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)

David Sylvian’s first experience of Derek Bailey’s music came much earlier. ‘I’ve been listening to Derek’s work since ’84 or ’83. I was really drawn to the sound he produced on the guitar. I’d seen him perform over the years and sort of just tapped in to what he’s been doing on and off.’ The record that first drew Sylvian in was Aida. Released in 1980 on the Incus label – which Bailey founded with Evan Parker amongst others – it captures three live tracks recorded in London and Paris. Derek’s unique guitar sound is much in evidence as spider-like he explores every inch of the fret-board, the sound angular and unmistakeable. 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”

Some Small Hope

Contrasting voices and a ‘weird groove’

In an age when I can press ‘publish’ and this article will be instantly available to read in the farthest reaches of the globe, and where we can carry our laptops, tablets or smartphones with us wherever we go, it’s difficult to put yourself in the position of Masaki Sekijima back in 1986. I caught up with Masaki, who first shared some background: ‘I joined Ryuichi Sakamoto’s office in late 1984 and was assigned to be his instruments assistant in late 1985.’ The following year, a new project was on the horizon which would require Sakamoto to obtain a visa allowing him to work short-term in the UK. A young Masaki was invited to accompany him on the trip. ‘I was his only staff member who knew how to use or set up his regular instruments at the time.’ Continue reading “Some Small Hope”

Like Planets – Nagarkot

The potency of the past

Alongside musical performances and live remixes at the Punkt festival there is a seminar programme embracing a wide range of topics related to creativity and innovation in the art of sound. For the fifteenth festival in 2019 the seminar curator was musician, musicologist and writer David Toop. ‘The theme of the Punkt seminars this year is Voices of Memory: sounding, listening and the sense of who we are,’ he writes in the festival programme. ‘Memory is vital to music, if only because sound is always running away from us, slipping into the air like a ghost. To understand form, relationships, the developing shape of a musical piece depends on keeping a memory alongside our immediate sense of what is happening.. ..There are many facets to musical memory, ranging from personal and cultural identity, to archival and technological memory, to the different memories involved in notation or improvisation, to the way we constantly rewrite our memory of music in relation to our changing selves.’ Continue reading “Like Planets – Nagarkot”

Wave

from ‘Saints and Sheep’

I was at university in London in the mid-1980s, and my primary connection to what was happening in the world of the ex-members of Japan was the fanzine Bamboo. I would eagerly anticipate each new issue, taking a walk after lectures to the Virgin megastore on Tottenham Court Road to check whether they might have a new issue in stock. If in luck, I’d hop on the bus back to Denmark Hill, make a coffee and sit in the one easy chair in my student accommodation to devour the content from cover to cover. The full set of these A5 volumes still sits proudly in my music cabinet at home – and if any of the dedicated band of instigators and contributors should read this, then please accept grateful thanks for being a lifeline to fans in those days before the information superhighway. Continue reading “Wave”