Tag Archives: Alasdair Roberts

December 2015 – upcoming gigs, London and elsewhere – another Forge flurry (Boccherini and Schubert quintets with Arensky Chamber Orchestra, sample pop from Cosmo Sheldrake, tango nuevo from The Deco Ensemble); the Ghosts At Our Shoulders folk meet (with Martin Carthy, Alasdair Roberts, Chris Wood, Kirsty Potts, The Devil’s Interval and Stick In The Wheel); and Project Instrumental’s Pärt/Fokkens post-classical passacaglia at Hackney Attic. Plus Anawan’s Brooklyn chamber pop double-night and New York farewell.

28 Nov

Straight into December, then (I’m ignoring the last day of November – it’s done me no favours this year) and before the splurge of upcoming musical Christmas parties, here are some assorted one-off gigs. Classical, post-classical and tango nuevo chamber concerts; Brooklyn art-pop; a small but significant folk festival; and a man battering experimental songs out of a piece of beef. That’ll do. As ever, these are mostly London shows, although as mentioned New York does get a look in at the end. Over the coming weekend – a man in a top hat sings songs of Victorian-Edwardian never-weres, wild noise in Hackney and Yorkshire, and a couple of spells of jazz… but more on that later.

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The Arensky Chamber Orchestra presents ‘Surround Sound II’ (The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 7NL, UK, Tuesday 1st December 2015, 8.00pm) – £12.00 – information & tickets

Since its debut in 2009, The Arensky Chamber Orchestra has established itself as one of London’s most exciting young ensembles, dedicated to revitalising the concert experience with theatrical and brilliant productions of classical music. Led by international prize-winning conductor William Kunhardt, the orchestra’s performances fuse electric performance with lighting design, ‘live’ programme notes delivered from the stage and unusual venue use. The ACO also regularly combine their performances with specially created food and drink menus and commissioned work from other artists, including video DJs, artists, actors and dancers. This will be the Forge’s second immersive ‘in the round’ performance from the Arensky Chamber Orchestra’s brilliant principal players; and on the menu are performances of two of the great string quintets.

Luigi Boccherini’s String Quintet in E major is one of the most famous quintets in the classical repertoire. The timeless melody of its third movement, ‘The Celebrated Minuet’, is woven into popular culture (appearing in ‘The Blues Brothers’ and ‘This is Spinal Tap’ as well as many other contexts). Tonight’s performance is in the original configuration (a conventional string quartet of two violins, viola and cello, plus a second cello as the fifth instrument) but over the years the piece has been rescored for a startling breadth of instruments including organ, mandolin duo, accordion and saxophone.

Franz Schubert’s String Quintet in C was the composer’s last instrumental work (composed during the final weeks of his life) and possibly his greatest accomplishment. It’s most iconic movement is the Adagio – a piece of such sublime tranquility that time seems to stand still throughout. Yet every other movement lives up to this extraordinary standard as well – from the expanse of the opening Allegro to the dazzling scherzo, it is a work of endless invention, radiant and rich sound-worlds and infinite varieties of texture and colour.

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The Deco Ensemble (The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 7NL, UK, Wednesday 2nd December 2015, 7.30pm) – £10.00 – information & tickets here and here

Established in 2013, The Deco Ensemble performs an eclectic and colourful combination of classical masterpieces, little-known gems and new avant-garde works. Rich in poignant harmonies, bold rhythms and elaborate ornamentations, their exuberant and glamorous repertoire includes works by Gustavo Beytelmann, Yannis Constantinidis, Frédéric Devreese, Ramiro Gallo, Graham Lynch, Astor Piazzolla, Sergei Prokofiev, Maurice Ravel and Anibal Troilo. A quintet of Sabina Rakcheyeva (violin), Bartosz Glowacki (accordion), Ricardo Gosalbo (piano), Rob Luft (electric guitar) and Elena Marigómez (double bass), they also collaborate with many of the world’s most promising and intriguing composers and performers, and write their own arrangements.

