Interview: People Like Us

«I reflect what is around me»

For almost 20 years now, Vicki Bennett has been working sound and image in the most charming and surrealistic way, through the People Like Us (PLU) project. At the end, everything that it’s approached in her audio-visual collages is the world itself, although mirrored in a creative and humorous way. «Like a parrot».

First than all, the context. In what have you been working lately?
Earlier this year I had my first retrospective at alt.gallery, which was a great thing to prepare, plus I have released two CDs. The first was with my colleague Ergo Phizmiz, and an online-only release entitled “Rhapsody In Glue”. It was made as a result of our podcast series entitled “Codpaste”, available from the Internet's number one freeform radio station, WFMU.

At this very moment, I am making a remix of Jean Jacques Perrey.

One of your last projects was developed based on the archives of British electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram. Was her work an inspiration to you?
Yes, in a non-direct way. I wouldn't say she inspired PLU, but I admire the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in a more passive way and appreciate what they have done for electronic music and British culture.

This was just one of the archive projects you’ve worked on. What, in your opinion, is the importance of the archiving process, at all levels? Do you have an interest in art history?
An archive is a library, a concentrated central point that people canrefer to in order to enrich and educate themselves in whatever way. Including creatively. I am not particularly knowledgeable about art history, no. Although I am an artist, I don't really relate to the art world, only to other artists. I fit in far more with the world of music.

Centring in your work, which would you say that are the main conceptual purposes of your approach to popular culture?
I reflect what is around me, like a folk musician, also like a parrot. There is no message, more a mirroring of what I see and hear, but of course the mirror is distorted by my own take on that. I am not criticizing what I cover, I am more paying homage to it, since I only use footage that amuses me in some way.
Being sound and image the two dimensions of your work, is one developed in function of the other? What’s your method, regarding that production?
I find it very difficult to combine music and image – at best it is a bit like walking forward, where one leg is sound and the other image. They both battle for 100% of the limelight. Unlike your own legs :)
So it depends on the context of the work on what I let lead the way. But it is a constant cause for confusion and bewilderment, trying to make audio-visually combined work.

Having in account the projects you’ve also been producing for radio, do you like to work sound in real time?
Yes, I have done a lot of improvisation on radio, and some in a live context on stage. My favourite live work has always been for radio,because it is just about listening and also in the comfort of your own environment. Also I like the idea of collaborating over a few hours, which you can do on radio. It can take an hour to even start to make something good. Then you can go home and edit that and keep the good stuff!

You’ve worked, for several times, with the images of the [Rick] Prelinger archives. When did you discover him, and which aspects did mark you at the time?
I discovered Rick I think in 2000. I found the Internet Archive, saw the lovely films that he made available for free download from his collection,and contacted him directly to say “thank you”. When I became friends with Rick it was like going into the archive of a friend. He is very interested in people, and full of childlike enthusiasm. He is an amazing and lovely person. It is Rick that makes the context of that archive so appealing. The films are nice too though!

PLU has always used a certain retro imagery on its films. Do you find present images uninteresting?
No – they just stopped making films around 1980. Simple as that. The context of the present that is in my work is me. I am in the present.

I presume it’s obvious that the image dimension is each time more present at contemporary societies. What’s your vision on the political and commercial propaganda we’ve being served nowadays?
I tend not to watch a lot of it, so I'm not a good person to comment on it. I prefer to create my own world and try and live life in a folk-art kind of way. I am a commercial artist, and very much need to make a living, but I am not driven by culture. I like to work below the radar and ahead of or parallel to mass culture a lot of the time.

PLU’s releases are available at the Internet for download. What took you to make that decision? Are you abandoning the “physical” format, concerning your releases?
The best way to reach people that may like you is through internet distribution. If the best way was still through CDs then I would do CDs. Well, I still do CDs, but as a cottage industry, not on mass. I think the Internet is a big trash can, but trash cans can be very useful for recycling.

Do you consider that the music industry is disappearing, as we know it?
Yes. Thankfully the music industry has never been very interested in me, so I will not miss it and they don't even know me.

Nuno Loureiro
Photos: People Like Us


PE sugere prémio para publicidade que rompa com estereótipos sexistas

O fim de uma era?

O Parlamento Europeu (PE) quer mais acção contra «os insultos sexistas ou imagens degradantes de mulheres e homens na publicidade e no marketing».

Nesse sentido, a instituição sugere que os Estados-membros promovam oficialmente um prémio conferido pelos profissionais da publicidade aos seus pares, bem como um prémio do público, para recompensar a publicidade que «melhor rompa com os estereótipos do género e dê uma imagem positiva ou valorizadora das mulheres, dos homens ou das relações entre ambos».

Recentemente aprovado em Bruxelas, o relatório sobre o impacto do marketing e da publicidade na igualdade entre homens e mulheres salienta a necessidade de dispor de «bons exemplos» no mundo dos meios de comunicação e da publicidade, para mostrar que «a mudança é possível e desejável».

No mesmo documento, o PE apela a que sejam eliminadas dos livros escolares, dos brinquedos, dos jogos de vídeo, da Internet e da publicidade televisiva e noutros meios de comunicação «todas as mensagens que veiculem estereótipos de género e que atentem contra a dignidade humana».

Será que as autoridades terão, eventualmente, o mesmo zelo relativamente às imagens de ultraviolência e degradação hiperrealista veiculadas diariamente pelos mass media?

Fotografia: D.R.


