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.:: Harvey has a truly global reputation, particularly for his work in the field of electro-acoustic music (he has been commissioned by IRCAM on eight separate occasions), where he is considered as one of the most skilled and imaginative composers using the electronic medium today.
He has also composed for most other genres, including large orchestra, ensemble and solo instrumental. He is particularly renowned for his choral music, much of which is suited for church performance, most notably his church opera Passion and Resurrection. He is frequently featured at all the major European music festivals. From 2005 he is Composer-in-Residence at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He is currently writing an opera for Nederlands Opera.
Born in Warwickshire in 1939, Jonathan Harvey was a chorister at St Michael's College, Tenbury and later a major music scholar at St John's College, Cambridge. He gained doctorates from the universities of Glasgow and Cambridge and also studied privately (on the advice of Benjamin Britten) with Erwin Stein and Hans Keller. He was a Harkness Fellow at Princeton (1969-70).
An invitation from Boulez to work at IRCAM in the early 1980s has resulted in eight realisations at the Institute, or for the Ensemble Intercontemporain, including the tape piece Mortuos Plango Vivos Voco, Bhakti for ensemble and electronics, Ritual Melodies for computer-manipulated sounds, and Advaya for cello and live and pre-recorded sounds. Harvey has also composed for most other genres: orchestra (including Madonna of Winter and Spring, Tranquil Abiding and White as Jasmine), chamber (including four String Quartets, Soleil Noir/Chitra, and Death of Light, Light of Death, for instance) as well as works for solo instruments.
He has produced a large output of choral works, including the large cantata with electronics Mothers shall not Cry (2000). His church opera Passion and Resurrection (l981) was the subject of a BBC television film, and has received twelve subsequent performances. His opera Inquest of Love, commissioned by ENO, was premiered there in 1993 and repeated at Theatre de la Monnaie, Brussels in 1994.
Harvey now attracts commissions from many international organisations. His music has been extensively played and toured by, amongst others, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Asko, Nieuw Ensemble (Amsterdam) and Ictus Ensemble (Brussels). About 80 recordings are available on CD. He is regularly performed at all the major international contemporary music festivals, and is one of the most skilled and imaginative composers working in electronic music. He has honorary doctorates from the universities of Southampton and Bristol, is a Member of Academia Europaea, and in 1993 was awarded the prestigious Britten Award for composition.
He published two books in 1999, on inspiration and spirituality respectively. Arnold Whittall’s study of his music appeared, published by Faber & Faber (and in French by IRCAM) in the same year. Two years later John Palmer published a substantial study: "Jonathan Harvey's Bhakti" (Edwin Mellen Press). Harvey was Professor of Music at Sussex University for 18 years, where he is now Honorary Professor of Music. He is Professor Emeritus of Music at Stanford University, California (Professor 1995-2000), and an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge. He is Composer-in-Residence at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
download: jonathan harvey - from silence, nataraja, ritual melodies
Posted by indieground at 1:26 PM
.:: Æthenor Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light LP/CD
Debut by trio of Stephen O’Malley (Sunn0))))), Daniel O’Sullivan (Guapo), and Vincent de Roguin (Shora). Taking its title from The Iliad, the music here is deep and cosmic, completely unlike anything you’d expect from such heavyweights. More in the tradition of ‘Spiral Insana” and “Cyborg” than anything, the tracks float along in a masterful collage of activity, where careful scene changes highlight O’Sullivan’s classic but artfully placed Rhodes bombs, de Roguin’s organ, and O’Malley’s guitar.
Extraordinary effort has gone into editing, mastering, and shaping these pieces – these are not tossed off improvisations or “side-project” orphans. Housed in CD and LP jackets hand-printed by Alan Sherry/SIWA.
Earlier this year we all fell in love with the absolutely killer (but sadly ridiculously limited) 'Twisted Stems' 7" from moody Londoners Guapo, and now we have the perfect accompaniment. Aethenor is the project of Daniel O'Sullivan (of Guapo), the prolific and omnipresent Stephen O'Malley (Sunn o))), Khanate, KTL) and Vincent De Roguin and between them they have managed to lay down some of the most earth shatteringly atmospheric and cinematic soundscapes this side of Earth's incredible 'Hex' album.
The reason we all got so misty-eyed over 'Twisted Stems' was its reliance on that Badalamenti sound we all know and love, but this album takes that sound one step further in a soup of Rhodes and clattering celluloid sounds, transporting the listener into darkened alcohol drenched saloons and cold, lonely desert landscapes effortlessly. Although doom-metal's grand magus Stephen O'Malley is hard at work here again, don't be expecting a treatise in drone - Aethenor have come up with something far more atmospheric and far less genre specific than you ever would have thought.
