Big & Twigetti have announced a new collaborative album in conjunction with Moderna Records. ‘The Exquisite Corpse’ is based on the surrealist game of the same name. Taking my piece 'Little Phase' from the Bigo & Twigetti Summer compilation as its starting point, the piece has been/will be reworked by a series of composers and producers to create an album of tracks which continually evolve as each new version is passed from one artist to another, adding to and transforming material from the original piece.
The group will be releasing a new track from the album every 2-3 weeks with the full album available in April 2017. My own contribution, in addition to providing the first move, is track 6: Contact Mic.
In late October a few friends and I went in to Visconti Studio to make a track and 'learn how to use the new kit'. The timing was good, as the God Is In The TV Zine had recently asked me to contribute to their Scott Walker covers compilation Plastic Palace People. With help from fellow KU music colleague Alex Evans, and my very good friend Andrew Wiggins, we knocked out this version of Duchess in an evening: me on piano, vocals, drums and mellotron, Andy on guitar, percussion and bvs, Alex on Hammond organ, mellotron, percussion and bvs. Fun!
Kingston University, London is proud to host An Evening With Tony Visconti - legendary record producer in-conversation, discussing highlights of his career. The evening will take place in the newly opened Visconti Studio and draw particular focus on Tony's work in arranging for strings.
There'll be time for Q&A, and a drinks reception afterwards. Tickets are available to book via this link:
******** UPDATE ********
What a great night! Definitely one of the coolest things I have ever been a part of. Photos by Alex Evans:
I was so pleased that The Shortlist Magazine included by latest track Little Phase in their Shortlisten list/playlist. I'm number 360, sandwiched between Ronika and Love Thy Brother. What an honour! The track has also received some love/airtime on the excellent Utility Fog show, FBi 94.5 FM in Sydney.
"Who? Leah Kardos
What’s the story? Making interesting and arresting ambient music is not an easy thing to do, but we wrote earlier this year about a fantastic track from The Daydream Club, who'd managed it with aplomb. Now along comes another beautiful five minutes of 'ambient plus' music from Australian-born composer Leah Kardos, which gently builds, beginning with pulsing piano chords, adding in delicately textural strings, before seeming to collapse in on itself until beats are brought in to restore order and take things to a conclusion. It could nestle in perfectly on The Album Leaf's 2004 classic In A Safe Place, which gets it the big thumbs up from us. The track features on a compilation of experimental music called Summer - you can check out the other songs and buy it here.
For fans of: Brian Eno, The Album Leaf, Jónsi & Alex
In three words: Captivating, blissful music"
Shilling the Rubes: The Craftsman in Philadelphia (spoken paper)
Prof. Toby Seay
Director - Drexel University Audio Archive
Abstract: In August 1974, David Bowie arrived at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia to record what would be come the Young Americans album. The creation of this album occurred during the middle of the Diamond Dogs Tour, putting an exclamation point on the Diamond Dogs sound while musically evolving towards what Bowie described as “plastic soul”. Recording in Philadelphia was Bowie’s attempt at capturing the lush soul sound that had been flowing out of Sigma Sound Studios in the early 1970’s and was at its crest in 1974. Due to various obstacles, Bowie was unable to gain access to that sound directly, but instead created his own version of soul that connected with American audiences and propelled him up the charts and towards Station to Station.
Through the analysis of primary documents and recordings from the Sigma Sound Studios Collection, participant interviews, and literature review, the author will discuss these obstacles to the Sound of Philadelphia and describe an artist who is confident, prepared, and in control. While much has been written about Mr. Bowie’s time at Sigma, this presentation will give a glimpse into the studio and show Bowie as a tireless craftsman with a strong work-ethic who would have created his own sound regardless of circumstances. This presentation will also include never released recordings including the legendary Shilling the Rubes.
Let’s hear it for the Gouster: locating Sigma outtakes in Bowie’s transition from Diamond Dogs to Young Americans (spoken paper)
Dr. Leah Kardos
Kingston University London
Abstract: Never finished and shrouded in mystery and myth, Shilling The Rubes was cut at Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia in August 1974, and is a typically rich example of Bowie’s post-Ziggy songwriting style. Set within a Burroughsian carnival/circus, the subject of the song is portrayed as a fly-by-night con man: taking people’s money, breaking hearts and disappearing on to the next town.
From the same sessions the other unheard outtake is a rewrite of I Am A Laser. Originally written for The Astronettes earlier in 1974, the song would eventually be rewritten a second time to become Scream Like A Baby (1980). This version features a completely new verse structure and major tonality, its lyrics concerned with introducing The Gouster himself, the clothes he wears and how impressive his girlfriend looks (tough, in her doo-rag, razor blades in her bra).
These outtakes shed light on Bowie’s creative processes and the aesthetic/artistic evolutions occurring during this period. Through musicological analysis and observance of signifying sounds, motifs and practices, the author will identify the ways in which these lost songs are connected to the catalogue and how they provide fresh detail in the progression and refinement of Bowie’s output from the post-apocalyptic theatre of Diamond Dogs to Young Americans and beyond.