Portugal Jazz em Lagoa, com o Carlos Barretto Trio

O Auditório Municipal de Lagoa recebe nos próximos dias 19 e 20 o Portugal Jazz – Festival Itinerante de Jazz, com a actuação do Carlos Barretto Trio.

Recorde-se que este projecto iniciou o seu périplo por Portugal continental em Maio de 2007 e, desde então, já levou acções didácticas a milhares de jovens do 2º e 3º ciclos, assim como concertos destinados a um público alargado,
com algumas das principais figuras do jazz nacional.


19.08.2008 / 14h30
Acção didáctica – “Ora Vamos lá Improvisar!”
com Rui Eduardo Paes (narrador) e Miguel Leiria Pereira (contrabaixo)

20.08.2008 / 21h30
Concerto com Carlos Barretto Trio
Carlos Barretto (contrabaixo)
José Menezes (saxofone)
José Salgueiro (bateria)


Clean Feed Fest NY III

From September 19th through the 24th, Clean Feed is going to promote in New York its Fest NY III, in which the Portuguese label, through this jazz festival, showcases the talent it has on its catalogue and provides an insight into Portugal’s creative culture through music, wine and food.
This year’s event – the third – will be held at The Living Theatre, at 21 Clinton Street, in Lower Manhattan. In each night, of the festival two groups will each play one set (see the program here).
Clean Feed Fest NY III draws exclusively on artists who have recorded on the label’s more-than-100 releases over the past five years. Some of the artists are from New York City and are staples of the improvised music scene, such as Tony Malaby, William Parker and Elliott Sharp. Others are from other parts of the country, such as Dennis González (from Texas) and Scott Fields (Chicago, now in Cologne, Germany). These others, according to the label, «show the diversity that Clean Feed draws on and the fact that forward-thinking jazz is not just made in New York».

Meanwhile, Clean Feed has made available five new records: “The Beautiful Enabler”, by Mauger (Gerry Hemingway, Mark Dresser, Rudresh Mahanthappa); “Live at Vision Festival VI”, by the Trio Viriditas (Alfred Harth, Kevin Norton, Wilber Morris); “Drunk Butterfly”, by Adam Lane/Lou Grassi/Mark Whitecage; “House of Mirrors”, by Mark Dresser/Ed Harkins/Steven Schick, and “Poetry In Motion”, by Conference Call (Ed Harkins, Mark Dresser, Steven Schick).


Descubram as diferenças | Spot the differences

St.Paul, Minnesota, USA, 01.09.08

Amy Goodman, independent media journalists arrested outside RNC.

Published by O Lago

Note: To read the Disinformation report on this subject, access here.


The new proposals of Crónica Electrónica

There are new proposals at Crónica Electrónica’s catalogue, starting from its newest CD, “Berlin Backyards”, by Swiss sound artist Gilles Aubry.

Living in Berlin since 2002, Aubry spent the winter of 2006 recording backyards of the city, originally intending to explore the resonant frequencies of these spaces wich coloured the different sound sources as natural effects processors. He later became more aware of their function as spaces that stayed in between the public and the private sphere, spaces of neighbouring interaction and social control, a sort of negative architecture that hosted vital technical equipments to the buildings and the city itself — ventilation, trash and recycling containers, electric power stations, etc.
These almost organic functions of the city — breathing, digestion and excretion — the near invisibility of the inhabitants, the cycles and variations in lighting, sound, smell and mood over the day and the presence of wild life in the middle of the city, started modifying his perception of space and architecture. The houses were becoming bodies or machines, almost beings, each with its own presence and voice.

”Berlin Backyards” reconstructs these environmental recordings in eight movements of a musique concrète piece that presents a subjective view of these voices — der Gesang der Gebäude — and of Aubry’s experience in a composition that is much more than a mere acoustic representation of the spaces themselves.

Meanwhile, Crónica has also made available, through the Crónicaster series, two new podcasts: “The Sound of eBay”, by the Ubermorgen.com project (with sound coding by Stefan Nussbaumer, visual coding by Lia and script coding by Erich Kachel) and “A Mix for Framework”, by Pedro Tudela and Miguel Carvalhais.

Photos: Gilles Aubry / Crónica Electrónica


PornOrchestra: The teasing sound

Located in San Francisco, California, the PornOrchestra is an attempt to radically reinterpret the soundtrack to pornographic film.

This complicated genre has taken its share of scorn: from adult film producers who refuse to pay it any mind, to legions of consumers who instinctively snap the sound off after pressing “play”.

Performing live improvised and composed scores to pornographic film, the PornOrchestra invigorates the mysterious experience of the Voyeur-cum-Auditeur. The equivalent of a circus band with its collective eye on the trapeze artist, the PornOrchestra teases out the thrill, amplifying the collective gasp at pornographic triumph – and tragedy – using «the most eclectic and creative musical minds working in the Bay Area today».

In its structure, it is a large ensemble of musicians, from a variety of backgrounds, performing under the direction of a conductor using scored instructions and improvisational cues.

Images: PornOrchestra


Questions to Mr. Pete Um

Mr. Um, your lyrics are full of sardonic melancholy. Have you been an unhappy man in your adolescence?

Some people call you a poet, some a musician. How would you put it?
I'm not a poet, and I'm more of a non-musician than a musician. I think I work in a highly-specialized field which draws on a range of crafts.

When and how did you start making music?
I've had a very long love affair with tape-recorders, but I was too shy to tell even my girlfriend that I wanted to make music until I was 21. Then I became the terrible singer in a band. After that we split and I bought a computer in 1996 and I began in earnest then.

