sounding out scotland 2019 pt 2

10 01 2020

 

The journey through Scotland continues along the west coast in a weather that reminds you how wild this place can get. The beautiful scenery can very rapidly become threatening and one feels much exposed.

I much awaited visiting this next location again. The church in Arisaig is such a wonderful space with grand acoustics. The weather has been beating the coast and i feel my general mood is not quite making the most of this incredible place. Time will tell, perhaps the music turns out better, but at the time i felt i was not quite in tune and the flow did not quite transport me. I decided to take a break and walk around the space. The mood turned when, at the back of the church i encountered a statue that reminded me of the figurehead of boats. The woman depicted here is guided by a star and seems to be raising the spirit through turbulent water. The thought had a profound effect on me and i felt the deep sadness of families that await as waves and wild weather beat the shore, expecting the boats that never returned. Those claimed by the sea have a hidden presence along this coast. I felt it all here, and the last piece i played, at the edge of tears, starts at the back of the church, slowly moving forward with each repetition of a gentle melodic motif, interspersed with waves and runs. This incredible experience came to a stop as the church bell ominously rang on the last long note of the piece. This was it. I had touched on the story of that place and sat in silence.

Another old favourite, on Applecross, this plain chapel is all wood and gentle resonance. Inside feels like a warm(ish) shelter from the wild elements out there. This recording was made in two sessions and the second take in the morning was cut short by rising waters that threatened to take over all exits. The drive over the pass was epic with incredibly powerful torrents forcing their way under bridges and overflowing banks. But before this, we barely made it through the tracks and the road that had turned into a lake.

So this session again is tainted by turmoil and turbulent water. And this chapel has a certain quality that encourages a free flowing explosion of energy. Inspired by the rain that did not quite fall as much as headbutt the ground and the beaten rocks, the music barges and sways, turns and thrashes through a whole range of moods. There is some redemption in the madness of the elements, but the suspension is short lived. Notes splatter and crash-splash percussively then power-flow forcefully, tortured with split tones and gnarling blows forced through the saxophone. A single bird soars its pretty song and we are straight back in the maelstrom.

This place simply never disappoints – it has always been a highlight of my sonic explorations. And the music feels freer, what this place inspires is just something else.

 

 

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dusk falling on a calm sea
alto saxophone, 27 august 2019
st mary, arisaig

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slow silver sky
alto saxophone, 27 august 2019
st mary, arisaig

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as rain beats those ragged rocks
alto saxophone, 27 august 2019
st mary, arisaig

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those of the sea
alto saxophone, 27 august 2019
st mary, arisaig

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broody approach
alto saxophone, 29 august 2019
clachan church, applecross

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maelrubha and the waves
alto saxophone, 29 august 2019
clachan church, applecross

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all sails
alto saxophone, 29 august 2019
clachan church, applecross

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hail all saints
alto saxophone, 29 august 2019
clachan church, applecross

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maelrubha’s prayer
alto saxophone, 29 august 2019
clachan church, applecross

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a steady rain pulsed through the night
alto saxophone, 29 august 2019
clachan church, applecross

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sounding out scotland 2019

30 12 2019

 

 

Sounding Out continues in summer 2019 visiting areas of Scotland. After a compulsory stop at Samye Ling, a much loved break in the trip for extended meditation and rituals, the journey continued through Dumfires and Galloway visiting areas unknown both by the sea and through forestry.

The odd explorations of stone towers with resonant cellars met my home made 2.4 shakuhachi, but the first significant experience of Sounding Out was in the artist town of Kirkcudbright where i found a small church hidden in the back streets. Its peaceful simplicity inspired a very melodic approach, gentle and elevated.

The pace picked up with the powerful energy of movement and change which i found in the area of Kilmartin. Walking along loch Awe was a wonderful experience of old pine forests and rushing water. Down in the valley, carved rocks mark an ancient spirituality and the church in the middle of the valley has retained some of the spirit. It is old and quite run down. Tourists ebb and flow, constantly drawing an energy of change and yet, there is something timeless here. In between visitors, the music flows freely to the bright resonance and spirals with the ancient art i have seen.

Moving now to the well loved scenery of the west coast, i return to Mallaig and find this lovely pink church open this time. I jump on the occasion and start playing to the background sounds of a steam train and children playing. This harbour town is simple but attractive. Well worth a visit just for the sense pleasure of freshly baked bread and a pizza lunch overlooking the water. The small chapel on the hill is similarly basic but very pretty. There is a playfulness here that inspires abstract extended techniques and angular harmonic flow. I move freely between modalities and mix sounds at times contemplative, at times firing fast.

 

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pastel prose
alto saxophone, 21 august 2019
st cuthbert, kirkcudbright

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in artist town
alto saxophone, 21 august 2019
st cuthbert, kirkcudbright

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spirals and cups
alto saxophone, 24 august 2019
kilmartin church

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amongst the peaks
alto saxophone, 24 august 2019
kilmartin church

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dance of the moving wheels
alto saxophone, 24 august 2019
kilmartin church

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a spot of pink on the cold hill
alto saxophone, 27 august 2019
st columba’s, mallaig

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steam train
alto saxophone, 27 august 2019
st columba’s, mallaig

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changing the scene
alto saxophone, 27 august 2019
st columba’s, mallaig

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Tête​-​à​-​tête

1 12 2019

each saxophonist works across divergent styles and genres, drawing down their own preferences to suit the individual structures of the moment and blending with each other and with the mood of the piece, such that one may be uncertain of the sound sources – free improv and folk or electro-experimental?  Each piece is a delight.

