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23 août 2008

Loreena McKennitt fut l' invitée exceptionnelle du festival interceltique de Lorient

Le journal interceltique de Lorient le 3 août 2008

Loreena McKennitt : invitée exceptionnelle, concert mémorable

Loreena McKennitt s’est produite à guichets fermés au 38e Festival interceltique, samedi 2 août 2008, avec son premier concert sous le grand chapiteau de l’Espace Marine. La chanteuse canadienne, connue en tant qu’une des plus grandes artistes celtiques, était l’invité exceptionnelle de l’événement.

Quatre mille spectateurs venus notamment de Grande-Bretagne, de Pologne et même d’Australie se sont joints aux Français. Sa voix féérique enchante tous les âges : jeunes, anciens, enfants avec leurs parents. Ils ont fait la queue pour pouvoir l’écouter. D’autres ont fait le siège des boutiques pour acheter quelques souvenirs de l’artiste. Sous le chapiteau, les spectateurs se sont assis dans les estrades, par terre et debout.

Sur la scène du concert habillée de noir, huit musiciens forment cercle. Cheveux tombant sur les épaules en flammes rousses, Loreena McKennitt apparaît dans une robe de duchesse élisabéthaine. Grand sourire à ses chers fans. La foule hurle et applaudit.

La voix de Loreena monte dans le silence de la foule et plonge les spectateurs dans une atmosphère paisible. Une dizaine de chansons sont présentées, pendant une heure et demie, aux spectateurs. L’un deux n’a pas pu s’empêcher d’exprimer son sentiment pour son idole : « Lorenna, we love you », a-t-il répété tout au long du concert.

Née en 1957 au Canada, dans une famille irlando-écossaise, Loreena McKennitt est connue pour son talent de compositrice et d’interprète. Elle est à la fois chanteuse, harpiste, accordéoniste et pianiste. Elle a vendu plus de 14 millions d’albums dans le monde. « Nights from the Alhambra » (août 2007) est son dernier album. Elle en prépare un nouveau qui sera produit par Peter Gabriel.

We7 boss talks Apple, choice and future music

Posted by Jonny on August 18th, 2008 under Apple, Interviews, News

Steve Purdham is the CEO and founder investor in ads-supported free music play, We7.

We7 is an innovative music service, offering music for free on an ad-supported model. The service gives users lots of control - they can choose specific tracks, stream them, share them with others, and can buy them if they wish.

The service offers free music by dynamically grafting short audios ads. “This way, you can enjoy downloading and streaming music for free, safe in the knowledge that the artists, composers and rights owners will still get paid for their creative work,” the company website says. And if you don’t want the ads, you can buy the track to get rid of them.

The former DJ turned technology entrepreneur is still passionate about music - he’s always happy to talk about how he thinks it’s going to evolve. We caught up with him for a reality check on what’s happening to the future of music.

Q: Who are you, how did you get here

Purdham: Basically I build companies from scratch to hopefully something meaningful, primarily technology based companies, the last couple were Internet Security. I initially invested in the We7 idea along with Peter Gabriel but the idea is so irrationally seductive I also opted to run the business and became CEO.

Q: What is We7 - what is it doing now, what does it aim to do?

Purdham: We7 is a bridge between the paid-for music world and the world of music piracy, by providing a legal alternative to stealing. The idea is to use ads to pay for the fact that music is being consumed, discovered and shared so that fans get free music, advertisers gets audiences and the best thing - rights owners get paid.

We go a little further by giving the fans the choice: they can discover listen and share music for free with ads and then buy the music they love for download

Q: Is file-sharing the music industry demon, or a change agent to shake up a business in stasis?

Purdham: File-sharing is just technology, like electric light. It cannot be a demon, it has become a change agent because of the industries reluctance to change in the face of consumer’s demanding access to more music that they could discover, share and consume. The problem is that with no formal economic infrastructure in place [Editor Note: I think Steve means this was becausethe labels didn't respond to demand fast enough] ‘free’ became the default.

Q: What’s your vision for music industry change?

Purdham: The top line is that music is valuable for many reasons - not least for just getting the hairs to stand up on your neck. That value has to be recognized, but what is that value?

- To a extreme fan music is priceless; to an interested but not fussed individual it may be worth a listen if there is no cost (at least to them). In that context the Internet is just a delivery van which can get music to the ears of an audience as big or small, as generic or niche as required. There’s no longer one economic model where one size fits all but we have to allow a wide spectrum of different models…premium products, a la carte downloads, subscription based services, ads-funded services - whatever can be imagined.

Consumers will decide what works for them, we just have to give them the choices.

Q: Apple, iTunes, iPod - friend of foe..

Purdham: Friend, they made it happen without them the 4 billion tracks that have been bought would have still been downloaded in some matter, so they show what can be done.

Q: Should all music have the same price?

Purdham: No - infinite pricing rules , we are surrounded by examples of different pricing.

Think about a can of Coke: Free at a promotion based gig, 30-p from Macro, £1 at the supermarket; £1.50 in the pub; £2 at a nightclub; £5 in a posh hotel mini-bar and priceless to a man dying of thirst

Music is the same – that is why the more digital models that come life the more we can ‘mine’ the value.

Q: Should we put everything online, a cultural melting pot, and see what happens?

Purdham: You ask this as if it is a choice, everything is or will be online - that is why we have to find the way to track (not block) and monetize and be part of making it happen rather than watch (and moan) about it happening.

This is why as a technologist I keep putting up the warning that the difference between streaming and downloading will be undetectable within the next iteration of technological change, yet the music industry is hell bent on producing models based on these fading technological differences. That will cause another crisis.

The celestial jukebox is very practical, we are closer to the point where any track can be played at anytime from anywhere.

At the moment it’s messy and you need to know what you are doing but that is becoming easier almost every day, so the future is simple you want music, you select the song and it plays. The hard bit is deciding whether you are going to pay for that or if somebody else - an advertiser perhaps - pays on your behalf.

We7 boss praises Apple for iTunes

Jonny Evans, MacWorld, Friday, 22 August 2008

Apple's success with iTunes showed the labels what could be done

The music industry has a huge debt to Apple and the company's efforts have shown labels that online services can be succesful, We7 boss, Steve Purdham, said this week.

We7 is a service which offers users free access to music so long as they are prepared to be exposed to advertising. Users can choose the music they want to play, stream or download tracks, share them with others through their sites and so on, and can also buy the music, if they like.

"We7 is a bridge between the paid-for music world and the world of music piracy, by providing a legal alternative to stealing," Purdham told Distorted Loop. Purdham was a founder investor in the service with Apple Master, Peter Gabriel.

He slams music labels for demonising file-sharing "it's just a technology, like electric light," he said. File-sharing became a major industry problem because the industry itself failed to quickly embrace digital processes in order to provide an alternative.