Why are your tracks so short?
They are not short. They are concise. Why shouldn't songs be short? I like short songs. If a song of mine seems too short, you can always listen to it twice. Or you can listen to my song "That's Too Close" which is about how a pretty girl told me my songs were too short. One day I will meet the Dalai Lama and I will wait for his words of wisdom and he will tell me my songs are too short.

Your "No Pressure" record [Gagarin Records, 2008] starts with the line "I have fear inside of me". Please elaborate.
I'm very neurotic and uptight. I'm a zulu worrier. Performance is a kind of valve mechanism for me.

To whom are your lyrics addressed to?
A lot of my music is made just for it's own sake, and I'm kind of talking to myself, but sometimes I'm bitching about a specific other person or how this world of ahistorical squares has done me wrong.

What is your connection to horses?
I have a special t-shirt with a horse on it to wear on particularly troublesome days. Also, I love the story that Nietzsche saw a man cruelly whipping a horse, and he was so overwhelmed with unSuperman-like compassion that he permanently lost his mind and threw his arms around the horse's neck.
An interview by Felix Kubin
Photo + image: R.R.

Published under the kind permission of Gagarin Records


“Forerunners – Swedish Electronic And Concrete Music 1955-65”

So I might have said that I don't like compilations, but there is always an exception or two, and compilations with historical material I always like. Sub Rosa's “Noise Anthology” series is a fine example of a great historical series.

I am not sure if “Forerunners – Swedish Electronic And Concrete Music 1955-65” will be a series also, but this is a very nice compilation, which includes extensive liner notes and photographs of serious looking men behind old tape machines. Of course included is the man who was the first to create concrete music in Sweden, Rune Lindblad, who started experimenting with film and sound in the fifties – and whose career has been well preserved on CD. Of the other names, I recognized only Sten Hanson and Lars-Gunnar Bodin, who had their work released on Fylkingen before (well, maybe the others too, but then I may forgot about it).

All of these pieces, eleven in total, sound very much like you would expect them to do: oscillators, sine waves, tape manipulations and sometimes crude editing techniques make up some wonderful rough electronic music. Leo Nilsson's “Skorpionen” sounds almost like an industrial piece of music, but it’s from 1964 (created with the help of Erkki Kurreniemi). Not always the compositions are that great, but the sheer experimentation makes up wonderfully well. Nice text pieces too by Hanson, Bengt Emil Johnson and Lars-Gunnar Bodin. Also includes work by Ralph Lundsten, Karl-Birger Blomdahl, Bengt Hambraeus, Arne Mellnas and Ake Karlung.

Very nice, and hopefully more to come. And an example for other countries too.

Frans de Waard / Vital Weekly
Image: Fylkingen


Festival Jazz.pt

Para comemorar o terceiro ano de edições da “Jazz.pt”, a única publicação periódica especializada em jazz editada em Portugal, o Jazz ao Centro Clube, associação cultural responsável pela sua edição, uniu-se ao Hot Club de Portugal (HCP) para organizar a realização do primeiro Festival Jazz.pt.

Agendado para os dois primeiros fins-de-semana de Setembro (dias 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 e 13), o evento terá lugar no espaço do HCP, na Praça da Alegria, em Lisboa.

Fiel à orientação editorial da revista, fortemente centrada na promoção e divulgação do jazz em Portugal, o Festival Jazz.pt reunirá proeminentes nomes nacionais e internacionais, num total de 13 concertos, sendo também palco para o lançamento de quatro registos discográficos. Paralelamente, decorrerão ainda exposições de fotografia e design gráfico.
Programa disponível aqui.


EDITORIAL: O segundo capítulo

Dois anos podem ser um pequeno período na história de um projecto, mas são uma imensidão para o GPInformation (GPI).

Por um lado, muito mudou no último ano. Contactos multiplicaram-se, entrevistas foram concretizadas (outras não), a interactividade aumentou, o universo expandiu-se. Neste momento, o trabalho desenvolvido no âmbito deste blogue está também disponível em meios como a Chain DLK ou a “Jazz.pt”, tão diferentes na sua forma como semelhantes na sua essência: a vontade de informar sem propósitos comerciais.

Por outro lado, nada mudou. O tempo disponível para desenvolver o projecto da forma desejável continua a ser pouco, e a vontade continua a ser limitada pela técnica.

Quanto a balanços, é preferível que sejam os leitores a fazê-los. Os comentários continuam a ser bem-vindos, assim como as colaborações.

O que reserva o ano que se segue? O tempo o dirá.

Por fim – e como é usual nestas ocasiões – resta agradecer a quem, a vários níveis, tem ajudado o GPI a ser o que é. Por não saber por onde começar, a opção é a ordem alfabética:

Afonso Macedo, Alexandre Gamela, a equipa Alg-a, Elliott Sharp, Eriek Van Havere @ EE Tapes, Felix Kubin, Fernando Ferreira @ ClubOtaku/MiMi Records, Frans de Waard @ Vital Weekly, Frederico Pulga, José Miguel Pereira @ Jazz ao Centro, Kawabata Makoto, Mark Fell & Mat Steel @ snd, Matt Elliott, Maurizio Pustianaz & Marc Urselli-Schärer @ Chain DLK, Nuno Catarino, Nuno Martins, Pedro Costa @ Clean Feed/Trem Azul, Richard van Dellen, Rui Eduardo Paes @ Jazz.pt, a equipa Sinsal, Terre Thaemlitz, V2, Vicky Bennet.

