Archive | July, 2016

August 2016 – upcoming gigs – three-date British tour of saz balladry by Aşıq Nargile (plus choral fizz, oddrock and pedal steel strangeness from Tut Vu Vu, Muldoon’s Picnic and Heather Leigh – 2nd-4th); Hackney Colliery Band & Bring Your Own Brass kick off Borderless in London (2nd)

30 Jul

In between appearances at the WOMAD and Supernormal festivals, Georgian saz player and singer Aşıq Nargile is embarking on a three-date British microtour in August, calling in at points in Scotland, Yorkshire and London.

Aşıq Nargile

In case you’re looking at the picture and thinking (lazily) “another girl folk singer”, it’s worth noting that “Aşıq” is an honorific, not a forename. It denotes a particular type of traditional Georgian bard, multilingual and mobile, who travels through the country’s diverse regions as vessels for music, news, concepts and culture both old and new. (A little like a Caucasian version of a West African griot, although perhaps without the satirical upsetter elements).

Originally from the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, Nargile Mehtiyeva has carried the cosmopolitan traditions of her home town with her, but has chosen to base herself in the southern Borcali region. For the moment, she’s the only female aşıq at work there. A trilingual singer and player of the saz lute since her mid-teens, she’s now both a teacher of the traditional forms and (via the Sayat Nova initiative) an ambassador for Georgian culture. Her concerts involve interlocking musicality and literacy – a “vocal recital of epic folk poetry (in) Azerbaijani, Georgian, and Russian… by turns ecstatic and deeply expressive… interspersed with bursts of virtuosic, highly ornamented saz.” in the shape of “moving laments or upbeat folk dances.” For those who don’t speak any of those languages, the shows are still musically sensual experiences – propulsive and silvery cascades of wiry stringwork, accompanied by a vocal like an elastic lassoo and the stately assurance of someone backed up by a couple of thousand years of heritage.


 
Tour dates are as follows:

  • The Old Hairdressers, 23 Renfield Lane, Glasgow G2 6PH, Scotland, Tuesday 2nd August 2016, 7.30pm (supported by Tut Vu Vu + Muldoon’s Picnic) – information
  • Delius Arts & Cultural Centre, 29 Great Horton Road, Bradford, BD7 1AA, England, Wednesday 3rd August 2016…. (+ support act t.b.c.) – information here and here
  • The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 7NL, England, Thursday 4th August 2016, 7.30pm (with Heather Leigh) – information

While the Bradford gig is solo, the Glasgow show sees Nargile playing as part of a splendidly adventurous and diverse triple bill alongside two very different Glaswegian groups who have next to nothing in common bar their musicality.

Despite their cosy and informal appearance, a name that comes from drunken Irish misadventure, a repertoire reaching from “the sublime to the ridiculous” and their emphasis on fun and friendship in singing, acapella group Muldoon’s Picnic unites a number of very dedicated and talented Glasgow-based singer and scholars. Its six or seven regular members (not least in-house arranger Katy L. Cooper) have already made their mark in a brace of other vocal ensembles – Trembling Bells spin-off Crying Lion, Glasgow Madrigirls, The Four Hoarse Men, Voicebeat, Voicemale, Sang Scule, and “barbershop-prog” group Honey & The Herbs – plus more church, chapel, cathedral, workplace and community choirs than you could shake a stave at. As for that repertoire, it embraces gospel, shanties, Scots ballads, English carols, Afro-American spirituals, sacred harp songs, Victorian parlour music and music hall songs and assorted pieces cast up and circulated by the world music movement. Where other choral groups dabble, this one delves. The songs are sung not just in English but in other tongues of the British Isles (Scots Gaelic, Cornish, Manx and Welsh) and further afield: Breton, southern African Sotho, Ugandan Luganda and eastern European languages (Bulgarian, Croatian and Georgian – in the latter’s polyphonic music, they touch base with Nargile.)


 

The third act on the Glasgow bill, Tut Vu Vu, play their dark-browed and looming electrophonic instrumentals in a cloud of disinformation. When someone compares them to Anaïs Nin and David Lynch and they claim that it’s all a misunderstanding; someone else mentions musique concrète and they respond with askance, amused looks. When given the chances to set things straight, they deliver misleading mission statements filled with science fiction technogabble about phased plasma and hydrogen sulphide. What’s demonstrably true is that they’re an alliance of Glasgow art-punks who’ve already been around a decade’s cycle of experimental groups – Iban Perez in The Sparkling Shadazz, Rags & Feathers and A Rhythmtic) Raydale Dower, Matthew Black and Jamie Bolland in rattling theatricalists Uncle John & Whitelock.