Apple came up with a strong alternative, he opines. Calling the company a "friend" of the industry, he says, "they made it happen without them the 4 billion tracks that have been bought would have still been downloaded in some matter, so they showed what could be done."

The We7 boss - also an award-winning technology entrepreneur, has a stark warning for label bosses now: "As a technologist I keep putting up the warning that the difference between streaming and downloading will be undetectable within the next iteration of technological change, yet the music industry is hell bent on producing models based on these fading technological differences. That will cause another crisis," he said.

And the WSA nominees are...:

Michael Beek, musicfromthemovies, 21 August 2008

It’s less than two months until the 8th World Soundtrack Awards and the World Soundtrack Academy has announced the main nominees for this year’s awards. The academy is comprised of many industry figures and some 290 leading composers, who deliberate over the last year’s works and reveal all at Film Festival Ghent.

This year’s nominees sees a mix of titles and composers well used to nomination lists, and a few new entries that just got into the running. Five composers are up for ‘Film Composer of the Year’ and it’s going to be a difficult decision based on the quality of the work on display.

Alexandre Desplat is noted for The Golden Compass, his first major blockbuster fantasy score, while Alberto Iglesias is nominated for The Kite Runner. Iglesias of course scooped two awards in 2006, for The Constant Gardener, so I wonder if the Academy will recognise his latest dramatic effort? Joining them is John Powell, whose score for The Bourne Ultimatum puts him in the running, though he’s been a busy boy as usual this last twelve months; as has James Newton Howard, whom the Academy recognises for not one but three scores - Charlie Wilson’s War, Michael Clayton and I Am Legend.

In the running for ‘Best Original Score of the Year’ is 3:10 to Yuma by Marco Beltrami, Atonement by Dario Marianelli, The Kite Runner by Alberto Iglesias, There Will Be Blood by Johnny Greenwood and Wall•E by Thomas Newman – so a tough contest there I think, but it’s possible Marianelli will continue to reap success for his stunning, emotional effort.

The final category revealed this week is that for ‘Best Original Song’ and as usual it’s an eclectic mix. Heading the selection is ‘Despedida’ from Love in the Time of Cholera, composed by Antonia Pinto and Shakira, followed by Thomas Newman and Peter Gabriel’s ‘Down to Earth’, from Wall•E, Eddie Vedder’s ‘Guaranteed’ – from Into the Wild - and ‘A Hero Comes Home’ from Beowulf by Alan Silvestri and Glenn Ballard.

All will be revealed of course at the 8th World Soundtrack Awards, which close the festival on Saturday October 18th. The nominees for the Public Choice Award are yet to be announced and you can indeed still add your vote to the collection – simply visit for more information.

Is It Time for Another James Bond Theme Oscar Nom?

By: Brad Brevet, Rope of Silicon, Thursday, August 21, 2008

Alicia Keys and Jack White aren't a bad start...

Kris Tapley at InContention brings up a good point with regards to this year's likely candidates for Best Original Song at the Oscars. "Talk about a wasteland..."

He points out Peter Gabriel's "Down to Earth" from WALL•E, Jennifer Hudson's "All Dressed Up in Love" from Sex and the City, "The Call" by Regina Spektor from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and the dark horse chance that Hamlet 2's "Sexy Jesus" would get a nod after a hard push by Focus.

Tapley comes to the obvious conclusion based on the fact that no one is humming any of those songs at the moment leaving the field wide open.

I left while the credits were rolling on The House Bunny last night, but I believe Katherine McPhee's "I Know What Boys Like" is an original track made for the film as it carries the film's original title. I also believe Fergie's "Labels or Love" from Sex and the City was original. Seemed to me that song got more love than Hudson's.

I can't imagine High School Musical 3 will get any love even though one of Tapley's commentors believes it can't be ignored. But Guy Lodge, one of Tapley's contributors does bring up a title that deserves our attention.

How about Jack White and Alicia Keys teaming up for the theme song to Quantum of Solace? I mean, these two are a couple of fantastic musicians and isn't it about time another Bond theme was nominated for an Oscar? Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't the last time in 1981 with Bill Conti's "For Your Eyes Only"?

Is there anything I have missed? Do you think Danny Elfman's decision to go vocal on the soundtrack for Wanted has a chance?

22 août 2008

Children Of The Khmer, The World@St George's, Edinburgh

Reviewed by Lynne Walker, The independant, Thursday, 21 August 2008

The World is a mini-festival that is the brainchild of Toby Gough, who brought young Sri Lankan survivors of the 2004 tsunami to the Royal Botanic Garden three years ago. Now he has enlisted the help of Brian Cox as patron, and Peter Gabriel and Kylie Minogue as backers, to celebrate international culture, from dancers from Brazil's favelas, to musicans from West Africa, to salsa dancers from Cuba.

Heading the bill is Children of the Khmer, featuring 26 orphaned Cambodian dancers and musicians schooled by survivors of the Killing Fields, when educated people were slaughtered in vast numbers and musicians forced to smash their precious instruments or die.

The country's ancient arts and legendary tales are revived in an irresistibly engaging production by these highly disciplined, enthusiastic teenagers. From the elegant opening candlelit "Prayer", the show focuses on varied aspects of folklore and tradition – as depicted in the carvings of Angkor Wat temple – from the ritual of "dashing coconut shells" and skill of picking cardamom, to an amusing re-enactment of the tale of the golden mermaid and the monkey king.

Exquisitely stylised in gesture, gorgeously colourful in costume, the dancers are expertly accompanied on traditional and ceremonial instruments in a show that dazzles in its infectious exuberance.

Tuareg Rebels Hit the Road

By Howard Male Posted on Tuesday, 19 August 2008

COMING SOON - WORLD MUSIC Critic Howard Male looks to the more exotic flavours that world music has to offer

Only once in the past 10 months have the desert rockers Tinariwen (pictured) not been mentioned in this guide, but as they're currently one of the best bands in the world, I'll unapologetically risk informing you that they have a few more gigs coming up. On 25 August they are at the Komedia in Brighton (01273 647100), on 27 August, the Princess Pavilion in Falmouth (01326 211222) and on 29 August they land at the Electric Picnic Festival in Stradbally (0818 719 300).

Another reason for giving Tinariwen yet another plug is that there's actually a dearth of other big names visiting these shores over the next couple of months, following the world music overkill of Womad and the Radio 3 Proms show at the Royal Albert Hall. But at least this gives you the opportunity to check out a few less familiar artists.

isn't new - she most famously contributed vocals to Suba's seminal album Sao Paulo Confessions a decade ago - but this adventurous Brazilian singer still hasn't had much exposure here, despite some favourable responses from critics. Catch her trippy take on samba at, among other venues, the Blue Coat in Liverpool (12 Sep, 0151-702 5324), the Glee Club in Birmingham (16 Sep, 0870 241 5093) and the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh (21 Sep, 0131- 556 7060).

