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17 mai 2008

N&N Festival: Saturday, May 17

Xarxa Teatre, Spanish masters of fire, will perform in Earlham Park tonight, Saturday.

Today a closing flourish brings to our festival jazzy American visionary Jon Hassell - the world's most famous unknown contemporary composer and trumpeter. He is the maker of “Fourth World” music, a mysterious mix of ancient and digital, composed and improvised, Eastern and Western.

His name may still be unfamiliar but let's judge him by the company he keeps - and the constellation of stellar artists he inspires. “Almost all of the musicians I meet at the moment seem to regard Jon Hassell as one of the God-like geniuses of contemporary music,” says David Toop, of The Wire (whose own music has just featured in Michael Clark's The Stravinsky Project).

And he adds: “There's no doubt that Jon has had an effect on contemporary music as important as Miles Davies or Jimi Hendrix or James Brown or the Velvet Underground.”

After studies with Karlheinz Stockhausen and early collaboration with Terry Riley (a recent festival bill-topper), he met Hindustani raga master Pandit Pran Nath and sought to translate that haunting Indian vocal style for the trumpet.

His 11 singular solo albums over the past two decades have been hugely influential - bringing rave reviews from, and working partnerships with, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Baaba Maal, k.d. lang, Bjork, Bono, Talking Heads, the Kronos Quartet, fashion designer Issye Miyake, choreo-grapher Merce Cunningham and film director Wim Wenders. Oh, and Ry Cooder produced his last CD, Fascinoma.

And now, thanks to a festival commission and a world premiere in Norwich Cathedral tonight, the collaborative list includes our own The Voice Project - the 100-voice, open-access choir formerly known as Bigger Sky, directed by Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker.

Tonight the choir will perform Hassell's In Tsegihi (The Night Chant), with text from a Navajo ritual of healing, with the composer on trumpet and keyboard and support from his Maarifa Street band. (...)


16 mai 2008

L'échapée belle

Pendant 3 jours se tient à Brighton le vaste festival The Great Escape. 250 groupes en trois jours (et nuits) : un festival de découvertes, qui se place déjà en sérieux concurrent de l'Américain South By South West. Reportage.

(...) Le peuple de Brighton se presse au Concorde 2, pour offrir un triomphe aux Américains de Vampire Weekend. Avec leurs looks de premiers de la fac, ils offrent un concert assez bluffant, là où ils auraient pu se contenter du minimum face à ce public conquis d'avance. Premiers de la fac, option musicologie : étrangeté rarement entendue depuis les jeunes Talking Heads, auxquels on pense parfois, ils entraînent leurs chansons raides du côté de l'Afrique du Sud, voire du Nigéria de Fela.

Ils jouent sec, nerveux, aussi amidonnés et élégants que leurs polos (comment un groupe en tournée peut-il porter des chemisettes à ce point repassées ??). Ils possèdent un vrai style, le geek-chic, déjà adopté par leur public, qui reprend en chorale joyeuse chaque refrain, chaque cri de guerre – scandant même à l'unisson le nom de Peter Gabriel sur Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa. Dans la salle, soudain, pendant une version prodigieuse de A Punk, des béquilles sont brandies à bout de bras. On le pensait, mais on peut désormais officiellement l'écrire : ce groupe peut provoquer des miracles...

JD & Ben Beauvallet / les Inrocks

15 mai 2008

Exit Through You

Realworld Remixed Track 10 - Exit Through You by Big Blue Ball

To download a sample pack you'll need to visit the download section.

