Monday, April 19, 2010

Swede Dreams Are Made Of This

Amount of creative activity achieved in last 168 hours: 84
Level of conviction in own genius out of 10: 7.9
Reading / Watching: About volcanoes / a lovely archive film about a round-the-world Zeppelin trip in 1929 on BBC4
Hair day: shockingly unreconstructed

Part 1

Spent 5 days away in a tucked-away corner of Sweden, on an island and nature reserve called Saltogarden, courtesy of the PRS New Music Incubator: a music camp where, rather than teenagers getting caught in brace-wearing clinches with spotty fellow flautists, 10 UK and 10 Swedish boundary-pushing artists descended to make noises together of the mostly brain-expanding variety. Each day we would emerge sleepily from our log cabins to be put in groups of four, given a rather broad focus, and sent off into the ether to thrash out our differences and come up with something to perform at the end of the day. Each day was utterly different, but what noticeably happened over the week was a shedding of the extraneous: gradually the technical trickery melted away leaving mostly bodies and found sounds. I, for example, having lugged over my loop station and melodica, ended up mostly playing a wooden skewer on paper, stamping on shells, getting a group of Norwegian girls in the woods to sing and presenting a 9-minute silent film of a bush. YES!

The week was a rich palate of pared-down sounds: pianos played with feathers, primal screams, mini-paper-live-theatre shows, music played in locked houses, 11-string guitars, Chinese flutes, bird calls on clarinet mouthpieces, wine glasses, plates and maps. I had a total epiphany on the third day after an hour-long sound walk which became so detailed I could hear dried thistles rubbing against each other; this was chased with 15 minutes of jumping with my committed groupmates Bill, Sareidha and Lisa and then the most minimal improv ever. My calves are still suffering for my art, ha ha.

It's hard to explain how great it was without sounding like a total artwankeroon, so here are some edited highlights of our High Art Big Brother Experience:
  • Seeing Gabriel, chief alt-classical London honcho, performing a sort of homoerotic-body-playing-contemporary-dance thing on Pascal
  • Hearing Sofia's incredible experimental vocal work in her presentation
  • Any of the times Leon got near the piano
  • Snickering with Pascal, Anna and Claudia behind a load of gaffer-taped boxes with unsuspecting audience on the other side
  • Underground harpsichord soundz
  • Being called loving pet names by the Hardest Man With The Softest Centre and the Biggest Biceps in Contemporary Music
  • Being told that a long and baffling music-theatre piece was actually all about me - WHAAA?
  • My two morning walks: one making sculptures on the beach, one clambering up to a granite rock, sitting very still amongst the loftier parts of pine trees and watching two Scandi-punk crested tits land very near me. I think I actually became a Disney classic at this point
  • Skimming stones with the boys

Part 2
Having heard rumblings of rumours involving volcanoes and planes, we were thrown in the deep end on Friday morning at a teensy station near our camp. The UK crew then embarked on an extreme European assault course of suburban trains, rail replacement buses, platform stairs, and finally a wondrous hulking Ferry of Paradise all over 48 hours, including 5 countries, 4 currencies, no sleep and a diet of Friski mints and Danish liquorice. I think we win gold. All I can remember from the fog of delirium and tannoy bleeps are:
  • The falafel in the Lebanese restaurant in Copenhagen which hosted us for about 4 hours during our wait before the Long Night of the Trains
  • Leon looking like Mick Jagger only MORE ravagedly cool, his shades masking the fact that he'd left his specs back at the camp and had to be led round like a little lamb from train to train half the time
  • Outrageously brilliant South Park episodes watched from Larry's shoulder. In fact just Larry's shoulder generally
  • Meeting folks on their way home -Dan the Anthropologist from Oxford, Barry the Architect from Dublin, William the Lost One, etc
  • Playing an 80s British pop band-name game and being triumphant at remembering T'Pau
  • 36 hours into our trip still managing to have intelligent conversations about Percy Grainger's electronic experiments
I wonder what I will learn from this. Am desperately hoping my summer term will consist not of the usual slipping back into London noisiness and hectic life but instead finding a way to channel the meditative practices of the last week into my creative life. And a regime of Extreme Jumping, obviously...

1 comment:

Pascal said...

Wow, that was a great review! As for me, i´m struggling with keeping everyday life from silencing my inner voice going YEEAAHH. So far i feel victorious:)

I would have loved to experience part two, however getting back from the UK on my own would have been a bit too mutch.