May I draw your attention to this beautiful little compilation from Bigo & Twigetti. Click the artwork to go to the Bandcamp page, where you can stream the tracks. Listen to it while you watch the rain through the window.
If you like what you hear, you might be interested to know that the label is holding another "Name Your Price" day. It works just like it sounds, you can pay anything (even zero*) to download anything in the label's catalogue. Starting at 12.00am the 11th of February, for 24 hours you will be able to decide what you wish to pay for any and all of Bigo & Twigetti's releases on Bandcamp. Set yourself a reminder to check it out, you could get a whole heap of brilliant music for a bargain.
*if you decide to pay 'zero' to download my stuff, can you promise me that you'll listen closely, all the way through at least once? thx
Finally, I feel like I need to share this great review of Three Preludes by R. Andrew Lee, that has just been posted on I Care If You Listen. Obviously it means so much when a pianist you admire greatly praises the piano music you have created. BTW if you're a fan of piano music and minimalism you should drop what you're doing and check out his recordings, if you haven't already. I recommend it all, but especially Duckworth's Time Curve Preludes and Dennis Johnson's November.
A limited edition of 50 hand painted physical copies with artwork by Jim Perkins can be purchased here. I've even written out the CD inlays myself...
Working in the studio on my own compositions, everything is exactly how I intend it to be; when you press play you hear the very version I created for you to hear. But when somebody performs a score (essentially abstract system of symbols and instructions), it is different every time. That got me thinking about the value of performance situations: what would this score sound like if it was being read for the first time - where would the player trip? would they gloss over inaccuracies, cover up and continue or stop altogether? If he was going to rehearse a difficult passage, what speed would he choose and where would the passage start and end? What would it sound like through a wall as background noise to some other activity? Capturing these 'versions', and seeing accidents and anomalies as variations, I felt the pieces evolving into something else - something bigger than what I had started with.
I peppered the score with moments of vagueness and 'unplayable' bits designed to force the pianist to make a creative decision in the moment, and we recorded the first read through and initial rehearsals. The extra musical material created off the back of these preludes was used to inform the final recorded versions, and provided the all of the source audio for the three accompanying experimental pieces.
The Three Preludes EP will be released by Bigo & Twigetti on November 18th, 2013. There will be a limited physical release featuring hand painted artwork by Jim Perkins - I'll post more information about that soon.
In a few short weeks I'm off to visit the music department at Western Kentucky University. I was graciously invited by Dr. Michael Kallstrom, a composer/performer/artist and University Distinguished Professor of Music at WKU, to spend a week there with the pianists, composers and music education students to share my practice and explore some different (and hopefully interesting) approaches to creativity.
I'm hoping to use my time there to facilitate some interesting collaborative projects and get everyone thinking about the materials of music in a fresh way. Can't wait!
As part of the deal I'm flying in to Nashville 10 days earlier to spend some time soaking up the local culture. The plan is to hire a car and hit the road and explore: Memphis, Little Rock, Clarksdale, down the Mississippi Delta on Highway 61... I wonder if I'll meet the devil at the crossroads?
What makes Machines instantly unique and captivating, is the soprano of Laura Wolk-Lewanowicz, an Australian opera singer. The angelic voice, teamed with the theme of the album, create a very touching commentary on the current human condition.
The lovely Madga Wrzeszcz has reviewed Machines for Echoes and Dust. Click here to read more.
Needless to say I was chuffed with the way Ruthless Jabiru played "Kick" and the feedback from the performance has been great:
The concert opened with a new work, Kick, by Leah Kardos. This is Ruthless Jabiru’s first commission, and it was a great opener. Kardos uses a small palette of string textures, including long vibrato-less pedals, tremolos and portamento slides, and integrates them into a tightly structured and impressively focussed work.
- Gavin Dixon (classical music critic)
The skill and professionalism of this orchestra, and its founder and principal conductor Kelly Lovelady, was clearly evident throughout the performance, not least in their handling of the first piece – a commissioned work from UK-based Australian composer Leah Kardos, Kick. This fantastic piece evoked visions of a sunrise over an outback property, the building melodies of a single viola and violin sounding out like the Australian bush slowly waking and coming to life.
- Australian Times
Here's a write up about the event that was posted on the Government of Western Australia European Office's news page. It includes details of some of the dignitaries that were in attendance as well as some photos from the night (though it's hard to see, in the last photo I am the one in the blue dress taking a bow with Kelly at the front).
Finally, there is a great article about Kelly and the orchestra by Gavin Dixon, specifically referring to this concert, in this month's Limelight magazine (available digitally here, with print versions available in Australian outlets).
*edit* - I found the Limelight Magazine feature online here.
Click here to check it out.
Just got back from a trip to Australia where I got to see my much-missed family in QLD, complete my PhD thesis review milestone at UQ, enjoy the warmth of the sun, see some friends and celebrate my 34th birthday in Sydney. While in Sydney I got to meet up with Peter Hollo (online friend, fellow musician and radio presenter) to chat about music, ideas and things for his programme 'Utility Fog' for Sydney FBi 94.5FM. You can listen to a replay/podcast that conversation, and the whole show online here.
Bigo & Twigetti has been asking artists on the label to remix each other's tracks, with a compilation of the results being released later in the year. My remix effort was a chopped up version of 'Fighters' by Alice & Michi, a small clip of which you can listen to here on Bigo & Twigetti's soundcloud.
Meanwhile excitement builds (in my mind most of all) for the concert featuring the world premiere of 'Kick', performed by the all-Australian London-based chamber orchestra Ruthless Jabiru, hosted by the Government of Western Australia. The concert will be held at Australia House in London on the 9th of May - information about tickets/RSVP and the rest of the programme can be found here. The concert has been written about in the Australian Times, too.
The performance, to be held on 9 May, will be hosted by the Government of Western Australia, alongside a reception of West Australian fine wines.
Click here for ticket & RSVP info
Just found this under a pile of old scores in my writing room. This mind map is from before the start of Machines, and it's interesting (for me, at least) to see this now after the thing is finished and out, comparing the intentions against the reality. Also shows my penchant for brightly coloured felt tip pens.
Laura Wolk-Lewanowicz & Leah Kardos (photo by Jez Brown, Feb 2013)
One can’t fail to be impressed by Kardos, her debut album was a delight and Machines is not content with delivering more of the same, but strives to push new angles and ideas, blended with verve, imagination and, most importantly, a sense of unconstrained freedom to experiment. Naturally, this brings mixed results, but ultimately everybody can take something precious from the jewel box.
- Barcode Zine
Machines has a wholeness that is quite remarkable. But equally impressive is the manner in which Kardos conceals her virtuosity. Nothing draws attention to itself; everything is deployed in pursuit of an organic integrity. I had listened to the album several times before my attention was conscious of astonishing passages such as the intertwining keyboard lines that close “The Closeness of Distance” or the poly-temporal percussive underscoring of “Highly Active Girls.” The entire album is beautifully paced, with each individual track fitting into a larger whole. The phrase “song-cycle” is entirely apt.
- David D. McIntyre for I Care If You Listen
If you're interested in that sort of thing, CLICK HERE to see the lyric sheets in full, as sung on the album "Machines", with the original spam messages alongside.
Exciting times! Meanwhile, you must forgive me for laying low for the moment; usually I would be plugging an album launch event and promoting the hell out of things but it appears that I'm chained to my computer writing up my PhD for the next two months. The plan is, once I have handed everything in, to throw a belated album launch party/event and schedule some live performances of Machines in late spring/early summer. Watch this space for updates. x