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May/June 2018 – three peeks at the future – a WITCiH get-together featuring Hannah Peel (30th May); Yoshiki Ichihara, Sam Hostettler, Przemysław Trzaska at Synth 2.0 (7th June); the mysterious post-internet NowHere event at DIY Space (17th June)

20 May

Some interesting technological, electronic, sociological collisions are coming up in London this month and next month.

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If you’re fascinated by art and technology but find either or both too crowded by aggressive/patronizing male ownership and entitlement, or if you just like the idea of different viewpoints and identities being brought to bear on the world of geektech, you might find the following an interesting opportunity…

WITCiH, 30th May 2018WITCiH (Women In Technology Creative Industries Hub) is hosting a party to celebrate the making of its podcast pilot episode, featuring Irish composer/producer and “latterday Delia Derbyshire” Hannah Peel (whose work includes the Rebox musical box project, collaborations with John Foxx and membership of The Magnetic North, and whose analogue-synth-cum-brass-band project ‘Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia’ recently headlined at the newly refurbished Queen Elizabeth Hall). There will also be an interactive audio-visual performance with AV duo Output Arts and WITCiH co-founder Bishi, featuring the former’s immersive installation Storm, which “recreates the thrill and excitement of watching a storm as it moves from dark and foreboding to booming explosions of light as the gale approaches” and which was previously seen at Enchanted Parks in Gateshead.

 
“This is an ideal opportunity to get together with artists and professionals in the creative tech industries. Science, technology, engineering & mathematics (STEM) have always had an intimate relationship with the arts; and WITCiH (Women In Technology Creative Industries Hub) aims to explore & expand our knowledge of women working at that intersection – past, present & future. WITCiH is female-focused but is gender inclusive, welcoming to all people throughout the spectrum of gender and identity.

“WITCiH aims to educate and inspire people through an understanding of women and non-binary people in tech, set in an historical context; and to highlight, celebrate and showcase women currently working in technology with a clear focus on creativity and the arts. Founded by interdisciplinary musician/artists and audio-visual performers Bishi and Matthew Hardern (a.k.a. Glamorre), WITCiH is an online and real world platform for ideas, research, performance, creation & networking.”

Previous WITCiH events in last year’s Winter Salon series have featured Bishi herself, Empress Stah (the aerial artist, cabaret performer, show producer/director and Peaches collaborator) and media artist Aphra Shemz, who “(seeks) to express herself through radical new technologies, abstraction, interactivity and light, (exploring) the way in which we might use these tools to imagine what the role of art could be in the future.” WITCiH are currently “looking for sponsorship to produce an entire series, so any ideas of how we could achieve this are very welcome.” If you’ve got any, get in touch and get stuck in.


 
WITCiH and Bishi present:
WITCiH Podcast Listening Party
The Barge House, 46a De Beauvoir Crescent, De Beauvoir Town, London, N1 5RY, England
Wednesday 30th May 2018, 8.00pm
– information here

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Synth 2.0: Yoshiki Ichihara + Sam Hostettler +  Przemysław Trzaska, 7th June 2018

A week later, a group of people led by space designer Tuo Lin are decking out Bloomsbury’s house-of-weird The Horse Hospital for what organiser Rica Zhu is claiming will be “a unique synth/electronic music show with a stunning visual journey. We bet it’s gonna be a magic time of synth electronic music you have never experienced before! Three musicians are ready to refresh your ears by using some special instruments with multiple synthesisers to take you to a neo synth world! The venue is also installed like a light-reflecting crystal especially for the interaction of the synth music and full of interesting experimental elements. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s fly to the electronic galaxy!”

That may sound a little gushy, perhaps even a tad huāpíng, but the music itself suggests otherwise. Handling the noises, textures and tunes are Yoshiki Ichihara (maker of jittery, bubbling cave/chemical tank music), “relaxed bass-focussed dance” specialist Sam Hostettler (who also creates immersive sub-bass rollscapes) and Przemysław Trzaska (who makes wombadelic firework electronica as Crowstep). Given the Horse Hospital’s already trippy architecture – rooms which burst off a set of long ramped floorways, originally built to lead horses to the upstairs section, and sharing space with a collection of archive fashion costumes – plus the promise of crazed crystallinity, you can expect a delightfully disorientating evening.



 
Rica Zhu presents:
Synth 2.0: Yoshiki Ichihara + Sam Hostettler + Przemysław Trzaska
The Horse Hospital, The Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London, WC1N 1JD, England
Thursday 7th June 2018, 7.30pm
– information here, here and here

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In the middle of June, down at the DIY Space, they’re sketching out something broad and absorbing which will investigate and defy interconnectivity and its impact on art and music-making. So far, only the bare bones of the concept have been made public. Here they are:

NowHere, 17th June 2018 “NowHere is an event series focusing on post-internet music and art. We invite emerging artists to collaborate together, creating one-off multimedia performances inspired by the internet but will not be shareable online. To do so, mobile phones won’t be allowed in this event.

“The Internet is a huge simulating machine through which everything is reproducible. Will the content of the performance and our experience still be original and valuable when it can be copied over and over again? We want to raise and discuss this question with our artists and audiences through this event. We want to create a commonplace in the middle of virtual and physical reality, bringing music and arts from nowhere on the internet to now here, a physical space where celebrating improvised performance emerged from the intimate connection between artists and audiences.”

No news on who’s creating and performing here yet – I’ll try to put up an update closer to the time. As with all DIY Space events, this is a members-and-guests only event, so if you’re going be sure to sign up for your two-quid annual membership deal here first.

