As always, I’m writing this to review the last month and anticipate the next, but in a staggeringly short time just look at how all of our lives have changed. I know that many friends and colleagues have been struggling with anxiety, a feeling of feeling disconnected and simply trying to remain sane in this lockdown scenario, whilst the media relentlessly drowns us in overwhelmingly scary statistics and stories. Right now, I should be telling you all how amazing the live events in Bristol and London were, and how the premiere of Mass Observation at Bush Hall proved to be a great success, but I can’t. I would dearly love to share my enthusiasm about my collaboration with Dutch National Ballet and ISH Dance and how GRIMM is about to tour around The Netherlands with 30+ shows next month but again, I can’t. Like many others, all of my work was cancelled with immediate effect.
So, to find a more positive slant, and to communicate directly with supporters I set up the Scanner Fan Club over at Bandcamp. Music connects us all and is a social experience, but for many people this isn’t possible or even practical, sometimes for geographical reasons, sometimes because they simply don’t like crowds, or, as at present, because of a pandemic. And yes, we all still want to hear music and enjoy life too!
Growing up I always loved the idea of Fan Clubs. In fact, the very first one I joined was for the band Queen, and then the comic book Dennis the Menace, and have often regretted that this kind of experience has been lost with the advent of the internet. I treasured the furry badge and little plastic wallet that accompanied Dennis the Menace too!. Well, hopefully this new Scanner Fan Club will change all that. It’s a direct way to respond and offer exclusive materials to my supporters.
For just £5.00 a month you get FIVE albums immediately, 15% discount on all physical product and lots more exclusive stuff to follow from the vast Scanner archives. Some of you may know that I’ve always been rather an archivist and hold a massive library of unreleased material, including entire albums, film scores, ballet scores, artist collaborations and so much more. At present, I have over 220 live recordings for example from 1992 onwards, and over 850 videos of shows and films. That’s not to mention the 2000+ CDRs and boxes of cassette tapes! I see this as an opportunity to share these exclusive items with you. The majority of this material will only be available to those who subscribe. They will not be made for general sale.
And, of course, there’s all the new material too, the alternative mixes, the tracks that never made it to certain albums simply because of space, demos, interviews. Yes, a LOT of material basically. In the last two weeks fans have already been given three new albums of unreleased material. In preparing material for the Sub Rosa album last year dedicated to the work of British writer Anthony Burgess, (Conversations with the Anthony Burgess Cassette Archives 1964-1993), I made several works that were never released or heard.
Then I shared a soundtrack for an exhibition at Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains, Tourcoing, France. This was a specially commissioned work to accompany the work of Bruno Nuytten – one of the most creative directors of photography of the 70’s and 80’s in France. He has worked with Marguerite Duras, André Téchiné, Zulawski, Alain Resnais, JL Godard, etc. It’s a very hypnotic and dubbed out score. More on that here.
And all fans received a high-quality download of my recent online concert, but more about that in a moment. And remember £5.00 a month is pretty much the price of a hipster coffee in certain cities, a beer in most bars or a pizza at the local takeaway. And they are usually all gone in less than 15 minutes, whilst this music will stay with you as long as you wish! Given the current climate and with all my work currently cancelled this kind of support means the world to me too.
And the online concert? Well, since all current and future shows were cancelled or postponed, I thought it would be fun to perform live directly from my studio to your homes. So on 21st March I set up everything to broadcast to the world. Naturally as the hour struck for the show to begin the system went down here and I had a minor panic, as I could so many people logging on to view it, only to find that I couldn’t convince the technology to work from my end!
Thankfully, I resolved the technical issues with OBS broadcasting software and the show ran very smoothly. I improvised an entirely new live set and then set about answering all the questions that people had in the Chat Room afterwards. And it was such a joy to find so many friends and so many positive comments there too. If you missed the broadcast I decided to leave it online so everyone can see it now.
I will be repeating this idea soon too, using a completely different set up, as it’s important to remain connected with people and the joy of such feedback is immeasurable. Again, the full performance can be yours to keep if you join the fan club too. And in a sudden moment on inspiration last Sunday, I made a live performance on Instagram too, spontaneously so. It was such fun to suddenly perform in front of 150 people, none of whom expected this. I’ll be doing more of these in the future too so check in at Instagram too.
With the launch of the new Andy Warhol show at Tate Modern recently I thought it would be good timing to make Warhol’s Surfaces (2003) available again. Warhol was an artist who embraced consumerism, celebrity and counter culture – and changed modern art in the process. I was invited to make this special tribute to him using rare telephone recordings of him chatting to friends and sharing gossip. It’s available on Bandcamp now, as well as being included for free for all members of the Fan Club. Now if that isn’t enticing I don’t know what more to offer! Well, actually I do, as I just uploaded an unreleased soundtrack to an exhibition from 1996 for the controversial French artist ORLAN for fans too.
