Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Level of conviction in own genius: 7
Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 3
Watching: The most disturbing tongue in the world, courtesy of the geckos on BBC1's 'Life'
Hair Day: flyweight

Bookending a quite horrific gum infection (pain level from 0-10: THREE THOUSAND, plus added beating of breast and mangled wailing through a jaw that could only open 2 centimetres) was a lovely gig and some great work. Last midweek we went to the Efterklang/Britten Sinfonia-Jaga Jazzist show at the Barbican, for some hardcore Scandi-alt-rock action. Jaga Jazzist are a slightly flexible Norwegian collective who peddle avant-math chamber-rock; they're a dash of Belle Orchestre and a pinch of Bang on a Can, with flashes of zingy electronica. Almost all multi-instrumentalists, (you don't see many girls doubling up on flute, glock, voice and tuba), the 11 musicians went at it rather full-pelt the whole time, with not enough spaciousness and rather too much reverb for me, but it was nice to hear space disco with added bass clarinet. Efterklang, recreating their last album Performing Parades in collaboration with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra here in London with Britten Sinfonia, was an unbounded joy from beginning to end. Their brand of gently euphoric ensemble vocals, unusual chamber ensemble (often including things like clogs pattering percussively on the stage and little organ) and intricate orchestration made for a heart-melting experience. With the added effect of their innocently-bright pendant-adorned costumes, it was like being led into heaven by a load of blissfully happy Danish scout leaders.

With gum still throbbing, the juicettes drove to deepest darkest Kent for a couple of days of workshopping with our bestest artvocal chum, Mikhail, and assorted other lovely vocalists E.Laine, Ben, Conal and Amy. Mikhail is devising his 'exploded opera', Xenon: a fabulously imaginative idea in which the elements of his opera (video, installation, vocal performance, etc) are separated and performed at various East Kent venues and festivals next year. Mikhail had hired the most amazing barn for us to live and work in, a sort of 'James Bond Does Countryside' or, as Ben put it, like being on MTV Cribs. So we feasted well, watched the sheep hanging around like gum-chewing teenagers on street corners, and worked on various vocal/theatrical tasks Mikhail set us, before coming together on the last day with an artist and performer who will be reciting the Declaration of Human Rights. Great to have the time to explore new ways to improvise within juice too: it's rather luxurious to be paid to a) send a note round juice trying to make it sound like one person and b) tickle Anna whilst she's trying to sing 'Ave Maria'...ha.

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