Sadteabag Ltd. presents:
‘NowHere_0000000000000001’ (lineup t.b.c.)
DIY Space For London, 96-108 Ormside Street, South Bermondsey, London, SE15 1TF, England
Sunday 17th June 2018, 7.00pm
– information here and here
 

May 2018 – a London alt/art/psych/theatrical/poetic cabaret at Slapper’s Club, with Katharine Blake, Clifford Slapper, Kavus Torabi, Charlie Cawood, The Cesarians duo, My Name Is Swan, Danielle Imara, Jo Below, possibly Suri Sumatra and definitely Piers Atkinson’s hat parade (24th May)

17 May

Slapper's Club, 24th May 2018

Regardless of gentrification, Stoke Newington remains one of the best London places to look if you’re up for hippy-punk cabaret weirdness. This is not just due to the regular string of evening goings-on and shenanigans at The Others, but also because of the recent revival of Slapper’s Club at the Mascara Bar heading up to Stamford Hill. Curated as a joint effort between multi-skilled classical rebel-turned-sultry/scholarly Mediaeval Baebe/Miranda Sex Garden singer Katherine Blake and glam-socialist piano player/Speaker’s Corner veteran Clifford Slapper (possibly best known, despite a whirl of activity, for his work on Bowie songs), it’s a loose-bag celebration of artistic diversity… and it’s free.

For this end-of-May show, Clifford himself will be performing in two separate, sung duo sets performing “the classics”: one with Katherine, and the other with singing theatre/art/novel-writing polymath Danielle Imara (the former Nina Silvert). No-one involved has said what “the classics” are – could be anything from Purcell to Prince, Bolan to music-hall, Bowie to Wiemar, Flesh For Lulu. Could be some of Danielle and Katherine’s own songs. Here are three possibilities…



 
Mediaeval Baebes multi-instrumentalist Charlie Cawood will take a little time out from being London’s beloved jack-of-all-fingerboards, and will celebrate the success of his recent debut album ‘The Divine Element’ (a glorious fresh-fusion magic-carpet ride across half a globe’s worth of music) by pulling together various other heavy playing friends for a set of Indian sitar music. Not sure whether he’s playing the classic ragas, but in case he isn’t, here’s something suitably sitar-ful from ‘The Divine Element’. Alongside is something from Charlie’s Knifeworld bandmate Kavus Torabi, who’s adding this particular Mascara Bar evening as another stop on the meandering solo tour supporting his own recent solo debut (April’s dusky psych-folk EP ‘Solar Divination’, which perhaps drawing some influence from Kavus’ other lives in Gong, Cardiacs, Guapo and others, but not nearly as much as it draws from ominous imagined dusk rituals and mysterious old ghosts on the darker hippy trails).



 
Also on hand are a stripped-down acoustic version of the ferally witty Cesarians – just singer Charlie Finke and pianist Justine Armatage, treating us to a more intimate take on the band’s ambitious, expansive knife-dancing pop. Rounding off the main musical acts, Jo Below (probably accompanied by Claudette the concertina) will sit down, tell you stories, recite her poems and sing songs, and along the way “regale you sweetly with surprising lewdness”. There’ll probably be “tales of captains and nomads and loves of her not-so-sure life” and perhaps some traditional stuff, as well as accounts of winking etiquette for the Tube.

 
Hopefully able to make it on the night will be dancer and all-round burlesque-rian Suri Sumatra; while definitely on the performance roll is celebrity milliner Piers Atkinson with his alternative catwalk routine (“Salon Show: A Masc-Querade where our in-house superstars will treat you to an extraordinary hat parade accompanied by a live musical atrocity.”).



 
Capping the night’s gambit is poet Jan Noble performing ‘My Name Is Swan’, a poetic monologue that’s already done the rounds of various Swan pubs in London and elsewhere. “Drawing on Jan’s fifteen years experience teaching poetry and creative writing in prisons and on psychiatric wards, ‘My Name Is Swan’ describes a twenty-four hour journey across London. An odyssey of loss and belonging, lies and loyalty, ownership and neglect, Brexit and heartbreak, drugs and the suburbs, boredom, football violence, vandalism, happiness, isolation, addiction, rivers, shopping trolleys, love, hope and the metropolitan malaise… addressing the growing social and economic disparity of the modern city, it is most of all a beautifully evocative portrait of London, the struggles it presents and the solutions it offers.” The work’s also been filmed by Adam Carr with additional musical contributions by Samuel Kilcoyne and Takatsuna Mukai: I’m not sure whether we’re just getting Jan on his own, or whether we get bits of the film or music too, or whether we get all three.

 
Katharine Blake and Clifford Slapper present:
‘Slappers’ Club’
Mascara Bar, 72 Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington, London, N16 6XS, England
Thursday 24th May 2018, 7.30pm
– free entry – information here
 

May 2018 – upcoming gigs – world folk through various filters with Brona McVittie, Marcus Corbett and Sebastian Reynolds in Oxford (16th May); Jack Miguel and Sam Mumford’s rap-folk exploration of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath with ‘A Murder Of Crows’ in London (18th May)

11 May

Marcus Corbett + Brona McVittie + Sebastian Reynolds, 16th May 2018Here’s another prompt for me to pay more regular attention to what’s going on at the Daylight Music shows in London – British folk guitarist Marcus Corbett is playing there this month, and next Wednesday (alongside Brona McVittie, whose own Daylight performance I missed back in March due to looking elsewhere), they’re both playing at a separate event in Oxford.

It’s easy to miss or forget the pointers at concerts which might lead you somewhere interesting – and I only picked up information on this Oxford event – billed as “a night of Thai electronica, Indian classical meets British folk and pastoral Celtic folk through a kosmiche filter” – by accident. Meanwhile, here’s a bit more on Marcus and Brona…

Marcus Corbett is an Anglo-Indian singer and guitarist spending his time between the English West Country and Pune in India: likewise, his guitar playing draws on Western-shaped ideas of folk and blues, but also on the world and tones of Indian classical music. His most recent recording is 2013’s ‘Strung Deep’, which also calls upon the talents of bansuri flute player Milind Date, violinist Sanjay Upadhye and tabla players Ntin Gaikwad and Sharanappa Guttaragi. It’s this record, amongst others, that he’ll be playing from for this concert, for which he’s rejoined by Ntin Gaikwad. (Both Marcus and Ntin are currently on a wider tour together, which you can find out more about here.)



