Languor, absurdities…

Archive for the ‘Supernormal’ Category

Final Pic (for now)

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[NB – I wanted to put all these posts into a single one with separate slideshows but my brain hasn’t quite figured out paying attention yet. So there you go…]

One from Stephanie Tasker, who has a website here and a blog here.


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August 26, 2011 at 6:16 pm

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Next ones from Mr Ian Watson, of Team Sports, Phantomhead recordings and an amazing artist in his own right:

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Features a guy who came along and read some Lear for our entertainment. Which was nice.

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August 26, 2011 at 6:10 pm

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These courtesy of the marvellous Kelly, who probably sat through more than anyone else in the audience:

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(featured: post-gig damage to my hands; Failiens; me and Seth discussing Theology in the sunshine; frog of doom; moody nightshots; Seth’s drum shadowplay; cluttershots; THE AMAZING KID OF DRUMS… and the Hákarl logo which was smudged off within about half a second in the sweaty sunshine).

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August 26, 2011 at 5:55 pm

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Sleep is a dying breed.

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Oh notes, in crippled prose*

Sunday last: 8hrs. Sound problems – problems are sound. We’ll have to wheedle out the scratches, to make glistening, proper scars. Fatigue didn’t hit properly (beyond my lingering hangover). Some things to be wary of which will be less of a problem if we can hear ourselves…


A question I’ve heard: ‘why 36 hours?’ Part of the answer is a glib ‘just because’. Another answer is to do with economics. I’ve a bigger article due on this which’ll appear on BangtheBore sometime after Supernormal (for which BUY TICKETS if you haven’t already).

Shortform gloss: much of live music – in the UK – follows the pattern of the rock LP, and later CD – 30m-1hr performances where the songs are reeled out in a live representation of the record. There’s realms of extemporisation, but mostly the live show is the record, live. In improv, the 30m-1hr thing is followed too – in spite of there often not being a record being reproduced. So 36 hours is a question about that – why do we bother following the rock pattern, if everything else in the music is so (apparently) opposed to the rock/ pop performance?

[WARNING: some mild music theory follows]

A quick note on that: it’s fallacious to assume that, just because a performance is improvised, it doesn’t follow the patterns of standardised rock/ pop song. I’ve seen plenty of so-say improvising bands who end up repeating the rock tropes – moving in 5ths, obviated drum-pulse, bassline on the bar of the beat, minimal interrogation of the relationship to the tonic, minimal interrogation of the 4/4 rhythm, harmonic development in dry diatonics and minimal modal variations. In terms of form, it’s still rock music. ‘Extemporisation’ often only really means ‘it’s a bit longer and rougher around the edges’. This isn’t really a problem, per se, but it does somewhat delimit any claims to being opposed to standardised, song-based music, to my mind.

36 hours is also enough time for excessive fatigue to set in. It’s not a superhuman act – it’s roughly the length of a test match laid back-to-back, minus the physical demands of cricket. Fatigue is part of my answer to ‘why 36?’ as well – the live show is always presented as a ‘perfect’, temporally-based commodity of a band’s creative output. These neat little 30m-1hr slots are enough for a ‘perfect’ show. If I play a 30 minute set, I generally don’t get tired, or get the feeling like I’ve made any mistakes. I get the impression that a lot of people are alienated from improvised/ experimental music because the vernacular surrounding it can be impenetrable – how do we tell the difference between a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ gig? Mostly by intuition, though I partially argue here that improv ends up foreclosing critical analyses by its refusal to announce its formal practice on an explicitly semiotic level.

At the risk of saying something exceptionally trite, musicians aren’t superhuman. The difference between me and someone who doesn’t play an instrument is that I’ve worked pretty hard at it. It’s not some magical, mystical genetic teleology of ‘talent’. There are nuances of my experience – from our Ma singing constantly and playing country and Irish to me while I was growing up to my general belligerence in pursuing instruments through the ‘this sounds like dying dolphins’ phase of learning – but fundamentally, it comes down to putting the effort in. What music should express, as an artform, is human frailties, difficulties. It needn’t be perfect. Aesthetically, a big part of the dialogue surrounding noise music is about prurience and ‘ugliness’. I’m not interested in that for myself (but fair play to those who are) but I am interested in a way of approaching experimental/ improvised music that puts the general experience, the frailty of humans, the difficulty of communicative interplay when the body and brain are collapsing. 30 minutes just isn’t enough time to get anything more than a representation of a part of the person presenting it.

