The Wire


Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival returns for its third edition

Taking place throughout the month of October, artists on the bill include Ashley Paul, Sons Of Kemet, Terry Riley and Matthew Shipp

The third edition of Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival will take place across various venues in the south coast seaside resort. Founded by Wire contributor and musician Daniel Spicer, the event will feature a selection of local, national and international artists working in creative and improvised music, with shows taking place between 4 and 30 October.

Artists on the line up include Trevor Watts & Veryan Weston, Entropi, Terry Riley, Peter Brötzmann & Full Blast, Camae Ayewa's Irreversible Entanglements, Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp, Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur, David Birchall/Andrew Cheetham/Julie Kjær/Hannah Marshall, Adam Fairhall, Ashley Paul, Gwenifer Raymond, GOITT and Sons of Kemet. Also on the bill is Spicer's own trio In Threads.

Venue, date and ticket information can be found on Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival's website.

The Sea Is Always Fluid by Wire photographer Eva Vermandel on show at new photography biennial

The exhibition runs until September in Antwerp

Long time Wire photographer responsible for shooting the likes of Shirley Collins, PJ Harvey, Carla Bozulich, Pinch, Mike Cooper, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Broadcast, and many others in the pages of The Wire, has a new film work on display at Antwerp's photography biennial. Called The Sea Is Always Fluid, the 35mm film was shot in 2011 but only completed last month.

Shirley Collins in The Wire 219. By Eva Vermandel

Iconobelge features 30 Belgian photographers including Carl De Keyzer, Stephan Vanfleteren, Bieke Depoorter, Harry Gruyaert and Nick Hannes, and is curated by Kaat Celis. It runs until 30 September at AntwerpPhoto, housed in the city's Loodswezen building.

The Necks release new album Body

56 minute-long offering from the veteran trio, released on Northern Spy

Australian group The Necks return this summer, adding to their already epic discography of 20 albums, with the new release on Northern Spy titled Body. At just under an hour long, the release comprises four episodes within one track, and has Chris Abrahams on keys, Tony Buck on percussion and guitar, and Lloyd Swanton on bass. The album's engineer Tim Whitten was responsible for recording and mixing the group's last twelve albums.

Body is released digitally on 14 August, and in CD format on 21 September. The band will tour in October, with gigs in The Hague Paard (13), Heidelberg Kulturhaus Karlstorbahnhof (17), and London Cafe Oto (22).

Funkineven launches Apron TV

Steve Julien launches a TV channel for his label Apron, with the first episode featuring Fatima, DJ Brassfoot and Molinaro

Electronic producer and Apron Records boss Steven Julien has launched a new online TV channel via YouTube called Apron TV. Featuring himself and “super host” Lord Tusk, the chat show set up invites friends of Julien and the label on to the programme, with the first edition featuring Eglo Records's Fatima, NCA label head DJ Brassfoot and Apron Records artist Molinaro. With a focus on Julien's new release Bloodline, it also features three new music videos.

“I've always loved junk TV shows past and present like Channel 4’s The Word, Eurotrash, Public Access, Wayne’s World and Snoop's GGN so my head is full of movie scenes and humour,” he tells us over email. “Everything is very visual for me so it’s only right for me to take this on, I feel very strongly that the electronic music scene doesn’t have enough humour and needs brighting up a lil / not to be so serious all the time.”

Conceived by Julien himself, the final article arrives with help from friends Cieron Magat, Joe Whalley, Sekou Abineri and the aforementioned Dean Blunt collaborator Lord Tusk. It's “half written and the other half improvisation,” he confirms. “Being spontaneous and having a laugh – great thing is we can do whatever in the post production to control the chaos.”

With more episodes (approx 7-8) on the horizon, the series will also be released on VHS with added bonus outtakes.

“My brain never switches off, ideas after ideas – I decided to take this adventure on as I envisioned this highly, I spend my spare time looking at a loads of chat shows on YouTube and feel I can my have my own version for the Apron Records gang.”

You can watch the first episode below. Other projects forthcoming on Apron include a new LP “from a super group that drops on 31 July” as well as a new 12" for Julien.

