October 31, 2007
Sitting in a forgotten room under the streets of Moscow in the Zoological University basmement is a large iron machine. The machine has been looked after and protected from demolition for the last fourty years by it’s guardian, Stanislav. the machine, called ‘ANS’ , looks like an old printing press, it is black, and smells of oil and ink. the ANS takes time to start up when its fabric covered cables are connected, its cogs spin and the glass plates whirr. It hums loudly.
The function of the ANS would be impossible to determine from it’s appearance: The only part of the machine that gives a clue to it’s intended purpose is a small ‘piano’ keyboard vertically positioned next to a greasy inked glass plate: The ANS is infact a musical instrument, an early synthesiser, conceived by the jazz loving military scientist Yvgeny Murzin during the Second World War (or ‘Great Patriotic War’ in Russia). Murzin’s ambition was to create a universal instrument that would combine the visual and audio aspects of composition in one machine(Murzin christened the machine the ‘ANS’ after Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin who’s synaesthetic theories were very influential in the USSR at the time), freeing the musician and composer from the restaints of standard composition and giving them an unlimited palette of sounds.
(image:Miles Miles holding a glass disk from the ANS dec 2001)
The basic theory of the machine was to rebuild a sound from it’s visible image – echoing Scriabin’s ‘colour organ’. At the heart of the machine was the sound generator: 144 glass disks, each disk containing multiple pure sine waveforms which when spun at varying speeds produced multiple and complex combinations of tones. The sound was created by directing a light beam through the spinning glass disk to a photo-electric cell – which in turn created a voltage tone output whcih could be heard through a set of speakers. Incredibly, each of the 144 glass discs were hand drawn, in itself a phenomenal task which took many years to complete.
Following Murzin’s light-to-sound design of the ANS was the control mechanism. The composer simply wrote into a glass plate covered in black ink – the higher the line the higher the pitch (generated from the glass disks) the lower the line, the lower the pitch. The horizontal axis of the plate represents time, so the length of the line determines it’s longevity. To play the composition a ‘light reading head’ traveled over the inked plate and picked up a light beam shining through the lines made by the composer ( interestingly, the speed of the ‘play head’ could vary without altering the pitch or timbre of the piece a unique and powerful musical and composition tool). The vertical keyboard manual when presssed created straight lines in the ink – therefore producing fixed interval tones.
The ANS project was not supported by the state and Murzin had continual problems self financing the instrument. As well as co-opting friends and colleagues to help out, the sheer size of the machine was a major issue and it was only until 1958 that the ANS found a secure home – oddly enough in the Zoological University. It was here at the University where the instruments was pressed into military service. Dolphins it was agreed would be useful weapons – planting mines, locating enemy ships and so-on, if only they could be understood (and vice-versa). The ANS with it’s unlimited range of sounds and timbres was seen as a viable way of decoding and learning dolphin language:Photographic images of dolphin calls were drawn on the the ANS plate, analysed, altered and presumably played back to the dolphins…
While all this delphinic research was going on the ANS was beginning to be used by a new generation of electronic composers ( including Edward Artemiev – composer of soundtracks to Tarkovsky’s films ‘Stalker’ and ‘Solaris’, Oleg Buloshkin, Vladimir Martinov, Edison Denisov, Sofia Gubaidulina, Alfred Schnittke, Alexander Nemtin and Stanislav Kriechi – the ANSs’ keeper) who had realised the potential of the instrument.
October 23, 2007
The Luminaire presents
ART-ERRORIST / THIS IS NOT FAUST
+ DJ Tango-Mango
£7 via WeGotTickets | £8 door
Jean-Hervé Peron of Faust, featuring Jean-Hervé Peron and Geraldine Swayne [also of …bender], with sunseastar [Dield Recordings] and DJ Tango-Mango of the Komische Club / Drones Club star in this evening of experimental noise and organic, avant-drone.
“What a night! Totally insane evening beginning with a screening .. then delivering a through extrapolation of what an experimental noise band should sound like. They do not get bogged down in drone, or carried away with electronics. It is the mix of organic sounds and improvised music and theatrics that makes it make sense. Utilizing steel bars, a giant buzz saw blade, a chain saw, an oil drum, a chainsaw, stand up drums, a drill, an angle grinder, a female accordion player and a local knife wielding/sharpening chef. What more do you want?”
