Three Questions: Led Bib

April 7, 2014

Coming to Sounds New next month, I put Three Questions to Led Bib‘s Mark Holub.

Tell us about the group

Led Bib is a band which I started as part of my Masters degree in 2003, and it played its first gig in 2004(celebrating 10 years this year!). It plays music which sits somewhere in between rock, jazz, improv and some other genres…..and I am pleased to say that as the band developed it was just as much about the other guys in its ideas as mine, a truly musical collaboration.

Image: Matt Crossick

Image: Matt Crossick

What excites you about contemporary music ?
In all genres it is great seeing people trying to push themselves and their music to new places. I’ve never really understood the desire to recreate work that has already existed, so I have tried to push myself too.

What can we expect from your performance at Sounds New next month ?
The performance at Sounds New is going to feature music from our new album, which is coming out April 21st. The Sounds New show is the last of our 13 dates UK tour, so we will have really gotten to grips with the new material; we always love playing in Canterbury, so I look forward to a really special show.

To whet your appetites, here’ the video to the band’s latest single, which has been released this very morning…

Three Questions: EXAUDI

March 10, 2014

Ahead of their visit to Sounds New in May, I put Three Questions to James Weeks, conductor and founder of EXAUDI:

Tell us about your ensemble.

I started EXAUDI in 2002 with Juliet Fraser. We wanted to do the most extreme, interesting and challenging new vocal ensemble music around, something we didn’t see anyone else really doing at the time in the UK, and we’ve basically been doing exactly this ever since. For a new music ensemble we are actually quite catholic in our tastes, in that we are just as interested in tackling conventionally-notated music (Xenakis, Ferneyhough, Sciarrino et al.) as working with more so-called ‘experimental’ paradigms from Cage and Cardew onwards. We enjoy microtonality as much as white-note modality – essentially if the music is questing in spirit, imaginative and thoughtful and outside boring conventional style then we’re in. Our singers are all steeped in early music practice and we do a lot of medieval, Renaissance and early baroque repertoire as well; recently we’ve focused in depth on Gesualdo madrigals in combination with contemporary Italian madrigal repertoire (one of several active commissioning schemes). But our main focus is on the music being composed today, especially of our own generation around the world. We hope to make a real impact on the development of vocal ensemble music in our time.

EXAUDI 8 dramatic CMatthewAndrews_web

What excites you about contemporary music ?

The fact that it’s contemporary music, it’s being made by us and the people around us and is concerned with what it’s like to be alive now, today. Much as it can be comfortingly escapist to live surrounded by the past in a historicist culture like ours, I can’t think of anything more urgent or more deeply rewarding than to produce new art and make new discoveries that speak to and define our own time.

What can we expect from your performance at Sounds New ?

We’re bringing a new programme called ‘Austerity Measures’, a phrase we hear a lot these days although our programme isn’t explicitly political. It’s more of a pun, measures meaning musical bars, and the austerity is in the music. Matt Wright asked us for a programme that involved Tallis and also music of the Low Countries, and I thought it would be interesting to start from the famous Tunes for Archbishop Parker’s Psalter and explore the idea of a pared-down, rather austere music – which is something a lot of composers today are concerned with in a variety of ways. So we have Reformation-era Tallis, Josquin at his most laconic, and pieces by Claudia Molitor, Aldo Clementi and me which are similarly restrained in their materials. We are also doing a lovely piece by Dutch composer Arnold Marinissen involving percussion. I hope it’ll be a really beautiful show.

Find out more about EXAUDI at Sounds New 2014 online here.

With thanks to James Weeks.

Three Questions: Powerplant

April 17, 2012

Joby_BurgessI first came across Powerplant in the form of the novel twist Burgess provided on Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint. Originally written for jazz-guitarist Pat Metheny, with Metheny playing against pre-recorded multi-tracks of guitar and bass guitar lines to create Reich’s trademark tapestry of interlocking sounds, I approached a percussive incarnation of the piece with some trepidation; but played on Burgess’ trademark ‘xylosynth,’ it remains true to the spirit of Reich’s vision whilst providing an interesting sonic and visual alternative take on Reich’s pulsating work:

Burgess recently gave the premiere of Gabriel Profiev’s Concerto for Bass Drum:

I caught up with Joby ahead of his imminent tour with Peter Gabriel (a busy performing calendar means Joby is fitting the concert for Sounds New in between gigs in Germany and Poland!), and put a few questions to him.

Tell us about Powerplant

JB: I formed Powerplant in 2005 to perform and develop music using live electronics and live looping, although a percussionist I have always been a bit of a studio rat, needing to find the latest toy, box or noise. The group generally tours as a trio with myself playing a mixture of drums, percussion, found objects and a xylosynth, alongside Matthew Fairclough handling the sound design and Kathy Hinde creating film and live visuals, to create a truly multimedia experience. Powerplant has recorded two studio albums: Electric Counterpoint – the music of Steve Reich and Kraftwerk (2008) and Import/Export – Gabriel Prokofiev’s suite for global junk (2010). Powerplant has performed extensively throughout the UK and given performances in Europe and the USA.

What excites you about contemporary music ?

JB: I am lucky to spend nearly all of my time working with composers, song-writers and improvisers in creating and bringing to the world at large new music and performances. I am not interested in the label it might be given, as long as the music is good and has honest intentions. Over the past two years, I have spent much time working with a range of artists including Peter Gabriel, Gabriel Prokofiev, Graham Fitkin, Adrian Utley and Will Gregory.

Tell us about your concert for Sounds New next month

For Sounds New, Powerplant will present recently developed music for the group including Conlon Nancarrow’s Piece for Tape – an early pre-pianola experiment arranged for drums and blocks by composer Dominic Murcott, Matthew Fairclough’s The Boom and The Bap – a piece for drum set and and live electronics exploring the world of break beats and Max de Wardener’s 2011 commission 24 Lies Per Second – a suite of pieces inspired by the films and words of Austrian director Michael Haneke, including a particularly special mash-up of Schubert’s ‘Im Dorfe’ from the Piano Teacher. Alongside these Powerplant plays its two major commissions from late 2008, Graham Fitkin’s Chain of Command and Gabriel Prokofiev’s Suite for global junk Import/Export.