Expect something of an oblique and inscrutable wall between the quartet’s current work and their previous brainy trash-lungings. A band apparently in search of a new dialect (while drawing on assorted shredded utterances from Krautrock, Beefheart, ‘90s rave or ‘80s arsequake) a typical TVV track can be a bizarre collage of muffled falsetto wails and feedback drones, of layered tribal toms and analogue-synth bass-farts, of approaching-horns guitar shapes; all of which is cunningly and immediately sculpted for maximum enigmatic impact, rather than being tossed out of the speakers for someone else to sweep up.




 

In London, Nargile is playing a double header gig with Heather Leigh. One of the most unconventional pedal steel guitarists in contemporary music, Heather belies her traditional country music heritage (a West Virginia birth, a descent from coal miners) and instead reinvents both her instrument and her voice as a conduit for strange and ghostly improvisations. Aided by cruel amplifier tones and strange, skittering, instinctive hand techniques, her compositions emerge like spectral possessions of strings, pedals, larynx and language. Often touching on themes of trauma, abuse and hidden, subjective experience, Heather’s eerie and disturbing work has already led her to collaborations with Peter Brötzmann, Jandek, Thurston Moore and plenty of others since her emergence in the 1990s.




 
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August also sees the start of Borderless, a delightfully rambling live music series at Battersea Arts Centre running roughly parallel to the Olympic Games in Rio. Run in collaboration with GOAT Music (set up last year by former Roundhouse music bosses David Gaydon and Lou Birkett) it aim to showcase “the UK’s best homegrown talent and unique artists from around the globe, in the intimate and beautiful setting of the Council Chamber… Borderless will provide an alternative cross-cultural celebration. Samba to tropical beats, dance to Afrobeat legends, skank to reggae and let the new generation of jazz take you to another place. Break down the borders and shuffle your feet to global rhythms to hear the biggest tunes from all over the planet. We’ll also provide a platform for the freshest artists and exciting talent currently taking the UK by storm. Hear the artists sound tracking the underground scene, dominating the airwaves and paving the way for the alternative UK music scene.”

Glad to hear it. Bring it on. What do you have?

GOAT Music and Battersea Arts Centre present:
Borderless: Hackney Colliery Band + Bring Your Own Brass
Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, Battersea, London, SW11 5TN, England
Tuesday 2nd August 2016, 8.00pm
information

Hearing about Hackney Colliery Band initially caught me between hackles and chuckles. For a moment, I thought it was about taking the piss out of a great and still-living industrial British art form while cynically attempting to replace it. After all, when there are still genuine colliery bands maintaining the tradition across old mining heartlands from Tyneside to Derbyshire, Shropshire to Leicestershire and the Rhondda Valley (and dotted across the Yorkshire pitscape from Grimethorpe to Dinnington, Frickley to Queensbury) why would you want to substitute them with a slick London parody? On the other hand, my sense of the absurd soon kicked in – since Hackney’s been sprouting all kinds of cartoonish artisan features for the past decade (from craft beer to boutique muffins and shoes), why not an ersatz coal mine?

As it happens, HCB have got little to do with any of this. The name’s a little dab of post-modern British showbiz and the band (excellent, by the way) don’t stick to the grand dignity and mournfulness of colliery music, being more of an omnivorous brass beast immersed in and rejigging a variety of horn-party traditions from jazz, r&b, funk and others, including New Orleans tunes from both fun and funerals. Much the same can be said of the support act, Bring Your Own Brass – a band who, as “up-and-coming brass hip-hop ripsnorters”, have been known to parp out a Rakim cover or two. If this makes them sounds like a novelty act, they aren’t. Sound and vision reveal them to be well-scrubbed, well-studied white disciples of a wide span of styles, clambering over Afrobeat, rap, funk and marching-band ideas with head-bopping panache.

Recently, both bands seem to have cornered the market in boutique festivals and showbiz event (between them they’ve got Olympic Games and Brit/Mercury award appearances under their belts, as well as shows at Ally Pally, with slots at Wilderness, Stow and Meatopia to come later in August for BYOB and a hefty European tour for HCB). HCB’s previous set at the MOBO awards suggests that they can impress at a formal roots level as well, unless it was a case of contacts trumping authenticity. Just as long as bands like these aren’t crowding out bands like Kokoroko; although BYOB’s teamup with Bristolian rapper and slam poet Solomon O.B (see below) suggests that, as far as fellow musicians are concerned, there aren’t any practical or philosophical problems.



