Wednesday, 22 December 2010

PRSF New Music Plus performances

It was a busy week for me last week, particularly the Thursday (16th Dec), when I played at two consecutive performances to mark the culmination of the PRS for Music Foundation's New Music Plus partnership. The New Music Plus project consisted of a set a of year-long partnerships between the PRSF, new music producers and prominent venues and cultural organisations. The two performances I played in on the final night were:

'The Intergalactic Mashup King'
Organised by Ross Dalziel
with his partnership organisation, National Museum Liverpool - World Museum. We got to play in the planetarium at the World Museum, performing along to the planetarium's show about the solar system and the Universe. A dream come true! In fact, this concert was the first of its kind at the planetarium, and was to mark the 40th anniversary of its opening. As well as Ross and myself performing, there were also Glenn Boulter and Mark Pilkington. We started out with a composition of Mark's that melted into one of my compositions, before we all started improvising along together. Great show, and amazing how dark it gets in there!

Setting up at the planetarium

Opening Party for FACT and Tate Liverpool's Nam June Paik exhibition
The next gig was organised by Glenn Boulter in partnership with FACT and Tate Liverpool, and was the opening event for their joint exhibition of the work of Korean artist, Nam June Paik. The event took place at the Kazimier, which is a great venue. The group this time was a new duo that myself and Adam Webster of Frakture have set up called 'the white snow leaves imprints in the dawn'. In fact, we set up the duo in response to the commission to do a Nam June Paik inspired piece, but we're planning to take the group further and have a second work ready to go. The piece we created for this performance was called One, after Paik's piece of the same name. While Adam played the cello, I affected his sonic output. We then simultaneously sent out the clean and affected signals to the PA. At the same time we projected some of the computer generated visuals I've been working on, using a second projector and a camera to capture the visuals and project them back into the same space, creating a visual feedback loop.

Photos by Glenn Boulter

Friday, 3 December 2010

Sound Relay

Last month I played in a project called Sound Relay, which was a collaboration between Ensemble 10/10 (the Liverpool Philharmonic's contemporary music ensemble), and the a.P.A.t.T. Orchestra. The project was part of the Liverpool Biennial's Long Night.

The musicians were split into groups starting at different locations. I was stationed initially at FACT. Starting at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, the first group of musicians walked to FACT, playing along the way; then we went to the Bluecoat, still playing; and made our final stop at Tate Liverpool, where we split up into different groups, each in a separate room in the gallery.

Here's a video with highlights of the whole event.

Resonating vans, Neon Party in the Car Park

Here's some footage of last month's Noise Club gig in Dundee at Neon Party in the Car Park, which, as the name suggests, was actually in a multi-story car park in Dundee. Mike Loftus and myself were the performers.

During the gig I resonated a van that had been hired for us using feedback, manipulating the sound with the panels on the van and effects, while Mike, among other things, recorded sound live from the performance onto megaphones, which he then placed around the car park, looping the recorded sounds.

Up the Wall, Chester

Here are some pictures from my recent installation at Up the Wall in Chester. Up the Wall is a site specific, installation and live art festival along Chester’s ancient city walls run by Chester Performs. My installation was a 49-speaker installation called Jericho's Revenge. It was created under the Noise Club name as a site-specific work.

Jericho's Revenge is an interactive sound installation that turns the biblical story of the fall of the Walls of Jericho on its head.  Instead of bringing the walls tumbling down, here, a wall is constructed from the sound of trombones, a viewer-playable, 49 strong orchestra of powerful and dissonant sounds, giving new resonance to an ancient tale.
Jericho's Revenge uses dense harmonic structures to create clouds of sound that are simultaneously static and continuously changing. Musically, the piece pays tribute to the choral music of the Renaissance; in particular, to Thomas Tallis' motet, Spem in Alium, which uses 40 independent vocal lines to create, in places, an intensely powerful wall of sound. The idea in Jericho's Revenge was to use Tallis' techniques within a modern musical idiom.
 The trombonist was Alex Scott, and my assistant on the project was Anthony Thomas.

Photos by Tamsin Drury

Here's a video of the festival as a whole, including my piece.

Up the Wall 2010 from Chester Performs on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

'Intensity', by Karlheinz Stockhausen

I've just finished editing the audio of a recording of Intensity, part of Stockhausen's From the Seven Days. It was recorded at a Frakture workshop I led a few months ago. It was Pete Jones, one of the Frakture regulars, who suggested using Intensity for a workshop, since it was based on written instruction, rather than a conventional score. Unfortunately he wasn't able to make it himself.

I thought the idea of visual images would be something interesting to explore in conjunction with Stockhausen's piece, so structured the workshop around this, building up to a performance of the piece itself. The recording was made in the Sandom Room at the Bluecoat.

