Friday 18 October 2019, 7.30pm
Two-day residency for Luke Younger, aka London-based sound artist and musician, Helm, who, across a visceral and thrillingly eclectic sonic output, has released five studio albums and three EPs of textural experimental music, exploring a relationship between acoustic, electronic and real-world sounds.
Helm’s fifth full-length studio album, ‘Chemical Flowers’, arrives in a moment of anxiety and tension without a clearly definable source. Younger states own internal questioning of the mechanisms of music and art and how he engages with each have had an influence. “I find myself asking, how complicit am I in structures I consider to be at odds with myself?” he says, “How can the cultural playing field be truly equal and inclusive whilst it’s increasingly co-opted and controlled by corporations, brands and gatekeeper-sociopaths, perpetuating an endless hierarchy and class imbalance?”.
For the majority of the album the themes are diffuse, with the anxiety offset by anecdotes and snippets of conversation overheard in daily life. Across the album Younger weaves varied sound sources through channels of process, with string arrangements by J.G. Thirlwell to broaden the instrumentation and introduce an element more identifiably human. Thirlwell’s arrangements feature heavily on ‘I Knew You Would Respond’. “The intention to use strings wasn’t to explore a neo-classical route but instead make something a bit darker, dramatic and even psychedelic.”
“Helm, aka Luke Younger, has developed into one of the most interesting artists operating at the point where sound art meets drone and certain aspects of noise.” – The Skinny
“Younger reaches skywards, towards the celestial void, and the results are utterly thrilling.” – Crack
Helm's first album ‘To An End’ was released on his own label ALTER in 2010. Influenced by 20th century electroacoustic music and Britain’s esoteric post-industrial underground, the record contained two long-form pieces that mixed haunting, respiratory-themed tape music with warm meditative ambience. ‘Cryptography’ followed a year later via Graham Lambkin’s KYE asa five-part suite of glacial drone, reconfigured gamelan clusters and searing metallic resonance. Warmly received by the press and underground community alike, it helped to establish him as a serious new voice in experimental music.
2012 saw the beginning of a working relationship with PAN. His third album ‘Impossible Symmetry’ was released with more of an electronic sound, a result of sessions experimenting with analog synthesizers and rhythmic patterns. Helm performed regularly across Europe, Asia and even North-Africa (Rawabet, a live album of his show in Cairo was released on ALTER in 2017). From galleries to clubs, squatted venues and major festivals, performances took place in a multitude of different contexts including an opening act for a disparate range of groups including Iceage, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Oneohtrix Point Never.
During breaks from touring Younger entered the studio to work on ‘Olympic Mess’. Using repetitive loops to signify motion and movement, Helm’s sound morphed into something upbeat and airy thanks to flirtations with dub-techno and Balearic disco. ‘Olympic Mess’ was released in 2015 and received critical acclaim and support from press and featured in a number of end of year album lists. The sprawling, hypnotic, sometimes euphoric soundscapes act as a counterpoint to the chaos they arose from, as Younger says: “it’s about exploring a perverse desire to pull the rug from under yourself, and the struggle to achieve a healthy equilibrium between one’s own personal and artistic lives… Dealing with the problematic consequences of pushing your own limits, forming and dissolving relationships, transient lifestyles, physical and mental exhaustion, excess and other kinds of personal chaos.”
Younger is a resident DJ on NTS Radio where he has presented his monthly show ‘After Dark’ since 2016. He has also engaged in collaborations with visual artists. A performance at the opening of the Tate Modern’s Tanks space saw Helm perform with video artist and film maker Charles Atlas’ during his ‘Charles Atlas and Collaborators’ series. Subsequently Atlas used edited arrangements from Olympic Mess in his 2015 exhibition “The Waning Of Justice” for Luhring Augustine gallery in New York City. Younger also returned to The Tanks in 2016 to perform in an ensemble using a collection of unorthodox instruments for Tarek Atoui’s “The Reverse Collection”. The same year saw Unsound Festival commission the project “Inner Space: Siberia” with Moscow based musician Moa Pillar and the Embassy For The Displaced, an Athens-based design collective. The project was a location-based A/V collaboration exploring the landscapes of Siberia with audio recorded in Moscow and visuals filmed in the Ural Mountains and Novosibirsk. It premiered at the Vladivostok Film Festival that year with a subsequent performance at Unsound Krakow to an audience of 2000. In support of ‘Chemical Flowers’, Helm has a residency at Cafe OTO, London in October 2019 and will be performing internationally the rest of the year.
JG Thirlwell is a composer/producer/performer based in Brooklyn, NY. Born in Melbourne, he moved to London in 1978, then relocated to NYC in 1983, where he has been based ever since. As well as working under his own name, his major musical projects include Foetus, Manorexia, Steroid Maximus as well as his new electronic project Xordox, and many more.
