Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Trad jazz meets Survival Research Laboratories = Bruce Lacey

The subject of an early Ken Russell documentary

Lacey was a fellow traveler  with / sometime member of The Alberts


Does his (and their) "absurd nostalgia" make him a precursor to hauntology's lighter side?

The cracked Anglo-Dada side?

That Goonsy-ness that fed into The Beatles and Monty Python... into Bonzo Dog Band and Viv Stanshall and Neil Innes... into  Magical Mystery Tour and The Rutles..,

The Goonsy-ness that fed into this early Dick Lester film

The same Dick Lester who did A Hard Day's Night and Help but also tradsploitation movie It's Trad, Dad and The Knack (and How To Get it)

In January 1963 The Alberts presented An Evening of British Rubbish  (with Ivor Cutler, amongst others, also involved)

George Martin, who'd done the Peter Sellers LP and others comedy records, put it out on Parlophone. He also put out a single by The Alberts, The Morse Code Melody b/w Sleepy Valley

The Alberts also pop up in some Ken Russell movies, Dante’s Inferno and The Music Lovers.

Bonus beats:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Ken Russell of rock.

Bad For Good = another record I desisted from picking up in Sounds, the store in Tilburg.

Another Meatloaf-related artist whose solo album I toyed with for a second or two in the store: Ellen Foley and The Spirit of St Louis.

However this record (her second solo, from 1981) is actually more-or-less a Clash side project - Foley was dating Mick Jones ("produced by" is coyly credited to "My Boyfriend") and there's a bunch of Strummer/Jones compositions plus playing passim from Paul, Topper, Joe 'n' Mick.

Foley did the backing vocals on "Hitsville UK" and this unreleased tune

She also did a record with Ian Hunter (Mott-Clash nexus: Guy Stevens) and sang with Iron City Houserockers which was produced by Hunter, Ronson, and The E Street Band's Steven Van Zandt. 

The linkage between Meatloaf, Springsteen, Mott and Clash seems indicative of how razor-thin the at-the-time-crucial-seeming divisions between Old Wave and New Wave actually were (see also Boomtown Rats's punked up Springsteen-isms) and how quickly they collapsed and commingled into each other.

After a third solo record, Foley resurfaced on a second,Steinman solo project  (solo in all but  name: it was called Pandora's Box) equally overblown and commercially pre-doomed as Bad For Good.  Released in 1989, it was titled Original Sin and out of curiosity I volunteered to review it in MM  . Been meaning to dig that out for the archive blog.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Yes, that is Hot Gossip covering Human League's "Circus of Death"

And more than that - it is Hot Gossip, produced by the British Electric Foundation, so that's Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh remaking one of their own tunes

I very nearly bought the Hot Gossip album Geisha Boys and Temple Girls, also produced by BEF and featuring a number of other unusual cover version choices (Talking Heads's "Houses in Motions" plus two Heaven 17 tunes "Soul Warfare" and "Geisha Boys and Temple Girls"), at this great record store in Tilburg, called Sounds.  But I desisted, having already picked up another 13 albums + 1 twelve inch + 1 single. I figured that was enough of a haul.

Now of course I rather regret having desisted....

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ernest Berk! I really thought he had to be one of those made-up "outsider electronics" composers a la D.D. Denham and Ursula Bogner (earnest berk, get it?). But no he seems to be, or have been, real, judging by this soundtrack to a  BFI film by David Gladwell from 1964. Supposedly Berk was a a German naturist who ran a dance commune in 1960s England. Or says the dude from Public Information, who is putting out a FC Judd-style anthology at some point.

(via A Sound Awareness)

Monday, September 3, 2012

saw the Bow Gamelan Ensemble a few times in the late Eighties -- if memory serves, once at the ICA (incredible) and once outdoors at this kind of backwater of the Thames somewhere in the West of London (pretty cool)

via the Wayback Machine:

Bow Gamelan Ensemble (1983 - 1990) See also In C and Air (1986)Concrete Barges (1986)Offshore Rig and The Navigators (1987-88)A Damned Near Run Thing (1988), Worldwide (1985-89).

