Tag Archives: Basel (Switzerland)

January 2019 – upcoming London experimental gigs – Marianne Schuppe’s ‘slow songs, nosongs’ (9th January)

5 Jan

I’ve got to admit, I like a complicated song. Blame all of that prog I grew up listening to; blame my interest in Sondheim and Flanders & Swann; or my time in choirs singing extended classical pieces… but whether it’s a case of stretching the lyrical format with streams of words or internal rhymes or of massing the music with variations, countermelodies or sundry intrusions, I like songs which develop quickly and boldly into something more extensive than a couple of riffs, a chorus and a bit of moon-in-june.

Marianne Schuppe, 2018

Marianne Schuppe, 2018

Encountering the kind of song which works at the other extreme, though, can be a real head-turner… and if it’s done right, it takes my breath away. The Swiss singer-composer Marianne Schuppe has been making a name for herself with this kind of song, this kind of singing, for about two decades now. It’s not the only thing she does (she’s a member of the Wandelweiser group of avant-garde composers, contributing instrumental and noise work, and she improvises with a variety of other musicians including Alfred Zimmerlin), but this particular aspect of her work stands out in its uncluttered boldness, its Zenlike simplicity and focus on only the necessary elements.

If you’re approaching this from a pop or avant-pop context, you could draw some comparisons with the more hovering, trepidatious interludes in modern-day Scott Walker, with Nico’s work on ‘The Marble Index’, or with the song whispers of Anja Garbarek’s ‘Smiling & Waving’. Aficionados of classical music could probably pick closer analogies – I could cite some aspects of Eleanor Armer‘s songcraft, for example – and a significant part of Marianne’s reputation comes from her dips into the indeterminate end of contemporary classical, making interpretations of the elusive, protracted song-murmurs of Morton Feldman and Giacinto Scelsi (with their minimal pitching, silences and opportunity to make every pared phrase count).

Yet for the most part Marianne’s own songs seem to bud out of the air spontaneously, any motivations or influences hidden within the moment. She’s stated that her prime interest as a composer-performer is “the voice’s ability to move between pure sound and words”; and while for many experimental vocalisers this is an excuse for splurging, showy explosions of babbling glossolalia, for her it’s an opportunity to slow liminal skating, shading almost imperceptibly between a lone, literally meaningful word and a lacuna of non-literal meaningful noise-tone, all within a low, minimal enclosure of soprano range like a deliquescing icicle. Marianne accompanies herself by placing an acoustic lute flat on a table top (a la Keith Rowe) and extracting notes from it via “uber-bows” – homemade bastard cousins of EBows, those hand-held electro-magnetic note inducers which add those sustained whooping tones to certain spacier rock songs (from Fade Away And Radiate, The Unforgettable Fire and Don’t Fear The Reaper to… oh, yes, R.E.M.’s Ebow The Letter) or the bookending humming halos to John Cage’s harp work ‘Postcard From Heaven’.

The sparse tonal wellings which result sound nothing like string plucks, and nothing like the accompaniments to a John Dowland lute lay. They’re amorphous bodies of tone, forced up like the first emergence of spring-waters, or the work of sine-tone generators. It’s a peculiar, unexpected use of an instrument with such an extensive body of associated work and history: like a kind of musical exorcism or automatic writing exercise, dipping below the surface of how the instrument functions in order to access a different expectation-disrupting voice. As for the songwords, they’re strange passes at impressions and impulses which might, if looked at too closely, disappear under the weight of logic. As text, they’re almost white-on-white – fragments of stories and encounters involving sunhats and deer, or studies of fingers – minimal anchors to latch onto slivers of ideas which Marianne can follow uninterrupted and undistracted, and let go whenever she sees fit.

 
Marianne’s slot next week at Café Oto showcases – or, more accurately, liberates – songs of these kind from two of her recent albums: 2015’s ‘slow songs’ and its 2018 cousin ‘nosongs’. In terms of vision and artistic platforming it ought to be very much an Oto show, although perhaps the venue’s friendly, expansive, post-industrial intellectual feel isn’t the perfect match. Ideally, these songs belong in the smallest, quietest space possible. A welcoming cellar somewhere, accessed by a winding symbolic stair; and with a silent, attentive, deep-listening audience hand-cupping songs and singer in a cell of absolute attention.

Marianne Schuppe: ‘slow songs, nosongs’
Café Oto, 18-22 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London, E8 3DL, England
Wednesday 9 January 2019, 7.30pm
– information here
 

October/November 2016 – upcoming gigs – a European tour for string trio improvisers In The Sea (25th October to 23rd November)

21 Oct

From late October to late November, improvising string trio In The Sea are out on a European tour taking in the Netherlands, England, Scotland, France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria.

Comprising three French-Canadian musicians – veteran cellist and singer/ranter Tristan Honsinger, double bass player Nicolas Caloia and violinist Joshua Zubot – their music’s a raucous and brainy mashing and grinding of box-battering extended classical techniques, transmigrated hot jazz swing, jaunty folk dances and texts declaimed in conversational squawks. It’s full of both swarming bow torture and tunefulness, continually flickering over the line between impetuous noise and structured, harmonious discipline: something fostered and nurtured by the enthusiastic understanding running between all three players.


