Friday, January 31, 2014

Fred Frith interview by Richard Scott

Guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and composer Fred Frith was a member of the avant-garde rock group Henry Cow who in the ’70s experimented with many improvisational and collective forms. The group had an explicitly socialist outlook, amongst other things performing at the 1977 Music For Socialism Conference. In the 1980s Frith achieved some prominence as a part of New York’s community of free-improvisers and composers along with figures such as John Zorn and Christian Marclay. He currently teaches in the Music Department at Mills College in Oakland, California


It would have been hard to avoid getting into music in my house. Both of my brothers were pretty avid music listeners. One of them is Simon Frith, who is now a pop music journalist, and when I was about five or six in the 50s he was always bringing home 78s of Paul Anka and Johnny Ray and people like that. Then my older brother was into jazz and my father was listening to Bartok and Debussy period classical music, that’s what I mostly remember anyway, I’m sure he listened to a lot of other things too. So in our house music was seldom not a part of the scenery. And we had a piano that I fooled around on and I started violin when I was five years old at my father’s insistence. And I was in the church choir and, you know, all that stuff. So it was very much a part of my life for as long as I can remember.


The first violin teacher I had was very progressive; because she had this theory that I guess was current then about learning to relax, so for the first few lessons I didn’t even touch the violin. I don’t know if you’ve ever been around kids but one thing five year old boys certainly don’t ever want to do is relax, so I did a lot of exercises with my hands and fingers to get me to calm down. Looking back at it was great training, at the time I was frustrated and I used to wonder why I couldn’t play the bloody thing. Later when we moved from Richmond, Yorkshire to York the teachers were much less interesting and I lost interest in the instrument too. That was a result of picking up a guitar when I was about 13, so at that point the violin took a major back seat. And later, much later, I kind of retaught myself violin from a folk point of view, because I only had classical training. I had no less than ten years of serious classical lessons…


When I started the guitar, what was in the air then? I guess I was doing Shadows tunes… The very first reason that I took up the guitar was that there was a band at school who played almost entirely Shadows covers and I really wanted to be in this band, because it was obviously the way to influence people and be popular or whatever it was. I used to sit about at the door when they were rehearsing and wish I could be cool like them. And I went home one school holiday and learnt the entire book of 500 chords you could buy, just like it was a school exam or something. So that was the first thing I did on the guitar so that I could get the job of rhythm guitarist because nobody ever wanted to be rhythm guitarist, they always wanted to be lead guitarist…


After school I went to Cambridge, by then I met a girl who introduced me to the blues and taught me how to fingerpick, and this totally changed my life, finding out about the blues. Its only recently I’ve fully understood what happening then but this was the first music I’d ever heard that was improvised, everything I’d ever been taught up to that point involved me looking at a piece of paper and reading it, even with the Beatles stuff everything was basically exactly like the records, copied faithfully, every note. Whereas with the blues it could be different every time, and it was quite a shock to understand also that instruments were part of you and part of a voice. There’s a kind of vocal aspect to instrumental blues which is very important and which was not present in the other kinds of music that I’d heard up to that point.

I started reading a lot about blues and jazz, I remember reading a book called Hear Me Talkin To Ya by Nat Hentoff, and that really had a big influence on me because it was just like a chance to hear a lot of people talking about what they do in music, and it’s striking if you read that book how much blues has to do with a voice coming straight out of you. For horn players that’s maybe easier to grasp but for guitarists it’s quite difficult to put that into your playing, the detachment of your hands and all the pedagogy involved in producing the notes. The blues loosened me up a whole lot and then I started playing all kinds of stuff.


When I went to Cambridge, 1967, it was a unique period in cultural history in as much as it was just about the birth of the LP as a serious musical form instead of just a series of hits. It was also the beginning of an interest in world music; it was very fashionable to know about Indian music especially but also Korean and Japanese music and all those things. It was possible to be exposed to a load of other culture’s musics in a way that hadn’t been possible before really, except to specialists. In that period, ’67/’68, I was listening to a hell of a lot of different music very fast… I mean, I can distinctly remember hearing the First Soft Machine album, Save Us Milk by Captain Beefheart and Absolutely Free, the Zappa album, in the space of about a couple of days. I was also listening to Berioz and Cage for the first time and Indian sitar playing, so I was seeing and experiencing a lot, and I also got into Flamenco quite a bit.