 
Brona McVittie is an Irish harpist, singer and electronic musician from County Down, perhaps best known for fronting/plucking for acclaimed London-Irish trad outfit The London Lasses and for adding the Early Music influences to the Orla Wren-affiliated neo-impressionist project littlebow. During the noughties, she played in folk duos Footnote and The Balance and Footnote duos, followed by a spell leading experimental folktronica band Forestbrook. More recently, her occasional experimental folk-pop work as Queen Of Corkbots has displayed a sprightly humour in electro-acoustic arrangements as well as a love of reviving and gently reinventing old folk songs, carols and not-so-innocent children’s ditties in a web of electronic blips, Mellotronic flutes, pattering synth percussion and other delicate ornamentation.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this comes the new work under her own name which she’s gathered up into her formal solo debut album, ‘We Are The Wildlife’. Voice, harp, flute and strings combine with careful well-honed electronic arrangements for what’s described as “a psycho-geographic journey through a collection of traditional folk ballads and original compositions inspired as much by the geometries of London’s urban fringes as by the sonic phenomena within the great rural landscapes of Mourne.”

For this performance, Brona will be accompanied by friend, collaborator and American émigré Myles Cochran on slide guitar; himself an established solo artist in the more psychedelic, atmospheric end of UK Americana. Here’s the title track from ‘We Are The Wildlife’, plus the album’s version of Irish traditional song Molly Brannigan.



 
The third act at the concert is Oxford musician and PinDrop promoter Sebastian Reynolds. Possibly solo, or possibly accompanied by his Solo Ensemble (also featuring keyboard player Jody Prewett, cellist Anne Müller and violinist Alex Stolze), he’ll be performing excerpts from his Mahajanaka Dance Drama project score (released on a Bandcamp EP last month). The music itself is founded on sampled loops taken from recordings of a piphat (high Thai classical) session undertaken by Thai pop ensemble the Krajidrid Band, which Sebastian has continued to build on.

The Mahajanaka story tells a tale from Buddhist mythology concerning a shipwrecked prince who survives alone at sea until the goddess of the ocean comes to his rescue. Here’s both Sebastian’s original version and a shimmering, urgent live treatment from the Solo Collective; plus a video documentary about the research into, and making of, the source music.


 
TMD Media and PinDrop present:
Marcus Corbett + Brona McVittie + Sebastian Reynolds
Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 1BP, England
Wednesday 16th May 2018, 7.00pm
– information here and here
 
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A Murder Of Crows, 18th May 2018Back in London, at Poplar Union, there’s a coming together of spoken word, poetry, rap and experimental folk for Mental Health Awareness Week, as poet/rapper Jack Miguel collaborates with exploratory post-folk musician Sam Mumford in ‘A Murder Of Crows’, a multimedia response to ‘Crow‘, Ted Hughes’ collection of poems dealing with his own “demons” following the suicide of his wife and fellow poet Sylvia Plath. All proceeds will go towards supporting the Campaign Against Living Miserably, an award-winning charity dedicated to preventing male suicide (the single biggest killer of men under the age of forty-five in Britain) with additional donations encouraged on the door. This is a work-in-progress, so expect – even savour – a few rough edges, which might be part of the point.

Well established as a guitarist, singer, composer and sound artist, Sam makes a kind of deconstructed and rebuilt electro-acoustic folk music which draws equal comparisons to Bob Dylan, Joan Armatrading, Aphex Twin and Venetian Snares. While electronic sound techniques and collagery (taken from Sam’s love of dub, techno, drum and bass and electronica) lean in to both the mix and the toolbox, shaping and impling, Sam’s work is rooted in fingerpicking and voice, resulting in an unmoored new folk music which carries its roots with it as sleepwalking instinct, leaving him free to explore the here and now, whether addressing personal concerns or broader contemporary matters.

In this he’s well matched by Jack, whose own previous work has encompassed sound design, sculpture and moving image. The first poet and rapper to attend the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, he’s gone on (as “Jakaboski”) to become a writer and performer with psychedelic hip hop group Strangelove (and release his own solo debut, the ‘Mount Strive’ EP, in 2014). He also also exibits his own art installations, and works as a diverse arts educator with a particular specialisation in damaged but nurturable psyches (working in hospitals, pupil referral units and secure psychiatric units).

The latter, in particular, has led to work like Jack’s collaborative installation and performance study ‘The Turning of the Leaves’, a meditation on the First World War, masculinity and intergenerational trauma (drawing on the aforementioned Hughes, Carl Jung and Kendrick Lamar, and dealing directly with “the challenges facing men today amidst inherited narratives of power, violence and invulnerability.”) It will be interesting – and important – to see how this interest in toxic and tortured masculinity feeds into Jack and Sam’s examination of Hughes: well known, even beyond his poetry, as a man’s man and an alpha male; and whose treatment of Plath (including his co-opting of her posthumous legacy) has come under increasing challenge and outright attack in recent years (a further darkening of the story).
 



 
Also engaged with the project are two special guests – performance poet and theatre maker Cecilia Knapp and cellist-composer Natasha Zielanzinski (who specialises in contemporary repertoire, early music, free improvisation and folk music and whose performance history spans Sadlers Wells, Kanye West, the Royal Court Theatre and Kate Tempest). More special guests may be announced closer to concert time, although there’s only a week to go…

Jack Miguel & Sam Mumford present:
‘A Murder of Crows’
Poplar Union, 2 Cotall Street, Poplar, London, E14 6TL, England
Friday 18th May 2018, 7.00pm
– information here and here
 

March/April 2017 – upcoming London jazz-and-related gigs – Chimera Trio + Glaser Rapley Robinson @ Jazz Nursery (30th March); Chris Sharkey’s Survival Skills + Zeitgeist @ Jazz Market (13th April); Collocutor + Ill Considered + Ashley Henry Trio @ Jazz Café (15th April); a quick Craig Scott @ LUME lab reminder (19th April)

25 Mar

Quick notes on four upcoming London jazz gigs of various kinds, from Jazz Nursery’s more traditional double bill to the contemporary electro-digital fusion soup at Jazz Market, from an Afrocosmic evening in Camden to the cut-up wildness at LUME Lab…

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Jazz Nursery, 30th March 2017Jazz Nursery presents:
Chimera Trio + Glaser Rapley Robinson
IKLECTIK, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, Waterloo, London, SE1 7LG, England
Thursday 30th March 2017, 7.30pm
information

“The Chimera Trio is a modern take on the classic organ trio sound inspired by the likes of Larry Young and Woody Shaw. The band features Sam Warner on trumpet, Jamie Safiruddin on organ and Dave Ingamells on drums, fusing elements of the organ tradition with more contemporary grooves, melodic ideas and improvisations. The trio started while studying together at Guildhall and went on to be shortlisted for the Chartered Surveyor Jazz Prize.

