Tag Archives: Arthur Russell

June 2017 – upcoming English gigs – the return of Pram with the immersive ‘Under the Blossom That Hangs On The Bough’ event in Birmingham (June 3rd); Zarjaz Baby and Jon Slade/Night of the Comet in London (June 3rd); Arthur Russell’s ‘Calling Out Of Context’ revisited in London (June 7th)

23 May

Some shows and events to start June off. In Birmingham, experimental dream pop/post rock band Pram (one of the most original and charming groups ever to work in either genre) have resurfaced and are taking over an Edgbaston park for a very different kind of performance. Back in London there are opportunities to catch up with Zarjaz Baby (one of the wilder characters from the original wave of British post-punk) an acoustic set from Jon Slade (who’s navigated his way through a heap of scenes from art-punk to Riot Grrl to a thousand indie DJ nights); and a recreation of the cello/pop songs of Arthur Russell, one of the darlings of the 1980s New York loft music scene.

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Pram: 'Under The Blossom That Hangs On The Bough', 3rd June 2017

for-Wards, MAC Birmingham and Pram present:
Pram: ‘Under the Blossom That Hangs On The Bough’
Martineau Gardens, 27 Priory Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B5 7UG, England
Saturday 3rd June 2017, 4:30pm
– free event – information here, here and here

“Composers and sonic artists Pram have been exploring south Birmingham with the help of local community groups to uncover the sounds of the locality. The results are both familiar and surprising.

“Let Pram take you on a journey through the city, a sound trail through the four wards of Birmingham’s Edgbaston district. Hear the world from the perspective of a bee as it flutters and forages. The snuffles of a tiny baby become the snores of a lion, the gurgle of a stream a mighty cataract. Come along and follow the woodland trail, bring a picnic and settle down for a performance inspired by the sound of the city as you’ve never heard it before.

“Set in the magical surroundings of Martineau Gardens, ‘Under the Blossom that Hangs on the Bough’ is an installation and performance by Pram, celebrating the sounds of Edgbaston. It will take place at Martineau Gardens on the afternoon of Saturday 3rd June, concluding at 6.30pm with a Pram performance inspired by sound recordings made in the wards of Quinton, Harborne, Edgbaston and Bartley Green. Free admission if you register at Eventbrite…”

This isn’t quite the same Pram that charmed us and subverted pop for a surprisingly long stint in the ’90s and noughties across a string of albums which included ‘Dark Island’ and ‘Sargasso Sea’ and a sound that seemed to be part child’s murmur, part clinking post-kosmische stroll and part friendly haunted house. Most obviously, singer and lyricist Rosie Cuckston (she who used to mount her keyboard on an ironing board at concerts) is absent, having moved on into academia and a more direct form of the social activism which the band’s eclectic inclusiveness and tendency to take philosophical side roads only hinted. That said, the rest of the band’s original creative core (multi-instrumentalists Matt Eaton, Sam Owen and Max Simpson) are all present, having spent the interim years of Pram downtime working with wonky loops as Two Dogs, creating film and theatre sound and making sonic art out of books with the Sound Book Project.

This also isn’t the first time that the post-Rosie Pram’s reappeared. Earlier in May they made an appearance at Imaginary Musics in Switzerland, playing a “music for Kopfkino” audio-visual set in a festival dedicated to “cinematic, recomposed and fictional musics”, and it seems as if losing Rosie’s quiet reflective voice and cocooned lyrics has shifted them further over into the areas suggested by Matt’s sound design and by Sam and Max’s live sound art. On-spec, it seems as if they’ve succeeded in becoming a kind of “post-band”, with a foot in their old live work, song-structures and performance coherence, but leaning towards something far more abstract and ego-free. ‘Under the Blossom That Hangs On The Bough’ sounds as if it will be something fascinating to be immersed in – an urban psychedelic afternoon stroll with the family, an aural refraction of Birmingham through leaves, greenery and company.

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Zarjaz Baby + Jon Slade, 3rd June 2017

Zarjaz Baby + Jon Slade
The Horse Hospital, The Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London, WC1N 1JD, England
Saturday 3rd June 2017, 7.00pm
information

“An existentialist extravaganza featuring a solo acoustic set from Zarjaz Baby (Freakapuss and former Tronics). Zarjaz will be performing dark atmospheric songs, full of imagery, with jazz, blues, early ’60s beat and pop influences, with live performance artists, in a style not seen since the basement and candles days of Beatniks.

