The Wire


Kickstarter fund launched to spread the word about Producer Girls workshop

The London based grassroots initiative set up in 2016 to get more women into music production aims to expand with a new workshop planned for Manchester

South London artist EMMA set the ball rolling last year when her Producer Girls workshop offered free four hour sessions to women looking to get into music production. With help from Dexplicit, P Jam, Nightwave and Ikonika, Producer Girls hosted three workshops in London (including a pop up at the Tate Modern) and one in Glasgow. Now the initiative has set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund its expansion to other major UK cities.

“In order for it to continue and get outside of London around the UK and make a real difference to the game, we need this Kickstarter to help cover costs of taking it around the country. Our next planned event is in Manchester on 21 October and we'd like to get to other cities, as well as keep momentum going in the cities we've been to,” explains EMMA on the campaign’s homepage.

“With an injection of cash,” she continues, “we think the project could have the chance to make a real difference to the scene. We have only got as far as we have with using our spare time, effort, spaces, covering costs ourselves and we had some help with expenses in Glasgow from SWG3 and Field Artists.

“In terms of the DAW software,” she adds, “FL Studio provided access to software for London participants on a six month license, and Ableton have provided Ableton Intro licenses for the Glasgow workshops and will do so again in Manchester.”

Since it launched, Producer Girls has pulled in around 80 participants, and the workshops have been oversubscribed by almost a thousand applicants. At the time of writing the Kickstarter has 32 days to go and has raised £1777. Reward highlights include a Nightwave goodie bag and a thank you video from EMMA’s cat Janet.

An EMMA feature appeared in The Wire 403. Subscribers can read it via Exact Editions.

Japanese avant garde and experimental film festival launches itself with a silent era classic

The Wire contributor Clive Bell, Sylvia Hallett and Keiko Kitamura to perform a live score for Teinosuke Kinugasa’s A Page Of Madness

The Japanese avant-garde and experimental film festival (Jaeff) launches itself next month with a rare London showing of Teinosuke Kinugasa’s silent classic A Page Of Madness (Japanese title Kurutta Ippēji) featuring a live semi-improvised score by Clive Bell, Sylvia Hallett and Keiko Kitamura. The trio will be performing on traditional and contemporary instruments, along with a benshi – that is, a Japanese early cinema style live – narrator Tomoko Komura.

Made in 1926, the film is a surrealist work set in a psychiatric hospital, created by director Kinugasa in collusion with the prewar avant garde group Shinkankakuha, future Nobel prize winning author Yasunari Kawabata among them. Lost for 45 years, the film was found by Kinugasa in his garden shed in 1971.

“There is no original score,” explains Clive Bell. “It was a silent film, originally presented with a benshi narrator (explaining and voicing all the characters), and music by a local cabaret band. No one really knows what they played, but it was probably semi-improvised on a mixture of Japanese and Western instruments. We’re doing something similar, mixing traditional instruments with Sylvia Hallett’s electronics and live processing. I’ll be musically directing the semi-improvised score.

“The film is a great example of the incredibly vibrant artistic activity going on in 1920s Japan, maybe comparable to 1920s Berlin,” Bell continues. “Film was still a very young medium, and Japanese film makers were lapping up new expressionist styles emerging every week from Germany.

“A Page Of Madness was made by a young and eager group, who were really pushing the boat out artistically, but their avant garde experiments were surprisingly popular – the film found a good audience and picked up awards. The filming process was like a chaotic series of try-outs and experiments by an on-the-edge theatre group.

“It was scripted by the young novelist Yasunari Kawabata, who went on to be Japan’s first Nobel winner for literature. He also wrote intertitles to explain (a little of) what was going on. In the final cut the director (Teinosuke Kinugasa) took out all the intertitles.”

The screening will be accompanied by a discussion featuring film critic Jasper Sharp, Pamela Hutchinson, Tomoko Komura and Professor Sonu Shamdasani, director of the UCL Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines.

A Page Of Madness will be screened at London Kings College on 24 September. Tickets are available now. You can read Clive Bell's essay on the benshi narration of silent cinema in Japan over in our columns section.

Mapping the sound of protest

Cities And Memory have set up a database for field recordings from the front lines of resistance around the world

An online database mapping the sounds of various protests around the world has just been launched. Created by the UK Oxford based field recording and sound art network Cities And Memory, the interactive map documents demonstrations, political activism and civil resistance from 49 cities and 27 countries. Users can upload their own sounds, and artists have been invited to remix new musical montages from the database contents.

Mostly made this year, the recordings from Chile, Cambodia, Iceland, India, UK, the USA and elsewhere tackle Donald Trump, Brexit, The Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter, G20 and the COP conferences, Women’s March, Islamic State, Syria, education cuts, a radio station closure, and more.

Last August we reported that Cities And Memory had launched a sound map of the London Underground network compiled with the help of London Sound Survey. That map featured recordings and reinterpretations of sounds taken from 55 of the network's 270 stations.

