Author: counterf

Okkyung Lee and Bill Orcutt

Thursday, September 29
at 7:30 PM – 10:30 PM
GLAD CAFÉ
£8 advance/£10 on door
tickets here

Counterflows is really excited to bring to Glad Café two of our favourite musicians. Both have previously played at Glad but never together. Former guitarist and founder of Harry Pussy Bill Orcutt brings an arsenal of broken blues treachery to his instrument, pushing the directness of intent that Harry Pussy champion to further unmoored territories of bliss. Okkyung Lee is simply unstoppable. Her repertoire extends outwardly across all known versions of cello created music, ferocious and delicate in equal measure. Together these two create ravishingly delectable noise. Check out their live set at Café Oto in 2015 released on Oto’s label. It is great to be working with Glad again.

Counterflows 2016

Yeah You | Chelpa Ferro | Carnatic Music Ensemble | Aine O’Dwyer | EVOL | Liene Rozite | Franka Herwig | Laura Cannell | Angharad Davies | N.M.O. | Hour House | Mohamed Issa Haji Matona | Mette Rasmussen | Graham Lambkin | Astor | Inga Copeland | Pat Thomas | Rian Treanor | Amy Vulliamy | Still House Plants | Weld Mignon | Antanas Dombrovskij | Gailė Griciūtė | Billy Bao | Zeena Parkins | Sensational | Black Top

Featured artist: Zeena Parkins

Counterflows 2015

Owen Green | Glad Community Choir | Fritz Welch | Adam Campbell | George Lyle | Andrea Neumann | Chinese Cookie Poets | Negro Leo | The Flexibles | Florian Hecker | Sacred Paws | Evan Parker | Sten Sandell | Angharad Davies | Raymond Boni | Lin Chiwei | Wang Fujui | DINO | Fish Police | Yong Yong | Richard Youngs | Noura Mint Seymali | Neil Michael Hagerty | Hisato Higuchi | Rabih Beaini | Daniel Carter

Featured Artist: Richard Youngs

Counterflows 2014

David Fennessy | John Butcher | Mark Sanders | Whilst | Golden Teacher | AI Aso | Peter Nicholson | David Maranha | Mats Gustafsson | Sarah Kenchington | The Space Lady | Cara Tolmie | Paul Abbott | Will Guthrie | Hans-Joachim Roedelius | Stefan Schneider | Lee Patterson | Like Fowler | Sonic Bothy | Maja Borg | Ela Orleans | Steve Noble | Heatsick | John Edwards | Emahoy Tsegué Mariam Guèbru | Mika Vainio | Ghedalia Tazartes | Maya Dunietz | Aki Onda | Akio Suzuki | Joe McPhee

Featured Artist: Joe McPhee

Counterflows 2013

Rie Nakajima | Lina Lapelyte | Sami Sanpakkila | Annette Krebs | IIIλ | Hector Bizerk | Jandek | Alex Neilson | Death Shanties | Phill Niblock | Thomas Ankersmit
Peter Brotzmann | Paal Nilssen-Love | Fuain is Solas | Kan Mikama | Loren Connors | Suzanne Langille

Counterflows 2012

Early Songs | Grouper | Michael Gira | Volcano & the Bear | Torsten Lauschmann | Red Note Ensemble | Josephine Foster | Kim Doo Soo | Sven-Ake Johansson | Michael Hurley | Margareth Kammerer | Bill Wells | Kazaki | Tomokawa

Counterflows disputes assumptions that challenging, thrilling experimental art has to be elitist and or unapproachable … Counterflows offers myriad amenable routes to local and global nirvana.
Nicola Meighan, The Herald

Orphy Robinson interview by Stewart Smith

ORPHY-MAIN

Vibraphonist and multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson’s musical adventures have taken in jazz, free improv, Brit-funk, reggae, albums for Blue Note, a reworking of A Love Supreme, and collaborations with Robert Wyatt, Nigel Kennedy, Don Cherry, Hieroglyphic Being and many others.

As Black Top, Orphy Robinson and pianist Pat Thomas have created a collaborative platform for exploring the intersection of jazz, free improvisation, electronics and African-Caribbean diasporic influences. Their 2014 album with saxophonist Steve Williamson, #1, is one of the most exciting British debuts of recent years, tapping into Afrofuturist and African-Caribbean currents while drawing on its makers’ experience working across numerous genres.

As he reveals below, there’s plenty more Black Top music in the can, which will be released in due course. They play on Friday evening at Counterflows, with special guest Ryan Sawyer on drums.

You’re best known for vibraphone and marimba, but I understand you started out on xylophone. What attracted you to these instruments?

I think at first it was the obvious connection between Piano and Percussion on vibraphone and marimba. I grew up learning Pipe Band drumming, so a by-product of that was that my rudiments were pretty good. I had a teacher that would have you practicing around a table with other drummers and it wasn’t until you could execute properly whatever rudiment or drumming pattern that was being taught at the time, that you would be allowed to play them on a snare drum! 

Obviously being a young kid you want to hit things and make noise, I mean if you can’t do it then when can you? Anyway, at the same time my parents had paid for me to have piano lessons at school. I hardly ever went to the lessons but instead, me being a bit of tearaway as a youngster, I would spend the money on sweets at the local tuck shop and then make up something on the upright piano when I got home to give the impression that the lessons were going well! 

Funnily enough, I should tell you about the outcome. Many years later as an adult, after I had been gigging quite a bit, one day my father came to a gig and when I asked him afterwards what he thought of the gig he replied with a smile on his face, ‘Well at least now you’ve moved on a bit from that racket you used to try and fool us with on the piano at home,’ adding. ‘You think we don’t know music? We come from Jamaica, we must know something!’ You can imagine how embarrassed I was! 

My initial interest in the xylophone and glockenspiels and other instruments in the percussion family came about through being a nosey kid. I was fortunate to be around a great bunch of talented local kids in the local youth marching band. Not only were they one of the best in the UK, winning competitions all over the country, but away from those competitions it was also pretty competitive between us, which encouraged you to learn ever more difficult and technically challenging things on the instruments. The vibraphone came about through going out to clubs around my late teens and hearing Roy Ayers on a record. I was hooked immediately. It was the same thing with the marimba after hearing Roy Ayers on his Africa Centre Of The World album. Then after that it was hearing Bobby Hutcherson play them on some albums, after that there was really no going back.

Another big instrument for you is the steel pan, which I first heard you playing on Robert Wyatt’s wonderful album Comicopera. You’re known for taking quite an experimental approach to it.

The steel pan came about through a composing commission I received in Derby to write for a school steel pan orchestra. Up to that point I was curious about pans but not attracted to their standard repertoire. I had however been a regular at the Notting Hill Carnival each year. The Panorama warm up the night before the competition was always a good pace to hang out and catch the real vibe of carnival. As a spectator I was usually positioned around the Mangrove Café area where the atmosphere was always brilliant. For the commission I had decided to listen to as much steel pan music as possible and then ignore it all and just do my own thing. However during the many rehearsals with the Derby School Pan Orchestra I started to enjoy playing around with a tenor pan and soon realised that I was beginning to be attracted to its amazing rich overtones and at the same time I also wondered about the possibilities of putting a steel pan through numerous FX pedals and filters. After the actual concert I decided to take things further and purchase one. I bought another pan a couple of years later with a slightly different layout and tuning. I started experimenting straight away and fortunately was allowed to include a pan in my set up on the many different Improv gigs that I was now doing.

You came up through Brit funk, but what got you into free jazz? I remember you saying that seeing Art Ensemble and Sun Ra in the ’80s was pretty mind blowing.

I have been lucky to have an interesting musical life moving between many different styles. Starting with the Brit funk band Savanna where I was a founding member. We had a couple of hits and developed a very good reputation in that scene which led to me getting sessions with a lot of the leading bands and artists in the Brit funk genre [That’s Orphy on Imagination’s 1981 hit ‘In And Out Of Love’]. Funnily enough when I went to Japan the first time with Courtney Pine in the 1980s, I was astonished to find that some of the journalists were more interested in talking about those bands than what I was currently doing. Anyway after moving over to straight ahead bands like Courtney Pine and Andy Sheppard in the mid 1980s I started to hang out with one of my mentors from my early days of learning to play. The trumpet player Claude Deppa had always encouraged me to get involved in free jazz, free improv etc. introducing me to John Stevens, Lol Coxhill etc. However touring with Courtney I was lucky enough to see many such artists like Art Ensemble and Sun Ra which totally turned me around to approaching improvisation in a different way but also to listening to music with a much freer approach.

I came across a clip on YouTube of you playing with Don Cherry. What a dream! What was it like working with him?

That was fun and came about through my band at the time and Django Bates’ Human Chain band being invited to do a pilot show for a new Jazz Programme on the BBC. The idea was that each band did a set of their music and then the leaders of the two bands play a duet together. Which was okay but I remember us really pissing off the BBC programme producer who wanted to suggest to us what we should play together as an improvisation!!! He suggested we play a tune, ‘Summertime’. I remember us both not liking that idea so pretending that we hadn’t really heard of that tune before! And proceeding to do our own thing! Anyway the pilot worked out and the series was commissioned. The organisers then approached each artist with some names of various artists and I chose Don Cherry. Fortunately he was into the idea as well and we played that improvisation that is up online. That clip has been great for me over the years, as it’s now a fairly well known one with lots of hits. He was great to meet and really into doing something else in the future but unfortunately he is no longer with us.

So to jump forward to the present day, could you tell us about the Black Top project and the concept of Archaic Nubian music? 

Pat [Thomas] and myself have worked and toured together in many different projects since meeting on a Butch Morris tour. We thought it could be good to collaborate and create a new sounding duet with guests using technology and music soundscapes both contemporary and vintage but most of all by delving into our Caribbean background and experimenting with influences from Black music. For both of us our first experience of experimental electronic music was Jamaican Dub from Lee Scratch Perry, King Tubby etc. so the 1970s when the mixes were done in the moment and the equipment was made to order. As Perry would say, ‘Everything starts from Scratch’.

Black Top has involved quite a range of collaborators. Steve Williamson has obviously been key, but you’ve also worked with Shabaka Hutchings, and Ornette Coleman bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma…

Steve I obviously knew from our shared experience of the Jazz Warriors in the 1980s. For me he has always been an incredibly intense and thoughtful musician. He totally got the idea and sound of Black Top from the start and we were lucky to catch him and record with him for the first Black Top album. Black Top meeting and playing with Jamaaladeen Tacuma was really an exciting meeting of like-minded people. We had a two-day residency at Café Oto and our other guests Mark Mondesir and the astonishing harmonica player Philip Achille all contributed to something special. The results will hopefully be heard on an album at some stage. We have been fortunate to have some fantastic guests like Henry Grimes and Marshall Allen, Louis Moholo Moholo, Marco Eneidi, Cleveland Watkiss, Byron Wallen and from China, Beibei Wang, so there is a lot of material waiting to come out on disc or download in the future. Currently we have the new album out with our special guest Evan Parker who has been a great inspiration to us both over the years.


You’ve got Ryan Sawyer from Green Dome joining you in Glasgow. Are you familiar with his work? 

Yes I have been having a good listen recently and I am really looking forward to meeting and playing together at the festival.

I understand you’re bringing the Xylosynth along. What kind of possibilities does it offer?

The Xylosynth is Midi and sub etc. and allows me to move into the digital world of sound in a sensible way. The instrument is made by an English company in Leicester and is the best Midi instrument that I have ever played. I used to have one from another company but it was flaky and unfortunately a budget airline destroyed that. I was on tour with Nigel Kennedy doing his new arrangements of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons where he encouraged the use of technology and experimentation with improv alongside the marimba and vibraphone, so I thought I would try out a Xylosynth and was hooked immediately. It’s great being able to speak directly to the owner and the Wernick design team of the instrument if you need anything done.

