Better Know Weisslich – Vol.10

“This feels like Weisslich 1”

–Louis d’Heudieres

We all agreed from the outset of preparing tomorrow’s 10th volume of Weisslich (tickets here) that we wanted to touch base with our roots, to the stuff that compelled us to start Weisslich in the small basement of Hundred Years Gallery. Shoestring (non-existent) budgets, awkward experiments with blending performance art and experimental music, the tried and tested histories of Fluxus, and 2 hour gigs prepared in no more than 2 hours before the show. Those are Weisslich’s roots. And we’re back!

So here’s what you can expect on Friday: a long-form exploration of the relationship between choreography and reading; a trio for breathers that permeates and echoes throughout the space; new and recent composed and scored music for trombone that pushes at extremes of aggression; idiosyncratic flute improvisation; a silent film that touches the heart, and a reconstruction of Phlegethon, Mark Reiner’s sonic and sculptural evocation of the Underworld’s river of fire.

Naccarato_MacCallum-heartphoto
Teoma Naccarato & John MacCallum

Friday’s event has all the hallmarks of a Weisslich concert: striking and challenging performances, an eclectic programme that makes no sense on paper, cross-contamination, and a truly deep cut from the experimental music tradition.


When we decided to revisit our origins, we made two important decisions. The first was to invite a guest from another discipline to co-curate with us, and the second to find a space open to experimentation and where we could work over a longer period of time to devise site-sensitive performances.

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Teoma Naccarato & Louis d’Heudieres; credit: Dimitri Djuric

We partnered with choreographer Teoma Naccarato who has brought in a wide range of perspectives, influences, and not least, interesting artists who are working to make and draw connections with musical practices of sound making and ensemble performance. Prior to working with Teoma, one thread that has tied together Weisslich’s work is a consistent questioning of conceptions of music, often presenting work that expands the capacities and applications of composition. Similarly, Teoma’s practice takes an expanded perspective on choreography and how working from related traditions reveals new ways of experiencing and, in some cases, organising reality. Regularly collaborating with composer John MacCallum, her work investigates the materiality of the body, zooming in on the sensations of internal organs—specifically the heart and lungs—through the appropriation of biomedical technologies. Over the course of our collaborative curation for this event, the boundaries of our respective conceptions of choreography and music making have come into question.

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Lotte van Gelder; credit: Dimitri Djuric

Another key influence in the curatorial process has been the sharing of rehearsal and performance space between all of the artists over the course of a week. We are working at East London’s Guest Projects. The first time we went to see the space in April we met another group of artists who were working there in preparation of a visual art exhibition. In speaking to them about their residency, we could sense the enthusiasm that they felt working there. Maybe this is because the space is artist led, or the fact that the owner of the space hand selects submitted proposals, or even that the space is offered to residents for a period of a month or a week free of any financial burdens. Whatever it is, it is great to work somewhere that cares about and supports what the artists who work there do. The space is conducive and permissive of experimentation. And most importantly we are allowed to take risks. (Try finding another venue in London that will allow you to set open fire in their space!)

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Test of Phlegethon

For those of you who have been with us from the beginning, we hope you share our feeling of coming home. And for those that are just joining us, welcome.

– Weisslich (Teoma, Michael, Louis, David)

Better Know A Weisslich – 6 Benefits of Pamplemousses

As part of WEISSLICH Vol. 9 on 13th and 14th January 2017, the New York-based supergroup of experimental performer-composers, Ensemble Pamplemousse, will be presenting a new hour-long set of music in Manchester and London, composed and performed by their members, marking the first time they have ever played in the UK.

Formed in 2003, the pamplemousses are David Broome (keys), Natacha Diels (flutes), Andrew Greenwald (drums), Bryan Jacobs (electronics), Jessie Marino (cello), and newest member Weston Olencki (trombone). In the ensemble’s characteristically hyperbolic language, they self-define their fruit-rooted namesake (pamplemousse is the French word for grapefruit) accordingly:

(pãpl?’musjee z) (singular: pamplemousse) 1. n. an oblate spheroid 2. v. the act of dissecting and conceiving acoustic blueprints 3. adj. juicy and sweet and tender and tart 4. v. aggregating sonic possibilities into shapes of resonance, clusters of glitch, skitters of hyperaction, and masses of absurdity 5. q. Whodipousse?

