In May 2016, we responded to a call for remixes of contemporary classical music supplied by the Internationales Musikinstitut Darmstadt in Germany and curated/judged by Manchester-based electroacoustic ensemble, Distractfold.
Participants were provided with around 90 minutes of recorded works by six composers dating from the mid-20th century to the present day: Boulez, Erickson, Furrer, Gentilucci, Ishi and Lim. They were invited to produce a piece of music with a maximum of two minutes duration, using the source material in whatever way they wished, with no artistic or stylistic constraints. Six pieces would then be selected, with the invitation to extend them to up to 10 minutes for presentation at the IMD this summer.
We have always loved and frequently sampled early 20th century composers such as Stravinsky, Ravel, Messiaen and Ligeti, so working with classical music was certainly not new to us. However, we struggled to connect with the rather dry, academic, atonal, and (to our ears at least) sometimes jarringly dissonant, almost random-sounding music IMD provided.
Our immediate reaction was that working with such difficult source material might just result in an incoherent cacophony, even more unlistenable than the original! Nevertheless, having registered our interest, we wanted to see the challenge through and so set about our usual process of editing the material into more manageable chunks for live sonic manipulation.
Despite our concerns, we found it surprisingly easy to immerse ourselves into three jams, using the resulting samples and unusually for us, no other sounds. We recorded around two and a half hours worth of improvisations, which produced far more useful material than we expected, including several extended sections that seemed to materialise pre-composed from nowhere, but still seemed to retain the live, organic feel of the original recordings.
The first track in this playlist is our IMD submission and was edited from a roughly 10 minute section about 15 minutes into the first jam. Sadly, we were not among the six who were selected :-( … but who knows what the judges’ criteria were or what the competition was? And hey… we produced over two hours of music that we enjoyed making and would never have created had we not taken part in the challenge.
The next three tracks are (roughly!) edited versions of the three extended jams as they came out without further remixing or overdubs. Although each jam works as a stand-alone piece/performance, we’ve added comments to the track waveforms to show the points where there’s a clear change of feel, for easy navigation (these aren’t shown on the playlist; only visible when viewing the individual track). Over the coming weeks, we'll be selecting and editing down the best elements of all three jams to create an album release.
In the meantime, if any film makers/animators can imagine using our material in their work, please don't hesitate to get in touch. We'll be working on a new projections for our forthcoming show at Soundscapism in Edinburgh in October, so would love to hear from anyone who'd be up for us either using existing work or collaborating on new pieces.
On to the next challenge... ViseuRurL 2.0, re-workings of sound recordings of rural life in the Viseu Dão Lafões region of Portugal.