EVENFALL – The Narrative of a Sound

I finally met the musician Andrew Heath in 2017 at the launch of my book Imperfect having previously written a few poems inspired by his third album Europa. His music talks in a quiet, subtle voice about the changing world around us, it points out the fine details of a moment of silent reflection, a moment which only requires one to be still and to observe. The colours, the speed, the flight, the descent, the little fragments of life.

Andrew Heath performing at The Seventh Wave Festival. 2017. Blue Orange Theatre. Birmingham. U.K. Photo: © Alexander Caminada, 2017

Andrew Heath has spent over twenty years producing and composing experimental music. He has collaborated with Peter Maynard (Dust and Threshold, 2016, Disco Gecko Recordings, UK), the legendary musician Hans-Joachim Roedelius  and the composer Christopher Chaplin (Triptych in Blue, 2017, Disco Gecko Recordings, UK), the Dutch guitarist Anne Chris Bakker (Lichtzen, 2017, White Paddy Mountain, Japan) and he is currently working on a joint project with the Mercury Award nominated Toby Marks (Banco de Gaia).

A few months ago, Andrew invited me to collaborate towards his fifth solo album Evenfall due to be released later on this year. Several weeks after we completed the recording, inspired by the subtlety of his new album, I went back to his studio in Stroud and invited him to talk about his fascination with silences and with pauses. Over many cups of freshly brewed coffee we talked about the way we experience the world, through rhythm and speed, but Andrew explained how one could transform a world with only one sound.

Recording the scissors

MS: Would you place your music within the limits of a particular genre?

AH: As my music has developed, it seems to occupy different spaces. There are many names for this musical area I feel drawn to. Some call it ‘ambient’ but this is quite a broad term. I prefer to use words like ‘lower-case’, ‘quiet’, music without beats and without words and, I know people would then ask what is left but of course to me, the answer is, everything is left.

I became aware of music through listening to the world around me as a very young boy and one of my prized memories and an important formative sound moment in my life, was when my father came home from work with an old reel-to-reel tape machine. I was intrigued to discover I could record sounds on it and play them at different speeds, or turn the tape over and play it backwards. I had a microphone which I’d started using and I remember recording the sound of a pair of dressmaking scissors my mother had. When I played the recording back and slowed it right down it sounded like somebody had drawn a sword. From that moment, recording and transforming sound was something I would be constantly drawn to.

Andrew Heath. Stroud. Gloucestershire. U.K. Photo: © Alexander Caminada

MS: In terms of influences and directions…?

AH: Many things but certainly other musicians and their work. I am inspired by the American pianist Harold Budd, who worked with Brian Eno. I love his sense of timing. His playing is like notes falling downstairs, they just cascade in a beautifully ad-hoc way. I’m very interested in other experimental musicians like Roedelius and the Japanese sound artist, Sawako. An exciting recent discovery for me is German YouTuber, Hainbach who works a great deal with tape, and due to his music, I’ve begun using dictaphones which is an interesting new development for me. However, I think the biggest influence is the environment. The sound around us is music. It could be the song of a bird, which is very beautiful, but for me it can also be planes, my fridge makes amazing sounds. Any noises from our inside or outside spaces.

MS: Are you trying to make people aware of what surrounds us or is your music a product of your own reflection about the world and the passing of time?

AH: I am not trying to educate an audience but this is very personal music. Like an artist who is process lead, I am very interested in taking ‘found’ raw material from the environment around me and then processing and ‘treating’ these recordings building layer upon layer of sound. In my case, the pigments that I use are the piano, guitar and ‘found’ sounds. Where an artist will choose a brush, a pencil or a knife, I will use computers, software and tape.

Spaces between notes

MS: You use ‘found’ sounds as you call them, ‘raw materials’ from nature, being open to the randomness around you, but then you process it using technology.

AH: Yes, true, but I am being selective on the technology I use though or approve of. For me, the fascination of transforming, changing, processing sounds is all consuming and you can’t do that without technology – typically very modern technology. I start with just a few sounds, listen to the interaction between them, go down the rabbit hole and realise suddenly, I have the beginnings of an idea.

In my sound world, I try to find and then follow a path, as I go along, I become a collector of things. It could be a piece of wood, a stick, a stone and put them in my imaginary backpack. But then, as I build it up and up and up I realise that it becomes heavy and I leave stuff behind. I leave spaces between notes to reach an equilibrium.

MS: I understand that when you start to work on an album it can begin with something random. What inspired the album Evenfall

AH: I was deep in the Norfolk countryside – a real wilderness area with little woods and lakes. I was interested in making longer field recordings. I stood there recording in one place for about two hours. And it got darker and darker and darker. It started to rain. It was a magic moment of stillness that really informed the music on Evenfall.

To add to the magic, I must mention the amazing contribution from the young musician Lydia Kenny, Gloucestershire Young Musician of the Year 2018 who so kindly gifted me such beautiful soprano saxophone lines on the title track, ‘The Still of Evenfall’.

MS: When will the album be available and what follows for you this year?

AH: The album will be launched by Disco Gecko Recordings on 21st September 2018 at The Old Church, London and it will be available on ITunes, Spotify, Amazon as well as in CD format. Prior to this, I will be performing with Toby Marks at Extreme Chill Festival, Reykjavik, Iceland, 6-9 September 2018.

©Maria Stadnicka, 2018

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World Cup Suburbia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography: ©John Stadnicki, 2018

Migration Stories – Cultural Exchange Project initiated by Univ. of Gloucestershire at Museum in the Park

A week to go! 12th November 2017 from 10.30 am!

So happy to be part of this and to support an excellent project!

Migration Stories / A Cultural Exchange which celebrates the diversity and the powerful cultural impact of our migrants’ stories and experiences.

Spoken languages can both unite and separate human kind. Through education we can learn to speak other languages and this entitles us to appreciate cultures around us. However, linguistics alone are just one conduit of understanding – our sense of what is to be human in the world is also built on non-linguistic cultural experiences – we learn through stories, legends, music, food, dance, festivals, artefacts and images.‘ (Excerpt from Daniel Barenboim, on the 16th July 2017, in an impromptu speech at the Proms Albert Hall.)

Photograph: ©John Stadnicki

12th November 2017 at Museum in the Park, Stroud, Gloucestershire is the first part of a beautiful cultural project which will continue and will develop over the next three months.

The workshop will start at 10.30am at Museum in the Park and will bring together narrators, MA illustrators, poets, writers and photographers.

At 11am we will invite illustrators, photographers, writers, students to listen and to be inspired by the unique stories and memories of those who have experienced the joy, the pain, the comic, the humane journey of those, amongst us, arrived from somewhere else.

The narrators Anita Roy, Dolores Phelps, Maria Stadnicka, Fumio Obata, Ro Saul, John Stadnicki will tell us their memories.

Lunch time – bring and share food from our own heritage

Photograph: © John Stadnicki ‘Portrait – Mr. Sova’

The afternoon will create opportunities for smaller groups to discuss in detail elements of the stories and will begin to consolidate ideas for creative responses.

The creative responses will be completed by  6th December 2017 and a small dedicated team will produce a beautiful new Riso book, ready for the launch on the 22nd of January 2018.

Partners involved: University of Gloucestershire, University of Winchester, SGS Stroud College, Museum in the Park, Stroud, Gloucestershire.

We are looking forward to your participation and contribution!

 

 

The next event will on the 22nd November 2017 at Museum in the Park, Stroud, Gloucestershire: 

Chaired by Dolores Phelps, MPhil/PhD Researcher, Illustration

9.30 Coffee and introductions

10am start

Introduction by Dolores Phelps and Jen Whiskerd

10.15 Presentation by Andrew Melrose

10.45 Presentation by Adelaide Morris

11.15 Presentation by Olivier Kugler

12.00 Lunch

1.00 Presentation by Fumio Obata

1.30 Presentation by Dolores Phelps

2.00 Presentation by TBA OR Panel discussion

2.30 Panel discussion/Q&A – Olivier, Adelaide, Andrew

3pm Closing remarks.

3.30 Close

Come along and get involved!

 

Thought

Tomorrow will come with a sunny spell,

the rain will stop at the border so

we will begin the long-waited rebellion,

as they say,

at the right moment.

 

To satisfy our need for greatness,

we will politely ask the just questions and

sit on the pew

in return for the hand-written answer.

 

We will finally go home,

or so we believe,

to master the only remedy left for pain – patience.

street-cafe-2

Photograph: @John Stadnicki, ‘Street Cafe’

Exile

leave-2

 

 

 

Witness to a repeated history

in exile I learn a new language

facing the border control

at Heathrow Airport I wear my mother’s coat

ready for a winter of politics

when I need to

I keep my mouth shut I change my name

to look just like her

white and uncomfortable

the blinding sun has been washed and

smells of violets

people are happy

in such a beautiful land

nobody minds me

amongst

wrapped-well-packed boxes

brushing the dust off velvet cutlery

the only remains

of life before baptism.

centrale-fs-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photographs: copyright@John Stadnicki, 2016

Games During the Cold War

The winter Clara and I secretly discovered socialism

we had nothing left in the house

that was worth burning.

 

The frost surrounded the bedroom,

we talked to keep warm

and I suggested to write on the walls.

 

We used the kitchen knife to sharpen crayons

and kept at it for a couple of hours.

‘All western countries, enemies of the people!

Kill the foreigners!

Kill Ronald Reagan!’

I thought Ro-nald was such a bad name

for a man who never wrote children books,

probably he deserved to die.

 

My spelling was not very good at that age,

so the room filled with rainbows instead.

Clara and I laughed.

 

At that point, we felt hungry and I remembered

mother kept the bible covered with cloth

on top of the fridge

so I lifted the shiny red cover, sliced it in very small pieces

and added water and salt.

The feast carried on for a bit.

 

Clara and I chewed with determination several chapters.

We almost got half way through

when I read: ‘Then there shall be a time of trouble …for

every one that shall be found written in the book.’

 

And then, in the middle of our small apartment,

the game stopped.

I went back to the wall

and changed the words around.

‘Ro-land, orphan but free’.

piazza-del-duomo-milano-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph: @John Stadnicki, ‘Piazza’, 2016

 

Bad Luck

The other day I had a fall in the bathroom

and cracked two ribs.

I have a black eye and a swollen knee.

 

Google says I should end up with a persistent cough and

the doctor recommends to avoid

laughter, hic-ups, children, smiling people.

 

Yesterday, I burnt my left hand with boiling steam,

I cursed and dropped the kettle on the floor,

then smashed the kitchen window with my fist.

 

Today I am definitely going to die so

I have now set fire to the house

ready to lie in bed wrapped up in wet blankets.

 

My next door neighbour pops by to say that

winter is about to settle in and

he ran out of tea bags.