Burkhard Beins & John Bisset Chapel/Kapell
Burkhard Beins, drums / Slagtüg ; John Bisset, guitar / gitarr.
Second in the 'Home Series' (Malthouse being the first) of duo recordings made by John Bisset at the birth town of his collaborator. Burkhard and John travelled to Northern Germany in August 2000 to make this elegant and transparent music in the Stechinelli-Kappelle, a chapel built in the 17th Century in Burkhard's home town of Wietze-Wieckenberg.
'The two of them fill the room with ethereal music that sure is abstract and can even sound cerebral if one listens distractedly.' —François Couture, all-music.com
'Chapel/Kapell can be heard as a little suite for two instruments, related to others that may have been performed in earlier centuries in the chapel using lutes, spinets and the like.' Ken Waxman, jazzwseekly.com
Burkhard Beins & Michael Renkel Möwen & Moos remix
michael renkel, live electronics/notebook
'chill-out-able musique concrete' —rigobert dittmann, bad alchemy
'In the beginning, there was a double CD titled Möwen und Moos by Activity Center (2:13 Music, 1999). Then, Michael Renkel, the guitarist of this improvising duo (the other half being percussionist Burkhard Beins), used the sound material of this album to create a "remix" titled Activity Center and released it on the same label in 2001. The single piece, which is split in four parts and lasts a little under an hour, has little to do with its source, although one still recognizes the sparseness that characterizes both artists' work. "Remixing" is an unfit word to describe what Renkel did. The resulting music is closer to Carsten Nicolai, Ryoji Ikeda, CoH, or Source Research than percussion-and-guitar improvs. Ghosts of beats are put together and quickly deconstructed as clicks, glitches, and hums weave shrouds of sounds that are not without holes. Ideas seem to run thin at times but, overall, the work is convincing enough to keep the listener's attention. If one has not heard the source album, this only makes the urge to find it stronger, if only to be able to compare. But, more importantly, Activity Center stands well on its own. The constant hesitation between experimental electronica and more academic electro-acoustic vocabularies can be a little confusing at times, but that is a minor problem that aficionados of experimental art will be willing to disregard.'
John Bisset Smithy
John Bisset, acoustic guitar
Fourth in the 'Home Series' - recorded 3rd November 2003 in Luke Lister's Smithy in Stockport, Cheshire—JB's birth town.
Some of the improvisations are based on songs from 'The Scottish Student's Songbook' - namely: 'Riding Down from Bangor'; 'Cock Robin'; 'Funiculi, Funicula' and 'Old Cabin Home'. The others are entirely free improvisations.
'Couching in a niche where silent reflection and the exposition of himself meet, John paints splashing small drops of fretboard knowledge that leave a door slightly open, like he wanted us to peek into his own private moments without entering or disturbing his flux of thought.' —Massimo Richi. Touching Extremes
Rhodri Davies & John Bisset Malthouse/Odyn Galch
John Bisset, guitar/gitar; Rhodri Davies, harp/telyb.
‘Recorded in Wales in 1998 (in a studio in the old malthouse on the cover) ‘Forty minutes of Bisset and Davies serves as a cubist journey around both instruments: rediscovered as resonant still-life subjects, they are viewed anew, free of cultural baggage or musical precedent.’ —THE SUNDAY TIMES
‘This music dos not so much push at the extremes but rather assumes that those boundaries have already been shattered and aims to refashion what’s left.’ —JAZZ REVIEW
‘…attention to sonic detail within an intelligent framework of close interaction and close listening…’ —RESONANCE
Gato Leiras & Michael Renkel Urbano Mistica Amplitude
Gato Leiras & Michael, Renkel powerbooks
Urbano Mistica Amplitude is a reaction. The music is non-hierarchical, an imprecise echo and reflex, an interpretation of the Object Trouvé - of the omnipresence of sound, of the communication of human beings among the chaos of traffic and promenades, among social/emotional ghettos and office buildings - the heartbeat of the city, the poetry of coldness.
u.m.a. investigates in an ‘open and mobile composition’ process (Evangelisti), the possibilities of mutation of reality, and gives as a feedback this heterogeneity of time inversion/distortion.
The duo continuously recycle their own musical output, without obtaining a finished work but constructing loops that modify themselves in the filter of memory. The individually processed sampled materials serve as a base, and only become a final product
during the live performance - which is at the same time a permanent work in progress.
