Philip Jack with his ‘aesthetically attractive' Dansettes
String Section‘. which follows ‘The Vocal Section‘, premiered in London a year ago and precedes ‘The Brass Section (pencilled in for
Nottingham next May), ‘The Massed Piano And Percussion Section‘ (probably to be unveiled in Vienna in a year’s time) and ‘The Wind ; Section’. At some point in 1993, the full Vinyl Requiem will be staged, involving 250 record players grouped into orchestral sections and lit by ‘state-of-the-art projections‘. according to the producers.
Philip Jeck’s massed Dansettes don’t just play records
conventionally— they’re triggered in ,
series, and the black platters they spin have frequently been doctored
. colour’ — but his love of the turntable ‘ came to the fore during his stint as a
with blades or stickers to make them ; lock in the desired grooves. Another :
bonus of the old technology is that the gramophones are the kind that stack up records on the spindle so that when one is finished with, another will drop down. Several hundred discs can be spun in the course of one performance.
‘It’s like an acoustic concert, with 80 individual players,‘ he explains. ‘You might have 30 or 40 copies of the same record making a slowly shifting sound, quite minimally. Sometimes only one will be playing, sometimes the whole lot. They’re arranged like a small orchestra.
‘It’s like an installation as well,’ he adds. ‘Eighty record players . . . they are aesthetically attractive.‘ You know that he means it.
Despite the overwhelming inﬂuence of the innovative American DJ s who sprung their ‘wheels of steel’ techniques on the world a decade ago, only J eck and
the stylus-shredding Christian Marclay from Switzerland have sneaked vinyl abuse into the hushed halls of ‘Serious Art’.
J eck refers more than once to his art college background - ‘In my head, the way I work, I’m thinking of it in sculptural or painterly terms. Every added sound is a different
DJ in the early 805, when he heard the new sound of scratch-mixing.
‘That’s what turned me on to using record players. My thing was visual art and performance art, but when I heard that I thought, “This is a way I can make music.” ’
From the DJ ’5 booth, J eck moved into performance art and theatre. He began scoring soundtracks for dance companies, notably Laurie Booth’s, with rather more up-to-date
equipment than will be on display at the Tramway.
Then, ‘I started getting lower and lower tech to more primitive record players.’ These were picked up mainly at car-boot sales for two or three pounds each. They’re not yet collectors’ items, though J eck expects that they will be, before long. ‘At the moment, it costs more to replace the needles than to buy one.
‘People have said I’m a Luddite, but it doesn’t bother me either way,’ 5 he says. ‘I’d love to do some stuff with CD players — if you shake them around, they make some amazing noises. I’d like to get about twenty of them — and shake them a bit.’
The Vinyl Requiem — The String Section takes place at the Tramway, Glasgow on Fri 22.
V CLASSICAL Is t
H Wonderful though ‘The Messiah‘ and carol concerts may be at Christmas time, it is good to have something different on the concert platform from time to time. Showing that different does not necessarily mean new is the Scottish Early Music Consort with ‘The Christmas Story’. Schlitz's colourful masterpiece is the centrepiece of the latest in their consistently imaginative presentations. Written for eleven solo voices and fourteen instrumentalists on a variety of recorders, cornetti, sackbuts, curtal (a sort of early oboe), strings and organ, the story of Christmas, set to texts from the
Gospels of Matthew and Luke, is told by
the baritone, sung on this occasion by Alan Dire. In between come sections from the various characters of the Nativity story. For instance, the shepherds are sung by alto voices, the wise men by tenors and the basses are
~11 / _ CV; . ‘ ' '-'--' "*“ " " ainrich Schlitz surrounded by his singers in the old palace church in Dresden
; the high priests. The same sort of idea ' is used instrumentaliy too, with the angels’ part being given to the violins, Herod is heard on the cornetti and the
= shepherds, typically, are portrayed by recorders. Other soloists in an impressive line-up of musicians include soprano Lorna Anderson and baritone Alan Watt.
Kappelmeister at Dresden for most of his life, Schlitz wrote ‘The Christmas Story' in 1644, when he was in his early 80s— he died at the ripe old age of 87- and the Consort's programme also includes vocal display music from other periods of his life, as well as virtuoso pieces by some of his contemporaries. (Carol Main)
The Christmas Story is at the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on Thurs 5 and Stevenson Hall, RSAMD, Glasgow on Fri 6.
Would you credit it? Just when everyone had them down as minimal, nihilistic electro merchants, Nitzer Ebb have come over all rock’n'roll on us. To be falrto the Chelmsford band, the doom and gloom tag was not a mantle that sat snugly on their shoulders.
Despite an early and naive fondness for
iodhpurs and riding boots, the fascist image imposed on them by the press was, to say the least, unwarranted. With the release of ‘Ebbhead', their fourth album, the band finally captured the broad soundscapes only previously hinted at and, after completing a stadium tour of America with Depeche Mode, they have fully embraced the idea of becoming part of the establishment. Not oniythat, they
positively relish the touring that seems 2
so alien to what they basically are — a synthesiser band.
‘Love it,’ enthuses vocalist Douglas McCarthy. ‘We found ourselves, when we started touring, not really understanding the whole concept and
‘ wanting days off every other day. Then we realised all the rock'n'roil cliches
are actually there to make you enjoy it. Then we slipped into it quite easily.
You can't avoid getting into that stadium rock style and whatever the f actual music is you’re doing, you need
to portray it as big and loud as
Perhaps less surprising is McCarthy’s admission that the band are, in fact, terrible musicians.
Nitzer Ebb- Douglas McCarthy (standing) and Don Harris
Typically, this is something they feel
they have used to their advantage. ‘We’re getting there. You have to,
really. We never really cared about it but it does get in the way. It’s probably our worst point and our best point. We approach things in a different way because we don't approach things in a traditional way, we have no concept of how you are meant to do things properly.‘ (James Haliburton) Nitzer Ebb play Calton Studios,
i Edinburgh on Sat 23.
The List 22 November— 5 December 199131