The ensemble’s adventurous approach and spirit of fearless exploration has its origins in the music of Piazzolla, re-imagining the Tango Nuevo Quintet which the composer formed during the 1960s in order to lay down the foundations of modern tango writing and to combine classical, jazz and traditional influences. Already the veterans of extensive European touring, Deco Ensemble have performed sellout concerts across Britain and across the breadth of Europe from west to east. Their critically-acclaimed debut album ‘Encuentro’ was released in July 2015.

Programme:

Ramiro Gallo – El último kurdo
Gustavo Beytelmann – Travesía
Astor Piazzolla – Muerte del ángel
Astor Piazzolla – Milonga del ángel
Astor Piazzolla – Tango del diablo
Frédéric Devreese – Passage à 5
Frédéric Devreese – Dream & Tango
Gustavo Beytelmann – Encuentro
Astor Piazzolla – Triunfal
Astor Piazzolla – Oblivion
Ramiro Gallo – Las malenas

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Now here’s something interesting…

Cosmo Sheldrake (Rockfeedback Concerts @ The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 7NL, UK, Thursday 3rd December 2015, 7.30pm) – £11.00 – information & tickets

A multi-instrumentalist, an improvising sampler/looper and the crafter of sweet unorthodox earworms, Cosmo Sheldrake has been described as “a relentlessly experimental artist taking organic samples from the world and turning them into dreamy songs.” Certainly his best-known single, ‘Rich’, is a case in point. Its tripping, sunny melodies – apparently moulded from stray chunks of both English folk and contemporary R&B – bob over a rhythm made by tearing meat from a cow carcass.

This kind of experimentation and juxtaposition (the cute tunes and the occasionally slightly-sinister underpinning; the initiation of whimsical but multi-layered musical questions; the rough-and-ready play across a huge musical vocabulary) seems to lie at the heart of what Cosmo does. He’s certainly steeped in music – aside from the wide-spanning instrumentalism (beginning with early days on piano at age four, building upwards and outwards and somehow never stopping), he’s been a founder member of nine-piece polygenre band Gentle Mystics since 2007, and also runs assorted instrumental and beatboxing workshops, plus a choir, in his Brighton hometown. He’s also known for performances in unusual locations including boats, farmyards, laundrettes and public swimming pools; and takes inspiration from the world around him with unfiltered, undifferentiated spontaneity; being as likely to turn out a song about pelicans as he is one about humans.

This week’s show promises to be mostly improvised, intimate and has a pretty small number of tickets, so move fast if you’re interested.

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Moving on to some purer folk…

Martin Carthy @ Ghosts At Our Shoulders, December 2015

‘Ghosts At Our Shoulders – The Tradition Unfolds’ featuring Chris Wood + Alasdair Roberts + Kirsty Potts + Stick In The Wheel + Martin Carthy + The Devil’s Interval (Kings Place, 90 York Way, Kings Cross, London, N1 9AG, UK, Thursday 3rd to Saturday 5th December 2015, various times) – various prices (£9.50-£22.50) – information & tickets

“The men have withdrawn and left me alone in a roomful of relics / But they gave me the song, so I carry the song that all men inherit.” – Alasdair Roberts

A series of songwriters and song interpreters inspired by tradition. The rich folk song tradition in these isles is a never-ending well of ideas and sensibilities as well as source material. The traditional canon is often attributed to ‘Anon.’ – a ghost perched on the shoulders of contemporary performers, who carry tradition forward and forge their own paths inspired by that legacy. This series of concerts features some of the most thoughtful and creative interpreters of song, whose unifying focus is the telling of the song. Voices close to the source, acting as a link from the then to the now.

With his work sometimes compared to that of Richard Thompson (though he cites his major influence as ‘Anon.’), Chris Wood is an uncompromising singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter whose music reveals his love for the un-official history of the English-speaking peoples, weaving his own contemporary parables into the tradition. His lateral take on the modern world follows an ideological thread from the likes of John Clare and William Blake, and as well as humble hymns and wry observations of the small things in life, his songs have included Hollow Point (a chilling ballad of the shooting of Jean Charles Menezez).