Someone else who is not exactly flavour of the month but is always worth seeing is the Zimbabwean veteran Oliver Mtukudzi. Along with his excellent band, the Black Spirits, he'll be playing his politically charged but joyous dance music at the Jazz Cafe, London (20 Aug, 0870 060 3777), Hove Town Hall (22 Aug, 07939 957939) and the Birmingham Academy (24 Sep, 0121-262 3000).

Finally, Cambodia's answer to the B-52's, Dengue Fever, follow a tent-shaking set at Womad with two more festival appearances. They are at Beautiful Days in Devon (16 Aug, 0844 412 2706) and the previously mentioned Electric Picnic Festival on 31 Aug.

Serious Stages at WOMAD

by Jim Evans, 19 August 2008

UK - Serious Stages continued its 19 year relationship with the WOMAD (World of Music Arts & Dance) Festival, supplying three main stages for the 2008 event held at Charlton Park, Malmesbury in Wiltshire. Serious supplied the main open air arena with a stage and roofing system, and indoor stages for the festival's Siam and the Big Red tents. WOMAD 2008 featured over 70 live acts from 35 countries.

The Main Stage consisted of one of Serious's 15.6m, four-arch Supernovas - their new steel framed heavy load bearing structure launched earlier in the year. The Supernova offered 16m of stage depth, a trim height of 11m and six tonnes of weight loading per arch for sound, lighting and video production.

Serious also supplied all the stage decking for this, plus two 3.6 x 2.4m 'cowshed' extensions stage left and right, to house monitors and dimmer areas. They built 12m high satellite PA towers either side of stage, a large wheelchair access platform out in the arena, and a FOH mixer riser platform.

The Siam Tent was the three-day event's second stage, and consisted of a 15.6m wide by 15.6m deep Serious decking system located inside a massive Kayam style tent. Serious also constructed a FOH mixing area and wheelchair access platform. The Big Red Tent featured another 15.6m wide Serious decking system.

The Serious team of eight led by Jeremy "Moz" Mosdell took four days to build the different structures. Serious has also worked with WOMAD on their events in Spain and Gran Canaria.

Daniel Lanois headlines Wine Festival entertainment

Posted By The Tribune, Welland Tribune, Canada - 18 Aug 2008

Oliver Black to appear on Canadian night

St. Catharines

World renowned producer and singer-songwriter Daniel Lanois will headline this year's Niagara Wine Festival.

Lanois - a native of Hamilton Ontario - has worked with countless artists including Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson. Lanois produced Grammy award-winning albums for U2 and Bob Dylan. Lanois is also an accomplished singer-songwriter producing six of his own albums and touring worldwide annually.

“It is very exciting to have an internationally recognized artist headlining the festival this year”, said Ken Weir President of the Niagara Wine Festival. “Mr. Lanois is an accomplished singer-songwriter and a Canada Walk of Fame inductee. I think festival goers will really respond enthusiastically to his music,” added Weir.

On Sept. 25, Lanois will headline the first-ever ‘Canadian Singer & Songwriter’s Night’ which will feature performances by Oliver Black, Joe Lapinski, Martha Wainwright and Neverending White Lights.

“It’s really rare to have five big-name acts from Canada perform on the same stage on one night - especially at the low ticket price we are offering. We were pleased to be the recipient of Celebrate Ontario funding from the Ontario Government that has allowed us to put on an evening of entertainment of this caliber. We encourage everyone to come out and enjoy a night of diverse musical Canadian talent,” added Weir.

Nobel Peace Laureates Offer a Message of Hope on America's Most Solemn Day - September 11, 2008

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 18 Loyola-PeaceJam-event

On one of the most solemn days in American history, September 11th, seven Nobel Peace Laureates will hold a press conference at the PeaceJam Foundation's "Global Call to Action Conference" in Los Angeles, California, launching a campaign of hope and inspiration for the people of the world. Through the PeaceJam Foundation, the Laureates will be announcing a Global Call to Action, encouraging the people around the world to work with them on ten core issues to serve humanity and end the suffering that so many face. The goal is one-billion simple acts of peace within the next ten years. At the PeaceJam conference young people will engage in a once in a lifetime opportunity to work alongside the Nobel Peace Laureates on the projects that they have created and are creating.

The Nobel Peace Laureates attending include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Jody Williams, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Betty Williams and President Jose Ramos Horta. The PeaceJam conference will run from September 11-13, 2008 at Loyola Marymount University.

The ten core issues that the Nobel Peace Laureates have designated for projects include:
  • Ending racism and hate
  • Social justice and human rights for all
  • Halting the spread of global disease
  • Equal access to water and other natural resources
  • Rights for women and children
  • Eliminating extreme poverty
  • Restoring earth's environment
  • Controlling the proliferation of weapons
  • Investing in human security
  • Breaking the cycle of violence
This September, PeaceJam will be at the center of a number of huge events in addition to the conference that will highlight and underscore the importance of the organization's mission: the publication of a new book: PEACEJAM: A Billion Simple Acts of Peace (Puffin; September, $16.99) co-authored by PeaceJam founders Ivan Suvanjieff and Dawn Gifford Engle, which is the handbook for the Global Call to Action campaign and contains profiles of each of the Nobel Peace Laureates involved in PeaceJam and the firsthand accounts of the young people and their work with the Laureates, plus tools and resources to inspire others to action;

The Global Call to Action Challenge Contest, sponsored by the Pearson Foundation, which will honor the best Global Call to Action projects in the U.S. -- a top prize will be awarded to the winning project and will include a visit by a Nobel Prize Laureate to the winner's school or youth organization; and in the spring of next year, a 10-part PBS TV series narrated by Peter Gabriel and with music by the White Stripes, the Arctic Monkeys, and Flobots will be broadcast to highlight exciting youth projects from the Global Call to Action campaign.

The PeaceJam Foundation hopes to create a new generation of young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world through the inspiration of the Nobel Peace Laureates. Working with schools and youth groups, PeaceJam workers travel the globe to find people who want to make a difference in the world. All of the board of directors of PeaceJam are Nobel Peace Laureates. In addition to those attending the press conference, other members include The Dalai Lama, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Aung San Suu Kyi (still under house arrest in Burma), and Sir Joseph Rotblat (Emeritus).

As a result of their incredible work, PeaceJam co-founders Ivan Suvanjieff and Dawn Engle have been nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.
PRESS CONFERENCE DATE: September 11, 2008

TIME: 3 p.m.

LOCATION: Ahmanson 1000, University Hall

Loyola Marymount University

1 LMU Drive

Los Angeles, CA

SOURCE Loyola Marymount University

WOMAD foundation and the Musical Elder's Archive

by JillTurner, World Music Central, Monday, August 18 2008

Over the years, the WOMAD foundation, has worked with many talented musicians world wide. In addition to running workshops and summer schools the foundation are developing an invaluable new initiative.