Much like the grapefruit, there are several benefits, as well as side effects, of experiencing Ensemble Pamplemousse live.

1) Energy Boosting / David
Listening to David’s previously composed work is like getting a shot of Vitamin C (and a little something extra) straight into the bloodstream. It’s instantaneously exhilarating, and won’t let go. For someone who has a hyperactive mind, this music is moving along at just the right pace! For the concerts in January, David has facilitated the creation of a piece titled 🗿🎀🐛🗯 (which, for the emoji illiterate, David translates to: “Moai Bow-Tie Caterpillar Shout”). David writes that this piece is “a collaboratively written piece by Ensemble Pamplemousse. David started the process by cutting and pasting material for flute, piano and electronics from previously composed pieces by Bryan and Natacha. The piece was then sent to Andrew, who composed a cello part and then sent all the material to Weston, who wrote himself a trombone part to fit into the mix.”

Previously Experienced Side Effects:
https://soundcloud.com/iamahab2/ominousty

2) Dream Enhancing / Natacha
Natacha has been writing a series of neurotic and fairytale-like “nightmares,” many of which Ensemble Pamplemousse has been experiencing since 2012, that, in her own words, “explode the minute gestures executed by performers through choreography, repetition, and counterpoint.” For January’s concerts, Natacha will be presenting her fourth nightmare in which the identity of their drummer Andrew is fractured and splintered into multiple personalities that seep into an infected set of auxiliary performers (Jessie and David) who are subjected into being “bizarre click tracks” and who are all ultimately accompanied by disco lights. Talk about vivid!

Previously Experienced Side Effects:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57WDSWdu3Bo

3) Pulpy Fulfillment / Andrew
For the last five years Andrew has been reworking a series of compositions under the title A Thing is a Hole in a Thing it is Not that are derived from meticulously notated transcriptions of complex improvisations. Each reworking is a manifestly different execution of the same idea. More fundamentally though, as a sonic experience, these pieces are extra pulpy. At every turn, there’s the possibility getting an earful of semi-thawed icey, condensed, and gritty goodness that slushes its way to and through the cochlea as a cluster of vibrations. Set in counterpoise with flickering sustained tones that allow time to process the condensed juices, the slush of compressed information melts into a fulfilling musical liquid. And, gulp!, a hole is created, into which another icey pact of pulp comes to fill. Our audience will experience the fourth reworking of this series in January.

Previously Experienced Side Effects:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vD-wrDLmZs

4) Unparalleled Precision / Bryan
Many of Bryan’s pieces of music exhibit a laser-cut rhythmic precision, with crisp breaks and interlocking between members of the ensemble that often unfold at a dizzyingly manic pace. This is music that the computers responsible for high-frequency algorithmic micro-trading on the stock market listen to. Yes, experience Ensemble Pamplemousse and you too can make multiple, highly volatile trading decisions and transactions in the blink of an eye, or is it ear … who’s keeping track (no one, that’s who)! Bryan’s January surprise includes a new version of Organic Synthesis Vol. 1 for two groups of mechanically-controlled slide whistles that face-off with cello, percussion, and trombone.

Previously Experienced Side Effects:
https://soundcloud.com/bryanjacobs-1/dis-un-il-im-ir

5) Organised Absurdity / Jessie
Jessie’s work in general sets the absurdity of everyday activities into tightly controlled and organised musical structures, with examples ranging from an early morning radio broadcast of nonchalant DJ’s eventually encompassed in an all engulfing brightness of noise, the mechanical processing of foodstuffs, all the way to a rhythmically anticipated yet totally unexpected appearance of Boyz II Men’s I’ll Make Love to You. This is work that casts a musical sensibility across those Kafka-esq mundanities of life such as: getting the right tone for that email to a colleague who doesn’t quite understand your fabulous sense of humor, those endless handshakes in that unfortunately not hypothetical business job you never wanted, or those hundreds of wrench turns during an emergency plumbing visit. We haven’t the slightest idea what Jessie will be doing in January, and we like it that way!

