Saturday 21 January 2017, 7.30pm
Alterations are Steve Beresford, Peter Cusack, Terry Day & David Toop. Tonight they present a new album, Void Transactions, recorded at Cafe Oto at Alterations Festival 2016 and produced with Unpredictable Series. Supporting will be a duo of Mandhira de Saram and Blanca Regina with visuals by Pierre Bouvier Patron.
Alterations – David Toop, Peter Cusack, Terry Day and Steve Beresford – is a quartet of key thinkers and pioneers in music and visual arts.
They played many concerts in the years 1977 to 1986 and came back together last year for one very successful concert 2015. In 2016 they got together to collaborate in new contexts at Alterations Festival with an exhibition, talks, workshops and performances at Cafe Oto, Oto Projects and University of Westminster, London.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ALTERATIONS
The group existed from 1977 to 1986 and played often in festivals and clubs throughout the UK and Europe.
The great discovery of Alterations was that musical styles and idioms are there to be played with.
They made three LPs in that time:
Alterations on Bead in 1978
Up Your Sleeve on !Quartz in 1980
My Favourite Animals on nato (France) in 1984
Their work presented new ways of making and understanding music and art.
In addition there were CDs of various live performances – in 2000, Intuitive Records in Denmark issued Alterations
Live and in 2002 Atavistic in the US published Voila Enough!
In 2015, Alterations was put back together for London performances at Cafe Oto (with Max Eastley) and Iklectik.
These events were very succesfull and attracted new audiences.
Alterations Festival is unique opportunity to further enjoy this infuential and highly experienced group.
VOID TRANSACTIONS by David Toop
Improvisation is always close to nothing: no work, no object, no product, no closure, no trace. In contemporary terms, as a monetary transaction within a functioning market, there is nothing much to speak of. No sale, as they say. No sail either, nor following wind; only the need to pull oars together, albeit with the option of pulling (in this case) in four different directions at once. The boat is torn apart in order to be rebuilt. Every event in an improvisation and its setting has potential as agency but the possibility of collapse into nothingness is a real and present danger from moment to moment. The listeners, that part of them known as an audience, play a significant role in this. Without them, whether they are present physically at the time of making or in futurity (as with a recording) there would be little at stake. Their listening forages for the music, just as the music calls up their listening. This is not a binary. There is no clear distinction between a listener and an improviser. The listener improvises a sense of form as it emerges. This is true for player and audience simultaneously. Even though one may appear to be physically active, the other physically passive, both are at work in making sense, laterally and in depth, following through memory, agility and imagining, of the unfolding. If there is failure in any part then this audience may become a separate thing, a void into which all potentiality falls. In the conventional way of thinking about transaction, there is a pay-off, one or more winners. Improvisation withholds this, offering only ambiguity and a shared sensation of complex disturbances coming to a point of temporary rest, leaving satisfaction, disappointment, perhaps a mixture of both. But every incident, gesture, implication, provocation, false step or flash of inspiration of an improvisation brings with it some degree of risk, the knowledge that there is no solid footing, only an intensification of the void. Sounds are exotic creatures. They may pose as humans, making a convincing show of living within human society, on the telephone, taking tea and whatever, though their plausibility leads to some other place of thin air, this place where we choose to dwell.
Steve Beresford has been a central figure in the British and international spontaneous music scenes for over forty years, freely improvising on the piano, electronics, and other things with people like Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Han Bennink, John Zorn, and Alterations (with David Toop, Terry Day and Peter Cusack).
He has written songs, written for large and small ensembles, and scored short films, feature films, TV shows, and commercials. He was part of the editorial teams of Musics and Collusion magazines, writes about music in various contexts, and was a senior lecturer in music at the University of Westminster. With Blanca Regina, he is part of Unpredictable Series, which produces events and sound and video recordings of experimental music and art.
