Yin – Yang

Sound as aura

In January 2018, David Sylvian contacted Jon Abbey and Yuko Zama in New York to gauge their interest in releasing some music by the Berlin-based musicians Biliana Voutchkova and Michael Thieke. Jon’s Erstwhile Records is home to recordings by some of the foremost innovators and improvisers in the contemporary scene with his wife Yuko involved in production and taking a lead in design. The label’s output had been one of the resources that Sylvian had explored whilst preparing for the Manafon project, and the AMPLIFY 2004: addition festival in Germany – co-curated by Abbey and Keith Rowe – was where he met some of the musicians who would feature on that record for the very first time (see ‘Snow White in Appalachia‘).

Sylvian had designed a cover featuring his own photographs for violinist Voutchkova and clarinetist Thieke’s release the previous year, As Found, where the pair were accompanied by the electro-acoustic sound-layering of Roy Carroll. The new proposal was quite a different proposition, being a three-disc set of live concerts from Voutchkova & Thieke’s Blurred Music project, where pre-recorded material mingles with live improvisations which respond to the specific moods and environments encountered on the day of performance.

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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.’

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