A live recording of your New Year’s Day session with Jamal Moss and Mark Sanders has just come out on download. Can you tell me a bit about that session, whether you had any desired outcomes and how you processed some of the sounds? 

That was fun and recorded at Café Oto on New Year’s Day. Jamal was up for getting the concert recorded after we had played together in the Soundcheck. It was easy to work as a team because Mark Saunders and myself have shared many stages since the 1980s, so we already know each other and can quickly pick up and navigate through different sound combinations and function as a solid rhythm section quickly. Everything was processed in the moment and we just let the sounds lead the way with no predetermined routes. Really enjoyed listening back and glad we recorded it.


There’s been a renewed interest in Afro-Futurism. Do you see projects like Black Top or your session with Jamal Moss as part of that?

Well we are willing to rule everything in and nothing out when you are in the moment. I think its something that’s in the air at the moment so there will be those comparisons made. However we feel Black Top can be everything and nothing all at the same time.

Finally, unless I’m mistaken it’s been a while since you last played up here.

I know I always love the spirit of the audiences in Glasgow. It’s been ages since I was last there and I only wish there could be more opportunities to get up to Glasgow in the near future.
 

COUNTERFLOWS FRINGE EVENT: GLASS FILM REGAINED

Glass Film Regained (Live Score)

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Glass Film Regained brings together a diverse group of musicians working across a broad spectrum of music, from classical to electroa pop to create an experimental live score for a screening of Don Levy’s The Glass Film. A silent 16mm film feature of astonishing originality and beauty that is a non-narrative effort at exploring images as music .
Featureing:
Luwas Kuik, Kornelia Remø Klokk, Vickie McDonald,
Cal Donnelly, Taylor Stewart, Bill Sweeney and many more

Glass Film Regained accompanies an exhibition of Don Levy’s work entitled Don Levy: Time Regained at SWG3 Gallery for Glasgow International 2016 and is jointly programmed as part of Counterflows 2016.

Ticket available at Brown Paper Tickets

Zeena Parkins Interview by Stewart Smith

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Zeena Parkins is this year’s featured artist at Counterflows, following in the footsteps of free jazz legend Joe McPhee and British underground hero Richard Youngs. An America composer, improviser and harpist, Parkins is perhaps best known for her collaborations with Björk, but her work has spanned avant-rock, modern composition, free jazz and improvised music, dance and sound art. Her many collaborators include Yoko Ono, Butch Morris, Ikue More, John Zorn, Fred Frith, Nels Cline, Bobby Previte, Okkyung Lee, Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the contemporary music group Either/Or Ensemble.

Parkins is renowned as a pioneer of the harp, an instrument she conceives of as a “sound machine of limitless capacity.” Through extended techniques, preparations and electronic processing, she has expanded the language of the acoustic harp. She has also invented her own original electronic harps, adding unique features such a whammy bar, ebony fretboard and MIDI.

Her questing spirit makes her an ideal fit for Counterflows, where she will be performing solo and with her band Green Dome. She will also give a performance of her ensemble piece LACE and duet with the brilliant young saxophonist Mette Rasmussen.

You came up through the New York downtown scene of the early ‘80s. How did you go from being a classical musician to discovering this world?

Even as a young classical pianist growing up in Detroit, I always had my ears pointed towards contemporary music from different genres and cultures. But it’s when I went to Bard College [in upstate New York] that I experienced a continuous stream of live music that was life changing: Mingus, Sun Ra, Chris Cutler/Fred Frith, Zorn, Lindsay Cooper/Sally Potter, UT, Pere Ubu, Captain Beefheart and performances of Stravinsky: L’Histroire du Soldat, Messian: Quartet for the End of Time, and Crumb: Black Angels. I also discovered avant-garde film at Bard film department screenings: Frampton, Deren, Snow, Vertov, Genet, Brackage, Tarkovsky etc. All of this audio and visual stimulation was a perfect set-up for my move to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the mid- 80’s where I dove into an all-encompassing environment of— experimentation/performing/activism, dance, more films, and theatre: particularly the Wooster Group and Richard Foreman. Going to concerts nightly at the Knitting Factory and afterwards Tonic was essential and transforming.

What led you to develop the electric harp?

I was playing with loud musicians, electric guitarists and drummers and larger ensembles. The problem was, as an acoustic harpist I would always vanish into the sensational din… unheard. As one of the few women in the scene at the time, it was not a convincing situation to be in, nor a position that I wanted to propagate. To acquire a presence in my new-found world, I decided to devise the electric harp, a decision generated primarily out of practical need.

Perhaps you could outline some of the unique features of your harp?

At the time, the idea of electrifying the harp and bringing it into these alternative performance settings was unusual. Now all major harp manufacturers design electric harps, both solid body and electro-acoustic. My harp has a whammy bar and I had no doubts about needing one for my new instrument. The whammy bar and the ebony fingerboard, are certainly unique features. For more info about the history and design of the instrument, (there are now three of them) see my website, www.zeenaparkins.com Currently I am working on a new harp-instrument that will have most of its strings separated from the main frame. The strings will live on speakers that are placed at various points away and disembodied from the instrument itself. Inspired by the custom built speakers for the Ondes Martenot, this harp will exist as part instrument and part installation.

You’ve experimented with different ways of processing the harp, from guitar pedals through to midi. Are you always on the look-out for new devices or do you try not to rely too much on these?

What drew me to the harp from the beginning was its sound and the physical engagement needed to play the instrument. The physical challenges felt like a kind of choreography to be mastered. I wanted to consider ways to develop this physicality, imagining all aspects of the harp body available to me, not just the strings. The instrument folds or melds into you. It felt much more intimate then a piano, for instance. How could this intimacy be projected? The work with audio processing on both the acoustic and electric harps takes on many different formations. Sometimes I use pedals found in second hand shops and sometimes I design patches in Max/Msp. It’s an ongoing investigation for transparency. I also enjoy working with new techniques to play the acoustic harp with no processing at all. I might use specially constructed wooden bows/ metal bars/paper/basters/Ebows, rocks etc to transform the sound. This is tactile, about touch and shape. Then there is also the possibility to just use my fingers, attempting ‘impossible tasks’ on the instrument which leads to unexpected gestures and configurations.

To go back to early ‘80s New York City – an exciting time for sure, but I’m interested to hear how you think the current scene compares? Has gentrification impacted on creativity?

Economics and gentrification has impacted the lives of everyone including artists but I think the current scene in NYC is exciting and creativity is thriving. A big difference is that now, there are thriving scenes in other cities as well. When I arrived in the mid-80’s gentrification in the Lower East Side and East Village had already begun. The changes and realignments profoundly altering neighbourhoods has meant less centralisation and instead, activity happens in many different parts of the city. It’s challenging, but a lot is going on.

On that note, you’ve collaborated with some of the most exciting NYC players of the current generation like Nate Wooley and Okkyung Lee. What excites you about them? And who else should we be looking out for?

Those players are generously and rigorously engaged in sound-making in its many guises and outcomes. They are everywhere and they are powerful: Brian Chase, Jacob Sacks, Mary Halvorson, Jessica Pavone, Ava Mendoza, Madalyn Merkey, Gabriella Herbst, Jeff Kolar…

Can you tell us about the Lace Project and your band Green Dome?

Green Dome is a new band with two brilliant musicians: Ryan Sawyer and Ryan Ross Smith. We have not done a lot of playing yet but each time has been thrilling and yearns for the next opportunity. The Lace Project has unfolded over many years and speaks to my interest in fabrics, sewing, collections and the politics of craft. Within the context of Lace Project I can pursue my curiosity to create scores that translate sonic specificity with the least amount of information. These are not difficult scores that need months of rehearsal time but they generate the possibility to gather a large group of musicians, with a minimal amount of rehearsals, to create a kind of ‘piece’ identity. In this case we look at fragments of lace in different ways, as a picture, as a collection of stitches or as coded patterns and ‘play them’ through a filter of conditions and instructions.

As featured artist you’ll be doing a number of sets throughout the festival. Do you know what form these might take at this stage? Solo, collaborations?

I am playing with my band Green Dome and we are also going to be joined by six great local improvisers [Alex South, Daniel Padden, Peter Nicholson, Tony Bevan, Arnim Sturm and Ruth Morley] for the performance of Lace. I am performing In Place, which is a series of three solo performances on three instruments in quite intimate settings: for a piano installation, electric harp and acoustic harp. I will be giving multiple performances of this project. I am also very excited to play with Mette Rasmussen. This will be our debut performance.

Are there any artists you’re particularly looking forward to at Counterflows?

Really looking forward to hearing as much music as I can while I am at the festival!! I guess I won’t be getting much sleep while I am here.

Carnatic Music interview by Stewart Smith

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An introduction to South Indian Traditions
Carnatic Music Ensemble perform the classical music of Southern India, a living tradition that may be less familiar to Western ears than the Hindustani music of the north, but is equally rich. Hailing from the city of Chennai, the Ensemble features the violinists Dr M Lalitha and M Nadini, singer and percussionist Sm Subbulakshmi Muthuswamy, and Neyveli KV Ramkumar on the mridangam drum. The Ensemble has performed across the world, collaborating with numerous artists. Counterflows marks their Scottish debut.
Counterflows director Alasdair Campbell discovered their music on a British Council sponsored trip to India last year. Arriving in Chenai, he was immediately struck by the city’s particular atmosphere. “It wasn’t just the balmy heat. As we were greeted by the most colourfully clad people all dressed up for us, the first thing that happened, after a lot of hellos, was that we were played the most beautiful music. It struck me that instead of frantically trying seek out the Indian underground experimental scene what I should really be doing is starting at the beginning and then explore the way this tradition is performed in the contemporary setting and what relationship, if any, this has with what Counterflows is doing. That was that!
“The little I have learned about Carnatic music is that it is relatively untouched by outside influence. What I was interested in was the complex systems and rhythms that structure this very rigorous practice and also the rituals that the music follows. These are the sorts of things that drew me into the music and also I feel links it somehow to Counterflows. Even in our wayward, and as we like to think, experimental pushing-for-the-new music we are riddled with rituals and methodologies. Improvisation can be seen as a form of ritual, and improvisation is at the heart of Carnatic music.”

To introduce the music of the Carnatic tradition, Counterflows spoke to the Ensemble’s Dr M Lalitha.

The Ensemble consists of two violinists, vocal and percussion. Is this typical instrumentation for Carnatic music?

Yes. In an instrumental concert of the Carnatic Music, the ensemble consists of a main melodic instrument – here it is the violin. It also has a percussion as an accompaniment known as the pakkavadyam. Here the mridangam and the tala are used as accompanying instruments. In a vocal concert, the main will be the singer accompanied by the violin and the mridangam. Sometimes upapakkavadyam like the kanjira (like the tamorine) and the ghatam (clay pot) also feature.

How does Carnatic music differ from Hindustani classical music from the north?

Indian Music has two classical systems, the Hindustani from the North and the Carnatic or the South Indian Classical Music from the South. The tradition of Indian music practiced and developed is nearly three thousand years old. The semantic divide between the two styles started from the time of the ‘Sangeetaratnakara’ of Sharangadeva (1210-1247 AD). This was later enhanced by the Muslim influence and this musical bifurcation was described for the first time as Hindustani and Carnatic music by Haripaladeva in his text the ‘Sangeetsudhakara’ (1309-1312 AD).

Could you explain what raga and tala are?