Annie Menter a foundation executive told me, "We intend to create an archive of 'musical elders' who have shaped our musical landscape and who's music may well be lost once they have gone".

In July, whilst in England to perform at the WOMAD festival, Madosini Maqina, became the first elder to be documented, making the most of her time here, which in itself was a fortuitous booking that followed on from an invitation to participate at the Le Reve de L'Aborigene, a mouth bow festival in France.

Madosini has been making her own style of music and imparting social commentary for eighty years. Revered for her skills with three instruments, the isitolotolo ( jew's harp), the uhadi ( bow with calabash ) and the umrumbhe ( mouth bow), it is the latter instrument that invokes the most passion.

Madosini's name means pride and this is evident in the way she talks to me about the umrumbhe, the instrument her mother taught her to play in a darkened house. With no TV or radio it became her sole source of entertainment as she recovered from a leg injury. To this day, Madosini continues to make the mouth bow herself, fashioned from a particular type of wood she finds lying in the bush near her home in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. There is equal delight in recounting the times as young girls they would play the umrumbhe, to announce fights over love interests. As we chat, the highlights of her stories are punctuated with excited flicks on my knee from her bow.

Decades on, listening to her recent WOMAD UK performance, she announces, "there is no-one playing this instrument now except for me and my friend" , in reference to Mantombi Matotiyana. Perceived as an achievement and applauded by the audience, a frustrated Madosini tells me later, " I want the instrument to live, not to die with me. Children are too busy with school, they love to listen to the umrhubhe, I wish they would teach it in the schools" .

If the children of the schools in the Eastern Cape are too busy with their academic studies to spare time for music, they may well be able to benefit from Musical Elders Archives which will be curated by the WOMAD foundation the and made available on line for educational purposes around the world.

Madosini was the first elder to be documented in a series of films and interviews but Annie is keen to stress that it was because she happened to be in England this summer and "this project will be as much about the little known musicians who have brought music into communities around the world, as about those who have reached an international audience" as she also recounts the music of Bernard Kabanda, for whom the project has come too late. He was discovered in the bars of Kampala performing "kadongo kamu", delivering a mix of social comment and humor whilst accompanying himself on a hand made guitar built from scrap with brake cables for strings. He recorded his first and only album Olugendo, on the WOMAD select label and with their help was on the brink of an international career, for many he was the highlight of the 1999 WOMAD festivals in England and the US. He wasn't in the best of health on the tour and after returning to Uganda his health deteriorated he died two months later from an AIDS related illness.

………'s a cliché to say the music lives on but it will if it is researched and documented. "This is a subject close to my heart, says Outerglobe's DJ Debbie Golt, "I'm pleased someone is making it happen".

At the time of writing, the WOMAD Foundation are actively seeking the resources to ensure their Musical Elders Archive achieves its aims.

Jill Turner for World Music Central

Photo credit : Paul Tomlins
Translator: Cecilia

Madosini has released an album in 1998 Power to the Women on the M.E.L.T. 2000 label.

Madosini playing the uhadi can be seen here on Youtube

Bernard Kabanda released an album in 1999 Olugendo, on the WOMAD Select label in 1999. Three of his tracks also appear on, Music from Uganda, Vol. 2 - Modern Traditional from the Swedish Caprice label.

Quebec : Les entreprises culturelles s'inquiètent

Radio-Canada, lundi 18 août 2008

Compressions dans la culture : Les entreprises culturelles s'inquiètent

Les coupures du gouvernement Harper dans sept programmes de financement à la culture mettent en péril plusieurs productions de compagnies de la région, selon plusieurs. Jean-Pierre Vézina, vice-président aux finances chez Ex Machina la maison de production de Robert Lepage, indique que les programmes fédéraux avaient permis à sa compagnie de s'imposer sur la scène internationale.

Leur disparition compromet maintenant le développement de nouveaux marchés en Asie et en Amérique du Sud. « Il faut être là dans les prochaines années, c'est là qu'on va pouvoir exporter nos produits », souligne-t-il.

L'aide fédérale a permis à Robert Lepage de jouer dans des théâtres prestigieux comme à Londres. « Peter Gabriel est venu voir le spectacle, ça nous a permis après, Robert et Ex Machina, de faire du travail de mise en scène pour ses spectacles », ajoute M. Vézina.

Pour chaque dollar d'aide accordé à Ex Machina, 15 $ reviennent au pays.

L'abolition des programmes inquiète aussi les plus petites boîtes de production comme Vidéo Femmes à Québec. Suzie Genest, adjointe à la production, mentionne que depuis 2000, au moins une dizaine de documentaires créés par Vidéo Femmes ont pu bénéficier du Fonds canadien du film et de la vidéo indépendants.

De passage à Québec en fin de semaine, le chef bloquiste Gilles Duceppe a ridiculisé le gouvernement Harper. « C'est une idéologie de dinosaure et le seul lien entre le gouvernement conservateur et la culture, c'est parc Jurassique. »

Le gouvernement Harper veut remplacer les programmes abolis, mais pour l'instant, aucune aide n'est disponible et une année sans subvention pourrait compromettre plusieurs productions locales.

Robert Lepage wants to tell you a story...

BY Dominic Maxwell, From The Times, August 18, 2008

... but it will take the Canadian theatrical wizard nine hours to tell it at the Barbican next month

Robert Lepage may well be the most exciting theatrical practitioner of the past two decades - a man who, as Peter Gabriel put it, “makes theatre for people who don't like theatre”. But can even he dazzle, move and amuse an audience for nine straight hours? He's about to find out. It's late March, at the converted fire station in his native Quebec City, Canada, that has been his base for the past 15 years. In a moment, after five years of workshops and try-outs - including a frisky little five-hour version he took to Newcastle last summer - he's about to show off the full, nine-act version of Lipsynch for the first time.

“You'll see some things that fly, some things that are half-baked,” he says backstage, in the measured but musical French-Canadian accent that will be familiar to anyone who has seen one-man triumphs such as The Far Side of the Moon. And the sheer length of it? He shrugs: nine characters, nine connected stories, it felt like a good challenge. And it also gives it a talking-point appeal for festivals. “There will be pauses, time to go to the washroom, time to eat. So it's seven hours plus intervals. Bad theatre, you feel like you're a hostage, right? In good theatre, however long it is, time dilates.”

At 3pm Lepage greets an invited audience of locals, friends and supporters. Your feedback, he tells them in French, is vital - six months before its premiere at the Barbican in September, this remains a work-in-progress. True enough, the dialogue, devised in four languages with the cast of nine, has its makeshift moments. But the staging? Often astounding. Nobody else could make a story themed around “the voice” quite so visual.