Exit Through You (109.93bpm)

Big Blue Ball

This track is taken from the long awaited Big Blue Ball, an album recorded over three Real World Recording Weeks, produced by Peter Gabriel and Karl Wallinger and featuring a dizzying array of international musicians. Exit Through You opens with the distinctive vocal of Joseph Arthur with Peter joining at the chorus for a funky spiky pop tune accompanied by Karl and Justin Adams on guitars. The song was originally put together in a fast and furious live session in just over one hour back in 1995; further production work by Stephen Hague followed and a final mix came from Tchad Blake

merci à Kaini

Israeli band mixes a 'chopped salad' of world music

YouTube, with its millions of video snippets, contains only one entry from the Jewish/Israeli band Esta, featuring shots from its 2004 European tour. Yet if you can track it down, you'll probably find it most unusual: One man plucks a banjo, while another blows on bagpipes.

Later, he plays what sounds like belly dance or snake charmer music, while the female singer undulates wordlessly, as though this were a Bollywood film. You might wonder what any of that has to do with either Jews or Israelis, until the band moves seamlessly into a Middle Eastern-tinged klezmer tune and ends with a version of the Sephardic Sabbath hymn "Dror Yikra."

Clearly, this is a new generation of Israeli musicians, moving to a multicultural beat, and not impressed by the stirring dogma behind the stereotypical Israeli folk of the '50s and '60s (Theodore Bikel or "Tzena, Tzena, Tzena"). Esta don't play your grandfather's favorite folk songs. And part of the reason is this group of good-looking Sabras (first-generation Israelis) grew up in the '70s listening to British art rock, such as Genesis and Yes.


With such an impressive musical arsenal, it's no wonder Esta has been received favorably at worldwide festivals, including the granddaddy "world beat" gathering of them all -- WOMAD. The band's CD releases have trickled out -- only three in almost 20 years, including 2002's "Home Made World," but it's halfway through working on a new one, and wouldn't mind changing its do-it-yourself tactics if a formidable label such as Peter Gabriel's RealWorld stepped up to the plate. "There were always talks to be signed, and they were one of the names that popped up," says Deshet. "We could really fit well into their catalog, so that door is still open."

Indeed, there's a common thread between Esta and other bands that deal with a range of international influences, such as Afro-Celtic Sound System. But Deshet stresses that Esta has found a way to retain their uniqueness.

"Since we've played together for so many years, it's a real band, not a production," he says, "and it's also in our roots. Our music is like a really good chopped salad, where you taste all the ingredients together and it becomes one new taste, rather than just [tasting] the tomato. It's a little bit like gourmet cooking."

And in a year when the band's homeland is celebrating a momentous 60th anniversary, too many musical cooks can't spoil the broth.

"We are all very proud to be Israeli, and we think that Israel has a lot to offer the world," Deshet continues. "Through the music, we deliver many messages but underneath the surface -- we don't lecture or get into politics. I think the fact that we play music from Islamic, Christian, Jewish and Western sources, and that it all comes together for us, proves that there is more in common between people than what separates them.

"If it can happen between instruments, then it should be able to happen between people."

Momix performs at the Joyce Theater

Andrea Mohin/The New York Times ; Momix, from left, Danielle Arico, Yasmine Lee and Suzanne Lampl.

Dance Review

Leaping Puffballs, Floating Demons and Lots of Gyrating Whatsits

“Passion,” a 75-minute show presented by Momix, strikes me as sensationalist trash so brightly harmless that I wish I could fall in line with those who enjoy it as sheer sensation. Its main genre of movement is a lyrical, musical and theatrical arrangement of acrobatics. Its images evoke flora and fauna selected from various points in the Darwinian chain of evolution, and imaginary species too: centaurs, pushmi-pullyu, spinning puffballs with feet and more.

These are some of the illusions “Passion” offers, and I love illusion. As straight acrobatics, it gives us feats of strength, contortion, suppleness and elevation that are almost always impressive. We could argue about whether it qualifies as dance; only in a few moments does it employ any kind of rhythmic footwork, the criterion that has been a basis for dance in most cultures. But at several points its imagery recalls salient features of beloved works of American dance repertory, like Balanchine’s “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” (whose Aria I duet features acrobatic movement) and Paul Taylor’s “Cloven Kingdom” (whose four men keep reverting to a crouched, pounding, four-legged, bestial vocabulary).

