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2011 28 Okt

Guy Sigsworth schreibt …

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Guy Sigsworth is a UK based composer, producer and songwriter.

In his career to date he has worked with many famous artists, including Seal, Björk, Goldie, Madonna, Britney Spears, Bebel Gilberto, Stina Nordenstam and Alanis Morissette.

He has also collaboated with many celebrated instrumental musicians, including Talvin Singh, Jon Hassell and Lester Bowie. He was previously a member of the band Frou Frou together with Imogen Heap. Unforgettable our breakfast and evening conversations in Kristiansand!


Hello Michael

I’m hidden away in Essex, working for a month at Imogen Heap’s house while she’s away in China!

I want to listen to all the music you list that I’ve never heard of. I’ll try and make time soon.

Wonderful to notice you’ve included Anton Karas’s music for The Third Man.

I’m listening to Balam Acab „Wander / Wonder“. It’s really good.

I’d previously heard his „See Birds“ EP. Back then he was being grouped together with bands like „oOoOO“, as part of the Witch House scene. Have you heard any Witch House? The hallmarks of the style are Goth imagery, distorted synths, 808 drum machines, slow tempos, and the influence of chopped and screwed Houston hip hop.

All this is irrelevant, because his debut album definitely isn’t Witch House any more. At times it reminds me of Stephan Betke’s first three „Pole“ albums, at times Murcof (especially the use of classical samples). Maybe it’s like „Burial goes to the countryside“. Tell me what you think…

I’v also been listening to Zomby’s „Dedication“. It’s intermittently great. „Natalia’s Song“ (which samples a Ukrainian pop singer), „Florence“ and „Haunted“ are great; „Things Fall Apart“ (featuring Panda Bear) is quite good; the rest of the album hasn’t stuck with me.

I’m thinking a lot about the synthesiser. The synth is now a historical instrument just as much as the lute or the viola da gamba. It’s interesting that people like David Sylvian – who grew up when synth was the new energetic instrument of the moment – almost never uses synth now. I’m guessing it feels too old-fashioned to him.

In the early 80s, Japan famously parted with their guitarist, because there just weren’t enough guitar parts for him to play any more. The musical action was all in the synths. In those days it seemed like everyone needed a synth just to sound correctly tuned into modern hearing. Even the white rock records of the 80s – by ZZ Top, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Van Halen – feature prominent synths. ZZ Top’s „Afterburner“ (1985) is basically a hybrid of blues-rock and Donna Summer era Giorgio Moroder.

In the 90s – when I started to have a music career – something changed. If your song featured a synth prominently, it meant you were a dance act. Rock bands consciously dropped synths (and keyboards more generally, though hammond organs and pianos were tolerated). There were no keyboards in Grunge.

In styles where synths were still important, the main energy moved from synths to samplers – which were the basis of most US hip hop, UK drum’n’bass etc. The first Prodigy album (1992) has plenty of cool synths, but it’s the speeded up break beats and chopped up vocal samples you really notice.

In the noughties synths have made a comeback. There are many reasons for this. There’s 80s revivalism, hip hop’s embrace of European dance music and the cheap availability of soft synths. Dubstep is the musical style of the moment, and the first in a long time to use synths in a fundamentally new way. (You really can’t make dubstep with an old analog synth. You need something like Native Instruments‘ „Massive“ wavetable synth, with tempo sync’d LFOs.)

One of the most fascinating things about working with younger musicians is noticing how they creatively mis-hear the music of a past they never knew. So the music which inspires the most interesting current synth artists isn’t what synth connoisseurs who are old enough to remember the 80s would probably choose. These new artists love Giorgio Moroder, for instance, but not his 70s European Donna Summer classics. It’s his decadent LA Top Gun soundtrack that’s inspiring people.

Have you heard „A Real Hero“ by College? It’s featured in the new Ryan Gosling movie, „Drive“. That song – and the accompanying score by Cliff Martinez – references that mid-80s Californian Moroder. There’s a great Chillwave artist called „Washed Out“, and he seems more influenced by Boy Meets Girl’s „Waiting For A Star To Fall“ than by, say, Japan.

The king of all this is M83: a Frenchman, Anthony Gonzalez, just turned 30, who seems to live in an imaginary America of John Hughes movies. The ghost of Molly Ringwald seems to haunt his songs. His new album, „Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming“ is great, by the way.

There’s an emotional reinterpretation going on here. The 80s American pop they reference is hedonistic and „up“. But the new music feels sad and yearning. The new music is like a protest at what the 80s didn’t deliver…

Have to get back to work…



(Molly Ringwald, in „The Breakfast Club“)

1) Sidsel Endresen / Jan Bang / Erik Honore

Alpha-Room: 20 minutes of magic. Jan Bang sampling solo-clarinet and solo-violin-snippets from a performance of Daj Fjikura´s new chamber music. This tradition of New Classcial Musical leaves me stone-cold, but I love listening to tiny parts of it when Bang transforms them into his special universe. Listening to the sound waves of Erik Honore, a silent, but very awake mind, is a pleasure in itself, he´s the guy who seems to find a form for every clash of sources. Sidsel´s singing is a constant revelation. Radical in its departure from conventional jazz singing, for sure! But, after a while (if you are not part of a Diana Krall fan club), you´ll forget to put her voice into a „school of music“ and end up in the pure bliss of inventive sound. A voice of deep soul, full of surprises. And a very refined approach to rhythm.