I played acoustic guitar a lot in folk clubs, and one of the things that I started to do was that I would get an open tuning and improvise kind of ragas, to get the feeling of what Indian musicians were doing. From that, I can’t even remember how it started to happen, I used to do things that involved sound more, not just the notes, I suppose because Indian music has a lot of quarter notes and bent notes you start to get interested not just in standard sounds.

And I started to use the guitar as a drum also, because with a Spanish guitar you can get a lot of really good timbres by hitting it with the soft parts of your hand, you can hit the end and the top, so I was doing this kind of drumming and playing at the same time, but very much harmonically rooted in this Indian modal kind of feeling. So that’s what started me, and in the process I began to hear a note that was generated when you ‘tap’ a guitar; you get two notes, the one that you normally hear and the other one, which is coming from the left side of your left hand, which is not amplified because there’s no body at the other end of the guitar.


I read John Cage and this really made me think a lot about sound and about sound as music and about how the musical vocabulary that I’d been using was very limited in that sense and I was listening to a piece by Berio called Visage which was probably the first piece of really modern music I’d heard, which was basically a sound piece but had a very strong emotional feeling running through it as well, and this must had an impact on my hearing this note, because I wanted to hear more of this note. I started off by gluing a telephone mike to the wrong end of the acoustic guitar, but it actually makes more sense to do it on an electric guitar, so then I put a pickup at the wrong end of an electric guitar, I guess this was ’69, ’70. So I now started to work on a style of playing which where I would play independently with each hand with the added ingredient that I was getting two sets of notes at once.


I met Tim Hodgkinson at Cambridge and he introduced me to a load of jazz that I hadn’t heard; Ornette Coleman, Coltrane, Miles and Mingus. We eventually formed Henry Cow together in 1968. It was more or less fun and remained so for a while. Around 1970 I graduated and we eventually moved to London and began to take ourselves more seriously, mostly as a result of Chris Cutler joining the group. He hadn’t been a student and wasn’t really interested in student attitudes, which I guess we had at that time. We weren’t taking it too seriously, or maybe we were taking it too seriously as a career but weren’t taking it seriously enough on the basis of what we were doing. He tempered that and made us examine what we wanted from the music.


We made our first LP in 1973 with Virgin who had just started. So we were in a position suddenly of having full-page advertisements in the Melody Maker. We started touring France and Holland and coming across musicians who were much closer to us than anybody we’d really come across in England. We played little clubs in Holland, the government had sponsored youth clubs in most towns which were basically places where you could legally smoke pot, get exposed to culture of one kind of another and keep yourself off the street. The audience was usually so stoned they didn’t even notice we’d been on the stage, that was sometimes difficult. France was a lot hotter. So we increasingly got further away from playing here and played in most European countries, continuously touring around and meeting people.


Henry Cow was unusual in incorporating completely improvised pieces into rock concerts in those days. Which put us in an awkward position which some of us still occupy – where on the one hand you’re rejected by the improvising community because you’re seen as dilettante rock musicians who don’t know what they’re doing, and on the other hand you’re rejected by rock musicians because you’re weird improvisers who don’t know anything about rock music. We suffered a lot from that kind of attitude and sometimes still do. It rankled that they could have that kind of attitude, especially amongst some of the LMC players. So in a way Henry Cow was breaking a lot of ground that rock groups hadn’t done before, for example we went in and improvised a whole bunch of different things and then we listened to the improvisations and took out a tape of the parts that we liked and then began to write music or use the studio to treat the sounds to make another structure to go on top of it.


Lol Coxhill played with Henry Cow, in I guess 1972, and after he’d seen me play he said, ‘You should go and see Derek Bailey’. So I went to see Derek play the next week and I was one of two people in the audience – his girlfriend was the other one, which is how it went for him in those days. And we’ve been friends ever since. What was important looking back at it about seeing Derek play for the first time was not even necessarily a technical thing of trying to see what he was doing but the realisation that somebody else was doing something, because you feel so isolated if you’re experimenting or doing something different on an instrument.


You really need feedback and to feel a part of something that’s going on, you can feel so alone. Seeing Derek was like, ‘Yes! Somebody’s out there. Somebody’s doing it, and not only that but they’re doing it in a far more sophisticated way than I am and have developed their own whole language which they’re totally inside of’. He was very impressive because he was so single-minded and clear about what he was doing; this was the most important thing for me. It gave me a lot of encouragement and it gave me the strength to really continue what I was doing and to find out what it was about what I was doing that was really important for me. That was crucial.