 

Video premiere – North Sea Radio Orchestra’s cover of Robert Wyatt’s ‘The British Road ‘

27 Jul

It’s nice to have a ‘Misfit City’ premiere once in a while. This is the brand new video clip for The British Road, North Sea Radio Orchestra‘s cover version of a Robert Wyatt song. It’s from NSRO’s new album ‘Dronne’ which is coming out on the band’s own label The Household Mark on 9th September. The song itself will be out as a download single on August 5th: the video’s another genius pocket production by Chaos Engineers.


 

Singalong time:

Those foreigners are at it again
When will they learn to fight like our men?
There’s nothing new under the mirror
And it’s time for one more bedtime story
Get beauty sleep for morning glory
How can I rise if you don’t fall?

Robert Wyatt originally recorded The British Road for his 1985 album ‘Old Rottenhat’: it’s also on the ‘Mid Eighties’ compilation. It’s part of a set of songs composed in “a conscious attempt to make un-misusable music” which was done in the face of covertly (or nakedly) aggressive right-wing politics appropriating or co-opting songs for cheerleading or for broadcast padding. The song itself is a typically cryptic Wyatt threading of oblique satire and Dada-jazz playfulness over a friendly, ever-so-slightly plaintive melody, taking glancing swipes at petty nationalism and irritable torpor as it rolls along. (If you’re weary of all of the recent Brexit sabre-rattling and bottlecough, it’s a real restorative.)

North Sea Radio Orchestra: 'Dronne'

North Sea Radio Orchestra: ‘Dronne’

The NSRO take on The British Road immediately bears their own stamp. Elements are blended in from early English airs to Germanic-electronic organ haze; there are dewdrop metallophones and passionate bird-flight string parts; there’s budding pastoralism charged with bursts of motoric minimalism; and there’s a kernelled heart in Craig and Sharron Fortnam’s softened everyperson vocals, ever-so-slightly shaded by a touch of Wyatt Cockney. It originally stems from a 2014 concert night performance of Wyatt’s music for the Nuits de Fourviere Festival in Lyon, which Craig was invited to direct and arrange. As well as producing both this and other NSRO arrangements of assorted Wyattisms, the event had a profound effect on Craig’s approach to the rest of ‘Dronne’:

“Being the composer and producer has led to me having total control over all aspects of making NSRO records. This way of working is, of course, a double-edged sword, as spontaneity and inspiration can be lost under all that control. Robert Wyatt seems to tread the line between the two with great skill, incorporating lots of elements of chance into his albums. Re-working his songs while trying to maintain freedom within the arrangements has been a great inspiration while making ‘Dronne’. This record features lots of improvising which I have edited and manipulated; certain accidents within have been left intact – these elements of chance are a real antidote to the necessary microscoping and control-freakery needed to create NSRO records.”

If you’re interested, French experimentalist Pascal Maupeu recorded another version of this song six years ago, under his Mop Meuchiine alias – part grinding industrial underpass music, part Krautrock ice-cream van, part rough-edged chamber ensemble (while still finding space for a banjo). Here it is.

If you can’t wait to get your hands on ‘Dronne’, you can pre-order it now from Rough Trade, Piccadilly Records, iTunes and Amazon.

For more ‘Misfit City’ coverage on North Sea Radio Orchestra and its related bands (including some very early NSRO work indeed), click here.
 

July 2016 – upcoming gigs – London jazz with Dave Storey Trio and Rob Barron Trio (28th); Laura Moody plays not-jazz at the Manchester Jazz Festival (28th); plus a plea to help save the flooded Arch1 venue in east London

26 Jul

Jazz Nursery, 28th July 2016At short notice, here’s some quick news of a London jazz gig:

Jazz Nursery presents:
Dave Storey Trio + Rob Barron Trio
IKLECTIK, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, Waterloo, London, SE1 7LG, England
Thursday 28th July 2016, 7.30pm
– information

Pianist Rob Barron specializes in piano-led hard bop in the Wynton Kelly, Cedar Walton and George Shearing tradition. On this occasion, his trio is completed by double bass player Calum Gourlay and drummer Joshua Morrison: while I’ve not got anything by the trio which I can play you, here’s the showreel for Rob’s quartet (featuring himself and Joshua).