2) Marilyn Mazur / Jan Bang / Per Jorgensen

Per Jorgensen doesn´t belong to the young guys anymore. But he´s still (don´t ask me why) a well-kept secret. A fantastic trumpet player, and a great singer. I remember his contributions to „Ice Music“of Terje Isungset, or „Psalms and Folk Songs“, a Cd of Markku Ounaskari and Samuli Mikkonen (on ECM). Now he was freely improvising with Jan Bang and Danish perussionist Marilyn Mazur. 45 minutes of sound searching, with a lot of things to discover on the way. Time flew. Jan Bang mirroring and transforming some percussive overtones, and it was like a natrural extension of the sound. Marilyn was having fun, acting intuitively. Sometimes she seemed to smile when listening to the serene and surreal singing of Per. A music of high dynamics, subtle events and playful passion. Manfred Eicher should listen to the tapes and invite them to Oslo´s Rainbow studio some time in the future.

3) Arve Henriksens „Special Edition Cartograhy Concert“

Without words. Just buy „Cartography“ (ECM Records; on CD or high quality vinyl!)

rehearsal passage:

Foto © Christoph Giese





4) Guy Sigsworth w/ Nils Petter Molvaer

Alpha-Room: Molvaer came with a helicopter. He had a gig the night before at the Munch Museum. No long time for preparations. But producer/musician Guy Sigsworth and his creative assistent were well prepared. It started with some classical sounds, like a grown up´s memory to listenng to some Bach music on a strange children´s birthday party. It takes a while till Nils Petter seems to find a key for the music. Guy has a lot of humour: suddenly we are confronted with a sample of a Justin Bieber song. Is anyone in the mood for Saturday Night Fever? Punkt avantgarde turning disco? Guy´s playing tricks, and he plays them well. After a while (and some rippy rappy pop moments), Guy´s creating spaces for the flow of soft trumpet lines. Nils Petter does not turn into wild gestures, does not compete with the loudness of the pop samples. Melancholia and sheer exuberance go hand in hand. Every once in a while Guy returns to playful rhythms, small melodies. At the end: laughter, good vibes, and a big applause. Punkt people have humour, too. (And, well, Nils Petter can go wild: listen to his forthcoming album; a German Metal Music Magazine recommends it highly:))

5) The Invention of the Beta-Room

For the first time, there is a special room, with the flair of an old French cinema. You´re sitting there, watching the live-remixes on screen that are taking place simultaneously. It has a documentary feeling, old nouvelle vague like (the school of  Jacques Rivette). Here I saw, among other remixes, the final live-remix of the 7th Punkt Festival. Marilyn Mazur, this time working with a small drum kit, Nils Petter Molvaer playing Nils Petter Molvaer and, at the same time, suggesting some Miles Davis Bitches Brew-moments. Jan Bang, Erik Honore, Eivind Aarset, the usual suspects. An old vanishing word came to my mind that only makes sense in the Thomas Pynchon  novel „Inherent Vice“ – and in the very, very relaxed moments of Punkt (when the music has the flair of an after hours party); the word is „groovy“. Blame this on the Beta Room; it has a 1968 vibe.

2011 2 Sep

Guy Sigsworth and some simple magic

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Guy Sigsworth ist ein sympathischer Zeitgenosse. Musiker und Produzent.
Er arbeitete mit Madonna, Björk, Alanis Morrissette, Britney Spears, Jon Hassell, Stina Nordenstam und und und. Eine interessante Mischung. Avantgarde, Mainstream, die spannenden Räume dazwischen. Beim Punktfestival wird er mit Nils Petter Molvaer auftrteten, und wenn nicht alles täuscht, ein Sample von, sic!, Justin Bieber einschleusen ins progressive Klanggeschehen. Ein völlig unprätentiöser, uneingebildeter Mensch. Beim Frühstück plauderten wir über Björks Flamencostück, die Fallen der Avantgarde, wie unsere Wahrnehmung von Musik von den Orten verwandelt wird, an denen wir sie hören. Es ging kreuz und quer, und es war witzig. Wir sprachen auch über den Zauber, den gewisse scheinbar ultrasimple Songs haben können. Als Beispiel führte er GAY BOY von FARAH an. Ein junges Mädchen versucht einen schwulen Jungen umzudrehen, mit allen Tricks und Fantasien. Es gelingt ihr natürlich nicht. Das Lied ist tatsächlich endlos charmant, und tief anrührend, aller Naivität zum Trotz.

„Gay Boy“ – Farah (YouTube)

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