Unsound Krakow adds Lotic, a Jóhann Jóhannsson memorial night, and a new line of Ephemera perfume

Presence is the theme of this year’s festival, running from 7–14 October

More artists have been announced for the 2018 edition of Unsound Krakow. As ususal, full week passes sold out within minutes of going on sale. But don’t worry, individual tickets are still available.

A few special projects are included among the latest festival additions. The closing evening is given over to the memory of Jóhann Jóhannsson, who died in February earlier this year. The Icelandic composer had a longstanding relationship with the festival, having first performed at Unsound Krakow in 2009. He later skipped attending the 2016 Academy Awards in order to play at Unsound Adelaide. This year Hildur Guðnadóttir, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Erik Skodvin, Sam Slater and Sinfonietta Cracovia will come together and collaborate in his memory. A second tribute will take place at NOSPR in Katowice on 31 October.

Also announced is the next addition to Ephemera, a series of synaesthetic installations and live performances connecting sound and scent begun at Unsound 2014. This year Chris Watson, Schoen and MFO will present Foris, an immersive installation based around ideas of preserving endangered ecosystems. Plus, Huerco S will present a world premiere of Pendant; Todd Barton and the late Ursula K Le Guin’s Music And Poetry Of The Kesh will be performed for the first time, and AUDINT's Steve Goodman, Toby Heys and Eleni Ikoniadou will host a panel of presentations revolving around inhuman and post-human vibrations. Paweł Romańczuk and Tomoko Sauvage will also present Archive, based on the work of photographer Zofia Rydet, who between 1978–97 took more than 20,000 photos documenting households in Poland.

Other programme additions include Bartek Kujawski, Dis Fig, Eartheater, Elena Colombi b2b Olivia, Gábor Lázár, Gaika, Lena Willikens b2b Objekt, Lotic, MCZO & Duke, Nazar, Phill Niblock, Object Blue, Powder, RP Boo, rRoxymore, Sarah Davachi, Sinjin Hawke & Zora Jones and Sophie, joining the already announced roster of artists including Jlin, Lena Willikens, Kampire, Lea Bertucci, Lucrecia Dalt, Nazar, DJ Storm and others.

Individual tickets will go on sale soon.

Compilation album Sichten 1 launches new Raster series

As a taster for the LP, the label shares Benjamin Brunn’s “Joy”

German label Raster has launched a compilation series called Sichten. With each release curated by a different artist, the series will focus on “out-of-the-radar” electronic music.

“Sichten refers both to opinions as well as the examination of material,” explains the label. “In loose sequence, we will invite friends and colleagues, but especially music lovers to share their opinions on music with us or to look through their collected materials in order to present music that tends to be out of the focus of current media channels. As a label for electronic music our focus is on examining exactly this genre.”

Raster co-founder Frank Bretschneider has assembled Sichten 1 from 18 tracks featuring six artists new to the label – Zavoloka, Mimicof,, Benjamin Brunn, Pierce Warnecke and Mads Emil Nielsen.

Since the dissolution of Raster-Noton in 2017 and the subsequent launch of Raster, the label’s roster has included artists such as Robert Lippok, Atom™ & Lisokot, Belief Defect and Island People.

Sichten 1 is released on 21 September. Listen to Benjamin Brunn’s “Joy”.

Jlin releases score to Wayne McGregor's Autobiography

Her collaboration with the British choreographer was commissioned by Unsound

Indiana based footwork producer Jlin will release the soundtrack to her ballet collaboration with choreographer Wayne McGregor this September. Not quite her third album – which is confirmed for release at some point in 2019 or 2020 – this music marks the fruits of a game-changing experience for Jlin.

“We first met face to face in October 2016 in a downtown Chicago hotel, talking for about a solid two hours,” she recalls. “Immediately I saw Wayne was very friendly and energetic. He’s brilliant, witty and knows exactly what he wants; an absolute gem to work with. Before I even started composing for Autobiography, Wayne told me so gently that he trusts me completely with my direction of creating the score. That was the best feeling in the world. I would wake up at two in the morning and work until six in the evening until I completed all the pieces. We were both very happy with the outcome. Creating the score for an impeccable piece of work such as Autobiography changed my life as an artist.”