 

The other trio on the bill is headed by dynamic, constantly occupied London drummer Dave Storey, whose busy CV includes work with Ivo Neame, Chris Batchelor, Hannes Riepler and Mike Outram (plus, oddly enough, a stint with symphonic proggers The Enid). He leads the psychedelic-leaning woodwind player James Allsopp (Fraud, Golden Age of Steam) and the nimble young bass guitarist Conor Chaplin through a wide repertoire of jazz from ballads to driven up-tempo pieces, with an emphasis on “interaction, intensity and playfulness”. Here’s a clip of them running their way through Giant Steps.


 

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Last year I did a fairly exhaustive (and exhausting rundown) of the Manchester Jazz Festival. This year I didn’t (there wasn’t enough time available, and not enough people read the last post to make it worthwhile – this blog seems to work better if I’m writing about smaller events with less existing promotional push behind them). However, I thought I’d mention that a particular ‘Misfit City’ favourite is playing the festival early on Thursday afternoon.

Despite her deft improvising skills, Laura Moody‘s dynamic voice-and-cello songs don’t exactly count as jazz – they’re more of a bridge between folk music, 20th century classical technique and the complex, experimental baroque pop exemplified by other hugely talented women such as Joanna Newsom or Kate Bush. However, her inventiveness, musical excellence and sense of adventure make her a prime fit for the fringes of the festival: a sometimes vigorous, sometimes agonizingly soulful performer. Her MJF appearance is an hour-long set in the open air in the middle of town, which will at least give her the opportunity to shake the chamber out of her chamber pop. (For what it’s worth, Laura’s also playing at Wilderness Festival on Saturday 5th August, but unless you’ve already bought the package deal for that one, you’ll not get to see her, so pull a sickie and head into Manchester this week instead…)

Manchester Jazz Festival presents:
Laura Moody
Hobgoblin Festival Pavilion, Albert Square, Manchester, M2 5DB
Thursday 28th July 2016, 2.30pm
information



 

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Lastly, here’s me taking a moment to sidestep away from plugging gigs so that I can forward a plea on behalf of the kind of place that puts them on. A great venue, or even just a good one, isn’t necessarily the making of a town or a neighbourhood, but they make profound contributions to the fabric of a place: the sense that there’s life there instead of just grind and torpor (or, in “nicer” neighbourhoods, just a vacuous gentility). There are plenty of potential threats to places like this, many of them stemming from the fact that many of them don’t fit developers’ idea of an economic footprint (and gentrification/profiteering doesn’t only crush arts venues – see the recent righteous ‘Organ’ blast about the predatory-rent-rise-backed eviction of repair shops from the London Fields railway arches) but sometimes it’s just damn bad luck and unfriendly weather.

promo-arch1flooddamage

Arch1, a beacon of arts endeavour and local involvement in the unloved and sidelined London district of Canning Town, fell victim to the latter last month. Thankfully the venue is down rather than out – and here’s someone running a crowdfunder to help it get back up:

“Arch1 is one of the few small independent arts venues left in London and for eight years it has been nurturing new talent in music, comedy, film and theatre. We were saddened to hear that on the 22nd June this year the club was decimated by the floods, forcing this cherished venue to close its doors and depriving London of this champion of independence.

A crowdfunder campaign has been set up to raise the £20,000 needed to completely refurbish and refit Arch1. Please support new talent in the arts by contributing to this appeal, and help save one of London’s most unique and irreplaceable venues. For more information and how to donate, please click here.”

(Update, later in the day)

Ah. Um.

The bad news…

I’m late in picking up on and posting this. The crowdfunder closed on Friday last week. Embarrassing for me, but…

The good news…

They made the funding target. The venue’s been saved. Well, that’s a sparkle in the darkness.
 

Music from the Jungle, Calais – playing, speaking, earning

25 Jul

Notwithstanding my preview of that Refuweegee concert in Glasgow some time ago, I don’t do enough in contributing to the coverage of the ongoing refugee diaspora. So for now I thought I’d share this story from ‘Folk Radio UK’ about an initiative to cover and offer a platform for those among the refugees who happen to be musicians (not least in offering them the chance to earn money while in transit).

Calais Field Music is a project I recently came across which was set up by Dublin based Isolda Heavey to help the refugees in the ‘Jungle’ camp at Calais. To date they have released five albums via Bandcamp which features field recordings of musicians from the camp – each covering a different region. In each she reveals…

via Introducing: Calais Field Music — Folk Radio UK – click to read more…

July 2016 – upcoming London gigs – CV FREQS modular synth meet and performances at New River Studios (31st) featuring Colloid, Finlay Shakespeare, Gregg Wilson, Pouya Ehsaei, Phil Durrant’s Sowari Modular, Form Constants, the Deep Learning superblip and possibly Eden Grey

23 Jul

I shouldn’t let it bother me, but I was worried that the recent slew of clean acoustic nu-folk gigs which I’ve been covering were making this blog look a bit too cosy. It’s perversely comforting to find that the electronic ends of things can be just as cute.

