Thursday, December 05, 2013
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Terminal Cheesecake are live at Islington Mill, Salford next Saturday, 7 December 2013.
Terminal Cheesecake, with Gnod in support play Islington Mill in a huge pre-Christmas gig.
Also on the bill are Bong, Die Hexen, and Raikes Parade, joined by Tranarchy, Bratan, Dream Eyes, River Slaughter (can't find a link, sorry, though let me know if you have one), Rosanne Robertson, Debbie Sharp, Aulos' First Reed (again, no link I can find, though let me know etc.), Gary Fisher, Matt Dalby, and 2 Koi Karp. With DJ sets from Lucy Ironmonger, Chew Disco and Vulj, and visual stimulation from Khom, Woodcock and Grundstrom and Mark O'Shea (can't find a link I'm sure is the right one. Again if you know…).
Yeah, I'm in there as support on the second stage. I'll be performing a new song called 1934. With extended vocal techniques ranging from whisper through hysterical screams and subterranean mutters to volcanic roars it should be intense.
From the Facebook events page:
'Matt Dalby - via a mic, tiny amp and effects pedal -combines sound poetry with white noise and looped vocals. Dalby regularly incorporates traditional folk and blues standards into his performances. A recent rendition of "In the Pines" dissected every nuance of the lyric; by turns whispered and subdued, by turns wailed and hysterical.
An early, but slower and more restrained version of 1934 can be heard below:
More details on the gig/tickets etc. at the following links: The Quietus; Facebook.
The Dark Would exhibition runs from Saturday 7 December 2013 - Friday 24 January 2014 at Summerhall, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL.
Curated by Philip Davenport, and growing from the language art anthology of the same name released earlier this year that he edited, The Dark Would has its public launch at 7pm Friday 6 December 2013. Free entry.
The exhibition contains work from Jenny Holzer, Richard Long, Susan Hiller, Richard Wentworth, Simon Patterson, Tony Lopez, Sarah Sanders (who I understand is performing live at the opening on 6 December), Caroline Bergvall, Erica Brum, Ron Silliman, Mike Chavez Dawson and many more.
Included in the exhibition is my version of Long Lankin, a ten minute sound piece based on the folk ballad of the same name. Various different sung arrangements succeed and overlap each other, while extended vocal technique and field recordings create sometimes troubling textures and atmospheres.
See the link above, and the link here for further details.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The beach is the reason it would probably be an awful idea for me to ever move next to the sea. I like walking. I like walking on the seashore. I like walking in all weathers. I like beaches or shorelines that aren't sandy. I would have to walk on the beach pretty much every day, which would destroy my shoes even quicker than at present.
On my walk I did get a really nice (though cliched) recording of wave sounds. Wave sounds are rather like wind in trees, or traffic, or other similar distinctive, familiar sounds, in that they're actually pretty complex. To see what I mean, stop and listen waves on a pebbly beach for instance, with a view to imitating the sound with your voice. You'll find there are a lot of different sounds happening at the same time.
Yes, I've done a lot of that kind of listening over the last couple of years. This time last year when I was damn near hallucinating from my meds I almost drove myself into panic attacks trying to analyse and mimic the sound of wind in trees. And no, I never got close. You can do a crude, impressionistic, surface only version, but without a lot of voices or overdubs nothing like the real thing.
But anyway, back to the review.
Although before I do, even with the reasonably detailed notes I took, you should know my memory of this night is worse than for either of the others. Partly as a consequence of this I've had less luck attributing names to performers than for either of the other nights. As with Friday things start out sketchy and improve a little as it goes on.
Here I seem to have the same number of names as I do performers, but as far as I tell one of those names (Andy Guhl) played on the Sunday. Or at least, one of the performances I described in my notes for the Sunday was exactly what I see in videos of Andy Guhl online. Possibly he swapped days with someone.
Links once again (mostly) via of Colour Out of Space website.
Day 2 - Saturday 9 November 2013
The evening opened with a solo performer on the side stage with tabletop electronics, tapes and amplified objects.
There was a sense of fun and play about the performance, although I can't say I was riveted. That's probably more to do with it being the beginning of the night and my inattention than anything else.
Really, apologies to all those artists I can't name or adequately describe. Apologies also to readers who might reasonably expect a review to be informative.
The Y Bend (sorry, no link available)
I'm willing to be corrected, but I think the second performance was from The Y Bend. A review and photos around a third of the way down this page suggests I may be right.
They were a sextet, and played on the main stage. The instruments included guitars, voice, keyboards and toys.
My notes on the performance are inadvertently condescending, so I'll try to say what I actually meant in them here. The performance, the way the members of the group presented themselves, the whole set-up of their equipment was bold, colourful, and unusual. And the music itself was good, though for a sense of how it sounded you'll want that review I linked above.
However, the music didn't quite carry me along. It felt a little restrained. But I think some of that was context, and on a bill with more conventional song-based performers, their strengths would be much more apparent.
Jennifer Walshe & Tomomi Adachi
Third up was a duo of Jennifer Walshe and Tomomi Adachi on the side stage. They used extended vocal technique and sounds triggered from laptop. They were also one of the highlights of the night, and of the festival.
As far as I can remember there was no language being used, but glossolalia. Voices intersecting and pulling apart. Sometimes mimicking conventional tropes of song, sometimes exploring non-verbal sounds - whether abstract or more obviously physical. The whole supported by gestures - close to sign-language in Walshe's case, and seemingly devoid of intent to signify in Adachi's.
Although there was clearly a great deal of skill and mutual understanding in the performance, to the extent I wasn't sure how far any of it was pre-rehearsed or improvised, neither performer seemed to take themselves too seriously.
Very much recommended.
Fuuuu… I really ought to be tell you more about these, but my memory fails me. I remember I liked them a lot. At the time they were more of a highlight than Walshe and Adachi.
I can tell you they were a trio and played on the main stage. I can tell you their instruments were drums, flute/wind, and noises through pedals. I can even picture the wind instrument. But can I tell you anything more? Not a damn thing.
I suspect they were Roman Nose - or perhaps, since the links I've followed describe that project as a solo project, it was Jon Marshall as Roman Nose with Charlie Collins and Sarah McWatt.
Just so you know at least part of what I'm up against, here are my notes in full for this performance: '(4) drums/flute[+other wind thing]/noises thru pedals. trio, main. easily performance of the day so far. some *slightly* OTT reactions, but why not?' This is why I'm not a journalist.
The fifth performance was from a duo on the side stage. Or rather, as most were, a little in front of it. More extended vocal technique, this time set against some truly immense ringing glasses.
Actually, before I get into this, a quick digression on 'extended vocal technique'. The phrase, that is. Although it's a tremendously useful descriptive phrase (I've used it a lot, and will continue to use it through my reviews of the festival), I have serious problems with it. The main problem being it sounds so damn serious and Olympian. 'Extended' vocal technique. You get the impression of something elevated, abstruse, difficult to master and understand, and probably fun-free. That it's usually none of these things is irrelevant. I don't know what the solution is. Better writing maybe.
I was split over this performance. I wanted to like it: and the sounds were atmospheric, the whole set was well played, and the vocal work was excellent. But… But it wasn't an especially long set, and my attention was seriously wandering well before the end.
Lovers Ritual is a duo of Maya Duneitz and Ilan Volkov, both of whom I think have Primate Arena connections (see the review of Friday). They were on the main stage, Volkov on violin, Duneitz using her voice.