From the first scene, set in midair on a jumbo jet, you're in the land of Lepage: huge, high-tech sets that play host to intimate exchanges. At just after midnight the audience stands to applaud. Lepage joins his cast for a bow. There is work to do. But, over nine hours - seven hours plus intervals - it is never dull.

Lepage is not a household name - even the taxi drivers of Quebec City appear not to have heard of him. But his 25 years of telling stories that don't make you feel like a hostage have made Lepage a worldwide art-house draw in theatre, opera and film.

Epics such as The Dragons' Trilogy and The Seven Streams of the River Ota helped to make his name in the Eighties and Nineties. He has directed tours for Peter Gabriel, created a £90 million show for Cirque du Soleil, made five films, although he's not planning any more of those: “It takes too much time - and I discovered, very late, that film is very untheatrical.”

When we meet again months later, on an afternoon off in London, Lepage is as affable, amused and composed as he was minutes before his big show in March. Wearing a black wig - he developed alopecia, a condition that causes complete hair loss, when he was 5 - he looks younger than his 50 years. His success, he says, has been due to his not knowing the rules. “When I come to Europe,” he says, “I meet some very interesting young playwrights who are crushed by this huge tradition you have here. In Quebec theatre is so young. Everything is to be invented.”

Lepage was raised in a working-class household, in which two languages were spoken, “a metaphor for Canada”. His parents adopted two young Irish children from Nova Scotia and sent them to an English-speaking school. Then, six years later, when they had first Robert and then his sister Lynda, they sent their biological children to a French-speaking school: “That kind of divided the family in two.” They all spoke French at the dinner table. “But there were fights! Everything was double in Quebec in those days; you would have a TV channel in English and one in French, both showing the same hockey game. And we would row about which one we would watch.”

So in making a show about language and the voice, Lepage knows whereof he speaks. “In French I have to speak properly, I have to organise my arguments in a French way. But when I speak in English, my language is far from perfect. If I can't find the word, people have to accept that. So I have a lot of freedom - it's a different personality. Somebody who speaks in a certain way thinks in a certain way.”

His mother Germaine, he says, was a great storyteller. But he learnt that it might be possible to make a living by telling stories by seeing his taxi driver father, Ferdinand, at work. To amuse American tourists while taking them on local tours, “he would tell stories about the area and spice them up - to survive, really”. Lepage used some of those memories in his film Le Confessional. But although Lepage is a gay man who grew up with alopecia in a bilingual family and who was bullied, depressed and - for a while - agoraphobic at high school, his work rarely plunders such difficulties directly.

“No, I never wanted to do that. I mean, there are so many gay shows. In Quebec all theatre was about coming out for a while, and I would just think: ‘Oh come on!' For me it was just something in my life, it wasn't a problem. I didn't feel I had to be a spokesperson. The alopecia, the other personal stuff, I let it emerge into my work. I'll use some other starting point - like Hans Christian Andersen in The Andersen Project - and then find out after 20 or 30 shows, oh no, it's really all about me! And you think, well, the work dragged it out of me - because I don't understand these things, because I don't know exactly how they affect me, or how my struggle, how my example can help others. I don't think about that. It wouldn't help.”

But the results can be incredibly personal and poignant, however much of the circus there is in the way that he tells his tales. Nobody who saw The Far Side of the Moon, a tale of grief, sibling rivalry and the space race, will ever forget the final image in which a well-placed mirror makes it look as if Lepage is walking in space. And there are moments in Lipsynch - such as when one tipsy character appears to be walking through furniture - that must have prompted some high fives at Lepage HQ when they first tried them out.

“Oh yeah!” he chuckles. “You have to do numbers. It is a cabaret attitude to serious playwriting - they're numbers. And when you study Shakespeare carefully - the good ones, not the dogs - each scene, each monologue, is a number. Shakespeare has a preoccupation with the audience. He knows that, after a while, after ten minutes, people are either drunk or bored or they need to go to the washroom. So he has to hit them with a song or a sonnet or pageantry or whatever.”

Easy, then. But if everyone could combine pageantry with the personal as Lepage does, he wouldn't be the worldwide art-house draw he is. And his success has been on his own terms. He lives, with his boyfriend Kevin McCoy, a few minutes' walk away from his studio. He won't do a Broadway or West End show, because they demand the sort of instant results that are anathema to a man whose Cirque du Soleil show had 80 previews before it opened.

He's had his lulls - Elsinore, his one-man Hamlet, was plagued by technical troubles; his A Midsummer Night's Dream was a muddy mess at the National Theatre. But he remains one of the most revered figures in world theatre. Next year he teams up with the dancer Sylvie Guillem and choreographer Russell Maliphant for a wordless show called Eonnagata, and his diary is booked up to at least 2012, when he finishes his staging of Wagner's Ring cycle for the New York Met. No small gigs, these. Can it be hard to live up to people's expectations?

“Oh, absolutely. But, you know, great! I don't need money any more and I don't need recognition. People have said so many times that this is my swansong, that the emperor has no clothes. So I don't really care; being told that you're dead so many times gives you the freedom to do what you really want.”

But is he not after someone's approval? Who is in the back of Robert Lepage's cab? “Well,” he says, “I've had much easier success abroad than I do at home or in France. But I think I have always tried to please the French.

“The Canadian writer Michel Tremblay said something I liked. ‘Everybody is trying to be international. That doesn't mean anything. You have to be universal. And if you do want to do something universal, you have to do something local.' That's true. So the first person I have in mind is my sister: will she understand this? Will she be moved by it? I'm trying to please... well, I won't say the layman. But the place where I live is my first audience.”

Lipsynch runs at the Barbican Theatre, London EC2, Sept 6 to 14 (020-7638 8891;

La grande distribution abandonne la musique

Publié sur le 18/08/2008

Avec l'industrialisation de la musique enregistrée, les grandes surfaces étaient devenues les premiers revendeurs de disques devant les disquaires, décimés dans les années 1990. Mais aujourd'hui, les grandes surfaces se retirent progressivement du marché, et délaissent la musique en ligne auxquelles elles ne croient plus. Changement d'époque.

Vous ne le saviez probablement pas, mais le distributeur E. Leclerc avait lancé en 2006 un service de musique en ligne baptisé MusicEtMoi, sans aucune conviction. Malgré des tarifs plus bas que la concurrence, avec notamment un forfait d'écoute illimitée à 7,99 euros par mois, MusicEtMoi n'a jamais gagné en popularité. Il faut dire que E. Leclerc n'a jamais véritablement communiqué autour de sa plateforme, comme s'il savait déjà depuis le lancement que l'effort serait vain.

Depuis le 8 août, les internautes n'ont plus la possibilité de créditer leur compte, et les renouvellements automatiques pour les abonnements sont interrompus. Le 8 septembre, la plateforme sera défintivement fermée, sans que ça ne provoque sans doute l'émotion populaire.

