Song

Last words

The first time I heard Franz Wright’s voice I had no idea of the identity of the speaker. It was 7 September 2013 and the premiere of The Kilowatt Hour, a trio of Christian Fennesz, Stephan Mathieu and David Sylvian, taking place at the Punkt Festival in Kristiansand, Norway. The venue was the main screen at the local cinema: the sound system powerful and detailed, the acoustics perfect.

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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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Saffron Laudanum

Melting music into new

It’s 2011 and audience members at the Agder Theatre, Kristiansand, Norway rush from the main auditorium to a dark basement room where plain benches are set out to accommodate as many people as possible in this smaller space. In dim light the deep shimmering drone of the music begins. David Sylvian’s distinctive reading voice declares:

‘matter
in the layers between
crushed in time

matter
what they left behind
can be read on an arrowhead’
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The God of Silence

Sound collage art

The Uncommon Deities audio-visual installation heralded the start of David Sylvian’s creative input to the 2011 Punkt Festival in Kristiansand, Norway, where he was artist in residence. Invited by Punkt founders Erik Honoré and Jan Bang, Sylvian’s initial intention had been to re-stage an audio installation that he had provided for the Bienal De Canarias on Gran Canaria two years earlier. However, he saw the opportunity to bring together various creative threads to concoct a truly immersive experience for the first night of the festival.

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A Certain Slant of Light

A new catalyst for composition

The vocal disc of David Sylvian’s 2011 album Died in the Wool comprises pieces that fall into three categories: variations on tracks from Sylvian’s Manafon album created by Japanese composer Dai Fujikura, Manafon variations led by Punkt festival founders Jan Bang and Erik Honoré, and six compositions appearing here for the first time. Continue reading “A Certain Slant of Light”