Above all, Momix resembles — of course — Pilobolus, the company (still very active today) that in 1971 crystallized a genre whereby acrobatics were choreographed in terms of rhythm, phrasing, imagery and expressive coherence, creating a new kind of poetic theater. Moses Pendleton, who founded Momix in 1981 and remains its artistic director, was a founder of Pilobolus.

This resemblance to Pilobolus, however, is where my disappointment in Momix starts. “Passion” is only the second Momix production I have seen; the other was 16 years ago. They strike me as peas in a pod, but here’s hoping they are atypical of the Momix norm. The best Pilobolus works, with no loss of acrobatic wonder or pleasure as popular entertainment, are sustained flights of poetry and drama. But in “Passion” Momix stays pop, lightweight: an array of stuntlike short-term sketches, few of which go far beyond the initial wow factor.

Slick, too. The title “Passion” comes from Peter Gabriel’s score (taped), which was composed for Martin Scorsese’s film “The Last Temptation of Christ.” With a relentless ear for synthetic, cheap pastiche, this music ranges from rock rhythms to slow chanting. Meanwhile we watch the movement through one projection after another (a row of Buddha statues, a close-up of an Egyptian bas-relief , a Renaissance portrait) that add up not to a statement of generous cultural eclecticism, but to a strenuously pretentious effort to make “Passion” seem more serious than it is.

“Passion,” admittedly, often starts turning into a work of art. One nicely bawdy scene has a seated woman finding that the legs emerging from beneath her long skirt have a powerful life independent of her and are virile: the discovery is partly one of polite embarrassment, partly one of lascivious delight. Then this image flips over, and a naked man sits upright; now she becomes his lower body, and he’s in bliss.

Another episode has hooded medieval-religious figures suspended in midair but haunted by a near-naked satyr-devil who seems to embody the flesh they officially renounce. When two people are conjoined as one of the imaginary fauna, I react like Stephano in “The Tempest,” when he is trying to work out what this Caliban-Trinculo figure is: “Four legs and two voices — a most delicate monster!”

“Passion,” however, takes up such scenes only to toy with them idly, then drop them as if scalding its fingers. For all its efficient gloss, it lacks expressive courage.

Momix performs through June 8 at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, at 19th Street, Chelsea; (212) 242-0800, “Passion” continues through May 25.

By ALASTAIR MACAULAY May 15, 2008 The New York Times

Crëvecoeur à Bath

Ce soir on joue encore ensemble à Bath, juste à coté de Bristol. aprés la pause dans le parc chacun embarque dans son van respectif pour prendre la route, on dit au revoir à Yann et toute la c'est reparti. on mettra encore plus d'une heure pour sortir de Londres, c'est fatiguant.

On arrive à Bath et on galère un peu pour trouver le club parce qu'on a pas l'adresse exacte. Bath est une jolie petite ville, qui ressemble un peu à une ville thermale. On joue dans la cave d'un bar vegetarien, un peu branchouille. le promoter, c'est Peter qui joue dans un groupe qui s'appelle Cars iN walls et qui la journée est l'assistant de Peter Gabriel au studio de ce dernier dans la banlieue de Bath !

On parle d'aller faire une visite du studio le lendemain, mais pour cause de tournage TV on ne pourra pas... la prochaine fois promis !

14 mai 2008

Bands announced for summer festival

WYCHWOOD Festival 2008 at Cheltenham Racecourse takes place from Saturday, May 30 to Monday, June 1.

The final crop of bands has been confirmed: joining the previously announced songstress Kate Rusby are 'indie upstarts' Palladium, The Blockheads featuring Phill Jupitus (who will also be appearing as part of the festivals comedy line-up).

Also appearing will be Simon Emmerson's much-talked about project of collaborations, The Imagined Village which debuted at Womad this summer.

