Into August, with life returning in some ways to a sense of ‘normality,’ certainly here in the UK, but with great caution still. I was anticipating many projects to be happening in this next month or so, that had originally been planned for 2020, but unfortunately these have now been postponed until 2022, or simply cancelled. So, how ‘normal’ things are is still questionable!
Earthbound Transmissions is out this month on the esteemed Australian label, Room40. This album collates recordings I made back in the 1980s on 4-track cassette. In many ways they anticipate my career later on, but at this point in time it was simply about the joy of creating. To be honest, thankfully that’s how it remains to this day.
I can still vividly remember sitting on the floor of my flat in Battersea, South London, the walls, floor and ceiling all painted black, crouched over my luxuriously expensive Fostex 280 (over £700 in the mid 1980s) and making these recordings. I’d had to save up for countless months for such a machine, and it was a dream come true.
I quickly discovered that sometimes the simplest ideas were the most effective. In Forbidden Mourning you hear a loop of a bell and an ethic tone playing against one another, whilst my dark sense of humour comes across in His Begging Bowl, with a found recording of the last moments in the life of a beloved dog. Some of the pieces such as Soft Enclose, using scanned voices, clearly anticipate my first CD release on Ash International in 1992.
Somehow these tapes have miraculously survived countless moves over the years, in the same cardboard boxes, from my bedroom in my family home to a series of different apartments and even in an industrial storage unit for a year. Using the lockdown to digitise and mix down many of these has been a joy, and what you hear here is just a percentage of what exists in the archive.
I’m especially grateful to Lawrence English of Room40 for releasing these recordings. They are available on a very limited-edition cassette and digital. The tape actually features the mixes collaged together in a seamless mix with slightly alternative mixes too. The album is officially released at the end of August, but don’t delay if you want a physical copy. Pick it up here.
Apparently, I’m also part of a ‘supergroup’ now too. Working with my old friends Colin Newman of Wire and Malka Spigel of Minimal Compact, we have recorded new material together. For those who remember we recorded and toured together for years as the wittily named Githead, but this time we are joined by Tarwater, Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), Ulrich Schnauss (Tangerine Dream).
The project was born out of a Brighton-based club night, also called Nanocluster, run by Spigel and Newman alongside writer, broadcaster and DJ Graham Duff, and promoter Andy Rossiter. Nanocluster features a range of influential and cutting-edge music acts. But the unique aspect of the evenings is that each show climaxes with a one-off collaboration between Immersion and the headliners. The songs were all written and recorded in the studio over just three days prior to the performances.
The full album will be released as a double 10-inch in a gatefold sleeve as well as on CD and digital. The release date, 4 September, coincides with the Love Record Stores event although there are no limitations on pre-sales through our shop. I’m super excited to get this out into the world. Order your copy of Nanocluster here.
I was delighted to have an opportunity for a conversation with the team at Roland music, a company that has been behind much of the technology I’ve used over the years. I talked about remaining true to yourself, my love of technology and the arts in general, and so much more. Have a read here, or just admire the nice photos.
Over the years I’ve made countless interviews and answered literally hundreds of questions, often circulating around similar themes. More infrequently, I’m asked how I began to make music, where and when, and what were the inspirations.
Many years down the line it’s almost impossible to answer such a question with any kind of absolute clarity, and in the absence of any family left living to help out with context or memories, there are at least reference points in terms of books, notes and vinyl records.
So, in the fashion of superhero origin stories, I wrote a feature about my earliest years of discovering music, up until the age of 10. I thought it might be interesting to reveal more of this young boy and how he came to be. Read it here.
Bandcamp remains the essential place to pick up music and projects I’ve been working on and I’m continuing to expand the library of materials, to include rare releases and plenty of unreleased material. Last month Bandcamp Fans also received this very special mix of exclusive material for Domus that was recorded under a variety of pseudonyms. And as ever, it’s never too late to join up, as for just £5.00 a month you get every single new release and a host of back catalogue items, and of course, these exclusive Fan Club only releases. Join up here.
This month you can also pick up The Magician’s Hat Vol.2 Beats, the follow up to Vol.1 Ambient, which is a free introductory collection to my catalogue. I’m quite aware that it’s rather overwhelming to know where to even begin with my music, so this series is a way to help, at no cost.
My album Alchemeia, on ART Records, will be out on vinyl soon too apparently, which is positive news. This album takes you back to the pre-synth world of electro-acoustic and music-concrete techniques, painstakingly recreating the aesthetic vibe of the days of Stockhausen, BBC Radiophonic Workshop and classic early European music experimentations. Tune in here to listen and pick up a copy.
And behind the scenes again, I’m continuing work on recordings with the Irish violinist Darragh Morgan, inspired by the works of composer Morton Feldman, as well as new material with my old friend Michael Wells (Technohead / GTO / Greater Than One), where I’m playing guitar as the main instrument. Now, that’s going to surprise a lot of people I think.
And live dates! Yes, finally, for the first time in almost two years I will be performing live in front of a real audience in a real venue. The first show takes place at London’s Iklectik venue on 11 September and looks set to be a very special evening indeed, with the lovely Kate Carr also performing. I am so excited to return to live performance! Every time I’ve performed at Iklecktik has been truly wonderful and shows always sell out, so pick up tickets early if you are intending on coming along! Buy tickets here.
Then, if all goes well, I will be performing at Rewire in the Netherlands in September, and for something very special indeed. Working with an ensemble led by Gareth Davis, we will be performing Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Aus Den Sieben Tagen.
Stockhausen was not only the founding father of electronic music, but also an inspiration for artists such as Björk, Prince and The Beatles. Aus den Sieben Tagen is a cycle of fifteen compositions Stockhausen wrote in 1968. He developed the concept of ‘intuitive music’, in which he didn’t use musical notation but gave the musicians instructions using short texts such as: “Play a vibration” or “Change the sound into gold”.
Other musicians include Motorpsycho drummer Tomas Jarmyr, Gareth Davis (Merzbow, Christian Marclay), Roland Dahinden (Miles Davis, Anthony Braxton), Dario Calderone (Klangforum Wien), Agathe Max (Rhys Chatham, Animal Hospital) and Greek singer Anna Linardou. Further performances are intended for 2021 and into 2022, health restrictions permitting, of course.
I also recorded a little live set for a special radio broadcast, so tune in to Letters from Mars on 08 August to have a listen to this exclusive session.
In closing I wanted to touch on some other things beyond the span of my own work. It was a genuine shock to hear of the death of Peter Rehberg of Mego, aged just 53, someone I’d first met when he was just setting up his influential label in 1994. Farewell too to composer Jeremy Peyton Jones, whose Regular Music celebrated minimalist music in the finest manner, and who I saw play many times back in the 1980s.
As ever, thanks for your support and so hoping to see some of you in London or The Netherlands soon!
::: listen :::
Beatriz Ferreyra: Canto+ (Room40)
Loscil: Clara (Kranky)
Michele Bokanowski: Rhapsodia (GRM/Editions Mego)
Nuron & Fugue: Likemind 06 (Likemind)
::: read :::
Alan Licht: Common Tones (Blank Forms)
Jean Dubuffet:Brutal Beauty (Prestel)
Bill Drummond: 17 (Beautiful Books)
You Nakai: Reminded by the Instruments: David Tudor’s Music (OUP)
::: watch :::
Black Bear: Lawrence Michael Levine
Possessor: Brandon Cronenberg
Antoinette dans les Cévennes: Caroline Vignal
The House of Tomorrow: Peter Livolsi