E, obviamente, a quem consulta o GPI e o tem divulgado pela Internet.

Nuno Loureiro

english version

EDITORIAL: The second chapter

Two years may be a small period in a project’s history, but they’re a huge amount of time for GPInformation (GPI).

On one hand, a lot has changed in the last year. Contacts have multiplied themselves, interviews have been done (others not), interactivity has grown, the universe has expanded. At this moment, the work developed at this blog is also available in media like Chain DLK or “Jazz.pt”, as different in their form as they are similar in their essence: the will to inform without commercial ends.

On the other hand, nothing has changed. The available time for the desirable development of the project is still not enough, and will is still limited by technique.

As for balances, it is preferable that they’re done by the readers. Comments are still welcomed, as well as collaborations.

What’s for the following year? Time will tell.

Finally – and as usual on these occasions –, the acknowledgments for those who, at several levels, have helped GPI to be what it is. For not knowing where to start, the option is alphabetical order:

Afonso Macedo, Alexandre Gamela, the Alg-a team, Elliott Sharp, Eriek Van Havere @ EE Tapes, Felix Kubin, Fernando Ferreira @ ClubOtaku/MiMi Records, Frans de Waard @ Vital Weekly, Frederico Pulga, José Miguel Pereira @ Jazz ao Centro, Kawabata Makoto, Mark Fell & Mat Steel @ snd, Matt Elliott, Maurizio Pustianaz & Marc Urselli-Schärer @ Chain DLK, Nuno Catarino, Nuno Martins, Pedro Costa @ Clean Feed/Trem Azul, Richard van Dellen, Rui Eduardo Paes @ Jazz.pt, the Sinsal team, Terre Thaemlitz, V2, Vicky Bennet.

And, obviously, for those who read GPI and reveal it throughout the Internet.


Gagarin Records 10th anniversary tour

Tod dem Attitüdenkarussel!
Es lebe die negative Geschwindigkeit!
Nieder mit übersättigtem Pomp und fanatischem Klanggetüftel!
Elektropunk und Disko Psychedelik statt tontechnischer Sahnehäubchen!
- Gagarin Records Manifest, 24.6.1998

On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, Gagarin Records plans a showcase tour with several of its recently adopted artists in Central Europe.

Live on stage, the psykotronic beauty of Ergo Phizmiz, Echokrank and Pete Um will unfold until label chief Felix Kubin spins records and heads into nightmarish hysteria.

«Let us undock from Planet Earth and become disembodied cosmonauts, like our Mechanical President whose telepathic phantasmagorias and corroded nightmares we transform into desolate electro-futuristic music!»

Tour dates:
10.09. de - Frankfurt /Mousonturm
11.09. de - Berlin /Festsaal Kreuzberg

12.09. de - Hamburg /Golden Pudel Club

13.09. nl - Nijmegen /Extrapool

14.09. be - Brussels /disco kids Atomium

15.09. de - Mannheim /Feuerwache

Image: Gagarin Records

Rita Braga em concerto

A Associação Portuguesa de Apoio à Vítima promove no próximo dia 21 um concerto com Rita Braga, um evento que surge no âmbito do projecto de dinamização do Espaço APAV & Cultura.
O espectáculo terá lugar no Espaço APAV & Cultura, na Sede da APAV (Rua José Estevão 135-A, ao Jardim Constantino, em Lisboa), a partir das 18h30.
Rita Braga é uma criativa intérprete de melodias alheias. Servindo-se do ukelele – instrumento havaiano semelhante ao cavaquinho –, dá nova vida a canções tradicionais dos mais diversos cantos do mundo, como EUA, Sérvia, México ou Polónia. Com imaginação e humor, Rita Braga vai buscar inspiração – nas palavras da própria – a «muitas constelações do presente, passado e futuro».
Embora gratuita, a entrada está sujeita a confirmação prévia (contactar nunocatarino@apav.pt).
Fotografias: D.R.


Portefólio: Jazz ao Centro 2008

E à quinta edição, o Jazz ao Centro (JAC) reinventou-se. Não se tratou de uma revolução, apenas de uma renovação. O espírito mantém-se, apenas os contornos organizativos mudaram, dotando o festival de uma maior dimensão, com eventos paralelos e maior interdisciplinaridade.
Este ano, o JAC também saiu à rua, mais concretamente às Escadas do Quebra-Costas, no coração de Coimbra, numa presença mais assumida perante a cidade, com os sons do jazz a espalharem-se pelas ruas e a reclamaram-nas como suas.
No entanto, o Salão Brazil continua – e continuará, decerto – a ser o “santuário” do JAC. Os fantásticos espectáculos do Michaël Attias Quintet: Twines of Colesion e de Alberto Pinton & Chant assim o asseguram.
Fica a reportagem fotográfica de um dos melhores festivais de jazz nacionais, pela lente de Nuno Martins.

© Nuno Martins 2008


New audio & video by People Like Us

There are new free audio items available for download at the People Like Us (PLU) universe. One of them is the work Vicky Bennett’s project developed based on the archives of electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram, having, under commission, reworked them into new compositions, to be presented as part of a day-long symposium at London's South Bank Centre.

Another fine commissioned work is the one PLU produced for the AV Festival "Now Hear This", entitled “Breaking Waves", which consisted in a series of short audio works to be broadcast via Bluetooth in Middlesbrough Town Centre. These brief musical compositions explore the humorous side to communication breakdowns in all their varied and surprising forms, in a series of misfiring musical arrangements, exploring the entertaining aspects of miscommunication, disharmony, bad connections and missed calls.