Eden Grey presents:
CV FREQS London
New River Studios, Ground Floor Unit E, 199 Eade Road, Manor House, London, N4 1DN, England
Sunday 31st July 2016, 2:00 pm to 11:00 pm
– free event (suggested donation: £5.00) – information here, here and here

CV FREQS, 31st July 2016, LondonHosted by Eden Grey (a budding classical composer whose life changed when she fell in love with electro and dubstep), CV FREQS appears to be a globetrotting all-day modular synth meet. Since Eden’s move to London, it’s begun to base itself more in the city: the last one, back in May, was down on the south bank at IKLECTIK, while this month it’s pitching up in a different riverbank locale in the north. CV FREQS starts off by defining itself as covering “innovations in modular synthesis design, focusing on Eurorack format, custom synthesisers and embracing the DIY spirit” but rapidly gets excited and starts enthusing about being “a wonderfully cacophonous event focusing on the tools that are ideal for sound design and music creation.” and ends up frothing about “a carnival of soundwaves and control voltages”. As if it were a soundclash – or a picnic – attendees are invited to bring their own synths and speakers along.

Apparently, it would also be nice if you could bring a table. Never mind soundclashes. This is starting to sound like a church jumble sale in Hampshire, albeit one that’s about to go all sonic-bacchanalia.

At root, this is part encounter group and part informal trade show in which hardened or nascent electronicians can wander around, trying out and picking up those innocuous-looking, technoporn-titled hardware or software plugins which bring joy to a sound-masher’s heart (and a battery of warped noises to their woofers). This is where to get previews and demonstrations of convulsion generators, wavefolders, stargigglers, deflector shields, quantimators, proton gabblers, spectral devastators, squishmagogs and source-of-uncertainty modules plus all of the other gizmos that sound as if they’ve sprouted from a game of ‘Elite’ back in 1983 along with a starship cargo of Ceti rabbits and Baltah’sine Vacuum Krill. Yes, really – I only made a couple of those names up.

CV FREQS, London, 31st July 2016

Cheap geek-to-geek shots aside, CV FREQS is the kind of event which quietly – and effectively – changes a musician’s life. Wandering around in the crowds at the show there’ll be at least one nascent electronic musician about to finally finds the device, devices or piece of advice which unlock the doors to a new technique: the key to making them sound or work like themselves rather than a follower. Gaining the right implement, the right process, the right move – it’s probably more important than gaining a hero. That’s something to remember the next time I’m tempted to make a smutty joke about ring modulators.

As a bonus that’s far more than a simple sideshow, attendees have the chance to see a range of modular synth performers in action, beyond the straight demos. The range available might not compete with a festival in terms of numbers, but would easily match one in terms of sonic breadth. This is heightened by the fact that many of these players aren’t just end-users but genuine solder-and-code sonic innovators, building or programming the tools which they use.

Finlay Shakespeare from Future Sound Systems offers spacey zap-crackle-and-pop dancetronica, while Colloid (the performance alter-ego of Ginko Synthese’s Jan Willem Hagenbeek) pursues “an ongoing search for noises, clicks and evolving sounds… deep drones with uplifting arpeggios and cut up beats.” Jan doesn’t mention the squiggling, lapping clouds of avant-garde piano (perhaps because they don’t fit the twangy modular remit), but they’re a significant part of the puzzle as well. The rapid-fire music of Gregg Wilson is stimulating, cheeky and mischievous: a typical piece sounds like an argument between at least eight bits of blipping, boing-ing minimalism, and is likely to turn into a massed affectionate chiptune brawl-cum-pub singalong.


 

Dedicated improviser, software-synth guru and former Ticklish man Phil Durrant will be bringing along his Sowari Modular project for its debut live performance. A spinoff from his Trio Sowari (in which he usually plays with saxophonist Bertrand Denzler and percussion/device-fiddler Burkhard Beins), this setup sees Phil experiment with Sowari ideas alone with his synth. Also playing is Iran-born, London-based polydisciplinary artist Pouya Ehsaei, for whom music is one of a number of interlocking forms (among other qualification, he’s got a music doctorate for the University of York, a prime training ground for contemporary classical and experimental musicians). On 2014’s ’There’ – his first record under his own name – Pouya analysed and reflected both the ancient and recent history of his birth country by processing and pulverising samples of traditional Iranian music (including two Ahmad Shamloo prison poems) to tap into culture and repression, melancholia and rage. On this occasion, however, he’s more likely to be playing as his Seated Figure project – ambiguous analogue techno which juxtaposes an eerie mix of springiness, queasy pitch-and-key shifts, and a baleful solitary tone.


