Friday, June 28, 2019

mouth music (throatless)

Geeta Dayal writes at 4Columns about Paul DeMarinis and his Speak & Spell based album Songs Without Throats, an archival release on Black Truffle Records.

Firebirds (2004) from Paul DeMarinis on Vimeo.

"Oracular flames kept captive within birdcages recite speeches of some politicians of the twentieth century. Gas flames, suitably modulated by electrical fields can be made to act as omnidirectional loudspeakers of surprising clarity and amplitude."

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Major Rafe Ralph + Lenny Goonagain

an album burned into my brain through repeated hearings of my parent's copy as a child

most of the reference points - here, Larry Parnes, and in the second clip, Lonnie Donegan - would have been lost to my child mind, but somehow i understood them enough - as an exploiter, and a phoney, respectively

George Martin produced

one of many examples of the intertwining or contiguity of comedy and rock in British postwar culture

more so than in the USA i think (Zappa, Firesign Theatre, National Lampoon, SNL notwithstanding)

Monty Python as the Beatles of comedy

Rutles as where the twain shall meet pt 1

George Harrison funding Life of Brian part 2


Friday, June 21, 2019

you, Berk!

Watch this - -  for a reconstruction of Ernest Berk's avant choreography accompanied by Berk's own electronic music,  organised by Christoph Winkler in early 2018 and titled "The Complete Expressionist". The piece will be staged again in Berlin on September 3rd and 4th this year.

Reconstruction rationale:

"On three consecutive nights at HAU2, a rich programme of performances and lectures will explore the life and legacy of choreographer, electronic music composer, improviser, dance therapist, and pedagogue Ernest Berk. Berk’s innovative, multifarious career spanned six decades and reflected deep involvement in leftist politics and devoted interest in non-Western aesthetics.... 
Berk opened a studio in Camden, London and began dedicating himself more seriously to the composition of electronic music and musique concrète, at first mainly for his own performances but then also for theatre, television, and film. His synthesis of musique concrète and movement made him one of the most visionary in a wave of pioneering electronic music composers....  It wasn’t until the 1980s that Berk would return to Germany – this time to Berlin, where he began teaching music therapy and improvisation at both the performing arts and music departments at the Arts university, Hochschule der Künste (now Universität der Künste)....

In “The Complete Expressionist”, the celebrated and versatile Berlin choreographer Christoph Winkler will oversee the long-overdue reconstruction of Ernest Berk’s dance pieces and the performance of selected musical compositions as live tape concerts.... Whereas some performances strive to provide accurate reconstructions of original pieces, others will reference the originals through performativity or feature new compositions that pay tribute to Berk through adherence to his texts about performance. The evening, which resembles programme cycles typical of the 1960s and 70s in its eclectic collaging of short works, includes solo dances, duets, and group pieces both pre-composed and improvised. A lifelong believer in and practitioner of nudism, in the 1970s Berk regularly hosted “trance dance sessions” at his studio in which he improvised repetitive electronic rhythms and dancers moved, naked, in repetitive gestures." 

A couple of people associated with the PAN label - Rashad Becker and Pan  Daijing - were involved in "The Complete Expressionist".

"These sessions will be reenacted via two pieces, and group A will provide the live soundtrack using samples of Berk’s original rhythmic patterns. In collaboration with Pan Daijing, Rashad Becker will use fragments from Berk’s original material but also present new material inspired by Berk’s working methods, musical structures, and textual instructions.

"A short BBC film clip about Berk, select video art pieces, and talks by British experimental musician Ian Helliwell and theatre and dance researcher Patrick Primavesi will round out the presentations. Listening stations featuring Berk’s numerous compositions will also be installed in the HAU2 foyer."

Damn would love to have heard the Berk tuneage on those listening stations!

All that exists out there is an unfindable private press album in a very small run presumably done for the dance performances, and some contributions to a library album, An Album Of Space And Science Fiction Tracks And Unusual Brass Fanfares, equally unfindable.

Actually that's not quite true - two tunes appeared on the CD with Ian Helliwell's Tape Leaders book, "Chigger Sound 1" and "No Fish or Oh Mr Bard"

But the vast majority of his music, some 230 compositions, languish out of earshot.

But they still exist - safely kept if inaccessible to most everybody who'd be interested - in an archive in Cologne:

Berk, Ernest, 1909-1993, dancer, choreographer. 

The estate of Ernest Berk: 

The Historical Archive of the City of Cologne has been home to the artistic legacy of Ernest Berk since April 1994: audio tapes with accompanying works directories, a tape recorder, concert program, newspaper articles and letters. This hitherto neglected estate opens up the possibility of exploring another area of ​​Berk's artistic activity, which has hitherto been predominantly known as a dancer and choreographer: the composition of electronic music in the field of tension between "musique concrète" and "modern dance" - two terms, Berk has often chosen as the motto of his performances. 

