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Shenzhen’s OCT-LOFT Jazz Festival kicks off next month

Happening between 9–21 October, its special ‘festival in festival’ programme focuses on improvisation and free jazz

The eighth edition of OCT-LOFT Jazz Festival in Shenzhen, Southern China, includes a ‘Festival In Festival’ focus on international improvisors and free jazz players, among them Jooklo Duo, Zu, William Parker, Vladimir Chekasin & Vladimir Tarasov – La Grande Sonata, Yoriyuki Harada Quartet, Alexey Kruglov/Jaak Sooäär Quartet, RS5pb and FIF Improvisation Union. The festival proper presents AVA Trio, Luca Sestak, Jeppe Zeeberg, EYM Trio, Hagiga Sextet, Ruth Koleva, Janet Klein & Her Parlor Boys, Mamer, Kazakhstan’s Ensemble Turan, Yossi Fine & Ben Aylon and others.

OCT-LOFT will also be screening the films Inside Out In The Open: An Expressionist Journey Into The Music Known As Free Jazz and Cecil Taylor's Piano Marathon, Berlin 1988: Erzulie Maketh Scent. And Steve Holtje will present a talk called “55 Years Of Nurturing Avant-Garde And Outsider Music: ESP-Disk's Perpetual Revolution”.

Happening between 9–21 October at B10 Live, Shenzhen, 2018 OCT-LOFT Jazz Festival is curated by Tu Fei and Teng Fei with Shenzhen Old Heaven Culture Communication Co Ltd. Check out the full programme or buy tickets via their website.

The extraordinary story of library music at the British Library

The event will feature a panel discussion moderated by Emily Bick

On 6 October the British Library will host a night dedicated to library music. Featuring some of library music label KPM's key composers, the event will feature the first live show in six years for the KPM All Stars performing a selection of classics, and starring Keith Mansfield, Brian Bennett, John Cameron, Alan Parker, and The Mohawks' Alan Hawkshaw.

Also happening will be a premiere screening of Shawn Lee’s feature length documentary The Library Music Film, and a talk hosted by The Wire's Deputy Editor Emily Bick. Plus DJ support from Finders Keepers' Andy Votel, and Jane Weaver.

The library will also be host to an exhibition of library music album covers curated by David Hollander, author of Unusual Sounds: The Hidden History Of Library Music. The KPM archive is resident at the British Library.

Smith & Mighty celebrate 30 years since their debut with Ashley Road Sessions (1988-1994)

For the release, Bristol veteran labels Tectonic and Punch Drunk team up in a one-off collaboration

Bristol's Smith & Mighty celebrate 30 years since their first release. To mark the occasion they've released a collection from the archives with the album Ashley Road Sessions (1988-1994), on a special one-off double label partnership between Pinch’s Tectonic and Peverelist’s Punch Drunk.

Combining their creative efforts in the now defunct band Sweat, when the group split Rob Smith and Ray Mighty began recording together and launched the label Three Stripe Records. Their first release proper came in 1988 when the pair was introduced to Daddy G and Lloyd at Revolver distribution, releasing a four track 12“ Anyone. That year the duo released three more 12” singles on Three Stripe, including R+R ‘s Acid Off A Way PT 1 & 2, as well as Smith & Mighty's Walk On with Jackie Jackson, and Clash Of The Beats featuring MC Kelz. They also mixed and produced Massive Attack's first release Any Love. Tracks on the Ashley Road Sessions release are taken from recordings made in the pair's studio housed in Ray's flat on Ashley Road in Bristol's St Pauls area.

"Smith & Mighty are true pioneers in music whom I've found deeply inspirational on many levels, explains Tectonic founder Pinch. “Tracks like ”Closer”, “U Dub” and “Same” are some of my all-time favourites. To be putting out these unreleased gems is such an exciting project for both me and Tom. We both took a great deal of influence from Smith & Mighty – especially from Bass Is Maternal – the album and era from which most of this compilation’s source material originates."

Ashley Road Sessions (1988-1994) is released on 16 November. Pre-orders are available on Bandcamp, where you can also pick up a 10” sampler, Love Is The Key / Version (not available for the LP). Listen to “Tumblin' (Death March)” from the release, below.

Rachid Taha has died

The Algerian singer died on 12 September aged 59

Algerian singer and activist Rachid Taha died of a heart attack in Paris on 12 September. Born in 1958, he moved to France at the age of ten. In Lyon, he began DJing and writing. In 1982 he formed Carte De Sejour along with Mohamed and Mokhtar Amini, Eric Vaquer and Djamel Dif, releasing their debut album Rhorhomanie in 1984. Taha recalled in an Invisible Jukebox in The Wire 277 how they tried to get The Clash to produce their first record. 20 years later he recorded a version of “Rock The Casbah” titled “Rock El Casbah” with ex-Clash members Mick Jones and Paul Simonon. The group had a 1986 hit with their version of Charles Trenet’s patriotic “Douce France”. After they split, Taha moved to Paris and launched his solo career in the late 1980s. In 1999 he collaborated with raï musician Cheb Khaled and Faudel on 1, 2, 3 Soleils, conceived by ex-Gong guitarist Steve Hillage as an “Arab equivalent of the Three Tenors”.