Right from the beginning of Henry Cow up until now I’ve been interested in using whatever technology comes to hand. I mean, it’s there for a reason you might as well find out what it does, although a lot of the times I’ve found its more interesting to make it do what it wasn’t supposed to do. And because of this a lot of people who’ve seen me perform tend to think that I’m anti-technology in some way; especially when I was improvising with homemade instruments with kitchen utensils lying around, and beating the guitar with a hammer or a drilling it with a drill. It all seemed very crude, which it was, but the music that came out of it, if you listen to it separately from watching me do it, is not necessarily crude in the way that you might think. But as a result of that people assumed that I was trying to make a statement against whatever technology meant for them. But the contrary is true. I’m only ambivalent to the extent that I don’t accept the design perimeters from people who aren’t even thinking about the kind of music that I do.


More and more musical instruments and musical technology are designed for a set of perimeters that cater to the lowest common denominator; it’s based on things like how clean you can make a sound and how fast you can process. This is very useful in studios to people who are trying to make pop records or who are trying to get the ultimately reproducible snare drum sound or whatever kind of standardisation procedures that the studio is about. And pop music is to do with standardisation.


RS. Henry Cow was one of the first rock groups to take a political stance. Can you tell me about the context of that?
FF: Yes I suppose that’s true, though our politics were often quite variable and often very confused, but we were quite radical. There was never really a political consensus within the group and that was one of the sources of tension. We were into releasing these rather pompous polemical statements about what we were doing, but actually not everybody in the group actually agreed with them so it was like anybody that talked the longest would get their way.
There was certainly a conflict between old-fashioned leftism and Feminism in the group. We were three men and three women which was also quite unusual at that time and Lindsay Cooper had a lot of problems with the rather macho manner in which we expressed ourselves, though that only really became clear through talking to everybody afterwards away from the heat of the moment.


Because on the one hand we were becoming aware of, interested, and wanting to pursue, Feminist ideas and on the other hand we were still doing all the male posturing that we would have done if there hadn’t been women in the group… But in terms of my own political education I can say I learnt more from the process of working with other people in that way than in any other form of education I can think of; travelling on the road with a group of people who are interested in changing all kinds of things and themselves and are finding all sorts of difficulties in so doing. And we were trying to realise all the contradictions we were involved in, and trying to promote ourselves as a band and trying to get away from the star system. There are always problems.


The politics, which were interesting to me, were the politics of collectivity. We made ourselves collective in a conscious and deliberate way, and set about making ourselves self-reliant in a way that was very unusual for a rock band with any kind of commercial success in those days. Of course it was fashionable for bands to travel around in buses but for a band to travel around on a bus, own their own PA system and have there own permanent road crew and administrator, and for everyone to get paid the same amount of money and discuss everything endlessly and be totally committed to this life from a political as well as a musical standpoint was quite unusual.


We would have long and intense meetings all the time, even if it was just to discuss our itinerary, or which piece of equipment we could repair. Because we never had that much money and what we did have mostly had to go into keeping ourselves capable of playing, making sure everyone had strings or reeds and that the speakers weren’t falling out of their cabinets, and we had two vehicles to keep in running order and so on. The way of working that I learnt from that is the way that I’m still doing now; the idea that you work through a community of like-minded people, the idea that you don’t necessarily have to go through an agent to get a gig. You can set up a large network of musicians and people who are interested in music and help each other organise things, that’s still the way I work now, in the states, or in Japan or in Europe, it’s just the same.


People always dismiss it but I like marginality in a way. I embrace it completely. Often I hear music, which is thought of as being totally insignificant and marginal which really has something that makes me interested in music again. Sometimes I look at the charts or the things that people write about music and I realise how totally insignificant what I do is to the vast majority of people. It has no effect, resonance or impact for anybody other than a fairly small group of people. I don’t sell huge amounts of records, I don’t get written about in the press but I do get real feedback, positive and negative, which you don’t get in the other position. So with improvised music I’ve actually turned down gigs unless they’ve been below a certain size, it doesn’t make sense to me to improvise to more than five hundred people at a time. So after a gig people can come up to me and say, ‘What the hell are you doing that shit for?’ I like that sort of contact…
(March 9th 1989.)