 

It’s not entirely clear who Deep Learning are, but the clues point towards a full or partial teamup of two trios – the Sydney-based electronic/noise/pop/“fantasy beat” band PVT (whose Richard Pike recently relocated to Britain), the London-based Hrím (singer Ösp Eldjárn, programmer/Brian Eno sidekick Cherif Hashizume, and singer/multi-instrumentalist Anil Sebastian of London Contemporary Voices and assorted Imogen Heap projects)- and Merkaba Macabre (a.ka. Steven McInerney, founder of the Hackney Film Festival and the Psyché Tropes experimental record label). The three tracks below will either point the way towards the collaboration, or completely misguide us.


 

Throughout the event, Newport audio-visualist duo Form Constants (Ginko‘s synth tinkerer and circuit-bender Aidan R. Taylor and video artist Kim Da Costa, who call themselves “a plethora of electrified grit for the senses”) will be using their self-built video synths to run “hypnotic light bands” around the venue. As for Eden Grey, there’s no evidence that she’s going to be actually performing at the party she’s throwing, but my guess is that she won’t be able to resist. Whether or not that’s true, here’s a taste of some of her recent work (in the techno vein, though she’s also been known to put a post-Wendy Carlos spin on Erik Satie).



 

July 2016 – upcoming London gigs – Ant Law, Cassie Kinoshi and Zoe Rahman play Jazz in the Round (25th); Countermeasure’s spectacular a capella (31st); a two-day run for Pasek & Paul’s ‘Edges’ song cycle (30th & 31st)

21 Jul

Popping up at the end of the month…

Cockpit Productions present:
Jazz In The Round: Ant Law Trio + Cassie Kinoshi’s Seed + Zoe Rahman
The Cockpit Theatre, Gateforth Street, Lisson Grove, London, NW8 8EH, England
Monday 25th July 2016, 7.00pm
information

I’ve just caught up with The Cockpit Theatre’s regular monthly jazz extravaganza (which is pretty good going on my part, since it’s only been happening for four-and-a-half years already…) This month, the 2016 summer season concludes with a triple bill of London jazz acts, plus the usual warm-up DJ set from Jazz FM’s Jez Nelson and Chris Philips (‘Somethin’ Else’, ‘The Blueprint’, ‘Chris’ Starpoint Radio’). As ever, the audience is positioned around the band in a thrust-stage setting, allowing a different sonic perspective and sense of involvement.

A member of Tim Garland’s all-star Lighthouse quartet, guitarist Ant Law uses bop jazz, folk-rock and Carnatic music as part of his musical palette (which also includes modern jazz, heavy metal and M-Base-inspired rhythmatism). A onetime Edinburgh University physics graduate and Berklee College alumni, he also works with Paul Riley and Trio HLK (with Richards Kass and Harold), with “proggish” fusion quartet Project DSB, plays as a regular sideman with Camille O’Sullivan and leads his own quintet. On this occasion, he’s performing with his trio – completed by drummer Asaf Sirkis and bass player Matt Ridley – delivering fluid rapid compositions in a constant state of teasing upheaval.


 

Led by alto saxophonist and Tomorrow’s Warrior Cassie Kinoshi, Seed are a ten-piece band combining jazz with inner-city London, West African and Caribbean influenced grooves. The stellar line-up of some of London’s most up-and-coming young jazz musicians also features Miguel Gorodi and Sheila Maurice-Grey (trumpets), Joe Bristow (trombone), Theon Cross (tuba), Chelsea Carmichael (tenor sax), Joe Armon-Jones (piano), Oscar Laurence (guitar), Rio Kai (bass) and Patrick Boyle (drums). An alumnus of all-female TW band Nérija, Cassie is a diverse, inquisitive composer whose own music takes inspirations from jazz and black cultural history but also delves into lighthearted chiptunes, classical chamber music inspired by subjects as diverse as Chaucer and Tetris, and sombre electronic soundscapes.