As a founder member of Faust, Jean-Hervé Peron was instrumental in doing nothing less than changing the face of rock music.
“Anyone who’s loved the last half-decade’s re-invention of the guitar (Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine et al.) will instantly recognise Faust as a prime ancestor of ‘our’ music. “Faust are essential, not just as a history lesson, but as a living legacy and as a reproach to an underachieving age.” [Melody Maker]
As sunseastar, members of RBE and Bourbonese Qualk, Simon Crab and Andy Wilson have been making electronic music for over 25 years. In their incarnation as sunseastar they create music from computer processed location recordings. sunseastar will release their first album, ‘Fjaerland’, later this year, based on recordings made in Norway and the UK.
DJing is DJ Tango-Mango of The Komische Club and Drones Club. For the last 11 years, the Kosmische Club has established itself as a place to hear some of the most forward-thinking, truly independent and downright amazing music ever made. Cherished by the open-minded, loved by the chronically energetic, and only occasionally visited by old men with beards, the Kosmische club’s remit slowly began to include the best danceable, experimental music, non-chin-strokey electronica, and classic underground tracks.
October 23, 2007
Nenad Vujic sent me these MP3s of Het Zweet from the mid 1980s to further the cause of ongoing Het Zweet promotion (whether Marien likes it or not) :
‘Zweepslag 1+2’- released on the US based Industrial and Experimental tape label ‘Sound Of Pig’ run by Al Margolis (If Bwana) in 1984(?)
‘FASE’ was a cassette only release on the Netherlands ‘Staalplaat‘ label released, i guess, in 1984 (?).
October 22, 2007
A video taken just outside of our house in Hastings. To mark the end of ‘Hastings Week’ (yet another excuse for general drunkenness and ribald behavior) there was a torchlight parade through the old town by fire carrying, firework throwing pagan marching bands and stocky men and women dressed as corpses, pirates, devils and skeletons. The whole thing culminated in a massive bonfire on the beach where crucifixes were set ablaze (how we cheered!) and fireworks ignited at dangerously close proximity. A plan that was hatched to storm the nearby St Mary’s centre (occupied by Christian extremists) and throw some believers into the blaze, was, alas, abandoned in favour of acquiring more booze before the offie closed. Next year perhaps.
October 22, 2007
The 27th Anarchist Bookfair takes place this year in the East End at St Mary College, Mile End. Highlights include Stuart Christie on “Armed resistance to Francoism” (“Stuart will talk about and show footage from his most recent short film “armed resistance to Francoism from the end of the Civil War in 1939 until his death in 1975”. It covers the rural and urban guerrilla periods as well as Defensa Interior, Directorio Revolucionario Iberico de Liberacion (Dril), First of May Group, MIL, and Angry Brigade…”) and my favourite Ian Bone (Class War) “Bash The Rich”. Fun for all the family.
October 19, 2007
Yesterday Space Studios (of which i am a trustee) hosted a round table discussion to plan the future of Launchlab: Launchlab is a Space Studio project that aims to resolve issues of diversity amongst the creative community i.e. The digital media and communications industry is an extermely hermetic, homogeneous group controlled and run by mainly white middle class males (like me).
The Launchlab project is designed to give the same sort of access normally reserved for this privileged group to a much wider and diverse mass of untapped talent in East London. This is done by training, self organisation and industry connections (organising internships, talks, discussions, consultancy and so-on). The strategy is to create a kind of social contract between the established creative industry and Launchlab: The Creative Industries need new people, ideas, talent and access to and a dialogue with, (real) ‘Youth Culture’. In turn Launchlab needs access to and profile within these Creative Industries.
Launchlab will relaunch in January 2008 at Space Triangle, Mare street, Hackney.