Initially, especially with Duneitz using a loopstation for her voice, I wasn't all that interested. I avoid loopstation these days because it's too easy to use to impose a structure (or illusion of structure) on improvisations. Not only can that stop you using more creative solutions, it reduces your responsiveness and ability to leap off at tangents. Or you can use it to fill silence (in the same way delay pedals often get misused). Personally I like silence, leaving gaps, letting some air and space in.
But then first Volkov and then Duneitz got off the stage and went onto the floor and into the crowd. At which point the set really took off. Crucially for me Duneitz went away from not just the loopstation, but the mic, and showed the real strength of her voice. She also got a large part of the audience involved in making a variety of sounds.
This final section of the set was much more compelling and exciting than what had preceded it, and easily lifted it to being one of the day's highlights.
Seventh up was a solo performer at the side stage. His tabletop setup deployed tapes, amplified objects and loops. Which meant that drawback of illusory structure.
But things improved for me right at the end of the set. The loop was removed and in its place a record placed on a loose spindle was spun manually while what I'm told is a magnetic cartridge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_cartridge (that bit with the stylus in it) was suspended by its wires on to the record. More of that kind of inventiveness, and the genuinely ghostly sounds it generated would have been very welcome.
Gwilly Edmondez & Posset & THF Drenching
Back on the main stage the trio of Gwilly Edmondez, Posset and THF Drenching impressed. All three made use of tapes and voice.
On the night I didn't mark this down as a highlight, curiously. The set was really good though. Unlike a lot of improvisors and other musicians they were not afraid to leave silences. A good range of techniques - vocal, and manipulating tapes/mics - were deployed.
I was never in any doubt that all three knew exactly what they were doing, and were bloody effective at doing it.
Oh boy, apologies to whoever played next. A solo musician on the side stage with guitar, voice and feedback. Apologies because I didn't enjoy the set, and wrote only the most cursory and dismissive notes.
The set was undoubtably well performed, but a little too somnolent and conventionally song-based for my taste. That said, it was very well received, which shows what I know.
Greg Kelley & Dylan Nyoukis
The main stage again. This time for the duo of Greg Kelley (trumpet) and Dylan Nyoukis (extended vocal technique).
This was another highlight. The combination of voice and trumpet worked better than you might expect. In part that was because there seemed to be a real empathy between the two. Kelley and Nyoukis made the most marked use of silence and space in addition to quiet passages of anyone yet in the festival.
There was also humour in the performance, particularly in the voice. It's good to let it in. Jumping the rails to get personal for a minute, the most liberating thing about discovering sound poetry (initially through recordings of Bob Cobbing and Henri Chopin*) was that I could be as childish, silly, or removed from technical mastery as I liked. Even now I like to sing only to deliberately waver off key, or interrupt it with a farting noise. For me it reconnects with the most joyful aspects of singing, restoring a degree of freedom.
*Incidentally, the first page of videos at that link currently brings up a short extract of Chopin at an earlier Colour Out of Space. Fuck, I wish I'd been there.
I'm also reminded of Culturcide's Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary America. I think because it's such a disrespectful and joyous record.
So there you go, Dylan Nyoukis, what happens when you mash up Bob Cobbing, Henri Chopin, Culturcide, contemporary improvisation, and childish vocal play. And that's a good thing, by the way. Not that it tells you much about how the set sounded.
The next performer played solo on the side stage. I may have been more divided about this performance than anything else. There were passages I liked, but then moments when I found it utterly insufferable and hoped it would end.
Part of that may have derived from the combination of sound sources, variously guitar, contact mic, or non-specific noisemakers fed through delay, and possibly other effects, with plenty of feedback. The non-traditional aspects were often great, but during the guitar passages it all got a bit too trad for me.
And that's the odd thing. There wasn't much I found meh or okay, or much of a transition between being onboard with it and then being bored of it. I tended to flip instantly from 'this is great', to 'oh god, make it stop', and back again. Which I guess is an accomplishment of sorts. Next.
Seriously? Another performance I liked, and yet my notes amount to a total of 19 words that tell me nothing about how they sounded. This however is a learning point. Next time I take notes on a festival where there are so many performers I need to write more descriptively about how they actually sound.
Anyway, this was a trio on the main stage. All three sang, or at least used their voices, and there was also viola and tabletop electronics. All I can tell you is (and I quote), 'good stuff, well performed. not quite a highlight but impressive nonetheless'. Gotta love that unintentionally patronising tone from someone who couldn't do what these performers did. Apologies again to them, to you, and anyone else. Sorry.
By this stage I was honestly (though inexplicably) tired. That probably means that the last couple of performers, and the final two, suffer from a degree of inattention and lack of engagement on my part.
Thirteenth was a solo performer on the side stage. They used a reel to reel tape with a loose loop of tape, which I think ran round a mic stand. They also deployed samples and amplified objects.
Honestly, the setup reminded me of Gary Fisher, though I didn't find the sounds quite as interesting.
That said, they were good, although might have benefitted from introducing a little more space into the sound. There again that might just be my current obsession and not worth worrying about.
And so to the end of the night. A duo on the main stage. The familiar tabletop setup, another reel to reel player with a loose loop of tape (this time hanging down), and electronics.
Unfortunately by this stage I was all out of energy, attention, and ability to write coherently. I get the impression that the performance and sounds were actually pretty good, but that I was simply too drained to appreciate anything. Really I think I only stayed to be sure I'd heard everything. So once again apologies.
I will say that Sunday's notes, and my memory of the performers are a lot better than for either day so far. I think that's mainly because Sunday was my favourite day of the festival, and there was so much there that I genuinely loved.
As with Friday's review, here's a list of the performers (with links) that I haven't been able to attribute to their respective sets. In fact it may be a good thing. Go check out their sounds and make up your own mind, without my blether muddying the waters:
Dinosaurs with Horns, DDAA, Roman Nose, Bridget Hayden, Andie Brown & Sharon Gal, Sindre Bjerga, Dan Melchior, M.Stactor, and Andy Guhl (though as I said earlier, I think he actually played on Sunday).
The review of the Friday is here.
A link to my review of the Sunday will get posted here when it's done. No promises when that will be. It may be up by the end of the weekend, but I can't guarantee anything.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
So here's a review from my notes sketched down as it happened.
Something to note: I mention electronics, or tabletop electronics a lot. That might mean anything from tablets, through tape/digital recorders, pedals and no-input mixing boards, to amplified objects and any other generic box with wires sticking out of it. I mention these things partly as a mnemonic for myself, partly to give a sense of what a performance sounded and looked like, and partly because I didn't concern myself to find out in great detail exactly what every instrument/noisemaker was.
Links via the Colour Out of Space page.
*Edit 16 Nov 2013 - I've had confirmation of the performers I couldn't name initially, so thanks for that. In the interests of honesty they were Primate Arena (1st), Skin Graft (5th), Kiko C. Esseiva & Vincent de Rougin (8th), and Dog Lady Island (9th). Acchiappashpirt were unable to be there, which explains why I saw fewer acts than were listed. All edits are either existing material left in but struckthrough,
Day 1 - Friday 8 November 2013
The evening performances at The Old Market kicked off with a quintet on the main stage. My notes tell me the main sound sources were a drum, voice, electronics, and (I think) bass clarinet.