“Also featured on the night is a solo acoustic Love-Rock revival set from Jon Slade/Knight Of The Comet, incorporating songs from his former bands Huggy Bear and Comet Gain, plus a Fire Department number, some Electric Bull re-workings, as well as songs he wrote with Wolfy Jones.


 
“’60s European pop music in between sets, Francoise Hardy, Brigitte Bardot, Gillian Hills. Expect sombre girls dressed in black and boys in Breton shirts.”

For more information contact incoming@freakapuss.com

For more on Zarjaz’s chequered life and career, have a read of this interview he did with ‘The Quietus’ three years ago, featuring accounts of brushes with mental illness, of releasing surreal post-punk songs with titles like Shark Fucks, of arguing with ‘2000AD’ over his stage name, and of having his image ripped off by Sigue Sigue Sputnik.


 
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Arthur Russell: 'Calling Out Of Context', 7th June 2017

XOYO Live and Milestones present:
‘Arthur Russell – A Classic Reinterpreted’
XOYO, 32-37 Cowper Street, St Lukes, London, EC2A 4AP, England
Wednesday 7th June 2017, 7.00pm
– information here and here

“It’s been said that “Arthur’s songs were so personal that it seems as though he simply vanished into his music.”

“Twenty-five years after Arthur Russell‘s death, some of the most exciting, forward-thinking faces in music are set to present a unique rendition of Arthur Russell’s timeless album ‘Calling Out Of Context’. A posthumous album that brought together twelve incredible tracks from across two previously unreleased LPs, ‘Calling Out Of Context’ represents Arthur in his prime. Two decades later and the music sounds as contemporary as ever – a huge inspiration for those performing on the night. We’re very excited to hear this new rendition.”

Bringing together elements of electropop, classical minimalism, post-disco, hip hop and singer-songwriter work, the ‘Calling Out Of Context’ songs span twenty years of Arthur’s composing and creative history while he was battling to fuse the parallel New York worlds of dance culture and art music between the late ’70s and the early ’90s – a pioneer of the freewheeling musical eclectism which today we pretty much take for granted. Take a look at this salvaged 1987 interview feature from the ‘Melody Maker’ for more on the topic, featuring reflections from Arthur and others on Indian music, the pulse shared by formal minimalism and New York dance clubs, and the social and cultural challenges of the time regarding blending “high” and “low” cultures.

The band for this London performance consists of Ashley Henry (keyboards), Midori Jaeger (cello), Alica Higgins (vocals), Sam Gardner (drums) and Joe Downard (bass).


 

Upcoming London gigs (Rumour Cubes in Camden on Friday 7th August, Arthur Russell Instrumentals in Bethnal Green on Monday 10th August)

6 Aug

More quick London gig news – art rock, post-rock, electronica, and a dash of classic New York downtown.

Rumour Cubes + Dresda + kontakte @ Facemelter, August 2015

Rumour Cubes + Dresda + kontakte @ The Facemelter (The Black Heart, 2-3 Greenland Place, Camden, London, NW1 0AP, UK, Friday 7th August, 7.30pm – £8.00/£6.00)

Sumptuous instrumental and electronic post-rock from ex-Glastonbury and ArcTanGent Festival performers, plus a UK debut.

Post-rock veterans Rumour Cubes have been spreading tentacles of ambient, soaring soundscapes across the globe, catching people’s attention with their classical and electronic nuances, attention to the finest details and unassuming political statements embedded in their writing. Their work with poets and film-makers has allowed them to create a multi-media experience and has propelled them to performances at Glastonbury, ArcTanGent and a support slot for Sólstafir; while their albums ‘The Narrow State’ (2012) and ‘Appearances Of Collections’ (2014) received wide critical acclaim.

Celebrating their tenth anniversary this year,  Dresda hail from Genova, Italy, and will be driving over to make their UK debut. Their music is intricate, dense and introspective yet gloriously cinematic. They have several well-received releases under their belts, including soundtracks for critically acclaimed Italian independent movie ‘The Krolevsky Case’, and the short movie ‘La lingua del disordine’. In 2009, they were featured on the Italian DVD edition of the Canadian documentary ‘RIP! A remix manifesto’, distributed by Feltrinelli Real Cinema nationwide.