The twenty-year, eleven-album career of Scottish singer-songwriter and guitarist Alasdair Roberts has taken him from the early alt.folk of his Appendix Out project via mingled traditional and self-penned work to his latest, self-titled solo recording, featuring a span of Glaswegian folk talent. He performs songs which are “elliptical and gnomic, direct and personal, romantic and tender” and which have moved from an early economical style (partially inspired by the sparse aesthetic of indie rock) to the complex, esoteric and spiritual work of more recent albums. An enthusiastic and generous collaborator, he’ll be sharing the stage with Kirsty Potts, a singer of traditional Scottish folk for thirty years. Having recorded six albums with the famous folk duo of Alison McMorland (Kirsty’s mother) and Geordie McIntrye, she’s recently released her own long-delayed debut solo album ‘The Seeds of Life’.

Raw and uncompromising London folk quintet Stick In The Wheel record to the sound of sirens and birdsong in their long-rented East End front rooms. Brought up in the thriving culture of working class London and cutting their teeth in its diverse musical landscape, they now bring those influences and attitudes to their traditional music. Across three EPs, multiple festivals and award nominations and the release of their debut album in September this year, their music is as authentic as it comes, capturing a culture that is rapidly disappearing, and is at times brutally honest and grabbing.

Over five decades of a varied career (with Waterson Carthy, Steeleye Span, solo and beyond), Martin Carthy has been one of folk music’s greatest innovators, one of its best loved, most enthusiastic and, at times, most quietly controversial of figures. He’s a ballad singer, a ground-breaking acoustic and electric-guitarist and an authoritative interpreter of newly composed material; always preferring to follow an insatiable musical curiosity rather than cash in on his unrivalled position.

Playing in support of Martin are some of his regular tourmates: recently-reunited vocal group The Devil’s Interval (the teaming of singers Jim Causley, Emily Portman and Lauren McCormick, each of them solo artists in their own right). The group are well-loved for their spell-binding harmonies and passion for captivating story-telling through the medium of traditional song: their three distinctive voices blend beautifully, bringing new life to some of the old jewels of the folk-song canon.

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Project Instrumental's Built on Bass, 4th December 2015

Project Instrumental + Tpongle + Zach Walker + DJ Jesse Bescoby present ‘Built On Bass’ (Hackney Attic 2170 Mare Street, Hackney, London, E8 1HE, UK, Friday 4th December 2015, 7:30pm) – £6.00 – information here and heretickets

Project Instrumental bring thrilling performances to unbounded audiences. Bold, imaginative and boundary defying, this virtuosic ensemble strips back the peripherals with their straightforward contemporary approach to create not just concerts, but experiences. For ‘Built On Bass’, they bring together a composer, a sound artist and a visual artist to create a multi-sensory musical environment using sound, electronics and cymatics. Taking a four-hundred year-old form defined by variations against a bass motif, they connect a passacaglia-inspired programme of music written within the last fifty years and create a twenty-first century experience, responding to the written repertoire through live collaborations that explore the physical sensation of sound and auditory-visual interactions.

The world premiere of a commission from composer Robert Fokkens features in an irresistible confluence of timelessness, change, cycles and variance alongside Arvo Pärt’s mesmeric Passacaglia in its version for 2 violins and Dmitri Shostakovich’s powerful Chamber Symphony op.118a. Inspired by and sampling the programmed repertoire, sound artist, producer and DJ Tpongle creates a ‘passacaglia for the present’, weaving a bass thread through the night, culminating in a live electronic set. Zack Walker‘s striking projections will extend the sound experience in space using his live liquid cymatics sculpture, original film content and analog feedback projections to respond to the live musical performance. Ace Hotel Guest DJ Jesse Bescoby rounds the night off with a set exploring the gap between contemporary classical and experimental, independent music. All can be taken with locally produced craft beers and food available to order throughout the evening.