Carnatic music is essentially raga and tala based. Each raga has its own scale consisting of minimum five and maximum seven notes known as svaras. A raga has a specific ascending called Arohana and descending known as Avarohana along with the ornamentation known as the Gamaka. There are also particular characteristic phrases of a raga that establish its identity. There are 72 Melakartha ragas or the parent ragas which have all the seven notes in the ascent and the descent, apart from the Janya ragas that are the offspring of these Mela ragas, of which there are more than a thousand with various permutations and combinations. There is a set of rules to be a Melakartha raga though.

Regarding the tala system, in the Carnatic music it is highly developed and complex. There are seven basic talas known as the Sapta Tala from which the 35, 175 talas emerge. Apart from this are the Chapu talas: the Kanda Chapa, five beats, and the Misra Chapu, seven beats.

In south Indian music, different musical forms are also present. Musical forms are of two kinds: kalpita (composed) and manodharma (improvised or creative). Both manodharma and kalpita require a very high level of training in music. In Kalpita sangitam, the pre-composed music of the great composers like Saint Tyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Syama Sastri, Gopalakrishna Bharati and others are rendered, while in the Manodharma Sangitam musical forms like the Raga Alapana, Tanam, Niraval and Kalpana Svaram are rendered.

Improvisation plays a central role in this music. Can you tell me more about the ‘music of the imagination’ as it is known?

Yes, improvisation plays a key role in Carnatic Music. In south Indian music, different musical forms are present. As already mentioned, musical forms in Carnatic Music are of two kinds — kalpita (composed) and manodharma (improvised or creative). Both manodharma and kalpita require a very high level of training in music. In the Manodharma, the true challenge for a musician lies in his or her ability to improvise on the spot. There are also different kinds of improvised music used in Carnatic music. For instance, a Raga Alapana will be a melodic improvisation without perceptible rhythm. Kalpana Svaras are melodic improvisations within the framework of a rhythmic cycle known as the Tala. Niravel is yet another improvisatory form where there is a melodic improvisation within the framework of a rhythmic cycle using words. Tanam is an interesting improvisation form, which is a melodic improvisation with a perceptible rhythm. Tanam should be rendered using syllables like ‘ta’ and ‘nam’ having different rhythmic formations. In a concert all of these improvisatory forms can be heard. The Tanam is specially used in the musical form Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi.

Do you compose your own kriti (songs)? Or is your repertoire based on the great composers like Tyagaraja?

The repertoire is mostly based on the great composers like Saint Tyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Syama Sastri and others. Yes, we also compose our own kriti and other musical forms like Varnam and Tillana. We also perform the compositions composed by our gurus Sri. V. Lakshminarayana Iyer and Smt. Subbulakshmi Muthuswamy.

Are your lyrics based on existing texts or are they original? What kind of subjects do you sing about?

The lyrics of the compositions are original and mainly deal with devotion to the many gods / goddesses of the Hindu pantheon like Lord Ganesha, Lord Muruga, Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and her various forms like Goddess Kamakshi, Goddess Minakshi & Lord Vishnu, Goddess Lakshmi Goddess Bhuvaneswari, Goddess Sarasvati to name a few.

I understand you practice your music every day at dawn. Why dawn?

Any art form requires serious practice for a real serious student/performer of that art form. This is known as Sadhakam in Carnatic Music. It requires discipline, focus and commitment. We normally practice every day at dawn, first of all since it will be very quiet in the morning and the mind will be very fresh. There will be practically no disturbance in the morning from the outside world and the mind focuses on the music without any external disturbances combining elements of deep listening, concentration techniques and observation.

Counterflows has invited electronic music pioneer and artist Mark Fell to explore possible ways to collaborate with musicians from the Carnatic tradition, examining the systems and processes in the context of his digital practice. Are you familiar with his work and are you looking forward to seeing what you come up with together?

We are looking forward to working with Mark Fell and yes we are a little familiar with his work. We are excited and looking forward to seeing a ‘great musical collaboration’ coming up together.

COUNTERFLOWS TALK 2 – WOMEN IN CONTEMPORARY MUSIC IN ASSOCIATION WITH GLASGOW WOMEN’S LIBRARY   WITH FRANCES MORGAN OF WIRE MAGAZINE

Zeena
47 Strings  with featured artist Zeena Parkins
An opportunity to get to the heart of the harp – the instrument that Parkins has redefined for contemporary and improvised music. Frances Morgan talks to Parkins about process of building and refining her signature electric harps, and delves into her relationship with this unusual instrument, as well as discussing Parkins’s numerous collaborations in film, dance and the visual arts. 

COUNTERFLOWS TALK 1 – WOMEN IN CONTEMPORARY MUSIC IN ASSOCIATION WITH GLASGOW WOMEN’S LIBRARY   WITH FRANCES MORGAN OF WIRE MAGAZINE

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Frances Morgan talks to Irish multi-instrumentalist and artist Aine O’Dwyer about her Music For Church Cleaners Vol I and II and her Counterflows performance at Glasgow University Chapel, and takes a look back at Aine’s previous work in unusual environments, including a Victorian tunnel under the River Thames. 

This event is not ticketed. Please just come along on the day.

Chelpa Ferro

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Formed as part of Rio de Janeiro’s burgeoning visual art scene , Chelpa Ferro straddle the various genres of creative practice but instil everything they do with an anarchic sense and hedonistic warmth of their Brazilian sun. They come to Glasgow as part of Counterflows and Novas Frequencias continuing collaboration.

Chelpa Ferro are a performing collaborative group that has as its nuclear structure Luiz Zerbini,
Barrão and Sérgio Mekler. Chelpa Ferro is renowned for its sound installations and its intersemiotic aesthetics interventions. With the participation of artists such as Arto Lindsay, David Toop, Kassin, Jaques Morelembaum, Berna Ceppas and Stephane San Juan, their works are constellations of dissonance and ambience that privilege cathartic improvisation and “musique concréte”.

“Autobang”, from 2002, an act in which they sonically destroyed a Maverick 74, was one of the most notable performances of the group. In “Ruim”, their most recent piece in traditional album format, improvisation takes over the instrumentation like an avalanche, swallowing everything that comes in its way.

Carnatic Music Ensemble

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An introduction to South Indian Traditions
In November 2015 I was lucky enough to be invited by the British Council on a scoping trip to India with other colleagues across the arts sector in Scotland. This took in three of India’s major cities: Mumbai, Chennai and Dheli. The idea being that we would meet people, organisations and practitioners working in the arts, get some insight into the way of things in India and ultimately find people to work with in some sort of cross-cultural projects. It was possibly a lot to ask in such a whirlwind tour of this complex and massive country. After an amazing three days rushing around Mumbai we landed in Chennai. Immediately I was struck by something different going on in the South Indian city. It wasn’t just the balmy heat. Then on our first invitation as we were greeted by the most colourfully clad people all dressed up for us. The first thing that happened, after a lot of hellos, was we were played the most beautiful music. This was South Indian classical music or Carnatic music. It struck me that instead of frantically trying seek out the Indian underground experimental scene what I should really be doing is starting at the beginning and looking at what this music is and represents and then explore the way this tradition is performed in the contemporary setting and what relationship, if any, this has with what Counterflows is doing. That was that!

The thing about the Carnatic tradition is that it is relatively unknown. We in the UK are more used (if at all) to Northern Indian music, be that from Rajasthan or the Punjab or even Bollywood. What struck me and remember I was only in India 9 days was there was a certain snootiness directed towards the Southern tradition. The little I have learned about Carnatic music is that it is relatively untouched by outside influence. A lovely northern Indian percussionist told me this. Whereas in the north there have been many influences from Iran, Turkey, and across Asia to their music. An example of this is the Sufi tradition which stretches throughout these regions. In the south their traditions, it would appear, retains a certain purity. What I was interested in was the complex systems and rhythms that structure this very rigorous practice and also the rituals that the music follows. In talking with Nandini one of the violinist I met in Chennai, and sister to Lalitha who will play at Counterflows, I discovered that she practices every day at dawn. Why at dawn? Well the idea is connected to the opening every day of the temples where the music originates from. So at dawn music would emanate across the country from the temples. These are the sorts of things that drew me into the music and also I feel links it somehow to Counterflows. Even in our wayward and as we like to think experimental pushing -for-the-new music we are riddled with rituals and methodologies. Improvisation can be seen as a form of ritual and improvisation is at the heart of Carnatic music. As part of this exploration of Carnatic music’s secrets, Counterflows has asked electronic music pioneer and artist Mark Fell to explore possible ways to collaborate with musicians from the tradition, examining the systems and processes in the context of his digital practice. Mark will attend Counterflows in the unusual capacity as an observer and begin a dialogue with the Carnatic musicians.

With the help and support of Lalitha and Nandini and also Sonya from the organisation EarthSync in Chennai we have managed to put together an outstanding group of Carnatic musicians including their Guru and Mother, renowned carnatic singer Smt Subbulakshmi Muthuswamy. Also as part of the ensemble will be two amazing carnatic percussionists.

Hailing from an illustrious family of musicians, Lalitha and Nandini have the privilege of being the fourth generation of musicians in their family. To quote the renowned music critic Subbudu “`Music runs in their blood, they must have played music even when they were in their mother’s womb. ” Lalitha and Nandini are the torch bearers of a unique musical tradition but yet have evolved a distinct style of their own.

Unfortunately for this encounter at Counterflows Nandini will not be able to be with us.

The Carnatic Music Ensemble
Smt Subbulakshmi Muthuswamy – Vocal
Dr M Lalitha – Violin
Neyveli KV Ramkumar – Mridangam
Sai Subramaniam – Morsing.

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Place, the final frontier!

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So to finally announce a really inspiring new project with two of the UK’s most exciting artists.

Mythos of Violins is an explorative collaboration puzzling over the unsconcious or conscious affect of place on the creative development of an artist. We collect and reject so many influences in our development as human beings, some good, some bad, sometimes it is a wonder that we can actually coherently articulate anything at all (and maybe we can’t) – hence that tower of Babel. Place is always there somewhere in the back of our psyche or on occassions up front staring us directly in our eyes. As the sunrises across that familiar sky outside our window. Place often feels more important when we are not there. This new commission ponders what and how place affects the creative process.

Angharad Davies and Laura Cannell come from two very distinct places in the UK – Aberystwyth in Wales and Southwold in Suffolk. They will collaborate for the first time on this idea and take their music to where ever it might go. Both accomplished violinists that have come together from possibly very different approaches but are seeking to share and learn and expand their methods and sound worlds.

Like previous AC Projects’ blog we will use this space to put down ideas and share discoveries along the way.

The plan at the moment which was hatched really only a week or two ago (first time we could properly get together) is for Angharad and Laura to perform Mythos of Violins in both Southwold and Aberystwyth at two very evocative locations – Y Capel outside Aberystwyth and St Edmonds Church in Southwold. Anghard and Laura will spend some time in both places visiting sites in the areas and working together on ideas.

Firstly and the premiere, if that is allowed to be said, of the project will happen at Counterflows 2016 and will take place at the Glasgow University Chapel, itself a wonderfully evocative place. Prior to the concert Angharad and Laura will visit the amazing St Peter’s Seminary at Cardross. As some may know St Peter’s is undergoing a transformation. NVA, under the visionary direction of Angus Farquar, have developed an ambitious vision to reclaim the future of this iconic modernist ruin as a national platform for public art and heritage destination. AC Projects is in the process of discussing with Angus how we can work together and so I thought what a great place to start Mythos of Violins. The idea being to have a walk through the grounds and ruins and possibly to perform privately and to record sounds and photograph images. From 18th – 27th March Hinterland (what the new St Peter’s will be called) will have breached the fabric of these ruins by opening the Festival of Architecture in Scotland.

Anghard and Laura will perform at the opening concert at Counterflows on Thursday 7th April. Keep an eye on this blog for the other dates and also more information and discoveries from the artists.