My sketchy description of the sound was 'granular and textural. gentle. flashes of play.' That I'm afraid is as much as I remember of them, though I did enjoy the performance.
I'm pretty sure the second performers, a duo, were Occult Hand. They played on the side stage, with laptop, tapes, and keyboard. The music felt less detailed, or to put it another way, constructed more of atmosphere and washes of sound than the previous performance.
Poulomi Desai & collaborator
Poulomi Desai and a collaborator whose name I didn't catch were third. They were again on the side stage. Desai played a prepared sitar, and her collaborator tabletop electronics.
For me this was where the festival really took off. A loud collaboration that totally grabbed my attention, with a variety of methods and tools used to draw sounds from the sitar, including what appeared to be a wand vibrator. There was noise and buried snatches of recordings that I took to be Vedic chants.
A little frustrating that there's insufficient mnemonic information in my notes to give more detail of how they actually sounded. That does change. After the next two performers my notes are a lot more expansive and helpful.
However, Desai and her collaborator were one of the highlights of the weekend for me.
Next up on the main stage were Acrid Lactations, the duo of Susan Fitzpatrick and Stuart Arnot. They used voices, along with pedals and noises (from tapes, keyboard and electronics).
There was a genuine sense of fun about them. At times the performance seemed a little scrappy, but that's generally a good thing. If I were going to be harsh their extended vocal techniques might have benefitted from a little more diversity. That's really nitpicking though.
Since I was taken by surprise by the next performer, and especially by how brief their blast of noise was, I can tell you very little about them. My notes say it was one person, though I can't be absolutely sure. They were operating their tabletop electronics from the side stage.
What I do know is there was a brief blast of harsh and loud electronic noise that was over almost before you knew what was happening.
Refreshing. Had it been longer by a couple of minutes maybe more variety would have been welcome. But as it was it didn't stick around long enough for that to be necessary.
Woven Skull & Core of the Coalman
Back on the main stage was a sextet consisting of three drummers and three others playing violin, guitar, and what I believe to be mandolin. Again I couldn't tell you who they were. Possibly Woven Skull with Core of the Coalman.
I fucking loved it, though it was one of the more musically conventional sets of the festival. In truth probably a better fit for something like Birmingham's Supersonic.
The percussion was compelling and hypnotic, though there was enough detail in the (often voice-like) strings to add variety and interest. But I happen to like numbskull motorik dance anyway, with or without additional detail.
The group also had a slow, sepulchral projection of someone walking in woodland behind them. I only mention it because while it was good it operated with a little more subtlety and a little less certainty than the music, creating an interesting mismatch of sound and image.
This was another highlight for me, though in truth felt different from pretty much everything else at the festival. Think drone, psych, motorik.
Enzo Minarelli, exploring sound poetry with voice and pre-recorded backing should have been more up my street. But honestly, though well performed, something about the set just didn't excite me.
In part because I don't find text in itself a hugely compelling subject. But also because in sound poetry I'm more interested in the sonic potential of the voice than in linguistic events. Which really means that any problem I had with the performance is to do with me framing it in the wrong way. Applying a set of concerns and principals that run counter to what Minarelli was doing.
The pieces also came across as a little sketchy. As though they were fragments of ideas that had been fixed prematurely, where they could have stood to be expanded or deepened a little.
Despite my reservations the performance was very well received throughout.
Kiko C. Esseiva & Vincent de Rougin
I'm honestly not entirely certain where the next set happened. I think on the floor towards the back of the room. I was stuck somewhere between the main stage and the side stage. As far as I could tell the sounds were generated by tabletop electronics, laptop, or a combination of both.
I didn't enjoy the set. I found it protracted and uninteresting. A featureless, passionless grey drizzle of blips, crackles and meh that left me desperate for it to be over.
But evidently it's not made for me, and others undoubtedly understand it better, and get more from it.
Dog Lady Island (video starts on page)
Most of what I just said about the previous performance could also be said about the one that followed. On this occasion from a solo performer on the side stage with turntable, violin and electronics.
I could say the same, because to my ears it was almost identical. My notes say 'structurally + sonically very similar to the previous act. except the sound was muddier.'
So again, you won't get a sensible review out of me, since I fundamentally don't get this music, and don't enjoy it.
In my notes I do observe that my problem with
But again, now there's a name and a link for you to make up your own mind. And remember, this is all just my opinion, I expect - hope - you'll disagree with a lot of what I say.
Richard Youngs & Neil Campbell & Luke Fowler Trio
The trio of Richard Youngs, Neil Campbell and Luke Fowler came next on the main stage. They used voice, electronics, and what appeared to be a tablet. Despite knowing the names I can't say I'd previously heard much by any of the trio.
They played the second very short set of the evening. Thankfully it was another set I enjoyed, though not quite a highlight. Both voice and beats were fairly familiar, echoing variously English folk music, serious-minded 80's pop, 70's electronics, and some 90s post-rave electronics. But there was sufficient energy, variety and interest to keep my attention.
Alessandro Bosetti performed solo from a tabletop in front of the side stage. He used voice, and samples of voice triggered from (I think) a laptop.
For me this did everything that I wanted Enzo Minarelli's performance to do. It was sonically, and to my mind especially linguistically and peformatively much stronger and more developed. Definitely another highlight of the day.
The live voice and triggered samples integrated very well, and the whole came off as funny and smart.
Kenny Millions & Rat Bastard
I often find it easier to write more about performers I dislike than those I enjoy. In which case, strap yourself in because it's about to get rocky.
Friday night closed out with the duo of Kenny Millions and Rat Bastard on the main stage. Rat Bastard on guitar, Kenny Millions on mini guitar, mini sax, and vocals.
Now don't get me wrong, they're not bad musicians or performers. Quite the opposite, they're really fucking good. They are however really fucking irritating too.
So what's the problem? I think in part it's generational, you see among a lot of the punk generation, as well as immediate precursors and those following, a desire to deliberately violate taboos. I guess obvious touchstones would be the generally quite sly and insidious Throbbing Gristle, or the often preposterous Whitehouse. And that's certainly a valid approach to art, with a long history in most media.
On the whole there seem to be fewer musicians from subsequent generations doing similar things, except in the cartoonish braggadocio of some 80s metal, ditto some hip hop, and the galumphing stupidity of contemporary no-marks like Miley Cyrus.
The attack on audience sensibilities here consisted of projections of porn, a sex doll on stage, and Kenny Millions jumping into the crowd and berating people.
The last of these I have no problem with, it's something I've done myself, and I think it's to be encouraged and applauded. The sex doll wasn't too much of a problem either - I generally find them so removed from any resemblance to actual women, and conceptually so far removed from any notion of mutually enjoyable sex that they become absurd.
The porn however, I really didn't like. Now to be honest you could barely see it due to the projections overlapping with lighting. I could also have moved elsewhere and ignored it, and really enjoyed the set. But I knew it was there, and that got in the way.
I'm not a fan of porn. It mostly looks ridiculous and uncomfortable. It seems to rely very much on the viewer bringing to it a willingness to ignore these problems and use it as kind of a trigger for their own imagination. And that's ignoring the way it breaks up and objectifies women's bodies as sites for male gaze and male sexual gratification.
Porn is also much more easily accessible to much younger audiences than it was 30 or 40 years ago. As such it is a very different entity, with a very different relationship to contemporary culture than it was during the 70s or 80s. Which to me means that you perhaps need to be a little smart about using it in art.