Previously Experienced Side Effects:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XimGX_eFMo

6) A Sense of Familial Belonging
Before writing this listicle, I wrote Jessie to ask some questions about the ensemble and how everybody gets along with each other. I wanted to know how they work with each other, what the day to day grind is like. During our correspondence, Jessie communicated to me that, fundamentally, Ensemble Pamplemousse is built on friendship. With her permission, I am sharing what she wrote about their ensemble because I think that it exemplifies the conditions necessary for such individual and idiosyncratic musical art to be created, and is part of what makes me so happy to be able to share their work with audiences in Manchester and London through the WEISSLICH platform:

“We are an ensemble that has always worked together first as friends. We never adopted the ensemble model that substitutes other players in when someone can’t make the gig. If one person can’t make the gig, we don’t do the gig (or we play pieces written for a specific subset of the group).

“Friendship is, for all of us, crucial and undeniable – we book shows, go on tours, eat breakfast and keep trying to find ways of being together within a creative and lively atmosphere. We are a support system, a family, a band, and a critical audience. It’s the only way we want to make music, it’s the only way we know how.”

Pamplemousse have made some incredible trailers throughout their 13 year run of music making, and their newest one in particular is something truly spectacular to behold. However, I think that the following trailer for a 2015 concert at Jack Theater in New York is a perfect illustration of the friendship that ties together these diverse personalities and gives prospective audience members a taste for how this ensemble operates:

Come reap the benefits of a fresh slice of Ensemble Pamplemousse.

– Michael Baldwin


Ensemble Pamplemousse will be playing WEISSLICH Vol. 9 along with Antonia Barnett-McIntosh & Emma Bennett, and Robert Blatt on 13 January 2017 at The Wonder Inn, 29 Shudehill, Manchester and 14 January 2017 at STYX, 5 Ashley Road, Tottenham, London. Both events open doors at 7:30pm and performances start at 8:00pm.

Advance tickets are now on sale:
13.01.2017 – MANCHESTER
14.01.2017 – LONDON

Better Know A Weisslich: Antonia Barnett-McIntosh & Ilze Ikse

“This first thing that we do when we come out of [the] womb is we take a breath. And the last thing that we do when we die is the breath runs out of our body.

“And then there’s this gap. There’s this kind of fascinating pause that comes at the end of an inhale, and it’s this space where everything drops away. When you’re giving it attention it’s very subtle, but it’s a moment of actual liberation. It’s not when you are gripped in the inhale at the end of it, but it’s more that gap that opens up just before the breath that is given.”

– Joan Halifax

Life—that space between the inhalation of birth and exhalation of death—is such a gap, an expanded gap filled with many such infinitesimally shorter gaps, what Evan Thompson describes as “hinge[s] … where the mind and body swing back and forth.”

* * *

Composer Antonia Barnett-McIntosh and flautist Ilze Ikse have come together to form life out of breath in the collaboratively developed piece Breath for alto flute. Breath was commissioned by Hubbub, inaugural residents of The Hub at Wellcome Collection, an interdisciplinary research project aimed at transforming how we as humans understand rest. In a musical context, a breath can be understood as musical rest, a moment of repose. Inversely, breathlessness can both take form from and as exhaustion. Breath is (nearly) all breath; Ilze is required to, as Antonia states, “utilise each in- and out-breath in the creation of sound,” thereby rendering her and her performance breathless, without musical rest, always intensely alive.

* * *

It starts with a breath in.

Ilze breathes in.

I breathe in.

When I listen to Breath I breathe. I breathe with Ilze, not simply alongside, but at the same time, for the same duration, and in the same direction. I switch between breathing through my nose here, my mouth there, exploring what it means to remain relaxed, sometimes switching between different ventilation circuitry responsible for the circulation of shared air, sometimes, somewhere, unsure whether or not I am breathing through mouth or nose. The physicality of both bodies becomes emphatically sonified; I merge into the form of Breath, which is essentially a life form, a living form: Ilze’s breath and body. I am stretched; breaths in Breath are not natural, they are extended and exhausting, sometimes uneven and strained. Other times, unrestrained, they swell, they compel and propel me forward, excite my spectral inhales and exhales. Nevertheless, breathing abides by a rhythmic logic, in is followed by out is followed by in is followed by out, and so forth; breaths reassuringly comfort even while their limits are pushed. They are a guide through, and glue to, the extraordinarily diverse range of sounds coaxed out of the instrumental prosthesis, an instrumentalised lung. Sounds that modulate and colour my sensation of breathing, an upper harmonic that gently brushes up against a slight whistle passing through my nasal cavity, a deeply hollowed breeze that tugs my lips an inch wider ajar. Sounds that flicker on the threshold of stability, that imbue my voice with a silent, resonating Barthian ‘grain’ — “tas sadalās, krakšķ, glāsta, skrāpē, griež: tā ir ekstāze.”

