Sunday, 27 September 2015

Kris's magic Mimu gloves part 2 – In the Studio

It's been seven months since Kris Halpin and I had a chat about his gloves. Boy, have things ever moved on.

There's been a quite a burst of publicity lately about Mimu gloves. They're one of Imogen Heap's latest projects: hugely dramatic sci-fi things. Wave your hand - cymbals crash! Point - a horn section blasts out. Waggle your wrist - strings and keyboards obey, playing the melody you map out live... by waggling your fingers. It's thrilling. 

Heap is front and central in a range of tech-creative initiatives: you can catch videos of her gloved up to the max. She's very open source, collaborating globally. 

In Tamworth, musician and songwriter Kris Halpin is pushing glove tech to new heights, writing new software when needed, forging new configurations. It's quite something for Kris to be one of the first 15 selected to test the gloves, a serious feather in his cap. But the MiMu folk weren't quite expecting that with Kris. He got the gloves for a very specific reason.  

So it's time to see what's what Kris has been up to. This time, I'm recording.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Dub Qalandar - put this in your diary

Two cultures from ten thousand miles apart meet up in Birmingham, which just happens to be EXACTLY midway between. That's grounds for celebration.

Birmingham sits halfway between the centres of two of its most compelling and now deeply engrained cultures. Go five thousand miles one way, and you fetch up in the Caribbean. Go the same distance the other way? You're in Pakistan. 

Since the Second World War, cultures from both regions and elsewhere have been bumping up against each other, in inner city Birmingham suburbs... for seventy years. And now, beats and grooves are coming together, in a very deliberate, conscious way. 

This weekend Birmingham sees a Rugby World Cup games, thousands exploring a revamped New Street station and its shopping mall, and Birmingham Weekender, this year's Artsfest replacement. Add in relentless roadworks, and the city will be... challenging. But find your way to Symphony Hall on Sunday 27th, and you're in for a free but very valuable treat: Dub Qalandar. It's the headline show for all of the weekend. Conscious Dub grooves, and sacred Sufi songs coming together in Birmingham. Well, it's what we do.

Or, rather, it's what Mukhtar Dar and Simon Duggal do.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Sunday, 6 September 2015

In The Studio: Catherine Howe and Vo Fletcher

Music and conversation in the shadow of the Malvern Hills – a taste of a forthcoming audio project

Last week, on a bright late summer morning, the Malvern Hills shone invitingly in the sun. I'd headed out to meet up and record with Catherine Howe and Vo Fletcher

Vo is a stupendously fabulous guitarist; I've known him for at least forty years. Catherine Howe is someone I've known of for the same period of time, but we'd never met until now. Older hands may remember Catherine for a one-off hit in the 70s, 'Harry'. The two are now a performing duo, and have been for some ten years or so. Occasionally they are joined by Fairport stalwart Rick Sanders on fiddle, and Michael Gregory on drums. Sometimes Vo heads out with just Rick and Greg; it's that sort of flexible thing.

The plan was to do some recording: live, straight to stereo. With that we had a conversation for the blog. In due course, a lot more more material will emerge as a full-on radio show, part of a new series I'm working on. But readers of this blog are getting an early taste.