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Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal and Jesse Paris Smith collaborate on new release

Smithsonian Folkways share a track from Songs From The Bardo

Smithsonian Folkways have announced the release of Songs From The Bardo, an 80 minute composition designed as as a guide through the visionary text of Tibetan Book Of The Dead, by Laurie Anderson, Tibetan singer and multi-instrumentalist Tenzin Choegyal and Jesse Paris Smith. Also featuring cellist Rubin Kodheli and percussionist Shahzad Ismaily, it was first performed at New York’s Rubin Museum of Art, .

Choegyal, who was born into a family of Tibetan nomads forced into exile in India, says in the album’s sleevenotes, “I have tried to channel the wisdom and traditions of my ancestors through my music in a very contemporary way while holding the depth of my lineage.” For the performance he uses a lingbu (a Tibetan bamboo flute), dranyen (a stringed lute-like instrument), singing bowls, a gong and vocals. (Patti Smith’s daughter) Jesse Paris Smith performs on piano and a collection of crystal bowls, while Anderson acts as narrator.

Songs From The Bardo is released on 27 September. Listen to the track “Lotus Born, No Need For Fear” here.

Trojan Records’ Reloaded imprint shares new video

UK sound system Reggae Roast tracks mark the sub-label’s launch

Trojan Records' sub-label Trojan Reloaded launched last year with the aim of showcasing only the “sounds of now” from a pool of UK talent, while continuing Trojan's commitment to the ever-evolving genre of reggae. Its first release: the UK sound system Reggae Roast 7" “Real Reggae Music” featuring Tippa Irie.

Now Trojan Reloaded share a video of Reggae Roast’s rework of “Sensi Skank Reloaded”, featuring Ruben Da Silva, with visuals that act as a “homage to one of the most versatile plants in the world”. It's available as a 10" via Trojan's online store. Watch the video below.

Betty Davis releases first new song since 1979

The funk songwriter and vocalist breaks her 40 year silence with “A Little Bit Hot Tonight”

Betty Davis’s first new music offering in 40 years was actually conceived in the late 1970s while she was living in Japan, the singer revealed in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interview.

Called “A Little Bit Hot Tonight”, the new release also features vocals from Danielle Maggio, an ethnomusicologist and singer that Davis met through Philip Cox, director of the Betty Davis documentary They Say I'm Different (2017). “Betty eventually heard me sing and took a liking to my voice,” Maggio told Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “She told me she was working on a song for me, and I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think it was actually happening until she laid down two hand-written pages of lyrics in front of me a few months ago.”

Davis says the song is “sort of jazz-oriented” and was “inspired by a musician named [Itsuroh] Shimoda from Japan. I took the East and blended it with the West and we came up with a good blend for the production of the song.”

She also told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that there is more music available for potential release.

Davis has been described as the Queen of Funk, while her former husband Miles Davis called her the female Prince. In 1973 she released They Say I'm Different, and followed it a year later with Nasty Gal. Her music career was cut short in the 1980s when she moved back to Homestead, Pennsylvania to look after her sick father. In 2007 Light In The Attic released a compilation album titled Betty Davis, followed by a collection of remastered unheard music in Betty Davis: The Unheard Columbia Years 1968–1969.

You can listen to “A Little Bit Hot Tonight” on Bandcamp.

Denzil Forrester reinterprets Three Wicked Men (1982)

The artist borrowed his title from Reggae George's 1981 track

Denzil Forrester is working on a new commission for Art On The Underground. Called Brixton Blue, it’s a large-scale interpretation of Three Wicked Men (1982), which borrowed its title from the 1981 Reggae George track, and will go on display from 19 September 2019–April 2020 at South London’s Brixton Underground station.

Forrester is using 1980s Brixton murals as his inspiration. This seminal work, now in the collection of London Tate, was originally painted while Forrester was studying at London Royal College of Art. Taking its title from the Reggae George track, it portrays “three wicked men” – a policeman, a politician and a businessman – along with Winston Rose, a friend of Forrester’s who died while under police restraint in 1981.

Denzil Forrester, Domino Hunters, 1985

Much of Forrester's early works documented rising tensions between police and the Afro-Caribbean community while focusing on the UK’s underground reggae and dub scenes. “Music and dance were, and still are, my main sources of inspiration,” he notes. “I was lucky to be in Hackney at the right time – the 80s. I had access to all the major ‘dub’ blues nightclubs: Phebes, All Nations and Four Aces. For the very first time I was in a big space with dub reggae playing at maximum volume, it was a piece of heaven on Earth.

