Sunday 12 May 2019, 2pm
Whirled Music was a performance for whirling, spinning and twisting instruments, first devised by Max Eastley after witnessing a dramatic performance by Paul Burwell in which he whirled Chinese cymbals attached to elastic. The first performance took place at the London Musicians Collective on February 3rd, 1978, with subsequent performances including the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham; The Roundhouse in London; on Primrose Hill during the Music/Context Festival of Environmental Music held at the LMC in August 1978; the Music Biennale Zagreb of 1979 (in an empty swimming pool); the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, in 1980 and the Paris Biennale of 1982.
In Musics magazine (no. 17, May 1978) Annabel Nicolson wrote about and photographed (from the safety of an upturned table) the first performance. Characteristically, she immediately understood and was able to articulate the sense and impact of the piece (“an energy field”) through both photography and words: “Without means to place sound sources visually the spatial sense of sound is intensified, resonances and the relations of air movement to space become more evident. With the whirled music the sound sources were in constant movement since all the instruments were sounded by whirling and there were no fixed points of stillness to relate them to. Performers and instruments were caught in their own momentum and often there was no distinction between what was whirled and what was whirling. Nothing escaped intact or silent in the continual displacement of air.” At the end of her piece she quoted from Night and Day by Virginia Woolf: “An odd image came to mind of a light house besieged by the flying bodies of lost birds, who were dashed senseless, by the gales, against the glass. He had a strange sensation that he was both lighthouse and bird; he was steadfast and brilliant; and at the same time he was whirled with all other things, senseless against the glass.”
Max Eastley, Steve Beresford and David Toop will be discussing Whirled Music’s evolution and its performances, showing instruments and the masks used to protect the performers, playing recordings and demonstrating some of the smaller whirlers.
Please note, this is not a full performance of Whirled Music.
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.
Max Eastley is a sound installation artist and a musician. He has been an AHRC Senior Researcher at Oxford Brookes University investigating Aeolian phenomena through practice-lead research; City Sound Artist for Bonn, Germany; a guest of the DAAD, Berlin, exhibiting installations as well as working as musician and performer, and he is an artist with the Cape Farewell Climate Change Project. His most recent Aeolian installation was at Perrotts Folly for the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.
He has played many solo concerts as well as in combinations with musicians such as David Toop, Evan Parker, Steve Beresford, John Butcher, Ute Wasserman, Phil Minton, Axel Dorner and Al Doyle. He has worked extensively with music and performance including works with dancers and choreographers such as Anna Huber and the Siobhan Davies Company.
His film, “Clocks of the Midnight Hours”, made with director Simon Reynell, has just been re-released by the BFI in their new compilation “Great Noises That Fill the Air”.
Steve Beresford has been a central figure in the British and international spontaneous music scenes for over forty years, freely improvising on the piano, electronics, and other things with people like Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Han Bennink, John Zorn, and Alterations (with David Toop, Terry Day and Peter Cusack).
He has written songs, written for large and small ensembles, and scored short films, feature films, TV shows, and commercials. He was part of the editorial teams of Musics and Collusion magazines, writes about music in various contexts, and was a senior lecturer in music at the University of Westminster. With Blanca Regina, he is part of Unpredictable Series, which produces events and sound and video recordings of experimental music and art.
Steve has worked with Christian Marclay on numerous Marclay mixed media pieces. He has also worked with The Slits, Najma Akhtar, Stewart Lee, Ivor Cutler, Prince Far-I, Alan Hacker, Tania Chen, Ray Davies, Mandhira De Saram, The Flying Lizards, Zeena Parkins, The Portsmouth Sinfonia, Ilan Volkov, Rachel Musson, Vic Reeves, Lore Lixenberg and many others.
Beresford has an extensive discography as performer, arranger, free-improviser, composer and producer, and was awarded a Paul Hamlyn award for composers in 2012. In 2021, Bloomsbury published a book by Andy Hamilton: ‘Pianos, Toys, Music and Noise: Conversations with Steve Beresford’.