Mythos of Violins has been commissioned by AC Projects and is part of the Beyond Borders new commissions fund developed by PRS for Music Foundation and their partners. AC Projects gratefully acknowledges their support.

Liene Rozite & Franka Herwig – Counterflows residency

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The Counterflows residency series is an important aspect of the festival’s commitment to exploring the processes embedded in music making. This will be our fourth residency. Each one has brought a very different set of ideas to the fore. All the artists involved have committed and focussed their energies into grappling with the possibility of something new happening. The results have been remarkable and stimulating. We are really pleased to be working with the Goethe Institut Glasgow on the residency again enabling us to bring to Glasgow an international guest to collaborate with a Scottish based artist. This year we have invited Berlin-based contemporary accordion player Franka Herwig to work along side Glasgow based artists and performer Liene Rozite.

The event at CCA Creative Lab on Saturday provides a space for both artists to share their ideas, impressions, probably music and also obstacles they’ve encountered during the residency.

Franka Herwig, born in Berlin in 1984, she studied accordion under Margit Kern, Gerhard Scherer and Max Bonnar winning a number of prizes and scholarships supported her musical developpement. She was awarded first prize Bundeswettbewerb Jugend musiziert, and got the sholarship of Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.
As a soloist and chamber musician Franka Herwig tours all over the world and plays in most European countries as well as the USA and South Korea. Since 2014 Franka Herwig is regulary playing with Camerata Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. As well she is a resident member of Ensemble Mini since 2010 under leading of Joolz Gale. With Camerata Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra an Ensemble Mini she plays big classic sinfonies in small chamber music version and performed in Berliner Philharmonie, Konzerthaus Berlin and Auditorio Nacional in Madrid. She plays with various modern music ensembles. Franka has also worked in theatre productions with Staatstheater Würzburg, Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, Opera Lab Berlin. Contemporary music represents main focus of her repertory. She works together with composers and has performed the premieres of numerous compositions. Much of this work was documented by live recordings of radio broadcasts or on CD.

Liene Rozite is a closet choir enthusiast who mostly performs collaboratively with Ash Reid, Asparagus Piss Raindrop, The Lucy Julia Liene trio, Yoke of Blood, Muris and the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. Previous performances have included conversations about women, labour, performativity and subjecthood with Ash Reid as part of the Space-time: The Multiverse at the Annual Music Festival at Wysing Arts Centre, an Infestation of Transmission Art Gallery with Asparagus Piss Raindrop and an on-stage skill-swap session with the trio formerly known as LL Cool J. Favourite improv locations include Penmarch, St Boswells, La Crosse Terrace and the Old Hairdressers. Special skills include some composition, anti-flute, roller skating, and in depth analysis of reality tv. Current frustrations range from cis men in improvised music to structural inequalities.

Laura Cannell & Angharad Davies – Mythos of Violins

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Mythos of Violins is an explorative collaboration puzzling over the unsconcious or conscious effect of place on the creative development of an artist. We collect and reject so many influences in our development as human beings, some good some bad, sometimes it is a wonder that we can actually coherently articulate anything at all (and maybe we can’t), hence that tower of Babel. Place is always there somewhere in the back of our psyche or on occassions up front staring us directly in our eyes, as the sunrises across that familiar sky outside our window. Place often feels more important when we are not there. This new commission ponders what and how place effects the creative process.

Angharad Davies and Laura Cannell come from two very distinct places in the UK – Aberyswyth in Wales and Southwold in suffolk. They will collaborate for the first time on this idea and take their music to where ever it might go. Both accomplished violinists that have come together from possibly very different approaches but are seeking to share and learn and expand their methods and sound worlds.

Angharad Davies is a violinist, one at ease in both improvising and composition, with a wide discography as part of varied range of ensembles and groups. She’s a specialist in the art of ‘preparing’ her violin, adding objects or materials to it to extend its sound making properties. A commissioned new work for Counterflows Festival, Glasgow was subsequently performed at the El Nicho Festival , Mexico and Supersonic Festival, Birmingham earlier this year.

Laura Cannell is a fiddle player who explores the spaces between experimental, medieval and improvised music. She often utilises fragments from medieval themes to her own end in a manner that embraces the apparitional, historical or otherworldly. Diverse festival appearances include: Supernormal, The Aldeburgh Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Brighton Early Music Festival. She has released two critically acclaimed solo albums and regularly performs solo and in collaboration in the UK and Europe.

Mythos of violins is a Beyond Borders commission and we gratefully acknowledge the support of PRS for Music Foundation and its partners.

N.M.O.

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N.M.O. is an acronym serving to frame the work of a rolling computerized ceremonial aerobics unit that operates in a hybrid territory between club music, performance and inventive forms of sound spatialisation. What they call ‘Military Danceable Space Music and/or Fluxus Techno’ is a unique blend of repetitive percussive patterns and synthetic sounds that combined with performative aspects explodes during their live shows.

From a club night intermezzo concept that begins with a bleep test from the the middle of the dancefloor to a site specific hybrid lecture that reduces the sound pressure level of a club performances but increases the degree of interactivity with the audience (incorporating the game of musical chairs), to outdoor performances with colored smoke grenades and flares that are all an attempt to question standardized formats of presentation of electronic music and ways to break with passive listening.

To follow their two releases on Barcelona’s Anòmia label, including 2014’s ‘critically acclaimed and standout’ 12″, ‘Nederlandse Maatschappij Ontwikkeling’, their latest EP ‘Naturkunde Museum Ostkreuz’ for Bookman’s label The Death of Rave put forward ‘a visceral, effectively unprecedented sound that’s hard to ignore.’ N.M.O. has recently released a proto-techno tinged concept 12″ on Where To Now and a double 12″ for Powell’s Diagonal Records to be released in early 2016.

nmo web : n-m-o.tk
twitter: https://twitter.com/NewMexicoOccult

Áine O’Dwyer & Matona / Carnatic Music Ensemble

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Áine O’Dwyer & Matona (duo) 9pm – 9.45pm
Carnatic Music Ensemble 10 – 10.50pm

To ease the eventuality of the end of another Counterflows and in contrast to last year’s swirling beats from Mauritania we bring you a meditative take on contemporary music making that is steeped in tradition yet challenges the idea of what experimental music is or can be. Counterflows is about many things but something we really are determined to challenge is the hegemony of Western cultural thought over the rest of the planet. Even in India the Southern Cultural tradition of Carnatic music is often seen as the poor cousin of Indian music. This is of course ridiculous prejudice. Steeped in ancient rigorous systems and scales but performed with equal passion for improvisation and expression the music shares with Counterflows the integrity of belief in the vitality in keeping moving, of not sitting still culturally. We have been so lucky in getting this amazing ensemble of musicians together: Dr M Lalitha with her mother and guru of Carnatic singing and music and their percussionists of choice.

Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances Nandini, Lalitha’s sister and amazing duo carnatic partner, will not be able to make this Counterflows encounter. Nandini was the catalyst behind this project’s germination and we thank her emphatically.

The Carnatic Music Ensemble
Smt Subbulakshmi Muthuswamy – Vocal
Dr M Lalitha – Violin
Neyveli KV Ramkumar – Mridangam
Sai Subramaniam – Morsing.

Delighted to welcome the debut live duo performance from Zanzibar-based multi-instrumentalist Mohamed Issa Haji Matona and Irish (now London based) experimental singer-songwriter Àine O’Dwyer. Having only played once before through a chance meeting on BBC 3′s Late Junction, we were instantly blown away by their seamless meeting of traditional music forms, blending their native Tanzanian and Irish tongues and instruments to create a whole new beautifully open and meditative music.

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Franka Herwig solo

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Franka Herwig solo – 4.15 – 4.45pm

Franka Herwig is collaboarting with Liene Rozite on this year’s Counterflows’ residnecy and as with last year’s captivating performance by Andrea Neumann we have offered Franka an opportunity to showcase her solo work on accordion. Franka will perform from her extensive repetoire of contemporary music.

1. Toshio Hosokawa (1955): ” SEN V ”
2. Milica Djordjevic (1984): ” Würde man denken: Sterne ”
3. Samir Odeh-Tamimi (1970): ” Tslalim ”

Motherese with Aby Vulliamy + Maria Jardardottir + Laura Cole + Nerea Bello

photo @ Classic Grand by Martin Gray

photo @ Classic Grand by Martin Gray

Music therapist and violist Aby Vulliamy will facilitate a fun and accessible music workshop, with support from pianist Laura Cole, vocalist Maria Jardardottir, music therapist and trombonist George Murray plus some local guest musicians. Inviting volunteers from children and adults of all ages and abilities to ‘conduct’ the ensemble in whatever manner they like (anything from minimal eye movements to free-style dance), we will create a thrilling and intimate experience of interactive music-making, using instruments, body percussion and vocalisations. The workshop explores concepts of ‘attunement’ (mirroring and tuning into the feelings behind actions and facial expressions) and cross-modal communication (eg translation from movement to sound and vice versa), both of which are powerful aspects of the instinctive relationship between a pre-verbal baby and parent.

WORKSHOP #1 Glad Café Foundation – 11:00
Performance #2 Glad Café Bar – 14:00

Meet at Glad Café at 11am.
There will be three sessions:

Session 1 – 11.30 – 12pm
Session 2 – 12 – 12.30pm
Session 3 – 12.30 – 1pm

Motherese with Aby Vulliamy, Laura Cole, Maria Jardardottir & George Murray
Glad Café/venue – 2pm

Free
The workshop culminates in a ‘musical group self-portrait’, a vibrant and dynamic experience of spontaneous group expression, proving that whatever our age or ability, we are all inherently musical…

Tickets below for workshops and concert…

EVOL (DJing all night) / N.M.O. / YEAH YOU

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Late night Counterflows parties have become memorably hedonistic in the last few years, with Heatsick, Golden Teacher, Joe McPhee and Rabih Beaini pushing the aural envelope and transporting us into joyous dance chaos.

This year we’ll be continuing the tradition, with a night of deconstructed and irresitably playful twists on current dance music, featuring a live set of “Miltary Dance Space Music and/or Fluxus Techno” from N.M.O. (Diagonal Records/Death of Rave), a live set from completely bonkers improv pop duo YEAH YOU, as well as DJ set from EVOL, who will be flying in to play some ‘computer music for hooligans’.

No chin stroking allowed – it’s time to get really weird. Join us.

Yeah You – "Bad Territory" from WILD POP on Vimeo.

Counterflows Film Screening – Presented by Lux Scotland – Florrie James & Ross Little with Dick 50

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image courtesy Florrie James, 2016

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CCA Cinema – Saturday 9th – 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm
An encounter with expanded cinema programmed by LUX Scotland.
Three 20 minute audio visual performances of new material from Florrie James, Ross Little and Dick 50. There is an extended performance as well the previous day, Friday at 4.45pm.

For Counterflows Florrie James, Ross Little and Dick 50 will perform material they are currently shooting in cuba, to make a new collaboration in a specially configured cinema space. Working toward a new suite of five films this unique event explores an single character’s consciousness through multiple guises: “By physically and digitally obscuring and filtering the image and subject, we hope to evoke emotional and sensorial states of mind.”

There is also an expanded programme on Friday providing a contextual point of discussion for this new work and centres around the 16mm work of Paul Sharit’s whose structural and minimal approach reaches for, as he described it, ‘the higher drama of celluloid’.

Please select one of these three showings.

Counterflows Residency In association with Goethe-Institut Glasgow Franka Herwig & Liene Rozite

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Franka Herwig & Liene Rozite (4.15 – 5pm)

The Counterflows residency series is an important aspect of the festival’s commitment to exploring the processes embedded in music making. This will be our fourth residency. Each one has brought a very different set of ideas to the fore. All the artists involved have committed and focussed their energies into grappling with the possibility of something new happening. The results have been remarkable and stimulating. We are really pleased to be working with the Goethe Institut Glasgow on the residency again enabling us to bring to Glasgow an international guest to collaborate with a Scottish based artist. This year we have invited Berlin-based contemporary accordion player Franka Herwig to work along side Glasgow based artists and performer Liene Rozite.