Our partners on this project include the British Library and the Science Museum, and Tony Visconti will be a key contributor to the project's research and enterprise outputs. One of record production's great innovators, he is synonymous with ground-breaking music and has worked with some of the most dynamic and influential names in pop, from Marc Bolan / T-Rex and Thin Lizzy, to David Bowie, Morrissey and U2. The project will see him working with students and staff of Kingston University, as well as invited artists, to produce records. The studio will also be available for commercial hire.
Based around an extraordinary 300m2 octagonal live room and stocked with vintage and rare recording equipment (Studer, Neve, Neumann, Universal Audio), the tape-based studio also features a unique collection of instruments including a Mellotron, a Hammond organ and Steinway concert grand piano.
The Visconti Studio will officially be opened on the 19th September 2016.
Full site launch will happen soon (with info about courses, events, research opportunities and studio hire)... for now we have a holding page with some information about our launch event in September:
You can also like our FB page if you're interested in following our progress:
Based on the Emmy Award-winning short film of the same name, Notes on Blindness is the debut feature from Writer-Directors Peter Middleton & James Spinney, whose work explores new approaches in the documentary form. The project is based on the audio diaries of writer and theologian John Hull, who – after decades of steady deterioration – became totally blind in 1983.
To help him make sense of the upheaval in his life, he began keeping a diary on audio-cassette.
Over three years he recorded in excess of sixteen hours of material – a unique testimony of loss, rebirth and renewal, which excavates the interior world of blindness. Neurologist Oliver Sacks described John’s account as ‘the most extraordinary, precise, deep and beautiful account of blindness I have ever read. It is to my mind a masterpiece.’
Embedding original documentary elements within cinematic interpretations and textured sound design (from acclaimed Supervising Sound Editor Joakim Sundström), the filmmakers take the viewer on an illuminating and deeply personal journey deep into what John calls “a world beyond sight”.
The film will be released in the UK on July 1st with Curzon Artificial Eye.
In the summer of 2015 I sent a proposal off to the editors of the 33 1/3 series for a book about my favourite David Bowie album Scary Monsters and Super Creeps (1980). To my surprise and delight, out of the 606 proposals they received from their open call, I somehow made the shortlist of 85. In the end, my book idea was not chosen for publication (though I have to say the albums/authors that were chosen seem extremely worthy and I can't wait to read the new volumes).
Part of the proposal package included a draft introductory chapter, so I thought I would share that here just in case it is of interest to anyone. I realise that in the wake of the news of his death there has been a flood of amazing stories, blogs, think-pieces, memories and tributes - many people might be feeling some Bowie-death-fatigue setting in. I know I am. If that's the case I invite you to consider and celebrate the staggering body of work he has gifted us, as I ask you to focus on Scary Monsters and Super Creeps.
(click on the 'read more' link to see the chapter)
Bowie was is my icon. He represents the possibilities of creation and curiosity. Growing up and feeling like a very awkward person on this planet, it was Bowie that showed me that normal was boring and actually I could be anything I wanted, anything I could imagine. A shy Australian girl raised in a religious community, I imagined myself a life making music in Europe - he was my beacon for that journey. He continues to be that beacon of inspiration, a role model for the kind of musician and person I aspire to be: not a chameleon, the world reconfigured around him; post-modern without contempt or cynicsm for his sources; enthusiastic, curious and gleeful in his creativities, no matter what they were; dancing over genre boundaries like they don’t exist (which of course they don’t). The man had class. Even his death was a masterpiece. I will miss having him there on the planet with me.
Placing personal tributes at the mural in Brixton with my great friends Liz and Jake
Bluebird/Marlene themed hair by Sarah Dunn for the Bowie tribute concert at Surya in London
"Reading the various reviews of the Maria Abramović/Igor Levit’s Goldberg production at the Park Avenue Armory, the most consistent idea expressed is that listening to great music requires some sort of separation from the regular world. That’s a matter of personal values, not objective truth. The experience of great music can be powerfully enhanced by—or music can be made great in no small part due to—the experience of the real world. Pianist R. Andrew Lee’s program of Schubert and new music by Michael Vincent Waller, Leah Kardos, Adrian Knight, and Galen H. Brown was already as strong and luminous as polished steel. But his simple acknowledgement of the June 17 massacre at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, meant that the beauty of Knight’s Abide With Me and the visceral, frightening brilliance of Brown’s God is a Killer, bore witness to real world experience. And so excellent music became great art."
Quite recently a friend asked me to create a playlist of my own music - something I've never done before! I chose this selection, what I consider to be my more gentle pieces. If you play it in the hopes of trying to get to sleep I promise you there aren't many sudden loud bits.
A few weeks later and I was in NYC, enjoying a week mooching around the NYU music department. I even got some time to work on some cues for the upcoming film Notes on Blindness, which will be playing at Sundance later this month.