Tag Archives: John Dowland

April 2018 – upcoming London classical/experimental/folk gigs – Caterina Barbieri solotronic set at Kammer Klang, plus Zwerm Ensemble and the RAM’s Experimental Music Ensemble playing Feldman, Dowland, Brown and Baillie (3rd April); the ‘What is England?’ festival including Bishi/Jeff Cook’s ‘The Good Immigrant”, Ansuman Biswas, Suna Alan and John Spiers (20th-23rd April)

28 Mar

Dips into the mid-twentieth century New York School (including its work with graphic scores) and into unintentionally sprightly electronica characterise a surprisingly sober, instrumentally-based April show for Kammer Klang.

Kammer Klang, 3rd April 2018Kammer Klang presents:
Kammer Klang: Caterina Barbieri + Zwerm Ensemble (playing John Dowland, Earle Brown and Joanna Baillie) + RAM Experimental Music Ensemble (playing Morton Feldman)
Café Oto, 18-22 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London, E8 3DL, England
Tuesday 3rd April 2018, 7.30pm
– information here and here

Opening, the Royal Academy of Music’s Experimental Music Ensemble present Morton Feldman‘s rarely-performed, highly textured septet piece ‘The Straits Of Magellan’. Dating back to 1961, the piece’s graphical score is an array of coded time boxes, each containing representative symbols for single or simultaneous notes/durations/colourations; while the dynamics of the composition are explicitly and sternly noted (with minimal note attacks, a generally quiet approach but multiple instructions for glissandi, harmonics etc), the pitches are left entirely up to the players’ choices. Here’s one of the many possible interpretations:


 
In the middle of the bill are Belgian electric guitar quartet Zwerm Ensemble (avant-garde favourites whose collaborations and performance credits include Fred Frith, Mauro Pawlowski, Larry Polansky, Eric Thielemans, Yannis Kyriakides and Etienne Guilloteau) The four members (Toon CallierJohannes WestendorpBruno Nelissen and Kobe van Cauwenberghe) will present arrangements of ‘Semper Dowland, Semper Dolens’ (by peerless Renaissance lute composer John Dowland), ‘December 1952’ (by twentieth century “open form” pioneer Earle Brown,and, like the Feldman piece, sourced from a graphic score) plus a performance of ‘Last Song From Charleroi’, a new seventeen-minute work for four electric guitars and tape composed by Joanna Bailie. Examples of playing, pieces and general composer tone below…





 
Headlining, Italian composer and voltage-controlled-sequencer specialist Caterina Barbieri will perform a solo electronic set of her “ecstatic computation” music. Berlin-based, she explores “themes related to machine intelligence and object oriented perception in sound through a focus on minimalism” and “psycho-physical effects of repetition and pattern-based operations in music, by investigating the polyphonic and polyrhythmic potential of sequencers to draw severe, complex geometries in time and space.”

In practise, this is surprisingly accessible. Her work (including her recent ‘Patterns Of Consciousness’ album, composed entirely on Verbos Harmonic Oscillator and ER-101 Indexed Quad Sequencer) initially sounds closer to the pop-synth airiness of Kraftwerk or Tangerine Dream records from the ‘70s; even to the rhythmic clink of Larry Heard or the warm chitter of Jean-Michel Jarre. But even if there are similarities to ‘Pong’ or ‘Popcorn’ – especially live – this is merely a side effect of structure. Caterina’s work is intended as an austere examination of qualities: its primitive but plaintive blippery coming about due to her wish to avoid signature synth sounds, concentrating instead on careful shifts of accenture, attack and shaping on basic sine tones, accelerating and decelerating. The emotional content – like the unexpected danceability – apparently comes despite her intentions. Live, she fits right in with populist EM; sometimes, though, in the studio, she can come across as more raw, glitchy and forbidding. Perhaps in the tougher Kammer Klang environment, more of this side will will emerge.


 
* * * * * * * *

Information’s starting to come through on a defiantly heterogenous and diverse festival springing up in Stoke Newington towards the end of the month, delving into electroclassical and folk music forms, queerness, multiculturalism and the concept of English nationality in (and in spite of) ugly times. Details on this are still taking shape, so I’ll drop in what I’ve got now and add to it later, when I can…

The Old Church, The Nest Collective & others present:
‘What is England?’
The Old Church, Stoke Newington Church Street, Stoke Newington, London, N16 9ES, England,
20th-23rd April 2018, various times
– information here

'What Is England?', 20th-23rd April 2018“A four-day festival in the run up to St George’s Day, ‘What Is England?’ offers a chance for everyone to reimagine ‘Englishness’ in an inclusive, welcoming way, at a time when a toxic form of nationalism is on the rise.

