Tone 28 – Spire Live “Fundamentalis”

[vinyl only through Autofact, USA]
Art Direction & Design by Jon Wozencroft
Compiled and edited by Mike Harding October/November 2006
Cut by Jason at Transition, London, on a Neumann VSM 70 March 2007

Track list:

Side One
Philip Jeck – Live in St. Michel & St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels
[as part of Les Nuits Botaniques] 7th May 2006

Side Two
1. Charles Matthews – Live in St. Michel & St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels
[as part of Les Nuits Botaniques] – plays Giacinto Scelsi: In Nomine Lucis 7th May 2006
2. Marcus Davidson – Live in Masthuggs Church, Göteborg
[as part of the GAS Festival] – Standing Wave 4th October 2005
locked groove

Side Three
BJNilsen – Live in Masthuggs Church, Göteborg
[as part of the GAS Festival] 4th October 2005

Side Four
Fennesz – Live in St. Michel & St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels
[as part of Les Nuits Botaniques] 7th May 2006

Spire Live – Fundamentalis is a collection of live tracks recorded at various Spire events held throughout 2005 and 2006. Released in association with US label, Autofact, Touch presents a selection of tracks performed by the main performers of Spire: Fennesz | Philip Jeck | BJNilsen | Charles Matthews | Marcus Davidson. Improvised pieces from Fennesz, BJNilsen and Philip Jeck contrast with a performance by Charles Matthews of a scored composition by Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi, ‘In Nomine Lucis’, and Marcus Davidson’s self-penned ‘Standing Wave’, which ends side two with a locked groove. Cut to preserve and enhance the bottom end frequencies, Fundamentalis is not merely a document; the tension between and within the individual pieces is palpable. Fennesz’s set “…evokes the rolling centuries in all their pain and beauty, leaving us at once becalmed and energised, but never oppressed under the weight of time.” Electronics breathe new life not only into the organ, but also into the setting. But successor does not mean replacement. Ultimately, it’s the majestic sound of the organ, so steeped in centuries of tradition, that one remembers above all else.

Spire is one of the most innovative projects around, drawing on the full canon of organ works, from the very first annotation in the Robertsbridge Codex from the 14th Century, to max msp patches and software sampling… With two CD releases and 9 performances in cathedrals and churches throughout Europe, Spire remains a potent live force in harnessing the sounds of the ages.


Boomkat (UK):

Compiling various performances from Spire events spread between 2005 and 2006, this magnificent double LP contains pieces by all the big names to grace the Touch label: Fennesz, Philip Jeck, BJ Nilsen, and Spire organists Charles Matthews and Marcus Davidson. Of all these contributions, Philip Jeck’s is probably the most immediately arresting. It’s a truly odd experience listening to his incredibly tactile, crackly old vinyl manipulations on a vinyl format, but don’t worry, that’s not the pressing erupting into a scratchy mess, that’s just how Philip Jeck rolls. Perhaps predictably, Fennesz is the other real showstopper on the selection, launching a simply immense sound from his laptop. It’s all quite overwhelmingly grand at times, but never exhausting. Excellent. …

The Wire (UK):

The Blogglebum Cage (UK):

This massive sidelong testament to the transcendental powers of digital time-stretching comes from Spire Live: Fundamentalis, a double various artists LP on Portland’s Autofact label, which forms part of Touch’s ongoing investigation into re-fixed church organ music. The whole album is great. It’s basically a massive expansion of the recent Fennesz/Jeck split single that I wrote about here. With a little extra room to breathe (five inches, to be precise), Fennesz really comes into his own. Fantastic to see that the great man is on such fine form but where where where is his new solo full-length?

Mojo (UK):

Gonzo Circus (Belgium):

Het zoeken naar de symbiose tussen avant-garde klassieke muziek en moderne elektronica is één van de bestaansredenen van het Britse Touchlabel. Met de concertreeks ‘Spire Live’ brengt het label van Mike Harding en Jon Wozencroft deze filosofie in de praktijk door een klassiek ensemble te koppelen aan de fine fleur van elektronica. ‘Spire Live Fundamentalis’ is de laatste aanvulling in deze prestigieuze serie. Harding selecteerde uit twee concertavonden – de ene vond plaats in de St. Goedele Kathedraal in Brussel, als onderdeel van Les Nuits Botaniques 2006, de andere in de Masthuggs Kerk in Göteborg, als onderdeel van het GAS Festival – vijf bijdrages. Harding wist een goede selectie te puren uit de bijdrages van Philip Jeck, Fennesz, BJ Nilsen, Charles Matthews en Marcus Davidson die allen een erg persoonlijke invulling aan het concept geven. Het bijzondere aan deze uitgave is vooral de diversiteit van de gekozen stukken, de invulling die Charles Matthews aan het geheel heft ligt ver weg van het stuk dat turntablist Philip Jeck aflevert maar hebben toch raakpunten met elkaar. ‘Spire Live Fundamentalis’ is voor het Touch het perfecte visitekaartje en bewijst dat de mengvorm van klassieke muziek en elektronica niet artificieel hoeft te zijn en ook live kan werken. Mede door het mooie fotowerk van Jon Wozencroft is dit opnieuw een parel van een plaat, letterlijk te nemen want enkel verkrijgbaar als vinylexemplaar. [Peter Deschamps]