Hard of herrin


v.5 . '1 {?£',

Haiiidi Hslgrimsson

If you want to enquire further about

; the title of Haflidi Hallgrimsson’s

5 newest piece. you would be wasting

" your time looking it up in a music

dictionary: knitting magazines are

the place to discover all about

Intarsia. Receiving its premiere by

the Hebrides Ensemble,

Hallgrimsson‘s lntarsia has rather a

lot in common with knitting and

complex creative crafting techniques. ‘In the same way as in knitting.’ explains Hallgrimsson, resident in Edinburgh. but on a slow journey home to his native Iceland,

‘the music incorporates patterns into

the fabric of the piece or like the

Italians used to do with wood and

very. very intricate inlay in making

huge tables.’

The work grew from a wind quintet commissioned by the New Music Group of Scotland in the late 805. ‘I actually wrote several more,‘ he says, ‘and have now come back to them. expanded them and put in a lot more detail. It was a little tree. but now it is a big tree with more branches.‘ It is not the sort of composition that is begun. worked

through. finished and that's it. ‘I i started with thirteen pieces. then selected eight and now it‘s in six ? movements. The idea is to give each

instrument a solo spot like a row of six concertinos. It starts with the

; piccolo as the main instrument. but

all the instruments join in. then the

oboe is the main instrument. then the flute and so on. It‘s the idea of

; solo and tutti. where everybody

I plays and is integrated but each

instrument is still easily recognised.‘ Alongside these aims.

Hallgrimsson set out to write music

that the players would enjoy and find

fun to play. although that does not

imply that it is easy. For the listener. the 30-minute lntarsia does however promise to be accessible. colourful,

mainlylightbutwith darker funereal shades too. ‘lntarsia is.‘ says its composer. ‘like a marinath herring. It‘s been through a lot.‘ (Carol Main) Hebrides Ensemble play Intarsia at

Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow on Sun 6 and Queen's Hall, Edinburgh on Mon 7[)(’('.

L. __ __ _ .

ZIThe List 4— 17 December 1992



Fiona Shepherd on the 1 ineradicable influence of i The Pastels.

In the early 19805, Stephen Pastel

saved the world, in particular a small ;

corner popularly known as Glasgow ' (you may have heard of it), from a cancerous musical malignancy. Bloated Celtic egos succumbed to i

'. cosmopolitanitus -— the delusion that

weirdo and not get hassled, and

parity with the Aryan cyber-race. They communicated in a cold | language of bombastic synthesized gestures. Many yielded to this European malady, some even frequented cafe establishments. Only a few escaped this barren epoch with their artistic integrity untarnished they are now called The Passkeepers and make music of sublime metaphysical import. But Stephen intervened to make the world a safer place for today’s wide-eyed pop innocents. He effectively neutralised the threat posed by this lesion of simple minds, and indeed Simple Minds.

‘I feel we changed everything. Bands like Teenage Fanclub wouldn’t have really existed if it hadn’t been for The Pastels. Glasgow was really unfriendly, snotty and elitist when we started and the Fanclub are so unlike that, and really helpful and supportive to new bands that come along. Glasgow used to be a really intimidating place to go out at night. Bobby [Gillespie]’s club Splash One was the first place you could go and be a g

. . . i it was somehow desrrable to feign j

other clubs like Divine, which are taken for granted, wouldn’t exist without The Pastels. The Mary Chain moved away and Primal

' Scream . . . we’ve been pretty central

because we stayed. I feel we’ve been really pivotal.’

But before the revolution, the germ of an ideology.

‘When we started, what was perceived as cool was a kind of bogus

sophistication. Ijust thought, “Well, i

screw that”. I want to do something that’s unsophisticated and brutal. There’s certain qualities in childhood that people lose when they become adults and I wanted to keep part of that child-like wonder in our band. I really like naive art.‘ Some, however, misinterpreted The Pastels’ guileless vision. They amplified and enshrined kindergarten logic. The girls wore anklesocks; the boys wore tanktops. ‘I think people’s image ofour band is in part informed by what other bands have done rather than us,’ concurs Stephen. ‘There’s been very little that‘s ever been childish about The Pastels. I find the adult world pretty exciting and challenging and always have, but a lot of the bands that were influenced by us picked up on something that was a really small

part of us and turned it into

a something grotesque to other


Some sage creatures did grasp The Pastel Aesthetic; melody, grunge and alcohol mixed freely, and the musical dynamic in Glasgow changed again. But ifcontext is all. and what Stephen says affirms this, then this leaves The Pastels domiciled up an indie cul(t)-de-sac, superseded by the very babes they inspired. Despite this, Stephen, not to mention several major record companies who have unsuccessfully courted the band of late. is confident The Pastels have yet to deliver their magnum opus.

“We‘ve never really peaked. Most bands peak pretty early, like The Jesus And Mary Chain. With : Psychocandy they made exactly the i


record they always dreamed of making and since then I think they I just don’t know what to do, whereas we haven‘t been like that. But I

really feel that now it‘s time that we ; make our Pet Sounds ifwe‘re going to.orjustsplitup.’ g The Pastels play King Tut’s Wah Wah i Hut, Glasgow on Fri4. A J compilation, Truckload 0f Trouble, featuring singles from the past five 3 years alongside new material, will be

. released on Paperhouse at the beginning of1993.

Dance é heritage

f Steeped In their home traditions, but . playing music that continues to evolve j i by incorporating modern styles and j instruments, are two contrasting bands i

irom central Europe and the Caribbean, 5

; who bring a taste oi wildly dittering but , vital dance cultures to liven up dreich g

innovative gang oi enthusiasts and a

December. i Hungary’s Vasmalom are an

top-rate musicians, most with a classical training but sharing a love oi the old music and distinctive I instruments culled irom all the ethnic 3 regions at modern Hungary; the result

is a vibrant reworking at their national i music, with a spirit and intelligence ! I'm sure Bartok would have approved ' oi. Singer Eva Molnar has a l transiuscent voice that hangs among


pipes and strings, but the band can be loud —they need to be when playing impromptu dance music— and are not airald oi calculated dissonance in their arrangements.

The Dance House craze in Hungary has been ilillng halls in the cities and towns since the 70s, when young people began to discover a heritage

hidden behind those grinning, . costumed music and dance ensembles

that the East European regimes used to

_' § send out, portraying bliss down on the

i collective tarm. in today’s Budapest there are Dance Houses every night at . the week where musicians, including

some irom Vasmalom, can play till early in the morning.

At least as fleet-lingered as the Hungarians, Francisco Ulloa is the king oi merengue, the dance music at the Dominican Republic. His music stands out irom the many line exponents on the island they share with Haiti, not only because of his wonderiully expressive voice, but because he plays his squeeze box, a two-row Hohner, last. in tact, very last. Fasterthan Fiaco. Bass, congas, sax and chorus , vocals are all part at an overwhelming 5 dance experience, a guaranteed temperature raiser. (Norman Chalmers)

Edinburgh on Sat 5; Francisco Ulloa plays the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh on Thurs 10.

i Vasmalom play the Assembly Rooms, i

the overtones oi the various ilutes,