STEVE BERESFORD, MAX EASTLEY & DAVID TOOP
W/ OREN AMBARCHI & CRYS COLE (for the talk)
Talk + performance
Free, no reservations. Limited capacity, first come first served.
On April 11 we hosted a unique event in collaboration with contemporary music festival Archipel in Geneva and our regular partner the Valais School of Art (EDHEA).
A day after Archipel concludes, we welcomed Steve Beresford, Max Eastley and David Toop, three historic figures from the British improvised music scene, to La Becque for a talk and a trio performance. Also making the trip from Geneva and joining our pre-concert chat are fellow improvisers crys cole and Oren Ambarchi, two of the prime sonic practitioners and connectors of the last two sonic decades.
Fresh off a re-creation of their landmark Whirled Music performance with Anne Rochat and EDHEA students at Archipel, it was a unique occasion to continue explorations of contemporary listening, music-, and sound-making practices, which we feel are a key part of our interrogations on environmental thought and practice in the arts.
David Toop, Max Eastley, and Steve Beresford are three key protagonists of Britain’s second wave of improvisers, one that “surrendered to joyful musical promiscuity, gleefully disrupting expectations around ‘serious’ improvised music through quotations (of anything from Beethoven to reggae) and deliberate amateurism”, all while helping redefine what environmental sounds could be incorporated into practices of listening to and making sound. Toop, for one, is also a key figure in writing about music and sound, with books such as Ocean Of Sound (1995) and Haunter Weather: Music, Silence and Memory (2004) being absolute landmarks in contemporary music writing.
Beginning in 1979, Whirled Music was the title given to a series of performances in which a variety of instruments and objects, both homemade and store-bought, traditional and invented, would be whirled to produce sound. In addition to variations on traditional instruments such as the bullroarer, Whirled Music also made use of whirled whistles, hand drums, radios and microphones – the combination generates mysterious wind sounds, whirring and delirious chattering, all uniting in a possible evocation of environmental soundscapes. Due to the danger this represented for both performers and audiences, the performers wore protective masks and were separated from the audience by a net.
The reactivated version of Whirled Music at Archipel was both an artistic and historical project, which builded upon the seven original performances of the piece. Developed during a workshop led by Max Eastley in March at the Valais School of Art (EDHEA), it features students and performer Anne Rochat, head of the school’s Performance Department. Whirled Music was revived in a spirit of transmission – through instrument building workshops, practical and theoretical research and the performance itself -, all with the accompaniment – and in their presence – of three of the four original members.
Credits: Steve Beresford, David Toop and Max Eastley at Café Oto, London, 2019 ©Fabio Lugaro