Finally, PLU have also issued two works that were originally mail-order only: “On The Rooftops Of London”, a session for the final edition of BBC Radio 3's "Mixing It" (broadcasted on February 9th 2007), and 2006’s “All Together Now”, that presents 27 minutes of new songs following visits to several music libraries, and appropriating favorites from the western world into a musical pantomime.
All this sound material can also be found at WFMU's Beware of the Blog.

On the video field, UbuWeb has made available PLU’s “Film Works (2002-2007)”, five full-length films and one incarnation of the project live set, which employ recycled materials from a variety of sources.
“We Edit Life” (2002) explores the theme of technology, using documentary, industrial and educational film footage from the Prelinger Archive and The Internet Archive. “The Remote Controller” (2003) uses found footage sourced from educational films to explore the way human body and machine interface in the 20th century. “Resemblage” (2004) was created using film from the LUX archive by artists Alan Berliner, Lawrence Jordan, PLU, Semiconductor and the Estate of Stan Vanderbeek. “Story Without End's” (2005) narrative is from a public domain film of the same name made in 1950 about the development of microwave radio transmission and the transistor. “Work, Rest & Play” (2007) is a video triptych exploring the themes of labour, leisure and industriousness. Finally, we have “Live at the WFMU Record Fair” (2003), a work that has been carefully constructed using industrial and documentary film footage from 1940-1975, By Corey Smith.
Photos: People Like Us


Punck: “Piallassa (Red Desert Chronicles)”

Of course I could investigate why a label wants to call itself Boring Machines, but surely it's nothing of a program anyway, so I didn't bother. They have bands like Satan Is My Brother, My Dear Killer, Be Invisible Now and Whispers For Wolves, which sound like awful band names (silly label names is ok, but a silly band name? get real).
You could add Punck to be a silly band name, and surely it is, but I happen to know Adriano Zanni as a serious man of serious music, so things are forgiven at the start.
In 1964 Michelangelo Antonioni made “Red Desert”, his ninth movie, in the industrial area of Ravenna and in 1964 Zanni was born in Ravenna. This album is a tribute to Antonioni and to Ravenna, a place I haven't visited, so all I can do is believe his words about the «huge, cold factories and the polluted river». But no doubt these are mentioned on the cover as to indicate the nature of the field recordings used on this album.
It’s a long work (71 minutes) of slow moving sounds perhaps like an Antonioni movie. Perhaps the strangest element thrown in is the acoustic guitar. Its a bit hard to see why its there, other than perhaps to provide us with a counterpoint with the field recordings. I guess that might be it, as the field recordings part of this is water running, metallic pipe rumbling and birds - field recordings of a rather “industrial” kind - present in your ears - unlike the microsound posse who would need lots of plug ins to hide this.

In Zanni's soundworld this is not necessary. The wind produces the drone, metallic sounds the far away factories and water adds a melody, or spoken word provide a narrative aspect. When this is done, the acoustic guitar comes back in, forward, backwards, slightly processed. It makes a rather odd combination, which my ears had to get used to. Somewhere half way through the album, the thing gets more and more minimal, with a lot less sounds and more spread out over the disc and no more acoustic guitar. It’s almost if it's a second piece of music, although it’s indicated as one really.
I have a bit of a problem with that. The first say 35 minutes things were nicely in tune, but the second half is like a different world. Why not make two distinct pieces then? Both are nice, but both are different. Otherwise I think this is a very fine work of field recordings and electronics, and oh, a bit of guitar.
Certainly something a bit different!

Frans de Waard / Vital Weekly
Photos: R.R.

Livro: “Uma identidade em (des)construção”

Já não é uma novidade no catálogo da MinervaCoimbra, mas vale sempre uma referência, pela sua peculiaridade.

Trata-se de “Uma identidade em (des)construção. A figura de Jasão no Romance Medea. Stimmen de Christa Wolf e no Drama Manhattan Medea de Dea Loher”, da autoria de Maria Ângela Moreira Limas, um estudo baseado na dissertação de mestrado em Estudos Germanísticos desta docente e investigadora do CIEG.

A figura mitológica de Jasão, líder dos Argonautas, é no imaginário colectivo associada a imagens de bravura e heroicidade e a uma masculinidade viril e dominadora. Tomando o texto canónico euripidiano como ponto de partida, este estudo propõe uma análise comparativa da forma como o protagonista masculino é apresentado no romance “Medea. Stimmen”, de Christa Wolf (1996), e no drama “Manhattan Medea”, de Dea Loher (1999), com particular incidência na problemática do gender e no modo como as obras em apreço concorrem para a consolidação ou para a desconstrução da imagem heróica tradicional.

Fotografia: D.R.


Interview: snd

2008 is a year of returning for Sheffield’s snd, with the release of “4, 5, 6” – the first edition in six years under this project – and a recent tour with Autechre. In a brief e-mail conversation with GPInformation, Mark Fell and Mat Steel talk on their newest creation, as well on the perspective they have on their own work.

What can you say on “4, 5, 6”?
About the last three 12 inches that were released recently, we conceived of these as three separate records that were intended to be released on different dates. For us, the 12" format is a good format to work on – for some reason we feel most comfortable with it. And then, as we got to the editing stage, we made a decision to release them all in one go as a three pack 12". We're happy with the project, as it shows our path over recent years.