My mouth and nose become breathing ears. They act as hinges where mind and body swing back and forth. They turn listening into mutually exhaustive rest. They feel and hear carnal being as musical being.

This is how I listen to Breath.

* * *

Film of Ilze Ikse performing Breath

* * *

Come listen to Ilze Ikse perform Breath live on the 23rd of July at the Hundred Years Gallery, 8pm, as part of the 8th volume of WEISSLICH.

–Michael Baldwin

Better Know A Weisslich: Louis d’Heudieres’ Laughter Studies 2

A transcription, a representation, and a poetic response of/to Louis d’Heudieres’ Laughter Studies 2:

* * *

…uh, someone splashing into a pool
uh, someone making bubble sounds
uh, uhmmuhm, applause, crowd clapping
aaa baby, uhm some church bells really kind of slow and long
aaan then there’s this kind of synth sound
someone blowing bubbles into water, kind of, an, uh, electronic buzz
really high pitched bubbles
someone crumpling a piece of paper, uhm rain
uh, a kind of filtered rain
falling on the roof
tennis, someone coughing, uh…
slightly lower pitched
um, someone doing a pump
um, water dribbling?
someone panting, kind of breathing really heavily
oh! it’s a hair dryer or like a vacuum-cleaner, or like a, a machine or something
it’s quite loud
it’s getting louder
oh, filter sweep
oh!! tennis again!
church bells uh, out in the street
uhhh, and then, uh there’s a kind of, uh, low drone, uhm it’s somebody talking I think
uhm, uh, another pump going
uh, some mout(h)—
white noise
white noise getting louder
white noise getting louder
few suds in the background
uh, drums.

* * *

* * *

uh, hmm, I can’t swim
and the glare of bubbles eluded me as a child
pop pop pop, one exaggerated step away from Community and applause, take a bow
too familiar to be generalised, yes, church was slow and long
I’m told that old men become obsessed with their synths
they start making impossible spheres underwater, frying their boards, catching the waves
pip pip pip
metaphorically trashing their receipts, calming, fixating
and then fascinating, or wait, is that the right order?
um, asthmatics dread a courting with April showers, speaking ahem, croup, personally
or maybe candidly, whatever that might mean Robert Ashley
£5.97 friction fictions found online
splip splop or glarble gibpt dropp?
gnashgnawgrumble and grump, whew!
OH! wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, err, veeeeeeeeeeeee, or maybe cheeeeeee?
come again?
does that mean come closer?
shwoo—
p! POW
what a, a scent
the world turns, or moves, vibrates, can you feel the vibrations man?
err, peddle faster, repetition — effort can never be misplaced
wait! I was abou—
shh
shh
shh
shh
shh
shh
shiiiiiiiii
plip plip plip
wonder how my brother is keeping?

* * *

As part of WEISSLICH 7, Michael Baldwin and Andy Ingamells perform Louis d’Heudieres’ Laughter Studies 2.

Better Know A Weisslich: Andy Ingamells

There are three films which I really like, all of which have, on paper, terrible premises:

Phone Booth (2002) – Colin Farrell in a phone booth for an hour and a half.

Buried (2010) Ryan Reynolds in a box for an hour and a half.

Locke (2013) – Tom Hardy in a car for an hour and a half.

Yet all of these are fantastic films due, primarily, to the way in which their verbal description and the experience of that concept are fundamentally different things.

Perhaps one could add to that list the following performance:

The Ticklish Subject (2013) – Andy Ingamells is tickled for an hour and a half.

***

Sol LeWitt claims in his “Sentences On Conceptual Art” that “Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution.” He is wrong.

People often talk about “conceptual” art work as if reading the description of a work is the same as experiencing it; as if someone’s detailed first-hand description of being attacked by a shark is the same as being attacked by a shark.

And a loosened concept of authorial ownership allows me to claim that the last shark attack was actually a work of art by myself. Or Andy Ingamells.

***

At its best, Andy’s work joyfully shows the beauty in the most banal ideas through a finessed execution. Take, for instance, his recent Composing music for 11 minutes dressed in 18th Century costume (2015) for ensemble and video, in which that act of composing becomes the sounding result, the process of writing resonating through the ensemble as they echo the construction of the notation in realtime.

