It's now less than a month until Supersonic 2022; Noel Gardner, our punk, hardcore & new weird Britain correspondent, rounds up the ten new or newish acts he's most keen about watching
The opportunity to see free improvising bassist Farida Amadou deliver a solo performance is a rare one – at least in the context of her previous decade of musical creation, which has been predominantly a vehicle for collaboration. And some heavyweight heads in that history, too, the Brussels musician sparring live with Linda Sharrock, Ken Vandermark, Thurston Moore and (most recently) Peter Brötzmann – but a renewed focus on generating sound by herself has yielded some sterling results.
00:29:10:02, an hour of one-take performances released on her own 19 Mars label, finds Amadou tuning way down at points, other times getting a tickly, quasi-rhythmic skitter from her four given strings (she is also credited with playing “objects” on this one, and it does sound like there’s a prepared element to parts of what we hear). Rewards concentrated listening, certainly, although in a live context I’d anticipate the frying amp buzz to add some extra whack. Without a concrete notion of what this performance might entail, it’s worth flagging up Amadou’s desire to incorporate blues and hip hop elements into her practice, likewise her (sadly, seemingly) brief tenure in excitable Belgian noise rockers Cocaine Piss a few years back. I don’t imagine her set will much resemble them, but it reflects a willingness and ability to rock out.
Now two decades old, Supersonic Festival is back once again with the cream of international extreme music. Running from 8 to 10 July in Birmingham, the headline acts include The Bug, Jerusalem In My Heart, Föllakzoid, Thou and BIG|BRAVE but as is customary, the focus is also on new, or relatively new talent as well.
A film by Duncan Ward and Gabriella Cardazzo, Imaginary Landscapes is the ideal and most direct path for gaining insight into Brian Eno's mental, musical world. The filmmakers intercut Eno interviews and conversations with atmospheric, moving landscape shots, both urban and rural. Coupling Eno's music with the visuals, Ward and Cardazzo have, in essence, realized one of Eno's own goals: to generate in listeners an imaginary landscape -- a place, specific or vague, where he wants his music to take them. The film moves viewers through mood-evoking atmospheres as if they are passengers on a quiet, smooth-running train. Eno's music serves as the perfect soundtrack for the documentary about its creator.
Art Omi: Music invites twelve to fifteen musicians and composers from around the globe to come together for two and a half weeks each summer for a uniquely collaborative music-making residency. Located two and a half hours north of New York City in the historic Hudson River Valley's Columbia County.Located two and a half hours north of New York City in the historic Hudson River Valley's Columbia County.
A short statement on the Sequential website says: “It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Dave Smith has died.
“We’re heartbroken, but take some small solace in knowing he was on the road doing what he loved best in the company of family, friends, and artists.”
Sequential was due to exhibit at the 2022 NAMM Show, which runs from 3 to 5 June. The company says that it will now decline to participate out of respect for Dave Smith’s memory.
Smith founded Sequential Circuits in 1974, releasing the Prophet-5 - the world’s first fully-programmable polyphonic synth - in 1977. Many other influential synths and drum machines followed, and he was also a key player in the development of the original MIDI spec, announced in 1981. Indeed, it is said to be Smith who coined the MIDI acronym.
After Sequential Circuits folded in 1985, Smith had spells at Yamaha and Korg, where he worked on the classic Wavestation.
Smith returned to the hardware synth market with his own company in 2002, starting Dave Smith Instruments. Over the past two decades, his products have played a crucial part in the analogue revival.
Dave Smith Instruments was rebranded as Sequential in 2018, with Yamaha having returned the name to Smith in 2015. A rebooted Prophet-5 was released in 2020.
Sequential was acquired by British audio company Focusrite in 2021. Most recently, Smith was involved in the development of the OB-X8, the first new synth from the rebooted Oberheim, with Tom Oberheim back at the helm.
Paying tribute to Smith, Focusrite CEO Tim Carroll said: “Dave’s passing is a great loss to not only the music community and music technology, but to the world itself. To say that he changed music is no exaggeration. Dave’s legacy is one of creative passion and a deep and lifelong love for music, music technology, and the musicians that continue to enrich our world by using his instruments.
“At 72 he was still actively designing his next generation of synths. At the same time, he had the foresight to mentor and build Sequential into a team that will continue his work and legacy without pause. Dave will be greatly missed, but his contributions to music will never be forgotten.”
Sequential is inviting people to share their own memories of Smith by emailing RememberingDave@Sequential.com.