Tuesday, January 27, 2015

odd7 recordings/towards the margins - new label + podcast

ODD7 recordings is a new label from Shaun Blezard and possibly others - I'm not too sure - playing contemporary improvised music. There is also an associated podcast, Towards The Margins, which to date has had a pilot show and a first episode. Both episodes are well worth listening to.

The podcast is live on Mixlr Sunday nights 10-11 UK time; or you can catch up any time on MixcloudPodBean, or through iTunes.

Anyway, if you like contemporary improvised music (with a jazz slant), or Shaun's Cumbrian accent I highly recommend the podcast. The first episodes featured Graham Dunning, Colin Webster, Greta Buitkutė, Viv Corringham, Juxtavoices, Evan Parker, Max Eastley, and a bunch of others.

And because I'm good to you, the pilot and first episode are embedded below, enjoy.

In all my excitement I forgot to mentioned there are already three releases scheduled for 2015. These will come as limited CDr issues, with download versions also available.

The first three releases are Greta Buitkutė & Charlie Collins - clothes-line,  orfeo5 - radiance trios, and Yoko Miura & Teppo Hauta-aho - nostalgia. Samples are available to listen to at the website. Get to it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

next performance 28 february

The last Saturday in February sees the next Peter Barlow's Cigarette. It will feature Joey Frances, David Gaffney, Eleanor Rees, and me in my Tear Fet sounds making guise.

There will in all likelihood be paint. The noises will be largely improvised. Deansgate Waterstones from 2-4pm. The poster's below. See you there.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

new video/performance/music

While I was at my mother's over the weekend I played with the thunder tube, exploring the range of sounds you can get from it. You may know the instrument - it's a hollow tube with a disc of plastic at one end, with a long spring attached. When you shake the tube it makes a noise reminiscent of thunder. It also has phenomenal amplification if you just, for instance, scratch the spring.

I was confident of being able to generate a set of material from this, so went online and ordered myself one. That arrived yesterday, and I spent time playing with it. Then I started doing other things and forgot about it.

A little later I could overhear some talent show centred on oversinging bland songs with all the ersatz emotion your quivering little body can generate playing in the next room. It reminded me of the way that contestants sometimes take songs and crush all nuance, uncertainty and intelligence out of them - making bludgeoning anthems devoid of meaning.

By an alchemy I really have no explanation for - well, other than I'd been watching George Kuchar's Hold Me While I'm Naked - two thoughts occurred to me simultaneously. One was that it might be interesting to strip off and video myself rubbing the sharp edges of a can lid over bits of me. The other was that Turn this into a power ballad, you fucks! might be a good title for something.

Setting up the camera and recording the performance was the first job. With that out of the way I uploaded and edited the video. The sound as it stood was unusable, so I turned to the thunder tube.

Since I knew how long the video was all I had to do was record three short improvisations slightly longer than that, edit them together, check they sounded okay, and slap them over the video. Add titles and you're done.

Some of it was a little more involved. Fixing the camera required duct-taping its tripod to a mic stand, and marking the area of  floor that would be in shot. The performance took a couple of rehearsals and one abortive run-through to get right. And even then for the section with my face I re-did it after the first attempt. In the editing I trimmed what I didn't need and placed the two scenes - scraping my face and my genitals in the reverse order from how they were filmed.

By contrast the audio was easy. The three improvs fitted together with only minimal editing - basically snipping out the opening clunk of switching on, and finding a sensible place for each to finish.

So, if you're old enough to watch age-restricted videos with flaccid dicks being threatened by sharp metal, you can see the whole thing below. Don't try this at home.

Or for those who'd rather not see my junk, just the audio:

Various edits to tidy up, add links, and embed the video/audio.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

writing - might turn out to be something

Here's something that might turn out to be something. Or like most of my projects might get abandoned inside a couple of weeks. It's a bit of writing.

No title yet - it was called 'It's going to happen, Andy Mor', for now it's temporarily retitled 'Epiphany', but there's no way that's going to stick.

It's kind of fiction. There's a few little bits of truth in there, but I don't think anyone's noticed. I may post further instalments if I can keep it up.


It’s going to happen, Andy Mor. Time travel. Jump into the past. Tree to tree. But I still get angry. Do you remember, Andy Mor? Do you remember the views? Stone hills, and stone clouds above. Windmills of sun. Disreputable.

The first time I died I was four. Glass of water and slept forever, dreamt the rest of my life. The world is not this way. Years later I was burnt. Pyre. Walked out to sea on slippy sharp sandstone rocks feet bleeding frozen. Fell off, stumbled. Over my head.