The event at CCA Creative Lab on Saturday provides a space for both artists to share their ideas, impressions, probably music and also obstacles they’ve encountered during the residency.

Franka Herwig, born in Berlin in 1984, she studied accordion under Margit Kern, Gerhard Scherer and Max Bonnar winning a number of prizes and scholarships supported her musical developpement. She was awarded first prize Bundeswettbewerb Jugend musiziert, and got the sholarship of Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.
As a soloist and chamber musician Franka Herwig tours all over the world and plays in most European countries as well as the USA and South Korea. Since 2014 Franka Herwig is regulary playing with Camerata Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. As well she is a resident member of Ensemble Mini since 2010 under leading of Joolz Gale. With Camerata Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra an Ensemble Mini she plays big classic sinfonies in small chamber music version and performed in Berliner Philharmonie, Konzerthaus Berlin and Auditorio Nacional in Madrid. She plays with various modern music ensembles. Franka has also worked in theatre productions with Staatstheater Würzburg, Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, Opera Lab Berlin. Contemporary music represents main focus of her repertory. She works together with composers and has performed the premieres of numerous compositions. Much of this work was documented by live recordings of radio broadcasts or on CD.

Liene Rozite is a closet choir enthusiast who mostly performs collaboratively with Ash Reid, Asparagus Piss Raindrop, The Lucy Julia Liene trio, Yoke of Blood, Muris and the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. Previous performances have included conversations about women, labour, performativity and subjecthood with Ash Reid as part of the Space-time: The Multiverse at the Annual Music Festival at Wysing Arts Centre, an Infestation of Transmission Art Gallery with Asparagus Piss Raindrop and an on-stage skill-swap session with the trio formerly known as LL Cool J. Favourite improv locations include Penmarch, St Boswells, La Crosse Terrace and the Old Hairdressers. Special skills include some composition, anti-flute, roller skating, and in depth analysis of reality tv. Current frustrations range from cis men in improvised music to structural inequalities.

AC Projects gratefully acknowledges the support of Goethe-Institut Glasgow.

Counterflows Film Screening – Presented by Lux Scotland – An Encounter With Expanded Cinema

IMG_4969

An encounter with expanded cinema programmed by LUX Scotland.
Three 20 minute audio visual performances of new material from Florrie James, Ross Little and Dick 50. This will be an extended performance. Three more performances on Sat at 1.30, 3.20 & 3.30.

For Counterflows Florrie James, Ross Little and Dick 50 will perform material they are currently shooting in cuba, to make a new collaboration in a specially configured cinema space. Working toward a new suite of five films this unique event explores an single character’s consciousness through multiple guises: “By physically and digitally obscuring and filtering the image and subject, we hope to evoke emotional and sensorial states of mind.”

There is also an expanded programme on Friday providing a contextual point of discussion for this new work and centres around the 16mm work of Paul Sharit’s whose structural and minimal approach reaches for, as he described it, ‘the higher drama of celluloid’.

DJs / Black Top

DJs 11 – 3am
Black Top (12midnight – 1am)
This event is not ticketed: just turn up!

Black Top, the duo of multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson and pianist Pat Thomas, is a shape-shifting unit dedicated to exploring the intersection between live instruments and lo-fi technology. Their virtuoso, freely improvised performances combine twisted loops, samples and dub-effects, which draw on their Afro-Caribbean roots, with a spontaneity and daring rooted in experimental free-jazz. Each in the series is moulded by the contributions of a unique guest collaborator. For this late night soirée they will be joined by special guest Ryan Sawyer (drums/percussion) from Zeena Parkins’ Green Dome. Expect some raucous free jazz in the CCA’s foyer!

Our good friends Golden Teacher will be spinning some outer national wax to keep the party rolling to the early hours.

Note: Unfortunately Cuneyt Sepecti has had to cancel his appearance as his visa was turned down.

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Rian Treanor / Inga Copeland

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Rian Treanor (9.45 – 10.30pm)
Inga Copeland (10.45 – 11.45pm)

Since moving on from her previous project Hype Williams, Inga Copeland has crafted her own world of sonic oddity; arriving – but never settling – at the avant intersection of R&B, dancehall minimalism and electronic pop. Glasgow-based artist Rian Treanor opens with a set of interlocking and fractured computer-based club music.

Hour House / Astor & Graham Lambkin

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Hour House (7.30 – 8pm)
Australia’s Hour House offer a musical blueprint marinated in mystery, beauty, sound, and song. Hour House is the duo of Mark Leacy and Sam Kenna, formerly of the Newcastle-based outfit Castings. Their debut LP Chiltern comprised individual tracks folded into two side-long suites in a unique excursion through foreign encounters, warm surrounds, and disorienting comfort. Field recordings, electronics, samples, guitars, voice, and atmospherics all contribute to form a bewitching whole. Many questions are raised: is this a soundtrack to a mental experience or an altered take on a familiar reality? Is the third section based on the sound of a basketball court? Does the fourth form a song? Where do the original Soviet science fiction soundtracks fit into all this? Is this sound or music? Simultaneously ambiguous and accessible Hour House unfold a consciousness-tickling ride unlike any other.

Astor & Graham Lambkin (joint set) (8.15 -9.15pm)
Astor is the moniker of Mark Harwood, Australian publisher, event curator and sound artist who is now residing in London, United Kingdom. Under this guise he deploys a wide variety of techniques including field recording, musique concrete and electronics. All of these forms are approached with a sense of bypassing the cliches imbedded within in order to coerce a sound world which is simultaneously contemporary, foreign, intense, beautiful, unsettling and engaging. Mark has released 2 acclaimed lp’s on Kye (USA) and has just released a third, Lina in Nida on his own Penultimate Press imprint.

Graham Lambkin (b. 1973 in Dover, England) is a multidisciplinary artist, currently based in Upstate New York, who first came to prominence in the early 90′s through the formation of his music group The Shadow Ring. Combining a D.I.Y. post-punk ethic with folk music, cracked electronics, and surreal wordplay, The Shadow Ring created a unique hybrid sound that set them apart from their peers and continues to show as an influence today. More…

Zeena Parkins – Lace with Green Dome, The One Ensemble, Tony Bevan, Armin Sturm & Ruth Morley

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Zeena Parkins – The Lace Project with Green Dome, The One Ensemble, Tony Bevan, Armin Sturm & Ruth Morley
(6.15pm – 7pm)

Counterflows’ 2016 featured artist the truly remarkable Zeena Parkins opens her Counterflows’s account with the first UK performance of her Lace project. This is a wonderfully collaboartive project bringing together her New York band Green Dome with Scotland’s own The One Ensemble, GIO’s Armin Sturm, Flautist extrodinaire Ruth Morely and bass sax weilding Tony Bevan.

Lace is an ongoing project begun in 2008, based on a collection of lace fragments from, to date: Scotland, Turkey, Belgium, Spain, Italy, and France. It is a multi-movement composition for improvisers, that proposes lace as a score which viewed from varied distances is perceived as picture, with patterns flip-flopping between near and far illusionary points of view.

A multitude of readings occur: shapes into pattern, patterns into shape: juxtaposed, layered, overlapped, adjacencies side stepped; actions forming and re-forming, with the supreme joy and grounding orientation of the groove. An often messy loop in a loop in a loop, a picture of itself, within itself, mise en abyme;

shape to gesture, gesture to thread, thread to touch, touch to touching, a gossamer web sounding.

At Counterflows, Zeena’s band, Green Dome will premier a new movement inspired by the intricacies of Shetland Lace. With its symbology, coding, and grid based charts, the Shetland movement explores the language used for defining actions that designate stitches and how that language and those codes can inspire and prescribe musical strategies.

Aine O’Dwyer / Laura Cannell & Angharad Davies

*** TICKETS AVAILABLE ON THE DOOR***

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Aine O’Dwyer – Pipe Organ (8.30 – 9.15pm)
Laura Cannell & Angharad Davies – Mythos of Violins (9.30 – 10.15pm)

The opening concert of Counterflows 2016 brings together three women who are creating some of the most interesting music across the UK today. They also represent in some ways what Counterflows is all about. There is a depth and certainty about their music that allows an understanding of traditions to move forward and develop into something beautifully new and inspiring.

Mythos of violins initially began emerging as an idea through discussions between AC Projects and Angharad Davies about her home town of Aberystwyth and her deeply felt connections to the place even though she now lives in London. We were interested in the local sound archive at the National Library and what this meant to Angharad’s contemporary practice. At this stage we thought of a performance in the archive but after Angharad began collaborating with Laura Canell the idea began to emerge for Laura and Angharad to collaborate on a new work that would be developed from this idea of place and how place actually affects the creative development of, in this case, music. It was particularly important that partners were found that understood the importance of this idea to the development of the new work so Aberystwyth, Suffolk, and Glasgow were chosen for there importance geographically to both artist’s ideas and also for their link to the development of their music for violin. Angahard and Laura will spend Wednesday visiting the awesome St Peter’s Seminary out at Cardross to soak up the emerging Hinterland project and the beautiful ruins of modernism. For this Scottish leg of the commission we are really excited to have Scottish master fiddler and composer Aidan O’Rourke join Angharad and Laura in exploring Mythos of Violins.

We are really excited to have Aine O’Dwyer open the festival with her sumptuous organ music. Her Lp from last year, Music For Church Cleaners Vol 1 & 2 is one of our favourites. With the organ at the remarkable Glasgow University and the space itself playing a crucial part, this will be an ispiring evening of acoustic sounds.

Angharad Davies is a violinist, one at ease in both improvising and composition, with a wide discography as part of varied range of ensembles and groups. She’s a specialist in the art of ‘preparing’ her violin, adding objects or materials to it to extend its sound making properties. A commissioned new work for Counterflows Festival, Glasgow was subsequently performed at the El Nicho Festival , Mexico and Supersonic Festival, Birmingham earlier this year.

Laura Cannell is a fiddle player who explores the spaces between experimental, medieval and improvised music. She often utilises fragments from medieval themes to her own end in a manner that embraces the apparitional, historical or otherworldly. Diverse festival appearances include: Supernormal, The Aldeburgh Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Brighton Early Music Festival. She has released two critically acclaimed solo albums and regularly performs solo and in collaboration in the UK and Europe.

Mythos of violins is a Beyond Borders commission and we gratefully acknowledge the support of PRS for Music Foundation and its partners

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Hour House

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Australia’s Hour House offer a musical blueprint marinated in mystery, beauty, sound, and song. Hour House is the duo of Mark Leacy and Sam Kenna, formerly of the Newcastle-based outfit Castings. Their debut LP Chiltern comprised individual tracks folded into two side-long suites in a unique excursion through foreign encounters, warm surrounds, and disorienting comfort. Field recordings, electronics, samples, guitars, voice, and atmospherics all contribute to form a bewitching whole. Many questions are raised: is this a soundtrack to a mental experience or an altered take on a familiar reality? Is the third section based on the sound of a basketball court? Does the fourth form a song? Where do the original Soviet science fiction soundtracks fit into all this? Is this sound or music? Simultaneously ambiguous and accessible Hour House unfold a consciousness-tickling ride unlike any other.

Mohamed Issa Haji Matona & Àine O’Dwyer

Delighted to welcome the debut live duo performance from Zanzibar-based multi-instrumentalist Mohamed Issa Haji Matona and Irish (now London based) experimental singer-songwriter Àine O’Dwyer. Having only played once before through a chance meeting on BBC 3’s Late Junction, we were instantly blown away by their seamless meeting of traditional music forms, blending their native Tanzanian and Irish tongues and instruments to create a whole new beautifully open and meditative music.