And as for you other projects, like Blir, what's on preparation?
Right now we have no plans for any new Blir material, but this will probably change in the future, when we find some time to devote to this project again.
What are the main evolutions you would point in your last works, regarding aspects like composition or software innovation?
Looking back to our first project on Mille Plateaux, "makesnd cassette", it was a particular approach to how to deal with change in music – change in terms of how a piece develops over its duration, or how an album changes over it course.
For us, at that time we were unhappy about timeline based approaches to structuring music. We found it hard to make the changes feel right...
So we had non, or few. A track simply played and the sounds were changed slightly. "Tenderlove" (our third album) was a departure from this. Here, there were far more real time processes involved. We had spend two or maybe three years developing ways of changing music data in real time, so that we could transform patterns in a number of ways.
At this stage, we were very much working with processes that were dynamically engaging – where you could sense what you were doing but not quantify it or provide a theory of how it worked. I was reading lots of Heidegger at the time, and the two things seemed to complement one another. But once we had achieved a level of success with this method (both technically and musically), we grew tired of it.
Our current approach is different again. It employs a kind of non real time list based process to pattern generation. And we deliberately have very little real time control of this... There's quite a "distance" between us and our tools... intentionally.
You started making music in a time when electronic sound was still close to an avant-garde aesthetic, materialized in projects like Mille Plateaux…
…How do you see the current scenario? Is technological massification killing creativity?
That’s a bit like saying if more people speak a language then the more mundane the words become. I think the opposite is true. Once you give the tools to people, the activity starts to evolve and take on a life of its own. For me, it’s the people who were properly trained in how to use musical tools that killed creativity, Not the people who just pick it up and have a go. I never studied music or computing, so to extend your argument, am I one of the people killing creativity? No... But something is being changed… Namely the supposed superiority of proper music over any kind of music.

Nuno Loureiro
Photo: Joe Gilmore


Mats Gustafsson ao vivo na Trem Azul

A Trem Azul, em Lisboa, vai acolher no próximo dia 6 de Agosto um concerto do saxofonista sueco Mats Gustaffson.
Aos 43 anos, Gustaffson é um dos nomes mais significativos do free jazz escandinavo, tendo começado por se evidenciar pela improvisação que desenvolveu, na década de 1980, no duo mantido com Christian Munthe e com o projecto Gush.
Ao longo da sua carreira, tem tocado frequentemente com músicos oriundos não só do jazz mas também do meio avant-garde, como Peter Brötzmann, Joe McPhee, Paul Lovens, Barry Guy, Yoshimi P-We, Derek Bailey, Magnus Broo, Otomo Yoshihide, Jim O'Rourke, Thomas Lehn, Evan Parker, Misha Mengelberg, Zu ou The Ex, entre outros.
Desde o início da década de 1990, Mats Gustaffson desloca-se frequentemente aos EUA, possuindo particular afinidade com nomes da cena de Chicago como Hamid Drake, Michael Zerang e Ken Vandermark, e gravando para a editora OkkaDisk.
Paralelamente, tem trabalhado com artistas oriundos de outras áreas, nomeadamente da dança, teatro, poesia e pintura.
Imagem: Trem Azul


Cinanima na Figueira da Foz

O Forte de Sta. Catarina, na Figueira da Foz, recebe no próximo dia 1 de Agosto a projecção dos filmes premiados na última edição do Cinanima - Festival Internacional de Cinema de Animação, no âmbito do ciclo Cinema Forte às Sextas, promovido pelo Tubo d’Ensaio.
O Cinanima, que vai este ano para a sua 32ª edição, já não é apenas uma referência nacional no que concerne a festivais do género animação, como representa mesmo um caso sério à escala europeia, reunindo a preferência de muitos críticos e realizadores de todo o mundo, que não perdem oportunidade de acompanhar as mais interessantes e actuais construções cinematográficas realizadas na vertente animada, tendo já superado a fasquia dos 30 anos a exibir o que de melhor e mais inovador se faz na área da animação.

“The Dress” (Jelena Girlin e Mari-Liss – Estónia)
“Down the road” (Rune Christensen – Dinamarca)
“Foolish girl” (Zojya Kireeeva – Rússia)
“Um mundo melhor” (Anilupa – Portugal)
“Yulunga” (Cristiano Mourato – Portugal)
“Tales of the old piano” (Vladimir Patkevich – Rússia).

Fotografias: D.R.


The latest sounds from Crónica Electrónica

Portuguese label Crónica Electrónica has been releasing several items in recent times, maintaining its strong editorial activity.

Starting on the “physical” format, the first proposition is “Praxis”, by Cem Güney, a group of compositions for laptop, live electronics, field recording and radio, which were recorded between late 2006 and 2008. According to the sound artist, «”Praxis” is the experimentations of the various emergent forms, and its application into the concrete».

Moving to the online universe – namely Crónica's Crónicaster podcast series –, it have been made available new works by Pure (recorded live at Club Transmediale Festival, in Berlin, on January 29th, using mainly sounds from Pure’s forthcoming studio album, to be released by Crónica later this year), Carlos Santos (entitled “Orla”, a full recording of an audiovisual concert called "Memory", presented at the Bang Festival, in Lisbon, on April 3rd) and Enrico Coniglio (“Abibes”, where field recordings of an industrial area are treated with Cycling '74 technology).

