I 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.