The droning guitar is submerged somewhere in the mix below thick electric piano and decomposing field recordings, between clattering pots and pans and the sound of creaking wood. You can almost hear the chattering ghosts of cowboys, whores and sheriffs in the distance somewhere, hidden under crackling vinyl and a small boy collecting glasses behind the door.
This is intense and deeply visual music, bringing to mind so many images you don't even need track titles to give you any clues - in fact a visual accompaniment would do the album an injustice; it gives you everything you need simply from the sound. Those of you left gasping for more after Deaf Center's 'Pale Ravine' and Svarte Greiner's 'Knive' should look no further - this is how it is done, and it doesn't really get much better than this.
download: æthenor - deep in ocean sunk the lamp of light
Posted by indieground at 4:16 PM
.:: Perhaps in the same way as The Force, the influence of Dischord Records should not be underestimated. The 22-year-old label has had so many significant names and bands on its roster it's sometimes easy to forget what a small operation the company actually is. Founded in 1980 by teenagers Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson in order to self-release material they recorded in their hardcore punk band the Teen Idles, the strong sense of community in the Washington Hardcore (harDCore) scene and those who follow it have kept the label going until today.
While I'm not going to repeat the entire history of Dischord here (you'll have to read the booklet like I did), it's important to understand the significance of the label's history. It still operates from a normal house, albeit slightly larger than the original 'Dischord House'. It is still run by a handful of people, most of whom have been there throughout most of its history. The people who run the label are close to the bands whose records they produce and distribute, who are almost exclusively from the DC area. They do not invest in large scale marketing campaigns, music videos or even many singles. Yet, thanks to strong ties with distributors such as Southern Records, their releases are available the world over.
20 Years of Dischord is an anniversary box set (the anniversary was actually in 2000, but it took them longer than expected to produce) documenting the work of the first 50 artists on the label. Comprised of three CDs and a 134 page colour booklet, it features a track by each artist plus 21 unreleased songs, six MPEG videos and other odds and ends.
The booklet is superb - clearly a lot of care and attention has been put into producing it. The front and rear covers show near-identical photos taken of Dischord founders Ian and Jeff in the Discord Office, one from 1983 and the other in 2001. There is a foreword by ape-man Henry Rollins, long-time friend of Ian MacKaye, followed by a two-page spread dedicated to each artist - a page of text and a photo.
The text is full of interesting facts and features a mini-history for each band, you can stare at the photos to give your eyes something to do as you listen to the music - and give your hands a workout by using them to turn the pages. They really have thought of everything.
Whether or not the music would be of interest to people who are not already fans of Dischord is arguable. The tracks are mostly in order of release, and the earlier songs may not be easy to stomach for those who are used to overproduced dirge like Blink 182. But I suppose even then you could say it proves how amazing it is that people who were once so musically inept could set up such a successful label.
Personally I enjoy listening to the raw, untamed energy of the early artists, before moving on to the greater musical diversity of later bands, often featuring the same members as the previous groups.
The only things that are not of superb quality in this collection are the live video clips, but then they were NEVER of a high audio/visual quality. Just remember they were taken in the days before Digital Video Cameras.
If you see this box-set lying idly in a shop, buy it. If you don't like it, give it to someone who does. They'll be your friend for ever.
download: 1980 - 2000 20 years of dischord (cd1)
download: 1980 - 2000 20 years of dischord (cd2)
download: 1980 - 2000 20 years of dischord (cd3) perviously unreleased material
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Posted by indieground at 10:09 PM
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.:: Moving away from blissed-out orchestral pop to quiet and refined folk, Woodpigeon raises the stakes on Houndstooth. The six-song EP is a departure for the band – moving from big and complex to small and more intimate. The first two tracks in particular ("In Praise of the West Midlothian Bus Service" and "Oberkampf"), showcase strong, deliberate vocals and effective harmonies and meld hymnal-like swells to create these modern lullabies.
Recorded beautifully by another local favourite, Jane Vain, the band has never sounded more crystalline or precise. Track three, recorded by Aaron Booth, emphasizes the band’s confidence in the new material and showcases the lyrics and intricate acoustics – allowing the song to build and retreat effortlessly.
By shedding the bells and whistles (literally), Woodpigeon allows the listener to hear its growth in every plucked string. By keeping things simple and stripping down its sound, the band has managed to show on Houndstooth that big things really do come in small packages.
download: woodpigeon - houndstooth ep
Posted by indieground at 9:45 AM
.:: Kaija Saariaho is a prominent member of a group of Finnish composers and performers who are now, in mid-career, making a worldwide impact. Born in Helsinki in 1952, she studied at the Sibelius Academy there with the pioneering modernist Paavo Heininen and, with Magnus Lindberg and others, she founded the progressive ‘Ears Open’ group. She continued her studies in Freiburg with Brian Ferneyhough and Klaus Huber, at the Darmstadt summer courses, and, from 1982, at the IRCAM research institute in Paris – the city which has been her home ever since.
