The Flux Festival's I musical inspiration ranges from the orchestra pit to the moshpit. Collaborating with the Steve Martland Band,.SPlRITUALIZED's Jason Pierce gives classical music a shot in the arm. Words: Fiona Shepherd
IMAGINE PAVAROTTI SHOOTING UP AT THE Chelsea. or Beethoven stage—diving at Barrowlands. Ilard to visualise isn‘t it'.’ Let‘s face it classical music and art—noise terrorism just don‘t mix. lixcept at the lilux l’estival in Iidinburgh during August.
l’lux set itself a challenging precedent last year with its flagship event in which composer Michael Nyman teamed up with lknnnsh hish popshns llu:l)hinc (\nnedyz lixpectations will be just as high this year when the classical and popular realms merge again as lilux opens with two concerts airing the results of a collaboration between aural space cadets Spirituali/cd and the Steve Martland Band.
The pairing was born following a concert tribute to composer l.a.\lontc Young at London‘s Barbican in which both parties were involved. Spiritualized were already no strangers to live orchestral collaborations. having Used at full orchestra at their Albert Hall show last year. a recording of which is currently being mixed for future release. In the studio. they have long proved their ability to integrate strings into the fabric of their sound. putting the ham-listed efforts of most other rock bands to shame. Where others tack on a string section or gospel choir
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'There's a link between gospel choirs and rock 'n’ roll, but not between counter-tenors and I'OCk 'n' roll.’ Jason Pierce
to lift the tedium or provide some false gravitas. Spiritualized supremo Jason Pierce has been responsible for some of the most fluid examples ofclassical instruments used in a rock setting.
Despite the resounding success of the Albert Hall concert. Pierce has no wish to retread that ground with Steve Martland. He has always sought fresh musical challenges. be it getting down with voodoo bluesman Dr John or playing the world‘s highest gig at the top of 'l‘oronto‘s (‘N Tower. In this way he expands the Spiritualized sound. a varied and distinctive cocktail of happy—sad. effortlessly epic space rock. Pierce will willingly draft in extra musicians to supplement the core band members but understands the pit- falls of ‘too many cooksi
‘l‘d love to get a big band together like Duke Ellington or Sun Ra. as long as they were all members of the one band.‘ he says. ‘But once you start getting people in like we did at the Albert Hall. it gets closer to cabaret in that you have to follow sheet music. It‘s almost like counting bars up to where the horns come in.
‘We did a piece with the London Chamber Orchestra for the LaMonte Young thing and that gave me a lot of ideas about how to work
with classical people. how to get them to improvise. Unless you write improvised pieces for them. it‘s very difficult to get them to play stuff off the top of their heads.‘
Pierce is not suggesting that the Flux concerts will feature improvisation. In fact. he says he ‘can‘t really say what it's going to sound like until we’ve gone through some kind of rehearsal. I stopped having very definite ideas of what I wanted things to sound like from the Pure Phase album on. The main aim is to do something that isn‘t going to sound like The Steve Martland Band and isn’t going to sound like Spritualized.‘
For a group who draw on such a diverse array of musical styles — blues, gospel, psychedelia. soul — it could be difﬁcult not to cover some previous ground. but working with four counter-tenors. as well as the more familiar strings and horn sections, does open new avenues.
‘Counter-tenor is one of the most beautiful male voices.‘ says Pierce. ‘lt’s a weird tone for a voice. It‘s stranger for me because it‘s getting even further away from rock ’n’ roll. There‘s a link between gospel choirs and rock ‘n’ roll. but there isn‘t really a link between" counter-tenors and rock ’n‘ roll.’ Until now.
Spiritualized/Steve Martland (Fringe) The Queen's Hall (Venue 72) 668 2019, 14 8: 15 Aug, 8pm, £12.50.