Programme:

Arvo Pärt – Passacaglia
Robert Fokkens – New Commission World Premiere
Dmitri Shostakovich – Chamber Symphony op.118a
Tpongle – Live electronic set
Zach Walker – Live cymatics sculpture

For a glimpse of Zach’s cymatic sculpture work, see below.

 

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Finally, something for readers in New York who like their art pop. Trevor Wilson of Anawan has been in touch with a welcoming Christmas message as cute, rambling, perky and openhearted as his band is. See below.

Anawan – ‘Having Fun’ show (Briscoe Music Space, 3 Sackett Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York, New York State, USA, Friday 4th and Saturday 5th December 2015, 8.00pm) – $5.00-$15.00 (pay-what-you-want) – information and tickets

We are doing a huge show on two nights, December 4th and 5th, at our music space in Red Hook, Brooklyn! At the intersection of danger and confidence comes, perhaps, one of the most important reasons for being alive. Sometimes ‘having fun’ is outwardly bold and courageous- motosports – skydiving. Sometimes just going out on a limb and making a joke is the boldest thing you can do in a day- just cracking a smile can take years for some! Love is more bold than any physical challenge- hearts are huge, sometimes mountains, with hiking trails to be lost in, make plans, need more, need less- as my friend Ethan Woods says, “love takes time”. But also, man, love is the funnest thing of all… what’s around the corner? You don’t know!

The “sound” of fun is loose and electric, sometimes passionate, sometimes flippant. The songs for this very special show include new songs inspired by fun – but don’t expect them to all sound like it… that would be too easy, and what’s the fun in that? In addition to working with my dear historical Anawan members, we’re working with some new folks and doing things in a new way, and that in and of itself is the most palpably fun element of this whole production. It’s going to be a huge ten-piece ensemble playing songs old and new; a rhythm section, string trio, electronics, and the usual Anawan gang. We’ll round the show off with some Anawan standbys as well as a supremely fun song from wa-a-ay back when. I really hope to see you there! I leave NYC at the end of the year to live elsewhere! This is it, guys! Let’s do it! I’m not gonna say it again!

Jesse Rifkin (a.ka. Jesse R. Berlin) will play electric guitar (one of my oldest and bestest musical pals – we met each other on Myspace in 2005 – such a beautiful guitar player). Tom Montagliano (of Maudlin Maladies) will provide the soundtrack to an experimental universe that will begin the night! Also involved – singing and more by Maia Friedman (Uni Ika Ai, Toebow), Alice Tolan-Mee (True Lucy) and Ethan Woods (Rokenri), percussion by Sandy Gordon (Silent Isle, Causings), violin by Elori Kramer (Alpenglow), keyboard and more by Judith Shimer (The Sneaky Mister), violin by Sarah Tolan-Mee (who is awesome) and elemental forces by Andrew Wells Ryder (True Lucy).

Tickets are donation based- we won’t turn anyone away- but this will go towards paying the performers and keeping the space warm. Make sure to come by 8.00pm so you do not miss anything. This could make a huge difference in your life! Or it may go on the same as always! See you there!

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More shortly, as we take on the weekend…

 

More London gigs, first week of October – folk supergroup The Furrow Collective at Kings Place on the 1st; Mary Hampton/Nadine Khouri/Daudi Matsiko at Daylight Music and Alexander Hacke/Danielle de Picciotto/Thomas Ragsdale at the Hackney Attic on the 3rd; Andre Canniere at the Vortex on the 4th

26 Sep

A look forward to the first week of the coming month, with plenty of alternative folk, acoustic singer-songwriters and some multi-media music from a couple of former Berlin arts-scene linchpins, ending up with some jazz…

The Furrow Collective (Hall Two @ Kings Place, 90 York Way, Kings Cross, London, N1 9AG, UK, Thursday, 1 October 2015 – 8:00pm) – £9.50/£14.50

The Furrow Collective brings together four of the finest, award winning musicians on the UK folk scene – Rachel Newton, Lucy Farrell, Emily Portman and Alasdair Roberts – and delves into the obscure world of balladry at its darkest and quirkiest.

