nedjelja, 17. studenoga 2013.

Oliver Coates - Towards the Blessed Islands (2013)


Prostor je rezonator. 
Snimanje mozga fraktalnim violončelom.

The room is the resonator, the first track on this collection of Oliver Coates cello performances, might be a good alternative title to the whole collection, which explores the range of the instrument – from drawn out layers, to passages of gently echoing plucks – across different spaces; the imaginary space of temporally shifted collage – performance with field recordings; the concert stage, complete with applause; the space of headphones or hi-fi speakers – a good pair of either will reveal more details, and more space across every performance here.
The album – a collection of contemporary cello pieces alongside readings of Xenakis and Squarepusher pieces – proceeds at its own pace; the pieces here are drawn out, they use silence, dynamic volume shifts to describe space, and the limits of the cello – tuned differently, releasing sympathetic resonances, scraped, overlapped by distortion, spun into howls by the swirling textures of de Wardener’s Cello & Whirlies. This particular piece is quite astonishingly realised – overtones swarm as the two instruments dance around each other, drawing filigrees of colour from the space; recorded as is much of the album, in the outside, architectural, lived world.
The presence of a Squarepusher piece should come as no surprise, given Coates’ links with contemporary electronic music (for example his work with Mira Calix collected on the Warp album The Elephant In The Room), and while ‘contemporary classical’ readings of electronic music often come off as po-faced exercises, Coates’ version of Tommib Help Buss is a chamber musical piece of perfection, especially as it tears immediately afterwards into a ferocious take on Xenakis’ Kottos, with its planet sized chunks of sound alternating with tonally rich passages.
From the concert hall to the close mic’ed – Riamondas Rumsas is a cycling series of warm chords, apparently going nowhere; closer listening reveals ringing complimentary tones with a gentle rise and fall, the cello breathing. Flighty piano ripples (a sample of a Chopin recording that sounds like drowning) accompany the cello in of the Larry Goves piece The clouds flew round with the clouds – played with a curved bow, tuned downwards, this is Coates’ instrument at its most earthy.
Another Day – a simple, stark version of the Roy harper/This Mortal Coil closes the album; almost too light to feel fixed – appropriate given its recording location on the edges of Norway and Scotland – a short and sweet way to return to the start.
The room is the resonator, the David Fennessy piece that opens the disc, perhaps still sums up everything that is special about this album – sedately peddled harmonium, arcing leaps across the strings, and the gentle hum of subway tunnels. A deep breath, or long sigh of a piece, a twelve minute love song to reverberating spaces and the cello.
Towards the Blessed Islands is a rich, beguiling, beautiful record that will reward repeated listens. It also points to fertile ground; to how an album of contemporary repertoire should be assembled – at the meeting point of academic composition and modernist sounds, recorded with real heart. - John Boursnell


Having been involved in countless collaborations and projects in recent years, among them working with Chris Watson at Aldeburgh Music's PLACE weekend, taking up his place as the Southbank's artist in residence and performing Steve Reich's Music For 18 Musicians with the man himself, cellist Oliver Coates is now releasing his debut album.

It's called Towards the blessed islands and will be released on November 25 via PRAH Recordings, a new label set up by Stephen Bass, one of Moshi Moshi Records' founders. Bass says the label is a chance "to allow a completely free and open release schedule that can encompass anything from contemporary classical and experimental to soundtrack recordings, spoken word and re-issues", and Coates' first solo LP seems to fit the bill perfectly there. It features a mixture of covers - Squarepusher and Roy Harper/This Mortal Coil - along with Coates' interpretations of work by 20th-century and current composers. - Laurie Tuffrey

Crystals are Always Forming [SLP002] - Oliver Coates & Leo Abrahams. October 8th.

