SCOTTISH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA Younger Hall, St Andrew's, Thu 19 Apr; Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 20 Apr.
The Arctic wasteland, a Swedish orchesta, a German monster, a Glaswegian author and a composer from Stirling may seem like unlikely bedfellows, but in actuality they’ve all come together beautifully. Working from reverse, the composer in question is one of our most prolific contemporary creators, Sally Beamish; the author Janice Galloway (she of The Trick Is To Keep Breathing tame); the monster, that legendary bolt-necked fiend Frankenstein; and the orchestra, the 800’s Scandinavian counterpart, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra. Beamish is the common denomenator, having first collaborated with Galloway back in 1996 on a special commission for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The original premise had been to pair up artists working in different mediums, with Beamish and Galloway focussing on Mary Shelley’s astounding 19th century work of gothic fiction, Frankenstein. The resulting piece, Monster, opened with a musical depiction of a cold, bleak landscape, similar to the one Dr
Andrews and Edinburgh. It’s also hoped that a full- Iength opera based on Mary Shelley’s life will be completed by Beamish and Galloway in the near future. Which just leaves the Swedish connection. Beamish has been composer- in-residence with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra for the past three years, in a successful exchange programme which sees their in-house composer, Karin Rehnqvist, produce work for our SCO. Something both women have found inspirational: ‘We’ve been quite strongly influenced by each other,’ says Beamish. ‘For example the first
‘l’ve tried. to create sounds which the ear 9,809 . didforme ,esidency, the dOeSn t Immediately relate t0 a particular Saxophone Concerto, starts with a
Frankenstein crosses during the final confrontation with his creation. A melange of disembodied sounds and echoes, the opening has since grown into a fully fledged piece entitled Whitescape, which will receive its UK premiere in lnverness next week, prior to performances in St
ROCKPOP STEPHEN MALKMUS
Swedish herding call, which Karin introduced me to. I always stay with her when I go to Stockholm and we’ve spent a lot of time playing each other our favourite bits of music from our own country.’ Whitescape is the second piece Beamish has created for the joint residency, so it was the Swedes who had the pleasure of hearing the
Arch collaborator Sally Beamish
work first when it premiered there recently — although there was some confusion. Beamish explains: ’The idea of Frankenstein came to Mary Shelley in what she called ‘a waking dream’, so I focused on the dreamlike aspect of the book. It’s slightly spooky and sinister and I’ve tried to create sounds which the ear doesn’t immediately relate to a particular instrument. In fact, when it premiered in Sweden, the players were turning round all the time to see where the noises were coming from, which was quite fun.’
notoriety. Young departed in GHAﬂAIAN MUSIC FEST|VAL
Garage, Glasgow, Sun 15 Apr.
Swedes and reggae not necessary
Pavement might have occasionally worn lumberjack shirts but when grunge was at its furious and somewhat tedious heights in the early 90s. Stephen Malkmus's lo-fi heroes proxided one of the few alternatives. proving along the way that. yes. Americans did have a sense of humOur. Pavement never enjoyed much success in their home c0untry. where their highest chait placmg was number 70 ‘hit' ‘Brighten the Corners'. In Britain, their wry lyricism and mix of absurdly catchy melodies and wistful contemplation saw them achieve rather more success. while the bizarre antics of middle-aged hippie drummer Gary Young could hardly help but gain them a certain kind of
1994, but not before executing numerous on—stage handstands and giving free shots of vodka to bemused punters outside an early gig at the Cathouse.
The band survived the loss. and the notoriously fickle attentions of a post-‘Country House' Damon Albarn. before being finally finished by the curse of solo ambition. But Malkmus. always the band‘s main songwriter, looks like he could come up smiling. This year‘s debut was originally called Dear Mom, Send Money (rejected for being ‘too Zappa'). then was briefly entitled Swedish Reggae (‘too Beck'). before finally ending up as Stephen Ma/knius.
But 'too Stephen Malkmus‘ it ain't. When brilliant hooks are thrown away mid-song like an afterthought you know you're either dealing with a very good album or a very wasteful one. This one is closer to the former. and is quirky rather than wacky. combining sparkle and elegance in a manner that is endearingly left-field.
Malkmus's upcoming tour dates will give the new songs a chance to test their mettle against the prodigal swagger of any old Pavement numbers that work their way into the set. And you never know — they might just come off best. (James Smart)
Various venues, Edinburgh, Thu 12-Sat 15 Apr.
The millennium is still with us. On The Line — an idea of Channel 4's John Snow, and supported by the Millennium Commission - is sponsoring an ambitious Easter programme of music (including Hi-Life band Ehetse. Makossa. Sufri drummers and Sri Bah Alba). dance. drama. st0rytelling, film. art exhibitions and workshops to bring a taste of Ghana's culture to Scotland.
The ‘Line' is the Meridian. which runs down through GreenWich, the Iberian Peninsula. North West Africa and then over the ocean — to Antarctica. So we share the same time. if not the same high temperatures. as our brothers and sisters in the former British colony of Ghana. Meltdown in the Liquid Room is likely. though, when tranceltic aCld crofters Shooglenifty add the thunder of a Ghanaian percussion section to their already deep-delving grooves.
The drummers. part of the Ambrempon Cultural Group are here to create an African Village on the Meadows. complete with straw huts. where you can learn to dance. beat drums and even have your fortune told! A famin day on Easter Sunday will have Ghanaian food. You can also get a taste of the Festival at the opening ceremony at the Bedlam Theatre.
Richard Lace. one of the student organisers of this multi-faceted event, talked about a central part — the Stories In Harmony project: ‘We created it in Ghana with four actors from the UniverSIty of Legon and fOur from Edinburgh University Theatre Company. It's about communication. or the difficulties in communication. It‘s a devised piece — a Western idea that they were not used to. What we took was mainly directorial technique and production style — they brought much more traditional material. They have such rich traditions of stOry. song. dance and ritual. But we‘ve got some Welsh and English folk songs in there too. It was intense. and difficult — the red tape especially — but the result is powerful. We got the impression that they are not new to European links — they're used to people coming and taking things away. So they really want to come here to be themselves. Really do the business.‘ (Norman Chalmersi
Dancing to a hybrid beat
12—26 Apr 2001 THE LIST 47