Now I've seen very good use of still and moving porn images in some visual art. But here there seemed to be no engagement with the content of the porn beyond 'Hur hur, it's porn, it's shocking. Hur hur.' I mean Jesus, even switching out the heterosex porn for some gay hardcore would have indicated a little thought, or a genuine desire to be transgressive.
As it stands though, without context, without any apparent thought or intelligence, it just risks pissing off a huge section of the audience who are actually on board with you in almost every other way. tl;dr - great music, good performance, juvenile presentation.
Even though there were a few things I didn't get on the day, and at least one performance that actively irritated the shit outta me, I enjoyed the evening a lot. There were at least three real standout performances, and a few artists whose work I'll look out for in future.
Reviews of Saturday and Sunday to follow. I'll also add links to those reviews here when they're done.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
So, another gig at St Margaret's in Whalley Range. This time Silence Blossoms and Grew Quartet. A little sparsely attended.
If you haven't been before, like Sacred Trinity and St Philip's in Salford, St Margaret's is another Anglican church that allows its space to be used for gigs.
The church isn't as architecturally interesting as St Philip's (which is amazing), but the acoustics are decent for a church. Not intrusively echoey.
Mostly Buried Bones and Tubers Music arrange gigs there (more links for your favourites, you're welcome). I've seen drone, electronic noise, relatively conventional song or groove-based sounds, jazz, improv, tabletop electronics, and a bunch of other stuff at St Margaret's. The gigs there (and elsewhere, organised by the same people) are well worth attending if the less trodden paths interest you - or if you're just a little bored of guitardrumsbassmememe poprockindie whateverthefuck you can see anywhere anytime*.
So what the fuck was it like then? Let me start by misleading you. Silence Blossoms were up first, and through most of their set something was nagging at me. Elements of the sound were familiar, but from where? Eventually I pinned it down, I was being reminded of Tilt/The Drift/Bish Bosch-era Scott Walker.
But like I say, that's misleading. For a start Hanna Olivegren makes less use of recitative, and a little more of extended vocal technique than Scott Walker. And although the lyrics are based around poems, they generally seem to be of a less knotted and arcane nature than Walker's writing (which I prefer, your mileage may vary). Most crucially, musically they're coming from a different (arguably more contemporary) milieu than Walker. They also certainly have more in common with jazz.
Jazz, tabletop electronics, and improv are better, more accurate reference points. The songs tended to start quietly, often with electronics, an instrument, and voice making similar sounds before heading in different directions.
It was mainly at the beginning of songs that vocalisations other than straight singing were deployed. It created a sense of the pieces being almost improvised into being from nothing.
I really enjoyed the set, but at the same time I felt like something was missing. For me, despite the electronics, extended vocal technique and contemporary feel, it was overly polite and tasteful. Well-mannered in a way that I don't want art to be. There were no missteps, but at the same time no shocks or disruptions.
Would I listen to them again? Sure. Would I recommend them? Of course. Am I likely (at the moment) to add them to my regular listening? Maybe not.
But again that's just my opinion. No alarms and no surprises. But the same could be said of Grew Quartet, who I far preferred.
Again, jazz/improv in flavour, and again no great jolts. And yet the music felt somehow denser. Not in the sense of heaviness, but in the sense that there seemed to be more going on. Different players would seem to take the lead, before falling back and letting the next emerge.
Closing my eyes didn't create gentle, unified, slowly evolving images as Silence Blossoms had. Instead rapid sequences of shifting images flashed in front of me. The music always seemed to be shifting and mutating.
Consequently it's a little harder to describe Grew Quartet. Especially without resorting to cliche.
All I can say is the music felt alive, even during moments of quiet it seemed to pulse and move. It felt (accurately or otherwise) like there was a constant negotiation and testing between the players. Occasionally there were brief moments that felt like more familiar and conventional jazz, but they tended to be subsumed into (for me) more interesting developments.
Those cliched descriptions I wanted to avoid using then: there were, from piano especially, fistfuls of notes thrown into the mix. The instruments were played in their full extent: the body of the double bass scraped, strings of the piano plucked directly, the bass clarinet fingering and breath sometimes foregrounded, percussion sometimes clustering densely, sometimes accumulating a huge array of sounds, sometimes receding to nothing.
And there was a lot more to it than that. As I said I spent the set lost in the quick succession of images the music created in my mind.
Again I would definitely recommend you give them a listen, and preferably live.
Please do check out the various links I provided for more information on the musicians, and details of other stuff happening in Manchester and beyond. Above all, get out there supporting musicians and artists.
*I mean a lot of it's nice enough and all, and people have stretched the medium to make interesting sounds, but 60 years down the line it's mostly tired and played out. The most worthwhile mutations seem to be offshoots of offshoots that borrow from other traditions.
Friday, September 20, 2013
It's around 13 minutes long, and goes from quiet, to loud, to really fucking loud, then back down to nothing.
Saturday, August 03, 2013
Wednesday. A warm enough evening. Inside Kraak thick and heavy. Curiously quiet. A discerning (heh!) audience gathered for some great noise makers.
Infinite Gaah, Aulos' First Reed* (aka Kelly and Pascal of Part Wild Horses Mane on Both Sides), Usurper, Blood Stereo, and Pengo. A tour working south to north. Close to the end tonight I think. Told it might be a tired night. But there's no sign of it.
Play. A key to the night, to (aspects of) the performers. Infinite Gaah vignetting before other performances clues you in. Tiny bells, solo of cleaning teeth, stylophone, jabber and mutter. Apparently off the cuff. Exploring sounds, exploring possibilities.
And so Kelly and Pascal. Always fascinating, the kinds of things I really love about sound art and similar practices. Quite aside from musicianship it's the approach to instruments and noise-making. Coming to them anew. Not through notation, not through polite expectations of how an instrument should behave. Less 'what sounds are commonly made' and more 'what happens when I do this?'
What happens this time are rumbles, roars and howls at first. Then other sounds: chattering, skittering, chimes, scratches, blowing, skrawks. Noise ebbs and flows, builds, gets swallowed by feedback, then recedes again. A giant seashell that scoops you up, pumps your head full of sound and disgorges you out.
The tide, your own blood pumping, the after-echoes roar on. Splinters in your socks, in your teeth, in your hair. Beautiful.
More from Infinite Gaah. These great, sly, casual jugglings of sound and introductions to the acts. Acts, horrible word, too showbiz. What then? Bands? No, too conventional, it reeks of sincerity, of indie, that desperate combination of ingratiation and posturing. Artists, maybe.
Usurper then. Play. Most definitely. Structured and loose. Performed but not in the obvious attention-grabbing way. Guest vocals and interventions from Karen and Dylan of Blood Stereo's kid.
Usurper sit either end of a table littered with all kinds of shit. Anything that makes a noise: heavy balls, rulers, door handles, christ knows what else. They exchange phrases and play straight faced with their accumulated junk. I think the table's contact mic-ed either end.
It's a conversation of Beckettian repetitions. It's open-ended but bears the shape of something structured. It's noises almost at random. Almost like the talk is the music, and the clatters, boings, scrapes and shrieks are the interventions of a mechanical Mark E Smith spitting non-verbal non-sequiturs.
