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When odd, skull-shaped grave items were found by archaeologists decades ago at an Aztec temple in Mexico, they were assumed to be mere toys or ornaments, and were catalogued and stored in warehouses. However, years later, experts discovered they were creepy ‘death whistles’ that made piercing noises resembling a human scream, which the ancient Aztecs may have used during ceremonies, sacrifices, or during battles to strike fear into their enemies. 

The Aztec Death Whistles were Not Common Instruments 

Two skull-shaped, hollow whistles were found 20 years ago at the temple of the wind god Ehecatl, in the hands of a sacrificed male skeleton. When the whistles were finally blown, the sounds created were described as terrifying. The whistles make the sounds of “humans howling in pain, spooky gusts of whistling wind or the ‘scream of a thousand corpses” writes MailOnline.

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  • aztec

If you want to build a Cristal Baschet of your very own, you have arrived in the right place. This post describes the process of building a cristal baschet, with links to materials and tools so that you can build your own exciting instrument made mostly from things you can pick up from your local hardware store, or if online purchasing is more your thing, I have you covered.

Before we delve into the fine details of putting the instrument together, allow me to provide you with some back story on how my own cristal baschets came about. Late in 2019, shortly before we found ourselves in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gabriella Smart (concert pianist) approached me to write a piece of piano music for her that she could tour nationally and internationally with. I was on board, but I wanted to avoid writing music in 12-TET, so the solution I devised was to build her an instrument that she could travel with. I came across the Cristal Baschet in a book called Musical Instrument Design by Bart Hopkin and decided to build an adapted version that could fit into a suitcase.

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  • international self love day - by Sarah Zeebroek

“Searching without worrying about finding”

How do you remember the recording of ‘Simorgh’?

João Lobo: We had a residency for a week at Les Ateliers Claus in Brussels thanks to an invitation by its artistic director, Tommy Denys. Christophe Albertijn, who recorded, mixed and mastered the album, was with us all the time and that was a great luxury because he is such a great engineer and person to work with. We all felt comfortable with the sound. There were no recording booths, panels or headphones involved so the whole environment was perfect for making a record.

We recorded all the songs pretty quickly, in a few takes. In the last couple of days we made some overdubs. The record was pretty much done that week. After that, Christophe had some time to mix but all the music and the order of the songs were pretty much chosen and decided in that week.

In my head I had been preparing this record for a year, so I think that helped.

What kind of album did you want to make with ‘Simorgh’?

I wanted to record my music with these two exceptional musicians. In a way I also wanted to make a sequel to my first album ‘Nowruz’, which is an acoustic drums solo, released in 2017 by the Swiss label three:four records.

What does “Simorgh” mean?

Simorgh is the name of a mythical bird in the Persian language.

Why did you ask Norberto Lobo and Soet Kempeneer?

Soet was my first choice for the bass and Norberto was the obvious choice as the third element. Soet is an amazing double bass player, but he also plays electric bass and keyboards and is very much into electronic music, so he’s also a searcher, like me and Norberto, who is not only a brilliant guitar player but also a prolific composer who makes beautiful drawings.

What do you have in common with them?

We like to search and are not too worried about the finding part.

And what are the differences?

We are all different musicians obviously and if you listen to each of our solo projects you will hear that. I just found another thing we have in common: we all have solo projects.

Why did you choose the traditional guitar/bass/drum line-up?

I didn’t choose the instruments. I choose the musicians. Initially I thought of doing the trio with Soet and a wind instrument because I basically wrote basslines with melodies on top. Very modal stuff. So I made some sessions with other musicians but after a while I realized that Norberto was the perfect third element. He loves modal!

“I basically made the frame and the three of us painted the picture together.”

How would you define what you do on this album? Free jazz meets avant-rock?

I’m too much involved in it to be able to define it. I leave that to you. It’s my music, which will probably always be difficult to define since my baggage as a musician and listener is very diverse. And it’s also my music played by two very creative and unique musicians who are also difficult to label.

You made this album as a trio but the album carries your name.

I wrote the music and thought a lot about where I wanted the music to go but the written material is very little. I wanted Soet and Norberto to feel free to have their own input. That was the idea all along because they are really excellent and creative musicians. I basically made the frame and the three of us painted the picture together. Then I choose the pictures that would go on the album.

João Lobo | Les Ateliers Claus – Brussels, Belgium | Photo by Laurent Orseau

Do you think you compose with a “drummer’s state of mind”?

I’m not sure I know what you mean by a “drummer’s state of mind”. None of the music written for this record came from drums though. Actually one of the hardest things for me was to figure out what I should play on the songs. Most of it I figured out on the spot.

Joeri Bruyninckx

from the upcoming album by SENYAWA - Alkisah Alkisah will be released on 21 February 2021 by les albums claus x kiosk radio. Senyawa`s new album Alkisah is co-released by multitude of independent record labels from all over the globe.
Each with different packaging and design, with multiple version of remixes/reinterpretations by various artists.

