The Wire

News

Roland Corporation founder Ikutaro Kakehashi has died

The engineer whose company launched the TR-808 and other legendary drum machines and synthesizers has died aged 87

Ikutaro Kakehashi died on 1 April, announced Tommy Sydner, former advisor at Roland Corporation, via Facebook. “Ikutaro Kakehashi, founder of Roland, father of the TR-909,TR-808, Godfather of MIDI, and someone who I have collaborated with for 38 years, and also considered him as my second father, passed away at the age of 87,” read the post. “He was a super funny, wonderful and gifted human being, and his contributions to the musical instrument world, and music, touched millions of people worldwide.”

Born in Osaka on 7 February 1930, Kakehashi was an engineer and entrepreneur who founded Ace Tone and Roland Corporation. He’s best known for the part he played in the development of electronic drum machines and the MIDI standard.

In the 1950s Kakehashi starting working with electronic organs, eventually founding Ace Tone in 1960. Under that company he invented a hand operated electronic drum called the R1 Rhythm Ace in 1964. A few years later he created the preset rhythm-pattern generator, launched in 1967 as the FR-1 Rhythm Ace, which Hammond and other companies integrated in the manufacture of their instruments.

Roland Corporation was established in Osaka, with its first TR-33/TR-55/TR-77 Rhythm machines going on sale in 1972. A year later Roland’s first synthesizers went on the market; the company participated in the NAMM Show in the USA; and the electronic effects outfit MEG Electronics Corporation (now called BOSS Corporation) was established. In 1980 Roland created the TR-808 Rhythm machine, which made it possible for musicians to programme an entire track. In 1983 Kakehashi launched the MIDI protocol for which 30 years later he was awarded a technical GRAMMY alongside Sequential Circuits' Dave Smith.

In 2002 Kakehashi published his autobiography I Believe In Music; in 2014 he helped found the ATV Corporation.

Arthur Blythe 1940–2017

The West Coast alto saxophonist and longtime Horace Tapscott associate died on 27 March

Alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe died on 27 March, reported San Diego Union Tribune. He was 76. His death was announced on his Facebook page: "Early this morning the great Arthur Blythe passed. As many of you know he was a gentle soul and a musical genius. He had been fighting Parkinson's disease for several years. His spirit will live on in his unique music, which he humbly gave to our universe."

Blythe was born in Los Angeles and moved to San Diego as a young child, but was drawn back to LA as a teenager, where he formed a close association with the pianist, bandleader and composer Horace Tapscott. Both were active in music community organisations in the city, including The Union Of God's Musicians And Artists Ascension and The Underground Musicians And Artists Association. Few recordings of this generation of LA free players emerged at the time, but Tapscott's 1969 free jazz classic The Giant Awakens, one of the best documents of the scene, marks Blythe's vinyl debut, revealing his instantly identifiable declamatory style.

The 70s saw Blythe moving to New York, and playing on dates alongside Julius Hemphill, Lester Bowie, Steve Reid and many more. He made a strong entrance as leader with The Grip in 1976, which led to a contract with Columbia Records. Running from 1979–87, the period encompassed his flirtation with funk and mainstream styles. In 1986, Richard Cook wrote in The Wire 30: "Whatever happened to Arthur Blythe? It’s ten years since The Grip, that remarkable, wailing leader debut of his… the great, straight-ahead Blythe has to struggle against ideas of company funk."

Blythe returned to the West Coast in the late 1990s and continued to play prolifically up until the early 2000s. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2005, prompting his fellow musicians to stage benefit concerts on his behalf.

Arthur Blythe, 5 July 1940–27 March 2017

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Courtney Marie Andrews collaborate for charity project Our First 100 Days

The duo have recorded their own version of the gospel song popularised by Nina Simone

Will Oldham aka Bonnie ‛Prince’ Billy and Courtney Marie Andrews have collaborated on a cover version of “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” for the Our First 100 Days initiative, which aims to raise funds for organisations supporting causes that are currently under threat by the Trump administration.

Andrews describes the song as “an amazing gospel tune that became an important song for the civil rights movement in the 60s. A lot of these issues are still relevant today and I wanted to sing a song that had a palpable voice for those issues. I'll never know what it was like to walk the rocky path that Nina did, but her power and unyielding strength were and are something to aspire to.”

“We figured to make a song that would keep folks’ minds, tongues and fingers in motion,” adds Oldham. "James Baldwin [said] ‛This is not the land of the free. It is only very unwillingly and sporadically the home of the brave’.”

Listen to the track at the Bandcamp page

Our First 100 Days was started in conjunction with Secretly Group and 30 Days, 30 Songs. Sold in a subscription format for a minimum contribution of $30, fans will receive one song per day across the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. Powered by RPM, all profits from Our First 100 Days will benefit organisations that stand in opposition to a Trump presidency: All Above All, Cosecha, Hoosier Action, People’s Climate Movement, and Southerners On New Ground.