En théorie, les clients du service de E. Leclerc qui ont acheté des morceaux protégés par des DRM sur ne pourront plus obtenir les licences d'autorisation pour lire les chansons achetées, une fois les serveurs fermés. Mais pour éviter le fiasco subi par MSN ou Yahoo qui sont obligés de conseiller à leurs clients de contourner les DRM, la continuité du service sera assurée par Nokia, sur Musiqueetmoi était en effet opéré par la société OD2 créée par Peter Gabriel, rachetée par Loudeye, lui-même racheté par le finlandais Nokia l'an dernier.

Au delà de l'anecdote, le retrait de E. Leclerc de la musique en ligne est symptomatique d'un retrait général de la grande distribution de la vente de musique tout court. Les linéaires consacrés aux CD se sont déjà considérablement réduits ces dernières années dans les grandes surfaces, et sont désormais la plupart du temps relégués dans le fond des magasins. Leur place est aujourd'hui occupée par les jeux vidéo et les produits électroniques, intrinsèquement plus rentables que les disques aux marges faibles.

Les grandes et moyennes surfaces (GMS) qui s'étaient imposées dans les années 1990 comme le premier réseau de vente de musique, devant les disquaires, sont en train de réduire la place des disques comme peau de chagrin. Les ventes baissent donc mécaniquement, ce qui incite les GMS à réduire leurs linéaires encore davantage. Bien avant le piratage, c'est ce cercle vicieux industriel qui est responsable de la chute des ventes de disques ces dix dernières années.

En un an, entre mai 2007 et mai 2008, les ventes de musique dans les grandes surfaces ont baissé de près de 32 %. Dans le même temps, les disquaires comme la Fnac ou les magasins Virgin accusent une baisse beaucoup plus modérée de 13 % des ventes, ce qui leur permet désormais de prendre près de la moitié du marché, devant les grandes surfaces alimentaires. Mais ces grandes surfaces spécialisées, elles aussi, diminuent l'exposition des disques. Il suffit de se rendre dans une Fnac pour constater que les disques sont la plupart du temps relégués à l'arrière du magasin ou à l'étage, au profit des baladeurs MP3, des appareils photos, des DVD ou des livres, beaucoup mieux exposés.

21 août 2008

Fathers of fusion

By David Honigmann, Financial Times, Published: August 16 2008

It’s a hot Sunday night at the World of Music and Dance festival (Womad), and Hamid Mantu, tall, thin, and wearing a leopard-skin fedora, is high on adrenaline. He and his band, Transglobal Underground, have just stormed through their set.

This has been a good year for TGU. They won a BBC Radio 3 Award For World Music in the Club Global category, a sub-genre that they did as much as anyone to create. And they won a BBC Folk Award as well, for their work on the Imagined Village project. The times have caught up with them.

But Mantu is reminiscing about his first Womad. In 1982, Hamilton Lee (as he was then called) and his friend Tim Whelan were in the audience, watching Echo & the Bunnymen play with a group of drummers from Burundi. “That was a key moment,” says Mantu, “seeing that concept.” Whelan drily insists that his main memory of 1982 was asking himself: “Why is someone painting my face green?” But he concedes the importance of that first Womad in his later career. “You think there are about five people in the country who are into the same thing as you – and then you find there are thousands.”

At the time, Lee and Whelan were part of the indie band Furniture, whose best-known song, “Brilliant Mind”, is a staple fixture of superior 1980s compilations. Furniture’s musical horizons were widened in 1987 when they were dispatched on a tour of the Middle East by the British Council. “We played a great big theatre in Amman in front of the Crown Prince,” recalls Whelan. “We’d been a shambolic indie band, turning our back to the audience. Suddenly we found we had to put on a show.” Egypt was another revelation. “A huge pop music tradition that gave nothing to, and took nothing from, England.”

A second tour sent them round eastern Europe in 1989. “We saw Romania at the end of Ceausescu. It was all radically different: a new and nasty experience.”

Furniture collapsed shortly afterwards, and Whelan and Lee, along with a musician who called himself Count Dubulah, started experimenting with a wider range of sounds. “It was no group, just an idea,” says Mantu.

“Me and Hami,” recalls Whelan, “had always been more funk, jazzy, whatever. Nothing with rock guitar, but old rock’n’roll, 1950s music, doo-wop. TGU started as a way of putting together all the stuff we were genuinely interested in. We made ‘Temple Head’ [the group’s influential first single, later the soundtrack for a Coca-Cola advert], people danced, end of story.”

But it was the beginning of a story as well. The band released a series of albums – notably Dream of 100 Nations and International Times – that brought a sparkling, exotic range of instrumentation to the lumpen British dance scene. TGU’s marriage of world sounds with dance beats, plus a touch of widescreen soundtrack majesty borrowed from German sonic experimentalists Can, spawned a thousand imitators. It also attracted a horde of collaborators. Natacha Atlas joined as singer and bellydancer, and TGU acted as her producers as she began her solo career. (She still works with them: Whelan is mixing her vocals into a film soundtrack as we speak, and her Arabesque stylings hover in the air behind him.) Johnny Kalsi drummed with TGU for a couple of years, until his own Dhol Foundation was up and running. The Zulu singer Doreen Thobekile was a later member. Neil Sparkes partnered with Natacha Atlas: their first live performance was at the Notting Hill Carnival in 1992 and remained with the band for several years before leaving with Count Dubullah to form Temple of Sound.

“From 1992 to 1996”, he says, “we were gigging as much as Blur. We got taken under the wing of Britpop. But it was really a reflection of the diaspora of music in London.” For Mantu: “We still reflect what’s going on in London at the moment. We’re all based there, listening to and loving different kinds of music.”

Whelan remembers that “when we first used to play Womad, no one thought we were world music. We came from the opposite end: music from inside Britain, moving outward.” He cites the influence of “a generation of Arabic musicians who have grown up in London, and the whole London African music scene”.

“It was an update of the Specials meet Parliament with Arabic vocals and immense dub,” says Sparkes. “We may have been making dance music, but it was never techno, never ambient crystal-gazing.” They were, says Mantu, “confused. Not fusion music but confusion.”

TGU is often described as a collective: its membership fluctuates, and no one – not even Mantu or Whelan – has been present for every single one of the group’s performances. “We say collective”, says Whelan, “because you can’t call yourself the Chaotic.” A stable line-up, says Mantu, would in some ways be easier. But “people that leave always come back. Wherever we go in the world, people always want to jump on stage with us.”

This year, TGU have been busier than ever. For two or three years, they did not play in Britain at all; now, the rise of the smaller festival has kept them in strong demand, with appearances at Larmer Tree and the Big Session, as well as at the Festival at the Edge, a storytelling event.

They also tour frequently around Europe. Mantu raves about a festival five hours from Kiev at which the band recently played. “At 1am there was a fire show, with someone being lowered into a flaming pit for about 40 minutes. It was a Ukrainian ritual, apparently.”

