The Wire


New music for a unique organ

London’s Organ Reframed festival will feature newly commissioned works by Tim Hecker, Phill Niblock, Mira Calix, Emily Hall and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

This autumn London Islington’s Union Chapel will host a special three day festival that issues a challenge to musicians and audiences alike to rethink the organ. The festival has commissioned a number of artists to compose new works for the chapel's organ, which was built specifically for the space by Henry Father’ Willis in 1877, and is the only organ in England with its original (and functioning) hydraulic bellows. Their one mandate is to “release the organ from its traditional roots”. Composers include Tim Hecker, Phill Niblock, Mira Calix, Emily Hall and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, and the festival will feature performances by Low, Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie of Stars Of The Lid, Claire M Singer, Gordon Monahan, James McVinnie and London Contemporary Orchestra And Choir.

“To have the opportunity to build on the organ’s rich history and bring it to the attention of a new generation of artists feels important,” says composer and festival curator Claire M Singer. “It may not be the most portable of instruments, but like any other it deserves a life. It deserves that life to be continued and its music to be developed, and that’s what I’m trying to do over three days with Organ Reframed.”

Organ Reframed will run from 13–15 October. You can watch a video of Singer performing at the Chapel, below:

Boiler Room to screen online premiere of Sähkö The Movie

Rare 1995 VHS film about the Finnish label will be streamed online for the first time

Boiler Room TV has announced it’s going to stream a rare film about Finnish label Sähkö. Shot on 16mm by Jimi Tenor in 1995, the untitled work was dubbed Sähkö The Movie by the label's fans, and it’s a hard to find item only available as a VHS tape originally released by Blast First Petite.

The 44 minute film features footage of Tommi Grönlund – who founded the label in 1993 in Turku – as well as Mono Junk, Hertsi, IFÖ and the late Mika Vainio, while they variously work in the studio, hand-press limited edition vinyl or perform live.

Sähkö The Movie will stream on 10 August. In the meantime you can watch a trailer below:

Fuse Art Space launches a workshop series in the French Pyrenees

Laraaji, Gavin Bryars and others to act as “intense, artistic catalysts” for new ideas at a 750m high residency school next year

2018 will see the launch of Camp, a residency series based in the thermal spa town of Aulus-les-Bains in the French Pyrenees. Housed in a renovated 19th century hotel, each course in the series will run for five days. Subjects include: Modern Composition with Gavin Bryars; Environmental Sound Recording with Chris Watson (now sold out); Deep Listening, Meditation & Laughter with Laraaji; Composing For Film with Jozef Van Wissem; and Experimental Composition & Performance with Eli Keszler. Each course will cost £1119, not including flights, but James from Fuse Art Space confirms over email that those fees cover “all tuition and activities, accommodation, catering (yes, including booze), and unlimited use of our facilities”. And he confirms that on site facilities include “Pro-Tools studios, digital editing and production suites, an arts library, rehearsal and performance spaces, fine art studios, a cinema, dark room... all free and technician-supported for participants throughout their stay”.

“We've been running Fuse Art Space for nearly four years,” he says, when asked how the project came about. “The level of work coming through is consistently really awesome. We wanted to take this pool of incredibly talented and innovative artists, musicians, writers, thinkers and activists and put them in an environment where they can act as catalysts for new ideas and artistic thought.

“We want to create a place where people can come and feel inspired, have a deeply creative experience, learn new ways of working at the leading edge of their artforms, form new groups and movements, make things happen,” he continues. “We want the work and developments that come out of Camp to pioneer new ways of thinking about music, art, film, etc.”

Some of the courses, such as the one run by Gavin Bryars, require an existing knowledge skill base from participants, while others are open to those with no more than an interest in the subject. All sessions will make use of what the landscape has to offer. Plus there’s a bursary scheme available via Camp’s various partners.

Camp has lined up future courses by the likes of Laure Prouvost, Ann Bean, Jana Winderen & Mike Harding, Christina Kubisch, Paulina Olowska, and others. Camp kicks off in April 2018.