The Bow Gamelan Ensemble was founded in 1983 by Anne Bean, Paul Burwell and Richard Wilson during a boat trip up Bow Creek. Over the next seven years they created a dynamic experience using sound, light and performance which went beyond the conventional definitions of music event.

Since their first (intended to be their only) performance at the London Musicians Collective, the Bow Gamelan Ensemble made dozens of performances, events and specially commissioned works throughout Europe, America, Mexico and Japan.

The name Bow Gamelan derives from the area of East London where they lived and worked and from the Indonesian metallophone ensembles. Their instruments were all specially constructed, mostly from scrap metal, electric motors and glass and produced a wide variety of sounds ranging from the deep, organ like sounds of the pyrophones through a gamut of percussive timbres and dynamic range. Both the sound sources and the musical structures generated were unusual because of the physical relationship between the way instruments work and how they had to be played.

The unique sensibilities of the individual members combined with their long experience in the areas of performance art, drumming, sculpture, environments and multi-media made the collaboration remarkably creative and fruitful.

The Bow Gamelan grew from intimate indoor performances to large outdoor events which created new orchestras out of discarded materials around the world. They developed relationships with pyrotechnicians such as Wilf Scott, le Maitre Fireworks and El Diablo in Mexico and entered into a range of working relationships with artists and groups such as the sound poet Bob Cobbing, the American percussionist z’ev, Simon York of Miraculous Engineering, Tom Leadlay of the Thames Steam Launch Company, Eel Pie Marine, Ballooning World, historic re-creation societies and remote control helicoptor enthusiasts.

In their seven year history, Bow Gamelan received enthusiastic accolades and worldwide press coverage :

They serve up adventures in music, sculpture and performance that dazzle the eyes, astonish the ears and stimulate the imagination of viewers with an unorthodox magic.

Time Out Performance Award

The Bow Gamelan Ensemble… is the most stunning cross media project of the decade. Gloriously inventive, riotously funny and completely accessible.

City Limits

The sheer scale of the thing is a delight to behold… the smoke and light constantly changing creates a strange beauty where you would never have expected to find it.

The Sunday Times

Yes it was at the ICA, in fact I reviewed it  for Melody Maker (see below)

In C and Air (1986) Bow Gamelan Ensemble
ICA, London

IN C and Air included working with the sound poet Bob Cobbing who wrote several poem-songs for the commission. We used a complex arrangements of pulleys to animate the entire stage as a percussive instrument, a re-enforced glass tank of water to facilitate sounds ‘bent’ by being played in water as well as waterfalls created by buckets on pulleys, an entire hinged stage full of instruments that suddenly fell down around us and a light sensitive screen on which we could flash and ‘catch’ momentary shadows of instruments thrown and played in mid air.

There’s a flying car that thinks it’s Ornette Coleman’s drummer... veering from beauty to horror, the spectacle is utterly, and at one point literally, stunning.
Time Out

Brilliant! The dingy ICA theatre has been transformed with the pickings from a hundred East London skips - the wreckage comes alive… That car starts to float across the stage, headlights and doors flashing and slamming, starts to dance. Brilliant. You can’t believe your eyes. And then the stage turns out to be all trapdoors which open and gape luridly, then slam in deafening symphony. How do they DO that? There’s underwater percussion, music from welding, prepared and invented instruments, automatic music, a symphony of fire alarms…Tonight was a wealth of stunts and japes aural and visual,… Bliss… Brilliant
Melody Maker