Anthology of Mark Fisher writings set for November release

K-Punk includes published and unfinished pieces on music, pop culture, politics and mental health

Repeater Books have announced the publication date for a long-awaited collection of pieces by the writer, theorist and former Wire contributor Mark Fisher. K-Punk: The Collected And Unpublished Writings Of Mark Fisher From 2004-2016, a collection named after his longrunning blog, includes unpublished writings, blog posts as well as contributions to The Wire.

The anthology, which includes a foreword by music writer and friend Simon Reynolds and is edited by Darren Ambrose, extends beyond writings on music to TV, film, politics, mental health and popular culture. Among the unpublished pieces is a draft introduction to a planned work on what Mark termed “acid communism”. K-Punk: The Collected And Unpublished Writings Of Mark Fisher From 2004–2016 will be published by Repeater, an imprint co-founded by Fisher in 2014.

Fisher was a regular contributor to The Wire from 2007 up until January 2017, when he took his own life.

Film makers seek crowdfunding for new documentary about Krautrock

The producers of on-going documentary series about progressive rock ask for help funding its new addition, Romantic Warriors 4: Krautrock (Part 1)

Film producers Adele Schmidt and José Zegarra Holder are about to unleash the fourth edition in their progressive rock series Romantic Warriors: A Progressive Music Saga. This time they've focused on the German experimental rock scene that rose to prominence in the 1960s and 70s, with a two part feature-length documentary divided by the genre's core epicentres. Part one will focus on bands from the Cologne, Düsseldorf and Hamburg regions, with part two (release date planned for late 2019) concentrating on bands from the Berlin and Munich scenes.

Documenting the work of artists such as Can, Faust, Kluster, Cluster, Kraftwerk, Floh De Cologne, Neu!, La Düsseldorf, Japandorf and Harmonia, and featuring interviews with Jean-Hervé Peron, Zappi Diermaier, Malcolm Mooney, Jaki Liebezeit, Damo Suzuki, Irmin Schmidt, Wolfgang Flür, Eberhard Kranemann, Dieter Klemm, Dick Städtler, Theo König, Vridolin Enxing, Michael Rother, Miki Yui, Hans Lampe, Hans Joachim Roedelius and Harald Grosskopf, part one is near completion, however the producers still need help financing the final stages.

For more information, and to donate, you can visit the indiegogo campaign. Other films in the series include: Romantic Warriors I (2010), Romantic Warriors II: About Rock In Opposition (2012) and Romantic Warriors III: Canterbury Tales (2015).

Watch the trailer below.

Spitalfields Music Festival announces programme

Artists at December event include Shiva Feshareki and Anna Meredith

Spitalfields Music Festival has announced its 42nd edition will take place between 1–9 December. Curated by conductor André de Ridder, the event will take place across a host of venues in East London including Studio 92, Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, Rich Mix, Chats Palace Arts Centre, and Hoxton Hall.

This year, site-specific production Unknown, Remembered will fuse Handel’s La Lucrezia with a new commission from Shiva Feshareki, inspired by lyrics from Joy Division's album Unknown Pleasures. The installation will work alongside Haroon Mirza’s film The Last Tape, which features actor Richard Strange. There'll also be performances from The Riot Ensemble, Anna Meredith, Shiva Feshareki, Jörgen van Rijen, Mary Bevan with Elizabeth Kenny and Joseph Crouch, and much more.

"Spitalfields Music Festival 2018 examines connections that span many centuries and genres of quintessentially English music,” explains André de Ridder. For Unknown, Remembered he says “The idea to combine these works came about through a number of streams of thought: it is inspired by the film Control and partly from Deborah Curtis's book Touching From A Distance, which moved me very much with regards to seeing things from Ian Curtis’s wife’s point of view…

“Talking of control and losing control, paired with the powerful tool of memory and its manipulation over time, Lucretia’s monologue in the Handel cantata married to the Unknown Pleasures lyrics of Curtis recomposed and sung by the same singer as the Handel, these pieces become new arias and possibly modern laments again.”

More information can be found on their website.

Le Guess Who? reveals full programme

Swamp Dogg, Neneh Cherry, Tirzah, Kelsey Lu, Lonnie Holley with Nelson Patton, Midori Takada and many more have been added to the bill

The Utrecht based Le Guess Who? festival has announced the full line-up of its 12th edition. More than 150 artists will be performing at various venues across the city between 8–11 November. Swamp Dogg, Neneh Cherry, Lonnie Holley joined by Nelson Patton, Tirzah, Cass McCombs, Yves Tumor, Midori Takada, Kelsey Lu, Alabaster DePlume, Senyawa, Hot Snakes, and Moon Duo's Sanae Yamadathe as Vive la Void are among the new additions to the programme. The festival’s special projects include Ryley Walker and Kikagaku Moyo collaborating on a performance entitled Deep Fried Grandeur; Yonatan Gat and The Eastern Medicine Singers interpreting Gat's latest album Universalists; and Seefeel marking the 25th anniversary of the release of their album Quique by performing it in its entirety.

