Are you a model citizen?
Meet the micro lenses of surveillance and audit culture; the algorithm of benign search engines; the political poetry of embodied dance; the veneer of the celebrity citizen; the performative monotony of routine; the bio-power of the viral robot; the ghostly noise of a thousand newsreaders speaking all at once, and the hopeful threads and fibres of participatory culture.
Artists: Asim Bhatti with John McCormick and Adam Nash, David Cross, Larissa Hjorth, Leah Kardos with Sean Redmond, Jondi Keane, Bronek Kozka, Lyn McCredden with Shaun McLeod and Olivia Millard, Patrick Pound with Rowan McNaught, Sadia Sadia, Polly Stanton and (((20hz)))
8 Feb 11:00am -23 Mar 5:00pm
RMIT Gallery Swanston Street Melbourne VIC, Australia
For more information, visit https://rmitgallery.com/exhibitions/the-model-citizen
About my contribution: For this exhibition I have collaborated with Sean Redmond on an installation titled "The Unknown Celebrity". This will be a mock up on a fan's bedroom. The room, the shrine, will worship this unknown celebrity: this model citizen. Of course, the person whose room it is, is the one and same unknown celebrity who is being worshipped– a haunting mirror on their own invisibility and hungriness to be noticed. Their self-adoring room guarantees them the ubiquity of model citizenship...
The four separate components of my soundscape are designed to be experienced in various locations within the constructed environment. The sonic scenes are haunted by timbres of embedded musical memory, experience and emotion. All compositions are set to a tempo of 60BPM.
Mirror (9’20") plays with repetition, feedback, texture, mimicry and multiplicity of a single voice. Memory (8’17”) uses the aesthetics of vapourware, ambient trip hop and broken tape effects. Shrine (21’08”) is a collage of original vocal recordings, reversed, resampled and stretched. Sleep (10'32”) is an extended version of a piece originally released on the album Machines (2012), and includes cello parts performed by Catherine Saumarez.
My definition of a model citizen: My model citizen is a person who represents the shared human experience in contemporary media cultures. A person whose development is influenced and shaped by outside stimulus - preferences, ideologies and philosophies growing in the hothouse of contemporary fandom. They say there’s a spot in the human brain that has evolved to specifically process timbre, and as a result most of us can differentiate between hundreds of voices, understanding the communicative intent or emotion behind them. Our personalities, histories and collective cultural becoming is soaked through with sounds and music; it transmits feeling and intent, and allows us travel the backroads of our deepest memories. What we experience and love becomes part of who we are.
I was chuffed to be asked lovely musical friend and compatriot Tim Shiel to contribute some sonic and instrumental textures to his soundtrack for indie game 'The Gardens Between'. Now Tim has created an album's worth of music that incorporates elements of the soundtrack. You can listen to a preview and pre-order it in bandcamp.
Inspired by his work on the highly anticipated indie game The Gardens Between, Tim Shiel presents an album of rich ambient music that resonates with the game's core themes of time, memory and childhood.
Glowing Pains seamlessly weaves together elements from the game's otherworldly score with improvised contributions from many of Tim's closest musical friends from around the world, to create an album that is as gorgeous and as moving as the game that inspired it.
All music made by Tim Shiel with friends, in order of appearance:
Luke Howard: piano and drones on 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12
Wally de Backer: ondioline on 2, 4, 5, 7, 11
Biddy Connor: voice on 2, reverse viola on 9
Matt Ridgway: a bit of noise on 2, moog bass on 3
Eric J Dubowsky: voice on 1, 2
Andrew Phillips: synth on 3
Jacob Diamond: voice on 3
KAIAR: voice on 3
Eli Crews: Steiner EVI on 4, 5, 7
Liam McGorry: trumpet on 5
researcher: voice and production on 6
Leah Kardos: piano and synth on 7
mara: sounds and voice on 7
Rohan Long: upright bass and field recording on 9
Mid Hike: production on 10
Becki Whitton: reverse voice on 10
Lonelyspeck: voice and guitar on 12 -----
I'll be chairing the Engineering and Production Panel in the early afternoon featuring Lauren Deakin Davies, Jeanne Albin and Aubrey Whitfield. There'll also be industry-specific talks, live performances, workshops, stalls, drinks and a screening of the film "So, which band is your boyfriend in?"
For more info, check out the Facebook event page.