Here, as in the best of his work, Ingamells directs us outwards towards several historical markers, the “18th Century costume” of the title worn by the composer and the musical material, and the contrast of candlelight with the harsh blue iridescence of the laptop, creating an historical anomaly.

Other times, the idea is so simple that only the most inept execution could kill it, such as his much seen Solo (2010), which combines pornography, masturbation and slide whistles to a sublime degree.

***

There is:

music which doesn’t take itself too seriously

“music” which doesn’t take itself too seriously

music which doesn’t take itself too “seriously”

and

“music” which doesn’t take itself too “seriously”.

Andy Ingamells does a bit of all four.

Much like the work of the squib-box group of artists, Andy’s work plays at the corners of visual art, music, and comedy – a trend perhaps most obvious in his Packaged Pleasure (2015), a 27-minute video combining many of his works into a hilarious meditation on vanity and narcissism.

Packaged Pleasure (EXCERPTS) from Andy Ingamells on Vimeo.

Included in this work are extracts of several previous works worthy of mention: His Bowmanship, Tape Piece and a realisation of @textscoreaday’s #180: “Run 10km to a concert hall & immediately go onstage. The piece finishes when your breathing has returned to normal.” He was one of the contributors to the @textscoreaday project and performed the première of this work which involved him running 10km to a concert in Huddersfield with 3 bike horns in his mouth.

As part of WEISSLICH 7, Andy will be performing Bowmanship, Shh, and Tape Piece.

Better Know A Weisslich: G Douglas Barrett

The ideas of a “cannon” and a “canon of works” have one thing in common: to use either seems pretty outdated. However, it would seem churlish to ignore the popularity of a particular work and its prevalence in concerts, even if we baulk from referring to it as a “classic” – a word which, whether referring to a musical work or a car, seems designed for middle-aged white men. One work which has become a frequent feature of concerts of experimental music is G Douglas Barrett’s A Few Silence (Location, Date, Time of Performance), a work which would classify as being over-played, if it wasn’t for the paucity of experimental music concerts and, more importantly, the way in which its construction is so contingent upon environment, performer, and instrument that each iteration reveals a new type of richness. A Few Silence engages with several recurrent aspects of Barrett’s work – transcription and the grid.

A Few Silence asks the performers to textually transcribe the environmental sounds over a five minute period and then to play their transcriptions using a pre-selected set of musical instruments or objects. The work forces the performers to articulate the nature of their listening, transcription and playing in a way which necessitates the insertion of multiple perceptual, imaginative and material grids between the original sound and its re-creation, resulting in an abstracted version of the original which foregrounds the traces of its cognitive and physiological journey. In the same way that a No-Input Mixer tells us how a particular mixer hears and “speaks” through the articulation of silence, Barrett’s piece uses the “silence” of environmental sound to show how a performer hears, how they describe that hearing, and how they interpret that description.

The idea of the grid comes back in his Derivation series of works, in which this abstraction is fed back into itself in a way that spirals each consecutive iteration further and further from its origination. Each work in the Derivation collection of works is a transcription of the previous one in the series, like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy, each foregrounding its mode of listening and mode of transcription. a quantization of a quantization of a quantization…

Much like David Kant’s Happy Valley Band (http://www.davidkant.com/happy_valley_band/index.html) series of works, in which the disparity between human and machine listening is highlighted through performances of computerized transcriptions of popular song, here the aim seems to be to crowbar the act of transcription from any pretence of a faithful replication of “reality” and instead use the resulting void as a space for creativity.

Which brings us to the work being performed at Weisslich 6 and 7 A Few Marlenes (Where Have All The Flowers Gone), here, once again, the grid re-asserts its presence; Marlene Dietrich quantized and filtered through the physiology of three different performers. Film asks us to fill in and interpolate the movement between the 41.67 milliseconds that lie between each frame of a movie run at 24 frames per second. Here that grid is increased and orchestrated, and somewhere in that gap something else occurs.