Each singer airs lesser-known gems from their traditional repertoire with an eclectic backing of harp, guitar, viola, concertina, banjo, musical saw and rousing harmonies. With a bold, improvisatory approach, their common focus is to capture the raw edges and fleeting magic of ballads, with storytelling taking centre stage. Emily and Alasdair are both known for their original, folklore-influenced songwriting, and, often finding themselves on the same bills they struck up a musical friendship, sharing stages and collaborating on each others albums. Lucy and Rachel are both bewitching solo artists in their own right as well as being sought-after session players and long-time collaborators with Emily Portman in her trio.

The Furrow Collective’s 2014 debut release, ‘At Our Next Meeting’ received widespread critical acclaim, as well as a BBC Radio Two Folk Award for Best Group and a Best Traditional Track nomination this year. A new EP is currently being recorded for release in autumn 2015, followed by an album in early 2016.

Tickets available here.

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More people singing at the weekend…

Daylight Music #201

Daylight Music 201: Mary Hampton, Nadine Khouri + Daudi Matsiko (Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, Islington, London, N1 2UN, UK – Saturday 3rd October 2015, 12.00pm-2.00pm) – free entry, suggested donation £5.00

Inspired by a passion for the winding road of the oral tradition from Homer onwards, Brighton-based songwriter Mary Hampton‘s songs possess an unusual transportive energy, moving her listeners through a sequence of shimmering landscapes that belong to past and present simultaneously. Accompanying herself on tenor guitar, and sometimes with members of her band Cotillion, she interprets material gathered from a wide range of sources, performing traditional songs alongside original work and settings of literary prose and poetry.

Nadine Khouri is a singer-songwriter currently based in London. A guitar-wielding folkie, with a love for shoegaze, moody soundtracks and spoken-word, Khouri’s music has been described by Rough Trade as a “music born of perennial outsider-status.” Her last release ‘A Song to the City’ was co-produced with Ryan Alfred (Calexico.) The EP also caught the attention of producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, This is the Kit) who invited her to guest on a song for his ‘Screenplay’ LP and subsequently to record her first album in his hometown of Bristol. Recorded live in a Georgian basement with a band assembled by Khouri, the resulting album ‘Lost Continents’ is a raw, atmospheric collection of meditations on loss and transformation, held within the hushed intimacy of Khouri’s voice. The first single from the album, You Got A Fire, is due for release in late October 2015.

Huntingdon is not famous for much. It was the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell and its local MP for many years was former Prime Minister John Major. Unlikelier still that the extraordinary songwriting talents of Daudi Matsiko (his name is pronounced “dowdy”) were nurtured in nearby Ramsey. Yet Daudi’s roots were somewhat further than Ramsey, his parents moving over from Uganda in the early 1980s. Daudi has been playing music since he was eight years old and writing songs since he was a teenager: although he’s still young, they speak of experience and trauma and gathered wisdom. Having suffered mental health problems in the past, he has used his music as a crucial salve in times of strife and stress. Daudi was lucky to grow up among a strong community of musicians – many of his Cambridgeshire buddies played on his breakthrough EP ‘A Brief Introduction To Failure’, which was supported by Gilles Peterson and helped bring him to a wider audience. His influences run the gamut, from The Mars Volta to Jeff Buckley, Beach Boys to Nick Drake. Plans are afoot for a new EP (working title: ‘The Lingering Effects Of Disconnection’).

More information on the concert is here.

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On the evening of the same day, Chaos Theory Promotions are back, displaying a continued knack for landing substantial art-music names…

Alexander Hacke/Danielle de Picciotto, October 3rd 2015

Alexander Hacke & Danielle de Picciotto + Thomas Ragsdale (Chaos Theory @ The Hackney Attic, Hackney Picturehouse, 270 Mare Street, Hackney, London, E8 1HE, UK, Saturday 3rd October 2015, 8.00pm) – £14.00/£18.00

Chaos Theory enthuse:

We cannot wait to share this.