You were homeless, Andy Mor. Parks and derelict buildings, London. You came from Wales this time. Six months before you were the scene. Loved. Kept your favourite novel pristine in plastic bags.

Told me you were born in 1500. Formed proto-socialist commune during German Peasants’ War. Wandered everywhere since then. Many years hidden in India, Russia, China. One time beaten to death with a wine bottle on the stairs of a house of multiple occupancy in Rusholme. A tight squeeze, no?

Anyway, we escaped. Coffee. I had no money for half a year. Living on rice, tomatoes and other people’s charity. Paid no rent. Couldn’t find my phone. Buried itself under the skin of my thigh. Dado rail bent and unglued.

Market green. Bad wig. Sugar mice. A fairy ring of mushrooms. Slipped over. Up here you could be anywhere from 1000 BC to an unspecified future. This rain is every rain that ever fell here. There’s nothing between you and your ancestors. Reach out.

Fell from a landing. You stole my bike, Andy Mor. Or was it the time I smashed your head on traffic lights? Turned up in a 70s suspense film I saw when I was 12. Shoe filled with blood from gash on my shin.

I hate all men. Visions of revolution. Oh - there was the time I got runover. Reversing car. Albany. Seaside bathroom requisites. Sunflash mosquito crushed on the wall. Bought mirrors from a derelict church.

Called your boss a cunt, Andy Mor. He actually believed the shit he said. Accidentally drank essential oil in your coffee. No ill effects. I’ve always had my eye on the clouds. High cumulus caves. Still dream of walking there.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

recent videos, thoughts + place

A couple of weeks ago I filmed a 12 minute video called Thoughts.

The video was shot pointing down at my feet as I walked along the river Mersey in Manchester heading towards Didsbury. And that's it, pretty much.

The video came out of three influences. The primary influence being an online review of Gus Van Sant's film Gerry.

In the review, the film was discussed in connection with things believed to be an influence on it. They included: a long scene, shown only in part, of people walking away from the camera from Béla Tarr's Sátántangó, which I have not yet seen; the long takes of Andrei Tarkovsky; and the way in which characters in games often have to walk from one location to another, the example given being Tomb Raider.

The first of these was beautiful to watch, and appears to have been drawn as a comparison by critics. Tarkovsky was mentioned more as an example of slow takes, rather than a direct influence. Finally, the Tomb Raider and gaming connection is one drawn by Van Sant himself in an interview.

I was particularly struck by his insight that this process of getting from one place to another often takes up a large part of games, but is usually omitted from films. This made him interested in replicating that experience of gaming in his film.

Also memorable were the shot from Sátántangó, and even more so, a shot from Gerry itself. In this, the camera tracks alongside the two men as they walk through the desert. Only head and shoulders are visible of the men, but their footsteps, rhythmic and propulsive can be heard loudly on the soundtrack.

So much for the first influence. You can see the review for yourself at, http://chezapocalypse.com/episodes/brows-held-high-gerry-redux/.

The second influence was the films of Miklós Jancsó, in particular Red Psalm, which I had recently seen. Like many of his films it features long scenes where the camera turns around large groups of people, themselves often in motion or counter-motion to the camera, frequently with other groups beyond.

The final influence was Charlemagne Palestine's Island Song (http://vimeo.com/4377234), in which the musician and composer rides a motorcycle around an island while hollering and occasionally chanting.

My idea was merely to make a reasonably long take of my feet walking. I wanted to capture the rhythmic fascination of the scene from Gerry. I did so, and the result was Thoughts: 

Almost straight away I thought it would have been more interesting to either have had more varied terrain underfoot, or to have filmed myself walking barefoot - especially in cold and wet weather.

In the event last weekend I set out to do both those things together. The venue was Pomona Strand and Pomona Island, and the video this time ended up around 16 minutes long.

The experience itself was the coldest and most painful experience of making a film I've yet had. Although I stood on a couple of bits of blackberry bushes, most painful to walk on (or in) were loose stones and the pools of cold water.

Unlike Thoughts this video, called Place, was more hesitant and less metronomic, as you might expect from someone trying to avoid hurting his feet more than necessary. However, it was also much more of a performance piece.

This may be something I develop further, though I'm not yet sure quite how. I am pretty clear that I don't want to just point the camera at my own feet again. There are more variations on that theme I can try, but they don't particularly interest me at present.

Anyway, Place: