Sunday 18 March 2018, 7.30pm
Pianist Tania Chen is joined by David Toop, Jon Leidecker and a special guest to celebrate the release of their new album; a recording of John Cage's Electronic Music for Piano.
Electronic Music for Piano is one of Cage’s least known pieces because the score is among his most enigmatic and, consequently, there are few commercial recordings of it. Written in Stockholm in 1964 on hotel letterhead, the notes ask the performer to select parts from Cage’s Music for Piano 4-84 and use electronic equipment. Everything else is up to the artist’s discretion.
Recording in both London and Berkeley, California, Tania Chen joined forces with Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), David Toop (former member of the Flying Lizards, and recording artist on Brian Eno’s Obscure label) and Jon Leidecker (a.k.a. Wobbly, who has also worked with Negativland) to create a new version of this piece helmed by composer/musician/scholar Gino Robair.
Using state-of-the-art technology, Chen and her collaborators have taken a modern approach in generating the types of sounds Cage envisioned, giving this nearly 70-minute realization of the work a vitality that is current, revealing and astounding.
Tania Chen is a performance, sound artist, and free improviser. She performs internationally on piano, keyboards, digital, vintage electronics, found objects and video. She creates multidimensional sound pieces for video and live performance and has shown these works in the UK, Asia and California.
Tania has recorded with Stewart Lee, Steve Beresford, Henry Kaiser, William Winant, Wadada Leo Smith, Jon Raskin and with Bryan Day & Ben Salomen in the bands Bad Jazz and Tom Djll & Gino Robair in the trio Tender Buttons. Her solo recordings include Michael Parsons, Cornelius Cardew's Piano Sonatas and John Cage's "Music of Changes". She has recently recorded Feldman’s piano pieces “Triadic Memories” and “For Bunita Marcus” in New York and at KPFA radio in California.
David Toop (born 1949) has been developing a practice that crosses boundaries of sound, listening, music and materials since 1970. This encompasses improvised music performance, writing, electronic sound, field recording, exhibition curating, sound art installations and opera. It includes seven acclaimed books, including Rap Attack (1984), Ocean of Sound (1995), Sinister Resonance (2010), Into the Maelstrom (2016) and forthcoming - Flutter Echo, a memoir first published in Japan in 2017 (May 2019) and Inflamed Invisible: Writing On Art and Sound 1976-2018 (2020). Briefly a member of David Cunningham’s pop project The Flying Lizards in 1979, he has released thirteen solo albums, from New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments on Brian Eno’s Obscure label (1975) and Sound Body on David Sylvian’s Samadhisound label (2006) to Entities Inertias Faint Beings (2016). His 1978 Amazonas recordings of Yanomami shamanism and ritual were released on Sub Rosa as Lost Shadows (2016). In recent years his collaborations include Rie Nakajima, Akio Suzuki, Tania Chen, John Butcher, Ken Ikeda, Elaine Mitchener, Henry Grimes, Sharon Gal, Camille Norment, Sidsel Endresen, Alasdair Roberts, Thurston Moore, Ryuichi Sakamoto and a revived Alterations, the iconoclastic improvising quartet with Steve Beresford, Peter Cusack and Terry Day first formed in 1977. Curator of sound art exhibitions including Sonic Boom at the Hayward Gallery (2000), his opera – Star-shaped Biscuit – was performed as an Aldeburgh Faster Than Sound project in 2012. He is currently Professor of Audio Culture and Improvisation at London College of Communication.
WOBBLY / Jon Leidecker has been producing music under the name Wobbly since 1990, improvising with recordings to produce music which inherently resists the act of being captured. Recent performances deploy a battery of mobile devices driven by their built-in microphones, reacting instantly with error-prone variations on the notes and sounds they believe they are hearing: a tightly-knit orchestra with inhuman reflexes, resulting in structures which the human performer influences more than controls. Your phone is the instrument, and your phone is always listening. Wobbly's live and studio collaborations with Negativland, Dieter Moebius & Tim Story, The Freddy McGuire Show, Matmos, Fred Frith, John Oswald, Thomas Dimuzio, Huun-Huur-Tu, Sagan and Tania Chen compliment live mix media collages broadcast twice a month on KPFA FM's Over The Edge radio program.