Reinhard Fuchs: voice, laptop
Myself: piano
Phil Lucking: trumpets
Phil Morton: accidents and treatments
Neil Murphy: flute
Adam Webster: cello

Monday, 29 November 2010

Interface Amnesty 3

Interface Amnesty is an event run by SoundNetwork. It shows off new interfaces that artists have been working to control sound/vision/bubbles/and much more. This was the third Interface Amnesty (Noise Club have been at all three), and was part of the Abandon Normal Devices festival. This time the event was held in Noiselab in Manchester.

It was a double-whammy for me, as I was there not only with Noise Club, but with the Inari Noodle project I had been working on.

For the Noise Club stall, we demonstrated a few of the new instruments we'd been working on. Mike Loftus, always the prolific builder, had modified a cello with brake pedals (see clip below), and was also demonstrating his new electronic instrument he'd built with home-made capacitors. I showed off some of the work I've been doing on controlling feedback with physical objects (more of this to come in future posts).

Inari Noodle is an audiovisual noodle bar project by Japanese artist, Inari Nishiki. My role in the project was quite extensive: writing computer-game-type music to use as the project's theme; creating a media player for the audiovisual clips, and getting them to play when a particular type of noodle was selected; and controlling the noodle dispenser using servos controlled by an Arduino. It was really interesting working on the Arduino - so many possibilities - and I think I'm going to use the knowledge I gained in the process to create a robotics project at some point in the future. More to come, then...

In the meantime, here's a short clip of the moment I got the Arduino controlling its first servo.

Noise Club at the World Museum, Liverpool

The DIY Music Day was a co-production between the World Museum in Liverpool, music producer Ross Dalziel and the PRS for Music Foundation. There were quite a few different groups involved, from a restored vintage fairground organ to members of the band a.P.A.t.T. playing some of the gamelan instruments in the museum's collection.

Noise Club was stationed in the insect house. What a great place for making noise, surrounded by bees and ants and all kinds of crazy stuff! This was part performance, part installation, part exposition. We placed pre-recorded compositions around the floor we were on (my favourite being behind the giant model of a fly, complete with moving head), then demonstrated some of the instruments we'd been working on recently; and, of course, always accompanied by the sounds of insects from around the world.

Listen to a recording of some of the day...

St Luke's all-dayer

To coincide with the Bold St Festival, we at Frakture decided to put on an all-day free improvisation event at St Luke's Church in Liverpool (better known as the Bombed-out-church). I played in four different groups on the day: i:Object, Noise Club, the Frakture Big Band, and the Infinite Monkey Orchestra.

Here's a video compilation of the day...

The Frakass Megaphone Choir

Every couple of months I put on a noise night in Liverpool called Frakass. For the August event, Phil Morton of Frakture and myself formed a megaphone choir. Anyone who turned up with a megaphone could get in free and would get to play in the choir. Just too funny!!!

The Garden of Unearthly Delights

The Garden of Unearthly Delights was an audio-visual-olfactory installation I designed and created for the basement of Wolstenholme Creative Space, Liverpool. It explored the connection between the senses of vision, hearing and smell.

Smell is particularly interesting to me as an artist because it is the oldest of the senses, connected directly to the most primitive part of the brain. This gives smell an enormous power over our emotional state; just a hint of a familiar smell can bring back a memory from childhood in intense detail.

The installation was a tribute to the work of Hieronymus Bosch, whose triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights, contains one of the most famous depictions of Hell in art history. Here, however, there is no binary opposition between heaven and hell; everything is a matter of degrees, and, while there are poles of attraction, the real stuff of life lies in between, in the gap between birth and death.

Photos by Rob Anthony Adamson

Noise Club at Hazard MMX

Just starting to get round to uploading some documentation of my exploits the past few months. So here's the first bit, Noise Club's project, I Lie in Wait..., at Hazard MMX.

Hazard MMX is a yearly  festival in Manchester run by hÅb and greenroom. The Noise Club project was a playful game of sonic hide and seek. It was performed by myself and Adam Webster. Here's how we described it for the brochure:
Mischievous and playful, a chance discovery and a random event, it could change your life or you could just pass by, unaware. Part installation, part performance this interactive sound work lurks hidden, waiting to take you by surprise. Will you find me? I lie in wait...

After walking round Manchester all day, greatly confusing the happy residents of the city, we went back to greenroom. But we couldn't resist going back out to a nearby tunnel to have a bit of a play... amazing acoustics! Have a look at this short video clip of us...

Thanks to Tamsin Drury for a creating such a fun-filled event!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Post number one (imaginative title)

Well! This is the first post in my new blog, where I'll try to keep everyone abreast of the stuff I'm up to myself as an artist, and other things I see and hear that I'd like to share.

In fact, the week we've just had, and this week coming, are pretty packed already with things to relate to you, my good readers. I'll start back-cataloguing stuff later. For now, I'll just tell you about what's coming up...

PS Hope you enjoy my blog! I'd love to hear any feedback from anyone who'd care to share!