The life of Ernest Berk:

Ernest Berk was born on October 12, 1909 in Cologne, from where he worked as a solo dancer and choreographer at various locations after training at the Cologne Wigman Institute (expressive dance) and at the Rheinische Musikschule (composition). 

In 1934 Berk went to England with his wife Lotte. Here was his ambition to make new forms of dance public through a wide range of art. In 1955 he founded his own studio for electronic music in London. With his instruments, he created a complete work of about 230 tape compositions for ballet, expressive dance, film and television. In 1985, Berk followed a call to the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, where he expanded his activities through teaching, as an actor in the theater and in feature films. On September 30, 1993, Ernest Berk died in Berlin.

Find list by Martin Köhler 


correspondence, personal documents, production and teaching materials, audio tapes, photos 

Notices: Closed until: 01.01.2024 
Amount: 22 boxes, approx. 14.00 meters of tape


Here's something I found online that may well be Berk's music - it's not identified as such - as the score to an "unrehearsed live performance with Peter Donebauer, Simon and dancer Ernest Berk" from the late Seventies..

In Earnest 1979 - clip from Peter Donebauer on Vimeo.

Then there's Berk's score to this short film by David Gladwell.

Public Information were supposed to reissuing some Berk music but they've gone awfully quiet recently - last release was 2016. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

worth seeing?

Sunday, June 16, 2019

mundmuzik (swissmiss-stic)

some of this is great, others shades into mystic / kitsch blurryzone

you can't help thinking of holydivas from Lisa Dead Can Dance to the twittering bird in Transglobal Underground

i mean, i don't know, maybe i'm too stolidly English, but i can't help internally guffawing when confronted by a title like "Inner State of Alchemy"

if it was more indirect, maybe - more "show, not tell" - achieving or conjuring that effect without declaring baldly what it was about

there is a piety, a folkiness, a Voix Mysteres de Bulgaria devotionalism, an Arvo Part-y-hard quality to quite a few things in this region

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

classy fellow

Quite a life, veteran broadcaster and writer Ray Gosling, whose specialty was reporting on the quirks and oddities of British life.

I knew him mostly as a radio voice - remembering in particular a short program for Radio 4 he did about Julie Burchill. Which featured a first-time-hearing for most everybody of her voice - unexpectedly soft, high, fluting and West Country accented, more like Sophie from Detectorists than the formidable and intimidating print persona as NME 's resident punk ideologue.

The Ray Gosling Archive - and judging by the shots of him in his office, nearly buried in papers, clippings, folders, books, newspapers, and what not, he was quite an archivist in his own right.

Did not know that he was a gay rights activist, an anarchist (I don't know if literally, in the CRASS sense - by temperament most likely).

The alcohol intake seems par for the course for writers of that era and type.

Somehow I bracket him in my head with J.B. Priestley - both Northern, left-wing, insanely prolific (a book or more a year in Priestley's case, plus innumerable essays and articles, many plays, etc) and with wide-ranging interests.

Monday, June 10, 2019

stiletto stridency

love the stiletto stridency of Julie C

feminist rock going on just before and just after punk, ignored by the rock press

cover of a song by alice cooper of course

really she was a folk-rocker

produced by Joe Boyd with John Wood

line up is UK folk rock all stars almost

Backing Vocals – Andy Fairweather-Low, Gary Travers, Ian Matthews*, Trevor Lucas
Bass – Willie Weeks
Cover – Lila Mann
Drums – Andy Newmark
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Richard Thompson
Keyboards – Neil Larson*
Saxophone, Soloist [Solos] – Plas Johnson

Monday, June 3, 2019

odd bods of the postpostpunk Eighties (1 of ???)

Somewhere between The Residents and Prefab Sprout

Between 10cc and Ghost Box

(More  precisely - between Godley & Creme and The Advisory Circle).

Dave McCullough was a supporter (here's his interview with the band for Sounds) and may have been instrumental in Sudden Sway signing to Blanco Y Negro.

Although they'd be exactly the kind of thing Mike "El" Alway would get behind too

Well,  I was looking around for info about them, or some kind of considered take, or act of memorialisation, and not finding much at all bar an old ILM thread - and what do you know, there's a proper - and proper brilliant - piece about them written by none other than Phil Knight, over at the old Eighties collective blog Faces On Posters Too Many Choices, in part because he hails from the same town as the group - Peterborough.

That'll save me the bother of trying to write about them.

They were very much not where my head was at in the mid-Eighties - I do remember certain Melody Maker colleagues going all gaga about Spacemate and doing some kind of feature that involved a guided audio-tour of  wandering around the city wearing headphones with the record on... so I never paid them much mind at the time... but of course now they seem rather intriguing and perhaps an interestingly peculiar flowering of late postpunk or New Pop gone prog...