Sunday, November 26, 2023

RIP Geordie


A guitar anti-hero, scalding ears with that sulphuric sound.

Revelations is the peak, for Killing Joke and for Kevin "Geordie" Walker.

"Forbidden was bidden..."

"We were drunk, intoxicate

Revelations is where Killing Joke arrives at itself, brutally shearing off  precursor-traces and exterior inputs.

Which is not to say the journey to absolute individuality is without excitements. 

But they funked more when they stopped trying to be funky.

My favorite of first-phase KJ, a B-side that Peel played incessantly, preferring it to the A-side seemingly.

I did also really like this first EP, especially "Turn To Red"

Levene-isms still very much present (and Wobble-isms for that matter - this tune could be off The Legend Lives On... Jah Wobble in 'Betrayal', if purged of all mirth) 

Alone of any of the other postpunk bands that I saw live in those days, Killing Joke I saw twice.

First time was December 1980, at Friars Aylesbury. (Which means I must have seen The Passions as well - no recollection of that, but I do recall the other support band, UK Decay, as being really good. A bit of an odd "band sandwich", the glassy delicacy of the P's between two proto-Goth outfits).

Second time, just as exciting, was around the Fire Dances tour -  Dunstable, July 1983. 

Loved Fire Dances at the time but it's not one I ever go back to. In fact, I can't remember a single tune off it. Listening again for the first time in decades, it sounds tinny and toned-down compared with Revelations. Geordie's sound doesn't foam out of the speakers...

There's even a slight resemblance to Big Country at moments. While Jaz is getting a bit too Classix Nouveau-y for discomfort. 

By Night Time, I was off the bus completely and their '90s returns-to-fierce-form did not return me to the fold of the faithful. I was more like, "oh, okay - that's nice".  Extremities, Dirt, and Various Repressed Emotions is too try-hard as titles go.  Also, around about this point, Jaz started to come across like a regular sort of socially concerned liberal, aghast at endless Tory rule - "Money Is Not Our God," "Age of Greed". Whereas the actual energies in their music seem far more predatorial and ravenously raptor-like.... 

No, remember them - and remember him -  this way... 

Monday, November 20, 2023

RIP Catherine Christer Hennix


Spinner of one of my favorite sound-spaces of recent times - "The Well-Tuned Marimba".  From Selected Early Keyboard Works

An interview with the composer-performer-poet-mathematician. From 2020, at Tone Glow, conducted by Joshua Minsoo Kim.

Another interview with the composer-performer-poet-mathematician. From earlier this year, at o bo,  conducted by Nora Fulton. 

Catherine Christer Hennix's most recent - possibly final - release, on Blank Forms Editions

Release rationale / bio:

The fourth release in Blank Forms Editions’s initiative to chart the ever-expanding musical practice of Catherine Christer Hennix, Solo for Tamburium captures the composer’s most recent major work. Hennix plays an instrument of her own creation, a keyboard interface controlling a suite of eighty-eight recordings of precision-tuned tambura, creating a sweeping and continuous flow of rich harmonic interplay. This piece, documented in Berlin at MaerzMusik 2017, carefully draws upon the fundamental perceptual effects of sound, forming an exacting and cathartic electronic drone. Densely-layered timbral textures and continuous overtone collisions create a maze-like sonic landscape, thrusting the listener into what Hennix calls divine equilibrium or a distinctionless state of being.

Since the late 1960s, Hennix has created a massive and innovative body of work spanning minimal music, computer programming, poetry, sculpture, and light art—pushing the technical and conceptual boundaries of these media toward singular ends. She was part of the downtown music school in New York and has worked extensively with some of its key figures, including Henry Flynt and La Monte Young. In the ’70s, Hennix studied the nature and use of harmonic sound as a disciple of Pandit Pran Nath, a master of the Kirana tradition of classical Hindustani music. The exceptionally designed tamburas of Pran Nath were central to her intensive investigations, as was the devotional practice of carefully tuning and sounding the instruments in a continuous and even flow—both have guided her work with sound ever since.

In 1976, at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet, Hennix presented a pair of groundbreaking works that came to define her ensuing practice. With the Deontic Miracle—a group composed of Hennix, her brother Peter, and the Swedish percussionist Hans Isgren—she performed a series of modal compositions for Renaissance oboes, sheng, and harmonic feedback distortion. On this same occasion she premiered an equally significant body of solo work for keyboard, including the only public presentation of The Electric Harpsichord (1976), a piece that marks the beginning of Hennix’s characteristic style of playing, where dense sonic textures gradually emerge from the multilayered interplay of harmonic construction and dissolution.

Solo for Tamburium represents a pointed revisitation of her endeavor to map the non-gravitational harmonics of modal musics—among them raga, maqam, and the blues—onto a tuned keyboard. Since the debut of this piece in 2017 she has continued to develop the work, reshaping and presenting it in a variety of contexts, including at Blank Forms in New York and the Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection in Paris in 2022. For Hennix, to approach modality as a dynamic process is ultimately a contemplative practice. Through it, embodied attunement to harmonic vibration gives rise to epistemically transformative states, opening new ways of knowing and being.