Featuring Wychwood favourite Eliza Carthy and her father Martin Carthy, alongside the likes of Billy Bragg; Sheila Chandra from Transglobal Underground; Andy Gangadeen from The Bays; Francis Hylton; Johnny Kalsi from The Dhol Foundation; Barney Morse Brown; Sheema Mukherjee and Chris Wood, this project is already promising to be a highlight.

Joining The Divine Comedy as a Wychwood headliner are Scottish identical twins The Proclaimers. Having shot to fame in 1987 following an appearance on The Tube, the band's single Letters From America' peaked at number three in the UK singles chart, while album This Is The Story' achieved gold status.

The Wychwood Festival will also feature a wide range of other performers including comedians Terry Saunders; Barry Dodds; Bradford based 'scatologically cerebral' comic Ben Schofield; and finally former stockbroker and now accomplished comic Damion Larkin.

By Emily Thwaite

13 mai 2008

Wiltshire music centre delighted at turnout

Just under 3,000 people - twice the number expected - flocked to Wiltshire Music Centre on Saturday to join in the Centre's 10th birthday celebrations, Live & Free @ WMC.

Staff, volunteers and trustees were delighted with the response, particularly as many of the attenders, including families, young people and senior citizens from all over the county, had not visited Wiltshire Music Centre before.

Performance highlights included the polished junk percussionists Weapons of Sound, who thrilled two packed out audiences, who danced and sung along with the musicians - ears have only just stopped ringing! In a completely different style, renowned jazz pianist, Jason Rebello, whose many performance credits include tours and recordings with Sting, wowed visitors with a stunning display of melodic jazz, joined by Jim Smith on saxophone - the perfect music for a sunny afternoon.

Elsewhere, hundreds joined in salsa workshops and then practised their new skills to the sounds of Afro-Cuban dance band K'Chevre; while Alex Lupo of Bristol-based ska, reggae and hip-hop band, Babyhead ran a music technology workshop for local teenagers, who were able to burn a CD of their efforts to take home.

Music Makers taster sessions were overflowing with tiny tots and the air was full of the sounds of percussion instruments made out of junk by older children, led by Venetia Shah-Daydu whose festival credits include Glastonbury and WOMAD. Throughout the day, talented Jazz Factory musicians invited people to join in or just enjoy their jamming sessions and accomplished performances, while members of Singing in the Round entertained with their beautiful harmony singing.

The accompanying food, craft and plant stalls were also popular with attenders - many left with bulging gift bags crammed with everything from jewellery and pottery to Turkish delight and bedding plants. Meanwhile, the food stallholders were so good at tempting taste buds with a hog roast, Chinese noodles, tasty Black Farmer sausages, savoury Indian delicacies, or delicious tea home-made cake, that many sold out completely! The bouncy castle and human table football also went down well.

Keith Nimmo, CEO and Artistic Director of Wiltshire Music Centre enthused: "We are absolutely delighted - everyone had a marvellous day, which was spectacularly successful in drawing in new audiences for their first visit to the Centre and to attract over twice as many people as we were hoping for is a fantastic bonus. I feel sure everyone will have gone away feeling they had just enjoyed a really special and memorable day out. I'd also like to take the opportunity to thank all the staff, volunteers and everyone else involved, whose tremendous hard work made the event possible".

In a fitting world-class finale to this special day, a sold out evening concert with the Budapest Gypsy Orchestra took place in the evening.

For more information, or to join the mailing list, contact the Wiltshire Music Centre box office on 01225 860100, or online at

12 mai 2008

Water Worker

Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen's low-cost inventions transform ­unsafe water into clean, potable H2O.

BIG DRINKER C.E.O. Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, photographed wearing the LifeStraw on February 22 in New York.

"No one wants to be the rock star for diarrhea,"
says Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, Danish inventor of the LifeStraw, a $4 drinking tube that removes almost all the disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites in untreated water.