Information on the tour dates is variable (some of it’s only up in sketchy details right now) but here’s what I have at time of posting:

  • Oorsprong @ Plantagedok, Dokzaal, Plantage Doklaan 8-12, 1018 CM Amsterdam, Netherlands, Monday 24th October 2016, 7.00pm
  • The Horse Improv Club @ IKLECTIK, Old Paradise Yard, 20 Carlisle Lane, Waterloo, London, SE1 7LG, England, Tuesday 25th October 2016, 8.00pm (with Adam Bohman/Adrian Northover/Hutch Demouilpied/Sue Lynch)information
  • Safehouse @ The Verdict, 159 Edward Street, Brighton, BN2 0JB, England, Wednesday 26th October 2016, 8.00pm (with Gus Garside/James Parsons + The Wildcard Quartet)– information here and here
  • Xposed Club @ Francis Close Hall, University of Gloucestershire, Swindon Road, Cheltenham, GL50 4AZ, England, Friday 28th October 2016, 8.00pm (with Mike Adcock & Pete Robson)information
  • The Old Hairdressers, 23 Renfield Lane, Glasgow, G2 6PH, Scotland, Saturday 29th October 2016, 8.00pm (with Bravest Boat + Richard Youngs)information
  • Sproggits @ Wharf Chambers, 23-25 Wharf Street, Leeds, LS2 7EQ, England, Monday 31st October 2016, 8.00pm
  • Fizzle @ The Lamp Tavern, Barford Street, Birmingham, B5 6AH, England, Tuesday 1st November 2016, 7.30pm
  • Terminus, 7 Avenue Gare, 57200 Sarreguemines, France, Thursday 3rd November 2016
  • Off-Bar, Offenburgerstrasse 59, Basel 4057, Switzerland, Friday 4th November 2016
  • Jazzatelier Ulrichsberg, Badergasse 2, 4161 Ulrichsberg, Austria, Saturday 5th November 2016, 8.00pm
  • Misterioso Jazz Club @ Das Institut, Elisabethenstrasse 14a, 3. Stock, 8004 Zürich, Switzerland, Tuesday 8th November 2016, 8.00pm
  • La Nef, Rue Saint-Hubert 17, 2340 Le Noirmont, Switzerland, Thursday 10th November 2016
  • Cafè des Arts di Coucourda Luca, Via Principe Amedeo 33, 10123 Torino, Italy, Saturday 12th November 2016
  • Machito, Via Argentero 4/G Torino (piazza nizza), Torino, Italy, Sunday 13th November 2016
  • Musique Rayonnante @ Centro di Ricerca Musicale @ Angelica, Via San Vitale 63-67,40125 Bologna, Italy, Tuesday 15th November 2016, 8.30pm
  • Kulturforum Villach, Postgasse 6 9500 Villach, Austria, Thursday 17th November 2016
  • Hybrida, Tarcento, Italy, Friday 18th November 2016
  • Limmitationes @ Gasthaus Rudolf Pummer, 7561 Heiligenkreuz im Lafnitztal, Obere Hauptstraße 11, Lafnitztal, Austria, Saturday 19th November 2016, 7.00pm (with Trio 876 & Jean Demey)information
  • Fluc Praterstern 5, A-1020 Wien, Austria, Wednesday 23rd November 2016

There’s a little information about some of the support acts and bill sharers. In London and Brighton, there’ll be sets by what are effectively the house improv bands. At the Horse Improv Club, it’ll be the free array of Adam Bohman (amplified objects), Adrian Northover (sax/electronics), Hutch Demouilpied (trumpet/flute) and Sue Lynch (tenor sax/clarinet). At Safehouse, it’ll be the duo of Gus Garside (double bass and electronics) and drummer/percussionist James Parsons: there’ll also be a performance by The Wildcard Quartet, Safehouse’s usual four-piece of randomly selected names from the Brighton improv community. (For two Wildcard examples, see the murky video clip I’ve trawled up below, plus the rather more viewable one under that…)



 
At Cheltenham’s Xposed Club, In the Sea will be supported by the piano duo of Mike Adcock and Pete Robson. In Glasgow, they’re part of a three-act show – the other two acts being Glaswegian-Bradfordian exploratory collective Bravest Boat (longstanding guitar duo Stevie Jones and Jer Reid, plus viola player/singer Aby Vulliamy, trombonist George Murray and violinist Rafe Fitzpatrick) and the quixotic, master-of fuzzy-genre voyager Richard Youngs (whose list of collaborators and fellow-sparkers stretches from Jandek to Skullflower and Acid Mothers Temple, and whose work frequently features soft songs with avant-garde interruptions).



 
Later on in the tour – in the Austrian town of Lafnitztal, close to the Hungarian border – In The Sea will be playing on a bill with the “close, loose” trans-European Trio 876 (featuring Italian avant-jazz percussionist Marcello Magliocchi, Belgian total-voice artist Jean-Michel van Schouwburg and Swiss violin master Matthias Boss). For the latter, expect a quick, febrile and knowing shuffle of everything from structured tunes, mouth sputters, blind charges, yodelling, singing and elements from both “logic and fantasy”: in other words, a full gamut. Belgian double bassist Jean Demey will be guesting, rendering the trio a full quartet for this particular evening – but for original trio action, see below.


 

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