Steve has worked with Christian Marclay on numerous Marclay mixed media pieces. He has also worked with The Slits, Najma Akhtar, Stewart Lee, Ivor Cutler, Prince Far-I, Alan Hacker, Tania Chen, Ray Davies, Mandhira De Saram, The Flying Lizards, Zeena Parkins, The Portsmouth Sinfonia, Ilan Volkov, Rachel Musson, Vic Reeves, Lore Lixenberg and many others.
Beresford has an extensive discography as performer, arranger, free-improviser, composer and producer, and was awarded a Paul Hamlyn award for composers in 2012. In 2021, Bloomsbury published a book by Andy Hamilton: ‘Pianos, Toys, Music and Noise: Conversations with Steve Beresford’.
Terry Day is a first generation pioneer improviser from the 1960s: an improviser, multi-instrumentalist, lyricist, songwriter, visual artist and poet.
A self-taught musician in a family of musicians, he began improvising on the drums with his brother in 1955. In the early ‘60s he formed the Hardy Holman Day trio, focusing on free improvisation. Later he became part of the band Kilburn & the Highroads, with Ian Dury. Sharing their interest in visual art and painting they both studied at Walthamstow School of Art and later at the Royal College of Art, London. As an art student in the ‘60s he was also a pioneer of free improvisation, free jazz & experimental music.
He formed a duo with guitarist Derek Bailey in the late ´60s and was a regular member of The Continuous Music Ensemble,The People Band and, later on, Alterations with David Toop, Steve Beresford & Peter Cusack.
Terry has collaborated with many musical luminaries, groups, dancers, painters, poets and performed in theatre. He now plays bamboo reed flutes, drums, recorders, balloons & improvises with his lyrics, prose and verse. Since 2000 he has been part of London Improvisers Orchestra. In recent years he has toured twice in both Japan and Brazil, and has performed with improvising orchestras in Malaga, Tokyo and Madrid.
Peter Cusack is a field recordist, sound artist, and musician with a long interest in the environment. He initiated the Favourite Sounds Project to discover what people find positive about soundscapes where they live and Sounds From Dangerous Places (sonic journalism) to investigate major environmental damage in areas such as the Chernobyl exclusion zone, the Azerbaijan oil fields, brown coal mining in Germany and the Czech Republic and the Bialowieza Forest in Poland.
He produced Vermilion Sounds - the environmental sound programme - for ResonanceFM Radio, and was DAAD artist-in-residence in Berlin 2011/12, starting Berlin Sonic Places that explores relationships between soundscape and urban development.
He is currently working on Aral Sea Stories, about the destruction and subsequent partial restoration of the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan - a much-needed positive example in today’s climate change debate.
Musically he plays guitar and field recordings, improvises, writes tunes, and has worked with Alterations, Kahondo Style, Clive Bell, Nic Collins, Ute Wassermann, Viv Corringham, Michael Thieke, Blanca Regina, and others.
David Toop (born 1949) has been developing a practice that crosses boundaries of sound, listening, music and materials since 1970. This encompasses improvised music performance, writing, electronic sound, field recording, exhibition curating, sound art installations and opera. It includes seven acclaimed books, including Rap Attack (1984), Ocean of Sound (1995), Sinister Resonance (2010), Into the Maelstrom (2016) and forthcoming - Flutter Echo, a memoir first published in Japan in 2017 (May 2019) and Inflamed Invisible: Writing On Art and Sound 1976-2018 (2020). Briefly a member of David Cunningham’s pop project The Flying Lizards in 1979, he has released thirteen solo albums, from New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments on Brian Eno’s Obscure label (1975) and Sound Body on David Sylvian’s Samadhisound label (2006) to Entities Inertias Faint Beings (2016). His 1978 Amazonas recordings of Yanomami shamanism and ritual were released on Sub Rosa as Lost Shadows (2016). In recent years his collaborations include Rie Nakajima, Akio Suzuki, Tania Chen, John Butcher, Ken Ikeda, Elaine Mitchener, Henry Grimes, Sharon Gal, Camille Norment, Sidsel Endresen, Alasdair Roberts, Thurston Moore, Ryuichi Sakamoto and a revived Alterations, the iconoclastic improvising quartet with Steve Beresford, Peter Cusack and Terry Day first formed in 1977. Curator of sound art exhibitions including Sonic Boom at the Hayward Gallery (2000), his opera – Star-shaped Biscuit – was performed as an Aldeburgh Faster Than Sound project in 2012. He is currently Professor of Audio Culture and Improvisation at London College of Communication.
