Here’s some close-to-the-event news about an imminent avant-garde, fringing-on-noise event in Hackney; plus news on one of the oddest upcoming tours that I’ve ever had the pleasure of previewing in here.
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St John Sessions present:
Morton Subotnick + Kevin Drumm & Jason Lescalleet + Áine O’Dwyer
St John at Hackney Church, Lower Clapton Road, Clapton, London, E5 0PD, England
Tuesday 1st November 2016, 7.00pm – information here and here
Full description scrounged from various press releases:
“Innovators and sonic architects come together for a St John Sessions performance.
Morton Subotnick is a true electronic pioneer who has worked extensively with interactive electronics and multi-media performance (often in collaboration with his wife, vocal virtuoso Joan La Barbara). With Pauline Oliveros and Ramon Sender, Subotnick co-founded the San Francisco Tape Center, an influential cultural organisation and electronic music studio. The Centre was instrumental in the invention and development of the Buchla synthesizer and was, in turn, a fundamental influence on all electronic music that followed.
“Subotnick is an innovator in works involving instruments and other media, including interactive computer music systems. Most of his music calls for a computer part, or live electronic processing; his oeuvre utilizes many of the important technological breakthroughs in the history of the genre. Tonight, Subotnick performs a solo set on the Buchla synthesizer – undulating, moving and almost psychedelic.
“Preceding this performance, we are pleased to present the debut UK performance from Kevin Drumm and Jason Lescalleet. Emerging from Chicago’s improvised music scene during the 1990s, Kevin became one of the world’s pre-eminent prepared guitar players, later expanding his work to include electroacoustic compositions and live electronic music made with laptop computers and analog modular synthesizers. His early recordings contain mostly sparse, quiet sounds; recent works have been more loud and dense. For twenty years, Jason has been making electro-acoustic sound work, using all manner of source material to engage listeners in both site and narrative by providing a rich and physical sense of place. Two formidable musicians and performers in their own right, their collaborative releases on Erstwhile Records create a soundworld that is at turns beautiful and terrifying, comprising ambient recordings and brooding drone.
“Irish musician Áine O’Dwyer creates chance- and improvisation-based compositions, and has performed widely as a solo artist on harp, organ and various objects, and also regularly performs with United Bible Studies, Charlemagne Palestine and Mark Fry. Her album of improvised church organ music, ‘Music for Church Cleaners’ (released on MIE last year), received critical acclaim. Here, she brings her idiosyncratic approach to composition to sacred space once more.”
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You might not have thought that a person could still bring what’s essentially a party trick into culture houses and make a career of it; but if so, Judy Dunaway is proving you wrong…
“Judy Dunaway performs avant-garde compositions and free improvisations on amplified latex balloons played as musical instruments. She is known internationally as a ‘virtuoso of the balloon.’ She plays a variety of shapes and sizes of balloon instruments, each with its own special qualities, pushing the extremes of both pitch range and artistic limits. Her large rubbed ‘tenor’ balloon gives Jimi Hendrix’s guitar a run for the money and her giant balloon pulsates into the depths of the subaudio. Her abstract music and sounds are difficult to equate with other forms, depending upon the perception of the individual like the images seen in fire or clouds.”
Below are a couple of videos – one of which is an overview of Judy’s techniques and approaches as regards her ballooning skills (including audience interaction), and one in which she performs uninterrupted.
I’ll admit that (as with most friction-based instrumentation which leans over the borderline into readymade art) listening to this kind of material can end up as a test of endurance in which your mileage and tolerance, plus the outcome, may vary. As far as I know, no-one’s yet tried to tune and tour a scraped blackboard. Yet ultimately, Judy’s commitment to this kind of music making is fascinating. No one-trick pony, she also worked as a guitar-toting singer-songwriter on other occasions up until 1995; but she’s entirely serious about ballooning – publishing papers on her approach, making points about microtonality, and collaborating with string quartets on serious avant-garde compositions. Having mastered a variety of dextrous noise-making techniques which drive the amplifed latex into flexible, cunningly-controlled roars and squeals, she invites us to reconsider a balloon (quite legitimately) as an “orb-shaped string”.
On the other hand, she’s also integrated vibrating dildos into her balloonwork (in one case via a piece called Flying Fuck), so there’s clearly a downtown New York sense of humour at work as well.
Full dates for the European Solo Balloons Tour below:
- Axis Arts Center, Cheshire Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe Green Road, Crewe, CW1 5DU, England, Tuesday 1st November 2016, 7.30pm – information
- Café Oto, 18-22 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London, E8 3DL, England, Thursday 3rd November 2016, 8.00pm – information
- Mex im Künstlerhaus, Sunderweg 1, 44147 Dortmund , Germany, Saturday 5th November 2016, 8.00pm – information
- Dům umění @ Galerie výtvarného umění v Ostravě (Ostrava Museum of Fine Arts), příspěvková organizace Poděbradova 1291/12, 702 00 Ostrava 1, Czech Republic, Wednesday 9th November 2016
- PRAHA/Fórum pro architekturu a média, Husova 18a, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic, Friday 11th November 2016, 8.00pm – information
- Velak Gala, Vienna, Austria, Tuesday 15th November 2016
- Interpenetration @ Volkshaus, Lagergasse 98a, 8020 Graz , Austria, Thursday 17th November 2016, 8.00pm – information
- Audio Art Festival @ Żarówka Cafe, ul. 31-021, Floriańska 20, 33-332 Kraków, Poland, Saturday 19th November 2016, 7.00pm (Manual Eardrums – installation)
- Audio Art Festival, @ Galeria Sztuki Współczesnej Bunkier Sztuki, plac Szczepański 3A, Kraków, Poland, Sunday 20th November 2016, 6.00pm (Balloon Project – performance)
- Academy of Fine Arts, Raciborska 37, Katowice, Poland, Tuesday 22nd November 2016
- Spektrum, Bürknerstraße 12, 12047 Berlin, Germany, Thursday 24th November 2016
- Urban Rituals Festival @ Le Chapelle des Brigittines, Petite rue des Brigittines, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, Saturday 26th November 2016, 8.30pm – information
- fragm/ent @ Bibliothèque universitaire – Saulcy, Place du Saulcy, 57045 Metz Cedex 01, France, Wednesday 30th November 2016, 12.12pm – information