicians gathered in Russia to admire the latest modern technology in the shape of the Edison phonograph cylinder, they did what many do when faced with a lens pointed at them or recording device, they simply made silly noises and talked rubbish. Let’s not forget that these playful characters were celebrated composers Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and the pianist Anton Rubinstein, radical figures of their day. Little did they appreciate at the time the influence this technology was to have on us all. And that got me thinking about how we consume and listen to music today. Have a read here and feel free to comment of course.
I made a little interview with UK based Modular synth company Abstract Data last month which you might find entertaining. I talk about creative tools, and recommend something very strange and intriguing to watch online. Read it in full here.
A little studio playtime for you now with something remarkably simple but which seems to have touched many people. I teased out something rather elegant from the Buchla Music Easel. It’s a little version of the classic Erik Satie: Gnossienne No 1. I’ve always loved these minimal and simple works by Satie as they are highly experimental with form, rhythm and chordal structure, rather like the Buchla Music Easel itself. It’s very much a way to rethink the familiar. Ease yourself into four minutes of gentle electronics. Happy listening here.
And something rather more meditative here, with Buchla Music Easel Feedback Studies. It’s a little experiment inspired by watching a video of my friend, the Buchla genius, Todd Barton on YouTube. (YOU MUST LISTEN ON SPEAKERS or HEADPHONES or else you will barely hear anything!) Not actually playing the instrument, but creating feedback on it so it was just a playful game of catching it before it erupted into noise. This is only an excerpt from an ever evolving forty minute piece. I’m now considering making this into an expansive set of releases in a set for dreaming and drifting.
Now I’m playing live twice this month. First down in Bristol on 21 March for Machina Bristronica for a very special modular music day. Other live acts include Colin Benders, Steevio & Suzybee, Look Mum No Computer, Finlay Shakespeare & Daniel Miller and many more. I’ll be presenting an improvised live set of all new material.
Then a few days later on 26 March I will present the London premiere of Mass Observation in a very special night of live AV shows at Bush Hall. Alongside my performance, Richard Norris (The Grid) will be premiering his album ‘Elements’ (Group Mind) with visuals from Blue Carbon, and Marconi Union will be accompanied by a filmscape imaged by DOTCA. I hope that some of you can make it for this very special event.
In closing, don’t forget that my recent album, The Signal of a Signal of a Signal, is available and all proceeds from sales go directly to Macmillan Cancer Support. It’s available now for streaming online at iTunes, Deezer, Spotify, Google Music, Gracenote, Mixcloud, Napster, TIDAL and countless other places. The limited edition wooden CD box sold out in ten minutes, but there will be a very special cardboard box edition available this month so keep an eye on their Bandcamp page! So, the more you listen and stream, the more money that goes to a good cause. Please support this as much as you can.
As ever, thanks for your support!
::: listen :::
Mark Korven: The Lighthouse OST (Sacred Bones)
Ben Frost: Catastrophic Delinquescence (Mute)
Nigel Mullaney: 31 Days (DiN)
Carl Stone: Himalaya (Unseen Worlds)
::: read :::
Tim Walker: Wonderful Things (V&A)
Mary Gaitskill: This is Pleasure (Serpents Tail)
George Widener: Secret Universe IV (Koenig)
Annie Atkins: Fake Love Letters (Phaidon)
::: watch :::
Queen and Slim: Melina Matsoukas
Dark Encounter: Carl Strathie
Ademeit: Michael Bauer & Marcus Werner Hed
Richard Jewell: Clint Eastwood