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Scott Walker has died

His current label 4AD announced the news on 25 March

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Scott Walker,” reveals record label 4AD’s announcement. “Scott was 76 years old and is survived by his daughter, Lee, his granddaughter, Emmi-Lee, and his partner Beverly.” Born Noel Scott Engel on 9 January 1943 in Hamilton, Ohio, he rose to fame with American pop trio The Walker Brothers alongside John Maus and Gary Leeds. Moving to the UK in 1965, the group achieved widespread success with "Make It Easy On Yourself" and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore)" reaching number 1 in the UK single charts. In 1967 he launched his solo career with Scott, followed by Scott 2, Scott 3 and Scott 4, a quartet of lush records influenced by existentialism, Jacques Brel and baroque pop. He had started his career as a session bassist, but lyrics were increasingly taking the lead in his songs. The fourth record was a commercial failure, having originally been released, on Walker’s suggestion, under the name Noel Scott Engel. Around this time he is rumoured to have studied Gregorian chant at Quarr Abbey on the Isle Of Wight in 1966, and his haunting baritone became the focal point of his 60s recordings.

The 70s were a turbulent time for Walker as he drifted in and out of periods of alcohol and tranquilliser use, while recording a number of patchy albums often heavy on cover versions. The Walker Brothers reunited to make a pair of covers albums in the 1970s, in advance of a complex final album Nite Flights (1978), divided equally songs by each Walker Brother, and featuring Scott’s nightmarish “The Electrician”, written from the point of view of a CIA torturer, and introducing themes of mortality and geopolitical power that increasingly came to influence his later work. In 1984 he released Climate Of Hunter, an album whose dizzying range of contributors included saxophonist Evan Parker and Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler. There followed another lengthy hiatus before 1995’s powerful Tilt. He put his solo career on hold once again and worked on a selection of other projects, including the soundtrack for Leos Carax’s film Pola X. He also recorded vocals for David Arnold & Don Black’s “Only Myself To Blame” for the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough. Although it failed to make the cut on screen, it was included on the album release. Film had long been an inspiration for Walker – in 1972 he released The Moviegoer, an album of film themes that failed to chart and Scott 4’s “The Seventh Seal” was inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film. “It isn’t deliberate, but I am a film addict and it has influenced my work,” he told Mike Barnes in The Wire 346. “I can hear it in lots of ways, but it doesn’t register with me that I’m creating a scene or anything. I think there’s a lot of visualisation in my songs, a lot of imagery and sometimes I’ll be hitting one after the other.”

In 2006 he released The Drift, his first solo album in 11 years, followed by Bish Bosch in 2012, and his Sunn O))) collaboration Soused in 2014. He went on to score the soundtracks for Brady Corbet’s films The Childhood Of A Leader (2015) and Vox Lux (2018).

The Last Poets release remix album Understand What Dub Is and share single

Also announced this week is a new album proper from the group’s longstanding members Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan

The Last Poets have announced the release of two albums this week featuring longstanding members from their 1970s and 80s era line-up, Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan, plus percussionist Baba Donn Babatunde. One album is called Transcending Toxic Times and is out in May – Rolling Stone shared “For The Millions” from the release. and the other, out this month, is a remix album of last year's 50th anniversary record Understand What Black Is. Mixing it up is Brighton based producer Prince Fatty, who was involved in the album’s original recording.

Today they share Prince Fatty's remix of “Rain Of Terror”.

The Last Poets Understand What Dub Is is released by Studio Rockers on 29 March. They'll be playing various dates this month including Banlieu Bleues Festival in Paris (22 March), Bristol Trinity (24), Nottingham at Peggy’s Skylight Jazz (27), and Brixton Hootananny (29). They will also perform at Rotterndam's International Poetry Festival (12–15 June).

Last year saw the death of other Last Poets’ longstanding member Jalal Mansur Nuriddin.

New label Persistence Of Sound releases London Sound Survey’s Thames LP

Composer Iain Chambers has lined up three new releases this spring

A new label founded by composer Iain Chambers will launch in May. Called Persistence Of Sound, its remit is to cover electroacoustic music, global field recordings and the “unclassifiable”. Three releases are already available for pre-order, including one from Ian Rawes’s London Sound Survey project.