John Abercrombie has died

The 72 year old American jazz guitarist and composer’s death was caused by heart failure

American guitarist John Abercrombie has died, it's reported on his Facebook page, which states: “It is with profound sadness that his family confirms that the legendary jazz guitarist John Abercrombie passed away earlier this evening, August 22nd in Cortland, New York. The family appreciates the outpouring of love and support and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.” The cause of death has been reported as heart failure, following a stroke Abercrombie suffered earlier this year.

Born in Port Chester, New York in 1944, Abercrombie started playing guitar at the age of 14. He studied under guitarist Jack Petersen at Berklee College of Music from 1962–66. He moved back to New York in 1969, where he became a session musician, working with musicians like Billy Cobham, with whom he recorded the 1974 albums Crosswinds and Total Eclipse, and 1975's Shabazz. In 1975 he appeared on the album Friends, released by Virgin offshoot Caroline, alongside Jeff Williams and Clint Houston.

He recorded his debut album Timeless with Jan Hammer and Jack DeJohnette, which was released by ECM in 1975. The album began his long relationship with the label. In a tribute to Abercrombie on its website, ECM says: “He will be much missed, for his sensitive musicality, his good companionship and his dry humour which enhanced many a session. He leaves behind an extensive discography which will be studied as long as people continue to play jazz guitar.”

In 1975 Abercrombie also formed the band Gateway with drummer DeJohnette and bassist Dave Holland releasing Gateway in 1976 and Gateway II in 1978.

"The first Gateway album?" Abercrombie tells Richard Cook in the The Wire 24, February, 1986. "That one's pretty bizarre. Ten years ago! I was pretty wild then myself, anyway. In my life I was pretty crazy. I've calmed down a lot and I don't feel I have to prove myself as such. I can control what I'm doing on guitar now. I used to just plug in a funbox and see what would happen.

“With a syntheziser I'm getting more abrasive again, he continues, talking about his then recent outings with the guitar synth, an instrument he took up in mid-1980s. “It's brought back some of those earlier qualities, although it's going to be more lyrical too.”

He continued to tour and perform, recently forming a new group with pianist Marc Copland, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Joey Baron, who released 39 Steps in 2014 and Up And Coming earlier this year.

John Abercrombie died in Cortland, New York, on 22 August.

Crammed Discs to reissue Yasuaki Shimizu's Music For Commercials

The 1987 album was originally released as part of the label's Made To Measure series

Crammed Discs are set to reissue Yasuaki Shimizu's Music For Commercials on 15 September. The album is a collection of 23 short pieces, conceived as soundtracks for Japanese TV commercials for corporations like “Seiko”, “Sharp” and “Honda”, as its track titles indicate.

“TV commercials in the late 70s and 80s didn’t advertise the practical features of products, they were meant to build strategic corporate images,” recalls Shimizu. “You might even say they took a musical approach in their visual expression, though perhaps that’s an overstatement. Being restricted to a time span of a minute or less made it ideal work for refining my intuitive powers. I made a conscious choice not to remix the tracks for this album. The final version of the original recordings appear here untouched, although I do remember working to link the individual tunes, and on the overall mood.”

Saxophonist, electronic music producer and composer Shimizu has released numerous albums and collaborated with artists such as Ryuichi Sakamoto, DJ Towa Tei, Van Dyke Parks, Björk and Manu Dibango, among many others. Remastered for reissue in CD and LP formats, Music For Commercials is released on 15 September by Crammed Discs. Listen to a couple of the tracks featured below:

Artist support network Blank Forms launches its first annual benefit concert

The show features Marshall Allen and The Sun Ra Arkestra with support from Mike Huckaby and Yo La Tengo

New York based curatorial platform Blank Forms launches its first annual benefit with a concert honouring Marshall Allen and Sun Ra Arkestra in September. “Please join us for drinks, hors d’oeuvres and a special performance by The Arkestra,” invites the artist initiative. Also playing are Detroit house producer Mike Huckaby (who in 2011 released two volumes of Sun Ra edits) and New Jersey's Yo La Tengo. Funds raised will go towards financing next year's Blank Forms programme.

Blank Forms was founded in 2016 by former ISSUE Project Room artistic director Lawrence Kumpf, and its artistic and curatorial committee are Kathy Brew, Nadia Berenstein, Daniel Carter, Steve Dalachinsky, Henry and Margaret Davis Grimes, David Grubbs, Mike Huckaby, Branden W Joseph, Josiah McElheny, Joe McPhee, Tony Oursler, Yuko Otomo, William Parker, Jeff Preiss, Matana Roberts, Marina Rosenfeld and Felicity Scott.

The benefit will take place on 12 September at Ukrainian National Home, New York, with tickets starting at $125 for a seat, appetizers and drinks, and rising to $5000 for a priority front row spot for ten guests.