Glaser Rapley Robinson (with Matt Robinson on piano, Sam Rapley on tenor sax/clarinet and Will Glaser on drums – all members of Rapley’s music-and-storytelling quintet Fabled) aims to explore early songbook and jazz repertoire in an open and honest way. Although it’s an opportunity to work in a slightly unusual line up, the trio’s focus is on how they improvise collectively and is primarily an excuse for them to play tunes they love together and to see where they can take them.”

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Jazz Market, 13th April 2017

Chaos Theory Music Promotions presents:
Jazz Market: Survival Skills + Zeitgeist
Strongroom Bar, 120-124 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3SQ, England
Thursday 13th April 2017, 7.30pm
– information here and here

“The Jazz Market is all about the spirit and essence of jazz, redefining traditional sounds and approaches to music, so it’s super exciting to have a chance to see what the latest creatives are working on.

“On Thursday 13th April (the night before Easter weekend!) at Strongroom Bar, the legendary Chris Sharkey returns to London with his ever-evolving solo/improvisational electronic project Survival Skills, which involves electronic production and improvised guitar with a mass of effects. We were lucky enough to host the live premiere of Survival Skills in 2014 (at Battleship Grey’s single launch), and then again at Rich Mix last year for Bitch ‘n’ Monk’s album launch. Chris is a truly understated visionary, whose vast CV includes being a guitarist (and more recently a producer) in Acoustic Ladyland, TrioVD, Shiver and The Geordie Approach, and who has performed at countless international festivals in the jazz and math rock scenes. He’s a boundary-pushing artist who only looks forward, and one who captures the true spirit of everything we look for in people we work with.

“Also on the bill are newcomers from Bristol, Zeitgeist, laying down heavy prog funk. A trio of musicians “fusing together the harmony and improvisation of jazz, the robust and hypnotic rhythm of hip-hop and the rhythmic complexity and unusual structure of progressive rock” (according to ‘Leeds Music Scene’), their unique brand of jazz with metal undertones has captured the attention and praise of musicians such as John Gomm and Alpha Male Tea Party. Since their inception in 2011, they’ve amassed a loyal following and are now ready to take on London.”


 
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To the Pyramids: A Journey Through Spiritual Jazz - 15th April 2017

To the Pyramids: A Journey Through Spiritual Jazz (featuring Collocutor + Ill Considered + The Ashley Henry Trio + DJ Pete (On The Corner Records)
The Jazz Café, 5 Parkway, Camden Town, London, NW1 7PG, England
Saturday 15th April 2017, 7.00pm
– information here and here

“Spearheaded by the great John Coltrane, the spiritual jazz movement saw a handful of artists striving towards spirituality and transcendence through their music. Players like Coltrane, his wife Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra, Lonnie Liston Smith, Miles Davis and Pharoah Sanders began taking their music on wild, otherworldly excursions with track recordings often reaching half an hour or more. It’s a sound that has recently come back to the fore thanks to the horn work of Kamasi Washington as well as in the electronic productions of artists like Four Tet and Caribou.

“Off the back of their recent album launch, we’re inviting Tamar Osborn‘s seven-piece group Collocutor to take us on a transportive journey into supreme sound and spirituality – combining jazz with aspects of Afrobeat, Indian classical, Ethiopian roots and minimalism.”


 
It’s a little unclear as to exactly how many other acts are on the bill, but current evidence suggests there’ll be a set by cosmic/ambient/Afrobeat quartet Ill Considered, a new project headed by former Ibibio Sound Machine and current Fontanelles bassist Leon Brichard (accompanied by saxophonist Idris Rahman, drummer Emre Ramazanoglu and percussionist Yahael Camara-Onono). There might also be one from The Ashley Henry Trio (with the leader’s piano and compositions supported by Sam Gardner on drums and Sam Vicary on bass). There’ll certainly be a DJ set from Pete of the house-to-jazz On The Corner record label.



 

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Also note that on 19th April, Leeds electro-digital splatterjazz exponent Craig Scott will be playing his LUME Lab event at IKLECTIK – more news on that is back on this older post.

Craig Scott (photo © Josh Crocker)LUME presents:
LUME Lab: Craig Scott
IKLECTIK, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, Waterloo, London, SE1 7LG, England
Wednesday 19th April 2017, 8.00pm
information


 

June 2016 – upcoming London experimental gigs – spiritual improv with Firefly at IKLECTIK (8th); electronic research-pop with ALMA, worriedaboutsatan, and Chagall at Whispers & Hurricanes (9th)

4 Jun

Here are a pair of imminent shows showcasing various directions in experimentation (from spiritual politics and improvisation to pop soundscaping and music technology) at two of London’s most undersung but exciting current venues.

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Firefly, 8th June 2016

IKLECTIK Arts Lab presents:
Firefly
IKLECTIK, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, Waterloo, London, SE1 7LG, England
Wednesday 8 June 2016, 8.00pm
more information

Firefly is an improvising project led by Barcelona-born singer Cristina Carrasco, whose past work includes jazz, rock, soul and bossa nova. For the past five years Cristina has been working in free improvisation and experimental sound (she’s a recent alumnus of Cleveland WatkissStardust People’s Choir project, and also studied with voice improvisers Víctor Turull and Inés Lolago) and aims to combine this work with her other career in community arts and education, working towards promoting “equality and social integration, prioritising the idea of music and its benefits as a main element to heal any kind of society.

Cristina describes ‘Firefly’ as “a tribute to the surrender of human capacity. When we connect with our inner sound we are part of the universal vibration, we are in the present moment opening new channels of communication and creating expression. So, welcome to a free improvisation and experimental sound trip, where our soul leads the musical journey.” For this Firefly evening, Cristina will be joined by composer and broadcaster Daniel James Ross (Roddart, Mega Trio, ‘Beethoven Was Wrong‘) on electronics, former Goldie collaborator Justina “J Eye” Curtis on piano, and the remarkable arts-and-culture polymath Ansuman Biswas on percussion.