Images: Crónica Electrónica


Sébastien Roux: "Précisions sur les vagues#2"

Imagem: Optical Sound

"Précisions sur les vagues#2", de Sébastien Roux, é o título da mais recente proposta sonora da parisiense Optical Sound.

Neste trabalho, Roux providencia a moldura musical para a leitura, por Valérie Dréville, de um texto de Marie Darrieussecq. No caso, pura sound art, abstracta e envolvente, oscilante entre a instrumentação electrónica e acústica.

Para além de Sébastien Roux e Valérie Dréville, "Précisions sur les vagues#2" – um MCD com edição especial e limitado a 300 exemplares – conta com a participação de Jérôme Tuncer e Julien Guinard (recolha de som), Séverine Ballon (violoncelo), Hubert Daniel (saxofone) e Michael Schmid.

Fotografia: Gerald Petit

Activa desde 1997 enquanto plataforma de edição (e também de espaço expositivo, entre outras actividades), a Optical Sound procura difundir obras sonoras produzidas por artistas plásticos que experimentam com o som, assim como o inverso: músicos que se interessam pelas artes plásticas. O próprio nome, explica a etiqueta, «é uma referência directa ao cinema, à pista óptica sonora, que evoca as imagens mentais geradas pelo som».

Entre as suas últimas edições – e propostas para este Verão – estão trabalhos como "Adèle et Hadrien", de Lionel Marchetti, "La ralentie", de Tsé, ou "La Plinthe", de Mathias Delplanque (ver crítica aqui).

Nuno Loureiro


Interview: Matt Elliott

(Acoustic) Sounds from the third eye

After leaving the electronic sound of Third Eye Foundation (3EF) and embracing acoustic composition, Matt Elliott entered a new phase, with new challenges. Subjects that this British artistic refugee talks about on the following lines.

Your most recent album, “Failing Songs”, was released last year. How would you describe it, and how does it fit in your musical evolution?
Well, in fairness it's not my job to describe it, and I can't because I'm too close to it. It is part 2 of a trilogy I've been working on for the last five years.

This question is probably inevitable: What took you to start making acoustic music? Were you just saturated with the electronic sound? Was it directly connected with you moving out from England?
There were many reasons. A growing dissatisfaction and boredom from the way I was working. Obviously, teaching myself to play the guitar properly, because although I called my self a musician I couldn’t play an instrument to any real level. In learning the guitar I learnt many things I could have never learned only using programming. Also, the move from a city in England to the countryside in France changed my working method as well and gave me more time to study guitar.

You still use electronic resources to treat the guitar sound, so the cut isn’t complete. Were you just looking for a more “human” touch?
Electronic processing has its uses, and some wonderful uses, but I prefer to use it now more as a tool than the process itself.

To which point are you being influenced by the folk heritage, being it British or from any other origin?
I've always had a profound interest in folk music from all over the world (although not really British folk music) because it is not so simplistic as modern western music. It is a direct human communication about the eternal human questions – love, loss, etc.

Does your “conversion” to acoustics mean that you’ve been growingly interested in the composition process?
Of course, because without that component there is no music. It made me think about music and its composition in a completely different way.

There is this melancholic side on your work, but also lots of humour, which is probably clearer in the “You Guys Kill Me” album, by 3EF. Are these elements the two faces of your “coin”?
Well, it's not hard to be melancholic these days – I think we've gone badly wrong. Our system has been so corrupted to the point that we are all slaves. Democratic choice is part of history these days. Private wealth has become far more important than quality of life and it's getting worse. And even worse, very few people seem to even care where we are going as a species, so soon we will pay the price. There are two reactions to this situation: to laugh or to cry, so...

Do you think that the mentioned melancholy somehow marked the 3EF aesthetic, giving a wrong image of what you wanted to transmit to the public?
With 3EF there were no lyrics, so I could only try to get my thoughts across in the form of the titles, but at the same time – because it was instrumental – it was easier for the listener to infer their own meaning to the music.

Talking of “You Guys Kill Me”, there were some peculiar circumstances surrounding the use of the evangelical images displayed on it. What can you say on that episode?
Well, one morning I was woken up by some ignorant christians with their bullshit propaganda. Some of the images made me laugh so I thought I'd incorporate it into my artwork, more for fun than anything else. It stopped being fun when my record company (along with Half Man Half Biscuits) received legal warnings to cease and desist, which I had no choice but to comply with.

During the 3EF period, you collaborated with and remixed other projects. Do you still make that kind of work?
Less and less these days, because I really don't have the time or the inclination, but every so often something comes at the right time.
During your last presence in Portugal, you had contact with the Portuguese guitar. What was your impression on it, being yourself a guitar player?
I did see both Coimbra and Lisboa Fado, and of course found it fascinating. I intend at some point to try and get a Portuguese guitar and to attempt to learn to play it.
This takes us to your present projects. In what are you working at the moment?
Well, I've finished the third part of the “songs” trilogy, which should be released at the end of the year. I'm also slowly working on a 3EF album, but mainly for fun. This, when I have the time, as well as another project, which I'd rather not mention until it is closer to completion.

Nuno Loureiro
(interview + photos)


Novelties at Clean Feed

Continuing to make the difference through difference, Clean Feed has recently released three more records.