Photograph by: Max Vadukul

It’s a provocative statement aimed squarely at celebrities like Bono, who have lined up behind AIDS, while unglamorous diarrhea continues to be one of the most persistent and pervasive health disasters in the developing world. According to the World Health Organization, diarrhea kills 6,000 people daily, most of them children under the age of five.

The LifeStraw, which has drawn praise from former president Jimmy Carter, economist Jeffrey Sachs, and singer Peter Gabriel, is clean water’s celebrity product. Since 2005, aid groups in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America have distributed hundreds of thousands of the bright blue purifiers, which house fine mesh, iodine beads, and active carbon and can be used anywhere to suck up surface water and transform it into drinking water. Each lasts roughly one year. In February, Vestergaard Frandsen intro­duced LifeStraw Family, a $15 water-purification filter that has already outsold the LifeStraw four times over, providing more than a million families with water that meets E.P.A. standards.

Vestergaard Frandsen, 35, didn’t intend to become a humanitarian entrepreneur. His family’s business once manufactured hotel uniforms. But he fell for Africa as a teen, and when handed the keys to the eponymous firm at age 21, he set about devising tools to combat malaria-carrying mosquitoes and waterborne diseases. His first product? Insecticide-laced mosquito nets that go for $5 a throw. The company will sell its 150 millionth net this summer.

by Constance Loizos June 2008 Issue

11 mai 2008

Impressions of England

I'm writing this on the May Day bank holiday, with birds singing outside, probably in terror as the cat Nelson is on the prowl, searching for some luckless fledgling to kill and devour on our doorstep. He will then roll on his back, wave his legs in the air and look cute, expecting to be congratulated on his brutality. Tennyson knew what he was about when he wrote of nature red in tooth and claw. Serial killing aside, it has been the most beautiful of springs. You'll probably riposte that it has been mostly wet and cold but that's my point. The weather seems to have slowed down spring. Most years the season seems to pass in a flash, before you have properly appreciated it. This year it has taken its time. The primroses in the lanes of Dorset lasted for many weeks. Here in suburban Surrey the magnolias weren't blasted by frost or storms, the apple and cherry blossom are still on the trees, while the bluebells have just reached their almost purple haze of glory.


As well as listening to Denny and Fairport Convention these past weeks, I've also discovered that the English folk tradition has recently received an invigorating shot in the arm. The Imagined Village, released at the end of last year, is the most ambitious and engaging reinvention of folk since Liege and Lief.

Spearheaded by Simon Emmerson and featuring such artists as the Copper family from Sussex -- who have been singing traditional songs for the past five generations -- Martin and Eliza Carthy, Paul Weller, Billy Bragg, Trans-Global Underground, Sheila Chandra and the folktronica group Tunng, the album marries the English folk tradition to dub, electronica, modern dance rhythms and exotic world music.

The effect is haunting and hypnotic, with Benjamin Zephaniah delivering a brilliant reworking of 'Tam Lyn', and John Copper remembering his old grandfather on the wonderfully atmospheric opening track, ' 'Ouses, 'Ouses 'Ouses'. It describes the loss of the countryside his granddad ploughed as a boy, combining traditional folk and modern beats with the sounds of police cars and helicopters.

This is an explicitly English (rather than British) album, and one that tries to connect the England of the past with our complex, multicultural society today. English accents are joined with black and Asian voices, violins combine with the sitar and the synthesiser. All of this might be merely worthy if the tunes weren't so strong and the performances so full of passion, charm, wit and invention. The Imagined Village, in fact, strikes me as a brilliantly inventive modern classic, recycling old tunes and old stories to create a vivid impression of England past, present and future.

For those with adventurous ears, it is a disc I cannot recommend too highly.

By Spencer, Charles

Joseph Arthur's Tumblelog Is Hot With Music, Photos

The Wired nation knows all about tumblelogs, text-lite microblogs that include art, audio, video and not much more. But indie artists are seizing upon them as vehicles for publicizing their works-in-progress. Earnest singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur has joined the tumblelog ranks with Bag is Hot, his ongoing musical and photographic journal. It's as interesting as a CD, without the material waste.