Blood Stereo back in Manchester only a few months after the last time. It starts with voice, sibilants, then generated wails and groans, tape sounds periodically muttering underneath. Although it doesn't start with language the jabber, rumble and squee eventually devolve into a repeated and varied phrase. Passed back and forth, out of synch, matching up, simultaneously emptied of meaning and filled back up again. Then they're done. Play, sound making, language (again, there's a lot of it about tonight), focus.
It starts familiar then bends out of shape. There's a kind of telepathy. Almost extends to the audience. You start out standing on a slope that little by little slips away from you, until you're lying on your back with thoughts circling.
More play from Infinite Gaah. Then Pengo. Honestly although they're described as legendary I haven't heard of them before. But that's my problem, my ignorance. The closest thing to conventional music tonight. But don't let that put you off.
Synth ticks, vaporous high pitched guitar skitter, tape tones through delay pedal, peripatetic recorder scrawls. Then more sustained synth sounds, guitar as a weightless veil in the background, delayed vocal drones, saxophone.
Nobody slacked off tonight, and everyone was compelling, drilling into the possibilities of sound from different angles, but there's a different energy about Pengo. Surprisingly refreshing for late in a tour in a hot summer at the end of a sweaty night when music and language have been pulled apart and picked over.
And that's all. Great night. Not enough people there if I'm honest, but the possibilities! The sounds! It makes you wanna run home and start bashing out your own experiments. So do it. Forget what you know. Start with your ears and every object open to messing with.
So next time then.
*Corrected from Aulos' Last Reed. Apologies, was writing on my phone from obviously fallible memory.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Once when I was a child I followed a creature, half glimpsed, into woods. It looked like a squirrel, or a bird, or a small person or monkey.
The creature led me to a collapsed, moss-covered house, where it sat and watched from a large wooden table overgrown and cracked.
In one of the drawers were glass jars of delicate bones, needles, thread, and a notebook that described how the author took the bones of tame animals after their death and stitched them together, giving them life.
I rebuilt the house, and make companions for the lonely creatures.
Saturday, July 20, 2013
It begins after a not very good night out sitting at around 3 or 4 am on a bench listening to birdsong and feeling happy with a touch of sadness.
Or it begins the first time last year I ended up leaving a club early boiling with irritation at others and frustration with myself.
Or it begins one weekend morning after a night out, improvising a minimal comedown song into being from fragmentary phrases.
Or it begins the first time I either decided not to go out because I knew I'd have a bad time, or just allowed time to run out on me so I couldn't make it somewhere I wanted to go.
Though it came later in the year perhaps it began when I bailed out on a night of exhibition openings and open studios partway round. I'd asked a few friends in advance if they were interested, but most didn't get back to me, and in the end no-one I knew well enough to talk to was out. I hate being on my own in these sorts of situations, and feel extremely out of place. Despite being frequently alone and not naturally gregarious, I do prefer being around friends, and get extremely lonely when I'm not.
Or it begins when I had a meltdown in a club and felt like self-harming.
Or it begins when exercising or meditating regularly became too challenging.
It had already begun by the time I started to feel resentful that friends and acquaintances seemed oblivious to what was happening, and unwilling to offer support. I'm aware this is unreasonable. It's a product of my depression, so don't go getting all butt-hurt and defensive. And in fairness some friends have been there for me.
It had already begun when I had my first panic attack in work.
It had already begun when I started taking short bits of video to try and capture some of the visual disturbances and synaesthesic confusion exacerbated by Citalopram (now replaced with, for me, more effective Mirtazapine).
Things were probably close to their worst when I went round to a friend's, and overwhelmed by too many people (a couple of whom were too loud and overbearing) and overloud music, I had a panic attack and left early. Apparently unregarded by the majority of people there, certainly no-one got in touch later to ask if I was okay.
More irrational and unfair resentment there, but it's important to be honest. On the night in question, and more generally across the last two years, I've felt ignored. Someone might say hi, only to move on to talk to someone else before I've even replied. Or they just acknowledge my presence and leave it at that. Or it might as well be I'm not there at all. Like I said, unfair, but true to my feelings.
It begins some time after the first, or second, or third, or fourth time I thought things were getting better only to come crashing down a couple of days or hours later.
But of course not. It crept up gradually; slowly draining joy from nights out; removing motivation to do things; making frustrations grow; taking away my willingness to socialise by exaggerating both my general anxiety and my social anxiety; and all the other insidious thefts it carries out.
Now in the last week I've felt, that after hitting the bottom, with around a month of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), several months of medication, and support from some friends that things are beginning to turn around. How long that will take, how many setbacks there'll be, I couldn't say. But it does feel like genuine progress has been accomplished.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
The address is easy to remember, http://www.santiagosdeadwasp.co.uk
There you'll also find easy links to my YouTube, Audioboo, Twitter, Tumblr and other blogs, Facebook pages for sound and film, and even LinkedIn.
In addition I have a diary of upcoming events (currently empty), links to my work that you can download for free, or spend your money on, a contact page where you can email me or leave a comment, and when I get round to adding the information my artist's cv and portfolio will be there.
The page is live now.
Look out for an announcement relating to another website I've set up sometime in the not-too-distant future...
Sunday, April 28, 2013
The Dark Would
The Dark Would is not a visual poetry anthology. A visual poetry anthology might attempt to show you the state of the art. A visual poetry anthology might lead you by the hand through related historical practices before reaching the present day. A visual poetry anthology would start from the proposition that there is an entity called visual poetry with specific boundaries, however fluid and contested they are.
The Dark Would is 'an anthology of language art'. Art using language as its material. Language using art as its vehicle.
There is a lot in this anthology that I disagree with. There are a lot of gaps in this anthology. This is all as it should be.
My review will be across three posts. This first one will look mainly at the print volume, which I've read right through more than once, and will continue to return to. The second will look in more detail at the Kindle volume which I only recently downloaded, and is over three times the length of the paper volume. I will concentrate mainly on the critical writing and interviews in that volume. The third post will look at everything else I wasn't able to cover in the first two.
Before I get to specifics, the declaration of competing interest. I am featured in both volumes the anthology, and I know the editor and several of the other artists.
The Dark Would is anthology as dialogue.
Several dialogues are contained within The Dark Would. A good way in to many of these is Márton Koppány's cover image The Secret.
The Secret is wordless, and in a sense imageless. It consists solely of non-alphabetic characters - three different classes of brackets. Three to the left, then a space in the middle, and then three to the right.
The brackets are not grouped in pairs or nested, so can't immediately be read as something possessing content. The absence of other text or symbols means the brackets could be either linguistic or mathematical, though their order doesn't conform to the normal hierarchy of either context.
Dialogue between art and science. Dialogue between text and non-text.
Where does The Secret sit within contemporary poetic practices? The unconventional use of punctuation and other typographical marks is relatively common within linguistically innovative work, though language is absent here. Nor is it uncommon to see such marks foregrounded in conceptual poetics, though The Secret doesn't appear to be conceptual.
Dialogue between different contemporary poetic practices. Dialogue between expression and conceptual work.
Is The Secret then visual poetry? Perhaps not, all we have are typographical marks without interference. Although space, around and within the piece, is crucial to its meaning in a way that's more characteristic of visual poetry than of text.
Dialogue between text poetry and visual poetry and concrete poetry.
The brackets that make up The Secret seem to occupy an unfixed territory. They are obviously visual, yet not recognisably illustrative - neither representational nor abstract. They have an obvious relation to text, even imply its presence, but there is no text.