Company Wayne McGregor and Jlin debuted Autobiography at London theatre Sadler’s Wells in 2017. The Autobiography tour is set to continue into 2019. As its title implies, the work is conceived as a portrait of McGregor himself, based around the sequencing of his own genome.

Autobiography will be released by Planet Mu on 28 September. Listen to “The Abyss Of Doubt” here:

Jlin discusses the piece in more detail in a cover feature by Frances Morgan in The Wire 404.

Daniel O’Sullivan enters a new album of catalogue music into the library

His KPM release The Physic Garden was inspired by arrangements of classic imprints such as Coloursound

Daniel O’Sullivan is one of the UK’s most prolific musicians in recent years, working in groups such as Grumbling Fur, Mothlite, Miracle and Æthenor, among his many other collaborations and gun for hire gigs. But his next album sees him take on a new challenge in writing catalogue music for the longrunning imprint KPM.

“There’s kind of a blankness that I really appreciate in library music,” he declares via email. “No matter how strange or atomised, the form tends to be functionality over self determinism. Not so dissimilar to writing for film but with fewer constraints.”

The album is a quickfire selection of quizzical instrumental themes, some of which are brief snatches that could be suitable for adverts or promo films. The title The Physic Garden references “a botanical garden where medicinal plants are cultivated… I’ve had many haunts over the years where I go just to be there – no other reason. From manicured gardens and follies to urban common land, overgrown and forgotten. The invitation to make library music initially triggered this thought of yellowing. Like the yellowing of a memory or a book or a film or an object as it endures time.”

Making music for library collections places unusual demands on musicians – some labels specify precise time cues or descriptions which musicians need to meet in the music they create – and creative musicians such as Tod Dockstader and Mordant Music have produced striking work within similar constraints for music publisher Boosey & Hawkes in decades past. For O’Sullivan, the brief was slightly more open. “They prefer each theme to be brief, somewhere between two and three minutes,” he says. “That’s a nice discipline in itself – composing miniatures. Something I’ve always enjoyed on my own releases is constructing those bridges. Those little transient ideas that take you from one world to another. Over time I find myself favouring the bridges over the songs themselves.”

Library music from the 1960s, 70s and 80s has gathered a significant cachet in recent years. The music of labels like KPM has become lauded, placing it on a creative par with more conventional artist-driven recordings. Albums have influenced groundbreaking artists such as Broadcast, and books on the subject have been written recently by Jonny Trunk and David Hollander. "One area that seems pretty much boundless and surprisingly adventurous is within the arrangements,” enthuses O’Sullivan. “You hear a lot of composers on the Coloursound label in particular really flexing their propensity for oddball orchestration. This is good practice for me as I’m exploring ideas in my own music which are to do with contrapuntal motion and chromaticism – where the tonal centre is constantly shifting.”

In recent decades, as musicians have become more legally savvy, sampling other people’s work has become financially risky, not to mention fraught with issues of appropriation. Library music has offered one way out of this impasse, with some hiphop and R&B artists using breaks or samples from library music collections which can be used for a simple fee rather than a percentage. In turn, this has given certain library music labels a new lease of life, and EMI Production Music, the umbrella organisation for KPM, has begun reaching out to and commissioning underground and experimental musicians to generate brand new recordings for use in soundtracks, sampling and other off the shelf applications.

Making music for library music labels thus entails the risk that someone might have a hit with some of your music. But O’Sullivan is philosophical about the prospect. “I’m not sure how I’d feel really. I see music as this omnipresent, indifferent force which travels through our antennae and takes the shape of the vessel we use to contain it. I remember watching ads as a child and totally missing whatever product was being peddled as I’d be distracted by the music.”

Daniel O’Sullivan’s The Physic Garden is released by KPM in September.

Tusk announce full programme for 2018 including Lea Bertucci and Dale Cornish

The festival takes place at Sage Gateshead between 12 and 14 October

Gateshead's annual festival Tusk has announced all the names to appear on this year's bill. Already announced earlier this year are Terry Riley with son Gyan, Sarah Davachi, Otomo Yoshihide, Konstrukt, 75 Dollar Bill, Ceramic Hobs, Moor Mother's Irreversible Entanglements, Craig Leon, Lucy Railton, Limpe Fuchs, Chaines, and Maâlem Houssam Gania & The Gnawa Of Essaouira. With fresh names added including Lea Bertucci performing both live sets and an upright bass improv performance; Adam Bohman with Lee Patterson, Rajasthan live cinema with Seb Bassleer and Maarten van der Glas; South London’s Dale Cornish, and Baltimorean drone musician Marlo Eggplant. Also added is Manchester quartet Historically Fucked, rarely seen duo Saboteuse, Robert Ridley-Shackleton, Pinnel, and Chow Mwng.

