Bristol New Music 2022 – London Jazz News
Bristol New Music 2022
(various locations in Bristol, May 5-8)
Angel Bat Dawid + Bendik Giske + Ligeti Quartet + Shirley Pegna/Dominic Lash/Angharad Davies + Kelly Jayne Jones + Sarah Davachi
Lush Gert Bristol has quick gert this week with a wide-ranging program of stimulating and thrilling music, sound and performance in ear-to-ear wailing venues of England’s chilliest – and repeatedly voted better-city. The delayed fourth biennial Bristol New Music Festival is a self-proclaimed “festival by committee” organized by a collective of Bristol arts organizations including the Beacon, Arnolfini, Spike Island, St George’s and the University of Bristol, but although this consensus-loving democratic outpost sometimes struggles to build consensus to act on socio-political issues (in local elections held during the festival, he voted to remove his own post as mayor of the city), a packed, well-crafted schedule rolled out without noticeable hitches, though taking a somewhat Bristolian approach to start times.
The 2022 festival was a reminder and a showcase of Bristol’s creative punch as an arts hub and home to an eclectic range of artists working across all disciplines. His joy has even faded, with students from the University of Bristol organizing their own ‘fringe festival’ programme. distance in time Sunday featuring the work of fifteen composers exploring the interplay between space and time. Stretching time in a sound environment without much sense of form but closing the main program of the BNM, the dense metallic sound world created by the pianist Sarah DavachiThe naive style of using overdriven echo as an acoustic source was at its best in its densest, sharpest form. You wonder if this kind of music might work better as a duration performance or an installation, but the concert format certainly forces you to immerse yourself rather than get lost in the sequel.
No wandering off the artist by Kelly Jayne Jones performances in the real vaults of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The hot ticket for just 11 lucky people at a time inside the magnificent Isambard Kingdom Brunel Bridge over the Avon Gorge, which can accurately be described as iconic. The hollow vaults below were only discovered in 2006 and are accessible with helmets and PPE on a dizzying scale. Inside, the curved space opens up like a church, with rope-like stalactites hanging thirty feet above. Jones’ lithopeic practice involves the use of stones and in Sedimentary Stone Tape aimed to explore the resonances of bridge stone, striking small stones on a pressure pad in an electronic soundscape with live flute. The projections on the coarse texture of the high walls were superb, and the slightly eerie atmosphere in the man-made cave – an audio-visual clash of natural and man-made, in an incredible space.
In the Dark Studio of the Arnolfini Gallery, sound artist Shirley Pegna continued the stone theme with Din of the Earth, made from field recordings and sounds created from electric currents picked up by a radio receiver and seismic activity picked up in Bristol from Indonesia, Greece and Fiji: a rather too expansive to imagine, and it sounds abstract even when you know the interesting story. Two cello-bass-violin trio performances with familiar improvising musicians Dominique Fouet and Angharad Davies engaged with this sonic world, which becomes a kind of audio score to stimulate creative play, and the electronics essentially become a non-essential medium – necessary for the player rather than the listener.
The dark theme continues with Ligeti QuartetGeorg Friedrich Haas’ interpretation of String Quartet no. 3 In iii. Night (2001) in total darkness of the Victoria Rooms university building, with all sources and cracks of light extinguished, covered in black bin bags. With players in every corner of the room, the 40 minute work teased your sense of space (I picked up a bottle from the chair next to me but when I tried to put it back I didn’t haven’t found the chair), and your sense of time. The hallucinations are starting, aren’t they? If you recall, Phronesis’ concerts in the dark were an artistic response to Jasper Høiby’s sister’s blindness, while Haas’ explorations of music in the dark seem a little more cerebral. It certainly demonstrated the abundant virtuosity of the Ligeti Quartet. The rich music could stand on its own without the compelling gimmick of a dark performance, but it was of course sensational, in an anti-sensory way.
Saxophonist Bendik GiskeMusic also distorts time and space. Alone on a bare stage, the impressive figure in high-heeled boots, PVC pants and a black open shirt, with golden earrings and a short genderqueer hairstyle, four blinding stage lights introduced a striking figure. Forty minutes of circular breathing with only brief pauses between songs is an amazing feat of endurance and technique. Giske’s multiphonics are emotionally excoriating, in a way you don’t find so much with the great Colin Stetson, who can feel like sport bagpipes compared to the haunting drama of Giske’s dark formal arcs – these pieces have themes A and B to vary the atmosphere in a structure, even when they are propulsive and hypnotic. An arpeggio figure is set in place, usually in triplets, sometimes in more involved rhythmic figures including a seven, the fingers tapping the rhythm on the keys of the horn. Unusual and non-standard fingering combinations create unusual sounds and chords that are difficult to play: the physicality of the instrument is in the foreground, with audible breath sounds indicating how difficult it is to get a sound from of these impossible fingerings, and yet the sound is enormous. and powerful, especially when a controlled overflow of high notes creates the equivalent of themes on the rhythms – barking, heartrending and heartbreaking, sometimes dark, but beautiful: streaking like solar flares, like flickering fire from a flame. As the tapping slowly fades, Bendik steps forward with a wry smile – the Rutger Hauer smile – aware and enlightened: a compelling performer of rare depth and a contemporary icon in the making.
If Bendik knows how to make an exit, Bat angel Dawid—Composer, clarinetist, singer, and witty jazz diviner from Chicago, apparently now residing in another anti-hypey city of cold Berlin—knows how to make an entrance. I saw her once literally rolling on the free stage at the Southbank during the London Jazz Festival. She entered through the auditorium, an imposing physical presence singing; her rich voice and dark piano vamps made me think of another avant-garde icon, Diamanda Galás. Down-to-earth yet wildly cosmic, the performance was as much an audience-artist bonding experience as it was a musical one. Dawid loved the responsiveness of Bristol audiences to his conversations about life energy and socio-political-historical issues – energies that affect us in direct, physical ways and require special work to process. Spiritual and emotional work is real work, the unearthing of what has been buried. “Why do we bury things? ” she asks. The answers come: forgetting them, shame, guilt, regeneration, being a worm… “Wow,” she said. “Pretty deep, huh? Is that where we went? In fact, everyone went there together. She adds “There is no performer and audience, it’s a myth”, what people say, but at that moment, this space, this time, beyond the space, beyond time, that’s really true.
AJ Dehany writes independently about music, art and more. ajdehany.co.uk
LINK: New Bristol Music