After watching the onset of gentrification filling their previous creative oasis in Berlin, the extraordinary duo of multi-instrumentalist/producer Alexander Hacke (Einstürzende Neubauten) & multimedia artist-musician Danielle de Picciotto (of Berlin club culture, Pop Surrealism and Love Parade fame, as well as being a member of the latest Crime & The City Solution lineup alongside Alexander) have been nomadic since 2010.

Alexander Hacke/Danielle de Picciotto, 2015Giving up their home and most of their possessions, Danielle and Alexander have been touring the world, performing in Australia, doing residencies in Prague, Canada and Ireland, working in New York and recording in the Mojave Desert. (You may have seen them performing at Café Oto earlier this year, alongside Jarboe and Helen Money, as part of our 5 Years Of Chaos celebrations.)

This is the only UK show in their ongoing ‘We Are Gypsies Now’ tour, in which they will present music from Danielle’s new solo album ‘Tacoma’ (which speaks of leaving everything behind and trusting destiny to lead one’s way) and from their communal album ‘Perseverantia’ (which speaks of the strength and persistence necessary to survive outside of the grid) as well as material from their graphic diary ‘We Are Gypsies Now’ (which tells of how they gradually chose to become nomads) via glorious cinematic visuals. Here’s a small excerpt of their performance of ‘Perseverantia’ in February:

Thomas Ragsdale – best known as half of Manchester techno duo Ghosting Season and ambient duo worriedaboutsatan, as well as for his solo project Winter Son), also works as a film composer. He released his new album ‘Bait’ at the end of August via This Is It Forever, to coincide with the screening of Dominic Brunt’s film of the same name at Film4 Frightfest.

Thomas Ragsdale, 2015

The album started life as a film score to the UK thriller; but rather than just release the various background drones and atmospheres, Ragsdale re-opened the files he’d given Brunt and started to re-imagine the whole thing as one complete album, as opposed to merely a soundtrack. Thomas adds “after carefully editing the original soundtrack by expanding on some parts, and cutting back on others, ‘Bait’ was sequenced to take you down a similar path to the movie: at once beautiful as it is beguiling, intense as it is disturbing – shimmering drones give way to gnarled bass, refracting synth lines clatter over arctic atmospheres.” This night we’ll see the full fruits of his labours in a multi-media performance.

Tickets are available here.

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And finally…

LUME logo

Andre Canniere (LUME @ The Vortex Jazz Club, 11 Gillett Square, London, N16 8AZ, UK, Sunday 4th October 2015, 7.30pm) – £8.00/£10.00

LUME pitch in with some words:

For our October gig at the Vortex, we are pleased to welcome the fantastic trumpet player and LUME On Tour survivor Andre Canniere!

Andre Canniere is an acclaimed trumpet player, composer and educator. Originally from rural Pennsylvania (USA), he spent the first five years of his career in New York City where he worked with artists such as Maria Schneider, Bjorkestra, Kate McGarry, Ingrid Jensen, Donny McCaslin and Darcy James Argue. He has toured widely throughout the United States and Europe with performances at Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Birdland, the London Jazz Festival, The Hague Jazz Festival and the Rochester International Jazz Festival.

Since his arrival in the UK, Canniere’s profile has been steadily rising, both as a solo artist and a collaborator. ‘Coalescence’ (defined as “the union of diverse things into one body or form”) is his second release for Whirlwind Recordings and follows the critically acclaimed debut ‘Forward Space’, which Jazzwise Magazine hailed as “one of the best recordings in a long time” and included in their Albums of the Year list. Tonight Canniere presents his exciting new band – himself on trumpet plus Brigitte Beraha (voice), Tori Freestone (tenor saxophone), John Turville (piano), Dave Manington (bass), Tim Giles (drums) – performing new music inspired by the poetry of Charles Bukowski and Rainer Maria Rilke.

More on upcoming October gigs shortly, as I take a look at the second week…

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