 
British/Bengali pianist and composer Zoe Rahman creates music formed by her mixed heritage, her initial training as a classical musician, and her very broad musical taste, with her love for contemporary jazz as the binding agent. On this occasion, she’ll be playing solo.


 

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Countermeasure: 14 Characters A Cappella
The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 7NL, England
Sunday 31st July 2016, 2.00pm
information

Fourteen-piece Canadian vocal troupe Countermeasure make a visit to London at the month’s end, as part of their European tour. I could mine the press release for details on the prizes they’ve won and the other groups they’ve collaborated with; but the truth is that, when talking about vocal groups, somehow that mass of information always seems to mean less. Maybe one’s just impatient to be seduced by the voices… so here they are, delivering a multilayered take on Cole Porter’s I Got You Under My Skin; working in tricks and tips from close-harmony, contemporary R&B, jazz vocalese and broken beats.

* * * * * * * *

Back at the Cockpit, there’s a production of Pasek & Paul’s ‘Edges’. …

CC Productions present:
‘Edges: A Song Cycle Following Coming-Of-Age Questions’
The Cockpit Theatre, Gateforth Street, Lisson Grove, London, NW8 8EH, England
Saturday 30th July 2016, 7.30pm
Sunday 31st July 2016, 5.00pm

information

Part theatre musical and part song cycle, ‘Edges’ was originally written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul while they were still students at the University of Michigan, many years before they were conquering Broadway with ‘Dogfight’, ‘James and the Giant Peach’ and ‘A Christmas Story’ and being hailed as the heirs to Rodgers and Hammerstein. The piece has been described as “a witty and honest look at the choices we make and what happens when we are on the edge of our lives. Covering such issues as love, commitment, identity and meaning, ‘Edges’ follows four adults escaping expectations and their complicated relationships.”

This production of the show features musical actors Adam Bailey, Peter Cumins, Laura Mansell and Catherine Mort. Here’s a clip featuring a montage of songs and moments from a previous production at the Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, New York State.


 

July 2016 – upcoming London gigs – Roger Goula at Foyles’ and Servant Jazz (20th, 28th); Dedalus Ensemble play the Machines of John White (20th)

18 Jul

Classical/electronica fusion composer Roger Goula will be performing at two London shows this month in order to promote his upcoming new album ‘Overview Effect’ – the first full-length release on the new Cognitive Shift record label (a joint venture between experimental pop label One Little Indian Records and commercial soundtrack music publishers Manners McDade).

Cognitive Shift & Foyles Bookshop present:
Roger Goula
The Auditorium @ Foyles, 107 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0DT, England
Wednesday 20th July 2016, 7.00pm
information

Cognitive Shift & Chaos Theory Promotions present:
Roger Goula
Servant Jazz Quarters, 10a Bradbury Street, Dalston, London, N16 8JN, England
Thursday 28th July 2016, 7.30pm
information


 

On both occasions, Roger will be performing material from both ‘Overview Effect’ (due in September) and from the preceding limited edition EP ‘Something About Silence’ (which came out in March and featured remixes by Christian Löffler and Phaeleh). ‘Overview Effect’ is inspired by “the psychological phenomenon experienced by astronauts when viewing Earth from a distance, allowing them to see the entire planet surrounded by the endless black void of space. This can cause a cognitive shift in the minds of the astronauts, giving them a completely new perspective on life, Earth and humanity.”

Here are soundclips of the original and remixed versions of Roger’s piece ‘Awe’, as featured on ‘Something About Silence’ – nearly nine minutes of grand minimalist adagio conflating the methodology of sophisticated dance electronica with the slow, sparse development and atmospherics of the post-Morton Feldman California school (as exemplified by the work of composers such as Jim Fox), the gradual looped layering of Gavin Bryars (on works like ‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet’) and the holy minimalism of Henryk Górecki. Its growing arrangement steers simple modular elements towards a greater elegiac nature. Building upwards from sub-bass and clarinet and string harmonics, it adds strata of violas, then violins; developing a faster pulse and a skitter of electronic rhythm at the midpoint, with minimalist cross rhythms from the higher strings. The end sees a return of cone-rattling sub-bass, and a sudden jerk into silence as if waking.


 
It’s true that the latterday minimalist film scorer’s tricks are all in place; but those moving musical blocks are weighty, and the visual suggestions arresting and entirely in tune with the orbital view of the album concept. Placed back into the electronic dance world (remixed and transmogrified by classically-trained house/dubstep/electronica musician Phaelah) it becomes a stately, velvety downtempo effort; more mechanical; its squiggling monophonic crenellations stamped out as sequenced mirror-glints and chinking trance parts.