At IRCAM, Saariaho developed techniques of computer-assisted composition and acquired fluency in working on tape and with live electronics. This experience influenced her approach to writing for orchestra, with its emphasis on the shaping of dense masses of sound in slow transformations. Significantly, her first orchestral piece, Verblendungen (1984), involves a gradual exchange of roles and character between orchestra and tape. And even the titles of her next, linked, pair of orchestral works, Du Cristal (1989) and …à la Fumée (1990) – the latter with solo alto flute and cello, and both with live electronics – suggest their preoccupation with colour and texture.
Through IRCAM, Saariaho became allied with the French ‘spectralist’ composers, whose techniques are based on computer analysis of the sound-spectrum of individual notes on different instruments. This analytical approach led her to the regular use of harmonies resting on long-held bass notes, microtonal intervals, and a precisely detailed continuum of sound extending from pure tone to unpitched noise – all features of one of her most frequently performed works, Graal théâtre for violin and orchestra or ensemble (1994/97).
In recent years Saariaho has turned to opera, with outstanding success. L’Amour de loin, with a libretto by Amin Maalouf based on an early biography of the twelfth-century troubadour Jaufré Rudel, received widespread acclaim in its premiere production directed by Peter Sellars at the 2000 Salzburg Festival, and won the composer a prestigious Grawemeyer Award. Adriana Mater, on an original libretto by Maalouf, mixing gritty present-day reality and dreams, followed, again directed by Sellars, at the Opéra Bastille in Paris in March 2006.
Around the operas there have been other vocal works, notably the ravishing Château de l’âme (1996), Oltra mar (1999), and the song-cycle Quatre instants (2002). And the evening-long La Passion de Simone, portraying the life and death of the philosopher Simone Weil, will form part of Sellars’s international festival ‘New Crowned Hope’ in 2006/07.
The experience of writing for voices has led to some simplification of Saariaho’s language, with a new vein of modally oriented melody accompanied by more regular repeating patterns. This change of direction has been carried over into orchestral works including Aile du songe for flute and chamber orchestra (2001) and the stunning Orion for large orchestra (2002) – with a new cello concerto to come for the Boston Symphony Orchestra in February 2007.
In the profusion of large and small works which Saariaho has produced in recent years, two features which have marked her whole career continue to stand out. One is a close and productive association with individual artists – not least Amin Maalouf and Peter Sellars, as well as the conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the flautist Camilla Hoitenga, the cellist Anssi Karttunen, the soprano Dawn Upshaw and, more recently, the pianist Emmanuel Ax. The other is a concern, shown equally in her choice of subject matter and texts and in the profusion of expression marks in her scores, to make her music not a working-out of abstract processes but an urgent communication from composer to listener of ideas, images and emotions. kaija saariaho
download: kaija saariaho - a portrait of kaija saariaho
Posted by indieground at 7:32 PM
.:: Fugazi is a band from Washington, D.C. They played their first show on September 3, 1987 and since then they have released seven albums and toured the world extensively covering all fifty United States, Europe, Australia, South America, Japan and many points in between. The band is self managed and release all their material through Dischord Records.
The band maintains a policy of affordable access to their work through low record and ticket prices and all concerts are all-ages.
Fugazi's most recent musical releases are "The Argument" 10 song album and the "Furniture" 3 song single, both recorded in the spring of 2001 and released in the fall of 2001. These sessions mark the first studio appearance of long time roadie, Jerry Busher, who plays additional drums and percussion on a number of the tracks. The recordings were made in collaboration with long time Fugazi engineer Don Zientara at Inner Ear studios.
Fugazi is currently on an indefinite hiatus as they tend to young families and other musical projects.
Released in conjunction with Argument, Furniture is a three-song EP putting together older tracks that had yet to be put on disc. Running with similar consistency to the 3 Songs EP that preceded Repeater, these older songs still sound fresh.
"Furniture," with its trademark Ian MacKaye call-response vocal, would have been quite comfortable on either of the first two EPs. The Guy Picciotto-led "Hello Morning" is reminiscent of "Break-In," while the driving instrumental second track, "Number 5," is scorching. Thankfully kept separate from the very different Argument, this should be heard by any Fugazi fan, no matter what time of the band they consider the best. ~ Chris True
download: fugazi - furniture + 2
Posted by indieground at 11:12 AM