Launched in 2008 (and online since 2009) Rawes’s survey has been busy documenting the changing sounds of London through historical sources and over 2000 new recordings. The forthcoming Thames collects a variety of field recordings made along the river, some from inside the Bascule Chamber at Tower Bridge.

Other Persistence Of Sound releases include Robert Worby’s first electronic solo work Factitious Airs, and Chambers’s own The Eccentric Press, consisting of two pieces composed using material from the EU project’s Sounds of Changes.

All three albums will be released on 20 May as limited edition vinyl LPs plus free downloads, featuring artwork designed by Matthew Young. They’re available for pre-order now.

Glasgow’s pop up station presents newly commissioned works and live shows in May

Artists confirmed include crys cole, Pan Daijing and Sally Ann Mcintyre

Following its open call in January, Glasgow’s pop up station Radiophrenia goes on air from 13–26 May. Its schedule includes broadcasting newly commissioned works by crys cole, Pan Daijing, Sally Ann Mcintyre, LAPS and Maria Fusco. It will also be presenting a series of free radiophonic performances at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts, including sets by Félicia Atkinson, Poulomi Desai, Jérôme Noetinger, Lucrecia Dalt, Kate Carr, Sally Golding, Daniel Padden, Hanna Hartmann and others.

The station will broadcast on 87.9FM in the Glasgow area, as well as a live stream via their website.

Musica Sanae explores the intersection of sound and medicine

Over the course of three international festivals, musicians, performers, researchers and theorists examine the health effects of new ways of hearing

The research based arts project Musica Sanae has invited 40 musicians, performers, researchers and theorists to present works spread over three separate events in Italy, Poland and Germany investigating how new ways of hearing interact with notions of hygiene, well-being and mental health.

Musica Sanae’s operations begin at Naples’ La Digestion Festival (3-4 May), and then continue at Sokolowsko, Poland’s Sanatorium Of Sound Festival (16–18 August) and NK, Berlin (15–16 November).

The Naples programme includes lectures by Davide Borelli and Michal Libera; lecture performances by Erik Bünger and Luciano Chessa; film screenings curated by Rafaella Morra; an installation by Lucio Capece & Gerard Lebik, and performances by Fis, Inconsolable Ghost, Eks, CM von Hausswolff, Felicia Atkinson, Okkyung Lee, Croatian Amor and more.

Other participants through the year include Felicia Atkinson, Rashad Becker, Tiziana Bertoncini and Ziúr.

For more details you can visit their website.

Corey Mwamba retires from live performance

Back in June 2018, the Derby based vibraphonist set the date for his final gig as 23 March 2019

Corey Mwamba’s show at Baby People Studios in his hometown Derby on Saturday 23 March will be his last.

The improvisor and composer announced his retirement last summer, noting that he had made the decision a few years ago. He will still be making home recordings, read his statement, adding that he will be focusing his energy on the British/Irish jazz and improv communities.

“My life isn’t a comic book and it certainly won’t be the fourth Avengers film, so I won’t be coming back,” he states. “I’m retiring from live performance for a number of reasons. Before I was put into the world of making music for a living, it was something I enjoyed. My relationship with live performance has always been shaky: I still get stage fright. Music has made me more sociable (and social); but also less empowered in terms of personal decision making. This has affected me physically, emotionally, and mentally.”

He continues, “I never planned to be a musician. I started when I was 16, and that was on a large ensemble improv gig with Steve Noble! But I was young enough to be told to do more, and I did. When I started making my own music, it was predominantly electroacoustic. But here at that time, making that music while black was not going to work – any conversation about black British experimental music is a short one, even today, and I am never included in it. So I focussed on vibes playing, as that was something more intelligible. But then the music I wanted to make was towards the totally improvised end. And I don’t live (and have no wish to live) in London. And so there was a rejection on that level too, including from the community who thought that improvised music wasn’t ‘real music’. And then there are The Usual Things, as well as my physicality being objectified (even in bands, by band leaders or managers) or ridiculed.

