Wednesday, 25 January 2023

DAVID SYLVIAN • Brilliant Trees • Berlin Sessions



Brilliant Trees sessions . Berlin . 1983 . raw camera footage

This raw footage shot on, what’s now seen as a primitive camera but which was a top of the line consumer product at the time, a massive, unwieldily object, was documented by Yuka Fujii. I’ve put the material together in the order it was recorded to give a very general idea of the process of development. It’s been my practice to work closely with each individual musician since my earliest days with the band in an attempt to get the best results. I’ve always maintained the band prepared me for working with others, gave me the confidence to work with my peers, the ‘newcomers' in the room all being older than myself (25). At this point in time Ryuichi’s english was very rudimentary (this was to change radically within the next ten years or so) so we had to communicate as economically as possible, or rather, 95% of the exchange was purely musical. Yuka and Peter Barakan would step in when greater explication was needed. Holger’s english remained consistent throughout the years i knew him. Again, subtleties could be lost so the dialogue was relatively basic. These sessions in Berlin were my first step in creating what would become 'Brilliant trees' and my initial move away from the structure of the band. It was one of the happiest recording experiences I can recall while signed with a major label. Because of the success of having everyone meet in Berlin, a city native to no one involved, it felt like an adventure. People arrived with a spirit of openness and receptivity. I went on to repeat this process with albums such as 'Secrets of the Beehive', 'Rain Tree Crow', and 'The First Day' among others.

I've left a lot of Jon’s conversation in as it's of interest. In one section he’s explaining the nature of raga and how he came to it by working with renowned Indian singer/teacher Pandit Pran Nath. He was also intimating that, as 'Brilliant Trees' asked that he play in the western tradition, ‘steps’ as he describes it, he didn’t see how his performance could be incorporated into the title track. I persevered. He returned to his hotel room that evening to work on it and, overnight, came up with something so beautiful and complimentary to the piece, that moved away from raga (outside of the coda), and gave us one of the rare, if not unique recordings, of Jon playing in the western tradition.

Besides the limited nature of my vocabulary, the paired down nature of our exchanges for the reasons given above, my only regret is that I didn’t use Holger’s guitar solo on ‘Red Guitar’. At the time I felt it a little lightweight compared to the mix Steve Nye was prepping. I would now mix it quite differently pushing the drums way back (from the mid 70s through the 80s drums were often foregrounded, a trend I wasn’t fond of. I fought for a change of approach on ‘Beehive' and that’s about the time when things began to resemble how I’d initially imagined the material. There are always exceptions of course, ‘weathered wall', ‘Before the Bullfight’ are just two examples). I loved Holger dearly and wish I’d immortalised his solo in some capacity. If it still exists on multitrack all is not lost.

I came away from Berlin with an incomplete album and preceded to write a few remaining pieces to complement the best of what I had. 'The Ink in the Well’, ‘Nostalgia' and ‘Backwaters' were added, 'Blue of Noon', an alternate version of ‘Forbidden Colours', and a new track composed with Ryuichi were, with the exception of the latter, to find a home elsewhere. 'Blue of Noon' was originally a vocal piece but I felt this version didn’t hold together and, in any case, was out of place in the context of the album. Virgin released a working rough mix of the track as the B-side of a single.

I hope the mutual respect and good humour of everyone involved comes across along with their seriousness and committed nature to the material. Rarely has this proved otherwise for me. In this respect I feel very fortunate. From this session I made lifelong friends, a trend that was to continue for many years to come.

david sylvian july 2021

This House Believes Woke Culture Has Gone Too Far




opinion | əˈpɪnjən





Wednesday, 4 January 2023

The Veil over Society Got Removed for a Moment...







Terry Hall Easter special Piccadilly Radio

 Terry Hall 

19 March 1959 – 18 December 2022


Terry Hall Easter special 

Piccadilly Radio, Manchester 

8th April 1985 21:00-23:00


I asked 25 year old Terry Hall if he'd like to have a go at presenting his own show. There were just the two of us in studio 2 at Piccadilly Radio with a pile of records and a delightful shy and slightly nervous Terry. I played the records in real time, and encouraged him to tell his story and he gets more confident as the show progresses.

Enjoy the revelation of his inspirations and a personal insight into the processes of his recording. There are some joyous surprises coming up

The tape has been in the loft since 1985.

Timmy Mallett






Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Anamibia Sessions 1 • The Wave by Melvin Gibbs


A potentially surprising release on Editions Mego. Another planned prior to the untimely passing of Peter Rehberg in 2021.

Melvin Gibbs is the renowned bass player and producer from Brooklyn who’s vast resume includes playing with Sonny Sharrock, John Zorn, The Rollins Band, Dead Prez, Caetano Veloso and Femi Kuti amongst others. A solid resume, no doubt, but what is Gibbs doing on Editions Mego?

Behind the scenes, those who know Gibbs knew that amongst all this he was also tinkering away at another form of music, one which skirts around the border between music and sound design. The Wave is the first release that reveals this side of Gibbs’ creative output to those outside his inner circle.