October 18, 2007
Another chance discovery from my old tapes box (which i hadn’t bothered to look at for twenty years…) is this recording from Bryn Jones’ ‘Eg Oblique Graph’. These two tracks ‘Fall Into Glass’ and ‘Linked to Gaulist Conspiracy’ are from a cassette Bryn sent to me (as usual nicely presented with typographic printed and xeroxed designs – a contrast to the DIY ethic of the time) when i started the Recloose Organisation label around 1981. Shortly after this we released a 7″ 3 track EP ‘Triptich’ of similar material, and shortly after that he changed the bands name to ‘Muslimgauze’ (much to our horror). I think these tracks are some of the best work he ever did – very experimental, inventive and uncompromisingly electronic, to me his later work became too repetitive, formulaic and rather unimaginative.
October 17, 2007
Here’s a recording of Muslimgauze’s first live performance (recorded at the V2 in Dembosch Netherlands on the 20th March 1986). On this occasion Muslimgauze were the support group for bourbonese qualk. Steven Tanza (Stanza, the then drummer with bourbonese qualk) was playing percussion and I ( i think…) was playing bass guitar.
Bryn (Jones) was so traumatised by the event that he swore never to play live again.
In the photograph right to left, Bryn Jones (with Kevin Keegan style haircut) and Steve Tanza (on the drums).
October 16, 2007
After reading Bill Drummonds book ’45’* I was inspired to write about the Residents: In his book Drummond speaks about how, since the ’70s, the Residents maintained a unique position in ‘new music’; an anonymous surreal almost completely mythical group who’s output was so idiosyncratic it became a genre of its own (fact: the mark of a true innovator is to be so unique as to influence no-one), and how his view of the band was destroyed when, literally, the mask slipped.
As far as i know – and i haven’t really checked – I am the only person to have interviewed the Residents as ‘the Residents’. Normally cloaked in secrecy about their true identities I interviewed them in 1994 for James Stevens’s video magazine – and for some reason they were uncharacteristically open about who they really were. The interview was set up, i think, by the folks at Mondo 2000 ( a kind of new age cyber magazine precursor to ‘wired’ that everyone read back then) and took place just after the 1994 earthquake at the Residents HQ in San Francisco; an old warehouse (with a huge vertical crack down the front) surrounded by empty lots.
We were courteously greeted by a long haired ‘old hippy’ bloke (mid fifties?) who made us tea (tea!) and cleared a space amongst all the junk lying around the warehouse. He introduced himself as one member of the Residents, Hardy Fox – the other member Homer Flynn had gone out shopping for groceries. We sat and chatted for an hour or so and from memory, here are the facts:
1. The Residents are two people, Homer and Hardy (which my American friend thought were wonderful country bumpkin names – Hardy has a distinctive, slow, southern accent)
2. They formed around the group Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band in the early seventies.
3. They currently were getting cheap rent due to earthquake damage but had to move out soon – which they couldn’t afford.
4. Hardy had a place on Big Sur where he goes camping and hiking with his kids
5. They are not KKK members despite their pre-eyeball costumes
Excerpt from conversation:
crab “would you like to come with us to see the Mark Pauline show at SRL tonight?”
Fox “mmm, i don’t think so, i’d probably get killed or injured”
crab: “It would be quite a coup to kill one of the Residents!”
Fox: “My mom wouldn’t like it…”
(* incidentally, ’45’ is an impressive, warm and human piece of writing – quite surprising considering Drummond’s previous work ‘Bad Wisdom’! highly recommended)
October 11, 2007
More on Het Zweet: A Poster and leaflet from1987. ‘Aniki Bobo’ was a small venue in the riverside ‘Ribeira’ district of Porto which, at the time was a dark and seedy area of cobbled alleys, bars and brothels. (It’s now reincararnated as an upmarket area of quaint cobbled alleys, expensive bars and brothels) . The club was run by one of the few adventurous promoters in Porto (who also ran the Tubitek shop and label) who had booked us to play for two consecutive nights – two nights which have gone down in Porto mythology. Marien did his set which comprosed of percussion loops (on audio cassette) with live percussion from amplified metal junk. The Bourbonese Qualk set on the second day was one long piece played on amplified glass: glass sheets from shop windows, giant glass jars, light bulbs and so-on. The performance was improvised, mixed with live sampling and gradually increasing from subtle almost inaudible sounds to a destructive frenzy of smashing glass accompanied by violent audience participation. Audible on the recordings are the hysterical shouts of the organiser fighting with our sound engineer Kif, as he tries to pull out the cables from the mixer and bring the show to an end.