Documentary about West German studio legend Conny Plank to be released this year

Directed by Reto Caduff and Conny's son Stephan Plank, the documentary looks at the heritage of the producer and sound engineer behind 1970s krautrock, 1980s neue deutsche welle, and much more

Conny Plank: The Potential Of Noise goes on release in September. Directed by Reto Caduff and Stephan Plank, the feature length documentary traces the history of Stephan’s father Conny through the viewpoint of the artists he worked with. It also examines the legacy the West German producer, sound engineer and musician left behind following his death at the age of 47. Ranging across progressive, avant garde, electronic and krautrock, Plank worked with artists such as Neu!, Kraftwerk, Cluster, Guru Guru, La Düsseldorf, Gianna Nannini, Michael Rother, Eurythmics, Les Ritas Mitsuko, Ultravox, and many others. He was also a regular collaborator with Cluster’s Dieter Moebius. Born Konrad Plank in Hütschenhausen in 1940, Conny died of cancer in 1987, leaving behind his wife, the actor Christa Fast, and son Stephan, then aged 13.

“I discovered his work in the early 80s when albums by Eurythmics or Ultravox, Les Ritas Mitsouko, Freur or by German new wave acts such as Ideal, Rheingold or DAF had the Conny Plank credit on the cover,” comments Reto Caduff via email. “Little did I know at that time of his earlier influence: that he brought Kraftwerk to the recording studio for the first time, that he was working with the band up to their “Autobahn” hit, and all his contribution to the krautrock genre and early electronic music. I only discovered really Neu! when the albums were reissued in the early 2000s. He really was a pioneer and his untimely death at 47 in 1987 only added to the legend.

“As a film maker I am very much interested in these kind of influential people who somehow never got the credit they deserved outside the cognoscenti. So out of my personal interest in the man I contacted his son Stephan Plank, who told me that he was already working on a film about his dad,” Caduff continues. “I wished him the best of luck with it but he suggested we meet and talk about a possible collaboration. We met in Berlin and quickly found a lot of common ground (my dad died in 1988, aged 49), so there was a connection beyond the music.

“To me, the idea of co-directing the film made a lot of sense since Stephan could approach the artists whom he met as a kid in the studio (his home) differently than a regular documentary director. My hunch proved correct over and over again. Meeting the artists brought the memories and stories to a complete different level and enabled us to paint a very unique picture of this extraordinary artist behind the mixing desk. I also felt the timing was right since a lot of the people were still active.

“I hope we made a film that appeals to the fans who grew up with his music as much as to a younger generation interested in the genesis of electronic music,” he concludes.

In 2013, Grönland released Who's That Man: A Tribute To Conny Plank, a boxset featuring tracks Plank had engineered for Brian Eno, Psychotic Tanks, Fritz Müller and many others, a CD of Plank, Dieter Möbius & Arno Steffen performing live in Mexico in 1986, and a selection of remixes by Jens-Uwe Beyer, Phew, and others.

Conny Plank: The Potential Of Noise will be released in both German and English language in September 2017

Tuxedomoon's Peter Principle has died

Core member of the post-punk outfit unexpectedly passed away in Brussels on 17 July

Peter Principle, longtime member of San Francisco post-punk outfit Tuxedomoon has died aged 63, just when the band were in Brussels preparing a new album and tour to celebrate their 40th anniversary. “The probable cause of his sudden death is a heart attack, or a stroke,” states Crammed Discs, which, along with its sister label Cramboy, has been responsible for releasing much of Tuxedomoon's music. However, Tuxedomoon’s early work was released by The Residents’ label Ralph.

Peter Principle, born Peter Dachert on 5 December 1954 in New York City, played bass and guitar. He joined Tuxedomoon shortly after the group was formed in 1977 by saxophonist Steven Brown and violinist Blaine Reininger. He quickly went on to play a key role in the group’s compositions, recording and production work. Following their 1981 album Desire, the group relocated to an artist's commune in Rotterdam but within a year they moved on to Brussels. At the time of Peter Principle's death he was one of only two San Francisco era members, alongside Brown, to have remained in the group until today, though Reininger continues to record with them.

Peter Principle also recorded four solo albums: Sedimental Journey (1985), Tone Poem (1989), Conjunction (1990) and Idyllatry (2005). About the latter, released by LTM, Crammed Discs comments that “he gave free rein to his taste for experimentation and his love for quasi-psychedelic soundscapes. He once explained that he had discovered the magic of pure sound by listening to the sound of lawn-mowers in his native New York suburb, and then proceeded to reinvent musique concrète (which he didn’t know already existed)…”

Crammed Discs reissued Tuxedomoon’s 1980 debut album Half-Mute last year. “His presence, his intriguing ideas, his imposing silhouette and stage presence, his inimitable bass guitar style will be cruelly missed,” concludes Crammed Discs’ statement.

