From art house to deep house
ELECTRONICA POP GUS GU King Tut’s, Glasgow, Thu 23 Jan
It must be something in the water. Icelanders seem to have an uninhibited, almost fevered attitude to making music.
Without wishing to wind up over a quarter of a million people into one homogenised stereotype, Gus Gus are only one outfit in a long, wobbling procession of highly innovative, slightly wayward musical pilots from the Sugarcubes and their progeny Bjork through Bellatrix and Mum to Sigur Ros, who have sprung from the volcanic isle.
Gus Gus slunk up on an unsuspecting public in 1997, a bulging, nine-piece art collective, focussed around the genesis of a short film by Stefan Arni and Siggi Kjarnston (Gus Gus being the umbrella moniker for their ‘mutual love of music, visual art and general hedonistic pissing about’). They launched Polydistortion upon an unsuspecting public through the artsiest of indie labels, 4AD. It
was a smouldering, slow burner of a record, all clicky beats patched to understated pop swoops. A second album appeared in 1999, This is Normal, by which time Emillana Torrini left to enjoy muted, if lauded solo success. They were subsequently stripped down to a trio, then bolstered back up to a quartet with the recruitment of vocalist Earth. The remaining members, led by self-confessed big chief Stephan Stephenson aka President Bongo, constructed 2002’s Attention.
it was the band’s meeting with former Underworld knob twiddler turned solo flier Darren Emerson that sealed their fate. Emerson heard tracks from Attention and agreed to release it on his burgeoning imprint Underwater. Not such a surprise perhaps, when you consider Gus Gus have all but abandoned their art collective roots - the album is bubbling with unselfconscious, four-to-the-floor teasers, the most upfront of which is new single ‘David’. Whether said Dave is Icke, Cassidy or Michelangelo's but whatever the case, he’s not afraid to get on the floor for a skank. With hired hands like King Britt and the aforementioned Mr Emerson to tweak things even more for the dancefloor, perhaps it would appear that Gus Gus’ transformation from art house to deep house is now complete. Well not quite. Stephenson assures us there remains at least one theme familiar from before. ‘Just like they did when they listened to our previous albums, when they hear it, people can expect to smile.’ (Mark Robertson)
LINCOLN CENTER JAZZ ORCHESTRA Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 18 Jan
The Scottish debut of Wynton Marsalis’ famous and occasionally controversial Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra also marks the launch of a trio of big-name jazz concerts at the Usher Hall, with Wayne Shorter's brilliant Quartet here in March and Dave Brubeck visiting in April.
With Assembly Direct concentrating on developing Henry's and the jazz festival, it is some time since artists of that magnitude were presented in Edinburgh other than in a festival context. Karl Chapman, the director of the venue. once worked for Assembly Direct and presumably knows the risks involved in trying to fill that gap.
The LCJO should launch proceedings in style. As their name suggests, they are associated with the famous New York cultural venue of that name. and specialise in jazz repertory programmes featuring the music of past greats like Ellington, Mingus, Coltrane and Blakey, all of
whom will be featured in the Edinburgh programme.
Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis is the leader and guiding light behind the band. As such, he is a frequent target for criticism, and has been lambasted in recent times for everything from his choice of repertoire — too conservative — to his employment practices — not enough women, or white players come to that.
One notable exception to that last claim is Fife-born baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley. a
Marsalls thinks BIG
long-standing member of the orchestra who first moved to New York in 1965.
‘Trying to break in was murder,’ he remembered. ‘If I had known how hard it would be, I might not have gone. I found there was a considerable difference in the general approach to the business of being a professional musician, and I think that is still true. Fortunately. acceptance in New York is dependent on ability, not where you come from.’
DUNEDIN CONSOR‘I’ University Chapel, Glasgow Thu 16 Jan; Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, Fri 17 Jan
From his mighty victory at the Battle of Bannockburn to his conversation with a spider in a cave in the hills of Galloway, Robert the Bruce is rooted in the Scottish psyche as a hero. In a programme of readings and music specially devised by Scottish scholar Dr Jamie Reid Baxter. in Death of a Hero-King: Robert the Bruce the Dunedin Consort present an unashamedly proud celebration. “The idea behind it is to commemorate Bruce from two points of view,‘ explains Baxter. 'Firstly, Bruce as the hero-king and secondly, Bruce as the penitent sinner, as a human being.“
It was William Wallace's death that led to Bruce's claim to the Scottish throne. To achieve it, he murdered his rival by stabbing him from the high altar at Greyfriars Church in Dumfries. It is Bruce's own death, however, that provides the framework for the Dunedin's programme. ‘It is set in the context of the plainsong of the Requiem mass, including the Procession, which is being done by candlelight,‘ explains Baxter. Bruce died relatively young and was unable
The orginal spider man Robert to fulfil his vow to fight in the Crusades. ‘He had ordered that his embalmed heart should be sent on crusade.‘ explains Baxter, ‘but Black Douglas. who had charge of it. was killed fighting the Moors. So there is music from Spain — two very impressive motets by Morales and Victoria — as well as music about St Andrew and the Scottish wars of independence.’ says Baxter.
Contemporary music features too. 'We are giving a 75th birthday tribute to Ronald Stevenson with his Medieval Scottish Tryptych,’ says Baxter, 'and we finish with an eight part setting by Ben Parry of Edwin Muir’s poem “Robert the Bruce to the Black Douglas'.’ As Parry, conductor and co-founder of the Consort. prepares to move his career south, it is a fitting closing tribute in more ways than one. (Carol Main)
16-30 Jan 2003 THI LIST 41