An MP3 file recording of part of the Bourbonese Qualk concert is here ‘ Glass Works’ 1987
October 10, 2007
Sunseastar at the Drones Club, London. 29-10-2007
art-errorist Jean-Herve Peron (Faust) will play The Luminaire, London on 6th Nov (with Geraldine and James & others, tbc). Support will be from terribly good-looking electro-acousmatic-location pod sunseastar
The Luminaire. 311 High Road, Kilburn. London. NW6 7JR
tickets will (eventually) be on sale from WeGotTickets:
October 10, 2007
Het Zweet/Marien Van Oers. South London 1986.
Nenad Vujic asked me to write something about ‘Het Zweet’ . Nenad said that there is a lot of music from the 1980s which no one knows about because the musicians at the time didn’t have access to the pervasive digital promotional methods that we all have at our fingertips now and that these musicians have no interest in promoting their work from twenty(!) years ago.
(This is quite an interesting idea – How do we cut through the noise of supposedly democratic acces to self promotion now? i would also argue that only music that suits self promotion becomes visible i.e. ‘products’ that have certain attributes that allow it to ‘cut through the noise’ attributes that are not necessarily musical – over time this effect creates a self regulating system that refines and defines the music itself – hence the overwhelming blandness of current music that we are sold by traditional or non traditional means. This is obviously not a new effect but when applied en masse through so called ‘social media’ is amplified, exagerated and fed back into itself…)
‘Het Zweet’: Not a group but one man; Marien Van Oers, native of Breda in the Netherlands active from 1983 to about 1988. The music consisted of long 10 minute percussion pieces played on self built instruments (shopping trolleys amplified with pickups, blown cardboard tubes etc.) whith repetetive shouted vocals by Marien. The music was often placed in the industrial camp and linked with the likes of Test Dept but infact Het Zweet wer more concerned with ‘tribal’ music, physicality and trance effects.
During their lifetime Het Zweet released one LP ‘Het Zweet’ originally intended to have been released on my label ‘Recloose Organisation’. Unfortunately the break up of Bourbonese Qualk and Recloose prevented this and it was eventually released on the Berlin based Dossier label – much to Marien’s chagrin. Other titles were all cassette releases on various labels and contributions to compilation records (including ‘psycho pomp’on the Recloose organisations sampler ‘songs from the new international in 1986). We (Recloose) also worked on various video and film projects with Marien (the cover shot of ‘Het Zweet’ LP shows a frame from a video loop of Marien hitting a metal boiler with a pickaxe which was used as a projection during live performances). Het Zweet performed live around Europe often as a support group for Bourbonese Qualk whom he toured with on a number of occasions. The last i heard from Marien was ten years ago – he had stopped ‘experimental’ music and was working playing accordion in a wedding band.
‘Het Zweet’ LP Dossier 1987.
Fase (Cass) Staalplaat
Massive Trance (Cass) Zweepslag
Zweepslag 1+2 (Cass) Sound Of Pig
Het Zweet (LP) Dossier 1987
Homo Sexpiens Project (Cass) Dante’s Second Circle 3Rio Tapes
Beyond Step One (Cass, C60) El Voz Sound Of Pig 1984
Katacombe Vol. 3 (Cass) Untitled, Untitled Korm Plastics, Schrei Records 1984
Katacombe Vol. 3 (Cass) Untitled, Untitled Industria Tepa 1984
Thee Book (2xCass, Ltd, C90) The Ice Graf Haufen Tapes 1984
Katacombe Vol. 5 (Cass) Vacuum Voice Industria Tepa 1985
6×10=60 Vol. 2 (Cass) Indus I. Korm Plastics 1986
Live Series 2 (Cass) Repeat Recloose Organisation 1986
Songs From The New International (LP) Psycho-Pomp Recloose Organisation 1986
The State Of The Art (VHS) Repeat Provision, Recloose Organisation 1986
Q.E.D. (2xLP + 7″ + , Ltd, Gat) Tribal Noise 2 N.L. Centrum 1988
Q.E.D. (CD) Tribal Noise 2 Staalplaat 1990
6×10=60 Vol. 2 (CDr) Indus I. Korm Plastics 1999