  • Elvin

One type of argument made against “auteur theory,” which posits a film’s director as its “author,” holds that certain non-directorial collaborators contribute just as many — or, as Pauline Kael argued about Citizen Kane, more — of a work of cinema’s defining qualities. Surely a video essayist like Lewis Bond, co-creator with Luiza Liz Bond of Youtube channel The Cinema Cartography, subscribes to auteur theory: just look at the increasingly in-depth analyses he’s created on Stanley KubrickAndrei Tarkovsky, and David Lynch — all, of course, directors. But the recent Cinema Cartography essay “The Cinematography That Changed Cinema” sees him turning away from the figure of the director, exploring instead the auteur-like contributions of those masters of the camera.

Any competent cinematographer can make shots pretty; few can make them truly cinematic. Here we use “cinematic” in the sense that Peter Greenaway would, referring to the vast capabilities of the medium to go beyond photographically illustrating essentially verbal stories — capabilities that, alas, have so far gone mostly unused. It should come as no surprise this essay uses Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover to establish its perspective on the power of cinematography.

Cafe Oto has set up a new in-house digital imprint called TakuRoku. Featuring works made in response to the current lockdowns, the label will serve a dual function. “As well as providing an outlet for some incredible new work being created over the past few weeks, TakuRoku aims to provide a way to help sustain both Cafe Oto and the artists involved through these incredibly challenging times,”. This program is one hour long and features only a short selection of the releases currently available via TakuRoku. This is the 2nd part

Jo Hutton talks to Caroline Catz about her Radiophonic Workshop pioneer biopic, and collaborating with Cosey Fanni Tutti

Delia Derbyshire: The Myths And Legendary Tapes is an experimental documentary about the composer, mathematician and Radiophonic Workshop pioneer. Directed by and starring Caroline Catz, the film traces Derbyshire’s life and work through a combination of archive footage and dramatisation, interspersed with Cosey Fanni Tutti’s new interpretations of Derbyshire’s archive material (the ‘Legendary Tapes’ of the title). Jo Hutton speaks with Caroline Catz about the work below.

Jo Hutton: What made you want to direct this film and play Delia?

Caroline Catz: Like lots of people, I’m very intrigued and fascinated by Delia. The Dr Who theme tune had been the soundtrack of my childhood, hiding behind the sofa like everybody else. It wasn’t until the late 90s that I knew of her, to be honest, and then I listened to more of her stuff, taking you into worlds that were equally as affecting as Dr Who. After she died, her archive was donated to Manchester University and it said in the newspaper that you could go there. So I emailed David Butler at Manchester University and got on the train. I’m not an academic so I didn’t know what to expect. Back then it literally was just suitcases and boxes and, most importantly, tapes in a cupboard and I was so moved by this sight – that’s kind of the fate of all of us, these old cereal boxes with stuff in it. I felt overwhelmed by that. So I sat there for hours just listening, thinking I’m being pulled into these worlds again, just like I felt when I was a child. Then there are 267 makeup tapes, her library of sounds. All the time you’re listening to it, you have these incredible sounds and feelings and experiences. You’re thinking, this was all created from cutting up pieces of tape.

You have said that the reason you got into acting was “to be able to inhabit your different characters”. How did you go about inhabiting Delia?

Everything was embedded in the research that I was doing with Delia’s archive and the process of starting to write the narrative, so I was feeling very connected to her and it just became this idea of acting, directing and writing this character. She was working on these sound experiments. She had no idea if any of them would work out. It was a very particular focused thinking. She was not a socially conditioned person. I’m really fascinated by her lack of ego and by that idea of making extraordinary things. Is it still possible, in this world of social media profiling, to be Delia? She left the workshop when synthesizers came in, when the laboratory environment gave way to something that was much more about commodifying what they were doing because they were having to keep up with the demand.

Could you elaborate on the ghostly background character of Cosey Fanni Tutti?

When I was listening to all of Delia’s work, as much as I could fit into my ears, it occurred to me that this is an amazing basis to tell her story, but I’m not a musician and, in terms of where she was coming from musically, I needed to be collaborating with Cosey. The idea was to choose sounds from Delia’s archive together and for Cosey to repurpose those sounds to create new pieces. I was interested in Delia working with musique concrète, manipulating material according to a structural method, and that idea of ‘ghosting’ that you hear on the tape sometimes when it’s been repurposed. That is Cosey’s process in her own work but in a very different way because she works so differently to Delia, and the idea evolved of her character being in search of the creative spirit of Delia.

Can we talk about your use of reflections, screens and soft focus in the Workshop scenes, for the contrast of BBC broadcast business and the rather grey figure of Desmond Briscoe with the more colourful and creative characters of Delia, Brian Hodgson and Maddalena [Fagandini]?

That’s part of the magic of the workshop to me. Daphne Oram had to fight so hard didn’t she, to get anybody to understand why it was important to have a place to experiment with electronic music whilst all over Europe were these state-funded studios. It’s that idea of mixing innovation with what Desmond Briscoe called fag-ends and lollipops… using bits of old stuff stuck together to make something. These limitations became this incredible resource, infiltrating the avant garde by stealth within this very BBC establishment whilst also coming from the establishment, that’s what really excited me.