MOHAMED ISSA HAJI MATONA

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Born in Zanzibar, Matona is a musician, composer, arranger and songwriter. He is a founder member of the Dhow Countries Music Academy, (DCMA) Zanzibar and as well as being Artistic Director at the Academy he is a teacher and performer of traditional taarab, eastern/Arabic music and theory as well as classical, western, jazz and fusion music.

He is a multi-instrumentalist and plays a variety of instruments ranging from traditional African gambus, nai, Arabic ganun and oud, as well as being a highly accomplished violinist, saxophonist, keyboard player, guitarist and percussionist etc.

He began his musical career performing in several Tanzanian groups as a percussionist, violinist and ganun player and went on to create his own group the “G Clef Taarab Orchestra” which performs jazz, modern taarab and fusion music from the countries of the Indian Ocean.

Matona has performed and recorded in many international festivals and events and enjoys an international reputation as a musician, songwriter, teacher and performer. He is Zanzibar’s most celebrated and highly acclaimed teacher and performer.

ÀINE O’DWYER

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Áine O’Dwyer is an Irish composer, and performer based in London. Primarily a harpist, Áine has experimented with a variety of different instrumentation and approaches to her music; covering poetic folk ballads, ensemble compositions, solo improvisations and more. We first discovered Áine’s work via her wonderful “Music For Church Cleaners vol. I and II” release on MIE music – a series of solo improvisations that qualify simultaneously as a live recording, site-specific performance art with a Cagean mindset, and field recording.

Aine’s ongoing recording projects and residencies include the Brunel Tunnel shaft, London and the Franciscan Friary, Limerick city, Ireland. She has performed widely as a solo artist and in collaboration with Mark Fry and the A-Lords, United Bible studies, Visitant (Trevor Knight, Gyohei Zaitsu, and Alice Maher), and Charlemagne Palestine, Cafe Oto, London. Recent solo performances for both harp and pipe organ include Tusk Festival, Newcastle, UK, Full Of Noises Festival, Barrow in Furness and “sound is sound is sound”, London.

“Music For Church Cleaners Volumes I & II is a great addition to the canon of experimental and improvised music, with a lightness of touch and depth of feeling that’s uncommon in many of records of its ilk. Listening to it is like meditation. You can lose yourself for a while, and, when it’s finished, everyday life seems just that bit more bearable.” – Louder Than War

Lee, Butcher & Sanders

Okkyung Lee, John Butcher and Mark Sanders
A new trio whose musical paths have crossed in many ways – duos and groups with Chris Corsano, Christian Marclay, Steve Beresford, John Edwards, Liam Noble and film makers Andrew Lamper and Sylvain George. These are their first concerts as a 3-piece.

“For 
all 
the 
praise 
they 
receive 
for 
their 
musicianship 
and 
challenging 
approaches
 to 
sound
 and
 technique, 
the
 music
 they
 make
 hits 
you
 on 
a 
real
 base 
level, 
creating 
atmosphere 
and
 feeling. 
You’re
 never
 in 
doubt 
that 
this 
is 
 music 
which 
produces 
an 
emotional 
response 
and
 is
 there 
to 
be 
enjoyed 
and 
not 
just 
appreciated.
 Lee 
and 
Butcher 
are 
able 
to 
create 
a 
performance 
with 
real 
pace 
and 
flow which explores music and sound both interesting and
touching.
 And
 you 
can’t 
ask
 for
 a 
better
 combination 
than 
that.”
 SILENT
RADIO.


“Butcher
 and 
Sanders 
create 
a 
kind 
of
 tone 
poem, 
if 
we 
take 
that 
phrase 
up
on 
its 
poetic 
implications, 
rather 
than
 as 
musical 
terminology: 
obliquely 
echoing, 
returning, 
departing, 
unfolding 
within 
a 
structure
 that 
seemed
 almost
 to 
create 
itself, 
participating 
in 
its 
own 
making 
rather
 than 
forcing 
more 
mobile 
elements 
into
 a
 restrictive, 
pre‐existent 
mould.
 Their 
dialogue 
was 
respectful 
but 
not 
’polite’
: 
’solos’, 
individual 
statements, 
were 
not
 look‐at‐me 
virtuoso
 displays 
arising 
from
 a 
false 
structural 
obligation, 
but 
appropriate 
opportunities 
for
particular 
sonorities 
to 
be
 explored, 
new
 directions
 to 
emerge.” 
STREAMS 
OF 
EXPRESSION.


Lee by Sebastian Sighell
OKKYUNG LEE: Cello
Born in Daejon, South Korea, lives in New York, USA.
Okkyung Lee, a New York-based artist and South Korea native, has created a body of work blurring genre boundaries through collaborations and compositions while pushing the limitation of contemporary cello performance techniques. Her music draws from noise and extended techniques, jazz, Western classical, and Korean traditional and popular music.
Since moving to New York in 2000, She has released more than 20 albums including the latest solo
record Ghil produced by Lasse Marhaug on EditionsMego/Ideologic Organ, Noisy Love Songs (for George Dyer) on Tzadik. She has performed and recorded with numerous artists from wide ranges such as Laurie Anderson, David Behrman, Mark Fell, Douglas Gordon, Jenny Hval, Vijay Iyer, Christian Marclay, Ikue Mori, Stephen O’Malley, Jim o’Rourke, Evan Parker, Wadada Leo Smith, C Spencer Yeh and John Zorn to name just a few.
Okkyung was a recipient of prestigious Doris Duke Performing Artist Award in 2015 and received Foundation For Contemporary Arts Grant in 2010.
She received a dual bachelor’s degree in Contemporary Writing & Production and Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music in 1998 and a master’s degree in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory of Music in 2000.

Butcher by Fabio Lugaro
JOHN BUTCHER: Saxophones
John Butcher was born in Brighton and lives in London. His music ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback and unusual acoustics.
Originally a theoretical physicist, he left academia for music after publishing a Ph.D. in 1982. He has since collaborated with hundreds of musicians, mostly involved with improvisation – including Derek Bailey, John Stevens’ SME, AMM, Andy Moor (EX), Phil Minton, Christian Marclay, Gino Robair, Polwechsel, John Tilbury, John Edwards, Eddie Prevost, Rhodri Davies and Gerry Hemingway.
Compositions include “Penny Wands” for Futurist Intonarumori, two HCMF commissions, two saxophone quartets and “Good Liquor Caused my Heart for to Sing” for the London Sinfonietta. “Tarab Cuts”, a response to recordings of early Arabic classical music, was shortlisted for a 2014 British Composer’s Award. Alongside long term collaborations he values playing in occasional encounters; from large groups such as the EX Orkestra & Butch Morris’ “London Skyscraper”, to duo concerts with Fred Frith, Akio Suzuki, Peter Evans, Otomo Yoshihide, Sophie Agnel, Tim Hodgkinson and Matthew Shipp.
Butcher is also well known as a solo saxophonist who attempts to engage with a sense of place. The well received “Resonant Spaces” CD is a collection of site-specific performances recorded during a tour of unusual locations in Scotland and the Orkney Islands.

Sanders by Andrew Putler
MARK SANDERS: Drums
Mark has played with many renowned musicians including Wadada Leo Smith, Roscoe Mitchel, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Henry Grimes, Roswell Rudd, Peter Brotzmann, Barry Guy, Otomo Yoshihide, Phil Minton, Harold Budd, Sidsel Endresen, Peter Evans and William Parker. With John Edwards, they work in a
duo and with groups John Wall, Foils Veryan Weston, John Tilbury, Agusti Fernandez and Mathew Shipp. Mark works in a regular improvising duo with John Butcher and also performing Johns compositionTarab Cutswhich has played festivals in Rio de Janiero, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Glasgow, Bristol and London. He also has a longstanding duo with Sarah Gail Brand which has featured on the BBCs The Stuart Lee Showand in the film Taking the dog for a Walk.
Working with Christian Marclay in his Everyday piece for film and live music, he has performed at festivals throughout Europe, also performing a solo concert for his London exhibition at The White Cube Gallery.
In situations using composition in one form or another Mark works in various projects including the large ensembles of Brian Irvine, Alex Hawkins, Simon Fell, Sid Peacock.

Rio Day Eight – The First Broccoli Rice and the Sound of Things

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It is a slow start. The last full day in Rio. So I jump on the Metro and head up town to Centro. The financial hub of Rio. It is a reassuring place. Bustling with city life. High rise life, offices and workers off for lunch. I walk from the Metro station up town to Maison de France where today’s activities will happen. The Rio Metro is a really easy system to negotiate. It is just a pity it doesn’t go to so many places. For today it is perfect. First I need some lunch so Chico recommends Casa Villarino which is 5 minutes away. Bernardo joins me at what is an amzing spot. Casa Villarino is an old literature and Bossa Nova hang-out where the great and the good have chewed the fat for years. It is a beautiful wooden panelled old place. Bernardo and I opt for the same choice. Squid and broccoli rice. Broccoli rice was a gastronomic highlight last year and does not disappoint.

Maison De Farnce is a very lovely venue and after lunch I return to hear Felicia Atkinson’s talk. The talk takes place on the top floor in the new media room. It is not quite ready yet but is really impressive and surrounds us with shelves of books. A small throng of Monday Novas Frequencias fans gather. Felicia is a delightful person and her practice encompasses the whole gambit of artforms. She has been in residency at Tunga’s studio and has been responding to this space and Tunga’s work. It is really refreshing to hear that she really does not know what might happen at her performance and how the residency will affect her responce to her own music.

Back to Flamengo where I grab a cake and a coffee and ponder this Rio trip.

“Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human traouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death – ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life.” James Baldwin – The Fire Next Time

The evening’s performances are an interesting combination of the art of DIY instruments and things. There is a long history in Brazil especially from Bahia of constructing instruments. Chico explains some of this to me. I can’t remember the names of everyone but in the 1940s a Swiss teacher began this here in Brazil (I may be wrong here). I am aware of the great Tom Ze’s inventions and music. One of my favourites actually. So Marcos Scarassatti is part of this long history. His instruments are amazing and his set is a fascinating and intricate construction. Pierre Bastien follows with his meccano like constructions crunching out clockwork rhythms while he accommpanies on his pocket trumpet squealing and hissing through affects and sometimes breaking into the bluesy soul of old Miles. At one point when a projection of gospel singers joins the sound I am reminded of those few tracks that Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong made way back then.

This research trip was kindly supported by:
Transform_primaria_COR

Rio Day Seven – The Totally Inspirational Escola Vidigal

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If Counterflows and Novas Frequencias are about anything, they are about people. Music is the communication method we use to link our fragile souls. Today has been a very inspirational day and a moment, and they happen every so often, when the reason for doing what we do gets a little bit clearer. Tathiana arranged for Roberta and myself to visit the favela of Vidigal. Now, it is a tricky business visiting a place where even the word is emotive of poverty and crime, of drug lords, pacification and corruption and it is easy as a foreigner to get overly romantic or cynically critical. I am from Drumchapel in Glasgow after all and am fully aware of the stigma that a place name can have over the way your life may turn out. But there is a reason for the visit that is linked to what I hope that AC Projects can be. Tathiana’s husband Fabio has been working with the great Brazilian artist Vik Muniz on a project in Vidigal to develop an art school for the young people of the favela.

Roberta and I arrive in a taxi at the bottom end of Vidigal to meet up with Marianna and her partner Lincoln (sorry if this is wrong) they are going to be our guides for the afternoon. Marianna and Lincoln have an events company that strangely coincidentally is called A/C. Then the crazy fun bit. We jump on to our motorbike taxis and hurtle up the hillside hanging on for dear life. It is a triumph of nerve just to stay on the bike. We arrive at our destination to find a huddle of police cars parked at the top (no surprise then).