Mandhira is a versatile violinist performing as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral violinist in the UK and abroad. She is a founding member and the leader of the Ligeti Quartet, a young string quartet which has established a reputation as a leading dynamic and imaginative force in contemporary and modern music. She graduated with 1st class honours from the University of Oxford achieving a high 1st in performance and winning the Worcester College Arts Prize for the highest result in an arts subject.
International solo and chamber music tours have taken her around Europe as well as the USA, India, China and her country of origin, Sri Lanka. She has performed at prestigious festivals and venues such as the Wigmore Hall, Barbican Centre, Southbank Centre and St Johns Smith Square in London and the Carnegie Hall in New York.
Her repertoire is varied consisting of standard classical works as well as free improvisation and original projects often involving collaborations with contemporary composers, sound artists and musicians from a variety of genres outside classical music. With her quartet she has worked with Wadada Leo Smith, Meilyr Jones, Shabaka Hutchings, Laura Jurd, Kerry Andrew, Sean Noonan, and, following a tour to China and Hong Kong, has collaborated with leading Hong Kong DJ Choi Sai Ho and Japanese sound artist mamoru.
Mandhira was born in London. After completing her primary education in Sri Lanka, she was awarded a music scholarship to North London Collegiate School where she completed her secondary education. She was also a Leverhulme Scholar at the Junior Royal Academy of Music where she performed both as a violinist and pianist, also taking classes in composition and conducting. Her violin teachers have included Igor Petrushevsky, Howard Davis and Levon Chilingirian.
Blanca Regina is an interdisciplinary artist, independent curator, and educator based in London currently involved in creating audio-visual performances, sound works, installations, films, and book arts.
She is co-founder of Unpredictable Series focused on spontaneous music and experimentation, visual arts, and archives. With Steve Beresford, she has produced three albums, mixed and mastered by Dave Hunt in London. ‘What Blue’ (2020) Duets with Beresford; ‘Duets with Blanca Regina, Spontaneous Music’ featuring duets with Leafcutter John, Jack Goldstein, John Butcher, Benedict Taylor, Matthias Kispert, Aneek Thapar, Steve Beresford, Sharon Gal, and Hyelim Kim and ‘Art of Improvisers’ (2017) a collection album with several artists concentrating on women improvisers. With long-time collaborator and artist Leafcutter John capturing their live performances in 2017, they created ‘Miga’ limited-edition pen drive and digital release. Other collaborations include performances and projects with Matthias Kispert, David Toop, Matt Black (Coldcut), Art Terry, and Peter Cusack.
Pierre Bouvier Patron is a visual artist based in London. He is currently working with different media, such as digital video and film, exploring the boundaries between them and creating moving image works, performances and installations. He has developed various practices and skills in experimental film, documentary films, music videos, etc.
He is involved in video screenings and video performances, solo or in collaboration, with musicians such as Syd Kemp, Steve Beresford, Neil Charles and artist Blanca Regina, among others. His work has been shown in France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany, etc.
His latest works include Unpredictable: Conversations with Improvisers, a series of 12 videos about improvisers in the UK, music videos for Ben Marc. His work also includes extensive participation with collectives such as Unpredictable Series, Strange Umbrellas, and several festivals such as Sonic Waterloo, Art of Improvisers, Alterations Festivals.