“The festival includes the European debut of ‘The Good Immigrant’, an electroclassical song cycle for voice looper, sitar and electronics about race and identity by vocalist/composer Bishi. Co-produced with composer and sound designer Jeff Cook, the song cycle received its world premiere at The Ferus Festival in January 2018 in New York. The music is inspired by ‘The Good Immigrant’ by Nikesh Shukla, a collection of essays by 21 BAME writers, ruminating on race & identity in contemporary Britain. Each song is a response to a particular essay in the book, with special audio quotes sampled in from personal interviews conducted with writers Nikesh Shukla, Salena Godden and Darren Chetty, ending with a choral setting of Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Where The Mind is Without Fear’.

“In this work, Bishi takes a personal & intersectional journey reflecting on her experiences. As a British-Bengali daughter of immigrants, adopted by London’s community of alternative queer nightlife, she has lived through a unique cross-section of London’s contemporary urban landscape. ‘The Good Immigrant’ is a call to arms to explore our differences so that we may find more unity and empathy in a divided world. Having been trained in eastern and western classical music, and experienced performing in a Bulgarian choir, Bishi takes her influences from a variety of musical styles. Major musical influences include electronic producers Burial and Arca, and vocalists such as Meredith Monk and Lisa Gerrard.


 
“Also as part of the festival, modern folk initiative The Nest Collective presents a very special St George’s day involving established and merging talent in English folk, again looking at the idea of Englishness. Confirmed artists so far include Ansuman Biswas, Suna Alan and John Spiers.

“Believing that “music spreads throughout the environment like a perfume.. it soaks into the fabric of other things and people”, Ansuman is an Kolkata-born percussionist, interdisciplinary artist and composer who has been commissioned by Tate Modern, National Theatre, English Ballet and has worked with Bjork and the London Philharmonic Orchestra and in world music hybrid quartet Newanderthal (“four humans, three continents”). Suna is a Kurdish/Alevi singer based in London whose family moved to Smyrna (Izmir) in her early childhood (meaning that much of her formative years were spent surrounded by traditional Kurdish dengbêj music and Kurdish-Alevi laments within a rich cosmopolitan cultural environment). Her main focus is Kurdish folk songs from the four regions of Kurdistan, namely Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, but her repertoire also includes Armenian, Greek, Sephardic and Turkish songs. John Spiers, known better in folk circles as Squeezy, has made a name for himself as one of the leading squeezebox players of his generation, playing with Eliza Carthy’s Ratcatchers band, Bellowhead and the duo Spiers and Boden (with Jon Boden).”




 
Rough details on the festival dates and events below: with panel events, DJs and an as-yet-unrevealed event for the Sunday slot, expect things to expand. With ‘The Quietus’ involved, I wouldn’t be surprised if a New Weird Britain strand began to weave its way into proceedings…

  • Friday 20 April, 7.00pm – festival launch: ‘The Good Immigrant’, plus NTS and The Quietus DJs and What Is England? panel eventtickets
  • Saturday 21 April, 10.30am – OPEN: Morning including “make-you-own-flag” event with OPEN:Art/Output Arts tickets
  • Saturday 21 April, 7.00pm – The Good Immigrant, with DJs and ‘The Good Nationalist?’ panel eventtickets
  • Sunday 22 April – details t.b.c.
  • Monday 23 April, 7.00pm – Nest Collective’s St George’s day event featuring Ansuman Biswas, Suna Alan, John Spiers and others t.b.c.tickets

 

REVIEW – Matthieu Jacquot: ‘Plucked String Instrument Recital’ EP, 2009 (“a thoughtful, analytical performer”)

8 Sep
Matthieu Jacquot: 'Plucked String Instrument Recital'

Matthieu Jacquot: ‘Plucked String Instrument Recital’

Matthieu Jacquot – a Parisian classical guitarist and lutenist – is not yet an established name. On the basic of this EP he’s not only worth a listen, but worth some serious consideration.

‘Plucked String Instrument Recital’ may have been recorded, primarily, as a pitch for performance work. However, its unromantic (and borderline deconstructed) name and its discreet pushes at performance form reveals not just a skilled player but a thoughtful, analytical performer. Four different repertoire pieces, each by a different composer and arranged in chronological order (two Baroque, two on the cusp of Romanticism and modernism) allow Matthieu not to demonstrate his instrumental mastery of various eras, but also to investigate or imply connections between them.