Let's imagine that the brackets of The Secret were a picture, what might they be? In his interview for The Verb Philip Davenport, the anthology's editor, likened them to tree trunks. Trees on either side of an opening in The Dark Would/Wood.
For me they had a dual identity. At once prison bars preventing escape and slots in a drain grate allowing things to pass through. I read them more as the latter, as open.
Dialogue between presence and absence. Dialogue between poetry (textual, visual or concrete) and visual art. Dialogue between space and mark. Dialogue between present and possible futures.
The Secret featured in the last Text Festival printed on a large perspex square installed in a train carriage in the Transport Museum. At that scale too the piece worked brilliantly.
Dialogue between poem and site - page, gallery, elsewhere.
For me The Secret manages a fine balancing act. In the television series of The Shock Of The New Robert Hughes said,
'A sign is a command. It's something you take in all at once. It means one thing only […] Pictures are different. They're more complicated. They mean a lot of things, you scan them and their meaning adds up and unfolds. You don't get it all at once.'
The Shock Of The New, Part 8 Culture As Nature [my transcription, any inaccuracies are mine].
The Secret manages to be a cryptic sign, striking and easily recognisable, but at the same time a piece of art that rewards closer looking, becomes more interesting the more you look at it.
Dialogue between poem and poet. Dialogue between poem and poetics. Dialogue between poem and reader.
But let's get into the book a little further. I'm going to look briefly at ten pieces from the paper volume in the order they appear. Some are within the introductory pages. Some form part of series that feature elsewhere in the anthology, later in the print volume, in the virtual volume or in both.
from Smoke Town
The first of these pieces is a diptych, an image and separate text, from Smoke Town by David Austen which appears in the Kindle edition. The image to the left appears to show a bunch of dried flowers, the text to the right reads like the title of a film or pulp novel. Together they might be pages from an old magazine. But the combination of image and text is enigmatic.
There are echoes with other works in the anthology. Rich monochrome photographic images recur: Susan Hiller's First Aid: Homage to Joseph Beuys and The Paragon Case: Homage to Joseph Beuys (in both volumes); Tony Lopez's Homer, Arcadia; Hung Keung's Dao Give Birth to One; Tsang Kin Wah's The Seven Seals; and Sarah Sanders' I USED TO. The last three appear to be documents of two installations and a performance respectively.
Brief enigmatic texts that might be found text, or that echo a familiar, non-poetic context also recur: Erica Baum's untitled pieces (in both volumes); George Widener's Love, Birthday; Fiona Banner's Zero Poem, Sunset; Julian Montague's book-covers; Linus Raudsepp's pieces from The Exorcism of Anastasia Kirilenka; and Lucy Harvest Clark's I'm a Believer.
In any large anthology you'd expect similar strategies and works that appear similar though emerging from different strategies. Moreover none of these pieces seem cut from the same cloth, though most of them hint at intriguing broader worlds outside themeslves.
Wood of Thorns
Eric Zboya's Wood of Thorns is a from a series of pieces across both volumes commissioned for the anthology. The images look as though they might have been created by pencil or brush, though they may have been created on a computer. There is no text evident in Wood of Thorns or the other images. But this is true of other pieces in the anthology.
The images are mostly angular, spiky, almost as though scribbled, though clearly much more controlled. Parts of them resemble feathers, traces of objects in motion, birds, iron filings pulled by a magnet. It's almost like a return to the most basic mark-making.
Then again it might be the result of a conceptual process, rather like derek beaulieu's Flatland, mentioned in my essay for the anthology. Beaulieu also features in both volumes of the anthology - the shape of his piece in the virtual anthology echoing some of Zboya's images.
Lord Byron Died
Photos from Tacita Dean's Lord Byron Died also feature in both volumes. They show details of words carved into stone - some apparently professionally done, others messier and more informal. There is no contextual information in any of the photos.
This is found text, layered text. Text which may have personal significance but little obvious content beyond names and dates.
Tom Raworth's nine word poem is the third piece in the anthology proper. It consists of three sections, each of three lines with a single word. The word 'train' appears in a different place in each section, falling third then second then first.
It is the third piece in the anthology proper that is made of text. Admittedly, Tom Phillips' After Henry James on the previous page appears to be created from welded metal installed in a gallery space. And the way the 22 words are shaped and linked is interesting.
Raworth's piece is much more minimal, and deliberately less expressive. It is also a shaped piece, a thin line of text including the title and section numbers running down the page, and making use of the space around it.
The first piece in the anthology, from Rosmarie Waldrop's Calligraphy, forms a horizontal band across the centre of the page opposite Tom Phillips' almost square piece. Raworth's poem is a vertical band opposite Paula Claire's square Great Crested Newt Sonata.
Already we're being tipped off to look at pieces in relation to the page, to the space around them, and in relation to other pieces.
Great Crested Newt Sonata
Paula Claire's Great Crested Newt Sonata, already mentioned, shows photographic images of the undersides of (we assume) four Great Crested Newts. They have spotted, speckled markings that could be read as ink marks or text.
They also echo things that will appear elsewhere in the anthology. Most notably Nadya Collazo Llorens' Bokeh, which I look at later.
The choice of 'Sonata' in the title is interesting, avoiding the more literal 'sonnet' that the square shape might have led you to. It also calls to mind Kurt Schwitters' early sound poem Ursonate.
Yet again it's an example of found text, though on this occasion found text that is not actually text. In this it's different from the other examples of found (or potentially found) text I've mentioned so far. While they're more about recontextualising texts, this is about the human ability to find patterns and meaning in anything.
Edit 30 April 2013 I had the lovely surprise of hearing from Paula Claire this morning, who asked if I could add the following comments to the blog, which I'm more than happy to do:
'I gave a DVD perf for The Other Room's 4th anniversary that can be found on their website under OR31 with the 3 other poets that evening [link]. Included is my improvisation to the newt signs. I always ask everyone for vocal input in a live event, so it's just me and the newts --you must imagine what a group impro might sound like. I would really like it if you could add this comment as I cannot separate visual from sound.'
As it happened I'd played with the idea of talking about sound in connection with this piece, as I had with the the idea of talking about performance or installations in connection with other pieces. In the end I didn't, in part because the review was taking so long and I didn't want to get distracted by other thoughts.
from Motel Moods
We are back with minimal text for the pages from John M Bennett's Motel Moods. These are prefaced by an extract from an interview which features in the virtual volume, along with further text from Motel Moods.
There's a difference though. In the print volume the text is reproduced from scans or photos of the pages as published in 1980, in the Kindle volume the text is placed within the page as normal. Or to put it another way, without the framing device.
It's interesting that the physical page is used to carry the image of the historical page, where the virtual, non-existent page carries the words alone.
Liz Collini's Leaves, like other examples of her work that I've seen, is broadly speaking quite different from the other work in the anthology.
There are certain echoes of material in the Sarah Sanders piece I mentioned earlier, and there are a number of visual artists who make use of either text expanded to a large scale and placed on the gallery wall, or hand drawn or painted texts using actual fonts. Or at least lettering that resembles type more than it resembles handwriting.
But Collini's pieces do more than this. The text, the way it's drawn, the measurements and tiny marginal commentaries, mean that a piece like Leaves is more than just a single word. A single word, however impressively drawn, at monumental scale just wouldn't be that interesting.
Instead the space is interrupted, contested, the way each letter is drawn is problematised and commented on. From a distance the word appears provisional, incomplete, it bristles with annotations.