No soundclips for this one – you’ll just have to guess and attend…

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Chaos Theory Promotions presents: present:
Whispers & Hurricanes: Alma + worriedaboutsatan + Chagall
New River Studios, 199 Eade Road, Manor House, London, N4 1DN, England
Thursday 9th June 2016, 7.30pm
more information

Whispers & Hurricanes, 9th June 2016“We take our night of weirdly wonderful new downtempo sounds to one of London’s best new artist community venues, New River Studios. This month sees artists blending electronic production, post-rock and brand new technology.

“Alternative post-rock/pop duo ALMA – a project from Codes In The Clouds members Pete Lambrou and Ciaran Morahan (the former also of Monsters Build Mean Robots) – deploy a loop station, multiple delay pedals, a piano and strings to create a slow-moving, high-flying soundscape of luscious gravitas. Their sound has grasped the heartstrings of many, and led to them recently completing an extremely successful UK tour with Nordic Giants as well as a slot at Mutations Festival alongside Lightning Bolt, Metz, John Talabot and Chelsea Wolfe. At this gig, they’ll be launching their new double A-side single The Lighthouse/While Nothing, featuring remixes by maybeshewill and Message To Bears.



 
worriedaboutsatan are a Manchester-based electronica band made up of Thomas Ragsdale and Gavin Miller (also known for their other project Ghosting Season). They incorporate swirling ambient melancholia, skyscraping post-rock guitar atmospherics, dark house and pounding slo-mo techno. Since starting life as a bedroom project back in 2006, the band has always retained a strong DIY ethos, and pride themselves on being very much a live band, rather than just another electronic project with a laptop. They’ve so far shared stages on tours and supports with a diverse array of musicians, such as Ólafur Arnalds, Clark, Dälek, Apparat, Errors, Pantha du Prince, HEALTH, Vessels, and many more.


 
Chagall (Chagall van den Berg) is a multimedia vocalist, songwriter and producer from Amsterdam. Singing live, she creates and triggers her rich electronic production, vocal effects and visuals by moving, bending and swaying her mi.mu gloves – wearable “gestural” technology developed with a team including Imogen Heap). Having spent some time on Universal/EMI’s roster, Chagall decided to quit the major label life and now prefers to make her way through Europe’s independent and underground music scene. Her live performance is unlike anything you’ll have witnessed.”


 

February 2016 – upcoming gigs – interlocking British tours by Yorkston Thorne Khan, Toby Hay/Jim Ghedi and Laura Moody offer Anglo-Indian crossover folk, fingerstyle guitar, folk baroque and cello bewitchment.

10 Feb

I didn’t catch up with this next tour until a couple of its January dates had gone by, but it’s still worth catching up with the rest of it:

Yorkston Thorne Khan, 2015

Yorkston/Thorne/Khan are an experimental group that includes James Yorkston (hailed as one of the most “influential singer/songwriters on the Scottish folk scene”), Suhail Yusuf Khan (award winning sarangi player and classical singer from New Delhi) and Jon Thorne (best known as jazz double bass player with electro outfit Lamb). The trio are currently touring to support their collaborative debut album ‘Everything Sacred’, which was released in mid-January 2016.

This is Scottish-Irish-Indian-English music in the raw – Yorkston’s familiar steel guitar strings pulled, pushed and bent into more unfamiliar acoustic drones, the bass dropping anchors through the floor. Rather than world music per se, this sounds more idiosyncratic, a temporary structure bivouacking by the side of the indie-folk, art music tradition, while its widening horizons extend back to the Sixties heyday of the Incredible String Band, and forward to this singular album’s satellite orbit over the folk music, Indian classical and indie music of today – all these musical ley lines threaded into a new kind of eclectic, domestic setting.

James: “Playing together as Yorkston/Thorne/Khan, we tackle a wide array of different sounds and songs. Alongside pieces of our own, there’s a fair chunk of improvisation, plus covers of Ivor Cutler’s Little Black Buzzer and Lal Waterson’s Song For Thirza. Jon’s jazz background definitely comes to the fore, as does Suhail’s devotional singing and outstanding sarangi playing. I just do my best to keep up…”


 

Dates:

  • The Bicycle Shop, 17 St Benedicts Street, Norwich, NR2 4PE, England, Tuesday 16th February 2016more information
  • The Junction 2, Clifton Way, Cambridge CB1 7GX, England, Wednesday 17th February 2016 (with Laura Moody)more information
  • Eat your Own Ears @ Warwick Arts Centre (Studio), University of Warwick, Gibbet Hill Road, Coventry, CV4 7AL, England, Thursday 18th February 2016 (with Laura Moody)more information
  • Irregular Folk @ St Barnabas Church, 15 St Barnabas Street, Oxford, OX2 6BG, England, Friday 19th February 2016 (with Laura Moody)more information
  • Fruit, 62-63 Humber Street, Hull, HU1 1TU, England, Saturday 20th February 2016 (with Laura Moody)more information
  • Opus presents Gadabout @ Yellow Arch Studios, 30-26 Burton Road, Sheffield, S3 8BX, England, Sunday 21st February 2016 (with Laura Moody + Toby Hay/Jim Ghedi)more information
  • Belgrave Music Hall, 1A Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, LS2 8JP, England, Tuesday 23rd February 2016 (with Laura Moody)more information
  • The Deaf Institute, 135 Grosvenor Street, Manchester, M1 7HE, England, Wednesday 24th February 2016 (with Laura Moody)more information
  • The Old Queen’s Head, 44 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 8LN, England, Thursday 25th February 2016 (with Laura Moody)more information
  • Canton St John Music @ St John the Evangelist Church, St John’s Crescent, Canton, Cardiff, CF5 1NX, Wales, Saturday 27th February 2016 (with Laura Moody + Toby Hay/Jim Ghedi)more information
  • Komedia, 22-23 Westgate Street, Bath, BA1 1EP, England, Saturday 28th February 2016 (with Laura Moody)more information
  • Exeter Phoenix, Bradninch Place, Gandy Street, Exeter, EX4 3LS, England, Sunday 29th February 2016 (with Laura Moody)more information
  •  

