Multifaceted drummer Valentina Magaletti surveys alternatives to the conventional kit
Against the conventional approach to percussion, with simple gear and canonical sound sets, this playlist aims to show how multifarious and exhilarating are the potentially unbounded resources of unconventional drumming.
Virtually every object can be transformed into a percussive source, since everything has a hidden voice, with its timbre, its beat, its extension, its field of reverberations. To listen to this hidden voice, to let it resonate in all its unpredictable syntax, to be the medium of its expression both as a performer and as a listener, is a synaesthetic experience through which we are confronted with the tactility of sound.
Rather than focusing on a musician’s skills, unconventional drumming is focused on texture, the substrate from which the sound is originated. Unconventional drumming could mean experimenting with the usual drum kit, or modified or implemented with unusual percussion, sometimes from the repertory of traditional music.
Often with unconventional drumming the sonic sources are objets trouvés – the performance becomes the building of resounding merzbau or the recollection of some lost, pristine landscape. In other cases, the choice is for everyday objects or elements that become the ally’s voice in surges of emotions, endurance or outcry.
Ahbez was a beat poet and composer who wrote the hit tune ‘Nature Boy’ that gave Nat King Cole his first big success in 1948. Ahbe approached exotica from a very different angle which resulted in a concept album about an utopian society living on an island far away from the modern western world. ‘Eden’s Island (The Music Of An Enchanted Isle)’ is a masterpiece of proto psychedelic music.
When a young record collector named Brian Chidester found a picture of “Ahbe” with Brian Wilson working on ‘Smile’, he felt the urge to research the life of Eden Ahbez. Chidester embarked on a journey of more than twenty years that culminated in a movie, “As the Wind: The Enchanted Life of Eden Ahbez”, telling the story of one of pop culture’s most enigmatic figures in full.
Brian Chidester and his filmmaking partner John Winer now have not only gone wild in bringing the life of the Eden Ahbez to a wider attention, but they have taken part in the ultimate re-release of Eden Ahbez first and only cult full length record. Everland Music and Ebalunga!!! recently announced a very special reissue of ‘Eden’s Island’ that will include almost 20 unreleased songs. The vinyl version includes a 12“ size, 24 page booklet, while the CD version comes as a double CD with 2 booklets. There’s also a very limited Collection Deluxe Wooden Box Set and Limited Wooden Cover Slider Edition on Double Vinyl available.
“All truth is comprised in music and mathematics,”Margaret Fuller wrote in the middle of the nineteenth century as she was changing the fabric of the time. Exactly one hundred years after her untimely death, another tragic hero of another century, whose mind would shape the epochs to come, united these twin truths in a single, rapturous force-field of possibility on the pages of a programming manual containing the first instructions for how to compose music on a computer — a foundational marriage of technos and tenderness.
While the world saw early computers as oversized calculators, Alan Turing (June 23, 1912–June 7, 1954) was asking whether a computer could make you fall in love with it. Only those rare artists of the possible can look at something on the cusp of becoming and see what it can be, not as an incremental evolution of the extant and the familiar but as a leap toward the unexampled and the unimagined.
Out of Turing’s uncommon orientation to possibility arose one his most profound and undersung contributions to the modern world: the birth of digital music. Envisioning the computer’s potential as a musical instrument, Turing became the first to compose a computer program for playing notes — the greatest contribution to the universal language since Pythagoras first radicalized music with mathematics.
Ben Bertrand at Présences éléctronique INA grm with so many other great artists
Myriam Gendron understands timing and the fluid nature of permanence. A seven-year gap between her debut, Not So Deep As A Well, and her stunning new double album, Ma Délire – Songs of love, lost & found, holds out a little longer as the solo guitar intro of opener, “Go Away From My Window,” hums lackadaisical for over a minute before her voice enters the fray. In that space, though, we are transported into this world rife with love, heartbreak, and solace. In those 90 seconds, an entire universe is created.
