Meta Gesture Music
This extraordinary album contains the results of five years' worth of research into new musical instruments and interfaces. Titled Meta Gesture Music: Embodied Interaction, New Instruments And Sonic Immersion, the anthology features musicians who crossed paths during Meta Gesture Music, a research project which ran between 2012–17 at London’s Goldsmiths College in order to explore new tools and techniques for experimental music making, from live computer coding to using bike lights and solar panels as instruments.
The compilation contains new tracks by Goldsmiths professor of media computing Atau Tanaka, both solo and in duet with composer/pianist Sarah Nicolls, as well as Tom Richards performing on his Mini-Oramics set up, Kaffe Matthews making music with sharks in the sea, xname amplifying electromagnetic fields, Laetitia Sonami performing on her patented Spring Spyre, plus Leafcutter John, Renick Bell & Steph Horak, Dane Law, and Ewa Justka. More info below...
A muscle sensing interface captures the pianist’s gesture, and uses granular synthesis to realise the dream of shaping pianistic timbre after striking a note, for it to sustain to infinity. Programming by Adam Parkinson, transcription by Daniel James Ross. Atau Tanaka’s first inspirations came upon meeting John Cage during his Norton Lectures at Harvard. He did his doctorate at CCRMA with John Chowning and went on to conduct research at IRCAM and Sony CSL. He formed Sensorband in the 1990s and has presented his work at Ars Electronica, ZKM, Sonar, Transmediale, Eyebeam, SFMOMA. Sarah Nicolls is pianist and inventor of the Inside-Out Piano. She played in the PRSF New Music Biennial in Matthew Herbert’s 20 Pianos project, with the London Sinfonietta and is regularly broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Leafcutter John - Let’s Stick Together
A light sensitive grid enables fine gestural control over compositional elements and sound generation. Here, they are played using handheld cycle lights.
Leafcutter John’s Housebound Spirit won Honorary Mention at Ars Electronica and was one of The Wire’s Top 50 records (2003). He is member of Mercury Music Prize-nominated Polar Bear.
Laetitia Sonami - Breathing in Birds and Others
The Spring Spyre is comprised of a found object, hacked fader box and audio pick-ups from reverb tanks. Thin springs generate audio, analysed by Rebecca Fiebrink’s Wekinator, but are ultimately chaotic. The piece explores unpredictability and fluidity, akin to smoke volutes disturbed by air. Laetitia Sonami studied with Eliane Radigue, Joel Chadabe, Robert Ashley and David Behrman. Her work, including 25 years performing with the lady’s glove, focuses on presence and participation, applying new technologies and appropriated media to an expression of immediacy through sound, place and objects. She has received the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts and a Foundation for Contemporary Performance Award.
Live coded beats with effects pedal-driven vocals. Their sound drifts to and fro between chaos and order as the beats and melodies stumble to coalesce. Renick Bell performs live coding, improvisation, and algorithmic composition using open source software. He authored Conductive, a music library for the Haskell programming language. Steph Horak experiments with systems for voice and composition in a style edging between experimental electronica, traditional songwriting, and conceptual.
xname - Field
Field uses solar panels, light dependent resistors (LDR) and Vivaldi Antennas in an investigation of electromagnetic fields to expand our understanding of natural forces by extending human perception. Mixed with Andrea Ruffino. xname’s work, cryptic, ritualistic and noisy, stimulates new forms of perception by questioning materiality and presence; the role of memory, experience and our ancestors in the formation of identity.
Tom Richards - Unresolved Resolution
The infinitely morphable sounds of the Mini-Oramics dual wave-shaping synthesiser (based on a Daphne Oram design) are heard alongside modular envelope generators, VCAs and polyrhythmic electroacoustic drums. Tom Richards walks the line between sonic art, sculpture and music. He has performed at Tate Britain, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Science Museum, Spike Island, Cafe Oto, MK Gallery, Bold Tendencies, Camden Arts Centre.
Dane Law - DION
Dane Law surveys rave culture in an impressionistic crawl of hieroglyphic-like fragments of sound. Played through homebrewed algorithmic sound systems, he euphorically reconstitutes our collective musical past into something far noisier. Adam Parkinson researches the history of UK experimental music, haptic interaction, and the nature of liveness in laptop music. He has digital, cassette, and VR releases on Quantum Natives and the Prague label Genot Centre.
Atau Tanaka - Myogram
Here Tanaka sonifies electromyogram (EMG) signals from concentrated forearm gestures. We hear the neuron impulses of muscle exertion spatialised, first raw, then filtered, exciting resonators. Composed and performed by Atau Tanaka. Programming by Miguel Ortiz.
Ewa Justka - Oink
"If that plasmic energy is alive, and it is (or it carries) information, then we have living information. Logos? Information plasma which enters through the optic nerve primarily – or auditorily. Signals that control our brains, open GABA blocked circuits" (Philip K. Dick: The Exegesis, 360). Ewa Justka explores the materiality of objects, vibrant, ontological systems (human bodies, plant bodies, micro and macro environments) and modes of quasi-direct perception. She has performed at Loop, Sonic Acts, Supernormal, Transmediale, STEIM, Colour out of Space, Signal Culture.
Kaffe Matthews - One Plastic Bottle, 450 Years: An Extract
An Extract is based on recordings from the Galapagos Islands where the artist dived with, recorded underwater and filmed hammerhead sharks. Traces of six sharks play 6 digital oscillators mixed with underwater recordings. Kaffe Matthews makes music with things and places such as the violin, theremin, wild salmon, Scottish weather, NASA scientists, school children, desert stretched wires, sonic bikes and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.The Weightless Animals collaboration was awarded a BAFTA; and she has received a NESTA Dreamtime Fellowship and an Award of Distinction at Ars Electronica for Sonic Bed_London.