sounding out the lake district 2014

15 11 2014

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In a recent visit to the Lake District, i had amazing experiences in two very special locations. Previously, i explored a number of churches in the region, some of them with very interesting quality, and some very inspiring.

However, i have a preference for natural environments. This project started out in the forest, many years ago, and gradually evolved to include other types of landscapes. Caves have always captured my imagination. There is a quality very different to man made environments. It is not just the acoustics, but mostly the feel of the place. And as a consequence, the music it inspires comes out differently.

i have found in the past that certain churches and chapels surprise me in what music they dictate. Some demand reverence. Some are free flowing. From restrained classical to folk and traditional, all the way to full blown trance-like gospel jazz.

One thing that always strikes me is that in a rural setting, and most churches are fairly remote, urban music seems completely out of place. People commented before on the meters i tend to use. As for me, phrasing that is affected, stylised (like jazz swing) and complex signatures or tempo change simply does not feel right. This is all a modern, urban construct. And obviously, buildings that are hundreds of years old simply do not have that kind of energy.

In the case of natural topography and caves, it is again totally different. All sense of style just goes out of the window.
I end up dealing with pure, raw sound.

Caves always have a strong character and the acoustics are a lot more complex due to the quality of reflecting surfaces, and the much more variable volume and shape of the space. Generally, i would expect a cave to inspire something very raw and wild. But i have been very surprised in the past. For example, i had very unique experiences in Scotland, where the gentle stream that runs across Smoo drew the most fragile and mellow tones. See also my first visit to Smoo Cave.

Rydal and Cathedral Caves are part natural, part quarry. They are both surrounded with majestic scenery and have the raw quality i mentioned earlier. And somehow, once i settled into the sound and started playing, both places inspired the most gentle music. At points on the brink of tears.

It felt like, once i had reached the right level – the right mind state and mindfulness, the right volume of playing that is really quiet and barely sounding notes – something clicked. I knew this was right and somehow things ‘slipped’ into place. It is like an inner feeling of sitting down comfortably.
There are no words to describe it. It really is both like settling down and clicking into place. And suddenly things open up. One becomes full of emptiness and the music happens. The flow intensifies as if it has reached the right channel.
The only way i can describe this feeling is with an oxymoron: the intensity of emptiness. There is infinite strength in stillness. It is the power of gentleness.

In Rydal and Cathedral Cave, the strong sound character and unusually long reverberation allowed me to work with harmony: with low tones sustaining through a phrase or chord. And to my surprise, in spite of inclement weather and raw elements, my playing was gently whispered, on the verge of breaking up, intimate and beautiful.

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another day
alto saxophone, 25 oct 2014
cathedral cave, lake district

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in your steps
alto saxophone, 25 oct 2014
cathedral cave, lake district

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couleurs d’automne
alto saxophone, 25 oct 2014
cathedral cave, lake district

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lozanges
alto saxophone, 25 oct 2014
cathedral cave, lake district

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carefree swaying
alto saxophone, 25 oct 2014
cathedral cave, lake district

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melodic drop
alto saxophone, 24 oct 2014
rydal cave, lake district

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wind ripples
alto saxophone, 24 oct 2014
rydal cave, lake district

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Private Art Exposé

15 11 2014

First event of a new cross-platform collaboration. A unique blend of sound, movement and painting.

The collaboration evolved out of a conversation on deep listening. What attracted me to Ayse’s work is that the focus is not the work itself, the product, but rather the approach and process involved.

The movements are as much dance as they are martial arts forms. And indeed, the mind frame is inevitably one of mindfulness, which for me is central to improvisation.

Similarly, the painting is not so much a desire to create visual art but instead it is merely a mark, a trace left by movements. This really is going back to the root and original purpose of art, starting with the first cave paintings that were just this: leaving a mark.

So, it seems to me that everything is this work is essential. We never discussed any intention. Or aesthetic. Certainly not a desire to produce a commodity. The final work is simply a pure expression of being – in the moment. What is left is a documentation of what happened. The trail of our journey. Traces of our passage.

Private Art Exposé 08 October 2014
Ayşegül Balköse – dance and painting
Hervé Perez – alto saxophone
live improvisation in the old science school, sheffield

Thanks a lot to our hosts and friends…

Private Art Exposé from hervé perez on Vimeo.

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