Well, this is my birthday month, on a day that I share with my spiritual musical family of Stevie Nicks, Mick Ronson and Lenny Kravitz, as well as my good friend the poet laureate Simon Armitage. Older and wiser again? I’m certain of one, but not necessarily the other!

I’m writing this in the midst of travel. It’s a curious moment too. Like the majority of the world, I spent two years in incubation, shielded from the world, remaining disciplined to work and create, yet caught within the confines of the Covid spider’s web. Now, in less than wo weeks I’m in Prague, Vienna and Arkansas USA.

Dramatic overview photo of 5 musicians on stage, lit very dramatically from above

April closed with a performance at DOX in Prague with the lovely ensemble I’ve been performing with. For the second time we performed Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Aus den Sieben Tagen (1968) which was composed as a reaction to the global and personal crises that took place in the period of its composition. The music could be called ‘intuitive,’ in the sense that it was created primarily on the basis of intuition, rather than the technique of its performers, and is a felt, natural attempt to solve psychological difficulties and challenges.

And as you might imagine the work seems just as relevant today in our challenged society, and the fragility of life for so many. We performed a 3+ hour version of this score this time, in a space where the audience was free to move around as they wished. That meant of course someone hovering over my shoulder sometimes as I performed, or even one woman who decided she was going to jog around the space as we performed! Well, as they say, each to their own!

Hopefully we will get to perform this elsewhere in 2022 too, as it’s a truly epic piece that goes from the barely perceptible to the roof almost flying off the building!

Colourful sculptures in columns, with lines and strips of colour all around them in a gallery space

I landed from the airport and travelled directly to the opening for Future Shock at 180 Strand, where I’m showing new work with my old pal artist and designer Ben Kelly. In fact, there are TWO new works, one featuring nine mobile column sculptures and another that features a massive video screen and different soundtrack.

Wandering through the crowds with my suitcase I felt rather conspicuous but more than anything it was such a joy to see so many friends again after seeing so few people for so long. The joy of Real Life can so easily be forgotten in its absence. 

The show also includes new works from Ryoichi Kurokawa, Caterina Barbieri, Actual Objects, United Visual Artists, Gaika, Tundra, Weirdcore with Aphex Twin. More details here.

I recently finished up a new score for contemporary dance, with the British choreographer Mary Davies in the last month. Birder is a dance work for camera, filmed in a very domestic setting. I created all the sound for the film so it was especially enjoyable making the foley sound. Watch and marvel as her feet land on the carpet and how I made that sound. Such fun!

Copies of my new live album, La Fenêtre Magique, began arriving in homes for listeners in the last week, and I’ve so enjoyed all the positive responses and engagement with this release. I’m very grateful to Werra Foxma Records for releasing this for me and it’s now available on a crisp pure white vinyl release and digital. 

Reviews have been encouraging and amusing. One especially descriptive review in Electronic Sound magazine captured it as follows: 

“Suspended chords siren into the void, like an untethered lighthouse floating far into the ocean. We’re then waterfalled into a chasm of sandpapered Autechre-esque rhythmand, gloriously, a strangled Moroder disco pelted with clattering drums. We’re not even halfway. A tick-tock loop trapped in tensereverberations leads to a pastoral echo of theopening chords, beautifully sullied by a snarling bass wash.”

I will be performing a special live set online on 21 May to support the release and label, so please keep your eyes open for the link on social networks!

I wrote last month about a new work I presented for an exhibition at Greengrassi Gallery in London. I was invited to participate in an exhibition organised by David Musgrave to mark the launch of his novel, Lambda. The book’s narrative takes place in a consumer-surveillance dystopia, and a significant part of the text is the product of an online service that writes the protagonist’s story for her automatically from her accumulated data.

A gallery space, with wooden floor and white walls. Stacks of office papers sit on the floor with speakers on top of them. A large bold typecast across the image says 'standard documents'

The accompanying exhibition, ‘i <3 your output,’ took place at the Greengrassi Gallery in London, in a group show of invited artists. Other friends such as David Toop and Lawrence English also took part in the show.

I presented Standard Documents which was a reworking of my earlier suite of works focusing on surveillance, using the indiscrete signals pulled down from the ether, including private mobile phone conversations. It combines early recordings of mine, with parts taken from Scanner 1, Scanner 2, Mass Observation, mixed with new sounds.  

As the request of those who could not make it to the gallery itself, I mixed down the work into stereo, since in the gallery itself was distributed through multiple speakers in the space itself, and now it’s available to everyone here.

I also recently produced new work for Spitfire Audio, a music software company that develops creative tools for largely media and film composers. I had an early opportunity to play with Polaris, which was developed with American musician BT, and combines string orchestral recordings and synthetic sounds.

For me the appeal of new software and hardware is where does it take me, and how soon do I board that journey? Well, Polaris almost immediately offered me a trip through a new imaginary sonic soundscape. It features contaminated synths, crunchy strings, and beautifully murky granular fields You will most certainly be hearing sounds from this on my future productions.

And now time for some reading matter. For those of you interested in my creative process and especially the more technical and gear side of my production, a feature in Sound-on-Sound music magazine offers a chance to discover a little more about my studio and the tools I use. Read it here.

If you happen to read this newsletter in time and happen to live in Vienna, Austria then I’m performing a free outdoors show on 1st May alongside my fine pal Christian Fennesz, Then on 4th May I will be launching a new sound installation at the Tonspur Passage in MQ. Come along at 18h and say hello if you can! Information here. The live show will take place at Benoît Maubrey’s interactive Speaker Sculpture in the shape of a Pestsäule. 

I was invited to make a sound work in response to the critical situation in Ukraine at the moment. This was challenging in itself. Even to consider what value art has to offer in these times, rather than the real efforts of those fighting for their lives, is hugely perplexing. My work is not overtly politically driven or motivated, yet resonates with our times.

I’m aware that in so many ways we remain alone, even whilst in groups, be that school, family or even social encounters. For my installation here I recorded my voice repeating the word ‘together,’ in many different ways. I then used digital tools to splinter this into tiny fragments which over time join together again.

Colourful image of a postcard, featuring a photo of a large group of mixed coloured electronic cables hanging from a stand, in front of an orange wall

Accompanying the voice is a melody taken from a traditional Ukrainian folk song, treated and processed, so it offers a rather ghostly echo of a stable past in the present. These fragments appear and disappear at random intervals, like a calling to our history. 

Together Together Together suggests that no matter how hard we are stripped of our dignity and humanity, we will prevail and continue to rise, even when knocked down. We will remain together, strong as one voice.

Viewers from around the world can watch the concert live and back later on at the link too, if you don’t happen to be in Vienna. Watch it here

Then it’s off to Arkansas for the weekend to begin the research for several sound installations and a collaboration with an extraordinary new media artist that will open later this year.

Thanks for your support, as always.

Best wishes

Professor Scanner

Dramatic image of a man on stage covered in blue light. Photo taken from audience so you can see his standing at a table in front of a bank of electronic music equipment.

::: listen :::
Keith Fullerton Whitman: GRM (Generators) (Nakid)
Andy Stott: The Slow Ribbon
François Bayle: 50 Ans D’Acousmatique (INA GRM)
The Allegorist: Blind Emperor (Awaken Chronicles)

::: read ::: 
Aubrey Powell: Through the Prism (Thames & Hudson)
Brion Gysin: Permutations (DABA)
Andrew Hussey: Speaking East (Reaction Books)
Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure (Rizzoli)

::: watch :::
X: Ti West
Free Guy: Shawn Levy
Pleasure: Ninja Thyberg
Private Property: Leslie Stevens