From a Chris Cutler Interview:
What can you say about cover artwork of Henry Cow LP's and why did you choose that name?

The name and its origins are shrouded in mystery. No one can remember now. But it was our name and it stayed. The artwork for all three LPs was done by Ray Smith, an old friend from Cambridge, who had worked with us on two dance projects and who often joined us - doing what would now be called performance art (ironing, setting up a tent &c.)  - at concerts. He came up with the woven sock and insisted there be no band name on the front cover, and followed that idea through the whole series, just changing the socks to suit the temper of the music.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

John Scofield Trio

Jozef van Wissem

A Priori (2008)

1. How The Soul Has Arrived At Understanding Of Her Nothingness [9:40]

2. Aerumna

3. Into The Abyss Of Perdition

4. Thelema

5. The Heavens Are Parting And The Spirit Descends Like A Dove

6. De Anima

7. The Soul Leaves The Body In Eternal Glory

Jozef van Wissem - 10 course Renaissance Lute and 13 course Baroque Lute built by Michael Schreiner, Toronto.

Liner notes

"Once some music dropped through my letter-box; let's summon their sounds into our world now, and deliver their names as Roses or Stations. The picture they imagined was both clear and cryptic: the certainties of the 17th century holding tight the ugly beauty that we now see scattered around us. I loved these CDs by Jozef van Wissem, A Rose by any other Name and Stations of the Cross. And then I received a new album, A Priori, and I immediately played it and heard its stark and repetitive intensity, its stately and glacial march. There is nothing quite like it that I have heard before - it is timeless, breathing deeply and exhaling showers of snow, endless circles, mirrors, spirals, the sea. When Jozef plays the lute, he pours out endless space. What can I say but let the rain come, close your eyes and watch the stars fall and rise and fall again." - David Tibet

Jozef Van Wissem's favorite compositional device is the palindrome. The Dutch-born, Brooklyn-based lutenist plays pieces forward, then backward, creating music that is potentially without beginning or end. Although this strategy is rooted in 17th century compositional practice, it still serves his agenda of rescuing his archaic instrument from history's dustbin. His use of mirror-image structures is as informed by Lacanian psychoanalysis as by centuries-old repertoire. A former guitarist with a taste for country blues, Van Wissem came to the instrument as a way of affirming with his essential European-ness; ironically he used an artifact of the Renaissance to accomplish the decidedly post-Freudian pursuit of self-consciously establishing a self-identity. On an even more symbolic level, by constructing pieces that begin where they end and are therefore potentially endless, he subverts the march of time; why can't obsolescence also be reversed?

On other records, Van Wissem has re-contextualized the lute by treating its sounds with electronics, juxtaposing it with field recordings of large public transit facilities, using it to improvise with Tetuzi Akiyama, or enlisting Mauricio Bianchi to transform its resonance into grim noise. A Priori offers his unadulterated take on the instrument, performed without accompaniment or outboard effects. Its sonorities, articulated in unhurried cadences, may sound ancient, but the language of dissonant harmonies, tone clusters, and rare bluesy flourishes to which he applies them is rooted in the 20th century avant-garde, not the time of bards in tights. The way Van Wissem traces and retraces A Priori's seven palindromes, denying the listener any resolution or catharsis, is also pretty contemporary in its attitude of refusal; has there ever been a time besides now when more musicians refuted the expectations of audiences and authorities?

A Priori does not reward casual listening. Its slow cadences and well-proportioned tones feel contemplative, but the lack of pay-off makes the music potentially maddening; it actually stymies linear thought. If you want easily approachable Van Wissem, try his album he and James Blackshaw made as the Brethren of the Free Spirit. This record is best approached as obsessively as it was played. Spin it over and over and eventually the pieces really do lose beginning and end, seeming instead to hover in a timeless now.

By Bill Meyer

Selected Tracks from It Is All That Is Made (2009)

1. It is All That Is Made

2. Sola Fide

Commissioned by the London National Gallery to make a sound response to a painting in their collection. Van Wissem choose The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein.