Ken Cheetham, Jazzviews

 

Following a performance in Sheffield’s Over The Top in April 2019, the duo recorded a session with two alto saxophones. One take was captured at my nexttime studio and this is what you are hearing on this album.

Released by Emil’s label Noumenon, the music is pure energy between two sax improvisers who found themselves in a rather discursive mood. There is shear excitement at this first encounter as a duo that is felt in the music. One hour or so passed unnoticed, and we finished the session with a slower, sparse piece playing around single tones. it felt we were done. and in a single breath, we had an album.

We are delighted to share this with you. a document of a rare encounter. a slice in time of the playing of two compelling improvisers and saxophone wizards.

Thank you to Emil Karlsen for taking on this release. we sincerely hope you much enjoy listening.

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Dream Feathers

27 11 2019

album released by Discus music, november 2019

 

I am very pleased to see the release of this album. It follows on the previous album with similar line up available on Discus – Les Oiseaux de Matisse.

This is the first work i did the day after i returned from my summer recording in Scotland. Martin called me in, and we did a session recording electronics with Gus Garside on bass, to add to existing material on a couple of tracks.

Later on, Martin gave me the stems and i took all this to my studio. It was such a pleasure to hear and work on this material. Ron’s playing is just marvelous and after Martin’s magic in the studio, all the instruments were coming together. I did some discrete processing of sax and drums mostly and added field recordings, some electronics etc.

This layer of electroacoustic sounds gave another dimention to the music which was mostly jazz instrumentation at that point. With the full soundscape, the album was then starting to feel closer to the original piece. The difference is that Les Oiseaux was recorded live in the studio, whereas Dream Feathers is more of a studio construct, with the addition of anton on guitar.

 

I could not tire of this music, and when the album was mixed, i did some further work listening through again and tweaking the sound for a last mastering. Everyone was pleased with the result and the files went straight to the factory. This album was just released on Discus label as Dream Feathers – 88CD.

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Milarepa and Rechungpa

19 11 2019

The lastest performance by Suvarnagarbha and Hervé Perez continues on the theme and stories of milarepa. Here, we explore the turbulent relationship between guru and his main disciple through songs and narration that are full of wisdom, going deeper into the Dharma from the tibetan tradition.

This incredible text is translated and performed by suvarnagarbha.
The soundscapes are improvised using field recordings, alto saxophone, shakuhachi, meditation bowls and bells, objects, bodhran, live processing.

The full performance is available on mixcloud.

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sounding out 2019

18 10 2019




 

 

This new series is a selection of recordings from places i visited between spring and early summer 2019.

It all begins with the discovery of a tunnel with incredible acoustic properties. The slightest sound echoes against the walls and along the length of it – which is significant. This marks also the return of the old soprano which i have not used much lately because it is in a rather poor state. It is still fun to revisit my first love though, and even if the recordings are somewhat imperfect, they reflect the jow of meeting the instrument again. Recordings like East Witton and the majestic Newby are such.

This section is followed by a number of places in Northumberland, each with its own acoustics, its own mood and of course inspired very different musical adventures. There are some really significant moments here inspired by such places and also reflecting on my use of musical systems based around symmetry. Blanchland Abbey is a very interesting building, but i was also inspired by places where the architecture was not as stricking perhaps, but had a special feel all the same.

The third part finds two location in herefordshire where i stopped on the way to wales. Once again, this selection may not be the grand acoustics i have explored in the past, but present much interest and allow for a wider range of playing and atmospheres.

i hope you enjoy listening to these explorations. And the search continues.

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watching ripples
soprano saxophone, 21 april 2019
thurgoland tunnel

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the crane
2.4 shakuhachi, 21 april 2019
thurgoland tunnel

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points, line and weave
soprano saxophone, 15 may 2019
east witton church

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slight side entanglement
soprano saxophone, 15 may 2019
east witton church

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do the pollock
soprano saxophone, 16 may 2019
newby church

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steps into the wild
alto saxophone, 10 july 2019
st mary, barnard castle

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deepening the search
alto saxophone, 10 july 2019
st mary, barnard castle

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stone bridge
alto saxophone, 11 july 2019
blanchland abbey

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birds over breeze
alto saxophone, 11 july 2019
blanchland abbey

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leaves swirl
alto saxophone, 11 july 2019
blanchland abbey

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sermoned by snakes
alto saxophone, 11 july 2019
holy cross church, haltwhistle

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path of multiplicity
alto saxophone, 12 july 2019
st peter church, humshaugh

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evening balm
alto saxophone, 12 july 2019
st peter church, humshaugh

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étirement temporaire
alto saxophone, 12 july 2019
st peter church, humshaugh

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into the ring
alto saxophone, 11 august 2019
st john the baptist, bishops castle

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secret passage
alto saxophone, 11 august 2019
st john the baptist, bishops castle

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brief advance
alto saxophone, 13 august 2019
st mary’s, kington

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crossing steel
alto saxophone, 13 august 2019
st mary’s, kington

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Milarepa

8 07 2019

this collaboration keeps developing and reaching new heights. the lastest performance is an epic journey through the stories and songs of milarepa, a key figure in tibetan buddhism. i hope it is only part one of a series, and this time we focused on the stories of milarepa taming demons and teaching the Dharma at every opportunity.
this is an amazing text, here translated and performed by my good friend suvarnagarbha.
the full performance is posted on mixcloud. it is 1h41mins long, but is well worth settling down for, and getting immersed in this fantastic world.

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