London Electric Guitar Orchestra The Ice Queen and The Sun King - Radio Plays by Children
These plays were written between 1990-1997 by children aged 6-9 at Hugh Myddelton and Hanover Primary Schools, Islington, North London. They were improvised verbally while I typed on a portable typewriter, trying to keep up. The use of a typewriter meant that only minor corrections were possible so the spontaneity was not lost in re-writings, and there was a commitment, an irreversibility, in the setting down of the words. It wasn't quite the stream of consciousness it would have been if I had used a tape recorder - the flow was regularly halted while I 'caught up - and this forced some necessary and worthwhile pauses for thought and discussion about the direction of the plot, character development, moral implications, tastefulness, etc.
They were made in one go, with some plots being resolved with extreme haste as the dinner bell went, in the midst of often very noisy classrooms, with distractions from teachers. The clickety-clack of my Silver Reed was not always a very welcome addition to the sound world of the classroom and some of the more irreverent or violent plays never made it to the bookshelves. But in the right environment the little books were big favourites, becoming dog-eared and memorised by their authors and classmates.
The recordings on this disc were made in a similarly direct manner, in single takes, at LEGO HQ, Brick Lane, and in various kitchens and bedrooms. All music and sound effects were improvised with whatever was at hand. They were performed by L.E.G.O. for broadcast on RESONANCE FM in Summer 1998, on the daily morning show ‘GO! For children of all ages’. Thanks to Phil England and Ed Baxter for setting this up, and to Lepke B. for his enthusiasm and support.
London Electric Guitar Orchestra Kneel Down Like a Saint Gorilla and Stop
Recorded 1997 - Highbury Quadrant School Hall
The debut album from LEGO—a variety of pieces developed over the first three years of the group's existence as a loose collective—performed by the seven who would go on to become the band core: Rick Nogalski, Jorg Graumann, Steve Mallaghan, Nigel Teers, Viv Dogan-Corringham, Ivor Kallin and John Bisset.
‘Glenn Branca, I’ve thought, has always used the idea of an electric guitar orchestra just to make noise, whereas these people create textures that are well orchestrated.' —MIXING IT, BBC RADIO THREE
‘The music reminds me of an Autumn walk by the Baltic seashore … the rough guitar sounds slowly becoming denser and relaxing into small subtle nuances.’ —BAD ALCHEMY
London Electric Guitar Orchestra 7 Wholls
London Electric Guitar Orchestra : Bisset, Kallin, Corringham, Teers, Mallaghan, Graumann & Nogalski
A seven movement realisation of Fred Frith’s graphic score ‘Dry Stone II’. Played and built LEGO HQ Brick Lane, London 1999.
‘A guitarist solos, the solo is looped then a second solos over that, and so on.. This allows for a remarkable lexicon of guitar styles; heavy rock, progressive, lyrical blues, pages from the style books of Frith himself, Bailey, Beefhear … I’d thought for long enough that we’d heard the last innovation from the improvising guitarist – LEGO have proved me very wrong. And any record that features a Scotsman bellowing (I think) ‘botulism donkey!’ must be a good thing.’ —THE SOUND PROJECTOR
'The idea is to join individuality and collective reworking, similar to the puzzle of facial features that recreates the oddly freakish face of the Cd cover. There is no single composer and yet each lends something of his own, which is then changed by merging it with the subsequent treatment. Same and different balance each other by improvisation and variation: the titles of the seven compositions are all variations of the same cluster of sounds (Whaill, Whorls, Wall, Wholl etc.). The results are mesmerizing and far from appearing chaotic and haphazard the progression of tracks builds up a strong musical experience. At first more spacey and meditative (tracks 1-2), the three central pieces sound edgy, nervous, noisier and more sustainedly repetitive. The guitars are joined by the occasional organ (?). The final Whole provides a suitable climax with a radically joyous conjunction of guitars, percussions and spoken voice. It's the final Whorl/Whirl or Vortex which blends electric impulse and electronics, voice and rhythm in an entrancing summation of parts. Averaging 8-10 mins in length, the tracks demand attention, but also ask the listener to be sucked in and yield to a strange, certainly unconventional and non-melodic experience. Nonetheless it is all warm and human, not at all cold, alienating and cerebral. A "wholly" pleasurable and rich banquet for your ears, communicative and avantgarde at the same time.' —Marco Pustianaz
‘Uniting the sounds of differing guitars into a unified mass. LEGO makes many turns in the road, yet their music remains fresh and on the cutting edge.’ —CADENCE MAGAZINE
‘7 Wholls is a serious departure, seven abstract pieces of stratospheric feedback and fuzz, echoing the pungent atmospherics of Windy & Carl but with added Anglo-Spikiness’ —THE SUNDAY TIMES
‘The most successful and satisfying project the group have undertaken to date: seven epic studies of process, guitars and drystone walls’ —RESONANCE
London Electric Guitar Orchestra sticks and stones specially priced e.p. [19' 40"]
LEGO: darryl hunt, ivor kallin, christopher evans, nigel teers, simon Williams, perry, viv dogan corringham, michael rogers, jon lever, jem finer, john bisset.
one continuous piece - 19'40" duration
sound as stick (attack) or stone (decay or drone) preparations are physical (e.g. crocodile clips, knitting needles). scored sections with the orchestra variously prepared improvised sections where all have the same preparation. recorded 2001 / mixed 2001-2005 / released 2005
London Electric Guitar Orchestra thirteen lumps of chease
16 short, tuneful, chunky songs without words (mostly). Recorded LEGO HQ Brick Lane London, 1998.