“I began to take my sketchbook, A1 paper and drawing equipment and draw. It was dark and smoky. I didn't care what the people looked like – I just wanted to draw movement, action and expression. I was interested in the feeling and energy of the crowd. Particular dance movements and clothing play an important part in my gesture drawings. In these clubs, city life is recreated in essence – sounds, lights, police sirens, bodies pushing and swaying back and forth and all in a smoke-filled room. Sometimes the atmosphere was momentarily broken by another group of people, dressed only in blue.”

Ben Johnston 1926–2019

US composer at the forefront of microtonality died on 21 July, aged 93

The news of Benjamin Burwell Johnston’s death on 21 July was announced on Twitter by Jon Roy, who runs the New Dissonance Twitter account about the US composer and scholar’s music research and performance. “It is with a heavy heart that I write that Ben Johnston passed away today at the age of 93,” reads the announcement. “Ben was a composer of music, theorist, academician, author, mentor and personally speaking – a dear friend.”

Johnston was born in 1926 in Macon, Georgia. He was in the US navy for two years from 1944–46 and then went on to teach composition and theory at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign from 1951–86. His students included Stuart Saunders Smith, Neely Bruce, Thomas Albert, Michael Pisaro, Manfred Stahnke and Kyle Gann.

Johnston himself collaborated with Harry Partch, organising the 1957 premiere of the latter’s The Bewitched. From 1960 onwards he worked almost exclusively with microtonal notation. He proposed the term extended just intonation, testing possibilities of just intonation with traditional western instruments in configurations such as a string quartet. He also explored surrealism in music and, influenced by his friend and mentor John Cage, indeterminacy. Johnston’s 1986 Quartet No 8 marked the beginning of his neoclassical phase.

In 2016 The Kepler Quartet, who’d spent 14 years studying the works of Johnston, released the third and final disc of their series documenting his complete cycle of string quartets on New World Records. A Ben Johnston Microtonal Scholarship exists at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.

Johnston died at his home near Madison, Wisconsin after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Moscow’s fifth Fields Festival happens next month

The Wire Sound System to play tunes, host talks and present a lecture titled Songs In The Key Of Strife

Taking place at Moscow’s new arts space Mutabor over two days in August, this year’s Fields Festival sets to “abolished genre restrictions” with an international programme of over 30 performances, some of them Russian premieres.

The line-up features Senyawa, SHXCXCHCXSH, Carla Dal Forno, Kemialliset Ystävät, SSTROM, Vladimir Martynov & Moa Pillar, Ishome, Kedr Livanskiy, Kymatic, ПТУ, Kate NV, Misha Mishenko, Vtgnike, Marzahn, SAD, HP aka Russell Haswell & Powell, NHK, Sote, Carl Stone and Yussef Abouzeid, among many others.

In addition, New New World Radio have curated a selection of performances from Graham Dunning, Sonestrose, Виды Рыб, Arthur Kuzmin, Denis Smagin, Ored Recordings, Хава Хамзатова, Заур Нагоев and Jrpjej.

The Wire sound system will also be there, with Chris Bohn, Shane Woolman and Emily Bick taking charge of the decks on Saturday. Emily will also be hosting a live Invisible Jukebox with Carl Stone, Shane will be talking to Kate NV and Chris will present Songs In The Key Of Strife – a lightning quick survey of The Wire’s first four decades of adventures in sound and music.

Fields’ music events happen over the weekend of 10–11 August, preceded by the above mentioned talks on Thursday and Friday.

Mute share The Normal’s contribution to its box of John Cage 4'33" takes

Featuring over 50 artists, STUMM433 is the latest in the Mute 4.0 (1978 > Tomorrow) series

Mute have shared a track from its forthcoming box set of John Cage interpretations. The new piece is by Mute founder Daniel Miller aka The Normal, under which pseudonym he launched the label back in 1978 with the 7" single “TVOD”/“Warm Leatherette”.

Called STUMM433, the set is the latest in Mute’s 4.0 (1978 > Tomorrow) series, compiling new tracks from the label’s roster of artists. It’s released in a limited vinyl edition of 433, and also in CD and download formats.

The 50-odd takes of John Cage’s 4'33" are by the likes of Ben Frost, Bruce Gilbert, Cabaret Voltaire, Carter Tutti Void, Chris Carter, Chris Liebing, Daniel Blumberg, Danny Briottet, Depeche Mode, Einstürzende Neubauten, Erasure, Irmin Schmidt, Laibach, Land Observations, Lee Ranaldo, Liars, Phew, Pink Grease, Pole, Polly Scattergood, Silicon Teens, Simon Fisher Turner and Edmund de Waal, The Warlocks, Wire, Yann Tiersen and Gareth Jones.

The vinyl edition includes artwork by the musicians and 28 designers who’ve worked with Mute over the years. Also included is a special set of candles designed by Joseph Quartana of Six Scents Parfums.