Technologically enhanced sounds with Meta Gesture Music CD

With their May issue all Wire subscribers will receive a compilation of technologically enhanced experimental music, which will also feature at a special performance at London's Rich Mix on 31 March

Tucked inside their copies of the forthcoming May issue of The Wire, all our subscribers will find an exclusive CD and download containing the results of five years' worth of research into new musical instruments and interfaces. Titled Meta Gesture Music: Embodied Interaction, New Instruments And Sonic Immersion, the anthology features musicians who crossed paths during Meta Gesture Music, a research project which ran between 2012–17 at London’s Goldsmiths College in order to explore new tools and techniques for experimental music making, from live computer coding to using bike lights and solar panels as instruments.

The compilation contains new tracks by Goldsmiths professor of media computing Atau Tanaka, both solo and in duet with composer/pianist Sarah Nicolls, as well as Tom Richards performing on his Mini-Oramics set up, Kaffe Matthews making music with sharks in the sea, xname amplifying electromagnetic fields, Laetitia Sonami performing on her patented Spring Spyre, plus Leafcutter John, Renick Bell & Steph Horak, Dane Law, and Ewa Justka.

If you're not already a subscriber to The Wire, fret not: just take out a new subscription this month and we'll send you a copy of the CD too.

Meanwhile, many of the musicians involved in the Meta Gesture Music project will be performing at a special concert at London's Rich Mix on 31 March.

Safe As Milk has been cancelled

The weekend festival due to take place at Pontins holiday camp this April has announced it will not go ahead

Safe As Milk Festival has announced that its first edition will not be going ahead due to lack of ticket sales. Organised by Graham Thrower (alt vinyl) in partnership with Lee Etherington (Tusk festival), the three-day event made its first announcement last October, and was set to feature a whopping line-up that included Actress, Anna Meredith, Ata Kak, Princess Nokia, Gaika, Carla dal Forno, Circle, Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force, Moor Mother, Shirley Collins, The Residents, This Is Not This Heat, Dopplereffekt, Nurse With Wound, Grouper and many others.

“We are very sorry to announce that we have had to take the decision to cancel Safe As Milk Festival,” reads the statement on their website. “Despite the widespread excitement about the event, we’re sorry to report that ticket sales have not reached a level to make the event viable so, despite our best efforts, we have no other option but to cancel.

“We would like to apologise to all the customers, artists, partners and suppliers that have been let down by this situation. We felt we should take this decision now in the hope of minimizing inconvenience to all involved.

“We would also like to thank the many people that have worked with us on trying to make Safe As Milk happen and the many of you that have shown such enthusiasm for the festival.”

For instructions on how to get a refund, visit their website.

Open call for artists to perform in a water reservoir in Barreiro

As part of the 80th anniversary of the public water supply in the Portuguese city, OUT.RA are calling for artist submissions

OUT.FEST organisers OUT.RA have joined the Barreiro Municipality to commemorate 80 years of public water supply in Lisbon's south bay city Barreiro, calling for artists to submit ideas for site-specific performances at Alto da Paiva Water Reservoire.

“As part of a broader programme built on the relationships between water and sound, we call on national and international artists to submit music/sound art performance proposals,” states OUT.RA’s announcement.

A vertical structure with four circular floors, the reservoir can hold an audience of approximately 30 people. Each artist will be given their own floor for performances with a maximum time limit of 25 minutes. Each performance will be repeated three or four times during the two day event scheduled for 27 and 28 May.

OUT.RA are offering those artists who submit proposals the chance to make use of their sound archive of public water supply network recordings. Access to their archive will be given on request.

Successful applicants will each receive a grant of 500€ (including fee, travel and meals), plus accommodation for up to five days prior to the performance.

Deadline is 16 April. Potential applicants can email OUT.RA for more information.

A new Barbican exhibition will explore science fiction from a multidisciplinary angle

Into The Unknown will include Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason’s new score inspired by Andrei Tarkovksy’s Solaris, and a two-channel video installation from archive collective Soda_Jerk featuring Sun Ra, Kool Herc and others

This June, London’s Barbican Centre launches Into The Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction. The exhibition of art, design, film and literature, curated by historian and writer Patrick Gyger, will explore science fiction as an experimental genre. It’ll include more than 200 books, original manuscripts and typescripts, contemporary and existing art works, 60 film and TV clips, unseen footage, adverts, concept art, film props, comics, video games and robots.

Australian duo Soda_Jerk will present Astro Black, a two-channel video installation with a focus on Sun Ra’s theories of Afrofuturism and featuring footage of Kraftwerk, DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy. Plus Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason’s score inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1973 film Solaris will be performed with Poland’s Sinfonietta Cracovia, plus video accompaniment by Brian Eno and Nick Robertson.