    Playing support on all of the dates apart from Norwich (and joining in for a few songs in the headlining set) is singer-songwriter and cellist extraordinaire Laura Moody, whose songs sometimes touch on the same areas of kinetic fantasy as Kate Bush, Tori Amos or Joanna Newsom, sometimes dip into the cool small details of a Julia Holter or Anja Garbarek, and sometimes summon up the haunting folk-contralto reveries of Kathleen Ferrier. Just before the tour starts, Laura will be playing her own London solo show, as follows:

    Tina Edwards presents:
    Laura Moody
    Pizza Express Jazz Club, 10 Dean Street, Soho, London, W1D 3RW, England
    Tuesday 16th February 2016
    more information

    Laura: “I’ve seen so many amazing performers at Pizza Express Jazz over the years – Kurt Elling, Ian Shaw, Gwyneth Herbert (and just one jazz/rock gig that I went to in terrible error and possibly may have feigned illness at so I could leave) – so I’m both excited and honoured to have been invited by music journalist and broadcaster Tina Edwards to play my music on that stage. It’s my first truly central London gig for a little while and as well as playing a load of tunes I will also be having an onstage chat with Tina, so you can get to hear some hilarious anecdotes about how some of these songs came about. But most importantly you can listen to a woman hitting herself with her own cello bow while you eat an American Romana with extra mozzarella.”


     

    * * * * * * * *

    In addition, the Sheffield and Cardiff gigs on the Yorkston Thorne Khan tour (21st and 27th February respectively) features extra support by Toby Hay and Jim Ghedi, following their appearance at Daylight Music earlier in the month. These shows, and more, dovetail into a Hay and Ghedi tour over the whole of February and the beginning of March.

    From Sheffield and Rhayader respectively, Jim and Toby are young (yet assured and accomplished) masters of both fingerstyle acoustic guitar and the resurgent, omnivorous stylings of folk baroque. Both are seasoned performers and collaborators. During years of travelling, Jim has appeared on bills or in ensembles with James Blackshaw, Richard Dawson, Dead Rat Orchestra, Cam Deas, C Joynes, Stephanie Hladowski, Alasdair Roberts, Alex Nelson’s Death Shanties, The Big Eyes Family Players and Trembling Bells. While less widely travelled than Jim, Toby is rapidly becoming a British folk festival veteran and has taken support slots to Ryley Walker, Songhoy Blues and Marika Hackman.

    Playing as a duo, they collectively draw sonic and compositional inspiration from African music (particularly kora music), Bert Jansch, jazz, Indian ragas, ancient Welsh harp music, Eastern European folklore, the Beat writers and John Fahey’s American Primitivism. For more details on how some of this turns out, there’s a ‘Misfit City’ review of Toby’s first EP here, plus a couple of videos below.


    One of the main follows up to that Daylight Music appearance is a west Yorkshire show alongside two other formidable local talents:

    Toby Hay/Jim Ghedi Duo + Dean McPhee + Saif Mode @ Fuse Arts Space, Bradford, 17th February 2016

    Toby Hay/Jim Ghedi Duo + Dean McPhee + Saif Mode
    Fuse Art Space, 5-7 Rawson Place, Bradford, BD1 3QQ, England
    Wednesday 17th February 2016
    more information

    You’ve already read about Jim and Toby, so here’s the information on the other two performers:

    Dean McPhee is a West Yorkshire-based solo electric guitarist who plays a Fender Telecaster through a valve amp and effects pedals. Dean is a self-taught guitarist and has developed a unique style of playing over years of improvisation and experimentation. His influences include British folk, dub, Krautrock, post-rock, Moroccan trance and modal jazz. “The hallmark of McPhee’s style is a picked bassline and free-ranging variations on melodic ideas via a mesmerising progression of harmonics, cleanly picked notes, full chords and string-bending arabesques.” (‘The Wire’)

    Saif Mode is the moniker of Ben Hunter. He improvises with modular synths to create dense sonic landscapes that are unique to each performance “marry(ing) meditative drones and techno improvisations, recalling the utopian dreams of the Atomic Age and the simple piety of the early church… equally at home on bills with improvised analogue electronica and raw black metal…” (Sheffield Anti Fascist Network).


     

    The remaining dates of the Hay & Ghedi tour (including the Daylight Music appearance and their Yorkston Thorn Khan support slots) are below:

     
    Toby and Jim will also be joining forces in Sheffield during late February for this theatre show:

    The Death Curiosities

    The Travelling Shadow Theatre presents:
    “The Death Curiosities”
    Moor Theatre Delicatessen, 17 The Moor, Sheffield, S1 4PF, England
    Thursday 25th & Friday 26th February 2016
    more information

    “Come on a journey inside an old cabinet to discover what forgotten objects remain….Stories unravel to reveal a beautifully vulgar and woeful celebration of the macabre…. Told through live shadow puppetry and music, ‘The Death Curiosities’ is a beautiful and mesmerising story exploring the unquestionable trimmings of death. Live musical accompaniment by Jim Ghedi, Toby Hay and Josh Kelson.”

     

    Still from 'The Death Curiosities'
     

    More gig news shortly, including William D. Drake in Italy and a look at various upcoming classical music events…
     

The Manchester Jazz Festival (31st July to 9th August)

31 Jul

One of the reasons that I’ve been posting so many concert previews recently is simply that (being mostly homebound at the moment) I miss going to gigs. Looking at the lineup and scope of the 2015 Manchester Jazz Festival (which starts today and runs rampant for ten days through until 9th August) reminds me that not only do I regret not attending the wealth of music that takes place here in London, but that I miss more freewheeling days of music elsewhere. Discovering unexpected, treasurable bands at random while on holiday in Brugge, for instance; or immersing myself in a week of concerts and more in Edinburgh or Leeds (such as the one I reviewed here, over a decade ago.)

We know that, as a British pop and dance city, Manchester punches well above its weight. Despite a bubbling undercurrent of improvised music, its reputation as a jazz town is hazier…. or, more probably, I’m just ignorant. The Festival’s been going for twenty years, long enough to gain enough gravity to generate its own traditions. (One such is ‘Surroundings’,  a longer-form ensemble piece by Salford composer Neil Yates. Commissioned for the festival in 2010, it seems to have become the event’s unofficial signature – this year, it’s being revisited as a quartet performance in the Central Library Reading Room.)