Beatrice Dillon among those nominated for Jules Wright Prize

Film London and The Wapping Project announce shortlist for prize awarding female creative technicians

Beatrice Dillon, Chu-Li Shewring and Zhe Wu have been nominated for this year's Jules Wright Prize. Awarded to UK based female creative technicians who have worked within the field of the moving image, the prize of £5000 will this year celebrate those working in sound design. This is the third year that the award has been running with the aim of highlighting the role of female technicians and to draw attention to the underrepresentation of women in the industry.

The jury, comprising Sara Putt of Sara Putt Associates, editor and winner of last year's prize Lucy Harris, and composer, librettist and singer-songwriter Errollyn Wallen, said “We were impressed by the commitment, knowledge, professional experience and diversity of the works of all the shortlisted nominees, presenting an impressive picture of the quality and depth of talent of female technicians working with sound. The high technical and professional skills of the shortlist are matched by a sensitivity of approach and interpretation to working with sound that is informed by collaboration and dialogue. This creative exchange and generosity continues to make a huge contribution to the international success and vibrancy of artists’ film.”

Dillon, who was tested by Jennifer Lucy Allan for the Invisible Jukebox in The Wire 389, is a London based composer, DJ and producer who has released on labels such as Boomkat Editions, Pan, The Trilogy Tapes and Where To Now?. She's collaborated with the likes of Conrad Shawcross, Pedro Reyes, Mai-Thu Perret and Claire Hooper, working on sound and music for film, installation and performance. Chu-Li Shewring is a film maker, sound designer and visiting sound tutor at University College London and the National Film and Television School. She's worked with Steve McQueen on Hunger, Frances Scott on CANWEYE { } and Diviner, as well as with Ben Rivers, Phil Coy and Esther Johnson. Zhe Wu is a sound designer and post-production engineer who's worked with Sarah Turner on Perestroika and Public House and with Siobhan Davies and David Hinton on The Running Tongue.

The prize is part of Film London Jarman Award and the winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Whitechapel Gallery on 20 November. Watch an excerpt from Beatrice Dillon, Florence Peake and Anne Tetzlaff's Untitled, 2017 at Wysing Arts Centre:

Monumental late piece by composer Roland Kayn set for debut release

Ilse Kayn and Jim O'Rourke discuss A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound

A lost magnum opus of electronic music is set for its first ever release this autumn. A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound is a late work by the composer Roland Kayn – a former member of the groundbreaking Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, who went on to forge his own style of cybernetic music – which is one huge piece running to almost 14 hours and spanning tape music, musique concrète and electronic and electroacoustic sounds.

Kayn, who was born in Germany in 1933 and lived in the Netherlands from 1970 until his death in 2011, amassed a rich body of work over several decades of study and collaboration, which ranged across electronic sound exploration, live performance and philosophy. His early musical ideas were influenced by the information theory of philosopher Max Bense and the mathematical approach of composer and teacher Boris Blacher; he began working at the Studio for Electronic Music at Westdeutscher Rundfunk Studios in Cologne in 1953. In the mid-60s, he was one of the founders alongside Franco Evangelisti of Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, a group that also featured Ennio Morricone, and he played organ in that group’s groundbreaking mix of live electronics and improvisation.

Roland Kayn, 1958. Copyright LRKA (Lydia-und Roland Kayn Archive) Bussum

“At that time it was his longest composition, I think,” his daughter Ilse Kayn reports down the phone line from Holland. Her father, she recalls, moved to an old farm in eastern Groningen in 1999, which gave him the space to establish an extensive studio, archive and living space. The piece remained unreleased until now, she explains, as “I had to find my way through the bureaucratic jungle. I’m not bilingual so contracts in Italian, German and English are not always easy to understand.” The project finally got off the ground with the help of the Helsinki based archive specialists Frozen Reeds, whose last release was the acclaimed 2016 Julius Eastman set Femenine.

The task of audio restoration of this mammoth piece fell to longtime Kayn enthusiast Jim O'Rourke. “Kayn’s work has been paramount in my way of thinking about creating music with electronics, for sure,” he emails. “I have known his work from about 30 years ago when Christoph Heemann first introduced me to his music. At the time, the LPs were still available, and I actually bought them at a grocery store in Aachen, ha ha. I was in college at the time, so I started thinking of trying to go to the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht and became quite obsessed with composers who worked there, like Leo Kupper and later Jaap Vink, a good deal because of pictures included in the Kayn box sets.” He tells me about what he calls his own “lame attempts at Kayn-inspired music”, including “A Young Person’s Guide To Drowning”. “Ever since,” he says, “I have been a very vocal supporter and fan of Mr Kayn’s work.”

