I would never have anticipated writing in such times as these. For most of us, we’ve never experienced anything quite like this in our lifetimes, so let’s try and remain as positive as possible towards re-engaging with our lives in the near future.
Performance has shifted from the stage to the studio which has made a very interesting challenge, especially technically, trying to learn at great speed what formats work best for each occasion. Over last weekend, I performed live for UK based technologists Sonic State, who have been presenting an exhaustive exploration of electronic instruments, synthesisers, talks and podcasts since 1995. Our paths would often cross at music fairs and events, but with the cancellation of everything in the calendar, including Superbooth, the annual event held in Berlin, we had to find an alternative means to connect.
So, on Saturday 25 April, I set up in my studio for a little mobile performance that you can watch back online. As always it was completely improvised, and accompanied by a conversation with the host Nick Batt. And, if you were ever curious to peek inside my home, then it’s also a chance to do just that! The performance is in glorious stereo and so best heard on decent speakers or headphones.
That’s not to say I have forgotten everyone else. I shared Invisible Choirs (1995) on Bandcamp too, which was originally recorded to soundtrack an art installation of mine in London, commissioned by The Wire magazine for a music festival they were curating. The work samples the voice of my close friend Lee Newman of Greater Than One / Technohead / Tricky Disco, who sadly passed away that same year on 4 August from cancer. The work was, and continues to be, dedicated to her, and at almost two hours long is a long-form ambient driftwork. Perfect to slow down in these challenging times.
When my mother died in 2013, I always wanted to record a tribute to her. Indeed, my album Fibolae, and other music from that time onwards resonate with melancholy and heartache, and even more so after the death of my brother in 2014. Like many people, I find such memories buried within music. How the briefest glimpse of a song on the radio can bring back the memory of sitting on a coach with my grandparents, driving through the countryside. Or walking along Hastings Beach with my brother, visiting the castle and hearing the music from the cafes on the waterfront blowing out across to the sea.
My mother loved music. Her listening choices were radically different from mine, but I learned so much from her of course. Even when she retired very late in life she would switch the radio on, or play CDs at home to listen to. And when she passed away I had that painfully challenging experience of choosing music to bid her farewell. Her coffin arrived to the music of Andre Rieu, and we said goodbye her with a Rod Stewart song.
And it’s in this spirit that I recorded these songs for her now, under the name Jayemme. It’s been on my To Do list for years but this recent quiet moment of isolation both gave me time to think and most crucially, to record. There were so many songs I could have chosen but these were always ones my mum loved – Gilbert O’Sullivan, Rod Stewart and Leo Sayer. So, now you can enjoy these playful cover versions of the songs and remember to keep the good memories of your family uppermost in your mind. And it’s free to everyone! 🙂 If you were curious about the origins of the Jayemme name and the fuller story around this then I wrote this post all about the release. AND if you happen to read this newsletter on 1st May please take advantage of Bandcamp’s waiving of fees. It means that everyone earns a little more money and was so successful last time that their servers crashed!
I recently contributed new material to this special virtual cassette tape release entitled: THERE WILL BE A COCKTAIL PARTY AFTER THE PLAGUE MASS. It’s a free downloadable album containing specially made (or rare) material from : Mike Harding, Philip Marshall, Tara Bhattacharya, Bj Nilsen, Rainier Lericolais, Simon Fisher Turner, Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson, Bérangère Maximin and many more. It’s even accompanied by a printable j-card including artwork, credits, links to websites. Download the full-quality WAV here. Cut, fold, glue, listen, enjoy!
There’s also a new piece out now in collaboration with EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) specialist Michael Esposito. This piece, This is my room, Doctor, uses recordings of spirits and ghosts. The full-length album, at the time of writing, has already expanded to include 68 new works, and will be released in a final edition on a USB card. You can listen to the release, Pandemic Response Division, here.
My collaboration with artist Ursula Berlot continues, now in the shape of Bodyfraction. The video parallels microscopic images of fragments of the artist’s body (tooth enamel, skin, nails, hair etc.) with recordings of drawings and light-sensitive objects created on their basis. Drawings were digitally processed towards simulating the chemical process called ‘reaction diffusion’ which models (mathematically or visually) the behaviour of two chemicals in a solution as they mix. Such animated drawings form a fractal-like patterns and together with modified recordings of reflective light-works surfaces they create an entry into imaginary hidden topography (macro, micro or nano dimensions) in motion. I created all the sound design for this film to reflect this detailed movement.
I was delighted to be a guest on the German musician Hainbach’s channel last month. He hosts a regular event, Single Malt Synthesis, where guests chat about music and technology, whilst indulging in whiskey drinking. As someone who has never drank alcohol, (or even coffee), it was rather a challenge to know what to drink, so I simply invented my own! Watch the video here for the big reveal 😀
A question any creative person is asked, especially by those not familiar with their work, is what style or kind of music/art/poetry/sculpture/film do you make? I have frequently struggled with this, but then realised that perhaps inventing my very own genre was the very best way forward. And as such, ‘Flâneur Électronique’ was born.
If you aren’t familiar with this word ‘flâneur,’ it’s a French term meaning ‘stroller’ used by nineteenth-century French poet Charles Baudelaire to identify an observer of modern urban life. It’s the keen-eyed stroller who chronicles the minutiae of city life in their own personal way. For me this suggestion of wandering, exploring unknown territories, chancing upon things I might never otherwise have engaged with was perfect. And of course, ‘électronique’ for the French interpretation fits perfectly.
So, in a most playful mood, I created the ‘Flâneur,’ a fake synthesiser release with my good friend Ben/DivKid, which you can read all about here. All of the sounds were created with my mouth and you can download the entire suite of sounds at the link too. Watch the video, read all about it and get your free samples here.
Can I suggest that you follow me on Instagram too, as I’m also performing live on there at random, unannounced occasions. Last week I was working in the studio and wanted to share a 30 second clip of an idea I was exploring, which suddenly led into a full-blown 40-minute live performance. It proved to be so popular that I am going to be doing these more often, and offer a brief distraction from staring at four walls for many people.
And, continuing this live streaming performance series, I will be performing on Facebook on Sunday 3 May at 15 CET time, at the invitation of Tonspur in Vienna, Austria, in collaboration with Q21. Q21 provides creative workspace for around 50 initiatives, organizations, agencies and editorial offices working in the cultural sector, over 7,000 sqm within the MuseumsQuartier Wien. I was very fortunate to be a resident artist there in 2007 and created a unique work. Now I shall be creating something completely new for this occasion. You can ask questions in the accompanying chat too.
I’ll be announcing a couple of new album releases next month too, including a limited edition full-length album recorded in the last month, which I’m super excited about. Until then, continue to take good care and hope you remain healthy too!
As always, thanks for your support.
::: listen :::