Ghost Trance Project

In january I started a new 2-year artistic research project focussing on the music of Anthony Braxton, and more specifically his “Ghost Trance Music” compositions, and how they allow for a multi-hierarchic and trans-idiomatic performance practice.

Balancing between notation and improvisation, Anthony Braxton’s “Ghost Trance Music” represent a unique body of “open works” that challenges traditional roles of composer, score and performer. In “Ghost Trance Music” Braxton’s entire fascinating musical universe comes together. You step into a ritual, guided by a melody without beginning or end, a stream of consciousness that serves as the central track leading you into the unknown. Originally inspired by the Native American practice of the Ghost Dance ritual, where surviving members of Native American tribes would attempt to communicate with their ancestors through transcendental ghost dances, the Ghost Trance Music pieces are specifically designed to function as pathways between Braxton’s different musical systems, between notation and improvisation, between past, present and future. It allows for a plurality of musical practices to join forces and creates an arena in which Braxton helps curate intuitive experiences for both performers and listeners.

Through this research project I will explore different interpretational possibilities of Ghost Trance Music, both in the context of a solo performance as in group. On june 25th I have the pleasure to present the first outcome of this research in a solo recital at Unerhörte Musik in Berlin. Also on the program are solo works by David Helbich and Martin Rane Bauck. Hope to see you there!

If you can’t come to the concert here’s a little excerpt of my interpretation of Braxton’s Composition No. 193 (+ 69Q).

Check here for more info on Ghost Trance Project

If you’re interested in reading more about Anthony Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music, make sure to check out Erica Dicker’s excellent article in SoundAmerican’s Braxton Issue.

For more info on Anthony Braxton in general, check out the Tri-Centric Foundation.

May Mayhem! Zwerm's debut @ Barbican and much more!

This month of may is packed with activities and will take me from Utrecht to Gent to the Barbican in London, followed by Rotterdam, Wroclaw and finally Bruges! Not one program we’re touring, but all different projects and programs with 2 of my favourite bands, Zwerm and Nadar!

Zwerm will join forces once more with experimental guitar legend Fred Frith, playing two double bills in Tivoli/Vredeburg, Utrecht and Vooruit, Gent on 10 and 11/05 respectively. Just a few days later we will head to London for performances at the prestigious Barbican Center (!) as part of the Sound Unbound Festival on 18 and 19/05. We will play our much acclaimed “Electric Consort” program with arrangements of English Renaissance music as well as performances of Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint”, joining forces with the New York quartet Dither and Mark Stewart. Lastly on may 22nd we will head to Rotterdam for a performance of “Echo” with Post Uit Hessdalen, as part of the Operadagen festival.

Then with Nadar I will head to Poland for a portrait concert of Alexander Schubert at the Musica Electronica Nova festival in Wroclaw on 25/05. Nadar will also end the month with a bang with the the world premiere of Bernhard Lang’s large new work “HERMETIKA IX ‘Vox Angeli II'” on 30/05 at Concertgebouw Brugge.

Maybe see you there!

10/05 Badminton in Tehran, Zwerm & Fred Frith, Tivoli/Vredeburg, Utrecht (NL)

11/05 Badminton in Tehran, Zwerm & Fred Frith, Vooruit, Gent (BE)

18/05 Electric Consort + Electric Counterpoint (w/ Dither and Mark Stewart), Sound Unbound, Barbican Center, London (UK)

19/05 Electric Consort + Electric Counterpoint (w/ Dither and Mark Stewart), Sound Unbound, Barbican Center, London (UK)

22/05 Echo, Zwerm & Post uit Hessdalen, Operadagen, Rotterdam (NL)

25/05 Private Room: Alexander Schubert, Nadar, Musica Nova Electronica, Wroclaw (PL)

30/05 “HERMETIKA IX ‘Vox Angeli II'” , Bernhard Lang, Nadar, Concertgebouw Brugge (BE)

We're Here. We're Glad You're There.

24 hours of live radio-music by Zwerm
SLOW festival, 23-24/02/2019, Concertgebouw Brugge

info and tickets click here

Live @ Villa Bota, Park 8, 8000 Brugge (start: 22:00)
Listen @ 106.4 FM (Regio Brugge) - 107.9 FM (Regio Torhout)
Live stream @ www.concertgebouwbrugge.be

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"I believe that people in media have an important obligation to fulfil. That is to truly grasp the spirit of the period. And at the same time to use their imaginative powers and practical skills to create a ‘dream tide'."
H. Yokoi *

"It is time for a chtonic swarm."
D. Haraway **

In "We’re here. We’re glad you’re there." Zwerm will use the medium of FM-radio to create a 4 part cycle of 24 hours of live radio music. Inspired by Hiroshi Yokoi’s 24 hour ambient radio broadcasts in Japan in the early 90’s, the program is structured according to Yokoi’s ‘tide of sound’ method following the tide’s cyclical pattern by which Zwerm aims to slow down and generate a musical 'dream-tide'. The musical content will be generated by a backing track running on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, which functions both as a score for the musicians to play along with, as well as a metaphorical clock:

Depending on the tide, a cycle ends or starts in what Donna Haraway describes as the Chtulucene, which is “a name for an elsewhere and elsewhen that was, still is, and might yet be.” The Chtulucene is what comes just before and right after the tape runs out, the “tipping point”. It is the “aftermath” as well as a new beginning. “Think we must; we must think. That means, simply, we must change the story; the story must change.”
We’re here. The sound of the deepest part of the ocean, an iceberg, a forrest, a swarm of cicadas, the sound of a city, of late capitalism, a corporate coffee shop at rush hour, a protest march.
But nothing changes: there is a sound of a continuous drone, the sound of stability. This stasis is comforting, but it is only apparent and misleads us. It is extremely fragile, every little detail can make irreversible changes. “Nothing is connected to everything, but everything is connected to something.”
Irreversible changes will lead to what has come to be known as The Great Acceleration. But also here the end can be a new beginning. “The world is not finished and the sky has not fallen—yet. We are at stake to each other.”

* Toop, David. ‘Ocean of Sound’, London, Serpents Tail, 1995, pp. 154.
** All remaining text in italic are quotes from Donna Haraway’s essay ‘Staying With The Trouble, Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chtulucene’, in Moore, Jason W. (ed.), Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History and the Crisis of Capitalism, Oakland, PM Press, 2016, pp. 34-76.

We're Here. We're Glad You're There. is a production of Zwerm, co-produced by Concertgebouw Brugge and in collaboration with Villa Bota.
Concept & development: Kobe Van Cauwenberghe
Live music: ZWERM.
Photo: NASA. 
Thanks to Villa Bota

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Badminton in Tehran, new release by Zwerm!

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Zwerm has a new album! “Badminton in Tehran” will be officially released with a live concert in deSingel in Antwerp on thursday 29/11. Get your tickets here! You can already pre-order a copy on bandcamp.

Check out the official clip for the song “Leftovers”:

Zwerm has never strived for a one-sided artistic profile. During the past ten years the quartet dallied between pure noise-impro, English renaissance music and contemporary composed music. The common denominator being not so much a particular stylistic view but rather a shared curiosity, Zwerms projects typically start with the question: 'what would happen if …' 
Badminton in Tehran started with the question: 'what would happen if we would worked with grooves for a few months?' After that, anything was allowed. We created an online space where each one of us could drop our personal demos, which could then be used freely by the others. Within a few months a primordial soup of beats and grooves and little snippets of text was created. And once we started the recording sessions with producer Rudy Trouvé this served as the raw material out of which 10 new songs were crafted. Badminton in Tehran is the first record in which all tracks are composed by Zwerm and it grooves like a Rube Goldberg-machine – DIY and slightly irregular. 

Johannes, Toon, Kobe & Bruno about Badminton In Tehran: 

A Wednesday or Thursday afternoon, sitting on a bench in a park in Tehran. Kids run on the grass in between the trees; two girls are having a conversation sitting on a bench across from us; a man and a woman are playing badminton on the path - like people do in parks. 
'Badminton in Tehran?' someone suggests. 
Since at this moment every second sentence we utter is potentially the name of our new record, we all know it's a title. 
'Why not...' 
It's a nice park. The constant noise of traffic is slightly reduced and there's more oxygen in the air. (Johannes) 

What got to me the most in the captivating documentary, “Beats Of The Antonov,” is the spontaneous and natural way the local people of South Sudan were making music. There’s no stage, no separation between audience and performer - There are people and they make music. It’s this spontaneity that might have unconsciously inspired me when making “Badminton in Tehran.” A musical spontaneity without predefined concepts that, for Zwerm, feels like something new. (Toon) 

It reminds me of how a former guitar teacher of mine, and avid collector of rare and bizarre instruments, once told me that whenever he's touring he'd often pass by the local guitar shop and ask the owner if he has a 'backroom' where he keeps his weird stuff. Often they do and he would complement his collection with, say, a rusty tuba mouthpiece, a jew's harp, or a stroh-violin, for example. This new Zwerm album feels like a kind of musical equivalent of this 'backroom' full of weirdness and rarities: a sinter, a saz, an old drum with torn skin, a dusty Fender Rhodes, some home made electronic devices and sound effects... The music maybe doesn't have the coherence (and predictability) you would expect from the shiny stratocasters hanging in the front window of the shop, but it grooves quite nicely. And if the word 'groovy' once meant 'having a tendency to routine', Zwerm paradoxically seems to be the least groovy band in the country... (Kobe) 

“Badminton in Tehran,” rebellion at its most frivolous, light resistance on a heavy spot, der Groove or Ethio endlessness, moving along with the waves or mabok laut, let me float or let me crawl. (Bruno) 

more of No [More] Pussyfooting

My solo rendition of the music of Fripp & Eno is touring again this month! I’m very happy to perform this set again. First stop is the GAS Festival in Göteborg, Sweden on friday 05/10.

Then on wedensday 17/10 I’m invited to play at the Merhspur Musikklub in Zürich as part of the Generator concert series organised by the ICST.

I’m very much looking forward to both concerts, hope to see you there!