'LEGO's seven guitarists explore non-rock'n'roll sounds with a an irresistible glee. Though rooted in free improvisation, LEGO ... replicate the historic highpoints of rock's past, be they spaghetti Western stylings of Felt's first two albums, the angular aesthetics of Tom Verlaine, the sublime psychedelia of early quicksilver Messenger Service, or the anarchic energy of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band.' —Stewart Lee, THE SUNDAY TIMES
'Cosy little deconstruction of the guitar which takes it back to pre-Chuck Berry days. Bizarre.' —MELODY MAKER '
Eccentric, witty, good humoured and strangely attractive.' —THE WIRE
'LEGO ransack pop and rock guitar genres from the 1950's on.Phrases that came to mind are Heath Robinson joins The Shadows; lo-fi Duane Eddy in the kitchen; and Themes for Dada TV….Something to listen to between Half Man Half Biscuit and the Bonzos.' —RUBBERNECK
Recorded on 17/18 August 1996 in Hamburg.
Burkhard Beins, percussion; Martin Pfleiderer; soprano and tenor saxophones; Michael Renkel, acoustic guitars, zither; Wolfgang Ritthoff, voice.
Alex Ward, guitar ; John Bisset, guitar ; Christopher Evans, bass ; Oliv J. Picard, drums.
‘Rumbustious tunes which split off into unexpected directions. Pocket are a janglin' twangin' ball of joyous energy' —Richard Sanderson
'Some albums just come crashing into your life like a wave escaping the beach, with a mighty life-affirming splash of electric guitar. In 1977, Elvis Costello’s and Talking Heads’ first releases both felt that way. Later and less mainstream, Surfin’ With Kenny Process Team mixed Beefheart angst with a rush of joy. And now, from nowhere, come Pocket, with a dozen guitar, bass and drums instrumentals that dare you to whistle them out loud, but without insulting your intelligence. The album is carried by two contrasting guitars: Alex Ward’s nasal sneer versus John Bisset’s deep-throated, Vox AC30-amped twang. Bisset’s melodies pit the guitars against each other, trading phrases in a spiralling, competitive hocket, until both collapse back into the main tune.
‘I think back to The Shadows, whose "Apache" sat astride the charts forever when I was a kid, for a similar irony-free belief in the two-guitar instrumental. But Pocket bring more soul and aural filth to bear on their devotion to the redeeming power of melody. "Wellingtons" is driven by a Bo Diddley beat, "Horatio" is a sprightly march as played by Jimi Hendrix, and "Wily Coyote", written for This Heat’s Charles Hayward. lets French Drummer Oliv J Picard get flash with the crash. "Tumba" shows Pocket at their effervescent best: a cod flamenco climbing line rises and rises, until it resolves magnificently at its summit into a heartstopping major scale – an impressive rush for a debut album.
‘Now this is odd, because Alex ward was previously known as an improvising clarinettist, and John Bisset s leader of the LEGO electric guitar orchestra and Improv promoter at North London’s 2:13 Club, where the clock on the wall is forever stuck at 2:13. There is nary a hint of such pedigrees here, except perhaps on "Evens", where Ward plays one chorus as if tipping a hat to his erstwhile improvising partner Derek Bailey.'
—CLIVE BELL, The Wire
Various [see below] Relay Eight
Phil Durrant, live electronic manipulation; David Leahy, double bass; Jonathan Bohman, unprepared objects; Adam Bohman, objects; Gail Brand, trombone ; Angharad Davies, violin; Ivor Kallin, viola; Talya Davies, drums; Mark Wastell, cello; Knut Aufermann, sampling and refreshments; Phil Minton, voice; Pat Thomas, keyboards/electronics; Charlotte Hug, viola ; Burkhard Beins, percussion; Rhodri Davies, harp; John Butcher, saxophone; John Bisset, guitar.
Relay takes place annually, during the Stoke Newington Midsummer Street Festival. There are 3 or 4 performance spaces about 5 minutes walk from each other. Each space has a fixed number of musicians and every time a new one arrives another must leave. The event runs from 2:13 pm till 5:13 pm.
