The Wire


Polish Radio Experimental Studio celebrates 60th anniversary with a two day conference

The event examines the historical and social conditions that led to the formation of the Studio Eksperymentalne Polskiego Radia

This October a two day conference will be held in Łódź in celebration of Studio Eksperymentalne Polskiego Radia (or, in English, Polish Radio Experimental Studio – PRES for short). The studio was founded in Warsaw in 1957 as a platform for artistic expression in the communist Eastern Bloc, a few years after WDR Cologne and Club d’Essai de la Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française opened in the West. Led by the late musicologist Józef Patkowski until 1985, PRES promoted the development of electronic music and audiovisual experiments in Poland throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Organised by Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź, the conference’s talks will address the history of the studio and its impact not only on contemporary music but also the more experimental wings of visual and cinematic arts in Poland. In addition, there will be screenings of films with PRES soundtracks, and concerts featuring new performances of works developed at the studio. Finally, members of Warsaw Museum of Modern Art will present their plans for the reconstruction of the studio.

Speakers include Antoni Beksiak, Bolek Błaszczyk, Dariusz Brzostek, Cindy Bylander, David Crowley, David Grubbs, Ewa Guziołek-Tubelewicz, Sanne Krogh Groth, Aleksandra Kędziorek, Flo Menezes, Lars Mørch Finborud, Ola Nordal, Barbara Okoń-Makowska, Holly Rogers, Joanna Walewska, Laura Zattra, The Wire's Contributing Editor Frances Morgan, and others. There will also be a chance to meet people who worked at the studio such as Krzysztof Szlifirski and producers Barabara Okoń-Makowska and Ewa Guziołek Tubelewicz.

The event is free and takes place on 13 & 14 October at Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź.

Sheffield’s No Bounds festival announces its full line-up

Luca Lozano, Saoirse, Rian Treanor, DJ Lag + Nan Kole and Morphology join Jeff Mills, Stingray and many more at the three day event in October

No Bounds festival has revealed its full line-up, which includes Jeff Mills, Stingray, Laurel Halo, Ikonika, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Morphology, DEBONAIR, Blood Sport, Sensate Focus, Anastasia Kristensen, Minimal Violence and Prequel Tapes, among many other artists. It has also added a Resident Advisor stage featuring Mr G, Saoirse, DJ Seinfeld, Luca Lozano, DJ Lag & Nan Kole, Rian Treanor, Éclair Fifi and Darwin. And Offmenut Records will host a strand with Om Unit, Swifta Beater, DJ SS, Deadbeat UK and Phatworld B2B Superior Cornrows.

In addition No Bounds has a live improv showcase for the likes of Maja Bugge, Charlie Collins & Ryoko Akama, Beck Hunters, Matthew Bourne, Mark Sanders & Corey Mwamba and Inclusion Principle. There’s also a surround sound stage curated by the University of Sheffield Sound Laboratory, who will also be holding coding workshops. Plus, Public Information present their Memory Dance series exploring electronic music, moving image and dementia. The series’ programme of audiovisual works includes a student film with a Mark Fell soundtrack, scratch video from Cabaret Voltaire visual artist Nick Cope and early computer animation from Warp Motion/Artificial Intelligence founder Phil Wolstenholme, and installations from The Caretaker and Weirdcore. Finally, the festival organisers also promise “a spoken word stage, multiple artist exhibitions, installations, showcases and two simultaneous raves!”

The Wire will host some Q&As too (details TBC).

No Bounds runs from 13–15 October at various venues across Sheffield. Tickets start at £10 for Friday night only and some early birds are still available. More information can be found at their website.

Akio Suzuki and Aki Onda to collaborate with Annea Lockwood

The Japanese duo's North American tour in October includes a special New York date with the New Zealand born composer

Akio Suzuki and Aki Onda embark on a North American tour in October. The seven date run will kick off in Vancouver, Canada, before travelling south through the Pacific Northwest to California and then eastwards to New York. Their New York date is a Blank Forms presentation showcasing their first-time collaboration with New Zealand born composer and sound artist Annea Lockwood, in which they will treat found objects as both aural and visual tools.

Onda, based in New York, and Suzuki, from Tango Peninsula, Japan, started collaborating as a duo in 2005, since when they have explored site specific locations on various tours of America, Asia and Europe. These have taken in performances in a factory in Brussels, a carpark in Glasgow, and so on, with Onda and Suzuki playing self-made instruments, found material and analogue equipment. Their first album together, called Ma Ta Ta Bi, was released by the Montreal label Oral in 2014.