"On a recent concert tour through Western Europe as a lutenist I asked people what they thought of Hans Holbein's Ambassadors. The consensus was that of a dark static work, dense with hidden and layered meaning. Meant for a private audience, political and religious aspects are mixed together. Above is the crucifix, below is the skull: bones and death; both slightly hidden, they visualize the nature of power. The distorted lute symbolizes brevity and the ephemeral nature of life, it's broken string also sends a message that all is not well between these two empty eyed friends. And the long ignored lute case under the table symbolizes feelings not shared. 

But the skull, a reminder of the imminence of Death, draws me in. As this memento mori reveals itself I find a link between the anamorphic perspective and my own concept of mirror image lute composition. Hence, as a sound response, I decide to begin with a historical, rather minimal lute prelude published in 1536. " Preambel" by German composer Hans Newsidler turns into layered palindromes and creates a parallel to the circular ' from dust to dust' movement as exemplified by the vanitas. The title Sola Fide " (by faith alone) " represents personal loss, absence and justification by faith as suggested by "The Ambassadors" allegory." - Jozef Van Wissem

Ex Patris (2009)
( Important Records, ImpRec 222)

1. The Day is Coming

2. Amor Fati (Love is a Religion)

3. Son of Dawn

4. After the fire has devoured all it will consume itself.

5. Ex Nex

6. Our Hearts Condemn Us

Keep Taking The Tablatures - Jozef van Wissem by Dan Warburton
From the June 2007 issue of the Wire

A palindrome is a word, phrase or sentence that reads the same backward or forward. In its beginning is its end. Time is no longer linear, but circular, past and present confused. A perfect metaphor for the music of Dutch lutenist Jozef van Wissem. Born in Maastricht in 1962, van Wissem took up classical guitar at age 11, and soon discovered transcriptions of Renaissance and Baroque lute music. But the old and the new were soon happily coexisting. Performing a Vivaldi guitar concerto one night and jamming with local punks Mort Subite the next seemed perfectly natural, and Neil Young got as much airplay as Segovia in the family home. When he took up the lute seriously, it was an New Yorker he turned to. "I wanted an American perspective on my own historical background. My teacher Pat O'Brien encouraged me to improvise on classical pieces and write my own material. For the Dutch that would have seemed nothing short of criminal."

Van Wissem's influences span the centuries, from Dowland to Deleuze, Tennyson to Sacher-Masoch. He also waxes lyrical about Lacan's mirror stage theory. "Lacan describes the formation of the ego as a process of identification with one's own specular image; the mirror leads to tension between the subject and the image. I wanted to find a musical parallel to that. Hence palindromes." He began experimenting with lute tablature. "I decided to write it backwards so the pieces would be more open-ended, and end unresolved. Tablature shows you where to put your fingers on the frets, as opposed to normal staff notation which just gives you the notes," he explains. "I use French tablature, the most common. German is too esoteric - there's a different sign for every position - and I don't care for Italian tablature, because I think Italian lute music is horrifying.

" In the same way his notational experiments reconfigure Renaissance lute music into palindromic original compositions, van Wissem uses software to edit his own field recordings into musical mirror images. On 2005's Objects in the Mirror are closer than they appear, he confronts the past / present dualism head on by juxtaposing lute music with recordings made during his travels in airports. "An airport is an acoustic commentary on contemporary society: nervous, alienating and claustrophobic. But it's also like Nature. For me the squeak of suitcase wheels is like birdsong. One day I heard somebody sobbing, and the rest of the airport was quiet. That made a big impression on me. I had to to record it." He describes his forthcoming solo release Stations Of The Cross as a follow-up to Objects, "a commentary on the religious experience of travellers who gather in airports and railway stations. A sort of Mass." Once more it mixes ambient sound with van Wissem's compositions for Renaissance and Baroque lutes.

"I want to take lute music to a wider audience," states van Wissem. Last year's A Rose By Any Other Name was a conscious attempt to do just that, 22 obscure anonymous late Renaissance pieces "picked for their contemporary nature and 'rock' feel. Lamento di Tristano had already been recorded by John Renbourn." Van Wissem also broadens his audience by collaborating with fingerpickers associated with genres and traditions different from his own. To date he's released two albums with former Captain Beefheart guitarist Gary Lucas. "I wanted to combine my roots in Renaissance music with Gary's in Country Blues," he explains. For their first album Diplopia (BV Haast, 2002), van Wissem provided classical and original compositions for Lucas to improvise on. 

