Would just like to take the opportunity to wish everyone all the best for 2014. Thank you for your support which has been much appreciated in 2013.
Pause. Breathe. In. Out. Pre-
pare the sounding board you’ll be
for the pell-mell bells.
(Ron Butlin – from Four Haikus for a New Year).
Please excuse the following indulgence. Normal service will be resumed shortly!
A Musical Year: Soundtracks of 2013
Heroine of the year: Éliane Radigue.
As Radigue approaches her 82nd birthday, 2013 finally saw a release for Ψ 847, her c. 80 min electronic piece originally conceived in 1973. Important Records also reissued the rare and monumental Adnos I-III and just before the year end Shiiin released the first complete recording of Naldjorlak I II III. All of this recorded documentation was rounded off by being lucky enough to catch a concert in Paris of her ongoing Occam Ocean series of compositions for her trusted acoustic collaborators: Charles Curtis, Carol Robinson, Bruno Martinez, Robin Hayward, Julia Eckhardt, and Rhodri Davies.
Hero of the year: Ilan Volkov.
Curator of the world class Tectonics festival in Glasgow and (Reykjavik) bringing together works by composers such as Alvin Lucier, Morton Feldman, Iancu Dimitrescu, Ava-Maria Avram and Hanna Tuulikki. A highlight was watching Alvin Lucier lift the lid off his sonic teapot. Performers included Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O’Malley, Aidan Moffat, Hildur Guðnadóttir and Volkov himself who took part in a rousing version of Ambarchi’s Knots. In addition, Volkov continues to spearhead ‘new’ orchestral music and has conducted the BBC SSO in many fine performances including works at The Proms by Cage, Feldman, Varèse and Cardew alongside emerging, contemporary composers.
A big shout out also to the Counterflows festival. Another world class event for Glasgow which in 2013 included Loren Connors and Suzanne Langille, Phill Niblock, Jandek, Lina Lapelyte and a blistering closing set from Peter Brötzmann and Paal Nilssen-Love. The line up for 2014 is already looking pretty fabulous.
So in alphabetical order:
The Dead C – Armed Courage (Ba Da Bing)
What they always do, very well.
Kevin Drumm – Tannenbaum (Hospital Productions)
Often reduced to the ‘noise’ tag. Drumm has produced some incredible deep drone music over the past few years. This is a long, unfolding masterpiece. All 2.5 hours of it.
The Fall – Re-Mit and The Remainderer
Because anything by The Fall is worthy of celebration.
Fire! Orchestra – Exit! (Rune Grammofon)
The big band spirit of Sun Ra lives.
Bruce Gilbert & BAW – Diluvial (Touch)
Sounding global warming.
Ramon Humet and The London Sinfonietta – Niwa (Neu)
Zen gardens, haikus in sound.
The Incredible String Band – Live at the Fillmore 1968 (Hux Records)
Long available as a bootleg, but good to have a decent recording which captures the ISB at their creative peak. “They tell me I was there” – Robin Williamson.
Keith Jarrett – No End (ECM)
Bit of a lo-fi curio but a fascinating glimpse into the Jarrett mind (or self indulgent noodling depending on preference). Essentially a home recorded guitar album from 1986, but only recently released. (He also plays bass, drums, tablas, percussion, recorder, and piano).
Dennis Johnson – November (Irritable Hedgehog)
Tremendous piece of archive reconstruction from Kyle Gann and admirably recorded by Andrew Lee. Jeremy Grimshaw’s book on La Monte Young fills in some of the back story on this ‘forgotten’ work and Johnson’s friendship with Young.
Brian Lavelle – My hands are ten knives (Quiet World)
BL has built up a fascinating body of sound work, both solo and in collaboration. Very much enjoyed a more minimal direction in 2013 and could easily have chosen 56 Revealings which was another fine release.
Alan Licht – Four Years Older (Editions Mego)
Blue Humans, Text of Light. Noisy guitar poet
Roscoe Mitchell – Not Yet (mutable music)
Stunning set of concert compositions. Features conductor Petr Kotik who will be familiar to the Cage/Feldman crowd.