The driving force for this output is Gibbs’ multi-decade friendship with acclaimed American video artist and cinematographer Arthur Jafa. Over the course of time Gibbs and Jafa have had many conversations about music and the connection between film and music. Jafa’s desire to make film that worked the way Black (as in Black/African-American/ Afro-diasporic peoples) music worked inspired Gibbs to study the filmmakers Serge Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov and incorporate their philosophies and tactics when recording his own music. The two discussed sound design which directly informed Gibbs’ choice of music making tools and led to him acquiring Symbolic Systems Kyma software and hardware, incorporating this as a composition tool and sound design and component in his work. These conversations bore concrete fruit through Gibbs’ work for TNEG, the film studio Jafa ran with filmmakers Malik Sayeed and Elissa Blount Moorhead. Gibbs created the soundtrack for their very first project, the short film “Deshotten 1.0” (2009 - directed by Jafa and Sayeed) as well as their Martin Luther King-inspired meditation on Black life “Dreams Are Colder Than Death” (2013, directed by Jafa)

The bass-forward music, or ‘sonics’ as Gibbs calls it, emerged from an alternative mode of contemplation, a mode that he sees as closer to the mindset of a rootworker, an African-American herbal doctor who cures psychic ailments using means derived from African spiritual practice, entering a forest to find the right plants for a suffering client than a meditator attempting to invoke mindfulness. Gibbs says this practice yields results that suggest an aural form of creation akin to coagulation, a formal movement that gives the sense that a flow of sounds can emit something bearing resemblance to solidifying objects.

In 2020 Jafa asked Gibbs to work on the soundtrack for a work in progress called “The Wave''. When they got together to work on the soundtrack, Jafa played Gibbs a selection of sounds that included random moments of (probably unwanted) feedback on 70's Miles Davis records, Pop Smoke's Brooklyn drill, the music of Bernard Gunter and Darmstadt-style compositions made with test equipment. Those sounds, filtered through years of conversation with Jafa about Black creativity and the possible evolution of Black music, formed the sonic vocabulary of “The Wave”.

Over time the sonics evolved and “The Wave” became the piece Jafa calls "AGHDRA". This soundtrack incorporates and expands upon the sonics composed for “The Wave”. Gibbs mentions although the work with Jafa has always skirted these lines of evolution, this side of his vocabulary has been generally neglected, until now, due to his current jazz musician/jazz festival-centric focus and radar.

The result of this parallel exploration is a deep excursion into a nuanced sound world. The rich tapestry of textures allows one's mind to explore and project within this bed of curious investigation of sound. The bristling, itching, restless, clicking, diving nature of the electronic sound world presented by Gibbs, is abstract and unearthly on the surface but closer listening (which it demands) reveals a very human quality to these austere shapes.

It may be a universe apart from his work in the field of jazz but stands high amongst the more experimental work found amongst the Editions Mego catalogue and like Jafa’s work in film is a triumph of exploratory forms.


releases December 2, 2022

Thursday, 13 October 2022

BBC Radio 3 • Free Thinking

Miles Davis and On The Corner

From James Brown to Stockhausen, the influences which fed into Miles Davis's 1972 album On The Corner are explored by Matthew Sweet and guests, 50 years after its release. Bill Laswell, Chelsea Carmichael, Kevin LeGendre and Paul Tingen join Matthew to celebrate an album that was dismissed by some jazz critics as evidence of Davis 'selling out' when it came out, but that has gone on to be appreciated as an important and influential milestone.

Producer: Torquil MacLeod

Bill Laswell's many recordings and productions include Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis 1969-1974.
Chelsea Carmichael is a saxophonist and composer. Her most recent album is The River Doesn't Like Strangers.
Paul Tingen is the author of Miles Beyond: The Electric Explorations of Miles Davis, 1967-1991.
Kevin Le Gendre is one of the presenters of BBC Radio 3's J to Z broadcast Saturdays at 5pm



Listen now







Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Rare Pharoah Sanders Interview and Performace with John Hicks


Pharoah Sanders (born Farrell Sanders; October 13, 1940 – September 24, 2022) was an American jazz saxophonist. A member of John Coltrane's groups of the mid-1960s, Sanders was known for his overblowing, harmonic, and multiphonic techniques on the saxophone, as well as his use of "sheets of sound". He released over 30 albums as a leader and collaborated extensively with Leon Thomas and Alice Coltrane, among others. Saxophonist Ornette Coleman described him as "probably the best tenor player in the world". Sanders' music has been called spiritual jazz due to his inspiration in religious concepts such as Karma and Tawhid, and his rich, meditative aesthetic. This style was seen as a continuation of Coltrane's work on albums such as A Love Supreme. As a result, Sanders was considered to have been a disciple of Coltrane or, as Albert Ayler said, "Trane was the Father, Pharoah was the Son, I am the Holy Ghost".

Sunday, 25 September 2022

Pharoah Sanders RIP



1940 - 2022