 
The Auditorium show is a full public event, while the Servant Jazz Quarters show is predominantly a music industry showcase (although there are twenty places available to the general public.

* * * * * * * *

On the subject of more mechanised forms of composition…

Dedalus Ensemble

‘The Machines Of John White’: Dedalus Ensemble + guests
Cafe Oto, 18-22 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London, E8 3DL, England
Wednesday 20th July 2016, 8.00pm
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John White had to wait until the mid-1960s to really make his name as a composer and conceptualist. Originally emerging in the late 1950s, with a powerful traditional-classical pedigree behind him, he was a student-turned-professor at the Royal College of Music he’d studied under Elizabeth Lutyens and Bernard Stevens and, from early childhood, had been on the end of a chain of person-to-person musical tutelage which he could trace back to Brahms. Already a fluent composer (and moonlighting as the conductor of various West End musicals) his growing involvement with the British avant-garde led to his development of “machines”. These were small and charming compositions based on various ordering systems (such as change-ringing patterns or numerical arrays), which, like industrial-age technology, performed considered and deliberately-limited functions.


 
While John’s described these works as “the result of a fully thought-out process rather than (something) subject to the changeabilities of inspiration” that doesn’t wholly capture their nature. Process-based they may be (a domestic English response to New York minimalism), but they also capture some of his personal qualities including the crucial leavening effects of his gentleness and humour (qualities which came in handy while sidestepping some of the more dour, Marxist/Maoist preoccupations of his avant-garde colleagues).


 

From the duets to the larger chamber works, there’s a sense of amiable workplace conversation to the White’s machines – like workmates managing to express both affection and connection despite their limited repertoire of gestures, tropes and local cliches; or like the chat of cartoon engines (it’s enjoyable to compare his compositions to the artful tootling of Vernon Elliott’s children’s TV scores.) Humour and irreverence certainly permeated pieces like “Drinking & Hooting Machine” (a text based score for musicians sipping from and blowing across bottles of “a favourite drink”, in which the potential for cheery drunken chaos increases depending on rehearsal time, length of cycle and opportunities for encore). John’s involvement with the Promenade Theatre Orchestra (the 1969 ensemble he formed with Hugh Shrapnel, Christopher Hobbs and Alex Hill) provided the opportunity to perform complex music on toy devices and outdated instruments, folding modernism back in on itself with Dada-ist irreverence and mischievous English whimsy while channelling serious intent through the fun.

“The PT Orchestra! The Orchestra YOU can afford for that extra special occasion! Restful reed-organs, tinkling toy pianos, soothing psalteries, suave swanee whistles, jolly jaw harps – NO noisy electronics! (Just the job for that lazy Sunday afternoon!) All musical material guaranteed thru-composed – NO hit-or-miss improvisation!” – Michael Nyman


 

Celebrating John’s eightieth birthday, Montpellier ensemble Dedalus Ensemble will be performing a selection of the machines at Café Oto. A collective in which every musician collaborates in the orchestration and interpretation, they specialise in flexible scores from across the United States and in European New Music from the 1960s to today. Noted champions of contemporary American experimental music, the Ensemble has premiered works by Tom Johnson, Christian Wolff, Alvin Lucier, Phill Niblock, Frederic Rzewski, James Tenney before French audiences.” (Here’s a clip of them performing James Saunders’ ‘things you must do, rather than must not do’ at the ‘Coïncidences – Music we’d Like to Hear’ festival at The Forge back in 2012.)


 

For what it’s worth, I’ve got my own John White memory. He once turned up at Alquimia’s Electronicage concert series at the Spitz in 1999, a time when I had no idea when he was. Young-old elderly, besuited, neat and tidy, he had the amiable, comfortable air of a specialist on a home visit. He was carrying a medium sized suitcase, which he opened up and laid out to reveal a set of little readymade devices. He wound them up, pressed their buttons, set them off, and watched benignly as they ticked, clonked and squeaked through a small machine work of their own; then closed up the suitcase, waved and departed – a genteel, dining-room carney. Here’s twenty further minutes covering his world and his history.



 

To close, here’s a clip of a John White piano sonata in performance. If anything in what I’ve written above suggests that he’s a playful charlatan who threw his original skills away for art-prankery, this will prove otherwise. One of the hundred-plus sonatas he’s written (in addition to many more pieces of music in many other fields) it’s an enthusiastically busy, tuneful and melodically sophisticated romp in which both his humour and his extensive musical ancestry are fully to the fore.


 

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