On the 2004 sequel Universe of Absence Lucas repaid the compliment. "Universe is more eclectic and more electronic," van Wissem explains. "More layers, more fuzz. It was recorded in several different places and took longer to do." A tour of Japan in 2003 marked the beginning of another collaboration with a guitar original, Tetuzi Akiyama. Proletarian Drift, recorded live at Tokyo's Gendai Heights, begins with an exchange of isolated pitches, then chords, and ultimately melodies, as the two musicians gradually discover their common language. This year's sequel, Hymn For A Fallen Angel, was put together differently (see Wire 279). "I recorded Tetuzi at home using a program called Garageband and added my lute later," van Wissem recalls. "In Garageband I could 'see' Tetuzi's notes coming, so I was able to synchronize more, and give the music more space."

Hymn is on van Wissem's own Incunabulum imprint, whose name also refers to the past (an incunabulum is a rare early printed document). So does the distinctive austere artwork, culled from an 1882 edition of the poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson, and the track titles. "I like Tennyson and Swinburne's way with words. I like Swinburne's SM connotations too," he smiles. Van Wissem is a "big fan" of Industrial music - one of the visitors to his Brooklyn home last year was a budding lute music enthusiast named Genesis Breyer P-Orridge - so it should come as no surprise to find another Industrial pioneer, Maurizio Bianchi, on Incunabulum. 

"He asked me for some of my music," van Wissem recalls, "so I sent him A Rose By Any Other Name with a note saying 'feel free to manipulate the material'. And he did." Das Plateinzeitalter is one of Bianchi's most haunting releases to date, in which van Wissem's lute is almost completely buried (to van Wissem's delight) under a moss of amorphous reverberant drones Bianchi describes as "archaic waves, ancient loops and primitive electronics". He's also provided music for video artist Kathe Burkhart, and has contributed a piece to John Brattin's 20-minute Super-8 horror film The Triumph Of Night. "It's all about communicating between different styles, personalities, backgrounds. It's not up to me to say I fit in any community really."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bryan Eubanks / Doug Theriault

Gear used: homemade electronics, max/msp, digital synthesis all control by the guitar (no midi). Recorded live to 2track. Free improvisations.

Gigs in Berlin so far:
Thursday, January 30th
Reuterstr. 82, Berlin
start time: 21:30
Doug Theriault (US) - guitar/computer
Eliad Wagner - modular synthesizer

Friday, January 31st
Grossbaerenstr. 34 Berlin
20:00 (music starts on time!)
Doug Theriault (US) - guitar/computer
Bryan Eubanks (US/DE) - electronics

Gig in Sweden:
February 6th
Doug Theriault: guitar controlling electronics
Bryan Eubanks: homemade electronics, dsp

plats: Box 2, Culturen
Tid, 6 Feb. kl. 19.00
Entré: 70 SEK / Stud 40 SEK
med medlemsrabatt: 50 SEK / Stud 20 SEK
Medlemsavgift: 20 SEK/år

Bryan Eubanks (b. 1977, US) is a musician primarily active within the traditions of experimental and live electronic music. Growing up in the desert region of eastern Washington State, he was trained in analog photography before becoming musically active in Portland, Oregon in the late 1990′s. There he was part of a fertile music community and organized a large amount of concerts, small festivals, and collaborations, as well as forming the record label Rasbliutto with Jean Paul Jenkins and Joseph Foster in 2001 (operating until 2011). From 2005 to 2013 he continued to be an active musician and organizer in New York City, working most often with Andrew Lafkas in a variety of contexts as collaborator and co-curator, and is currently living in Berlin, Germany. He has no formal musical training and is, for the most part, an autodidact, although he received an MFA in 2012 from the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College. He works with the soprano saxophone, electronics of his own design, and computer music. He improvises, composes, and is developing sound installations exploring acoustic holography.
Doug Theriault is an instrument builder, improviser and composer who resides in Portland Oregon. His music is not easily identified as it is constantly in flux. His main instrument is the guitar. All of his guitars are heavily modified with electronics.
Currently he is using a guitar played through custom made synths of his own design.
His business ( is making experimental controllers and instruments for others.
Interference knows no hesitation, manifesting itself through circumstantial entanglements of unusual phenomena which may or may not be caused by human choices. Through their work with electronics, controlled by a sensor guitar and by an “open circuit” respectively, Theriault and Eubanks give birth to an earnest album of incendiary dissonance; yet, the desperate anguish of extended distorted frequencies and incumbent radioactive rainfalls often finds openings towards a strange agonizing calm, in which the “big clouds” seem to leave some space to the noise of a motor airplane in between the siren-like calls of distant car alarms whose battery will die only after an eternity of tormented ecstasy. Discouraging any try to transform their sound in a cheap appreciation of the mere experiment, the couple works intently trying to dictate some new rules for the abrasion of tranquillity, leaving our ear-aching pretence of knowledge without its crutches when silence finally falls. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes) >>>
excerpt from track 1 Don’t worry about the future from CD “big clouds in the sky today” Creative Sources 047
excerpt  Untitled from the digital release “Arrest of attention in the midst of distraction” (Recorded August 2004 live at studio LTR Portland, OR) 