“And it has been difficult. But I am still here, I am proud of the music I have made, and thankful to those people who have really supported me through that music.”

You can read the full letter on his website, and listen to his music via Bandcamp.

Major Peter Brötzmann festival happening at Cafe Oto

The East London venue will host four day Brötzmann special in September

London arts space Cafe Oto has announced a four day Peter Brötzmann festival. Running from 4–7 September, it will feature a range of performances from the saxophonist and his collaborators.

The programme opens with Han Bennink & Brötzmann, Alexander von Schlippenbach (solo) and Brötzmann with Heather Leigh (4 September); Schlippenbach, Brötzmann & Bennink, Pat Thomas (solo), and Leigh, Brötzmann & Camille Emaille (5); Brötzmann, Eric Revis & Nasheet Waits, Bennink (solo), and Leigh & Emaille (6); Brötzmann, Matana Roberts, Thomas, Revis, and Waits (7).

Tickets are on sale now.

Lou Reed archive opens at New York Public Library

Documenting Lou Reed’s life as a musician, composer, poet and tai chi student

A Lou Reed archive has been opened at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Featuring his papers, photographs, recordings and more, the collection documents Reed’s life as a musician, composer, poet, writer, photographer and tai chi student. It ranges from 1958 when he played in the Freeport High School band up until his final performance in 2013.

Visitors can also grab a special edition Lou Reed library card. For more information how to use the archive, go to NYPL's website.

Final release for The Caretaker project after 20 years

Leyland James Kirby closes the door on The Caretaker with stage six of Everywhere At The End Of Time

Leyland James Kirby has announced his final release as The Caretaker. Running for 20 years, his first music under that moniker was 1999’s Selected Memories From The Haunted Ballroom. That was followed by a host of albums on both his V/Vm label which he co-founded back in 1996 with Andy McGregor, and its successor History Always Favours The Winners.

The final release also rounds up the last stage of Everywhere At The End Of Time, a collection focused around dementia featuring commissioned artwork from longterm collaborator Ivan Seal.

“When work began on this series it was difficult to predict how the music would unravel itself,” explains Kirby. “Dementia is an emotive subject for many and always a subject I have treated with maximum respect. Stages have all been artistic reflections of specific symptoms which can be common with the progression and advancement of the different forms of Alzheimer's.”

He closes the project with the statement: “Thanks always for your support through the years. May the ballroom remain eternal. C'est fini.”

Coinciding with the release, a bonus download edition from the archives, Everywhere At The End Of Time, will be made available for free until 16 June. It will be presented at the Ivan Seal & The Caretaker exhibition Everywhere, An Empty Bliss at FRAC Auvergne in Clermont-Ferrand, France, from 7 April–16 June.

“In celebration of its completion and only for a limited time here is a surprise golden farewell. Compliments of the house. Offering you one last chance to raise a charged glass for those we lost along the way, for all the works, for those ghosts from our past, for our uncertain future and for The Caretaker.”

Everywhere At The End Of Time is out now. You can listen to it in full below.

Black Atlantic scholar Paul Gilroy wins Holberg Prize

Author of The Black Atlantic wins the Norwegian prize for being “one of the most challenging and inventive figures in contemporary scholarship”

The UK scholar known for his writings on black cultural expression has won Norway’s Holberg Prize, as reported in The New York Times. Paul Gilroy is currently a professor of American and English literature at London’s Kings College. In 1982 he published The Empire Strikes Back: Race And Racism In 70s Britain, which was followed in 1987 by There Ain't No Black In The Union Jack: The Cultural Politics Of Race And Nation. His groundbreaking 1992 book The Black Atlantic: Modernity And Double Consciousness (Verso) transformed popular thinking and academic studies on the African diaspora.

The Holberg prize is six million Norwegian kroner, approximately £530,000.

To mark 2018's Windrush celebrations, Gilroy compiled a playlist of tracks for The Wire that highlight a distinct black British musical aesthetic over the last 70 years.