Kin

Melding abstract art forms

I graduated from university in 1987 and was living in a new town with a new job. The only way to keep abreast of the news of my favourite musicians was to pop into the newsagent at lunch-time and quickly scan the first few pages of the music weeklies – NME, Sounds, Melody Maker. It was impossible to dwell too long for fear of incurring the wrath of the shop-keeper. My budget did not allow for weekly purchases, but vital updates had to be sought out…

It was with real surprise that I spotted the following in the NME of 29 August 1987. ‘David Sylvian has written the score for the latest dance project by leading young dancer Gaby Agis. The ex-Japan singer’s music gets its premiere at the Almeida Theatre in London’s Islington from September 8 to 13. For ticket details, ring the box office.’ I lived relatively close to London but a trip at short notice would still take some organising as I had no car at the time; bus, rail and underground would all be needed. Practicalities having been attended to, during my lunch break the next day I slipped out to a red public telephone box – personal phone calls being forbidden at the office – and secured tickets for the second day’s performance. Continue reading “Kin”

The Healing Place

Artist as shaman

In 1983 the cassette-based magazine Audio Arts published a supplement capturing radical German artist Joseph Beuys in conversation with both the magazine’s founder William Furlong and Michael Newman. The recording was made at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum on the occasion of an exhibition of Beuys’ drawings. The artist, then in his early sixties, quickly widens the discussion to his ‘goals’: ‘I decided in my life not to become a physicist but to try to make an experience with the Arts; to widen understanding of the Arts, to become able to change the social order..’ Science, whilst being highly developed so as to render us ‘even able to fly to outer-terrestrial planets,’ is however unable to make clear ‘what it means to be a human being and what the inner goal of life on earth would mean, and what would be the highest quality for the life of the different peoples on earth, and how they could overcome their inner frustration, and how they could overcome the alienation of their working places. So, in being directed to bring a wider understanding of art which is related to everybody’s labour, on every existing working place, it is on the point where it touches the economical system.’ Continue reading “The Healing Place”

In Vogue

Realising possibilities

Tin Drum was my introduction to the music of Japan, and from there I explored the previous releases. These were my final years at school and it was an exciting time with a world of music opening up to me that I just hadn’t been aware of before. A friend encouraged me to listen, passing me C90 cassette tapes of his favourite music which I would lose myself in, then saving my Saturday job money so I could visit the local record shop to buy the vinyl. The skull-and-cross-bones symbols may have said that home taping was killing music, but it also helped to foster a life-long appreciation of some incredible recordings – many of which I now own in multiple copies: vinyl, cd, re-releases, remasters… Continue reading “In Vogue”

How Little We Need to Be Happy

‘a sense of dislocation’

‘I didn’t want the listener to feel comfortable when they heard this record because it wasn’t comfortable to make it. It was profoundly uncomfortable and often disturbing. Although that is the opposite of the way I tend to work, it seemed to be the right approach for this particular project. I know it’s going to alienate a lot of listeners who won’t understand how to approach the work, but I had to be true to the essence of this project and working with Derek enabled me to find another voice with which to deal with these rather difficult emotions.’ (DS, 2003) Continue reading “How Little We Need to Be Happy”

Maria

Inspired by the art of cinema

‘There was a wave of Russian films which made their way to London during the eighties/nineties which I adored. None more so than Tarkovsky.. ..I believe Tarkovsky’s work has had an influence on my life and work in much the same way that certain key experiences stay with and enrich our lives, become points of reference and renewal. Seeing my first Tarkovsky film was to experience an epiphany of sorts. It registered deeply and profoundly.’ (DS, 1999) Continue reading “Maria”