"Bag is Hot [is] like fresh popcorn for all the kids to grab," Joseph explained in a press release. "Digital hands eating the digital popcorn. This project is fun and doesn’t have to be precious, but it’s hard not to take it seriously and really work on it. It’s not, 'Bag is getting a little lukewarm. Bag is hot!' It’s gonna be slang soon!"

LISTEN: Joseph Arthur, "Nothing to Hide"

Arthur, who was initially discovered and signed by Peter Gabriel, is touring the UK throughout June, before crossing the pond to regale the United States in July. Songs from Bag is Hot will no doubt make their way onto three, count 'em, three of Arthur's releases this year, including the EPs Vagabond Skies (June 10) and Foreign Girls (July 8), as well as his September 2008 release Temporary People.

By Scott ThillMay 10, 2008

Inside the Time 100 Party

Time magazine celebrated its Time 100 issue—like all lists, an arbitrary collection of the “100 most influential people” in the world—with a star-splashed, blingy black-tie ceremony last night in Manhattan.

The annual event is always a surreal experience—not just in terms of who shows up (last night roughly 40 members of the 2008 list were in attendance). The sheer volume of celebrities in one room presents bizarre comingling opportunities that would appear, at least on the surface, awkward anywhere else (Herbie Hancock with Robert Downey Jr.; Martha Stewart with Rupert Murdoch; Murdoch’s wife with Arianna Huffington; me with … well, anyone).

As Stephen Colbert put it at the event couple years ago: "This is cool ... It's the 100 most influential people hanging out and influencing each other."

Last night’s influentials influencing each other included movie and TV stars (Downey Jr., Tyler Perry, producer Harvey Weinstein, 40-Year-Old Virgin director Judd Apatow, the cast of Saturday Night Live, including Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen, Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, executive producer Lorne Michaels as well as alums Chris Rock and Tina Fey), athletes (Lance Armstrong), moguls (Murdoch, Martha, Marc Ecko), musicians (Hancock, Peter Gabriel, Mariah Carey), newsmen (Brian Williams), pundits (Bill O’Reilly, Joe Scarborough), neo-geeks-turned-Web 2.0 millionaires (Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales) bloggers (Williams, TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington) and one presumptive presidential candidate (John McCain, whose security detail swept the bathroom a full 10 minutes before the senator from Arizona even knew he had the urge to relieve himself.)

The evening was just as notable for who wasn’t there: Obama, Hillary, Bush, Putin, Pitt, Clooney, Oprah, Springsteen, Radiohead, Agassi, Bloomberg—all of the 2008 list—were no-shows, as were Miley Cyrus, Muqtada Al-Sadr (shocker!) and the Dalai Lama.

The toasts are usually memorable, and last night’s didn’t disappoint: Armstrong toasted a cancer doctor; Downey Jr. choked and fought back tears while toasting his dad for being there for him at his lowest moment. (Downey Sr. then quipped “You’re not my son!”)

There’s truly no event like this, at least, not in New York. I’d imagine pre- and post-Oscar parties have more firepower, but I’d bet the cast of A-list characters there aren't nearly as approachable.

Still, for all of the party's slick production work and behind-the-scene's effort (think about the logistics of coordinating all of the handlers—and handlers of handlers), the Time 100 issue itself doesn’t sell extraordinarily well (last year’s sold 124,400 single copies, just its tenth best seller at the newsstand in 2007.)

In the end, the Time 100 party is merely a million-dollar branding device the magazine hopes will pay off in terms of future access to world leaders, politicians and celebrities—and luxury marketers, like, say, Swarovski crystals, who had a case at the end of the red carpet.

It’s a clubby business to be in. I just hope I get a real seat next year.

Dylan Stableford 05/09/2008