RELAY 8 - Sunday 11th June 2000: Two months before the event all participants made a self-portrait. Jonathan Bohman started growing his moustache. On Monday the children in Year 6 at William Patten School began constructing a Mini-Millennium Dome. Under the guiding hand of Darcy Turner they took hundreds of newspapers and rolled them up tightly, making sticks which were then tied together to form the structure. On Tuesday we discovered that Burkhard Beins' flight from Berlin was landing at 2 pm - so we decided to start at 3:12 to give him time to get across London and join us. At 8 am on Sunday half a dozen children, parents and other helpers met at William Patten School. They carried the Dome down Church Street, while all the stalls and stages were setting up for the Festival. It was erected on a triangle of grass in front of Clissold Park, given walls of brown paper and sprayed with fire-retardant. Various people stood guard until 2:30, when the first musicians arrived. At 2:45 two Fire Officers appeared. They claimed the Dome was not fire-proof, and set fire to it to bring their point home. Hazard tape was put over the entrance and the musicians set up in front of it. The 2:13 Club was the 'concert', with a stage area and chairs for the audience. The starting group at each location had an already existing identity or aesthetic. The intention was that an established group sound would gradually be undermined or developed through interventions from successive musicians. In the club this was the duo of John Butcher on Saxophone and Phil Durrant on Electronic Manipulation. But Phil Durrant had a dreadful journey to the event, and was besieged by technical problems for most of the first hour - so that in fact the situation became more and more cohesive as time went on.
After ten minutes Phil Minton joined John Butcher, and from then on gradually changing duos played with Phil Durrant.
The Dome had the Pure Sidney Project (Bisset/Kallin/Talya Davies) as its opening trio. But by the time the Fire Officers had done their bit, and drums, tables and whatnot had been moved around the grass a few times, other players were lining up to interrupt - so the trio never really got going. The Dome was intended as a public location - with people coming across it by chance - curiously poking their heads in. Without the boundary of paper walls the distinction between performers and public, between intentional music-making and random ambient noise, became profoundly blurred. The space was eventually abandoned to a group of drumming children.
The Secret Location was a living room - private, domestic, silent, with no audience allowed. (Well, there was the kingpin of the London impro audience, Tim Fletcher and his DAT machine.) Here the musicians could be as serious or as silly as they liked - and they were. It was here that the opening trio of Mark Wastell/Rhodri Davies/Angharad Davies managed to play as it intended - with focus and deliberation. Here also that Jonathan Bohman finished shaving off his patiently cultivated moustache.
Knut's Refreshment Table was set up in the entrance lobby of the 2:13 Club. A solo was played, treated by Knut, and rewarded with a drink, fruit or muesli bar. This was meant to be the place to re-define oneself without reference to others - to refresh oneself, musically as well as physically. In fact they were duos with Knut, and the table was a meeting place for the wandering musicians to take a break and chat.
Various [see below] Relay III Random Play
Sarah Allen, flute; Burkhard Beins, drums ; John Bisset, guitar; John Edwards, double bass; Susanna Ferrar, violin; Dave Fowler, drums; Charles Hayward, drums, melodica, swanee whistle & voice; Ivor Kallin, viola/violin & voice; Caroline Kraabel, sax & voice; Lester Moses, soprano sax & flute; Maggie Nicols, voice & taps; Eddie Prevost, drums; Alan Wilkinson, baritone/alto sax & voice.
Recorded at the third annual Relay on Sunday 18th June 1995
'If ever I need a reminder of the inventiveness and generosity of the human spirit, here it is.' —Gus Garside, RUBBERNECK
'It has urgency, grit and raw undefended beauty.' —Ben Watson, RESONANCE
Alex Ward & John Bisset Crypt
Alex Ward & John Bisset , acoustic guitars
Third in the 'Home Series' of duo recordings made by John Bisset at the birth town of his collaborator. Alex was born and raised in Grantham, Lincolnshire. At home for Christmas he was joined by John for a session in St.Wulfrum’s Church Crypt on the 2nd January 2003 (a date which pleased the numerologists in the 2:13 office)
Alex is familiar to us all as an improvising clarinetist, having released cds with Derek Bailey, Steve Noble and others. As a guitarist he played with rock band Camp Blackfoot and with John’s urban surf group Pocket. Clearly the two enjoy playing together and take a particular delight in dodging around in the musical no-mans land between harsh abstract free impro and lilting trad jazz.
The titles of tracks in the previous cds in this series were translated into the mother tongue of John’s collaborator. Here the titles are scores from Cribbage – a game played by Alex’s father and grandfather, whose strange jargon resonated in young Alex’s ears as he grew up.
The pair also thought the reference to a game was quite appropriate to the pendulemic structure of the improvisations. Lighthearted as it is the whole stands in the context of mortality – as fully detailed in the inner sleeve notes.