2013 European Tour Journal

Sunday July 28, 2013

The Cologne (Köln) Livelooping festival is over. It was a wonderful experience. 10 artists all set up on the very large stage at the venue and took all afternoon to soundcheck. For the third gig in a row, my power transformer blew out the circuit of the venue and we finally laid it to rest. I think it was just defective from the beginning, but because we've been traveling, there was nothing we could do about it. Fortunately, Matthias lent us an ancient but working transformer and will let us take it with us to Berlin next weekend. Manu (Emmanuel Reveneau) will bring it back to Köln on his way to Paris at the end of the trip.

It was really great meeting some cool new artists, including some wonderful audience members who are good artists in their own right. It was also sad as Sylvain Poitras left for Canada, and Steve Moyes (who I just met, from England) left today to take his 11-hour bus ride back to his home in a small town in Kent.

Everyone played well and the audience was very intelligent, attentive and appreciative. As always, Michael Peters did a great job of organizing everything. We were all up until almost 5 in the morning with all the breakdown and then hanging out and talking.

Then we got up and , thanks to our German hosts, were treated to a long loopers' brunch at a restaurant in Kürten, very close to Michael's home.

It is threatening to rain today, but has never really come down. Manu and I are washing our clothes from the past week and praying that it won't rain later so they can dry.................this is a weekly event being on the road with limited clothing (due to weight restrictions and all the equipment I am carrying).

Tomorrow we will go into Köln to see Amy X's and Rob's friend, Joker, who is an electronic instrument builder. I found out that he is known for circuit bending the Suzuki Omni Chord, a strange electronic autoharp that I just happen to own. Rob Hordijk, Amy's good friend, is also an exceptional designer of modular synthesizers. He is Dutch and a really fascinating guy. I've really grown fond of him quickly, and it was fun going sightseeing to the famed Köln Cathedral and the river bank yesterday before the performance. I can't wait to see one of the synthesizers he has built, which apparently will be at Joker's place in Köln. All my life I've been intrigued by modular synths but have never owned one. Now suddenly I am hanging out with two people who are noted for making them........what a cool world, eh?

Saturday July 27, 2013

First day in Kürten, 40 minutes outside of Köln (where the loopfest we perform at tomorrow night will be). Today was very, very muggy............it rained but it just got hotter and more humid afterwards. I am so sad that I brought 3 pairs of long pants and only 2 short ones. I should have brought 4 shorts and one pair of long pants, but so it goes.

I'll be forced to wear long pants for tomorrow's show and Michael says that not only does the venue have broken air conditioning, but that tomorrow is forecast to be significantly hotter............Yikes..........I've been bathed in sweat all day but trying to hydrate at least.

We had a great time in Köln today, just doing errands but it was just great, as always, hanging out with such a wonderful artist and friend. Michael took me to his travel agent and I was able to buy the last two long train tickets of my tour. I'd been having a hell of a time buying them online and the prices he got for me saved me a few hundred dollars over the prices that were advertised on ''American'' sites. I'm so relieved and now have eliminated my last bit of travel anxiety for the rest of the trip.

We also went and saw an amazing guy whose house is like a museum of really old East German tube gear (including long tape spindles like the kind that Karlheinz Stockhausen used in his tape loop pieces). We had an interesting conversation about tube and tape gear and he donated three blank vintage tapes for Michael's experiment tomorrow night, using the original tape deck setup that Terry Riley used exactly 50 years ago in the very first live looping concert (with a reluctant and stoned Chet Baker and his group).

Unfortunately, one of Michael's two tape decks is running at the wrong speed (after having worked yesterday) which precludes his using them tomorrow night, so he is going to do his normal set. I'm going to join him for part of it, so we jammed a little bit tonight

As is usual with me, I'm always the last one to go to sleep and the last one to rise (though tomorrow we need to get an early start on the day because all of the loopers have to set up at once and sound check througout the day).............I'm staying in Michael's meditation room with Sylvain Poitras and Emmanuel Reveneau which is okay, except that I talk in my sleep..............oh well................Sylvain said that I said some fairly boring stuff last night. This always makes me feel a tiny bit self-concious, but these are great guys and don't hold it against me.

Also, once again, Laurie made a really delicious meal of pasta and salad............she topped it off with a custard which I don't normally eat, but which I tried and loved.

Okay, the house is quieting down and it's time to quiet down myself.

Monday July 15, 2013

Last night's 1st Y2K13 London International Live Looping Festival was a wonderful success. Georgina Brett did a fantastic job producing her first looping festival with a very talented group of performers with good pacing in the show at a really nice venue (the Strong Room in Shoreditch, a place I'd hang out at a lot if I lived here).