Conceived in 2005 from a string of old 4-track demos and further realized via a labyrinth of digital workstations and computer software, kontakte blend organic instrumentation within an electronic and hypnotic framework of programmed beats and pulsing synths. Pooling influences such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai together with Brian Eno, krautrock and shogaze sounds, this duo manages to perfectly blend shimmering electronics and ethereal melodies. They have too many releases to name and have been remixed by many visionaries including Tim Holmes of Death In Vegas, Chris Olley of Six By Seven and Russell. M. Harmon.

More details here, and tickets available here.

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There might also be tickets remaining for the performance of Arthur Russell’s Instrumentals early in the following week. This is a repeat visit of a show that’s been on and off the road at various points around the world since 2012 and which last visited London via Cecil Sharp House earlier this year… so if you missed it before, now’s your chance.

Visions presents: Arthur Russell’s Instrumentals, directed by Peter Gordon @ Visions Festival (Oval Space, 29-32 The Oval London, Bethnal Green, London, E2 9DT, UK, Monday 10th August, 7.30pm – £21.50 plus booking fee)

For those of you who don’t know about Arthur Russell’s turbulent, productive (and sadly curtailed) life, he was a vigorous participant within the downtown New York music scene between the mid-1970s and early 1990s. Having studied as an avant-garde cellist and composer, he rebelled into Manhattan nightlife, vigorous cross-fertilization and event curation. Russell rubbed up against Fluxus, disco, avant-garde theatre, New Wave and no-wave, making the most of the breadth of the prolonged New York creative ferment of the times, feeding his assorted roots and collisions into music of his own.

During the last decade of his life Russell wrote and performed voice-and-cello songs – predominantly solo but employing loops, echo and sundry effects. In these, he synthesized all that he’d learned into what were perhaps his most personal and accessible works. These are probably what he’s best known for now, thanks to the more prominent releases of albums such as ‘World Of Echo’ and ‘Another Thought’, but they’re only one aspect of his work

A notorious perfectionist reknowned for agonised work gestations (and who left hundreds of pieces uncompleted at his death) Russell nonetheless completed what was, at the time a remarkably bold, broad and modern array of work from orchestral pieces and theatre music to forays into electro-pop and dance music under project names including Dinosaur (for ‘Kiss Me Again’) and Loose Joints (‘Tell You Today’). Today this kind of equivalence and eclecticism is more commonplace in the orchestral or ensemble work of composers such as John Zorn, Django Bates, Anna Meredith or Tansy Davies. In the 1970s, though, Russell was a pioneer, notoriously shocking the staider elements of his avant-garde classical audience with ‘24-24 Music’ (a contemporary classical piece equating the pulses and disciplines of New York minimalism with those of disco music).

Coming from the zone of Russell’s talent which drew most on his contemporary classical roots, ‘Instrumentals’ is an example of his chamber music, Dating from the late ‘70s, it was initially conceived as a forty-eight hour piece, its duration far exceeding even the infamously massy protracted works of Morton Feldman. Versions of the work were performed over the years, and a selection of excerpts appeared on a Disques du Crepuscule release in the mid-‘80s.

The piece as it stands owes much to Russell’s friend Peter Gordon, a fellow eclectician from the 1970s downtown scene and Russell’s bandmate in The Flying Hearts and Gordon’s own ongoing Love Of Life Orchestra. Gordon worked closely on the original performed version, assisting on keyboards, arrangement and notation. Two decades after Russell’s death in 1992, Gordon brought a new version of ‘Instrumentals’ back to The Kitchen (Russell’s old home venue in Manhattan. Following the initial sold-out performance in March 2012, Gordon has periodically revived and toured the new arrangement. The performance at Oval Space will feature several members of Russell’s original ensemble, and will also feature photographs by Yuko Nonomura which were projected during the original 1975/78 Manhattan performances of ‘Instrumentals’.

More information and tickets are available here.

 

Arthur Russell Instrumentals @ Oval Space, August 2015

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