Tour dates are: Vancouver Western Front (18 October), Seattle Good Shepherd Center Chapel (19), Culver City SASSAS at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook (22), Valencia Workshop at CalArts (23), Marfa Workshop at Marfa Stockyards (25), Marfa Live Arts at Saint George Hall (26), with Annea Lockwood at a Blank Forms presentation at Brooklyn NY Pioneer Works (29). More information can be found on Aki Onda's website.

Editions Lenka Lente founder Guillaume Belhomme goes on a jazz rescue mission

His new book of 150 jazz portraits bypasses easy listening for the likes of King Oliver, Radu Malfatti, Otomo Yoshihide and Martin Küchen

In his new French language book Jazz En 150 Figures, Guillaume Belhomme’s anthology of portraits establishes his own pantheon of jazz greats ranging from Art Tatum, Lee Morgan, Archie Shepp and Ella Fitzgerald to Radu Malfatti, Otomo Yoshihide, Irene Schweizer and Mats Gustafsson. “This is quite a challenge for french readers fond of jazz, as they won't find anything here about Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall, etc, but may discover musicians they didn't know yet,” declares Belhomme, who writes about jazz on his website Le Son Du Grisli and for magazines such as Jazz Hot, Les Inrockuptibles and Mouvement.

“Like I say in the foreword,” he continues, “I've met David Murray a few years ago, who told me: ‘I'm fed up to hear people using ‘jazz’ to talk about music that is only easy listening’.” Each individual portrait also contains five short reviews of the artist’s recordings, among the book’s vast selection of photography and sleeve art.

Guillaume Belhomme is the founder of Les Editions Lenka Lente, which specialises in book and disc editions twinning music and writing. Lenka Lente editions have covered Nurse With Wound and Franz Kafka, Morton Feldman, Martin Küchen, and more.

Jazz En 150 Figures is published by Editions du Layeur

Solange launches a personal online companion to Soul Of A Nation

Solange Knowles Ferguson opens her interactive dossier Seventy States related to the London Tate exhibition Soul Of A Nation: Art In The Age Of Black Power

Solange has created a digital interactive dossier as an online companion to the Soul Of A Nation: Art In The Age Of Black Power at London’s Tate Modern.

Called Seventy States, her dossier explores the visual concept behind her recent album A Seat At The Table. It showcases previously unseen performances and concept sketches for her music videos to “Cranes In The Sky” and “Don't Touch My Hair”, plus We Sleep In Our Clothes, (Because We're Warriors Of The Night), an original performance and score created by Solange in collaboration with Carlota Guerra, and two untitled poems.

"I wanted to create a specific scenography through movement and landscape to communicate my states of process through this record, I decided to do this through a visual language," states Solange on the Tate website. “There would be no hesitation should I be asked to describe myself today. I am a Black woman. A woman yes, but a Black woman first and last. Black womanhood has been at the root of my entire existence since birth.

“During the creation of A Seat At The Table and my deeper exploration into my own identity, I experienced many different states of being, and mind throughout my journey,” she continues. “I mourned. I grieved. I raged. I felt fear and triumph while working through some of the trauma I set out to heal from. The state I so greatly wanted to experience, but that never arrived was optimism. I couldn't answer my own question, if I had a responsibility as an artist to also express optimism in the midst of working through so much of my own healing.”

Earlier this year, the Tate exhibition also twinned with Soul Jazz label's release of the compilation album Soul Of A Nation: Afro-Centric Visions In The Age Of Black Power.

Soul Of A Nation: Art In The Age Of Black Power runs until 22 October. You can check out Seventy States at the Tate's website.

This year Field Studies pays tribute to Pauline Oliveros

The Leeds based October event will pay special attention to the act of listening

Field Studies 2017 is called Listening After Pauline Oliveros in honour of the late composer. From 12–15 October, the Leeds event will feature a series of workshops and discussions exploring modes of listening, with a focus on the “relation of listening and attunement to perceptions of change and transformation”. Participating musicians, artists, curators and scholars include IONE, Don Ihde, Joseph Kohlmaier, Esther Venrooij, Sharon Stewart, Amy Beeston, Alan Dunn, Volkmar Klien, Ed McKeon, Scott McLaughlin, Claudia Molitor, Daniel Weintraub and others.

The programme will be structured along two strands. The first, Field Studies, will feature practice-led masterclasses of 15–20 participants culminating in performances and presentations on Sunday 15 October; the second, Open Programme, will combine talks, panel discussion and academic papers with performances, exhibition visits and screenings.

Passes are available for the full workshop and symposium programme, in addition to one and two day tickets. A ten per cent early bird discount is on offer until 12 September.

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.