What struck you about the way Delia made this music?

With everything to do with this film, I’ve been pushed to my absolute limits by the genius of Delia and her amazing inspirational mathematical analytical mind. You can see this incredible focus and organisation, but you get the sense there was chaos around her as well, yet somehow these magical things would happen and you’d get these amazing pieces of music. I don’t want to pretend the film was anything other than a construction of what I feel and believe to be Delia’s experience. I definitely didn’t want it to be a biopic but I was very interested in exploring that strange space between imagination and memory. It was anti-biopic in a way: I’m as interested in preserving her mystery as I am in exploring her memory. I felt that very strongly.

The film is described as the story of Delia Derbyshire told through sound. Are there any particular sounds that jumped out at you? 

I really loved the female chanting from Poetry In Prisons (theatrical event, 1970). While she was a BBC employee, she was also doing all this freelance work. She did so many beautiful pieces. I heard the Apollinaire poem in the archive, It is raining womens’ voices as if they were dead” and it just sent shivers down me, it’s a beautiful poem. The way she was working with this fascinated me and in the archive you can actually hear the way she was working with the actress, trying to get her to give the right tone, so we reconstructed that bit with Maddalena (Saskia Reeves). When we come back to the church and they’re looking at all the female stained glass, I used this female chanting from Poetry In Prisons.

I loved the sound of the air raids sequence.

Delia said that was her first experience of electronic music: the air raid siren and the sound of the all clear. You don’t know what those sounds are as a child but they stay with you. It’s like she had that in her emotional memory. I’m very interested in that idea of how experience lives in your body and how that can be generative through art and invention and made into something you can share. That shared experience resonates on a deep level, which could possibly explain that shared experience of all these children ducking behind the sofa in Dr Who. I’ve always been fascinated by the frequencies and sounds that you don’t know are there and I think she somehow had that magic of being able to know what those things are that connect people.

She composes for visual image, whether real or imagined. She knows how to conjure up the right image…

Yes, she must have held these images within her and you also wonder about the snuff, and the wine and the late nights and the focused work of trying to clear everybody out so that she could be alone in her space. The snuff thing was one of the reasons I called it Myths And Legends but there are loads of myths. However she got into that zone was up to her, but she got into her zone where this magic would happen.

Towards the end there’s Delia’s dream with Mary Wollstonecraft and Ada Lovelace, and then you list historical female mathematicians, Aglaonice, Saint Fabiola. Delia would have loved live coding in today’s experimental music, alongside leading contemporary artist/programmers like Joanna Armitage, Kat Lovell. Why was it important to list these historic women mathematicians?

Another reason that I wanted to do the film and the reason why we have these stained glass windows and monuments to women is this idea of who writes history? It’s still problematic, isn’t it? Who gets written about? Who remains? Where do the stories go? And that’s why it’s so important that diversity in all its forms is rising slowly up the agenda, but it is slowly. It annoys me when people say we’ve made so much progress. No, it couldn’t be slower. That’s why the stained glass women are there. The John Rylands library was a gift to the people of Manchester by his wife, like a cathedral for books. An amazing place. It really inspired me for the main space of the film. But they have all these beautiful stained glass windows, all with writers and literary figures and not one female writer. However wonderful this place is, isn’t it such a tragedy? So that’s what made me want to create the main centrepiece of the film to be these stained glass women. Because how many monuments are female? That’s history: what we see and what’s available to us as role models.

 

  • Delia

Bonjour Ben et Otto ! 🙂 You both performed at schiev these past years and in 2020, you’ll perform together. How did that collaboration take form ?

Bonjour Schiev!
We have known each other for a long time now. We met almost 8 years ago taking part of multidisciplinary performances in Brussels. We kept playing and talking since then, exchanging musical and artistic ideas. The duo really popped up 2 years ago when we worked on a personal reinterpretation of Gavin Bryars’s The Sinking of the Titanic, that we had the chance to premiere at les Ateliers Claus. Cafe Oto in London proposed us last summer to release some music on their brand new in house label TARUDOKU. Ben wrote REVERSION, a 3 tracks ep that we arranged and produced together, recording it at studio les ateliers claus. (REVERSION by Ben bertrand & Otto Lindholm – TR066).

You have a similar musical technique – mixing electronic devices with instruments – how are you working together for this performance ?

Let’s say “complementary” more than similar. But indeed, both of us use extended machines or effects to alter the natural sound of our instruments. Live we splitted the roles, each one focusing on one aspect of the music : Otto deals with low soundscapes and drones while Ben focuses on the melodic/harmonic aspects. It allows us to dig deeper on each texture and simultaneously interact. The actual show is a combination of our last ep Reversion and our rework of the bryars’ titanic. In a way, this deep melodic drone music helps us to reach a kind of meditative aspect that facilitates us to face what is currently happening around us.