“John Cage’s 4'33" has been present in my musical life for as long as I can remember as an important and inspiring composition,” says Daniel Miller. “When the idea of every Mute artist doing their own interpretation of the piece came up during a conversation with Simon Fisher Turner, I immediately thought this was the perfect way to mark the label’s MUTE 4.0 (1978 > TOMORROW) series.”

Net profits will be split between the British Tinnitus Association and Music Minds Matter in honour of Inspiral Carpets’ founding member Craig Gill, who had suffered from anxiety and depression as a result of tinnitus.

Listen to Miller aka The Normal’s take on 4'33" below.

Uganda's Nyege Nyege festival announces full line-up

Rophnan, Queen Sheeba, Santi, WZN, Infrapa, Slikback, Duke & MCZO, Sisso, Jay Mitta, MC Yallah all performing at the fifth edition

Nyege Nyege has announced its fifth edition will run between 5–8 September at Nile Discovery Beach in Jinja, Uganda. Founded by the people behind the Kampala based party collective, Nyege Nyege was initially set up to support the East African music community offering residencies and studio time. New works made by the artists-in-residence are both showcased at the event and released on one of two of the festival’s labels: Nyege Nyege Tapes and Hakuna Kulala.

Artists in the line-up include Fulu Muziki performing for the first time outside of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopian EDM producer Rophnan, Ugandan Dancehall artist Queen Sheeba and Nigerian producer central to Lagos's Alté scene, Santi. Also on the bill are Dj Diaki, Menzi, Phelimuncasi, Yugen Blakrock, WZN, Infrapa, Slikback, Duke & MCZO, Sisso, Jay Mitta, MC Yallah, Rey Sapienz and Jako Maron.

This year there will also be a focus on Asia and the African diaspora. Chinese label Genome 6.66MBP will be represented by label boss Kilo Vee, and producers Hyph11e, Gooooose and 33EMYBW are also billed. Other participants include DJ Scotch Egg, DJ Die Soon, Juan Atkins, EQ Why, DJ Shyboi, Suzi Analogue, Moesha13, Bonaventure (who is conducting a two month residency at Boutiq Studios with local artist Rey Sapienz), Josey Rebelle, DTM Funk and DJ Marcelle.

In the months leading up to the main event, Kampala's new performance space ONE 54 will host performances from the artists-in-residence.

Black Quantum Futurism take over London’s ICA for two weeks

Programme of music, performance, spoken word, talks, workshops and an installation curated by Camae Ayewa and Rasheedah Phillips

London venue ICA presents a fortnight of Black Quantum Futurism in August. Called Temporal Deprogramming, the two week programme consists of music, performance, spoken word, talks, workshops and an installation.

The Philadelphia based interdisciplinary unit Black Quantum Futurism consists of activist and poet Camae Ayewa aka Moor Mother and artist, attorney and writer Rasheedah Phillips. Their work looks at concepts of Afrofuturism, Afro diaspora engagements with space and time, and quantum physics, with a community focus centred around the empowerment of marginalised communities.

Running between 13–25 August, Temporal Deprogramming also features work and performances by Barby Asante, The Otolith Group, Nkisi, Elaine Mitchener and feminist activists Sisters Uncut East End; plus an onsite installation comprising recent works including zines, aural and visual pieces and a large-scale Black Quantum Futurism event map.

FAKA, Brood Ma and Flora Yin-Wong confirmed for Wysing Polyphonic in September

Cambridge arts centre teams up with London’s Somerset House for its tenth annual music festival

Wysing Arts Centre's Wysing Polyphonic festival presents its tenth edition on 7 September. Following on from past guest curators Nkisi, Paul Purgas and Moor Mother, this year’s programmers are London’s Somerset House Studio.

2019’s theme establishes the Cambridgeshire site as a place of connection, featuring artists-in-residence, Johannesburg's queer art collective FAKA aka Fela Gucci and Desire Marea and Ahmed El Ghazoly aka ZULI. FAKA will be exploring memory and the colonised body through new film Sihlangene Emoyeni directed by Akinola Davies and a live performance; ZULI's project, yet to be announced, will be developed during his August stay.

Other participating artists include Brood Ma, hmurd, Jacob Samuel, Loraine James, Marija Bozinovska Jones, Mun Sing, Sonic Cyberfeminisms, AMRA aka Purgas and Imran Perretta, Emma Smith, Erica Scourti, Flora Yin-Wong, Jennifer Walshe, Jesse Darling, Mun Sing, Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura with Beatrice Dillon, Valentina Magaletti and Ziúr.

Wysing Polyphonic 2019 coincides with the arts centre’s 30th anniversary. Tickets are on sale now.