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Better Know A Weisslich: Cathy van Eck’s Music Stands

Music stands evoke, well, music. To evoke music is to evoke a wide and connotative range of social, cultural, political, and aesthetic associations. Music stands complicate, they: conceal, render actions opaque and subservient, trigger imagination (and make the mind’s eye anxious to glimpse beyond the veil), assert status, are practical, signify practice and rehearsal (and if your experience with practicing was anything like mine, music stands can also signify immense frustration!), suggest reenactment and repeatability even when challenged, focus the gaze of those who chose to stare at them, imply reading or review, separate, distance, and otherise, can (but do not necessarily) turn performers into musicians (or performers into actors playing musician), indicate something like duration (especially when placed in a row of ten!), induce ways of listening and codes of conduct, populate a scenography… the list could go on.

long-piece_andy-ingamells
[an exaggerated representation of Andy Ingamells’ Long Piece. Photo credit: 840 concert series]

From conception, the WEISSLICH series has worked to extend and blend experimental music practices into and alongside performance art practices. And while, on the one hand, music stands are a familiar object within experimental music contexts, on the other hand, in more purely performance-focused work, music stands are less common. Music stands have the ability to instate barriers between performer and audience, creating a division that runs contrary to what I regard as a commonly held (if not misguided and/or illusory) tenant of performance art, namely, its experiential immediacy. As curators, this tension leaves the music stand in an uncomfortable position; it is something that we often discuss when thinking about the work we programme, and thus far we have maintained an equally ambivalent (at best), and, quite candidly, uneasy relationship with music stands.

Regulars at our events will note that we have used music stands in the past, and because of the blurry space that our concerts occupy, we do not take a dogmatic position with regards to inclusion or dismissal of this object. Continue reading “Better Know A Weisslich: Cathy van Eck’s Music Stands”

Better Know A Weisslich: Solomiya Moroz

Recently I have started telling people that there is a short story by Jean-Paul Sartre about a virus which lives in the vocal chords of humans and is transmitted to others via the host speaking a specific language. This is not a Jean-Paul Sartre story, in fact, it is the plot to the video game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. All this is to say that you don’t need a dead French philosopher to present a good idea, and that, much like this piece of writing attempts to do, sometimes approaching big ideas from oblique angles can illuminate facets that would otherwise be unseen. In her bigger, collaborative music-theatre works, Solomiya Moroz frequently does this – tackling big concepts with surreality, absurdity and a studied childishness (like being told about linguistic parasites by a man named “Skull Face”). In Short Wave Apocalypse or the Box, a collaboration with Eva Aukes, Marko Ivic and Margherita Bergamo, concepts of digitization and militarization in the work of Paul Virilio are combined with the caped adventures of superheroes and phone sex. The result marries recurrent aspects of Solomiya’s work – gestural controllers, theatre and multimedia – in a parade of increasingly bizarre theatrical, choreographic and musical episodes that points to the material from a distance, through a mist of dada-ed abstraction.

Superheroes and the Apocalypse teaser from Solomiya Moroz on Vimeo.

As well as her work as a composer, Solomiya works as an improvisor, flautist and electronic musician, frequently performing her own work and that of others. Continue reading “Better Know A Weisslich: Solomiya Moroz”

Better Know A Weisslich: Neil Luck

A man stands on stage and struggles to get a word out of his mouth, impeded, it seems, by his own need to burp. Every time he does manage the odd garbled sentence, a series of clown-like vocal and instrumental bursts forcefully prevent him from delivering what we have been promised is a punchline. This goes on for five minutes, a frustrated, stuttering routine of stifled exertion, maintaining our full attention right up until that final punchline neither disappoints or satisfies us, but rather keeps us guessing as to what exactly it is we have just witnessed. It can only be Neil Luck, whose music could probably be described with equal success as absurd stand-up comedy, conceptual game show poetry, free jazz circus entertainment, or post-ironic commercial radio art.

His recent piece Via Gut was one of my absolute highlights of the London Contemporary Music Festival in December 2015.

According to the website, Via Gut is “a monologue-cum-variety act about the future. Based on a rigorously pataphysical premise, Via Gut poses a hypothesis about the future of human evolution and the nature of communication, told through an allegory of the human digestive system”. The sonification – and choreography – of bodily functions is a constant theme throughout, and the piece’s handling of it stoops as much to the utterly banal as it reaches up to the loftily existential, reminding us that we mortal humans all have to eat and shit, after all. The potential tactlessness one can imagine arising from such a piece is embraced so wholeheartedly that the audience is forced through and beyond it, having to accept its guttural playfulness as an aesthetic truth. It’s a piece about a gut as much as it is a piece happening in a gut.

