First solo release from vocalist, movement artist and composer Elaine Mitchener, whose work encompasses improvisation, contemporary music theatre and performance art. Solo Throat draws on the work of African-American and African-Caribbean poets Kamau Brathwaite, Aimé Césaire, Una Marson and N. H. Pritchard as source material for twelve new vocal compositions Elaine Mitchener is a veteran of vocal expression in the global Black Avant Garde, traversing free improvisation, cross-disciplinary music theatre and contemporary composition with clarity and joy. Most recently, Mitchener has been improvising and composing with the written word as source material - challenging classical ensembles with her piece (“the/e so/ou/nd be/t/ween”), and commissioning composers Matana Roberts, Jason Yarde and George Lewis to respond to the work of Sylvia Wynter (“On Being Human as Praxis”, Donaueschinger Musiktage, 2020). Her performance of Umbra poet N.H Pritchard’s text FR/OG at OTO in 2021 was a revelation - a solo vocal recasting of the powerful visual-material form that Pritchard uses to disrupt semantic ‘sense’. Building on this performance, Solo Throat takes the work of Pritchard alongside poets Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Aimé Césaire and Una Marson as its source material. Its compositions are a loose translation - a carrying from text to voice which holds multiplicity and celebrates the transformative power of literary possibility. Surrendered to the spacing and repetition of consonants and vowels, Michener’s exceptional phonetic freedom gives rise to a sensuous experience which intensifies the roles of rhythm, timbre and breath in expressing meaning. Solo Throat comes together as much through difference as similarity. Mitchener’s own solo improvisations sit alongside the work of Brathwaite, Césaire, Marson and Pritchard, forming a constellation of unlikely alignments which make no aesthetic conclusion. Instead, Solo Throat is a site of encounter, a plural de-composition of words into an assemblage of sounds and impulses, emphasising what Anthony Reed calls, “the play on and the surplus of margins of lyrical translation to resituate other pathways of expression”. Just as the poets cited use white space to complicate our act of reading, so Mitchener utilises silence and multiphonics to complicate the act of voicing and the way we listen. — Elaine Mitchener is a British Afro-Caribbean vocalist, movement artist and composer working between contemporary/experimental new music, free improvisation and visual art. She is currently a Wigmore Hall Associate Artist; was a DAAD Artist-in-Berlin Fellow (2022) and was an exhibiting artist in the British Art Show 9 (2021-22). In February 2022 Mitchener was awarded an MBE for Services to Music. Her regular collaborators include: composers George E Lewis, Jennifer Walshe, and Tansy Davies; visual artists Sonia Boyce, Christian Marclay and The Otolith Group; chamber ensembles Apartment House, London Sinfonietta, Ensemble MAM, Ensemble Klang, and Klangforum Wien; choreographer Dam van Huynh’s company; and experimental musicians such as Moor Mother, Loré Lixenberg, Pat Thomas, Jason Yarde, Neil Charles and David Toop. — Recorded and engineered by Sean Woodlock at Hackney Road StudiosMastered by Sean McCannLayout by Jeroen WilleAll music and artwork by Elaine Mitchener

Solo Throat – Elaine Mitchener

The emergence of the popular music industry in the early twentieth century not only drove a wedge between music production and consumption, it also underscored a wider separation of labor from leisure and of the workplace from the domestic sphere. These were changes characteristic of an industrial society where pleasure was to be sought outside of work, but these categories have grown increasingly porous today. As the working day extends into the home or becomes indistinguishable from leisure time, so the role and meaning of music in everyday life changes too. In arguing that the experience of popular music is partly conditioned by its segregation from work and its restriction to the time and space of leisure—the evening, the weekend, the dancehall—Take This Hammer shows how changes to work as it grows increasingly precarious, part-time, and temporary in recent decades, are related to transformations in popular music. Connecting contemporary changes in work and the economy to tendencies in popular music, Take This Hammer shows how song-form has both reflected developments in contemporary capitalism while also intimating a horizon beyond it. From online streaming and the extension of the working day to gentrification, unemployment and the emergence of trap rap, from ecological crisis and field recording to automation and trends in dance music, by exploring the intersections of work and song in the current era, not only do we gain a new understanding of contemporary musical culture, we also see how music might gesture towards a horizon beyond the alienating experience of work in capitalism itself.

Take this hammer - Work, Song, Crisis – Paul Rekret

Amazing deadstock find of this rucial document of the late 70's / early 80s Czech avant-garde scene, privately issued by Black Point in 1991 Amalgam 1978-1981 features the recordings of a series of concerts of this project led by the Czech drummer and percussionist Vlastimil Marek, along with a variety of guests that range from renowned Czech progressive rock musicians and ethnomusicologists active in the country’s underground scene to a rare participation at that time of an international guest like Mohan Lal. The recording on the A-side of the tape stems from Amalgam’s participation at the Prague Jazz Days festival held at the Lucerna concert hall on the 19th may 1978. The occasion brought together Marek’s orientally inclined percussive music with the members of the progressive rock band Švehlík, which included Pavel Richter, Luboš Fidler and Alexandr Hajdovský along with the participation of the Indian tabla player Mohan Lal, one of the first foreign guests to play the festival. This first part depicts the inclination towards non-western musical traditions, in this case by Marek and its fusion with avant-garde rock bands like Švehlík, a style at that time already popularized in "the West" by musicians like John McLaughlin or bands like Tri Atma and Embryo for example. In a sense, such music is representative of a legacy of occidental musicians prone to experiment with oriental modes and percussion in order to escape from the constraining aspects of western music towards free and varied forms of music incorporating a clear tendency towards improvisation. The first half of the B-side was recorded at the sports hall Na Folimance in Prague a year later featuring Czech music-ethnologist and multi-instrumentalist Jiří Mazánekon on acoustic guitar and voice, and Milan Valenta on the violin. The second half was recorded at Baráčnická Rychta also in Prague and the liner notes only name Vlastimil Marek’s use of tapes and percussion along the participation of a series of unknown guests. While working on his solo percussion projects, Marek has also played with well known rock in opposition bands like MCH Band, Švehlík and Extempore, all of which have included Pavel Richter as a member. In this sense we may appreciate the diverse network of musicians of different genres which participated in the country’s underground scene, resulting in the creation of a fertile terrain for the development of non-conventional approaches towards a free music conception despite the ungoing political repression of the country at that time. The first side of this tape was released as the second half of the CD Švehlík & Amalgam – Lucerna 19. Května 1978 in 2017 by Galén, a book publisher and record label from Prague.  By Juan Vacas

1978-1981 – Amalgam

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