Passes are on sale now from Sage Gateshead. Day tickets will go on sale in early September.

Andrew Pekler soundtracks the lands that time forgot

Online project Phantom Islands creates imaginary soundtracks for mythical sites of maritime history

Sound maps have been a popular format for adventurous sonic projects in recent years, but the latest work from Andrew Pekler puts a radical new spin on the idea. Phantom Islands – A Sonic Atlas is a new interactive website that enables you to browse fictitious, misidentified and rumoured islands from maritime history, alongside the music which Pekler has imagined for them.

The subjects of the project – far-flung places such as Tuanahe, David Land, Morrell Island, spanning multiple oceans – are “islands that had existed on maps but not, as it turned out, in reality”, the Berlin based musician explains over email. “Though a few of them were invented by unscrupulous captains seeking glory (or just further commissions), most phantom islands were unintentional fictions – the results of the imprecise science of navigation, clouds, fog banks and icebergs being mistaken for land, and wishful thinking.” However, many of these imaginary islands were real enough in the minds of navigators and historians to decisively shape the course of maritime history. "Davis Land [was] an island which was claimed to have been discovered by the pirate Edward Davis in 1687 off the west coast of South America,” continues Pekler. “The Dutch West India Company dispatched three ships to the area in 1721 and though unable to find it, they stumbled upon the previously unknown Easter Island. Their visit results in the death of about a dozen islanders and the wounding of many others.” The website enables users to island hop between the 27 entities included in the project – considerably more phantom islands have cropped up throughout maritime history – and read their tangled stories, with a cruise mode that touches down at random locations automatically.

The music Pekler has made creates another level of fictional intrigue. “What all, or most, of the islands have in common is that they are artefacts of the age of European colonial expansion (the age we are living at the tail end of?),” he notes. “And so the islands and their inhabitants were seen and described mainly from the perspective of their potential use value and strategic importance… the picture that emerges is that these non-real places are nevertheless connected with real human (individual and institutional) avarice, cruelty, fallibility and arrogance.”

So the soundtracks that accompany the journey are further filtered through myth and artifice – waves, exotic birds and other exotic ephemera are paired with (imaginary?) woody instruments and peals of gamelan, the sounds looped and arranged into an endless backdrop in the ballpark of Can's Ethnological Forgery Series. “It was mostly a process of matching fragments and sketches I had recorded over the last couple of years to the various islands according to what information I had about them and their location,” says Pekler. “I was interested in building up a network of related, at times overlapping soundworlds... a parallel sound dimension of connections between the phantom islands that would mirror their own plausible yet impossible existence."

It comes at a rich moment for what might be termed imaginary field recordings – music inspired by fictional worlds which nonetheless flirt with scientific or ethnographic methods, such as Rashad Becker’s Traditional Music Of Notional Species series. “The Phantom Islands project works differently because these (non)places are presented and described within the context of the familiar map of our real world,” argues Pekler. “That means that the listener’s/visitor’s prior familiarity (however vague) with music from various parts of the world comes into play in the imagination process. This quasi-collaboration between sound materials, text and listeners’ knowledge/beliefs is how exotica works.”

However, Pekler also notes the danger in taking fictions as inspiration for a sound map. “I wouldn’t want to do this with real places,” he declares. “As I describe above, what I have tried to do with this project is to methodically exoticise non-existent places in order to make visible the process of exoticisation itself... it lets us hopefully see and hear how all exoticas are fictions.”

You can browse the Phantom Islands project at Pekler's website (which requires a recent browser, mobile devices not currently supported). For more about imaginary ethnography you can check out Fourth Worlds: Imaginary Ethnography In Experimental Music And Sound, the exhibition that Phantom Islands was made for.