Members of the artist collective squib-box and experimental group of musicians ARCO (in this case, Tom Jackson on clarinet, Benedict Taylor on viola, Federico Reuben on electronics, and Adam de la Cour as tap dancer, sock puppeteer, balloon modeller, jazz guitarist and scat vocalist), who are long-term collaborators with Neil, often provide the squealing messy textures that accompany his protagonist, narrator, or game show host. The close relationships such a collaboration fosters is evident in the way the group performs together – everyone is on board for throwing themselves in head first into whatever the piece requires, no matter how extreme (I heard of a piece in which one of the members’ colonoscopies was projected onto a screen whilst another made themselves physically sick through overeating, all of this, wonderfully, taking place in a restaurant). The kinds of things asked of the performers – such as de la Cour’s balloon modelling, squirming, and general ridiculousness (writing for the Quietus, Leo Chadburn described him as a ‘tap dancing arsehole’, admittedly making reference to the fact that he represented a literal part of the human digestive system) – are only possible with the kind of trust that builds up over time. As a result, the group has a coherence to them, a ‘tightness’, which gives their performances a crucially unapologetic quality, no matter how deranged or silly the material.

Looking at squib-box’s roster of affiliated artists you’ll find everything from Michael Finnissy to Kindenfarten, “an ensemble concerned with exploring the liminal space between new complexity, noise music, and children’s entertainment”, via acclaimed singer-songwriter Fiona Bevan and Benny C, a “traditionally made up whiteface (grotesque) clown”. This kind of breadth (of influence and output) is evident in Neil’s individual work too, perhaps the most valuable characteristics of which is his eternal willingness to take risks (aesthetically, or just with his own body). You never know what will happen at one of Neil’s (or squib-box’s or ARCO’s) gigs, and indeed we have no idea what to expect for WEISSLICH on 23rd. Based on what we’ve seen though, we can’t wait to find out.

Better Know A Weisslich: Samuel Stoll

Continuing the Better Know A Weisslich series inaugurated prior to Weisslich 4, we return to introduce Weisslich 5’s two featured artists: Samuel Stoll and Alice Purton.

First up is Samuel, a hornist and performer currently based in Berlin who will be performing Georgy Dorokhov’s counter-exposition-I, Stephen Crowe’s Tenvelopes, and a piece that him and I collaboratively developed titled Buzzed.

At every turn, Samuel is a surprising, versatile, and fascinating musician. Be it his eclectic repertoire, his unencumbered performance installations, or the extensive list of collaborators he has worked with, one gets the sense that Samuel is constantly renewing himself through his artistic practice. Searching the internet for ‘Samuel Stoll hornist’ can lead you down a rabbit hole of performances including, but not limited to: a man getting wet with his horns as he wades through a fountain, an archive of a man opening mysterious envelopes as prompted by a disembodied voice, a dazzling feat of gymnastics located between embrouchure and French horn mouthpiece, and this (which I still don’t really have words for).

Following something of a similar journey across Samuel’s wide-ranging output is precisely how I initially became aware of Samuel. One day, I had noticed that a new recording of Ray Evanoff’s Negotiating the Absolute Location of Buoyancy (that dazzling feat of gymnastics mentioned above) had surfaced. Captivated by the dexterity exhibited in Samuel’s performance of the piece, it wasn’t long before I was deep into a clickhole. On the other side, I was certain that I wanted to know more about this musician. The excitement that leapt across in his performances, the audacity and eschewal of modesty, a daring embrace of vulnerability in performance, all tempered by a palpable virtuosity combined to form an extremely attractive and rejuvenating personality.

So, I sent him an email, and off on another musical journey I went.

In a way that mirrors how I came to know Samuel – through the documentation of his performances – and also facilitates long-distance collaboration, we established a practice of exchanging media. This involves sending back and forth packages variably containing video and audio recordings of us musicking, text scores, suggestions for ways of listening to and looking at what we send to each other, and so on. These artefacts of performance/exchange in turn inform how we understand each other’s musical sensibilities, and in part constitute compositional material for finalised pieces emerging out of our collaboration.

Although I have since meet Samuel in person multiple times now, my feeling is that our relationship is somehow irrevocably conditioned by a type of digital logic. More fundamental though – our relationship is primarily performative. And so, as a way of giving potential audiences a taste for how Samuel and I work together and understand each other, as well as offering something like an insight into the piece that we have collaboratively developed, I present the following montage/teaser made up of some of the media that Samuel and I have exchanged with each other.

-Michael Baldwin