llallgrimsson: once a cellist. . .
The name of Hallidi Hallgrimsson is one to watch out for in the next couple of weeks. One of the most important ﬁgures in the flourishing development of contemporary Icelandic music. he is now mainly resident in Edinburgh.
On Saturday I l. at Edinburgh's Queen's Hall. Meadows Chamber Orchestra play Hallgrimsson‘s Hymn A! The Rack with the composer himself conducting. Then. the Scottish Chamber Orchestra give the premiere of his new ('ellu Concern). which was commissioned by the acclaimed Scottish cellist. William Conway. the soloist for these ﬁrst performances. A talented painter. Hallgrimsson is also a cellist and. in common with Conway. a past position was that of principal cello with the SCO.
in writing the new concerto. he says. ‘It was my aim. ﬁrst of all. to pay homage to my noble friend. the cello. as well as enhancing the talent of the commissioner of this concerto. William Conway.’ The concerto takes the form of one movement which is broken down into sections — fast. slow. fast — and is based on relatively simple ideas which develop gradually in a cyclic fashion. l-lallgrimsson‘s second aim when writing the concerto was. he says. ‘to write something that “came naturally" to me as a composer and a former cellist. There is no story-line. or visual or literary references in this concerto. but inevitably some “inherited patterns" from my musical past have found their way to the surface in unexpected guises.‘
And current commissions do not stop here. A symphony for the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra will be premiered in the autumn and he is also writing for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the Maxwell Davies Millenium Programme of Commissions. (Carol Main)
The SC 0 perform
Hull griman 'x C ellu Concerto u! the C iry Hull. Glasgow ()Il Wed /5 and the Queen 'y Hull, [Edinburgh on Thurs l6.
unm- Ringing the changes
Bethan Cole probes the elusive secret that is Loop Guru.
‘Our music has an organic development all ofits own that. really. we don't have much to do with. We tweak it. put effects over it. steer it and guide it. It‘s exciting for us — we start off with the idea of writing a dub track and come out with a two-hour ambient piece. We‘re like parents with a wayward child.’
Salman Gita (Sam to his friends) is explaining the spiritual. sample—delic and utterly individual sound of Loop Guru. Like Nation labelrnates Trans Global Underground. they‘ve managed to incorporate the mysticism of Eastern religion and the conceptualism of contemporary classical into their own accessible. danceable and sweetly melodic medium. Their tracks may be untamed meditations that contort and mutate. ﬂowing tracts of evocative aural texture. but they share a subtle poppy sensibility with Trans Global. enabling them to gain fans in techno. ambient. indie and avant-garde circles.
‘l see us as misﬁts.’ concurs Sam. ‘We're a little bit maverick. i don‘t see where we ﬁt in at all. We don‘t really ﬁt in the dance world. we don‘t really ﬁt in the indie world. we're like this weird headspace of people who are after something different.‘
Jamuud and Sam. the two main players in Loop Guru. met ‘over ten
years ago at a l‘urmture gig'. Like The Drum Club and many of the other main players on the Megadog ambient and techno circuit. they are both ex-punks. Yet Loop Guru go back further than most.
‘When Jamuud and l met ten years ago. we both found we had a shared interest in non—Western music.‘ Sam. ‘We started working with things like tape loops because we couldn‘t afford a sampler -— in those days. they cost 130.000 -- and that‘s how Loop Guru was formed.‘
Ten years later. their W94 debut album. Dnniyu. condensed this decade's-worth of experience into a gloriously enriching selection of travelogues (‘llynm'. ‘Bangdad‘) and soundscapes (‘The Third Chamber").
loopy toons: loop Guru prepare to alter your state at consciousness
Look at the credits and they reveal the use of wilfully obscure objects and textures to create sound: lentils. _ Sellotape loops. wine glasses. no sound
. is too domestic or mundane to populate
their aural environment.
‘We do tend to go off the handle a bit and create our own universe of ideas.‘ says Sam. Liye. percussion comes to the fore and three drummers help keep the dancelloor packed. ‘lt‘s orientated towards the audience getting offtheir tits and dancing.‘
Spiritual. physical and totally unique: Loop Guru fulfil all the requirements a modern clubbcr could possibly wish for.
l.()()/) (iurn play The .-ln'hes. (i/ux‘emi' ()Il Sn! IX and The li'nrn'. lir/in/nu‘g/z (in Sun /‘).
Wayne Krantz arrived in Scotland as something of an unknown quantity when Assembly Direct teatured the guitarist’s trio on a double bill with Tommy Smith’s Forward Motion last year. The group, which features Lincoln Boines on live-string bass guitar and Zach Danziger on drums, made a very favourable impression with an original take on iau-fusion which circumvented the clichés ot the power trio with real assurance and conviction.
‘A lot of the music is composed, almost soloistic guitar-playing that includes melody, bass and rhythm simultaneously. I took that approach initially, and then expanded it to include music which also integrated bass and drums. One of the things I wanted to do was to skew the usual arrangement of melody, solo, melody, and to find a combination of ideas which wouldn’t make those lines so detlned.’
The Oregon-bom guitarist’s interest in jazz was sparked by a Barney Kessel record he found in his father’s
collection. He attended Berklee College in Boston, where he picked up his first important gig, with the 0 Sharp Group, and from there went on the road with Carla Bley. Subsequent employers included Leni Stern, Michael and Bandy Brecker, and Billy Cobham, but his main priority is tinding his own voice.
‘I have been influenced by a whole lot of guitar players, but each time I hear one of them, I think — great,
Wayne Krantz: finding his voice
that’s something else I don’t have to do. The immediate goal for me is to develop my own music, but I believe that finding your own voice is really about limitation - it’s not a matter of trying to take on everything, it’s down to being something specific in as deep a way as you can. I feel what I’m doing now is exploring a sound which might be my own.’ (Kenny Mathieson)
The Wayne Krantz Group play The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, on Fri 10.
38 The List l0-23 Mar I995