Mogwai – Les Revenants
Never caught the TV series but the music stands up very well on its own. A January release for Rave Tapes should get 2014 well underway.
Mohammad – Som Sakrifis (PAN)
Deep, elemental, drone chamber trio.
The Necks and Evan Parker – Late Junction Session, BBC Radio 3
Open is the first Necks album that I found a bit disappointing. In contrast, this session with Evan Parker was a real treat and much more satisfying. A rare collaboration for The Necks.
Phill Niblock – Touch Five
What he always does, very well.
Nohome – Nohome (Trost) (Caspar Brötzmann, Marino Pliakas, and Michael Wertmüller)
Lost track of Brötzmann’s activity in the past few years, but this is phenomenal. Teaming up with sometime rhythm section of Peter B plus FM Einheit. Melting walls, sonic attack.
Jim O’Rourke – Steamroom 1 & 5
These were the only ones we heard of the digital Steamroom series and are superb. The rest probably are as well.
The Pastels – Slow Summits (Domino)
Welcome album return and the soundtrack to the summer.
Pere Ubu – The Lady From Shanghai (Fire Records)
As original and inventive as ever. A holiday in Berlin coincided with a live show. David Thomas luxuriated in overt cantankerousness and necked a bottle of red wine in short order. Table tennis sounds, Ring my Bell
Michael Pisaro – Tombstones (Human Ear Music)
Almost a Julia Holter album. Technically 2012 but CD out in 2013.
Éliane Radigue – Ψ 847 (Oral); Adnos I-III (Important); naldjorlak I II III (Shiiin).
You have to experience Radigue. Words fail. Meditation helps.
Shampoo Boy – Licht (Blackest Ever Black)
Terrible name, but dense, ear pleasing drone from Peter Rehberg & friends.
Splashgirl – Field Day Rituals (Hubro)
An even worse name but combine them Shampoo Boy and you could have a Robert Rodríguez film. A piano trio produced by Randall Dunn with some guest appearances from Eyvind Kang.
Burkhard Stangl – Unfinished. For William Turner, painter (Touch)
Minimal guitar saturated with atmospheres.
Jakob Ullmann – fremde zeit addendum 4 (Edition RZ)
Needs full attention.
Water of Life – s/t
Wire – Change Becomes Us (Pink Flag)
Still waving the Pink Flag.
Acid Mothers Temple – Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, Glasgow
At their genre shredding best in a small basement club.
Dick Gaughan – Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline
A man with a guitar, a sense of history and political commitment. Great raconteur as well.
Dieter Moebius – Live score to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis – The Arches, Glasgow
Part of Sonic Cineplex at The Arches Glasgow.
Meredith Monk – On Behalf of Nature – Lyceum, Edinburgh
Theatre/music piece inspired by Gary Snyder.
Mogwai, performing live to Zidane, A 21st Century Portrait – Broomielaw, Glasgow.
An outdoor, summer gig in Glasgow. Also intrigued by the moon.
Nazoranai (Keiji Haino, Stephen O’Malley, and Oren Ambarchi) – Stereo Glasgow.
Easily the loudest gig ever witnessed. Earplugs next time but exhilarating
Pere Ubu – Quasimodo, Berlin
Éliane Radigue, Compositions from Occam Ocean – Collège des Bernardins, Paris
This music/sound rearranges the molecules of the body. A big thanks to A who came along on what was a romantic weekend.
Il Sogno del Marinaio (Mike Watt/Stephan Pilia/Andrea Belfi) – Mono, Glasgow.
Mike Watt is always interesting live and intrigued to see Pilia in this setting having previously loved his Action, Silence Prayers album.
Patti Smith and Philip Glass, The Poet Speaks (A tribute to Allen Ginsberg) – Playhouse, Edinburgh
Was a bit apprehensive about this beforehand, as in may not equal the sum of parts, but what a superb evening. Patti expressed her admiration for Robert Louis Stevenson as well.
Television – The Sage, Gateshead
A rare chance to see a favourite band so well worth a trip to Newcastle and saw Schwitters Merzbarn wall the next day.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – SECC, Glasgow
Broke my vow to never visit the SECC again and found electric Neil and the Horse in fine form. Out mbv’d mbv.