What an amazing place with the most stunning views of Rio. Vidigal is one of the smaller favelas and has had a tradition of artists living there for many years. People like Gal Costa have previously been resident. I mention this to give a wee bit of context to what an art school might be doing there. We clamber down to find the school. We come upon the most gorgeous spot for seeing the city. Here the boys are enjoying some Sunday afternoon beers. We graciously decline to join them, although it was tempting. Vik Muniz started out in life extremely poor and is now one of Brazil’s world reknowned respected artists working and living both in Rio and New York. The art school is testimony to his belief in the power of the arts to change lives. It is built with such attention to detail and is magnificent. Red brick walls built in the style of the surrounding houses but with lovely design details such as the windows. Daisy who has worked with Vik for over seven years and will be one of the schools teachers has agreed to open the school for us and shows us around on a Sunday. She explains what the goal of the school is and how they are busy planning the processes and just what way they will teach and just what they will teach. The school will start with young children between the ages of 4 – 8 and then develop further as the school itself develops. It would be a great facility anywhere but nestled in amongst the favela community it is a beacon of hope. I ask how the community has reacted so far and Daisy tells us that they are still healthily sceptical. There has been a lot of new developments over the last few years bringing bars and nightclubs to the favela which has pushed the prices of everything up so they remain curious but wondering. Once the school opens its doors it will be interesting to see what happens. I for one want to work there or at least I would love to look at telling this inspirational story to all. How one artist is giving back to his people.

We leave Daisy and her dream of offering the favela youngsters a chance and thank her for her snapshot of Vik Muniz’s compassion. We lunch in Vidigal and part company with the lovely Marianna and her colleague. Back to the festival.

It’s Oi Futuro again but unfortunately I miss the early evening performance as I didn’t quite get the timings right. But at 8.30pm I witness a rare performance in Rio of the Sal Paolo legends Hurtmold. It is great to see a six piece band on the Oi stage. Hurtmold are joined by the great percussionist Paulo Santos who plays all manner of things. Hurtmold play a sort of Brazilian post rock groove affair. Beautifully intricate but keeping the lines simple and clean so that it never gets complicated for complicated’s sake. A great use of vibes and percussion to illuminate the detail and good jaggy guitar patterns. And they go down a storm.

This research trip was kindly supported by:
Transform_primaria_COR

Rio Day Six – The Night of Charlie Knox

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It’s Saturday and holy mother of pearl the sun is out. This is more the Rio I know. Sugar Loaf is splendid in the sun as is our pal Christ the Redeemer. It is Charlie’s big day at the festival so we rush over to Oi Futuro for his early soundcheck. Lia comes over with the taxi and we scurry off to Ipenema. The beaches are filling up with umbrellas and sun worhipers. It makes the traffic pretty tricky. As Charlie sets up Lia takes me out to get a Brazilian lunch. Cheese breads, salad and the most amazing juice called Acai. It is a thick smoothie like deep purple delight and really helps with the rehydration. I think this could be the answer.

It turns out that Negro Leo, Ava Rocha and Marcus and Felipe from the Chinese Cookie Poets are performing over at the beautiful Parque Lage at a one day event called Sonoridades celebrating a whole load of Brazilian artists – Marcos Valle, Kassin, Bixiga etc. So after lunch and fun with tables with Phil Niblock and Thomas Ankersmit I head over there to meet Leo. First I go for a beautiful jungle walk around the park. Gosh, the lush crazy plants and trees are stunning. As I ascend along the path I stumble on a hurdy gurdy player accompanied by a recoder player. Quite magical. It is so great to see Leo and his beaautiful wife Ava and it is a chance to at last hear Ava sing. During their soundcheck I catch the Chinese Cookie Poet guys off guard as they are quite surprised to see me there. Great people. As the sun goes down and the Parque fills with people Ava and the gang get going. Ava has quite the presence and is loved by the crowd and boy can she sing. I have to leave before saying goodbye but hopefully we’ll catch up again.

Back to Oi Futuro for the evenings pageant of sound at Novas Frequencias. Charlie is ready and the lights dim. He plays a blinder. A quadriphonic dance. The sound system is at full throttle and the crumbling beats and shape shifting noise is really brilliantly constructed. Well it is Glasgow’s Charlie Knox after all. Well done Charlie.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Ty Braxton’s set. I knew his stuff with the Battles so it was a pleasant surprise to really like his set. It was full of fun. It was a version of a commission for 5 percussionist and really hit the proverbial nail on the head. It was a well curated evening by Chico.

Then in good festival style we all hang around outside trying to work out not really anything. We know we are off for food. Chico takes us to an old 1940s Brazilian restaurant. Waiters in white jackets and all. I get chatting to Ty about the influence of his dad’s music on me especially his seminal record “For Alto”. This record was a milestone for solo sax and music in general. I also get to talk to Felicia Atkinson whose music I don’t know but will hear on Tuesday. Really lovely people and a great and late end to Saturday.

“I feel my limbs are made to feel glorious by the touch of this life.And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment” Rabindranath Tagore

This research trip was kindly supported by:
Transform_primaria_COR

Rio Day Five – I Hair Rio

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It was a quiet day that got louder and louder!

So I have ditched the hair clippers. Barbers are the way forward. Today there was a task. To find a barbers and explain with no hair why I needed a haircut. Round the corner from the apartment in Flamengo I found the very thing and it was busy, which must be a good sign, surely. I loved the sign too. Unisex! A great word that means what! University sex? Surely not? I ventured across the threshold and with a little Brazilian that was not needed, the hairdresser new exactly what was needed. Zero! Zero! We watch channel Zero as Chuck D once said. A great haircut with open razor and oils. Perfect. And so friendly.

Then after much deliberation on my attire for the day, the weather still hadn’t lifted, I go with Charlie to his talk in the afternoon to Casa Rio. Talks in the afternoon are a great thing at festivals but it is always tricky getting people out to them. I like talks as it expands the idea of music as communication. I like to hear what & why. I suppose sometimes we don’t need this, art should speak for itself, but really it gives a more human context for what is happening.

Then it is off to see Mika Vainio for a catch up before his show at the most lovely bar. Bar Astor is an Ipanema legend. Not the one where that song was written although as we pass that bar our taxi driver does start to sing those opening lines. It really is a great song. Bill Wells’ version is the one to listen to.

I bump in to the lovely Barrao from Chelpa Ferro on the street. It is great to see this kind and generous and amazing artist. He always has such great t-shirts on.

It’s Oi Futuro again for the early evening shows. Thingmajicks is up first. A young Rio electronic artist. He actually uses visuals really well which if anyone who knows me is one of those things that can certainly not work. They do this time his set of swirling beats and sound works really well.

Mika Vainio has been out in S.America for a tour and is a bit tired but his history and music are so amazing that one minute of his sound is just so special. He composes one of his reductionist Techno sets before us and it still seems fresh and alive.

Off into the party night of Novas Frequencias. The club space is way over the other side of the city but what a club, with built in wall of rock courtesy of the Rio land mass. Curiously it is the first chance I get to talk to Chico and Tathiana. Not the ideal place to discuss our plans but actually totally perfect. Here again I must say what a great team of people that Novas Frequencias has. They are so committed to the festival and believe in what it is doing for Rio. All respect and love goes to these guys. Chico, Tathiana, Bernardo, Luisa, Stephanie, Duda, Lia, Maria, and those who I don’t know yet. But it is also the community around these guys that is so important. Pedro from Audio Rebel, Bernardo the great, Renato, Chelpa Ferros and all the great musicians that are supporting what Novas Frequencias are doing. It is such a privlige to feel a part of this. Here is what Counterflows shares with Novas Frequencias. It’s a social thing.

Auntie Flo pull off an amazing collaboration with the joyous Siri who had graciously looked after us earlier in the week. Esa and Siri joust with their berimbau’s and then Brian Joins them wit samples sounds and beats. The crowd love it and it really is special. Unfortunately i only catch a couple of The Bugs dance hall mashes before I reckon I need to go…

And on the way back in a taxi the driver and I sing together Beatles songs. Penny Lane was his favourite but we go through A Hard Days Night, And Your Bird Can Sing (I do the guitar part), Tax Man and Norwegian Wood before I reluctantly have to get out at Flamengo. Can you believe it he only takes half the fare. What can you say to this!

This research trip was kindly supported by:
Transform_primaria_COR

Rio Day Four – Barra, Tunga & Granny’s Kitchen

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Just when you think it can’t rain anymore… it rains even more.

“When you plunge into water the shape you make is real. When I enter a room an equal quantity of air leaves the space” Tunga.

Louisa kindly offered to take me through to Barra where the great Tunga’s studio is. Novas Frequencias have pulled off an amazing coup by getting Tunga to create a wonderful sound installation for the festival and all week artists from all over Rio have been asked to engage with the installation in which ever way they want. First though Louisa takes me for some lunch to the most lovely place. Basically a kitchen on the side of someone’s house where home cooked Brazilian food is served for the workers in the area. Menas Refeicoes is so charming and the food, black beans and rice and salad, is just perfect. Back at the studio Pedro, the perfect host and Tunga enthusiast who works at the studio gives us a tour of the place. Floors and floors of workshops and objects and fruit trees and plants. The objects of Tunga’s art. A very inspiring place. So today’s intervention happens at 4pm by two chaps going by the name N-1. Old radios and contact mics and other little electrical things. The way they place the transmitters and objects around the space works really well. It feels very Aki Onda like, their poised meditative careful construction of their sound and also with the playfulness of Rie Nakajima. I get chatting to one of the guy’s partners Barbara who has a gallery of architecture in Lisbon. Really interesting discussion about sound and architecture which brings up Richard Young’s piece that we commissioned for Counterflows this year. Tunga’s generosity to open his studio to us is amazing. A great day. And then we have to get back from Barra. I have been warned about the traffic but really after my trip to India and experience of the Dehli streets the trip back to Ipanema is joyous. It’s an amzing ocean and beach road and in the pouring rain looks quite, well, west coast of Scotland like.

Tonights performances happen at the familiar Oi Futuro venue in Ipanema. It’s a great space with the whole lighting and sound system being exploited by both acts. Paula Rebellato’s project Acavernus is first up. Sitting front of the stage with a sort forest of lighting stands behind, her sound actually conjours up all sorts of natural images. It is a sort of Grouper like vocal approach but with more aural disjointedness. Talking to Paula on the way home it is no surprise that she is in a punk band and the project is a development from this.

Next comes the Italian, Roman duo, The Quiet Ensemble. Delightful guys who just before their soundcheck I drank some caipirinhas with. Their set is an explosion of light and sound. My eyes really struggle with flashing lights so I get a kind of half-lit version of their show. But there are some beautiful delicate sections where light and sound merge into a sort of mesmeric dust. The whole thing is like a firework display without the bonfire and half burnt bake potatoes.

The wonderous Pedro from Audio Rebel offers me a lift back to Flamengo. Another gesture of Rio friendship.

This research trip was kindly supported by:
Transform_primaria_COR

Rio day three – The market is closed and watching vultures

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Now I know this is hard to believe but today I decided to do some work and have a quiet day at the computer. What a lovely apartment I’m staying at. Roberta is the most kind host. Thanks Chico and Tathiana. A large balcony looks across the bay to Urca and Sugar Loaf and those frigate birds just soar. It is not just frigate birds today there were a host of black vultues. Of course the weather has been so strange that even the mighty Christ the Redeemer has been absent from view. Outside the apartment block there is on a Wednesday the most amazing fruit and veg market. About 2pm I decide to go down to it but just is my luck they are packing up everything. markets are a morning things! What remains is amazing though.