Ilse recalls that a Revox tape machine was one of Kayn’s main instruments during the composition of a piece. For O’Rourke, “these works are a little rougher both in construction and execution than his earlier works. I definitely want to retain that as much as possible while taking care of the problems that have surfaced from digital degradation… The original recordings were either recorded directly to DAT or ADAT, formats that deteriorate over time, so most of the work is finding the anomalies in the waveforms where data has been lost and interpolating the waveform from what remains.”

One of the remarkable things about A Little Electronic Milky Way Of Sound is its sheer length – it was conceived as a single piece running to almost 14 hours. “There have been huge scale works like this before, I am thinking of some of Gunner Møller Pedersen’s works for example,” muses O'Rourke. “But this does seem like it was Kayn’s ‘summing up’ of his work. At this point since I am working on it on a very microscopic level instead of a macro level, I am learning a lot about his work just by looking at the waveforms. I always knew phase relationship was a big part of how his pieces worked, but actually looking at it has been kind of eye opening.”

Ilse attempts to sum up her father’s idea of cybernetic music. "He would always explain it with throwing stones in the water,” she says. “You get those circles… it's about the crossings.” The 16 CD set will be released by Frozen Reeds in October, and is available for ordering at their site here.

Two rare Ornette Coleman albums to be reissued as double CD

Never before reissued on CD, Real Gone Music will release 1969's Ornette At 12 and 1972's Crisis

Two Ornette Coleman albums are set to be reissued on CD for the first time since their original release on Impulse!. 1969’s Ornette At 12 features Coleman on alto saxophone, trumpet, and violin plus Dewey Redman on tenor saxophone, Charlie Haden on bass, and his son Denardo Coleman on drums, who was aged 12 at the time of recording. 1972's Crisis was recorded live in 1969 at NYU with the same line up as Ornette At 12 but with the addition of Don Cherry on flute and trumpet.

The freshly remastered albums will be released on a single CD on 9 September, featuring the original gatefold album art and liner notes by Howard Mandel, author of Miles, Ornette, Cecil: Jazz Beyond Jazz. The CD is available for pre-order now.

Listen to Haden's “Song For Che” from Crisis:

Win two tickets to Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids

The Wire Presents series continues this August with Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids at London’s The Old Queens Head. We have two pairs of tickets to giveaway

Our ongoing series with London’s The Jazz Cafe continues on 2 August with a special gig from Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids to be held at the Cafe’s other venue, The Old Queens Head.

As featured in The Wire 389, the alto saxophonist veteran of Cecil Taylor’s Black Sun Ensemble formed his own spiritual jazz outfit Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids during the 1970s, and last year the group reformed to make We Be All Africans, which was released by Strut.

We're offering two free pairs of tickets, you just need to guess what year the photo below was taken. Email us your answers via this link with the subject heading: Idris Ackamoor competition.

The Pyramids at Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio

Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids will play at London's The Old Queens Head on 2 August. Tickets are available via Resident Advisor.

For those of you who already have tickets, please note that this event will no longer be held at The Jazz Cafe in Camden.

I Called Him Morgan London screenings

Swedish film maker Kasper Collin's acclaimed documentary about the star-crossed relationship between jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan and his common law wife Helen is screened in London this week.

Morgan was one of the most feted jazz musicians of the 1950s and 60s, recording extensively for the Blue Note label, but his life and career were blighted by drug addiction. He was shot dead by Helen in Slug’s Saloon in Manhattan, New York, in 1972, and I Called Him Morgan is a moving portrait of the couple's complex relationship leading up to that event.

Reviewing the film in The Wire 394, Derek Walmsley wrote: "There are many sad endings to the stories of musicians on Blue Note Records, but few are as shocking as Lee Morgan’s. Yet I Called Him Morgan, which centres on the second wind the trumpeter got from his partner after spiralling into heroin addiction in the mid- 1960s, carries an aura not of death but rebirth. By giving voice to collaborators and associates from across Morgan’s career, it transcends the tidy narrative arcs and tragic cliches of many jazz biopics, and has the unmistakable feeling of joyful lives lived to the full."

I Called Him Morgan screens at London Picturehouse Central on 26 and 31 July, and at London Bertha Dochouse on 28 July. NB The Wire will not be hosting the Q&A with Kasper Collin at the 26 July screening, as previously announced.