Playing the Schoolhouse

‘sensitivity to time within space’

From 30 November to 2 December 2016 a symposium entitled On the Edge was staged in Oslo, Norway. Whilst David Sylvian was not present at the event, his influence on the proceedings was significant. The programme was created by Ivar Grydeland, a musician who works in the field of improvisation and a member of the groups Huntsville and Dans les Abres, the latter’s eponymous debut album having been released on the ECM label in 2008.

At the time of the symposium, Grydeland had recently completed an artistic research fellowship project at The Norwegian Academy of Music entitled Ensemble and Ensemble of Me – What I Think About When I Think About Improvisation. Grydeland was intrigued by David Sylvian’s use and direction of performances by improvising musicians as the core material for vocal tracks on both Blemish and Manafon, as well as his own experiences contributing to a recording session for Sylvian late in 2015, and so decided to devote the event to the theme of On the Edge – Improvisers on music and methods. Sylvian himself contributed from afar to the performances on 1 December in the capacity of a curator, selecting a group of musicians to improvise together at the Nasjonal Jazzscene venue – the line-up comprising Keith Rowe, David Toop, Rhodri Davies, Rie Nakajima and Phil Durrant.

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Five Lines

‘from totally opposite parts of the musical globe’

Dai Fujikura had an early and unusual fascination with David Sylvian’s work. ‘I grew up listening to his music—which is a bit strange, as I was born in 1977. The first album I listened to was Secrets of the Beehive. At that time I was 13 years old or so, and I hadn’t listened to pop music—well, maybe I’d heard it on TV, but I’d never purchased it nor was I interested in any music other than classical. Being a classical musician was my life from the age of five! Practicing every day, doing homework, going to “juku”, which was a sort of “extra school” that lots of kids in my generation attended. So, I had no time to waste, and no time to search in other genres of music.

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When We Return You Won’t Recognise Us

‘the interior life of a community’

March 2009. The venue is on the north-east coast of Gran Canaria, the near-circular island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Part of a Spanish archipelago but geographically much closer to Africa. In fact, at its closest point, Morocco is less than a hundred miles to the East. Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno (CAAM, or the Atlantic Centre of Modern Art) in Las Palmas has dedicated exhibition space to the second architecture and art biennial of the Canary Islands, with parallel presentations taking place at a number of venues across Gran Canaria.

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