It is no coincidence that two of Aretha Franklin’s celebrated contemporaries who travelled to Detroit to see the singer in the last stages of her illness were Stevie Wonder and Jesse Jackson. It is hard to overestimate Franklin’s importance to both music and the civil rights movement – and the presence of one of music’s greatest figures alongside Martin Luther King Jr’s right-hand man at her bedside in the final days of her life is a fitting tribute to one of the true greats of Black American culture.
Aretha Franklin was the “Queen of Soul”. One of the bestselling recording artists of all time, she became famous in the 1960s as a singer with a uniquely expressive voice possessing great passion and control. Her hit songs in the late 1960s tapped into the spirit of the civil rights movement while her hit cover (and gendered re-authoring) of Otis Redding’s Respect was an anthem of black female empowerment.
The first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, Franklin’s voice was declared one of Michigan’s important “natural resources” two years before. She won 18 Grammy Awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award (in 1994) and presided over a rich recorded musical legacy preserved in 42 studio albums, 131 singles, six live albums and more. Her iconic performances and productions came to define the term “soul music” in the 20th century, setting the standard for black female vocal excellence.
The daughter of celebrity Detroit minister CL Franklin, Franklin was born in Memphis in 1942 and raised in Detroit, starting her singing career in the choir at her father’s New Bethel Baptist Church. She belonged to a generation of African American artists who migrated from the south during a time when segregation and Jim Crow law was still in effect, who then went on to participate in mainstream American culture.
Her deep connection to the southern freedom movement was familial and spiritual as well as musical – her father was actively involved with Democratic party politics and the civil rights movement. Politicians and activists – along with many of the gospel superstars of the day – were a fixture in the family home. As a result, Franklin received formative musical mentoring from stars such as Dinah Washington and Mahalia Jackson in addition to inheriting a strong commitment to social justice. She was to support progressive politics throughout her career.
For people stuck in political struggles for equality and respect, Franklin’s voice came to articulate the collective emotion, frustration, strength and depth of their experiences. Her voice rang out at historical political milestones – at the 1968 Democratic party convention in Chicago that shortly followed the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert F Kennedy, and at the inauguration of the first African American president Barack Obama in 2009. She also performed at pre-inauguration concerts for Democratic party presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
Inspired to follow in the footsteps of Sam Cooke, Franklin began her solo singing career in 1960 performing on the gospel circuit and signing a record deal with Columbia Records. Her first secular albums in the early 1960s blended R&B styles with pop and jazz and achieved only modest success. It wasn’t until her move to Atlantic records and a deliberate return to gospel music stylings in 1967 that Franklin made her commercial breakthrough.
Recording at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, working in partnership with Atlantic co-owner and producer Jerry Wexler and the legendary Muscle Shoals rhythm section, Franklin’s debut for Atlantic, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, was certified gold in the same year of its release. Her work with Wexler at Muscle Shoals during this period spawned many well-known hits such as Chain of Fools, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Respect, and I Say A Little Prayer.
While she recorded and performed her own compositions from time to time (hit 1968 single and feminist anthem Think is an original song of hers), Franklin earned a great part of her fame as a unique interpreter of other people’s songs. Through gospel-influenced musical rearrangement, and her striking changes to melodic content, she effectively re-authored material written by others, asserting a sense of creative ownership through spirited and dynamic vocal performance.
Franklin often altered the context of the existing lyric through her inflection and emphasis or by introducing call and answer interplay with her background singers. These voices of sisterly support were often provided by her very own siblings, Erma and Carolyn Franklin or The Sweet Inspirations (a girl group founded by Cissy Houston and Lee Warwick, the mothers of Whitney and Dionne). Using these techniques, as she did with Respect, lyrics could be repositioned to reflect the black female perspective. Another later example of this can be found in her interpretation of the Rolling Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash in 1986, which was used as the theme tune for the Whoopi Goldberg film of the same name.
Music culture owes Franklin a debt for bringing ecstatic pentecostal fervour to popular music, pushing the expressive boundaries of the contemporary singing voice. She was one of the first true great divas of soul (alongside Diana Ross) – fusing gospel and African American spiritual music traditions with the blues, pop and R&B to create the template of vocal expressiveness and authenticity that artists aspire to still. In doing so she set the stage for the technical virtuosity of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.
A fierce musical talent not only in sensitive and dynamic vocal interpretation but also as a skilled pianist and arranger, Franklin demanded respect from us. And because of her many great artistic and cultural achievements, it will forever be given.
Click here to read my paper on Making Room for 21st Century Musicianship in Higher Education, which shares my experiences and perspectives relating to contemporary Post-digital aesthetics in music creation, performance and production, and the development of new, practice-focussed music technology curriculum at Kingston University.