The first of these, John Dowland’s Preludium (for Renaissance lute but performed here on archlute), is played straight. As a solo lutenist, Matthieu is graceful and expressive, but he’s also played blues, and some of that elastic stretch of time and expression seems to have made it into his classical playing style too, mingling with his sense of rubato. Tackling a second and subsequent Baroque piece (Gaspar Sanz’s Folias, one of the first iterations of one of the most lasting chord progressions of classical music), Matthieu swaps his archlute for classical guitar. Recorded a little more intimately – close enough to hear Matthieu’s breathing – it balances folky earnestness and a strong unhurried classical technique, with fine switches between fingerpicking and rasgueado strums,

It’s during the second half that things stay beautiful, but become a little more interesting. Take – as Matthieu has – Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie #1. Initially composed as a rebellion against Romanticism, it’s been transformed over the years (partially due to the curse of its pretty tune) into a mild-mannered and amiable carthorse. Innumerable interpretations bob across relaxation records. There are pop – or pop-tinged – covers by Sky, Blood Sweat & Tears and Gary Numan. It’s even become a concert apéritif for performances of the Romantic works it was supposed to be kicking against. Matthieu’s own version is ambivalent, but refreshing.

Classical guitar arrangements of the Gymnopédie are commonplace, but Matthieu has avoided standardisation by scoring it as a subtly overdubbed quartet version for himself – a bassline played on one guitar, melody on another, two more to handle the arcs of arpeggio and a second pass at the melody in deft harmonics. He also has no fear of stressing the incipient awkwardness which hovers behind the precise rhythms. In this version, you can hear the work of playing involved, without that taking anything away from his skill. In other hands, the additional swells of overdubbed gong he’s added would be a joke: a superficial New Age attempt to link Satie’s elegant economy of notes to a spurious Oriental tranquility. To be honest, Matthieu may have had a similar idea. However, he uses the gong as part of the ensemble: a piece of punctuation linked to the structuring of the music, a marker of key points. Instead of scenery, it links process and rituals: the musician’s shaping of phrases, the precise physical routines of Asian exercise and centering.

The last piece is the most ambitious. Le Gibet is the second of three demanding narrative pieces Maurice Ravel wrote as a suite for solo piano and called ‘Gaspard de la nuit’. In its original form, it’s bookended by two demanding and vigorous pieces of musical storytelling (both supernaturally themed, both cascading with notes and rhythms. By comparison, Le Gibet is a slice of static narrative, more of an illustration in music, complete with implications. The original scene, as set out by Ravel, is a desert view, a distant gallows in centre view, an equally distant city with the sound of a tolling bell rising from over the walls (the latter carried by an ominous pedal point ostinato).

Matthieu has arranged this as a duet between two guitars, making the most of both the music and the interplay between loss and gain due to the shift in instrumentation. Certainly, something is lost – the effects of the soft felt and pedal dynamics of the piano (so vital in adding the different colours, timbres and volume shifts of Romantic music) can’t be replicated on guitar, and some details fade. Instead, Matthieu’s approach dessicates the music into an additional desert toughness. The creaks of string noise and of shifting posture, the dry attack of the guitars and Matthieu’s plentiful use of harmonics – all of this takes away Ravel’s detailed coloration and turns his narrative into a sharp, leathery etching; a musical concentrate of the scene. It’s like someone reshooting a film along less forgiving, more minimal lines; or curing Ravel’s desert fantasy down to biltong.

Throughout, Matthieu draws implicit connections via his playing style; his sparse economy drawing a line between Satie’s proto-minimalism, Downland’s perfect miniature, the precise structure of the Folias and the concentration of his own arrangement of Ravel. Among the plucking, some enquiring tweaks.

Matthieu Jacquot: ‘Plucked String Instrument Recital’
Matthieu Jacquot (self-released)
Download-only EP
Released: 21st August 2009

Buy it from:
Bandcamp

Matthieu Jacquot online:
Homepage Facebook Twitter Bandcamp

ATTN:Magazine

Not from concentrate.

Xposed Club

improvised/experimental/music

I Quite Like Gigs

Music Reviews, music thoughts and musical wonderings

Make Weird Music

Because 4 chords aren't enough

A jumped-up pantry boy

Same as it ever was

PROOF POSITIVE

A new semi-regular gig in London

We need no swords

Static and debris. Skronk and wail. This is music?

:::::::::::: Ekho :::::::::::: Women in Sonic Art

Celebrating the Work of Women within Sonic Art: an expanding archive promoting equality in the sonic field

Ned Raggett Ponders It All

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Headphone Commute

honest words on honest music

Yeah I Know It Sucks

an absurdist review blog

Pop Lifer

Waiting for the gift of sound and vision

Archived Music Press

Scans from the Melody Maker and N.M.E. circa 1987-1996

The Weirdest Band in the World

A search for the world's weirdest music, in handy blog form

OLD SCHOOL RECORD REVIEW

Where You Are Always Wrong

Fragile or Possibly Extinct

Life Outside the Womb

a closer listen

a home for instrumental and experimental music

Bird is the Worm

New Jazz: We Search. We Recommend. You Listen.

Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

eyesplinters

Just another WordPress.com site

FormerConformer

Striving for Difference

musicmusingsandsuch

The title says it all, I guess!

songs from so deep

Songs and sound. Guitars and stuff.

%d bloggers like this: