The Wire


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.

BBC Radio 3 pares back experimental and jazz shows in new schedule

Jazz and Late Junction scaled back and “classical music programme designed for late night listening” introduced

UK music and arts broadcaster Radio 3 has announced a new autumn schedule for the station that sees it scale back its engagement with experimental music and jazz and introduce extra classical music shows into its weekday evening programming.

According to a BBC blogpost written by Alan Davey, the station controller, two jazz shows will be “resting”: Jazz Now (which itself had replaced Jazz On 3 in 2017) and Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz.

Meanwhile, the longrunning Late Junction, dedicated to experimental and adventurous music and sound, which has been a fixture of the Radio 3’s late night weekday programming since the show launched in 1999, is being cut back to a single two hour show on Fridays.

In the blog post, Davey declares “From Monday to Wednesday in our After Dark zone we will establish a new classical music programme designed for late night listening.” The After Dark strand began in 2018 to explore “edgy free thought and mind-expanding ideas, of elegant and provoking essays, of poetry, of radical mixes in music.“ A new show Unclassified is being promoted, dedicated to a new generation of "composers and performers", and with a remit including “neo classical and ambient”.

The blog begins by noting reasons for the changes: “Some of the changes are brought on by opportunity and creative renewal – and some as a result of us having to play our part in finding the £800m of savings the BBC needs to make by 2021/22.”

Late Junction had recently debuted its first festival back in March, with performers such as This Is Not This Heat and Gazelle Twin appearing across two days at EartH in Hackney, East London.

Update: since the publication of this article an open letter has been published in The Guardian with over 500 signatures from musicians, critics, label owners and music programmers, including Shirley Collins, Charles Hayward, Stephen O’Malley, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Shabaka Hutchings and Brian Eno. A petition is also running via 38 Degrees.

Mordant Music announce final releases and share Travelogues 22

“A more than satisfied portcullis is finally being lowered after almost 20 years,” says Ian Hicks

Ian Hicks aka Baron Mordant has announced the end of his Mordant Music label. After nearly 20 years and 99 releases – “just shy of a ton to avoid blues taxation...” – the label rounds things up with three final releases. Notably, the finale includes the concluding 22nd episode in the Travelogue series: a “GRATIS to everyone,” says Hicks.

But why now? “I'm knackered after almost 20 years of swiMMing in the cross-cu(rre)nts as well as my recent addictions to both bar billiards and Plants Vs Zombies...” explains Hicks over email. “I'll still be making library production MMusic,” he confirms, referring to his career as a library music composer, “and burrowing deeper into my EMS Synthi-A.”

The first release for Mordant Music was in 2001 with a CD booklet – without a CD – called “Nijmegen”. Admiral Greyscale aka Gary Mills would join Hicks in running the label for a while, departing before 2009 song collection SyMptoMs. The MM002 release was a badge, followed by a Baron Mordant 7" Baud With You/Shot Away. The label's reputation grew with hauntological album Dead Air in 2006, a field recording series The Travelogues would launch in 2007, and three-parter The Tower ran between 2005-2009. Beginning in 2012, a collaboration with Nick Edwards under the name eMMplekz began to make regular appearances on the label, as would Edwards's solo work as Ekoplekz, alongside artists Tod Dockstader, Vindicatrix, Cosmic Dennis Greenidge, Some Truths and Shackleton, among others. Simon Reynolds wrote about haunted audio purveyors Mordant Music, Ghost Box and Trunk Records in The Wire 273. Any favourite releases in the history of MM? “The whole MM catalogue – it's one long single track and I'm proud of all the releases & artists, warts 'n' all...”

The final three releases are: some “unheard Cornwallian tracer fire” with Pyramids Of Space’s FROM AtoM; the label's last full length from Baron Mordant with Mark Of The Mould; and “chalking up its 22nd beano & buffers bookend” Mordant Music Travelogues 22: ‘The Bar’s Gone'.

Stream “The Internet Did It” from Mark Of The Mould and an exclusive stream of Travelogues 22.

Apartment House record Julius Eastman's Femenine

Led by Anton Lukoszevieze, this new ensemble performance is out now on Another Timbre

Apartment House have just released a new live recording of the late composer Julius Eastman’s 1974 composition Femenine. “I first performed Eastman's music in 2016, which was a revelation for me, as the extant scores are rather fragmentary and incomplete,” says the ensemble’s cellist and leader Anton Lukoszevieze. “Some are even just transcriptions from archive recordings.”

On the recording, which has been issued by Another Timbre, Lukoszevieze is joined by Simon Limbrick on vibraphone, Kerry Yong on piano, Mark Knoop on keyboard, Mira Benjamin on violin, and Gavin Morrison and Emma Williams on flute.

“What is relevant about Femenine now, in 2019?” asks Lukoszevieze, responding to a question posed to him by Another Timbre. “I am not sure, but there is an acknowledgment that this is very good music, that it is music that comes alive when performed with care and commitment, a lot of pieces are only as good as what the musicians put into them.

“Julius's music is also quite ecstatic and to my ears gives audiences and performers alike pleasure, whether from some kind of organic groove or a totally passionate immersive experience,” he continues. “Femenine grows from a simple two note rhythmic cell in the vibraphone, which is repeated for the full duration of the piece, and in the background we have an asynchronous aural 'curtain' of sleigh bells.

“There are moments of strangeness, instability, joy, melancholy and an aural fascination with heterophonic intricacy and intimacy. Lastly, Femenine is communal music, it instills a sense of community within the listening experience, it is honest and unselfish, it is something we aspire to, it is great music.”

There has been a wider re-engagement with Eastman’s music in recent years. His peer, the composer Mary Jane Leach, has been instrumental in preserving and archiving much of his work. Femenine remained unreleased until 2016, when Frozen Reeds published a CD of a 1974 live performance by SEM Ensemble featuring Eastman on piano.

You can read the full interview with Lukoszevieze and Another Timbre here, and hear an extract of the performance below.

We Will All Meet In The Same Place

Exhibition series in Wrocław looks at the ways sound is perceived

From 12 April–2 June, BWA Wrocław Główny Gallery will present an exhibition and talk series titled We Will All Meet In The Same Place. Curated by Paweł Szroniak, the exhibition focuses on ways of perceiving sound and movement within the sphere of experimental art, drawing connections between different artistic disciplines.

Artists taking part include Rolf Julius, Wojciech Bruszewski, Ryszard Waśko, Anna Zaradny, Sarah Hennies, Brandon LaBelle, Artur Żmijewski, Kama Sokolnicka, Grupa Budapeszt, Zorka Wollny, Sebastian Buczek, Magdalena Ptasznik, Anna Nowicka, Aleksandra Osowicz and Agata Siniarsk. English language tours are available on request.

Sebastian Buczek will be performing live on the exhibition’s opening night of 12 April. More information available on their website.

Abdullah Ibrahim signs to Gearbox

New album due for release in summer 2019

The Gearbox label has announced it will release the first album in four years from the South African pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim, formally known as Dollar Brand.

The record, as yet untitled, features unreleased compositions with Ibrahim's long-time band Ekaya, all recorded over the course of a day at London’s RAK studios last November. The set will consist of full band arrangements as well as some solo improvised piano pieces. "With Ekaya, I am blessed in that I have all these textural opportunities," says Ibrahim.

"We push ourselves out of our comfort zones,” he continues, “so that we can present to the listener our striving for excellence. So that we can engage with our listeners without any barriers of our ego. It’s not jazz. For us, it’s a process of transcending barriers. Technically it’s very, very skilled, but there’s simplicity in the complexity so that people can relate to it. It’s a natural rhythm of the universe. We’ve been looking at recording for some time. But we were looking for the correct vehicle. Someone who understands what we’re doing."

Ibrahim will headline the London Jazz Festival in November.

Blank Forms release first vinyl pressing of Maryanne Amacher composition

The 1991 piano piece Petra was performed by Marianne Schroeder and Stefan Tcherepnin in 2017

Blank Forms Editions have released Marianne Schroeder and Stefan Tcherepnin's 2017 interpretation of Maryanne Amacher's 1991 piano piece Petra. The pioneering composer and installation artist had been suspicious of CD and recording technologies during her career. Opting instead for live performance, much of her work was never recorded for commercial release.

Following Sound Characters (Making The Third Ear) and Sound Characters 2 (Making Sonic Spaces) released on Tzadik in 1999 and 2008 respectively, and a inclusion in the OHM: The Early Gurus Of Electronic Music (1948-1980) compilation, Petra marks Amacher's first commercially available instrumental work and the first time one of her compositions has been put to vinyl. The work was originally commissioned for the ISCM World Music Days in Boswil, Switzerland, and is a durational piece written for two pianos and inspired by a church in the area and Greg Bear's science fiction writings. The version featured on this release was recorded in 2017 at New York St Peter’s Episcopal Church with pianists Stefan Tcherepnin and Marianne Schroeder, the latter of which had already performed Petra in 1991 alongside Amacher herself.

Earlier this month we announced a three day event, Maryanne Amacher: Perceptual Geographies, taking place in Philadelphia in April.

Petra is released by Blank Forms on 12 April.

Popol Vuh 1970s box set incoming

In April BMG reissue five 1970s albums as separate CDs and LP box set

A selection of German group Popol Vuh's 1970s albums are set for release in April. From the 12 albums put out during that decade, the chosen few include 1970 debut album Affenstunde, alongside their third album Hosianna Mantra (1972), the fifth Einsjäger & Siebenjäger (1974), their seventh Aguirre (1975) and eleventh Nosferatu (1978). They'll be released as both individual albums on CD and as a box set of six LPs called The Essential Album Collection Vol 1. Both CD and LP reissues are remastered by band members Guido Hieronymus and Frank Fiedler, and include bonus tracks, an illustrated booklet and linear notes.

Founded in 1970 in Munich, the German group parted ways in 2001 with the death of Popol Vuh's Florian Fricke. 2011 saw a revival however, with a tribute remix album featuring Âme, Stereolab, Mouse on Mars, Thomas Fehlmann and Peter Kruder.

The Essential Album Collection Vol 1 is out on 26 April for a little over £100 via BMG.

You can listen to the original title track from Affenstunde below.

MaerzMusik contemplates issues of time

The fifth edition dedicates ten days to questions of history and historiography

Berlin festival MaerzMusik takes place from 22–31 March. Describing itself as a “festival for time issues”, this year’s event promises ten days of art that examines history through a politically focused lens.

The line-up features a selection of music, performances, readings, film screenings, installations and exhibitions at various locations across the city. The programme includes Frederic Rzewski reviving the music of Horațiu Rădulescu; a new multimedia work by Jennifer Walshe and Timothy Morton; a world premiere of Elaine Mitchener’s the then + the now = nowtime, an evening dedicated to Terry Adkins by George E Lewis, Fred Moten and Ensemble Pamplemousse; Olga Neuwirth’s Masaot/Clocks without Hands; an evening focusing on the book and film Die Stadt Ohne Juden (The City Without Jews), and The Long Now, a 30 hour session at Kraftwerk Berlin featuring Frederic Rzewski , Donato Dozzy, Duane Pitre, First Tone, Byron Westbrook, Catherine Lamb, Mazen Kerbaj, Eli Keszler, Shiva Fesheraki and others.

Also at the festival will be a series of lectures and workshops under the umbrella title of Thinking Together, as well as two exhibition projects: Tele-Visions: A Critical Media History Of New Music On TV, 1950s–1990s, and A Utopian Stage: Festival Of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis (1967–1977).

Full details can be found on the website.

Open call: The Art of Cecil Taylor

Unit Structures conference taking place at Brooklyn College between 24 & 26 October

An open call for papers, compositions and musical participation has been announced for Unit Structures: The Art of Cecil Taylor conference taking place at City University of New York in October 2019.

The conference is focused on Taylor scholarship in jazz and American music studies, and sets to expand across a wide range of disciplines to reflect the scope of Taylor’s work.

“We explicitly seek to recognise scholarship in an expanded context, one that welcomes creative responses to Cecil Taylor’s work. We are additionally accepting proposals for new works in sonic discourse” says the call out. Taylor’s 1966 poetic prose essay Sound Structure of Subculture Becoming Major Breath/Naked Fire Gesture will also be premiered at an evening concert on 25 October. The event will also host a large ensemble workshop led by Karen Borca, featuring a composition that Taylor had previously dedicated to the bassoonist and improviser.

Speaking at the event are Nahum Dimitri Chandler, David Grubbs, Fred Moten, Fumi Okiji, Ben Young, Andrew Cyrille, William Parker and Matthew Shipp.

Call outs listed are: Spoken papers of 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes of questions; composition/improvisation in discourse with the aforementioned essay; and participation in the large ensemble workshop led by Borca.

More information, including details on how to submit work, can be found on the Unit Structures website. Deadline is 3 May.