It was so wonderful to see and hear some dear old friends from past California, UK and European looping festivals, including Os and Michael Bearpark (aka Darkroom), David Cooper Orton (and his lovely wife), Emmanuel Reveneau, Gareth Whittock (and his lovely wife), Georgina Brett, Jeremy Tranter, as well as talented friends that I've become friends with through the internet who I met for the first time (like Matt Stevens and Iris Garrelfs).

Everyone had strong sets, enough so that I can't really say what my favorite ones were. Not in order of performance or preference:

Andrew Ostler brought a bass clarinet on stage for the first time along with his amazing array of analogue modular synthesizers and incredibly sophisticated Expert Sleepers software (that he creates), and the texture perfectly matched Michael's beautiful guitar playing.....look for a new album from these guys soon, out on Burning Shed records.

Iris Garrelfs had an amazing set. I was particularly inspired by what she did with her own proprietary set-up and just non-worded singing. She took very abstract and disconnected techniques and they coalesced into rhythmic wonders.....full of emotion, yet always abstract. She will be a Featured Performer at the Y2K13 International Festival in California in the fall, and I can't wait to not only hear her again but also to pick her brain about her process.

David Cooper Orton delivered a very beautiful and lyrical set, playing solo guitar. This man has such a great sense of melody. I'm always inspired by him. I also love his love for 6/8 rhythms which always seem to me to be West African inspired. It's always hard for me to not jump up on stage and start percussing on things when I hear him play.

Gareth Whittock , whom I had not seen in the longest time, played a beautiful set on his modified lap steel guitar........His was very raga-like against drones, very reminiscent of Gabriels' Passion but updated, technologically. He played a very short set but due to the musical content he said an awful lot in a short time and it felt perfect.

Georgina opened the evening (and closed the evening) with a very beautiful and pastoral set of chanting vocals. She uses three different long delay lines and a single looper and just adds and adds her vocals and harmonies. The effect is really exquisite. There was a lot of ambient noise from the pub upstairs and outside, so I look forward to hearing her perform again in a venue that is completely quiet. Her music deserves that kind of audience attention to detail. Lovely, in a word.

When the transformer that David Cooper Orton so graciously purchased for the rest of this European Looping Tour failed to light up.......David went into a scramble mode to try to find the problem. As I was supposed to be on in 15 minutes, I felt very panicky and uptight about it. As it turned out after 15 minutes of trying different things, David discovered that the volt meter was reading 110 volts and though the red on and off light wasn't turning on, the unit actually was working. By that point, I was feeling so stressed out that I asked Matt Stevens if he would mind switching set times with me so I could regain my performance composure.

He was a true sweetheart and went on next: Armed with an acoustic guitar with a pickup and a set of interesting floor pedals, he just dove into his set. He has tremendous energy as a performer and he's literally a big guy. He just attacked his guitar and had a really interesting and very rhythmic styled of playing. At one point he played a beautiful piece that morphed between 13/8 (lovely ostinato) and 7/8 (if memory serves). I was very inspired by that piece and hope he can come to California to play the festival some day. Toward the middle of his set he broke a string on his guitar with his attack.........he responded beautifully as there was really no way to keep the flow of his set going by stopping to replace it.......instead he started adding delay and modulation effects to his already recorded loops and the intensity just built and built. It was a brilliant and appropriately chaotic end to a great set.

I went on next and you'll have to ask the audience or other musicians for a review of it as I never know. I do know that the audience was very supportive and engaged and I felt very good about the set, despite how nerve racking it had been before I even got started.

It was just a wonderful evening and I"m so glad I got to be there to play and to hear everyone.


So, today it was off to Mario's for a tradiitonal English breakfast again (thanks, Mario) and then with Paul to see the Tate Galleries' modern collection, a long walk down the Thames and then to the British Museum to see a wonderful collection of ancient art..........great coffee at Cafe Paradiso and, tonight, to some pub food and some British bitter with my mates Paul and Keske!

I love LONDON!!!!!!` Tomorrow, off to visit Andy Butler in Norwich!

Saturday July 13, 2013

Had a brilliant gig last night with KMAT at the 100 Years Gallery. Did a credible and very well received solo set and then had immense fun improvising with Keske (prepared guitar), Graham (prepared upright bass) and Paul Shearsmith (found sound, trumpet, madness).

Sometimes in a free improvisational setting, everyone is really, really listening. It happened in spades last night. I have to say it was one , if not THE, best free improvisational band settings I've ever experienced.

An exceptional gig............now off to one of the biggest London goth/industrial nights (Slime Light at Electrowerks).......rumor is that Icon of Coil is performing tonight!!!! Woohoooo......I hope I get in.

Tomorrow........the 1st London Live Looping Festival and the first of a months' worth of Festivals associated with the Y2K13 International Live Looping Festival!!!!!

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