Abstract: Having been asked to respond to Action Ideal VIII by the Mayday Group, concerning technology and its impacts on music education, what follows are some observations and reflections from my experiences teaching undergraduate music and music technology degrees in the UK. I put forward the idea that Post-Digital music aesthetics reflect an emergent sensibility in contemporary music cultures, and this represents an opportunity for music educators to reconfigure and strengthen their pedagogical approaches. By recognizing the legitimacy of new and varied forms of musicianship, and acknowledging the ways in which our subject area continues to grow in its range of practices and necessary literacies, strategies can be developed to support a music student experience that is cohesive, inclusive, hybridized, meaningful and useful.
Admittedly, not the kind of thing I'd usually spend time on. I'm glad I did it, though. A good reminder that simple things can have a kind of elegance in their efficiency.
Click here to read the article.
***Tickets are now available for this, and they are limited! Come along - in addition to the talk, there will be a pop-up record shop, book signing and a cash bar. Could you imagine a better Friday night than this?
I've had a blast researching for this event, reading Tony and Woody's biographies as well as listening to The Man Who Sold The World A LOT (such hardship!).
Was pleased to see my face made it into Woody's book! That grey smudge is definitely Liz, Charly and I getting our Bowie jush...
This was fun, I was invited by my lovely friend Leon Clowes to join him on his radio show to play Bowie-related music and chat about my favourite artist. How could I resist? You can listen again to the program below.
Currently 1st place on the Experimental and Eclectic mixcloud charts! If you're heading to work this morning, give it a go and enjoy.
0:00: Malio Malio – Leah Kardos (Rococochet 2017)
2:28: Stillness – Hilary Hahn & Hauschka (Silfra 2012) (tape return)
3:54: Contact Mic – Leah Kardos (The Exquisite Corpse 2017)
7:17: Fragment II – Library Tapes (Fragment 2008)
7:40: Voicemail: Singing Telegram, 22nd August 2012
8:42: Innocenti (excerpt) – Brian Eno (The Shutov Assembly 1992)
9:05: Phone recording: Crickets in the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee, 31st August 2013
9:55: My Cumulus Veil – Leah Kardos (Rococochet 2017)
14:16: Hypnopompia – Somnambulist (Automating 2012) (tape return)
14:44: sun moon blood night – kučka (kučka EP 2012)
19:42 Cat’s Eye – Leah Kardos (Rococochet 2017)
24:14 Buffering Landscape (excerpt) – Kara-Lis Coverdale & LXV (Electronica 2015)
28:20: DFACE Alt Mix (extended) – Leah Kardos (SEQUENCE3 2012)
35:00: Highly Active Girls (instrumental remix) – Leah Kardos (Machines 2013)
39:22: Somnia Tape Loop – Leah Kardos (outtake 2017)
40:15: By This River – Brian Eno (Before and after Science 1977)
43:00: Streuung Teil Ii (excerpt) – Atom ™ (Winterreise 2012)
44:02: Phone recording: drunken recipe research, Bedford, 11th August 2012
44:25: Somnia Dub – Leah Kardos (Rococochet 2017)
I tried my best to use analogue instruments, technologies and processes as often as possible in this project - that meant no programming or editing (my comfort zones) and recording layers of human imperfection and straight-up ERROR to tape and having to live with the results (certainly NOT my comfort zone). The "rococo" reference in the title is all about a fresh style shift. I was feeling personally a bit bogged down in the 'ambient' piano-triads-with-lots-of-reverb-plus-chopped-beats world, so I thought of the Rococo artists with their humour, wit, eye for left field detail and general lightness of being, and tried to adopt some of that into what I was doing.
I read over and over again that Bowie's process regularly involved a risk, make oneself uncomfortable, going out into the water to the point where your feet no longer touch the bottom. So that's inspiring and comforting. I don't really make music for any other reason than the sheer love and absolute delight of the creative process, so why stick to the well-trodden path?
This is a long, roundabout way of saying I hope some people enjoy listening to it, as vulnerable as it made me feel to create it, and as much as the process of making it taught me new things about music and myself.
Available tomorrow to stream on Spotify and Apple Music, and to buy from iTunes and Bandcamp. Photo of my face below, by the very talented J.Slee.
My new album Rococochet will be out on Sept 5th. It is now available to pre-order, and the track 'Cat's Eye' is available to stream.
I was gearing up to write a bit of a blog post about the piece, to explain where I was coming from and the significance of the title… but it's actually best explained with this image collage: