Elaine Mitchener

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. Elaine is founder of the collective electroacoustic unit The Rolling Calf (with Jason Yarde and Neil Charles). 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, Saul Williams, Pat Thomas and David Toop. While developing her own projects, Elaine continues to work as a collaborative and interpretive singer.

www.elainemitchener.com

Featured releases

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

Double CD documenting the magic meeting of one of the all-time great rhythm sections in jazz: percussionist Hamid Drake and bassist William Parker, with London’s brilliant Black Top (Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas) and Elaine Mitchener. Across two sets the quintet are infectiously energetic and inspired, striding from synchronised heavy groove to star bright solos, whilst incorporating dub effects, guimbri and sumptuous blues piano playing.  Formed by Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas but always realised with an ever changing number of invited musicians, Black Top's blend of lo-fi samples, dub effects and experimental electronics has been daring free improvisation since 2011. Their virtuoso performances draw on their Afro-Caribbean roots with delicious spontienty and humour; the histories of Ridley Road Market, the LIO and Islamic West Africa are sounded out side by side on iPad, marimba and vibraphone. Having met in 2006, Black Top played with bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake as part of their residency at Cafe OTO in 2016; forming a quartet grounded in transatlantic kinship but which looked outward to the Carribean, calypso music and Saharan gnawa rhythms. When Parker and Drake returned to OTO in 2019 Black Top reformed again, but this time with the brilliant addition of vocalist Elaine Mitchener.  Over the last few years the clarity with which Mitchener has explored vocal expression in the global Black Avant Garde has been stunning, but here the range in her influences is manifest, moving effortlessly between phonetic and poetic experimentation and spoken word, all the while at ease with soul soaked jazz and dissonant free fall. A hand drum duet with Hamid Drake astonishes before being laced perfectly with cosmic theremin and Parker’s fantastic acid shehnai.  --- Recorded live at Cafe OTO on Sunday 28th July 2019 by Paul Skinner and mixed and mastered by James Dunn. Photos by Dawid Laskowski and artwork by Oliver Pitt. 

Black Top Presents: Hamid Drake / Elaine Mitchener / William Parker / Orphy Robinson / Pat Thomas – Some Good News

Forthcoming events

Wednesday 26 June 2024

BLACK TOP: PAT THOMAS & ORPHY ROBINSON WITH SPECIAL GUEST ELAINE MITCHENER

£16 £14 Advance £8 MEMBERS

Past events