Curiously, although this is an area that interests me greatly, Collini's work is the only work I've pulled out because something in it fascinates me that seems to fully engage with three-dimensional space, and fully with questions of scale. Though neither of these is wholly apparent from either the paper or the virtual anthology.
Letter to my mother, Details
Harald Stoffers' Letter to my mother is another complicated visual space. Though here it is more crowded.
A handwritten letter, whose lines don't quite manage to be straight, written across or overwritten by lines like musical staves. But more wavering, more uneven, and not neatly divided into groups of five.
To me the pages look more like drawings than letters. They remind me of painstaking hand-drawn pictures of real and imagined cityscapes that I've seen from different artists across the years.
There are echoes of the piece elsewhere. Crowded handwritten visual spaces. Nick Blinko's untitled piece, and again Sarah Sanders' piece are the obvious immediate comparisons.
Philomena [Exploded House]
Caroline Bergvall's Philomena [Exploded House], a work in progress according to the interview at the launch event at London's Whitechapel Gallery, features across both volumes. The images in the Kindle volume are easier to read, to and give a greater clue as to the process of creation.
Texts are painted over and erased, leaving rough black squares of silence. Except that a mark, even an erasure is never silent.
I'm reminded of an album I have. Keiji Haino and Yoshida Tatsuya's Uhrfasudhasdd features tracks during which silences, complete absences of signal are interposed. Sometimes they function rhythmically, at other times they are a shock. Far more of a shock than the outbursts of noise that also punctuate the record.
Philomena never quite achieves that level of disruptive discomfort. It's hard to see how a static medium like print could achieve that kind of shock, which depends on suddenly confounding expectation.
While it initially seems that there's not much to see, the images do draw you back, trying to see under the erasing ink or paint.
Finally Nadya Collazo Llorens' Bokeh. I already mentioned the family resemblance with Paula Claire's Great Crested Newt Sonata. But the lines of out-of-focus dots also echoes the preceding images from Simon Patterson's Black List.
Where Boekh is black on white, Black List is white text on black. The text here is painted to resemble film credits, but is blurred at the edges so it appears not quite in focus.
Bokeh looks more like pages from a book, and indeed in the Kindle edition appear to actually be pages within a book, just unfocussed and impossible to read in the conventional sense.
The Last Vispo
The Dark Would is not the only collection of visual texts I've read recently. There is also Nico Vassilakis and Crag Hill's The Last Vispo.
On the whole I prefer The Dark Would to The Last Vispo. But The Last Vispo is stronger in two ways.
First, The Last Vispo is in colour throughout. The Dark Would doesn't show this, often very important, element at all.
Second, and for me more importantly, there are only extracts of a handful of essays and interviews in paper volume of The Dark Would*. The Last Vispo in contrast has a large number of essays placed throughout the book. I believe this kind of critical context is crucial. It helps readers with no knowledge of the field orient themselves. And it enables practitioners and others sympathetic to the work to ensure they have a voice in shaping the critical reception to the work.
Thinking back only a little over five years ago, before I had had any contact with any contemporary experimental practice, all I knew of visual poetry or language art was what I had encountered in mainstream textbooks and websites.
That mostly amounted to historical context that concentrated exclusively on text: altar poems, pattern poems, perhaps if the author felt adventurous illuminated manuscripts and calligraphy, especially Islamic. But on occasion it might include dismissive references to concrete poetry that made no attempt to understand the work. Or placed it in a misleading lineage with altar and pattern poems, with a strong suggestion that it was a novelty not worth serious consideration.
Both approaches are insulting and wrong.
As you'd expect neither The Last Vispo nor The Dark Would commit this fault.
Like I said at the start, The Dark Would is not an anthology of visual poetry. The Last Vispo is. Though even there I should note that there's a considerable overlap of contributors and techniques with Andrei Molotiu's (also Fantagraphics published) Abstract Comics.
While I like all these volumes, the two Fantagraphics books feel more like historical documents, or even coffee-table books, easier to buy, flick through and ignore. The Dark Would feels more open, more of a dialogue. It feels like a book you can return to, explore, find new things to try. A book also that you can argue with, that might sometimes echo where you're at, and at other times might be something you need to put away for a while.
It also feels very similar to the Voices anthologies I've frequently mentioned here and elsewhere. Something occasionally a little frightening, yet consistently fascinating.
The Dark Would rewards non-linear reading. Read (or flick) through it once or twice. Then take a piece that interests you, you may find that it echoes another piece, try to find that piece. If that artist has work in the virtual volume have a look at that. Read the biographical notes, which sometimes shed light on how a piece may have been created. If there is an interview with, or essay by that artist have a read.
Sometimes you may be able to remember that an artist has work in the anthology, but not what that work is. Look it up. Sometimes the work in the paper volume is continued in the virtual volume, at other times it looks very different.
Artists are in dialogue with their own work. Artists are in dialogue with each other. This proliferation of dialogue is one of the strongest components of The Dark Would for me. It's one of elements that's going to keep The Dark Would relevant for a long time to come, and make it a mesmerising read for years to come.
For this reason, in some ways its an anthology I wish I didn't have any work in. Not that I'm unhappy with my work, or unhappy to be featured in such an anthology, rather that I wish I could pick it up as someone with no knowledge of language art (or even visual or concrete poetry) and come to all this work as something utterly new. I can't imagine many reading experiences more exciting.
I hope I've indicated some starting points for your own journey through the book. Enjoy.
*I should note that there is a much larger amount of critical and contextual material in the Kindle volume of The Dark Would, a total of forty pieces. While they are in a section of their own, they are interlaced with the art. Where an artist has an essay or is interviewed, there is a link to that piece accompanying their work, and a link back to their work from the interview or essay.
Buy The Dark Would from Knives Forks and Spoons press and when you've done that download the Kindle volume from Apple Pie Editions. Don't worry if you don't have a Kindle, there are free downloadable readers available for other devices. The editor suggests Kindle Previewer, but I've found Kindle for Mac works better on my computer. I'm not sure about compatibility with smugphones, my Android phone has a Kindle reader, but bringing the anthology and the reader together has proved beyond me so far. It's a shame, it'd be nice to be able to carry it with me.
Thursday, April 04, 2013
Not massively busy, but more going on than there has been for a while. It starts on the Saturday.
This was Enemies of The North, part of Steven Fowler's year-long Enemies Project. It was held in the Cornerhouse Annexe which I'd never been in before. It's a good small space, at least until Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre move to their new joint base (the crappily named Home**) some time next year, apparently.
Back to the point, a large number of mainly Northwest based poets performed in a variety of collaborative formats.
There were 13 performances in all, linked below, all available through Steven's YouTube channel, and also linked from his blog of the event:
Steven Fowler & Tom Jenks http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9irfwTDwvGw
Sarah Crewe & Jo Langton http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9-LAMzfX1Y
Zoe Skoulding http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-UHv9lFaxU
David Kelly & Daniele Pantano http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkyqvxzUS1E
Matt Dalby & Steven Waling http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBg1bC4bY1Y
Steven Fowler & Chris McCabe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96MDy8FUBCs
James Byrne & Sandeep Parmar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wm9I2Odu85A
Alec Newman & Ryan Van Winkle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9BJI1b7mqE
Richard Barrett & Nathan Thompson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f87q-6KCGvY
Adam Steiner http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4W8GlnLnOM
Steven Fowler & Marcus Slease http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k50ZyucJXb0
Chris McCabe & Tom Jenks http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElDk44meVVU
Ben Morris http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9XtlJmiwfs
Highlights for me were Sarah Crewe and Jo Langton, David Kelly and Daniele Pantano's film, Steven Fowler and Marcus Slease, Chris McCabe and Tom Jenks, and sound artist Ben Morris at the end. But don't take that as your cue to ignore anything, there wasn't a weak performance really.