Gendron’s approach is simple on the surface. Even as the sonic palette on Ma Délire expands on Not So Deep As A Well, it’s all built around Gendron’s (mostly acoustic) guitar and voice. This minimal palette obscures the immense scope of Ma Délire; there is a mountain of emotion, history, and nuance spilled across these aural pages.
Opening Ma Délire with John Jacob Niles’s “Go Away From My Window,” a song that’s not exactly traditional but has an ancient spirit, tells us what we need to know. Gendron’s arrangement for fingerpicked guitar is lilting, an uneasy boat carried away by a quickening current, an apprehensive foundation that sets the state for her plaintive vocals, singing, “But remember dear, you really are the one I did love best.” It’s a footnote for the entirety of Ma Délire, an album ultimately about love and loss expressed through history, sung and forgotten, as lyrical and poignant today as they ever were.
“Love doesn’t spare anyone,” Gendron sings in French on “C’est Dans Les Vieux Pays,” across electric soundscapes aided by the introspective howl of Bill Nace’s guitar. Within these desolate walls, hard truths emerge like embers from a long-dormant fire. “Love makes more of a bloodbath, Than a hundred wolves in a flock.” Gendron’s voice throughout Ma Délire is saturated with the aching experience of living, with the somber feelings that overcome the sanguine green shoots where heartbreak begins. These ageless songs – and I include Gendron’s four originals in that as they could have as easily been written 100 years ago as yesterday – yearn for real connections; undaunted longing for emotional reciprocation.
And then there’s “Shenandoah.” When I first heard this album, it had my attention from the opening plucks, but when I heard the instrumental incarnation, “Shenandoah (I),” I knew Myriam Gendron was channeling something even deeper than the opening songs suggested. She stated in the Foxy Digitalis interview that, “If I was a religious person, that melody would be my God!” It’s a statement straight from my own heart, but where Gendron turns this all-time number on its head is in the second version that closes the album. It’s intimate, not for us. It embodies the anguish in the words, “Oh Shenandoah, I need you so … Much more than you will ever need me,” the message leaving her body not as words, but as the ghosts of every love departed across a perpetual night. The resonant textures and distance in her voice with the quiet strums of an acoustic guitar and the gentle birdsong transform this into an eternal masterpiece. To take a song so grand, so immaculate, and distill it into a quiet, intimate confession like this is unbelievable.
Ma Délire – Songs of love, lost & found is a complete and total triumph. There aren’t many artists who understand and can harness the immortal spirit that flows through traditional music like Myriam Gendron. For all her talents as a songwriter, guitarist, and singer, this is her greatest gift.
A solo modular set from Carter Tutti Void and Factory Floor’s Nik Void.
For the first of a series of Patch Notes episodes filmed behind closed doors by Fact at 180 The Strand, we invited Nik Void of Factory Floor to perform a solo modular live set with visuals by Nika Milano.
Void had been preparing this set for several months prior to the performance, as it was meant to be the first live outing for some new tracks. “I had just returned from Mexico City just before lockdown had hit and was about to go to Berlin to perform at the Editions Mego 10-year anniversary,” she tells Fact. “So it’s great to have the chance to play a section of it here.”
The set offers a preview of her debut solo album, which is yet to be formally announced. “Two of the tracks I have performed versions of, ‘Demna’ and ‘Interruption Is Good’ – bridged together with improvisations, this is a close representation,” she says. “I wanted to make an album that has a balance of keeping it authentically experimental and interesting but also making it communicative to all kinds of listener.”
“The experiences I have had with bands and collaborations have influenced my need to organise – bring in some structures and builds that I feel work well. The difference here is the raw emphasis for this album is dedicated to the process. The idea is my identity is present in the action rather than me presenting the action.”
In the performance, Void uses part of the modular setup she uses for live performance, a rig she’s been building for four years. “It’s sectionally organised, top right is my percussion, top left are my samplers and loopers, bottom left are my trigger, sequencer, MIDI and clock section, then there’s my main synth voice, Intellijel Dual Oscillator and so on.