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Paulo Chagas

music is a place for encounters
a special and unique place
where ideas and feelings come together
by unfathomable means

Progressive experimental and dreamy songs in a kind of tribute to the great writers of our lives. Arranged and produced by Paulo Chagas at Oficina Sonora, Peniche, Portugal.

Portuguese-born Paulo Chagas is a wilfully eclectic musician, having devoted much of his career to experimentalism. Being by nature a maverick, he has committed his life to the research of new (or renewed) solutions and links between the sounds he explores. Paulo is a dedicated composer, multi-instrumentalist (woodwinds, electronics), teacher, writer and music promoter. He is actively involved with Zpoluras Archives, a music label committed to various branches of contemporary improvised music and to working in partnership with musicians from all parts of the world, and MIA (Encontro de Música Improvisada de Atouguia da Baleia), which plays an essential role within the Portuguese improvisation circuit. 

Paulo has a Classical Music background. He studied oboe, composition, acoustics and music history at the National Conservatory of Lisbon (1980-1985), where he joined Orchestra and Chamber Music groups. He has degrees in Special Education, Pedagogy of Music Education, and Music Therapy. He subsequently devoted himself to jazz, studying with saxophonists David Binney and Perico Sambeat. From his earliest years as a musician, Paulo has had a broad interest in all musical forms, from folk, pop and rock, through jazz, fusion, improvised music, and classical.

He has composed, performed and produced music for theater, film, and for educational purposes. He regularly performs and records with an ever-widening range of musicians and collectives, such as P.R.E.C., Ensemble MIA, Ar de Bop, Variable Geometry Orchestra, Chagas Curado Viegas Wind Trio, Motim, Potlatch, Tania Giannouli, Marcello Magliochi, Maresuke Okamoto, Matthias Boss, Delphine Dora, Bruno Duplant, Lee Noyes, Willhelm Mathies, Troy Schaffer, Carlos Zíngaro, Paulo Curado, João Pedro Viegas, Abdul Moimeme, Fernando Simões, Paulo Duarte, Fernando Guiomar and many others. 

Describing himself as a “music addict”, Paulo is an avid performer, keen to experiment, record, perform, and to do whatever is necessary to further the cause of music. For him, music is an Art form that is intimately linked with the ongoing search for the meaning of life.

From his discography we can highlight the following titles: Mispel Bellyfull (2004); Zpoluras demo (gds 2005); Miosótis – Risco (gds 2007); PREC – Contagious Insanities (A Beard of Snails Records 2009);  The Limbo Ensemble – Plebiscitu (Audiotong 2011); Late Winter/Early Spring (Audiotong 2011); Duplant, Chagas & Noyes - The Bias of the Things (Ilse 2012); Chagas, Boss & Okamoto – Little Concert in the Garden (ZA 2012); Chagas Curado Viegas Wind Trio – Old School New School No School (Creative Sources 2012); Tania Giannouli and Paulo Chagas - Forest Stories (Rattle, 2012).

John Cage Waterwalk

John Cage performing "Water Walk" in January, 1960 on the popular TV show I've Got A Secret.

via WFMU:

"At the time, Cage was teaching Experimental Composition at New York City's New School. Eight years beyond 4:33, he was (as our smoking MC informs us) the most controversial figure in the musical world at that time. His first performance on national television was originally scored to include five radios, but a union dispute on the CBS set prevented any of the radios from being plugged in to the wall. Cage gleefully smacks and tosses the radios instead of turning them on and off.

While treating Cage as something of a freak, the show also treats him fairly reverentially, cancelling the regular game show format to allow Cage the chance to perform his entire piece. "