Touch Live at The Roundhouse | 16th May 2009

Touch presents, as part of The Short Circuit Festival:

Philip Jeck [UK] and the Gavin Bryars Ensemble [UK/FR] – The Sinking of the Titanic
Biosphere [NO] (Visuals by Jon Wozencroft)
Hildur Gudnadóttir [IS] & BJNilsen [SE]

In addition, works by Chris Watson and BJNilsen, with film by John Aitchison, will also be presented.

Hildur Gudnadóttir [IS] & BJNilsen [SE]

Hildur Gudnadóttir’s live cello is picked up and processed by BJNilsen to produce an original and challenging new composition. The organic sounds of the cello are developed using ‘digital signal processing’ (dsp) on a laptop computer. One of the oldest and most beautiful musical instruments, the cello works perfectly as a source for digital instrumentation – its rich sensual tones suit electronic treatment perfectly. We hear the cello as well as the process, which develops rather than restricts the dynamics of the acoustics.

Hildur has been playing cello since the age of 6, training at The Reykjavik Music College in Iceland, before further studies in electronic music composition. She has played and worked with many ground-breaking groups, including Múm, Pan Sonic, Throbbing Gristle, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Angel, Skúli Sverrisson and others. Her debut album for Touch, ‘CI’ will be released in the Spring of 2009.

BJNilsen has been performing and recording for many years, including successful collaborations with Chris Watson and Fennesz. Recording also for film, TV and radio, his work consists of electronic treatments of natural sounds, exploring the acoustic of the analogue in a digital context. He is a member of Spire and freq_out.

Biosphere [NO]

Geir Jenssen lives and works in Tromsø in northern Norway. Biosphere inverts his climatic and atmospheric experience to produce a warm, ambient sound, often using conventional instrumentation for his sources. Someone once called it ‘Arctic Sound’, opening up huge spaces right at the dead centre of urban claustrophobia. His music is synaesthetic – sound sculpture, music as photographic collage, here perfectly accompanied by Jon Wozencroft’s images.

One of the most successful of the pioneers of sample-based music, he has been releasing albums on Touch since 2000. Also an award-winning film composer, he scored the soundtrack for the original version of Insomnia [1997].

Philip Jeck [UK] and the Gavin Bryars Ensemble [UK/FR] – The Sinking of the Titanic

Gavin Bryars’ The Sinking of the Titanic is an open semi-aleatoric work written in 1969. Bryars himself has developed versions of variable length (from 15 minutes to an hour) that have been performed in different contexts, both as sound installation and as a real concert work. The piece has its origins in an obsession (one in which Bryars meditates on the famous ship’s sinking) whose evidence is in a minute handwriting notebook. This brings together information, curiosities, evidence, statistical data on the survivors, technical research on the ship, on the places occupied by the passengers, on projects for the wreck’s recovery. In other words everything related to the time of the sinking. This sinking is then a metaphor for the failure of modern technology, of the paradox of modernity, the fact that a super-technological ship could have been rammed and sunk by a block of ice. This is an another important aspect of our Titanic idea: one related to memory and to lifetime, to concreteness and abstraction meant as a metaphor for the journey between life and death, the ocean’s surface and depth. The important new figure in this version is Philip Jeck, one of the most important names on the experimental scene. Jeck uses his experience to cover the sound with a blanket of thin dust, which, at the same time, is memory, distance, hallucination, traveling, and anxiety. The dust which comes from the obsessive repetition of a short phrase, its melancholy, the memory’s melancholy, is part of an harmony that Jeck shares with Bryars that succeeds, in a really extraordinary way, in freezing time in a “waiting” dimension.

A version with Philip Jeck and the Italian string quartet Alter Ego, recorded at the Venice Biennale in 2005, was released on Touch in 2008.