Patty Waters to perform at London's Cafe Oto

The free jazz vocalist takes up her two day Dalston residency in December

The Iowa born vocalist Patty Waters, who was famously discovered by Albert Ayler in 1960s New York, will make a rare UK appearance in December, when she takes up a two day residency at London’s Cafe Oto. Ayler introduced her to ESP-Disk's Bernard Stollman, who went on to release two Patty Waters albums, Sings (1965) and College Tour (1966). After she gave birth to her son in 1969, Waters moved to California and didn't return to music (barring a few sporadic performances) until her 1996 album Love Songs (Jazz Focus). In 2004 she released a collection of previously unissued recordings made between 1962–79 called You Thrill Me: A Musical Odyssey. Since then she has performed live a few times, notably in 2006 when she toured with Henry Grimes.

The London residency will run from 6–7 December. Tickets are on sale now to Cafe Oto’s members, and will be available to the general public from 11am on 23 August.

Listen to Patty Waters's version of the song “Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair”.

Berlin debates the changing face of hype in the digital age

Berlin's Pop-Kultur festival will host a Peeled Off, Overseen And Thrown Away talk to accompany an exhibition about the importance and possible demise of hype stickers

This week, Berlin's Pop-Kultur festival stages an exhibition and accompanying panel discussion about the promo stickers plastered on records and CDs. Though they've become less visible in the digital consumer era, they’re arguably on a comeback given the vinyl renaissance. The exhibition and panel will focus on the importance of the sticker as a sometimes essential element of the design of the finished product.

Curated by Tim Tetzner, the Sticker Removals: The Visual Anthropology Of The Hype Sticker exhibition will look at the design work of Ata Macias, Ektro Records, Lo Recordings, Non-Format, Rune Grammofon, Tom Backström, Warp Records and other imprints. And Tetzner is also the moderator of the panel, called Peeled Off, Overseen And Thrown Away – The Hype Sticker’s Changing Relevance In The Light Of Digitisation, which will discuss the importance of these tiny, sticky marketing tools. Also on the panel is Toby Cornish from the Berlin design agency Jutojo and Backström, a graphic designer, illustrator and founder of the Helsinki's Erikoisdance label.

“The hype sticker… wasn’t that the annoying little thing on the outside wrapping of records or CDs?” asks Pop-Kultur. “The hype sticker always led a marginal existence – and then all but completely disappeared with music’s digitisation. But in the course of the current vinyl revival, it has made a comeback and now looks better than ever.”

The exhibition will run from 24–26 August, with the panel debate taking place on 24 August at 8pm.

Rodney P and London Posse to headline DMC World DJ Championship finals

Reunited UK hiphop veterans head bill of annual DJ competition final

DMC have confirmed London Posse as headline act for this year’s World DJ Championships Final. The group, featuring Rodney P, Bionic, DJ Biznizz and Sipho, formed in 1986; their 1990 debut album Gangster Chronicle is widely considered a landmark in UK hiphop. The Posse reformed earlier this year for a series of shows to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their debut single London Posse/My Beatbox Reggae Style (Big Life).

The line-up for the final will also include a live tribute to recently passed DJ Daredevil (aka Ben Smith) by a turntablist supergroup comprised of Prime Cuts, DJ Woody and Matman.

The final will be held at Koko, London on 1 October

Asparagus Piss Raindrop to publish book of scores

The crypto conceptual science fiction band founded by Fritz Welch and Neil Davidson reveal their slug reproduction methods to the world

A self-titled book of Asparagus Piss Raindrop scores and documents will be published this month. Founded back in 2012 by Fritz Welch and Neil Davidson, Asparagus Piss Raindrop describe themselves as “a crypto conceptual science fiction anti climax band”, with many of their members coming from Glasgow's free music scene. They draw inspiration from children’s games, group therapy, shapeshifting, geology, gender theory, and more, with previous works including a six person-plus roller disco with amplified rink titled “It’s Called Discharge”; “The Scented Jackhammer (Journey)”, which teaches participants how to travel underground using their sense of smell; and “Trans Poncho In Posse”, a three hour collaborative composition built around “slug reproduction”. The band’s ever-expanding membership includes Welch and Davidson, plus Liene Rozite, Julia Scott, Stuart Arnot, John Cromar, Tuukka Asplund, Annie Crabtree, Catherine Robb, Paige Martin, Lea Cummings, Armin Sturm, Penny Chivas, Anna McLaughlan, Lucy Duncombe, Sue Fitzpatrick, Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson, Nickolaus Typaldos, Zerek Kempf, Uschi Luz, Rhodri Davies, Jennifer Walsh, Sharon Gal and many others.

This first edition will not be the final shape of the book, however. Publication Studio Glasgow promise that new editions will be published as and when the outfit produce new works.

Taking place at CCA Glasgow on 25 August, Asparagus Piss Raindrop’s book launch will feature readings and performances from Liene Rozite, Fritz Welch, Julia Letitia Scott and Neil Davidson. It's free to attend but you need to book your place here.