IMG_1156It was a productive day yesterday, begun by dragging my jetlagged butt out of bed and soaking it in strong coffee for a good period. Then (or during) computers were opened and we began to talk about new features in Max 7 and some of the new programming efficiencies they present. I’m hoping that they can wrench my linear brain out of its stupor. I tend to like to see what’s happening on the screen in front of me, and efficient (skilled) programming tends to hide a lot! My brain is not wired for programming, and yet I still program. I guess I am wired for challenges!

So we made some decisions, had some thoughts, but generally didn’t mess with too much due to the concert.

Oh and I went for a run along the river, an obstacle course of tourists, street performers and bicycles, with views of Big Ben thrown in for good measure!

We walked to the show at I’klectic Art Lab, which was a testament to the good planning of the housing organizer (me) getting a great street burrito on the way. Street food seems to be big here. I saw a bicycle borne espresso bar yesterday, complete with generator!

I’klectic is hidden away between artist studios and an urban farm, near St Thomas’ Hospital and Waterloo Station. It’s a former schoolhouse run by a guy who is so passionate about improvised music, the small crowds don’t seem to discourage him! The room itself is perfect for our music, nice acoustic, a bar and espresso machine, comfy chairs and a quiet location. It’s a miracle, as most of these spaces are, just right, and hopefully long lasting.

IMG_1162The show itself was listened to by a small but mighty crowd of musicians mostly, including some “celebrity” English improvisers including my old friend Eddie Prevost, who we will hear tonight in the AMM 50th anniversary concert at Café OTO! The programme was 3 duos: myself and fellow cellist Ute Kanngiesser, Ute and the pianist Jane Dickson, and Sebastian Lexer and myself. Ute is a non classical cellist, who studied as a child but has come back to music through dance and other performance disciplines, Jane is a composer who never touched the keys, and Sebastian has developed his piano+ (piano electronics hybrid) project for so long, there are no seams in the sounds. Ute and I turned out to be an interesting pair, her instinctive and non-compositional music was not contrasting to mine per se, (she was actually quite consonant in an extended technique kind of way!) but different enough that our coincidences and meetings were all the more surprising and interesting! Ute and Jane achieved the best balance perhaps, Jane playing long sounds with ebows and by rubbing the piano strings with threads, while Ute tapped and scrubbed. It was really nice, and quiet too. Sebastian is my teacher somewhat, so I was nervous about how our electronics would mesh, but I needn’t have. We seemed to achieve a nice balance of distorted and pure sounds that was very beautiful. (Of course I later learned Sebastian got distracted during setup and forgot to put a lot of his preparations into the piano, so it may have been coincidence!) All in all, the concert was a brilliant bit of curation on Sebastian’s part and a nice restart to his Interlace Series, after a few years of its dormancy. It was a really memorable concert.

These kinds of shows, where you meet people “on the bandstand” as it were, are a real and exciting challenge. We are never quite sure what the aesthetic is going to be until the first note is sounded, then there ideally is a complicated, but organic negotiation (hopefully, a negotiation, not a declaration!) through the music to find musical footing. It’s an stimulating way to play, I find my brain is working full time to make the piece, and is pretty worn by the end!

Today the computers come out again, we start a new patch, and we hear AMM!