Into The Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction runs from 3 June–1 September.

Peckham's Balamii radio station has started a booking agency

At just over two years old, the South London station has launched an agency to help support its hosts

South London's online radio station and app Balamii has started a booking agency. This new arm to the station comes three years after founder James Browning launched Balamii as an events series, and just over two years since the station first went on air. Its hosts include Touching Bass's Alex Rita, the positive femme identity collective BBZ, Crackstevens, The Square and LV.

“I set [Balamii radio] up because it's always been my dream to run my own radio station. I've been doing events since I was 15 so it was a natural progression. It's grown from literally nothing to what it is today,” explains James. “I've decided to start the booking agency to support everyone who's part of the Balamii team. It kind of makes sense to start an agency as there's a great body of people coming through. Also it'd be great to help people get more paid bookings.”

The station streams live daily from its Peckham home on Rye Lane and there is also an IOS App so you can listen direct via your phone. “That was actually the first thing I made for Balamii,” he points out. “Before the studio was built I used to go round recording people and putting the mixes I got up on that.”

You can check out the Balamii roster over on their website or email the station direct. You can also listen live via this link.

Memorial event announced for PSF Records’ Hideo Ikeezumi

Masaki Batoh has organised a concert remembering the man whose label championed the Japanese music underground, with proceeds going to his family

A concert commemorating PSF Records founder Hideo Ikeezumi will take place in Tokyo in June. Ikeezumi, who passed away on 27 February, was central to the Japanese underground music scene, releasing more than 200 titles through his PSF label. Releases on PSF helped countless Japanese musicians gain international recognition; and Ikeezumi’s Tokyo based Modern Music record shop was the go-to place to find the most interesting music emerging from the underground.

The event, happening at Tokyo’s SuperDeluxe on 25 June, was organised by The Silence’s Masaki Batoh, formerly of Ghost, and all proceeds will go to Ikeezumi's family. Artists confirmed so far include Keiji Haino & Kazuo Imai, Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Ché-SHIZU, Masaki Batoh & Kazuo Ogino, Maki Miura & Rei Yokoyama, High Rise guitarist Munehiro Narita, Makoto Kawashima, À Qui Avec Gabriel, Keiko Higuchi & Louis Inage, Hasegawa Shizuo, .es, Reizen and Go Hirano.

A compilation of unreleased tracks by PSF artists was in the process of being compiled at the time of Ikeezumi's death. The project will still go ahead, released by Disk Union/DIW on a date yet to be confirmed.

“We hope that you will look forward in anticipation for this final PSF release, rich with psychedelic rock, acid folk and free music. Ikeezumi-san may have floated free from the bonds of this world, but I am confident that he too will be looking forward to its release. And I pray that we may hear once more his smiling, well-salted criticism of our efforts," declares a joint statement from PSF artists.

Psychedelic Speed Freaks: Hideo Ikeezumi Memorial Concert will take place on 25 June, starting at 3.30pm, at SuperDeluxe, Tokyo. Advance 3000 yen; door 3500 yen (plus drink).

Der Plan return after 25 years

The core line-up of Moritz Reichelt, Kurt Dahlke and Frank Fenstermacher have reunited to record their first album in a quarter of a century

Düsseldorf electronic group Der Plan have reunited after a 25 year hiatus. Co-founders Moritz Reichelt aka Moritz R and Frank Fenstermacher plus longtime member Kurt Dahlke aka Pyrolator have recorded a new album called Unkapitulierbar for summer release.

Translating as Uncapitulable, the title signals both “continuity and unbrokenness”, say Der Plan. The outfit did reappear in 2003 as Der Plan v4.0 under Moritz R, who recorded Die Verschwörung (2004) with Achim Treu and Fuzzy Love's JJ Jones. They also cropped up as Der Plan v5.0 in the virtual realm of Second Life, where Moritz R aka Mo Eriksen and two new members Popeye 235 Papp and Miss Moni Duettmann performed a surprise gig on Pangaea Island.

But, say Der Plan proper today, they were inspired to get back together after their first actual real world gig in nearly 25 years happened at the 50th birthday celebrations of Andreas Dorau, whose 1981 Neue Deutsche Welle breakthrough hit “Fred Vom Jupiter” was released by Der Plan’s Ata Tak label (as was Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft’s debut album, and music by A Certain Frank, SYPH and Dahlke’s Pyrolator, among others). The reactivated Der Plan recorded Unkapitulierbar in just three weeks at Pyrolator's Ata Tak Studio Berlin. “This time the music was created on the basis of ideas and lyrics,” says Moritz R. “Earlier, we often played improvised sessions and later added lyrics to it. One could say that in the meantime we have become something like songwriters.

“It worked incredibly well,” he concludes.

Listen to Unkapitulierbar’s “Lass Die Katze Stehn”:

Unkapitulierbar will be released by Bureau B on 23 June