experimental

Two Knocks For Yes live photos

Last Friday saw the culmination of weeks of preparation with the public performance of Two Knocks For Yes at St. Andrews Church. The team were pleased with a (nearly) full house and the evening went by without a hitch, apart from a dry ice machine overheating which led to a huge cloud of dry ice rather than the planned mist floating across the floor and down the steps of the altar. 

It was an absolute treat to perform in such an atmospheric space. The Buchla shook the wooden pews and bounced around the stone walls. I even got a chance to make an impromptu improvised recording when I had half an hour alone whilst everyone had gone for dinner and before the audience arrived. 

As well as my performance of Two Knocks For Yes, there was an intriguing found tape recording of a scientist talking about some strange experiments, a talk on the folklore of water and death by James Burt, and some shared ghost stories from the audience. We learnt a lot from this first show and will be working towards expanding it for future outings. 

The best thing about the whole event was getting a rare opportunity to work with my brother Curtis James, who instigated the project and made it happen (and hosted on the evening). It took me back to our teenage years working the lighting and sound for school plays. 

Photos by Dominic Butler and DJ Food/Strictly Kev

The School is Full of Noises

An interesting (if slightly limited) exploration of experimental music in the classroom. Back in the '60s kids got the opportunity to experiment with tape machines and play with bringing stories to life using sound and what some call 'challenging' composition. I hope this still goes on in classrooms today, but I have a funny feeling it probably doesn't. I was lucky enough to have a music teacher that had some synthesizers and who also invited a group of musicians in to show off their samplers and drum machines - I was pretty much hooked instantly by this exciting world of playing with sound and music that didn't involve playing the guitar or violin. Thanks Mr.Hayter.

How did tape loops, recycled everyday sounds and countless other weapons of the avant-garde find their way into school music lessons during the 1960s? That's the challenge for Ian McMillan as he sets out on the trail of one of music education's more unexpected byways.

Listen here - link will probably die at some point.....

Two Knocks For Yes

I created this Radiophonic collage for Halloween. I'd really enjoyed this article by Adam Curtis and wanted to do something using excerpts from the archive material featured.

Explore the poltergeist phenomenon with this 30 minute radiophonic collage, featuring recordings from British cases including the famous 'Enfield Haunting'. Electronic oscillations courtesy of the Buchla 200e Electric Music Box; manipulated frequencies courtesy of the Critter & Guitari Kaleidoloop.

I love projects like this that see my two worlds of music and radio collide. I just wish there were more outlets for such work. It would be fantastic to create a radio drama with the same kind of treatment....

Wheels That Go

I love the collaborations between puppeteer and film maker Jim Henson and pioneering electronic musician Raymond Scott. Created for a film competition at Montreal's Expo '67, Wheels That Go, explored motion and movement and featured Henson's son Brian.

This next film Paperwork Explosion, for IBM explored the problems of too much information and not enough time and how computers might help readdress the balance. Scott's electronic treatments are perfect for this hectic fast paced montage, with a noticeable contrast between the cachophony pre IBM and the organised rhythms and tones once we start finding out more about their new time saving technology.

More about Scott's electronic sound design company Manhattan Research Inc. here. He was way ahead of his time, building early sequencers and collaborating with Bob Moog to build many more of his own musical inventions.

'Machines should work, people should think'