Been doing some really great weekly playing online with Bathing Trio aka Schwimmbad Trio with Sam Andreae and Otto Willberg. This involves real time improvising but of course with whatever delay is afforded by the speed of our individual internet connections and physical distance for signal to be send by broadband. Its actually really quite possible to play like this and we’ve been documenting the jams on the bandcamp above. Each session is in effect creating 3 impossible, slightly different mixtures of our domestic/immediate environments; the above session is mainly a stereo room recording of Sam, Otto and me through speakers, with me live in the room and then Otto’s solo track mixed in seperately after. Its made further fun by my domestic family life in my recording, Otto having a mic pointed out the window as well as in his room and Sam being on his daily walk!
This was made in the second week of Covid19 lockdown at home in Stretford. I often record at home but in this case the whole family presence and interaction became a wider part of the recording environment. Alot of my research at Huddersfield touches on the subject of finding private public environments to play in so a process of widening the private domestic sphere to the public one seemed to be worth exploring as a reversal of this approach. It was also practical as everyone is round the house all the time so accepting life noise as part of the recording process seemed like a better way in than waiitng til the kids where in bed and trying to play quietly.
It’s also about memory, how nostalgia is a way of coping; how as time passes single clear moments from who you used to be come telescoping back in the form of earworms, repeating nuggets of lines from songs which then unspool to open out longer slivers and episodes from the past.
The alternative title for this album is “I never tell anyone this but I’m usually thinking about Nirvana when I play improvised music”. Its August 2015 I’m sitting outside a rock club in Moscow with Russian undergound legend Arthur Kuzmin, we’ve just been watching a band do note perfect Joy Divison covers, all sang in Russian and now a DJ is on, its absolutely baking even at 10pm in the evening in Moscow. I’ve ran a gig for Phil Minton & Luke Poot the night before, got straight on a night bus to London and then the plane to proposes we record an impromptu interview. I keep dodging his well thought through questions about my works relationship to Derek Bailey, Fred Frith, its interaction between free improv and the UK noise undergound and try to talk about Nirvana instead. Arthur is also aware of every record and live review I’ve had in The Wire and is keen to know my opinion of these; he tells me he basically learnt to read English through reading the magazine.
I wish I had the transcript of this and I don’t believe Arthur ever published it.
I’m thinking of a tape I made from the Top 40 towards the end of 1993 which had Nirvana’s ‘All Apologies’ on it, at the time i heard it as a 12 year old it had a huge effect on me; the riff, the song, the words, the timbre of Kurt’s voice it was all so great not like anything I’d heard before. But then something really strange happens, instead of a neat ending to the song, the last 30 seconds of slowly collapses into a morass, the vocal refrain repeating over huge amounts of amp hiss and guitars eliciting small squalls of tonal feedback. Thinking back these moments of spliting and collapse are there throughout In Utereo and in other Nirvana recordings too; the sense that instead of going back to the chorus after the solo they are just going to do the live free thrash feedback jam thing. That moment of spontaneous possiblity; intially filtered through a lot of post rock and Velvet Undergound was what got me really interesting in playing music and is I think still the kernel of what I’m interested in now.
I’m on about a 20/25 year loop around for ear worms/song nostalgia dreg up though. I had The Vapours ‘Turning Japanese’ which I can still remember hearing on the kitchen radio with my mum when I was about 3 or 4 on the go for a long while. A Spice Girls medley combining single lines of most there hits came and went alot in the last 3 years. The songs recorded here are ones that have cropped up enough as earworms with enough frequency that I could use memory of tonal material/phrasing/structure as a departure point and refer to a lyric sheet sparingly in the recording process without actually having to listen to any of the originals again.
As with most earworms I can remember when I heard each one; Waking Up and Sliver I think early warm summer evening 1994? on the Radio, maybe even in the same episode of “The Evening Session” Both committed to tape. Do they owe us a living? Winter 2002/2003 Withington Road squat our neighbour has given us a whole bunch of 80s vinyl and Feeding the 5000 is in there. Blue Light a tape of Lauren’s also in the Withington Road squat, I’m really stoned building some shelves pretty badly out of salvaged wood while listening to So that tonight I might see and Beefheart’s Troutmask. Whatever… i remember singing this with Aidan on our endless walks around the village, tape single, walkman, shared earbuds, first hearing it maybe on Top of the Pops?
It’s 1997 and the morning after a gig where a bunch of the bands from college have played and my best friends and are I trying to patiently explain to a well meaning questioner why our set the night before had consists only of songs with only one chord played really loudly instead of “playing some covers then throwing in a few of your own if things are going well”
We just released a new Historically Fucked album! It sees some nifty heavy phaser post production work from our rock bass player 83 on the live recording of the set we did at Tusk Festival in Gateshead in 2018.
3 tracks of solo material all based on walking in edgeland type places you know well and are familiar with.
Flood Plain is about many walks in and around the River Mersey where I live in South Manchester; particularly watermeadows at Stretford Ees, Broad Ees Dole and Chorlton Ees. I love this connection to the archaic Anglo-Saxon word Ees meaning firm land in a fen or watery landscape. The area is pretty boggy as it stands but as the name hints must have been much more so before the various flood defence systems were built up on the Mersey.
Ice House is about a victorian ice house structure in a small copse behind where I went to school in Birstall, just north of Leicester. The house it served is demolished and it was always a weird, spooky and technical forbidden site to visit. Its the highest point around for many miles though partially the view is obscured towards Leicester by the school buildings. Strangest part on researching this track was the discovery that the site of the ice house and the school was built on an Anglo-Saxon burial ground.
Cobs/Dreams of Stereolab Rehearsing Under My Bed/Jitty is a collage of pieces all relating to walking/dreaming with friends around the suburb I grew up in. We did alot of dreaming: in fields, on and under bridges, on railway lines, on housing estates, next to dual carriageways, footpaths, cut throughts, jittys, parks, lakes and waterways.
New live album featuring download only
David Birchall: guitar
Fran Comyn: percussion
THF Drenching: dictaphones/dog toys/percusssion/etc
Adam Fairhall: accordian
Michael Perrett: bass clarinet/alto sax
Thanks to Mark Ellison for the live recording
New CDr and download now out from myself and Richard Harrison.
Richard is one of my favourite improvisors and our playing together dates back over a period of about 10 years so it’s great to have a physcial document of it.
Starting out with Cheshire farmcore unit Mudhutters in late 70’s Richard is best known for his work with Spaceheads. He is probably the only musician to have performed with both Derek Bailey and Nico. The release itself is something of a melancholy tribute to our old space in The Hotspur Press Building (currently awaiting being ripped to bits when Oxford Road Station is rebuilt).
Keeping it in the family the cover painting is a detail from a painting Alex Brealey Birchall aged 4. Interior artwork and photos of The Hotspur Press Building are by Richard.
The audio is essentially a longform composition editied from many hours of improvising during 2012 and 2013 by Richard.
The CD is available here https://davidbirchall.bandcamp.com/album/hotspur-nights