As announced in May, this year's guest curators include Devendra Banhart, Asia Argento, Shabaka Hutchings and Moor Mother; and artists previously confirmed include Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Anoushka Shankar, Ebo Taylor, Sons Of Kemet, Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Saul Williams with King Britt, AMMAR 808, Cüneyt Sepetçi, Hailu Mergia, Jozef van Wissem, Lucrecia Dalt, Lucy Railton, Meridian Brothers, Linafornia, Miho Hatori, Eli Keszler, King Champion Sounds, Cindy Lee, Black Midi, Urochromes, Islaja and Oliver Coates.

A full programme can be found at Le Guess Who?’s website. Day tickets and weekend passes are on sale now.

At last year’s festival, The Wire’s Deputy Editor Joseph Stannard spoke to The Bug and Dylan Carlson, as well as Jerusalem In My Heart's Radwan Ghazi Moumneh. You can see those interviews in The Wire's video section.

EMMA launches new label Pastel Prism and shares short film Liberty

“Let’s face it, it’s about time I had my own label,” she declares

Electronic producer and Producergirls workshop founder EMMA has launched a new label called Pastel Prism. Its first release is the soundtrack for Liberty, a short film by Sophie Davies starring Jessica Burgess. This is EMMA’s second collaboration with Davies, who directed the music video for the track “Light Years” in 2014.

“With “Light Years”,” says Davies, “the track already existed and the video paid homage its colourful landscape. What was exciting about this was starting with the film, and watching the world come to life with EMMA’s soundtrack.”

Recently, EMMA produced the music for a Gucci jewellery campaign. In 2017 she released LA Mermaid on Astral Plane and Mindmaze/Pumpkin Emoji on Coyote.

“Let’s face it, it’s about time I had my own label,” EMMA declares. “Pastel Prism really symbolises a lot of my musical and art related influences. I’ll be releasing other artists on the label further down the line, which is an exciting prospect. There’s something about pale, hazy pastel colours which is comfortingly familiar and completely fresh. I designed the artwork for the single with this in mind.”

Liberty will be released digitally on 28 September. You can watch the video below.

Caroline Kraabel asks Why Is Improvising Important?

The saxophonist and London Improvisers Orchestra member sounds out writers, activists, musicians and dancers about the role of improvisation in art and life for a new Resonance FM series

Saxophonist Caroline Kraabel presents an extensive new Resonance FM radio series in the coming months exploring the relevance of improvisation in art and life. Called Why Is Improvising Important?, the series coincides with the 20th birthday celebrations of The London Improvisers Orchestra, of which Kraabel is a longstanding member.

“Improvisation permeates our existence, surfacing in most of our behaviour and interactions: conversation, relationships, work and the market place,” state the programme notes to the Resonance show. Its diverse roster of guests includes musicians, activists, artists and writers, adds Kraabel via email, continuing: “Alex Papas, for example, will discuss antinomian Sufi dervishes in central Asia from the 15th century until the mid-1950s, and the way they kept changing their methods for relating to God and society, not wanting to become fixed or overly dogmatic.”

The programme’s aim is to bolster recognition of improvisation as a vital skill in art and life alike. As Kraabel puts it in the show notes, “‘Making it up as you go along’ is more often used to belittle than to praise. And if everyone improvises all the time, what value can it have? Are there some people and institutions that are ‘better’ at improvising, and what would that mean?” In the world of sound, she continues, “The notion of music that doesn’t involve improvisation is a Western one, and relatively recent, partly to do with establishing ownership of music through publishing and copyright (as mentioned in Pat Thomas’s interview). It may be being rolled back today when recordings of improvisations act as proof of intellectual property.” Other contributors to the programme include John Butcher, Evan Parker, Joëlle Léandre, dancers Solène Weinachter and Max Reed, political journalist and music fan Paul Mason, and restless improvisor and current London Improvisers Orchestra director Steve Beresford.

In the workplace thinking on your feet is often seen as a magic ingredient sought by creatives to unlock new ways of working or connecting with customers. Kraabel's show, however, aims to return the focus to the autonomous individual and what improvisation can do for them in their own life. “If there’s a war or competition to be ‘won’, it’s between power and the oppressed,” she says. “Those for whom the former is more important may attempt to co-opt improvisation, but the latter will make more out of it.”

In the sphere of music, recent books by Jack Wright, Simon Rose, David Toop and Trevor Barre have attempted to contextualise the practice of improvisation across many decades of activity and writing. When asked if there is a core attribute or essential ingredient to real improvisation, Kraabel offers: “Courage, respect for self and others, trust, temporal awareness, reflexes, practice, openness, listening, not listening, memory, integrity, having an idea of what feels right and being able to change that idea...

“Learning how to share power, to navigate, negotiate and create,” she concludes, quoting another of her forthcoming guests, Maggie Nicols. The 12 week series begins at 4:30pm on Thursday 13 September. The London Improvisers Orchestra will further celebrate their 20th anniversary with performances at London’s Cafe Oto in December and a forthcoming double CD of live recordings from recent years. You can read more about The London Improvisers Orchestra here.