Even a quick sift through this year’s programme reveals a jazz party that any city would be proud of – diverse, inclusive, inviting and multi-levelled, an exciting noise ranging from the stately to the vividly scraggled and all the better for it.  With many tickets going at only four pounds, (with a ten-pound all-events daily ticket and free-entry deals if you stump up as a low-level event sponsor), they could hardly have made it any more inviting to the casual walker-upper. Excuse me for a moment while I strip-mine press releases and YouTube, and check Soundcloud pages and Bandcamp links.

Starting with the higher-end, bigger name events…  Acclaimed Blue Note pianist Robert Glasper slips away from his experimentations with latterday R’n’B to get back to basics with an acoustic trio;  John Surman re-teams with the Trans4mation String Quartet to revive the thoughtful, tidally-deep music from his ‘Coruscating’ and ‘The Spaces in Between’ albums. Norma Winstone, Klaus Gesing and Glauco Venier bring along their trans-European project DistancesPartisans bring their transatlantic swing storm; Christine Tobin  her ‘Thousand Kisses Deep’ jazzification of Leonard Cohen songs. French Jazz Musician of the Year Airelle Besson makes an appearance with her Quartet for a set of “gently experimental songs animated by heartfelt lyrics, plaintive melodies and rolling harmonies.” backed with pinballing rhythms and punchy countersyncopations.

There are heavyweight two-headed summit performances by acclaimed British jazz talents – one by frequent quartet buddies Mike Walker and Gwilym Simcock, another by the more recent pairing of Tori Freestone and Alcyona Mick.  Two further British scene fast risers – Stuart McCallum and Alice Zawadzki – bring string-enhanced performances of ongoing projects (the former offering contemporary soul jazz and bass-heavy electronica with surprise guest singers, the latter a fantastical Mancunian song cycle influenced by various shades of love and fairytale).

There are also several of those gentler, more literate projects which seem to blossom best in a festival atmosphere away from a hot core of gutsy brass.  Andrew Woodhead and Holly Thomas’ Snapdragon trio specialize in chilled, ethereal song-settings of literature and poetry (Larkin and Bukowski-inspired) and bursts of vocalese. Mark Pringle‘s A Moveable Feast mates orchestral strings with a bold horn and rhythm section to explore “themes of wildlife, literature and city chaos.”  The “fractured Anglicana” of Hugh Nankivell’s multi-instrumental/four-part vocal quartet Natural Causes means that they perform “curious compositions with  improbable but poignant texts” including “psychedelic lullabies, pinprick-precise ballads, unpredictable group improvisation and brotherly harmony across the board”, and music which draws on classic and contemporary art pop (Robert Wyatt, XTC and Björk) as much as it does on jazz sources.

Elsewhere, much of the polyglot diversity of jazz today is celebrated. The Cuban tradition is represented by the Pepe Rivero Trio and Orquesta Timbala; the Congolese by Eddy Tshepe Tshepela‘s Afrika Jazz. Central and South American ideas are brought along by Agua Pasa (who, with  Dudley Nesbit’s steel pan project Pan Jumby,  also touch on the Caribbean).  The Quarry Hillbillies (a teaming of Ulrich Elbracht, Ed Jones, Jamil Sheriff) from European contemporary jazz, while the frenetic whirl of Eastern European folk elements are covered by Makanitza.  The Gorka Benítez Trio move between Basque-flavoured small group jazz and compelling free-form impressionism. David Austin Grey’s Hansu-Tori ensemble is inspired by natural, elemental and cinematic” ideas, as well as a fascination with Eastern world culture.  Percussionist Felix Higginbottom’s Hans Prya  provides genre-hopping jazz-dance and Jim Molyneux’s Glowrogues favour funk and hip-hop flavoured pieces. Trumpeter Lily Carassik‘s fusion group Yesa Sikyi take ideas from the ’50s and blend them with popular standards and soul arrangements; while The Stretch Trio include glossier elements from ’70s jazz rock, progressive rock and ’80s pop along with sinuous gusts of wind synth.

Those who prefer classic jazz – more traditional by-the-book American styles – might prefer Russell Henderson and Jamie Taylor’s Ellington-and-Strayhorn tribute ‘The Intimacy Of The Blues’, or the Dan Whieldon Trio‘s salute to Gershwin. The Dave Kane Quartet take inspiration from the knottier ambitions of Charles Mingus, John Zorn and Eric Dolphy. Two groups of students from the Royal Northern College of Music provide live celebrations of the history which they’ve been learning – the James Girling Quintet  spans jazz, blues and funk from New Orleans roots through to the 1960s, while the Nick Conn Octet (a self-described “trombone choir”) interweaves re-arranged jazz classics with original material.

Fans of New Orleans jazz can check out genuine New Orleaners The Session (who offer a past-present take on their hometown’s music), or look out for the street sounds of the New York Brass Band (actually from old York, the cheeky buggers) or see how the Riot Jazz Brass Band dust up old New Orleans sounds with dancefloor, dubstep and drum-and-bass incursions. Hot jazz/Gypsy/jazz manouche aficionados can go for the loving recreations of 52 Skidoo (who promise you prohibition speakeasies, rent parties and Tin Pan Alley) or for Gypsies Of Bohemia, who manouche-ify latterday pop songs such as Heart Of Glass, Toxic and Hot In Herre. (Being Mancunian, they also do This Charming Man – I’ll bet that that high-life opening riff translates pretty well).

Of course, much of the fun of a jazz festival involves catching a lesser-known, or even unknown, band carving away at the edge, furiously discovering – and there are plenty of those here. Since they drew me into covering the festival in the first place, I’m going to put a particular word in for Jon Thorne’s Sunshine Brothers (playing at Matt & Phreds on 4th August) in which the double bass/laptop-wielding Jon teams up with drummer Rob Turner (of Blue Note-signed breakbeat jazz electronicists GoGo Penguin) and looping poly-genre bass guitarist Steve Lawson (a ‘Misfit City’ regular) for “a cutting-edge trio of genre-defying musicians mixing jazz, improvisation, electronic and filmic soundscapes to euphoric effect, evoking sounds far removed from their bass origins.”