Oliver Coates & Leo Abrahams, Crystals are Always Forming, (2012)

A couple of months ago, a handmade CD was posted to Dummy, with a press release and a note written in fountain pen on very nice paper asking us to play the album. Dutifully, we did, and we’re glad – it’s one of most outstanding pieces of ambient sound-design or modern classical or whatever we’re calling this movement of smart, beautiful music released this year. Played by Oliver Coates, the Southbank Centre’s artist in residence, lead cellist with the LSO and Mica Levi collaborator and arranged by Leo Abrahams, a pretty serious guitarist who has written music for Steve Mcqueen’s ‘Hunger’, collaborated with Brian Eno and released seven solo albums. We’re playing it exclusively below, underneath quotes fromt he two artists involved, and it’s one of the best albums released this year, honestly.
“There was a process governing this record. A tiny sound, frozen, becomes prismatic – this metaphor was useful: the properties of a single complex sound (as if crystalline) extrapolate in every direction. Once this was established as our basic unit, we generated a set of “absent narratives”. The space and stasis are themselves framed, so that meaning might be activated by the listener.” - Oliver Coates
“Despite being a guitarist, I took a non-performing role – directing Oliver Coates in initial improvisations, and developing and arranging the material that resulted. All the raw material was recorded in a day, and then worked on gradually and sporadically over the following year. This time ratio informs the structure of the pieces themselves, reflecting compositional preoccupations with economy and austerity. Much of the manipulation and automation was done live, so there is a gestural, human quality to many of the treatments. Only the loosest forms are employed and the ear is the ultimate arbiter of structure. They are meditative but tense – static but restless.” - Leo Abrahams -

Oliver Coates plays the cello and is in demand throughout the UK and internationally. This year as a solo artist he has performed in China, Russia, Brazil and across Europe.
His arrangement of the Boards of Canada track “In a Beautiful Place out in the Country” was produced with Mira Calix and released on the Warp 20th anniversary box set to wide acclaim. He followed this with an album of drones and micro electronic sounds with Leo Abrahams, called Crystals are Always Forming. His first full-length solo album Towards the blessed islands is released on 12-inch vinyl, CD and download, 9/12/13 on PRAH records. The album is the first release on an imprint dedicated to abstract contemporary and experimental music from Stephen Bass, head of Moshi Moshi records.
Oliver is known for his collaborations with some of the leading musicians of our time in all genres. He has performed Music for 18 Musicians with Steve Reich. He has worked on Jonny Greenwood’s music, featuring on the soundtrack to The Master as well as performing the string concerto Doghouse. He is one of the few musicians to have played live with the rapper DOOM. He is a frequent collaborator with Micachu, both live and in recording, having established the collaboration Chopped & Screwed with the London Sinfonietta. Oliver's harmonics and textures can be heard throughout the film Under the Skin, soundtrack by Micachu. He has worked with drummer Sebastian Rochford and on a variety of projects, both free improvising and set music in the studio. Earlier in his career, Oliver was involved in tv and film projects with Goldie, Massive Attack and Sigur Rós.
He has worked with many of the great modern composers, including Helmut Lachenmann, Jonathan Harvey, Kaija Saariaho, Sofia Gubaidulina, David Lang, and Thomas Adès. Many of the leading young composers have written music for him, including David Fennessy, Andrew Hamilton, Emily Hall, Anna Meredith and Larry Goves.
His awards include the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award 2011 and he is an Artist in Residence at Southbank Centre, London. He curates Harmonic Series at Southbank Centre, which has featured early live shows by James Blake, Anna Meredith, Olivia Chaney, performance artists Dori Deng & Meta Drcar, music by Thomas Adès, Micachu, Alvin Lucier, films about Jackson Pollock and Agnes Martin.
More recently he has been exploring different approaches to space, architecture and music making. Earlier this year he made a project with the field recordist Chris Watson based on music by Britten and environmental sounds in Suffolk. He also built an installation called The Seafarer in the dark corridors around the Royal Festival Hall boiler room, using music by Messiaen and projecting old Anglo-Saxon poetry. With the London Contemporary Orchestra, he recently performed music from Stockhausen’s Klang in Roundhouse, London, dressed in Vivienne Westwood. He has also performed concertos with Aurora Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and the Neojiba Youth Orchestra of Bahia.

In addition to solo sets and recitals for festivals around the world Oliver performs as a principal cellist with many of the UK's leading orchestras. These include Aurora Orchestra, London Contemporary Orchestra and guest spots with London Sinfonietta, Britten Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.

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