If you’ve never experienced the extremes of fear and fascination in the same five seconds, you’ve never had the pleasure of a ringside seat for the Bow Gamelan Ensemble. Put simply it is the most stunning cross media project of the decade - sonic choreography meets visual drama. Shattering glass, a free fall of rhythms, klaxon horns, the drone of what sounds like a bagpipe but looks like an octopus revolving from the ceiling, the rattle and roll of tin plates in tumble dryers: the instruments are oddments of industrial and domestic waste, some are nicked from skips, some fished out of the bottom of Bow Creek, recycled with an eye for sculpture and an ear for sound. John Cage, the Dadaists, ‘80’s noise groups like Test Department, they are all kindred souls of a kind: as for straight forward comparisons, there are few if any at all. Their ICA season is specially commissioned…. Me, I can’t wait.
City Limits

I’ve never seen the ICA stage so crowded….truly the art of noise/noise of art.
Sounds Magazine

And this must be the thing in West London me and Stubbs went to:

Offshore Rig and The Navigators (1987-1988)
Bow Gamelan Ensemble
London International Festival of Theatre

Both these commissions from LIFT gave scope to the potential that our familiarity with the Thames allowed. Both required working around the tides to facilitate movements of vessels before and during performances.

Offshore Rig
on the Thames island Lots Ait included using high pressure air to produce bubbling water under the seats of the audience built on scaffolding in the river as well as high pressure water with analine dye to create a bright red waterfall. Aware of the dynamic Indian presence and culture in the local area of Southall, we invited the Treveni Kathak Dance Troupe whose delicate bell sounds and colourful presence contrasted wildly with our aluminium beer barrel ‘carillon’ and the dark industrial enormity of the site.

For The Navigators we collected a flotilla of vessels to make performances between Bow Creek and Richmond. We spent several weeks living on the river and journeyed through London engaging different presences at various sites to suddenly extend and become part of the whole such as a giant hot air balloon rising up behind Richmond Bridge with people in the basket below playing foghorns.

The most spectacular piece in the London International Festival of Theatre is non-verbal… The Bow Gamelan Ensemble are joined in Offshore Rig by American artist and percussionist z’ev.  The work is presented on an offshore island in the Thames. Using a derelict dry dock with three enormous sheds they stage their spectacle. Exploring experimental areas in sound, performance, light and sculpture, Bow Gamelan create a work of great elegance and originality that is accessible without being compromised. A stream of semi-rehearsed, semi improvised ‘music’ created from fireworks and industrial junk (chimes, steam whistles, long swinging ropes of firecrackers) is interwoven with a variety of lighting effects (spotlights, flares, searchlights, coloured lights and gases). Subtle changes, or sometimes bold and sudden ones, create changing vistas and aural perspectives and rich sculptural silhouettes.         
Gallery Magazine

Bow Gamelan Ensemble was the highlight of LIFT's first week… What they do successfully evades categorisation and amusingly blurs the highbrow-lowbrow distinction which dogs most performances. The sheer scale of the thing is a delight to behold, the unexpected explosions a regular cause of spontaneous laughter. The smoke and light constantly create a strange beauty where you would never have expected to find it. Offshore Rig is literally wonderful.
The Sunday Times

The packed banks of the River Thames have never been treated to tubes of smoke filled plastic erupting from a barge, miniature helicopters buzzing round like demented owls - you needed only to look away for a moment to miss firecrackers, giant mobiles of cymbals as high pressure fired water onto them, fire filled rusting jaws of baths opening and closing in crocodile like motion, or fleeting glimpses of a colourful hot air balloon, seemingly suspended amidst the traffic of Richmond Bridge.
Evening Standard

Before the Pulp Music postpunk single at the top, Anne Bean had been in The Moodies, aka Moody and the Menstruators -- who were fellow travellers of Roxy Music, protopomo / proto drag king cabaret/panto/performance art troupe

what an interesting journey --  glam to postpunk to sound art

Saturday, September 1, 2012

unreleased Chris Marker TV series The Owl's Legacy, viewable here

(via Toys and Techniques)

Her Ghost -- a remix of / tribute to La Jetee by Kode 9, MFO and Ms Haptic

watch the trailer for it here