However, you could just as easily catch a full performance by GoGo Penguin themselves; or by Lauren Kinsella’s Blue-Eyed Hawk, who offer “art-rock, jazz and electronic soundworlds: imaginative and emotive, from pindrop to powerhouse.” The Madwort Saxophone Quartet play intricate four-part math-jazz. “Power-jazz commando team” Taupe (a triple-city trio from Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh) punch around themes from jazz, hip hop and heavy metal. Craig Scott’s Lobotomy seem determined to take the cake for upfront experimental exhilaration this time around, delivering shout-outs to John Cage, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa, proclaiming a performance in which “experimental jazz rubs shoulders with electronica and DIY alternative rock in a bubbling cauldron of live and recorded sounds” and promising to sample and reconstruction their own improvisations live on stage.  There’ll also be a improvised summit involving bands associated with Manchester’s Efpi Records and Paris’ Onze Heures Onze collective.

One way into discovery is to take advantage of the free showcases for emerging bands. Care of the BBC’s ‘Jazz On 3’, London offers three bands – Nérija ( the all-female creative septet from the Tomorrow’s Warriors jazz school), the award-winning piano jazz of the Ashley Henry Trio and the decidedly psychedelic Phaze Theory (a quartet of drums, tuba, voice and guitar dedicated to “exploring the vastness of the musical cosmos”).

But perhaps it’s Jazz North’s Northern Line series that you should be checking out, showcasing bands from the north and the Midlands. Manchester offers the Iain Dixon/Les Chisnall Duo (whose repertoire of self-defined standards stretches from Messaien to Gracie Fields) and the John Bailey Quintet  (guitar-led, and similarly inspired by twentieth century classical music). Newcastle provides barrel-house blues and ballads from The Lindsay Hannon Plus and the tricky free jazz/folk/rock/dancefloor entwinings of the Graeme Wilson Quartet. Lancaster and Liverpool provide one act apiece – Andrew Grew’s “total improvisers” The Grew Quartet and the “gothic bebop” of Blind Monk Trio, who claim to fuse the spirit of Thelonius Monk with Persian traditional music and the heavy-rock attitude of Led Zeppelin and Nirvana’s heavy-rock attitude.

However, it’s Leeds (still underrated as a musical powerhouse despite the world-class output of its music college and the vigorous inventiveness of its bands) which dominates the Northern Line. As well as providing the previously-mentioned Pan Jumby, Leeds brings the Portuguese/African/Latin  and Indian song-fusions of Manjula, the Django Reinhardt swing of the Matt Holborn Quartet, Cameron Vale‘s ferociously energetic melange of jazz, metal, electronica, Afrobeat and Klezmer and the semi-electric “extreme, eerie to comic” improvisations of Tipping Point (featuring perpetual bad-boy pianist Matthew Bourne).  Friendly rivalry aside, there’s also co-operation: Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool all join forces in The Bugalu Foundation for a Latin barrio take on northern soul.

Around all of this jazz there’s the usual happy agglomeration of related music – not quite jazz in itself, but possibly sharing a drink or a roll-up somewhere along the way. The festival covers various popular outcropping such as soul (in assorted Northern, jazz and diva forms courtesy of The Juggernaut Love Band, Terry Shaltiel & The Soultroopers, Charlie Cooper & The CCs) but also ’60s/‘70s funk (Buffalo Brothers), ’70s Afrobeat and Ethiopian pop (Kalakuta), ska (Baked à la Ska) and mbalax (Mamadou & The Super Libidor Band). There’s even an alt-country act (Stevie Williams & The Most Wanted Band) sneaking in at the back door. As for rock’n’roll/folk/reggae/swing scavengers The Flat Cap 3… well, for starters, there’s only two of them, so you can be dubious about anything else you might read, but don’t let that put you off.

Three female songwriters are also bringing their bands, coming from a folk or world music zone and overlapping into jazz. Kirsty McGee leads her Hobopop Collective through a “joyful, dirty” sound drawing from gospel, blues and a collection of found instruments (including musical saw, waterphone, Humber hubcaps and metal buckets). The constantly shifting song landscapes of the Zoe Kyoti Trio draw from their leader’s Armenian and Greek heritage (as well as Cajun, European and Indian ideas). Saluting home-brewed British polyculture, Shama Rahman‘s ensemble explore her London home, her Bangladeshi roots, and her childhood memories of Middle Eastern desert landscapes in a “sitar,stories and song” melange of  jazz-inspired improvisation, classically-inspired melodies and folk-inspired storytelling accompanied by energetic rhythms of swing, funk, hip hop, bossa nova and drum’n’bass.

For parents of very young children, needing to balance a jazz fix with family responsibilities, there are a couple of fully interactive kids’ events with activities, storytelling and improvisations.  The Living Story Music Ensemble and illustrator Ann Gilligan collaborate on ‘I Have A Duck Who Can Roar’; the blues-and-roots-tinged Hillary Step Quartet work with storyteller Ursula Holden Gill and dancers from The Dalcroze Society for ‘How Monkey Found His Swing’. Once the kids are attended to, there are still interactive events for the grown-ups, whether you’re talking about the all-in jazz vinyl night, the mixed-genre dj sets by Mr Scruff, Franny Eubanks‘ open-door blues jam or (for the more technologically inquisitive)  Rodrigo Constanzo‘s showcasing of his dfscore software. The latter’s a creative music tool, cueing improvisers via graphical, visual and written clues: on this occasion, anyone with an instrument and a connectible smartphone/tablet/pad should be able to roll up and join in with the roar, joining some leading improvisers in performing music in tandem with the system.

For those remaining soundclips which I’ve not already snatched and pasted, visit the MJF Soundcloud page here … but better yet, if you’re anywhere near Manchester over the next few weeks, drop in at the festival (it’s hard to miss, considering that it’s not just hiding behind club doors but has effectively taken over the town’s main square for a fortnight). Seeing something this impressive light up and roll on fills me with delight – even if on this occasion I’m also filled with rue at not being able to go myself.  But never mind me…

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