So 36 hours is a slightly haughty, overwrought, massively self-indulgent answer to the question of why we stick to 30m slots. But, if nothing else, for the people concerned it’ll be massively interesting what happens to accomplished, talented musicians some 24-hours after the stock ideas and responses have played themselves out.




*Alternative title: Cripple State is Holy State

“Vulturous in the aftermath…”

Written by Hákarl

August 16, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Supernormal

Charcot Marie Tooth – Sponsor us to play for 36 hours at Supernormal

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CMT creates: music

As we’re playing for 36 hours, and people tend to get sponsored for things like marathons, I thought it might be nice to do something for a charity.

So on that tip, if you’re impressed with what we’re doing, and you’d like to give a bit of money to say ‘fair play lads’, could you have a think about giving money to my good friend Tim’s work for Charcot Marie Tooth?

Tim’s page is here and it’s a simple few clicks to sponsor – but worry not, the credit card security is all ship-shape and Bristol fashion. His blog is here

Charcot-Marie Tooth Association (CMTA) is a charity which raises money for research into CMT – it’s a disease that isn’t terribly well-known, or amazingly researched and it has quite debilitating affects on people. Because it’s not very well-known, people tend to struggle along with it without being diagnosed. There’s a lot more information on the CMTA page – here

Tim’s project is to make instruments to raise money for CMT research – it’s all for a good cause and Tim gets to make some wonderful and peculiar contraptions for the project, such as the below:

If you’re coming along to watch us at Supernormal – and, in fact, if you can’t afford a ticket – please, please thinking about donating to this project.


Kev/ Hákarl.

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July 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm

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Sketches for interior architecture for Supernormal by Matthew ‘Quill’ McQuillan. Lovely, aren’t they?

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June 23, 2011 at 10:50 am

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Hákarl Communion will be 6 for our performance at Supernormal. Who are these merry miscreants, I hear you ask? I asked them to write something about themselves. Here is what they said. I didn’t indicate whether to write in the first or third person:


“Seth Cooke is an improviser using drums, voice and electronics and a composer using whatever materials are to hand.  He performs with Hunting Lodge, the A Band, Defibrillators and UltraHumanitarian and solo both as Ganbatte and under his own name.  He’s interested in NLP, magic, psychology and ritual, and has worked in communications for various constabularies for the last six years.”

Seth is also (oh, sorry – this is Kev/ Hákarl writing again now… maybe I should do some sort of different colour or something?) one of head honchos of Bang the Bore, a fine community of experimental musicians/ ne’er-do-wells. He does some pretty fly writing and may possibly have reconfigured time, given how much he manages to do while holding down a job.


“barnabas yianni is a rather modest multi-instrumental performer, composer, installation artist, instrument inventor, writer, and early keyboard instrument conservator.

he enjoys physical activies, such as swimming, cricket, kite chasing and intensive manual labour, as well as all forms of making, and has s—– m——– almost every day for roughly 13 years. He also enjoys attempting to communicate with animals by mimicking their body language. his creative approach involves revealing arbitrary organic, mechanical or emotional processes as having an inherent rightness, the deconstruction of tradition, and accessing cultural pre-knowns in music and sound. he is totally up for stuff, and will commit to pretty much any project, if asked, which is how he got involved in this 36 hour thing in the first place. he thinks a lot, but in a general sort of a way, avoiding too many small details… hmmm.
he plays in the bands its a lunken and freshmilk, as well as (only very recently) under his own name. also, look out for ‘The Life and Times of Christopher Dafydd Keith Bull’ by Piskie films at theatres near you.
book him to play:
punk, metal & hardcore gigs
experimental / folk / grunge / contemporary classical gigs
book him to organise:
instrument making workshops / performances with kids
live improvisation workshops for adults
ask him to compose:
for any ensemble or occasion, in many styles, on a scale of niceness
pay him to make you:
semi-acoustic resonating boxes and tins that may be instrument or ornament
an acoustic resynthesis pedal / object
ask him to:
tune (to any temperament) and regulate your piano
do wierd stuff with your piano including the addition of new acoustic and electric effects (pitch bend, slow attack)
get him to build:
site specific interactive sonic installation to any scale
do the above by:
barnyianni [at] gmail [dort] com “


“i became enamoured of music and sound in my mid-teens – i have rarely looked back.
i have performed in various bands, at various times, in various countries.
i have run several tape and cdr labels, as well as writing zines.
i have pursued solo work under various names, most recently as littlecreature.
i am currently researching the relationship between my body, self, and the external world; under my own name.”