The digitisation of the Scanner Archives continues. I just uploaded my first ever TV interview in the guise of Scanner from 1993 on this LWT London show, It’s Bizarre, presented by former glamour model Linda Lusardi and Richard Brecker. Unsure as to how to present myself, I printed out a huge distorted photo of my face and wore it as a mask, and then processed my voice through audio effects live as they asked me questions. This episode of the show also featured Michael Fagan who broke into Buckingham Palace and entered Queen Elizabeth II’s bedroom in 1982 and was apparently was one of the 20th century’s worst royal security breaches. To this day, I still wonder what on earth people must have made of this genuinely bizarre TV episode! Watch this utterly wild episode here.
With the recent death of Genesis P-Orridge from Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, it brought back memories of the show we played together back in 1999. I found footage is taken from the DVD of the Time’s Up Live recording at Royal Festival Hall, London from 1st May 1999. The night featured Psychic TV, Billy Childish & Thee Headcoats, Master Musicians Of Jajouka, and ? & The Mysterians. We each played short sets and this clip is an excerpt from my performance that night. It was introduced very wittingly by Quentin Crisp (1908 – 1999), a celebrated English writer, raconteur and actor. I have very fond memories of this night indeed.
Another special treat from the Scanner Archives to entertain whilst stuck indoors. Lost in Music: Electronic Jam (1996) was a documentary, directed by Turner and Tailor, as part of their series on music. This episode featured interviews with Aphex Twin, Alec Empire Atom Heart, Markus Popp of Oval, Air Liquide, and even Karlheinz Stockhausen. It captures a very particular moment in time that was so important for many of us.
Now, bullying is not acceptable in any walk of life, but in the light of recent incidents in the music industry, I was drawn to sharing my own personal response to such appalling behaviour. Like many of you, I have been the victim of some truly atrocious bullying behaviour over the years, and felt that it was time to share my experiences with you. The response to this article was extremely positive, although I was admittedly disappointed that every magazine I approached regarding the subject, to expand upon the themes and highlight them to a wider audience, were all closed down immediately. It was deemed to be too ‘personal’ a subject and of little interest to their audiences apparently, which I found really rather sad. Anyhow, read more about it here.
I was recently delighted to offer my support and music to this new film, A Portrait of N.B., by Peio Aguirre, which recently opened at Kutxa Kultur Artegunea, San Sebastian, Spain. This film is simultaneously a biography and a portrait of the artist Nestor Basterretxea (1924-2014). Produced almost entirely from the photographic collection of the artist himself at the Idurmendieta farmhouse in Hondarribia, the film is fascinating piece of history. In it we get to see the development of a 20th-century artist, committed to Modernism.
Thanks to everyone who ordered copies of Europa 25 CD last month and the limited vinyl release with Terre Thaemlitz. The vinyl sold out almost immediately but I just found three last copies in the stock cupboard so don’t delay if you want a copy. This will be not be made available again.
In the midst of so many dark tales online right now, here’s some possible light for you ahead on 5th July 2020. A very special Sunday afternoon ambience in Manchester, UK, with Ian Boddy and myself performing live, solo and together, in a very special early show of cinematic sounds. We are part of the Subliminal Impulse Festival which also features performances by Suzanne Ciani and Adrian Sherwood, so it’s going to be a fabulous weekend of electronic sounds! Cheap early bird tickets are currently on sale, but very limited, so if you are thinking of coming along then pick them up now and hopefully we can all celebrate the end of the evil virus too!
Another great reward of quieter times is the amount of studio time I’ve had access to. In the last month I’ve almost finished a new album with the extraordinary Australian singer and musician Dave Graney, who I first saw with his band The Moodists in the 1980s. Our new album is a kind of science fiction electronica song collection. I’m very excited about this. I also wrote 90 minutes of new music to come out as a new record in a few months, in addition to remixing my Fibolae album into two expansive 20+ minute plus version and scoring a new animation film by Slovenian artist Ursula Berlot.
So, until next month, please take care more than ever. For many people today, this situation is one of the toughest situations they’ve had to live through but we can all find a positive way forward through it. Perhaps even the way we know life as it is will change in ways we never anticipated, but I remain an optimist and believe in ultimate good.
As always, thanks for your support.
::: listen :::
Jóhann Jóhannsson: Last and First Men (DG)
Tod Dockstader: Aerial 1 (Important)
Brian & Roger Eno: Mixing Colours (DG)
James Holden/Waclaw Zimpel: Long Weekend (Border Community)
::: read :::
Nick Cave: Stranger than Kindness
Seb Patane: Monograph (Distanz)
Ori Gersht: History Repeating (Lund Humpries)
Anthony Burgess: On the Novel (Burgess Foundation)
::: watch :::
Queen and Slim: Melina Matsoukas
Dark Encounter: Carl Strathie
Ademeit: Michael Bauer & Marcus Werner Hed
Richard Jewell: Clint Eastwood