In its current incarnation, as well as Whelan and Mantu, the group consists of four other members. Tuup (an acronym for The Unorthodox Unprecendented Preacher), is billed as a storyteller. “Hipsters, flipsters and finger-popping daddios,” he toasts, channelling Lord Buckley, as the band launch into “Nile Delta Disco”. Krupa Pattni sings in a beret. Gurjit Sihra thumps a dhol, a double-skinned Punjabi drum. Sheema Mukherjee plays cascading runs of sitar.

“TGU,” says Whelan, “has developed its own existence that’s bigger than the people in it. It’s like having another personality in the room.” How would he describe that personality? Whelan pauses. “Very, very tall. It’s carried on of its own accord. Every time we think it’s run its course, something new comes along.”

Transglobal Underground play the Beautiful Days Festival on Saturday night [Aug 16], the Pontadawre Festival on August 17, and Bestival and Ilfracombe Folk Festival in September

Levon Minassian, un doudoukiste virtuose

dimanche17 août 2008, par Stéphane/armenews

Sting, Peter Gabriel, Aznavour... Levon Minassian a joué avec les plus grands noms de la musique. Et pour cause, ce Marseillais d’origine arménienne est un des rares maîtres de doudouk au monde, un instrument de la famille du hautbois.

"C’est un instrument mythique et magique. Il est fait en bois d’abricotier et l’embout est en roseau, ce n’est pas évident pour souffler", explique le "doudoukiste", costume strict et cheveux en bataille.

L’homme, âgé de 54 ans, est venu vendredi soir présenter sa musique au public du festival marseillais des musiques du monde, Babelmed (qui se poursuit jusqu’à samedi), accompagné de sa soeur Roselyne au chant, d’un pianiste, d’un violoncelle et d’une vièle à pic.

Ce sont les bergers arméniens qui ont créé le doudouk, classé par l’Unesco au patrimoine mondial de la musique. Des maîtres comme Vallodia Haroutiounian ou Djivan Kasparian en ont ensuite rendu le souffle beaucoup plus grave.

Dans la famille Minassian, la musique et le chant font partie de la vie de tous les jours. "Régulièrement, nous allions au spectacle écouter les troupes d’Arménie soviétique qui venaient jouer en France", se rappelle Levon Minassian.

Très jeune il apprend la guitare et la mandoline, puis intègre l’ensemble Sassoun, l’orchestre traditionnel de la Jeunesse arménienne de France. A l’adolescence, il découvre le doudouk, dont il est actuellement le seul à jouer en Europe de l’Ouest.

Sa famille revenait d’un voyage en Arménie. "Quand notre oncle et notre père lui ont offert le doudouk, Levon a dit +Je vais apprendre à en jouer+. On a tous rigolé !", s’exclame Roselyne Minassian. Mais le gamin est tenace : "Ca m’a pris beaucoup de temps. Dès que j’avais une heure, je soufflais. Ca fait 35 ans que je m’entraîne", raconte Levon Minassian.

Ses efforts ne seront pas vains : médaille d’or doudouk du festival de musique folklorique en 1989 à Paris, trophée des Maîtres à Gumri en Arménie en 2002 et décoré Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres en 2003, il a réussi à se faire une place dans la world music, la variété ou encore le cinéma.

A la fin des années 1980, le compositeur Georges Garvarenz lui propose de participer à la réalisation de sa première musique de film, "La mémoire tatouée", de Ridha Behi.

Puis vient la rencontre avec le musicien britannique Peter Gabriel, dont Levon se rappelle avec émotion : "Sa secrétaire m’a appelé vers minuit à mon domicile pour me proposer d’enregistrer avec Peter le mercredi suivant. Mais je ne pouvais pas, je faisais les marchés. Je lui ai demandé de reporter le rendez-vous au dimanche suivant... et nous avons enregistré dans son studio privé à Londres !".

Sting sollicite à son tour sa collaboration pour son album "Sacred love", puis Yvan Cassar, pour la musique de son film "Odyssée de l’Espèce".

Outre la musique, le rêve de Levon Minassian est d’apporter sa contribution "à la paix dans le monde" : "On m’a demandé d’être présent à un festival en Turquie. Je suis partant pour participer à la paix entre nos deux peuples".

Une de ses dernières chansons, "Les vents sont tombés", témoigne de cette volonté. "Il faudra qu’un jour les vents s’apaisent pour que les gens se réconcilient", dit-il.

Declaration of Independence

Strings Magazine, August 14, 2008

Declaration of Independence

Have a self-released album that deserves a little more recognition? Independent Music Awards is taking submissions until August 22 for its ninth annual program. Bassist Rob Wasserman will join Peter Gabriel, George Jones, Keith Urban, Roger Daltrey, and Suzanne Vega, and other artists and judges listening to winners and finalists. Maybe Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” could use more cello?

Unlimited Free Music

by Simon Power,, 14-Aug-08

Warners Strike A Deal With We7

Warner Music has made a deal with We7, the download site co-founded by Peter Gabriel, to offer paid-for mp3 downloads and ad-funded on-demand audio streaming via its online portal.
This means that We7 members will have access to unlimited tracks and albums in their entirety at no cost.They will also be able to create playlists, share music and embed tracks into their personal websites.

on-demand music player will play ads before each streamed track to fund the service which is intended to be up and running by late October 2008.

Steve Purdham, Founder Investor and CEO of We7, said: "Recently there has been a lot of focus on piracy, but this deal is reflective of the radically changing digital landscape where music fans can access high quality, safe and legal alternatives.”

Links : We7

Me and my superheroes

By Robin Denselow, The Guardian, Friday August 15 2008

When he's not taking calls from Mandela and Tutu, or keeping an eye on Womad, Peter Gabriel still loves a good groove. He talks world domination with Robin Denselow

Peter Gabriel isn't sure if he's meant to be saying this - it's the kind of thing that could get a former secretary-general of the UN into trouble - but he's talking about the project that prevented him joining last year's Genesis reunion. "Kofi Annan was saying the fact that he didn't have the security council on his back every single move was enormously liberating." Annan hasn't been in the studio with Gabriel ; he's part of the latest stage of Gabriel's vaultingly ambitious career, serving as one of the 12 members of the Elders, a group of statesmen and women - including Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and Jimmy Carter - Gabriel helped convene to deal with global problems.

Ambition has been a constant in Gabriel's career. He co-founded Genesis while still at school, only to leave them in 1975 for a massively successful solo career. Not content with that, he helped to transform the world music scene by promoting international artists through the Womad festivals and Real World record label. And now the Elders.