The blog will be cerimoniously handed over to Charlie Knox now. Charlie and Catriona had a much more adventurous day over in Niteroi…

Its been a fairly intense few days for me and my wife Catriona. We were married on Saturday and after a boozy lunch in Glasgow on Sunday now find ourselves in Rio De Janeiro with the inimitible Alasdair Campbell for Novas Frequencias 2015. As Alasdair has noted in in previous posts we were greated not by the 40°C assult we had been preparing for but rather a far more Glaswegian drizzle. Still, Rio has been no dissiapointment. This is a wild, confusing, colourful and joyful place with some of the warmest and naturally friendliest people I have met.

Today we went on a ferry trip across the bay to neighbouring Niteroi for a tour of some of Oscar Niemeyer’s modernist masterpieces. I an fascinated by developing a sculptural approach to composition and find his almost gestural architecture greatly inspiring. We explored some of his most famous building and a particular highlight was recording impulse responses inside the Niemeyer Foundation Building. This crazy space age building (pictured) has the most fascniating and disorientating acoustic I have ever experienced.

When we got back from Niteroi we came across a lady from Bahai celebrating her birthday by offering up her home cooked stew to passers by in the street, either free or for a donation to help the local community. She seemed bemused to find out I was a musician from the UK, but very happy we enjoyed her cooking.

Portrait of King Midas Sound

Portrait of King Midas Sound

On the subject of food, later that evening we went for dinner and accidentaly ordered two steaks each. Just as we managed our way through the first huge chunk of meat the waiter to out amazment plonked two more down on our plates, like it was no big deal. “More?” We asked incredulous. “More” he smiled. We stumbled home in the warm rain full and contented. Rio is a surreal, confusing and wonderful place.

thanks Charlie…

The evening sport happened back at Sesc Ginastico. I was wondering how King Midas Sound would work in a traditional seated Theatre space but it did and in fact it probably made the whole hazed out experience more enjoyable some how. Kevin Martin’s sound world is totally remarkable. There is a direct lineage from the old jamaican Sound Sytems of King Tubby and Yabby You et al through Adrian Sherwood’s On-U sounds experiments to the Hyperdub world with a whole lot of stuff in between. There was some concern about the system in the theatre holding up. But King Midas knows what he is doing.

This research trip was kindly supported by:
Transform_primaria_COR

Rio Day Two – In the footsteps of Nana & Egberto

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The rain has stopped but it is still grey above, below it is no such thing. The Rio streets still buzz with birds and people and car horns. The thing that is surprising about Rio is that there is so much of nature growing everywhere. I’m sure I commented last year about the very same thing but it really resonates again. After a short supermarket trip for essentials I discover an ongoing problem. Everywhere I go it seems my hair clippers don’t work. Having no hair is not easy. And these ones were bought in Rio! The barbers await. I decide to walk over to my old haunts in Botafogo to go and meet up with Brian and Esa of Auntie Flo. It takes a lot longer than anticipated. Eventually when I find Casa Rio the headquaters of Novas Frequencias is relaxed and inviting. We are going over to Santa Teresa to meet a local percussionist and producer Siri at his studio. Now finding a studio in Santa Teresa turns out not to be so straight forward. Those street numbers don’t make sense. But we get their. Siri’s apartment is full of an amazing collection of, well, things and he is such a beautiful and open guy it is easy just to imagine something will come of this meeting. Siri takes us up to his studio and we get down to sharing music. The focus then turns to the berimbau and that’s when I have a moment. I am transported back to the 80s and my ECM record buying years. When I was searching for that sound which will always remain elusive. From a Jan Garbarek Lp I discovered a very interesting guy called Nana Vasconcelos and what was he playing? The berimbau…. there is a lot more… but back to Siri and Esa sharing and jousting percussion grooves. We all now want to know where to by a berimbau. Out come the bongos and all sorts of other, well, things for lack of my knowlege of their names. What a lovely way to start something. Here I must thank British Council and Creative Scotland for supporting myself and Chico to get this sort of thing to happen. I know this is the wrong tone for my blog but really it is amazing to have this sort of thing go on in the crazy messed up world we have created. I had to, sorry, and now back to business. We part after a beer in the local bar with Brian, Esa and Siri buzzing with ideas but not before we meet Siri’s beautiful family Debbie, Clara and Alice. Sweet stuff. The evening and the first gigs of the festival. Charlie, Catriona and I grab a taxi after a quick pizza and the weirdest glass of wine I’ve ever partaken of, over to a new venue for me, SESC Ginastico. We are a bit late and only catch the last 15 minutes of portugese trio Timespine. It’s a lovely combination of improv and licks, creating a bubbling atmosphere of intent. After a whole load of hugs from my old pals, the Novas Frequencias team (Tathiana, Bernardo, Maria Claudia, Duda and Stephanie) and Sabrina from British Council it is in for the second act. Brooklyn Dawn of Midi is a curious piano trio. Not Bill Evans but they pulsate with minimal, almost electronic sounding, angular rhythm patterns which create an often annoying repetition but also one that feeds into a primal dance and a challenging reduction of beat culture. It’s a great start. Out on the street it is great to bang into Renato from the Chinese Cookie Poets. We plan to catch up tomorrow with the band and the one and only Mister Negro Leo.

This research trip was kindly supported by:

Transform_primaria_COR

Back in Rio and the frigate birds soar in grey, grey skies.

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So I have returned to the green hills of Rio de Janeiro, not that you can see them this morning, the first day of Novas Frequencias 2015. Rio is going through a very strange attack of Scottish related weather. Rain and more rain, so when we arrived last night the streets looked a bit like Glasgow in mid July. The rain glistening in the street lights. But it is so exciting to be back in the city and when I say we, Charlie Knox and his new wife Skip have accompanied me this time as part of Counterflows’ collaboration with Novas Frequencias. Auntie Flo are also here as part of this Brazil versus Scotland musical sound challenge. I’m meeting Brian this afternoon to go to some studio or other. As Counterflows has just launched its first wave of artists and the early bird is on sale how appropriate to find myself back in Brazil and to be greeted at the airport by the ever lovely Maria Claudia. More to come from the streets of Rio. Let the festival begin! Off to find breakfast.

 

 

 

 

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This research trip was kindly supported by:
Transform_primaria_COR

Mette Rasmussen

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Mette Rasmussen is a Danish saxophone player based in Trondheim, Norway. She works in the field of improvised music, drawing from a wide range of influences, spanning free jazz to textural soundwork. Rasmussen works on exploring the natural rawness of her instrument – experimenting on what the saxophone is capable of in sound and expression, with and without preparations. Much in demand, she has performed with the likes of Alan Silva, Chris Corsano, Ståle Liavik Solberg, and with her Trio Riot group with Sam Andreae and David Meier.

“Mette Rasmussen has a remarkably fluid and expressive tone on the alto saxophone. Her playing at times evokes the rich, heavenward clarity of Albert Ayler, at others the throaty roar of Mats Gustafsson. Equally, though, she’s able to sidestep these influences and assert her own individual sound in piercingly high tones and controlled outbursts of free playing.” Viennese Waltz

Graham Lambkin

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Graham Lambkin (b. 1973 in Dover, England) is a multidisciplinary artist, currently based in Upstate New York, who first came to prominence in the early 90′s through the formation of his music group The Shadow Ring. Combining a D.I.Y. post-punk ethic with folk music, cracked electronics, and surreal wordplay, The Shadow Ring created a unique hybrid sound that set them apart from their peers and continues to show as an influence today.

Following the dissolution of The Shadow Ring Lambkin embarked on a series of striking and highly original solo releases, including ‘Salmon Run’ (2007) and ‘Amateur Doubles’ (2012), a critically acclaimed trilogy with experimental tape musician Jason Lescalleet:’The Breadwinner’ (2007), ‘Air Supply’ (2010) and ‘Photographs’ (2013), and ‘Making A’ (2013) a collaboration with legendary table-top guitarist and founding member of AMM, Keith Rowe. His latest release, ‘Schwarze Riesenfalter’ sees Lambkin paired with renowed Wandelweiser composer Michael Pisaro in a musical reimagining for the texts of Georg Trakl.

Lambkin also curates the Kye label, which since it’s conception in 2001 has released work by contemporary artists such as Vanessa Rossetto, Malcolm Goldstein, and Astor, as well as archival collections from the likes of Henning Christiansen, Moniek Darge and Anton Heyboer.

Lambkin’s reputation as a visual artist also came into focus during the 1990′s, designing record sleeves, t-shirts, posters/flyers for a slew of underground labels and bands including The Dead C, Harry Pussy, and Double Leopards. His playful combination of figurative and abstract elements lend Lambkin’s work a jarring, dreamlike quality that confuses the eye by placing childlike totems against a darker adult undercurrent. Five books of Lambkin’s art/text have been published to date: ‘Unfocused Hands’ (2004), ‘Dumb Answer To Miracles’ (2009), ‘Dripping Junk’ (2010) ‘Millows’ (2012), and most recently ‘Came To Call Mine’ (2014) a sumptuous collection of illutration and prose for children.

Lambkin is currently represented by Audio Visual Arts in New York, and 356 Mission Gallery in Los Angeles.

Astor

ASTORRAstor is the moniker of Mark Harwood, Australian publisher, event curator and sound artist who is now residing in London, United Kingdom. Under this guise he deploys a wide variety of techniques including field recording, musique concrete and electronics. All of these forms are approached with a sense of bypassing the cliches imbedded within in order to coerce a sound world which is simultaneously contemporary, foreign, intense, beautiful, unsettling and engaging. Mark has released 2 acclaimed lp’s on Kye (USA) and has just released a third, Lina in Nida on his own Penultimate Press imprint.

(Inland) weaves a series of fascinatingly cryptic concrete tableaux, which cannily exploits textural ambiguities and tensions, sketching a nebulous liminal zone of sound activity where everyday events take on musical qualities and vice versa….. these are meticulously crafted exercises in indeterminate sound. – Nick Cain, THE WIRE (voted second album of the year – ‘outer limits’ category, 2014)

Inga Copeland

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Inga Copeland is best known for her tenure as half of oblique experimental duo Hype Williams. Working alongside Dean Blunt, her time with the (ostensibly defunct) group saw her turn out numerous hypnagogic pop set-texts (Untitled, Black Is Beautiful) and cheeky bootleg records (Do Roids And Kill E’Rything) – and that’s without mentioning their mondo weirdo live shows.

As a solo agent, Copeland’s released on Rush Hour’s ace No ‘Label’ sister imprint, put out the Don’t Look Back, That’s Not Where You’re Going 12″, impressed with the beguiling Higher Powersmixtape and, in collaboration with John T. Gast, landed one of our favourite releases of 2013

The singer and producer recently released new album Because I’m Worth It. The record will run to eight tracks; one, ‘Advice To Young Girls’, is a co-production with Actress.” – FACT

Pat Thomas

photo: Siobhan Bradshaw

photo: Siobhan Bradshaw

Pat Thomas is a pianist based in Oxford. To us, he is one of the greatest living UK-based improvisers; a fearless and uncompromising player who – despite coming from a background of free improvisation and new music – can strangely feel as close to the worlds of noise and experimental music. One minute it can sound like he is ripping out the guts of a piano; thumping discordant chords with his fists or rattling the exterior wooden frame – the next he can be delicately gliding over the keys or creating microscopic tones with the inside of the piano.

Thomas’ musical CV is never ending but he has played with the likes of Derek Bailey, Peter Brotzmann, Mats Gustafsson and Chris Corsano – to name but a few. He is also currently involved in About Group (with Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip, Charles Hayward from This Heat and John Coxon) and Black Top (with Orphy Robinson).

We are delighted to have Pat Thomas perform a rare solo piano set at this year’s Counterflows.