[Kev/ Hákarl again] Clive’s also part of the Bang the Bore jobby. Journal of the Belgae Folk Club releases are available to purchase (with samples) here. Go buy them, for lo they are fine.


I asked Jamie to send me a blurb for Supernormal by yesterday. He has failed to do so. As such, I will tell you what I know of Jamie: He is younger than me, from the north, and plays guitar alarmingly well. He plays in Some Cartographers, a band, of sorts. He is able to plot a piano teacher genealogy all the way back to Beethoven. Or Mozart, I forget which. Still, pretty impressive right? Jamie’s musical teleology leads him to jazz, but he went to Dartington so he’s pretty well au fait with most of the 20th-century’s more errant musical narratives. He talks about jazz harmony a lot.


“After totally falling head over heels for Charles Ives in my mid-teens, I found myself moving away from my native percussion, into composition. During studies at Dartington College of Arts I recaptured my love of actually playing music, not just writing it, and this lead to a renewed interest in creating work which brought composer and performer onto an equal footing – subtextually promoting socialist ideals of shared responsibilty (and culpability) through graphic and instruction based scores (and totally bumming Cardew along the way). Coming from a theatre heavy background, with special interest in Absurdist & Dada performance, via Fluxus and Kagel, my work often has non-sonic emphasis, balancing visuals, sound, popular-culture and narrative in inter-disciplinary realisations.

I specialise in collaborative works for non-specific personnel and performance realisation, preferring to make work which allows performers to draw inspiration from the score and themselves – tying together playfulness, humour and equality under a banner of sharing (and experiencing) indeterminate events. I create work as a forum to foster something more important than simply a piece of art – but rather I see it as a breeding ground for social interaction and the sharing of people, time and effort. These scores place me then as both a facilitator and composer, but the emphasis of creativity and sharing work is placed heavily on those involved and their responses to my work (the score) their own work, each other’s work and the connections formed as a result of these processes.”


Or Hákarl. So. The 36 hour concert was my idea. I’ve been wanting to do it for bloody ages, but I was spurred by a composer friend, Daniel Alexander Hignell, doing a 24-hour performance last year. Luckily, Supernormal agreed to it this year.

I should say why really: there are masses of traditions outside of the west where music exists in less of a limited time-frame – so whether that’s all-dayer Hindu chants, Buddhist monastic traditions, Islamic Sufist things and plenty of festivalia from less well-known traditions across the world. Within Europe, we still have a fair amount of it. I’ve been a few times to the Gleann Cholm Cille fiddler festival, where you have people sitting around playing pretty much constantly. Less of a sense of ‘band x from 10-1030’, more of a fluid continuity of music so long as there’s people to play.  In the Western arts tradition, we’ve had the likes of Hermann Nitsch and his massive orgien mysterien theatre performances, La Monte Young/ Marian Zazeela’s Dream House/ massively extended performances or John Cage’s ASLAP

So it’s not unusual for humans to take part in music in an extended way. Ok,  perhaps not 36 hours. But still.

The other side of things is a kind of response to music industry haemorrhage. The LP format, the c60m album, isn’t really a viable form. Economically devalued, materially wasteful (in the face of mp3s etc) and generally outmoded. Why is the average concert 30m-1hr? That’s the length of an LP. The concert doesn’t need to be a mirror of the album. I don’t do improvised music because I want to give a perfect experience of the record – I do improvised music because it’s like life. It has ugly bits, ungainly hairs, paunches, hammer-toes, mystifyingly uncombable patches. The record is the airbrushed fiction of theatrical sex; the concert shouldn’t try and match that – not any more. Not for us. If the music industry is to survive – and that’s not even that necessary – we’ll probably need to return to live music. And what live music is is an experience, not a recapitulation on mnemonic naif-edification.

We will be falling apart, and that’s the general status of art –  caritas as bearing witness to atrophy.

Anyway. I’ll be writing more on that soon. Other things you might like to know – I’m interested in bits and bobs of philosophy, critical theory, feminism, theology, cultural studies, music/ology. But I can’t stand films or TV.

Written by Hákarl

June 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Posted in Supernormal