DEE!- Spinal flap
You dance with your brain, not your legs, as somebody once said. For all the somewhat cerebral aura around her music, Kristin Hersh tells Fiona Shepherd that she
couldn’t agree less.
lfyou‘re going to stand on a stage. sing songs and be brilliant, you have to expect that your consumers will want proof of purchase. some token — a clump of hair. a piece of shirt. a globule of saliva. That‘s just how it is (in David Cassidy‘s case. he didn’t even have to be brilliant) and that‘s frightening enough. But when your words really touch a nerve (not just ‘Religltt myﬁre/Ymtr love is my only desire '). they'll want to peel offa piece of your mind in addition to
A f‘rinstance is Kristin Hersh. Throwing Muses have reached such a critical pinnacle that Hersh only has to grunt to have oracle status conferred on her. With all that deifieation baggage to shoulder. it comes as no surprise that she's always been wary of compounding the adulation by embarking on a solo trip. Nevertheless. she‘s gone and done it with Hips And Makers. and her state of mind is public property
all over again.
‘I never wanted to be a solo artist, because i don‘t
Unplugged was not hers. but her husband‘s. ‘lt was actually from a night in Scotland when we
.’ were both really drunk and lighting really bad. The
‘ encores made an impression on both of us and we started crying. it was in a church and there were so many people there. but it was just dead silent and l was really impressed by the role ofthe listener. They have to do theirjob too.‘
Kristin‘s ears were freshly tuned in during the writing and recording of Hips And Makers. She speaks with the delight of someone who‘s found the wood after years searching among the trees.
‘l thought acoustic was kinda wimpy. but now i
the muscular energy inherent in any instrument that
v have a great deal of respect for acoustic sounds. just
have the ego for it.’ she admits. ‘These songs are
very personal in a personality-that-can-be-called- Kristin-Hersh way. which Muses' songs aren't. and i always said that that was an evil way to write songs. but [‘11] coming to think that daily life is universal. Y'know — l have a teeny dorky little life. so I have as much right as anyone to talk about teeny dorky little
lives and I use mine.’
The songs for Hips And Makers, with the exception ‘ of unearthed oldie ‘The Letter‘. were written in one splurge on the Muses’ Red Heaven tour. when Kristin i was thrilling rapt audiences with her spartan solo ! encores when. stripped of the chattering guitars. you i could really hear the inherent urgency in her voice. I The idea to go from Kristin Unhinged to Kristin
; Mon 4.
comes fromjust moving strings in the air. That makes really good songs happen. Your performance has to have enough character to carry the songs. Sometimes you literally have to sing out of tune in order for the song to work. And it’s right up there naked. everybody knows. and that‘s a nice
Sure enough. tone and texture are two of the things that make Hersh‘s solo material so vital. but the depth of the sound pictures on Hips And Makers comes more from the feeling in the vocals than the isigh ofthe accompanying cello. Yet. despite some stand-out lyrics. Hersh seems to subscribe to the Bobby Gillespie school that claims music is over-
‘l’m not trying to say anything.’ she says. "cause music has smarter things to say than we do. [just don‘t think ideas are the main issue. it‘s more beauty and physicality. y‘know'.’ Good music shouldn’t hit you in the brain. it should hit you in the spine and in the heart. because those are our smarter places. if you come to songs with your brain. you‘re going to miss a lot of other kinds of understanding. Your brain's important. it's just that i think your skin comes ftrst.’
The forecast is for an outbreak of goosebumps. Kristin Hers/1 plays The Queen 's Hall. lidinlmtglt mi ’l'lturs .i’l. 'l'lirtnt'iny .l’lttses play their ()II/_\' UK s/tmt'
: this year/hr Sound ('in at the Yt'ittiitt'it_\'. (i/asgmv on
mam! Burning ambition
Taking the four elements as the theme for their four concert programmes this season, the Chamber Group Of Scotland focus this time on Fire. loted for the high quality of their performances as well as their innovative spirit, the Group is taking the opportunity to offer audiences a new and visually stimulating experience of classical music. Behind this two-fold concept is composer and viola player Sally Beamish, who explains, ‘I was personally interested in how different composers respond to similar sources of inspiration and because I was already attracted to the idea of lighting contemporary music, it made sense to tie the two together.
We’re trying to generate interest not only in contemporary music, but in concert-going generally.’
Lighting design by Mike flewman
Chamber Group of Scotland transforms each venue by generating a subtle environment of images for each piece, leading the listener through its individual sound world.
‘The idea is to give the audience something to focus their mind’s eye on and to have a picture in their mind to latch onto,’ says Beamish. ‘The Fire programme was surprisingly difficult to come up with. We were amazed to find that Stravinsky had arranged three of the dances from his orchestral suite, “Firebird”, for violin and piano, so they’re in, as well as pieces about fire - or that I consider to be fiery. We finish with Brahms’ “c Minor Piano 0uartet”.’
There are also works by Berio (‘Feuerklavier’), Peter Maxwell Davies (‘The ﬂoor (it The Sun’) and Beamish's own ‘Flame’. As well as performances in Edinburgh and Glasgow, the complete series is also running at the new Hothes Hall in Glenrothes, a bold and brave piece of programming which is surely to be applauded. (Carol Main) The Chamber Group Of Scotland play Stevenson llall, Glasgow on Sun 3, liothes liall, Glenrothes on Sun 10 and Queen’s llall, Edinburgh on Mon 11.
The List 25 vMarch—7 April 1994 25