One of them is “Zul Zelub” by Jorge Lima Barreto, one of the halves of Telectu and one of the most influential names in Portuguese contemporary music.
The concept of this album comes from the so called “unrealized music energy”, a theory developed by Lima Barreto with João Marques Carrilho. The idea is that, in the moment immediately before starting to improvise, the musician forms a purely mental investment of memory and intention, something of the metaphysical domain in which the music retains a dream-like flux.
As with any conceptual work of art — in this case an improvised work — this record has several layers. In its essence, this is a piano solo recorded live in concert. It is simultaneously lyrical and experimental, rare combination. It addresses dynamics of time and textural timbres, spontaneous preparations, and metamorphic melodic figures. The piano melds with a short wave radio receiver in “Zul” and with four CD players projecting a montage of natural sounds in “Zelub”. These techniques bring to mind the avant-garde music and Fluxus movement of John Cage and his use of multimedia and interart (video, installation, performance art) in some of his compositions. In the studio, the live recordings were remastered and manipulated to create new textures and structures preserving the original solo piano.

Another fresh item at Clean Feed’s catalogue is “Every Woman is a Tree”, by the Angles collective: a free jazz record with a post-bop twist. Angles is formed by Swedish alto (and sometimes baritone) saxophonist Martin Küchen, a musician that spans the artificial divisions imposed between the “new” and the “old” improvising schools, with radical extended techniques such as the sonic use of saliva.
In “Every Woman is a Tree”, Küchen accompanied by some of the most interesting musicians on the Scandinavian scene: Magnus Broo (trumpet), Mats Äleklint (trombone), Mattias Ståhl (vibraphone), Johan Berthling (contrabass) and Kjell Nordeson (drums). This is a recording that, although “thought out” and structured, it’s still organic and is even visceral, as the subject of this record – “war” – requires.

Finnally, we’ve got Lugar da Desordem, which joins in itself Bruno Pedroso, Ken Filiano and Paulo Curado for “The Bird, the Breeze and Mr. Filiano” work.
This is the result of the association of an unorthodox jazzman (Curado), who also composes for the performing arts and film (with a particular interest for animated cartoons), a bassist with classical education and strong roots in jazz history but also the vocation to go beyond the tradition (Ken Filiano), and a drummer who plays mainstream and avant-garde with equal conviction and skill (Bruno Pedroso). The recording is a wonder of purpose, delivery, drive and energy, with focused attention to detail and nuance. It demonstrates that a power jazz trio can be sensible and lyrical, even if in a twisted way.

Images: Clean Feed


Lançamentos Alg-a

Há algumas novidades no mundo Alg-a. Entre outras iniciativas e actividades, a netlabel desta entidade cultural galega lançou o trabalho "La comarca", de Tzesne, que descreve desta forma: «O video retrata os campos, as aldeas e atrapa tamén a beleza cultural e paisaxística, pero non serve para imaxinar. Extraer os sons, soplidos e ruídos residuais das cintas, mimando e redondeando con coidado pode servir para compoñer audioficcións. Narracións sonoras que si imaxinan paraxes donde aínda hoxe persisten elementos folclóricos profundamente arraigados».

Paralelamente, a videolabel da Alg-a (responsável pelo lançamento de algumas das mais interessantes obras de videoarte ibérica produzidas nos últimos tempos) tem disponível para visualização online o novo trabalho de Berio Molina, que é também o mais recente de uma série intitulada "Paisaxes tipográficas", onde se joga com a tipografia e a acção.
Neste caso, «a acción que xenera a tipografía é a dun charco de tinta negra que atravesa unha folla de papel a través de surcos feitos na superficie. Cómo a tinta desborda a liña que permite o seu paso dunha cara da superficie á outra, é o que xenera neste caso a tipografía. O contorno (liña) da letra é o campo de acción, un vacio entre dous espacios (caras do papel) polo que flúe (tinta china) o tempo».

Por fim, destaque-se a publicação do livro "Los Chimbángueles de San Benito", de Carlos Suárez. Sobre esta obra, o autor sintetiza: «Probablemente moitos estean interesados en coñecer algo da cultura latinoamericana. Este libro é pequeno fragmento desa cultura, e das ideas que poden levala á súa liberación. Paisaxes sonoras no contexto cultural latinoamericano».
"Los Chimbángueles…", cuja versão PDF está disponível no site da Alg-a, é, assim, um trabalho de leitura recomendada, pela forma como dá a conhecer uma cultura através da análise das suas dimensões sonora e simbólica.


Charlie Beckett: "SuperMedia"

«Este livro é o meu manifesto para os media como jornalista e também como cidadão do mundo. Como jornalistas estamos sempre a ouvir dizer como os meios de comunicação têm um poder enorme para moldar a sociedade e acontecimentos, para mudar vidas e a história. Então porque é que a nossa sociedade é tão descuidada em relação ao futuro do jornalismo?»

Esta é a apresentação que Charlie Beckett faz do seu livro “SuperMedia: Saving Journalism So It Can Save The World” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008), onde questiona os principais desafios colocados à prática jornalística nos nossos dias, e a sua influência na manutenção de sociedades democráticas e livres.

Charlie Beckett é jornalista, com 20 anos de carreira na BBC e na ITN, e é também director do POLIS, um think tank sobre Jornalismo e Sociedade na London School of Economics. “SuperMedia” é uma obra que vem compilar e estruturar várias linhas de pensamento sobre o futuro do Jornalismo, mas onde Charlie Beckett apresenta a sua ideia de jornalismo como um serviço essencial às sociedades contemporâneas, e como as mudanças na indústria de informação, para além de inevitáveis, são necessárias.

O blogue O Lago entrevista Charlie Beckett, com o intuito de tentar perceber a importância desta matéria, num artigo que pode ser lido aqui.

[English version available here]