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Clive Bell

Bell Labs: forecast for 2015

December 2014

You read correctly: the sage Mr Bell buffs his crystal ball (well, his laptop screen), peers into the fogs of 2015 and sees double

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade of miserabilia, their sob story of why 2014 sucked so bad, but here’s why 2015 is going to be a great, great year. Think of cutting edge music as a lab, a co-lab if you will, where collaboration is key and white coats are optional. You think everyone’s already working with everyone else? Think again, because 2015 will be (spoiler alert) teeming with teamings. See below:

01
Ex-child star Charlotte Church has called up her old sparring partner, harpist Rhodri Davies. Church has been recording a series of experimental EPs in a Cardiff garden shed for her own label Alligator Wine. Davies spent his formative years accompanying the multi-million selling Church in her pomp, so it’s a case of old friends back in harness. “I think Rhodri’s string-snapping and filthy distortion pedals are a perfect fit with my new songs,” Church told me. “And his tendency to set fire to harps will make things cosy in the Welsh winter.”

02
Veteran free saxophonist Evan Parker celebrated his 70th birthday this year. Meanwhile adult contemporary sax maestro Kenny G (58) concluded his October tour of China with a supportive visit to a pro-democracy protest camp in Hong Kong. What better time to announce their long-awaited circular breathing collaboration? “We’re calling it a lung-off,” quipped Kenny, whose real name is Gorelick. “But of course it’s not a competition. I can keep it up for three hours at least. I’m just saying. Yeah, there’ll be a box set. Maybe several.”

03
Expect to see more free improvisors crossing into the mainstream since The Bohman Brothers appeared last autumn on Jools Holland’s Later. It was a trouble-free shoot, apart from when things turned nasty after Jools insisted the Bohmans join him for some boogie woogie piano. And now Mancunian improvisor Lee Patterson is pencilled in for a collaboration with boffin chef Heston Blumenthal. “Of course I knew Lee’s Three Hazelnuts Burn and his work with fried eggs,” said Blumenthal. “But then I heard Two Peanuts Burn and I realised this guy is literally on fire. We have to burn stuff together.” It’s unclear at the time of writing whether this will result in a little gig or a major TV series.

04
Top of Andy Coulson’s to-do list after his release from prison in November 2014? A call to Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud, regarding a recording project themed around intercepting voicemails. “Total respect for this guy,” gushed Coulson outside Hollesley Bay open prison, Suffolk. “He was on it way before anyone else, and he had the legal angle better covered than some of us. I’ve been using my time to write lyrics.” Rimbaud’s people commented that Scanner was “rather busy at the moment”.

05
Not so much a collaboration, more a battle of the keyboards: Feldman interpreter and AMM member John Tilbury goes mano a mano with flamboyant Chinese virtuoso Lang Lang. “I performed with Korean pop star Psy (“Gangnam Style”) at the opening ceremony for the 2014 Asian Games,” said Lang, “and this seems the logical next step. I never heard of Tilbury, but I really doubt his gestures are more flamboyant than mine. How many sweat towels does he have on stage? Exactly.” Expect more needle when the contest screens on BBC2’s new arts show, Who’s Best?, presented by David Toop.

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