Gabriel has found himself too busy to devote his full attention even to that - he missed this summer's meeting because he had just become a father for the fourth time, at the age of 58. All of which has meant little time for making new music. It's six years since Gabriel released Up, his last studio album, but he does appear on a new Real World release, for which he was co-curator. It's called Big Blue Ball, and consists of collaborations by artists from around the world who came together for what Gabriel called Recording Weeks, held at Gabriel's studios in Wiltshire in 1991, 1992 and 1995, with extra vocals added to one song last year. But why has it taken so long to be completed? "That's pretty quick, I'd say!" retorts Gabriel. "Normally, in a recording studio, you chop away as you go, but with this there was no time. There was a mountain that needed clearing and sorting, and every time someone looked at it, vertigo was the result. And I'm a perfectionist, so it took a while to satisfy me as well."

Big Blue Ball is a perfect Gabriel project: it combines his fascination with technology, experimentation and music from around the world. The motivating idea was "creative anarchy and allowing interesting things to happen", and the results include a glorious collaboration between Natacha Atlas, an Egyptian string section and percussionist Hossam Ramzy, and a song featuring Sinéad O'Connor, Chinese flute player Guo Yue, and Sevara Nazarkhan from Uzbekistan. Then there are the tracks involving Gabriel himself, including a rousing number with drummer Billy Cobham. "Most of the tracks started with a groove," he says. I'm a big groove fan - and a failed drummer. It's still that, and passionate singing, that brings me into a lot of music."

The project could never have been long-running, he says, "because we never found a way to make it pay for itself - but I'd love to do it again. It was among the most exciting musical moments I have ever had. We may have dreams of women and money, but fun is still the motive for a lot of people starting in music, and there's nothing like being with a group of musicians and generating something that hasn't existed before."

Big Blue Ball is part of Gabriel's ongoing quest to bring new music to audiences. "It's a bit like food," he says. "The taste may be a little foreign at first, but after a while you get to like it. If we can absorb the world, which we need to do, that is part of a globalisation process. I have a lot of sympathy for the anti-globalisation movement, but I think it's the wrong word. Womad has always been a globalisation festival to me."

The Womad festival is now as much part of the British musical summer as Glastonbury - this was it's 26th year - and there is now a global network of Womad events. Has it achieved what Gabriel wanted? "Like all good evangelists, we'd love it to have taken over the world, but it has opened a lot of doors for a lot of artists, and for that, everyone involved feels very proud. It's the only festival I know of that's been exported."

But could it become a victim of its own success, now that artists from around the world are staples of so many other festivals? With the departure this year of Thomas Brooman, Womad's co-founder and original artistic director, Gabriel suggests there could be changes. "I'm looking at different ways of opening up Womad, so I hope some of the original ideas might be looked at again. Originally we were trying to do more with poetry, film and art and it would be great to find a way of getting more of that."

There might also be more younger bands, especially after the intriguing work combining British and African musicians in the Africa Express project, started by Damon Albarn and others as an angry reaction to the lack of African musicians at Live 8. Gabriel sees what they are doing as a continuation of the Recording Weeks concept. "I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate being told that," he says. "But I do see a connection. At the first Womad, we had Echo and the Bunnymen playing with the Burundi drummers."

So what next? He says there will be a new album soon, possibly next year. And he's recorded for an album called Scratch My Back, in which artists cover each other's songs. And then there's his involvement with the Elders, the concept of which sprang from a conversation with Richard Branson in 1999. The aim was "getting a group of superheroes to work together - I do think that governments are in some ways the record companies of the governance world, in the sense that the old models are redundant in some areas." He hopes this group of veteran politicians and activists, currently chaired by Desmond Tutu, will be able to offer advice on issues such as conflict resolution: "If you have the Elders, whose phone calls will not be refused and rejected by any statesman, you have some means of influencing events."

And did he really have to make the choice between meetings with Mandela, Tutu and co and singing The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway? It seems so. The Elders, said Gabriel "was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity and more pressing for me than a Genesis reunion, even though it could be fun to do some time. But it's not necessarily something I would want to live in." Meaning? "It's a nice place to visit but not somewhere you want to move back to necessarily." It's not, perhaps, the Real World.

· Big Blue Ball is out now on Real World Records via Proper

Parades By Efterklan

By Mark Shikuma, North Cost Journal, aug. 14, 2008

Parades By Efterklang. Leaf Label.

"To be lonely is a state of mind, something completely other than physical solitude."

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea."

-- Danish writer Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen)

There are Scandinavian countries where daylight lasts for days on end, or darkness continues from one day into the next, depending on the season. Though Copenhagen doesn’t have the deep extremes of its northern neighbors, there remains a culture enveloped in melancholy, mystery, the elements and the sea (Denmark is almost surrounded by the Northern and Baltic seas.) The Danish ensemble, Efterklang, whose name means “remembrance” and “reverberation,” has crafted a recording that encompasses these Danish qualities in a seasonal cycle with its sophomore full-length release, Parades.

As a core group of five members, Efterklang has enlisted the aid of 30 additional musicians to bring to fruition a spectacular orchestration of sound filled with strings, woodwinds, percussion, horns, computer treatments/textures, drums, guitar, bass, piano and choruses. The songs on Parades less songs than they are compositions. This record, in some regards, owes as much debt to Philip Glass as it does to Peter Gabriel and contemporaries, such as Sigur Rós, Mum and Arcade Fire.

However, they do not carry the heavy density of their Icelandic kin, and they only exhibit bursts of the exuberant spirit of the aforementioned Canadian band. Efterklang combines density and exuberance to articulate its culture, in a seasonal arrangement. Simply, Parades feels as if it was constructed with its country’s changing seasons in mind, beginning with the spring-like brightness of the opening tracks of “Polygyne,” Mirador” and “Him Poe Poe,” where strings and percussion and vocals crescendo in unison, ending upward. The stunning “Mirador” begins with a Philip Glass-esque piano line or riff with the percussion accentuating the lines until the piano falls away giving over to strings and a chorus, and then the percussion, not the piano, returning to join with the chorus.

The tone shifts to a darker, more moody area, as if hiding beneath the shade of summer, with “Horseback Tenors,” “Mimeo” and “Frida Found a Friend.” The last bit of autumn has its last blast with the celebratory “Caravan.” Then, winter arrives with the last two cuts, “Illuminant” and “Cutting Ice to Snow.” Vocalist and instrumentalist Casper Clausen anchors these arrangements with his subtle, low, nearly whispering voice that is reminiscent of Peter Gabriel. His vocals only break out, so to speak, in the final song, “Cutting Ice to Snow.” But that entire song ends abruptly, as if to signal that life underneath gets frozen over, succumbing to winter, until the thaw returns.

Efterklang has executed an extraordinary and sophisticated set of “pieces” with Parades, combining orchestral, marching band and contemporary influences. It is also more sure-footed than its predecessor, Tripper, released in 2004. These “remembrances,” both musically and culturally, are deeply reflected and presented in a fresh, unique fashion.