“I’ve reintroduced Ableton sending me sequences for live but other than that, this is the core of my studio setup. At home in my studio, I have many outboard units like the Eventide H8000FW and Empirical Lab distressors, compressors, Delta Lab and many other racks, modules to push and process my sounds more.”
The duo of Rie Nakajima and Keiko Yamamoto share some links to their favourite books, comics, music and dance
On 7 October at London’s Somerset House, the O YAMA O duo will present a performance-cum-talk which explores their distinctive approach to collaboration, performance, sound and music making.
The event is part of The Wire’s Music By Any Means series, and in advance of it Rie Nakajima and Keiko Yamamoto have produced a reading, viewing and listening list which reveals some of the historical sources that underpin and inform their “unspoken, or accidental rituals”.
• Marcel Broodthaers: Interview With A Cat
• Mizuki Shigeru Den, autobiographical comics by Shigeru Mizuki
• Red Flowers by Yoshihatsu Tsuge
• Sennen Mannen by Michio Mado
• Hayao Kawai: The Japanese Psyche: Major Motifs In The Fairy Tales Of Japan (Mukashibanashi to Nihonjin no kokoro), translated by Sachiko Reece
• CG Jung, Mandala Symbolism
• Genpei Akasegawa: Senryikyu, Untold Avenge
• Genpei Akasegawa as Katsuhiko Otsuji: Hadazawari (SkinTouch)
• Menburyu Dance, the traditional harvest dance for the nature gods in Saga prefecture.
• Derek Bailey & Min Tanaka: Mountain Stage, a performance in Hakushu
• Harue Momoyama: Hikiyomigusa
• Roberto de Simone & Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare: La Gatta Cenerentola
• Roberto de Simone: secondo coro delle lavandaie from La Gatta Cenerentola
• OOIOO: Umo (after "secondo coro delle lavandaie")
• Fairport Convention: Farewell, Farewell
• Pentangle: Willy O Winsbury
• Alice Coltrane: Journey In Satchidananda
• Long board surfing in Seea Ambassadors
• Jean Tinguely: "Homage To New York" 1960
• Ravel's Bolero conducted by Sergiu Celibidache
• The Staverton Bridge: Jacky My Son
• Akio Suzuki: Conceptual Sound Work 2020
• Toshiyuki Tsuchitori x Masayuki Nichie, interviews
timeless, cinematic atmospheres from Belgian bass clarinetist Ben Bertrand, reprising the classic feel of his 2020 side for Stroom with results tipped to fans of Elodie, Blaine L. Reininger, CV & JAB
Trailing in the smoky wake of last year’s ‘Manes’, Bertrand picks up again in airy art house cinema-soundtrack like zones on ‘Dokkaebi’ with five parts that convect the feeling of lofty Brussels apartments and echoic hallways cobwebbed with melancholy melody. It’s a music for luxuriating in contemplation, allowing oneself to be carried away on the glacial contours and vaporous contrails of Bertrand’s bass clarinet, and likewise the exquisitely low-key and lowlit backdrops supplied by Christina Vantzou, Geoffrey Burton, Indré Jurgeleviciuté, and Echo Collective: Margaret Hermant & Neil Leiter, Otto Lindholm.
The first two pieces ideally establish the timelessness of Bertrand’s music with referential nod to c.20th titan Cage’s latter, harmonic works in ‘The Nixe of John Cage’s River’, while ‘O Ignee Spiritus’ more literally uses a Hildegard Von Bingen melody sung to haunting effect, both conveying the scope of his practice. ‘Zeme’ however feels more in a vein of experimental chamber music akin to Christian Vantzou;s work with CV & JAB, and ‘Sora no’ follows the subtle electronic tones to gaze out on a star blanketed canvas, with a barely-there haze of laminal vocal timbres and elliptical clarinet in ‘The Aurae Loops’ glowing at the end and beckoning to repeat the experience.
Anyone nesting their coming autumn listening playlist needs to give this one a whirl.
Ugne & Maria - this week in residency at les ateliers claus