That said I wasn't especially happy with myself, I felt unfocused, and only really started to find direction when we came to the end. Judge for yourself though:
It was a fun night nonetheless, and good to be performing again. I really enjoy the process of improvising. It's a very different mode from everyday life, your brain works a lot quicker, your attention jumping between different points of focus (the overall sound, the sounds you're making now, what else is happening, where you might go next, considerations of the space and its acoustics, and the audience), and your sense of time is thoroughly blown.
*Some of this may be down to the anxiety and depression that made 2012 crash so badly partway through. The consequent lack of exercise, hibernation, and generally not getting out much seem to have depleted my energy. It's gradually getting better, but still sometimes an effort to motivate myself.
**If you care, the 'thinking' behind this name is here. The core of which is:
Home was a reference point for much of the workshop discussions (second home, feeling at home, home of great work) and following discussions with staff and stakeholders it emerged as one of the strongest possible names for the organisation.
It evokes accessibility, welcome and warmth, connection, a sense of ownership and personal relationships – all of which came out in the workshops as essential to the atmosphere and character of the new organisation.
Based on what we heard from audiences in the workshops and some of the discussions we had with staff, we also wanted to avoid anything that tried too hard, that came across as pretentious, convoluted or overworked or that needed a lot of explanation.
I have no words. The laziness of this, the implicit recognition that you're losing two strong and recognised (albeit site-specific) brands, the fact that it sounds like a pretentious hipster pub/coffee shop or a wannabe iconic office development makes me really fear for the future of both organisations.
Thursday, March 07, 2013
ATTR is photography, documentary, part-asemic text art, visual poem, found poem, and 'a reading of Manchester & Salford on 1 day'.
But what is it apart from that?
In part it's an accident. I didn't plan on creating anything last weekend, much less something that would consume more than half a week. Having finished 28 I wanted to take at least a week off.
But early into a walk on Sunday afternoon something possessed me and I thought 'wouldn't it be interesting to make a long poem from photographs of found text?' So I started taking photographs of text.
Three hours later I had just over 100 photos, and a broad idea of how I'd arrange them.
The photos fell, very roughly, into five categories: packaging, 'official' text (for instance, road signs), graffiti, asemic marks (mostly natural), and text on motor parts.
That last one is an odd one out, the text could have been categorised as packaging or (a a stretch) 'official' text. But there were quite a lot of photos in the category, all of which were visually quite similar, so I classified them together.
Later I added a sixth category, print. That is, printed material that wasn't packaging or 'official' text.
I started editing the book on Sunday evening when I cut the 103 images to 90, and edited the rest. A number had be made monochrome because there were unfixable issues with the colour, others had to be cropped. The rest had slight adjustments to their appearance. Around three were left unaltered in any way.
On Monday I created five folders for the different sections. The idea was that images from all six categories would intertwine through each section. Since there were sufficient images, a first section was created containing all the monochrome photos.
Well, most of them. As I came to assemble the section in a final readable form I was ruthless about cutting images that were weak, or just didn't fit.
On Tuesday the process continued with the creation of the second and third sections. More photos were dropped, and the layout of the document began to take place. By now I was down to 78 photos remaining.
This evening (Wednesday) I created the final two sections, ending up with a 64-page book containing 58 images (more if you count multiples of certain images).
You can read the book below, or download it for reading at leisure.
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
The Dark Would, editor Philip Davenport's major new language art anthology launches at Whitechapel Gallery in London on April 11. There are readings/talks from Tony Lopez, Caroline Bergvall and Simon Patterson on the night. The event is ticketed £4/3 (concs.)
The book will retail at £29.99 for both paper and electronic volumes together and will be available from Amazon, Apple Pie Editions website (distributed by KFS) the Tate and LMAKprojects in New York.
Jerry Rothenberg, Rosemarie Waldrop, Tom Phillips, Nja Mahdaoui, Tom Raworth, Paula Claire, Susan Hiller, Robert Grenier, Ed Baker, Lawrence Weiner, John M Bennett, Kay Rosen, Allen Fisher, Richard Long, Ron Silliman, Richard Wentworth, Kevin Austin, Maria Chevska, Alan Halsey, Ken Edwards, Mike Basinski, Charles Bernstein, Jenny Holzer, Hainer Wörmann, Tony Lopez, Fiona Templeton, Maggie O’Sullivan, Geraldine Monk, Marton Koppany, David Annwn, John Plowman, Jesse Glass, Jurgen Olbrich, Liz Collini, Robert Sheppard, Patricia Farrell, Fernando Aguiar, Shirin Neshat, Penelope Umbrico, Gregory Vincent St Thomasino, Steve Waling, Robert Fitterman, Michalis Pichler, David Austen, Keiichi Nakamura, Shaun Pickard, Geof Huth, Tony Trehy, Wayne Clements, Peter Jaeger, Elena Rivera, Kenny Goldsmith, Harald Stoffers, Erica Baum, Nick Blinko, Philip Terry, Caroline Bergvall, Carol Watts, George Widener, Philip Davenport, Nico Vassilakis, Monica Biagioli, Tacita Dean, Jeff Hilson, Alec Finlay, Christian Bok, Fiona Banner , Nigel Wood, Satu Kaikkonen, Simon Patterson, Dave Griffiths, Nayda Collazo Llorens, Vanessa Place, Peter Manson, Andrew Nightingale, Matt Dalby, Steve Miller, Christoph Illing, Sean Burn, Doug Fishbone, arthur+martha, Hung Keung, the gingerbread tree, Brian Reed, Laurence Lane, Tomomo Adachi , Tom Jenks, David Oprava, Scott Thurston, Julian Montague, Derek Beaulieu, Wang Jun , Mike Chavez-Dawson, Alec Newman, Rick Myers, Andrea Brady, Eric Zboya, Linus Slug, Jeff Grant, Richard Barrett, Christopher Fox, Linus Raudsepp, Carolyn Thompson, Tsang Kin-Wah, Stephen Emmerson, Andrew Topel, Anatol Knotek, Ola Stahl, Roman Pyrih, Christine Wong Yap, Sarah Sanders, Ying Kwok, Catherine Street, Michael Leong, Sam Winston, Angela Rawlings, James Davies, Rachel Lois Clapham, Steve Giasson, Amelia Crouch, Aysegul Torzeren, Jeremy Balius, Emily Crichley, Amaranth Borsuk, Ben Gwilliam , Imri Sandstrom, Sam le Witt, Michael Nardone, Tamarin Norwood, Lucy Harvest Clark, Jessica Pujol Duran, Holly Pester, Rebecca Cremin, Ryan Ormonde, Nick Thurston, j/j hastain, Bruno Neiva, SJ Fowler, Alex Davies, Helen Hajnoczky, Samantha Y Huang, Anna frew, Nat Raha, Jo Langton, Ekaterina Samigulina, Emma King, Leanne Bridgewater and more.