He has released over thirty albums. Thirlwell has also featured as producer, remixer, collaborator or arranger for a wide variety of artists including Karen O, Zola Jesus, Melvins, Swans, Nine Inch Nails, Lydia Lunch, Coil, John Carpenter, Z’s, The The, Noveller, Hal Wilner, Excepter, Simon Hanes, Pantera, Nick Cave and many more.
JG has completed commissions for Kronos Quartet, Bang On A Can, String Orchestra of Brooklyn, Experiments in Opera, Zephyr Quartet, Great Learning Orchestra, Jeffrey Zeigler, League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots and more, and is a member of the“freq_out” sound-art collective, curated by CM Von Hausswolff, who create on-site sound and light installations. He is also an acclaimed graphic artist. In 2010, he received a fellowship from New York Foundation of the Arts in sound / composition.
He has created solo sound installations which have exhibited in Santarcangelo, Italy and Kaliningrad, Russia. He performs live with a chamber ensemble version of his Manorexia project, as JG Thirlwell with his new electro-acoustic “Silver Mantis" project and with his electronic project Xordox.
JG also creates the musical score for the Emmy-winning FX show Archer, and for Adult Swim / Cartoon Network show The Venture Bros, for which he was nominated for an Annie Award. JG has also created several motion picture scores. He also scored Tony Oursler's film installation, Imponderable, which was on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2017.
The group, created by cellist Anton Lukoszevieze in 1995, has been captivating audiences with performances of avant-garde and experimental music all over the World, from Moscow to Vancouver and from Barcelona to Vilnius. Recent performances further afield include tours of Russia, Canada and a nine-concert series in Melbourne, Australia.
The ensemble has been a firm fixture on the British concert scene, with regular performances at Café Oto and a recent residency at the Wigmore Hall. Apartment House is the most frequently featured UK ensemble in the history of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and its 2011 concert of music by John Cage sold out the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre. The ensemble has made a substantial number of live and studio recordings for BBC Radio 3 as well as live recordings for many European stations including Danish Radio DR, Swedish Radio 2, WDR Cologne, ORTF Austria, Radio France and Deutschlandfunk, Berlin.
Over the past 20 years or so it has championed music by emerging or undeservedly little-known composers and has commissioned over 100 new works. Highlights along the way include Jennifer Walshe’s radical ‘Barbie’ opera XXX_LIVE_NUDE_GIRLS!!!, with performances in six countries, and Saskia Moore’s Dead Symphony, a fusion of social documentary, art, biological science and music on near death experiences. Notable portrait events have featured composers Christian Wolff, Luc Ferrari, Alison Knowles, Christopher Fox, Vitalija Gloivackyte, Laurence Crane, Helmut Oehring, Claudia Molitor, David Behrman, Jobina Tinnemans and Richard Ayres.
Unusually for a new music ensemble, Apartment House is equally at home at classical music venues (Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre), crossover venues (Cafe Oto), art galleries (Serpentine Galleries, Turner Contemporary, Whitechapel Gallery) and international festivals (HCMF, MaerzMusik, Wien Modern, Ultima, Witten New Music Days), demonstrating its appeal to a wide range of audiences.
Over the years Apartment House has gradually increased its recording output, focusing on key releases by experimental composers such as George Maciunas and Laurence Crane, which received widespread acclaim (‘compellingly beautiful’ The Guardian). The group recently began a long term relationship with the UK label Another Timbre, releasing albums of music by Joseph Kudirka, James Saunders, Chiyoko Slavnics, Linda Catlin Smith and Martin Arnold.
Andrew Chalk is an artist and musician based in Hull. Restlessly active since the mid 1980s, he has built a breathtaking and highly acclaimed body of work under an elusive series of guises. These include releases under his own name; as Ferial Confine; and through a wide range of collaborations, spanning from Mirror (alongside Christoph Heeman) and with David Jackman’s Organum, to work with The New Blockaders and a cassette release for legendary UK noise label Broken Flag.
In recent years Chalk has become increasingly synonymous with the output of his own Faraway Press imprint, which has painstakingly governed the release of an ever-more-mesmerising accumulation of super-limited edition CDs and LPs. Sumptuously, almost ritualistically designed and packaged, these gorgeously esoteric artifacts bear visuals which stand alone as artworks in the true sense, but which also offer flickering insight into the enveloping subtlety of the minutely crafted sound-worlds within.
Tom James Scott is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and improviser who currently lives on the North-West coast of England. Since 2007 he has published music through a number of labels including Students of Decay, Where To Now?, Bo'Weavil Recordings, Carnivals, and his own Skire imprint (established in 2013).
Scott's early interest in music was informed as much by a fascination with sound and improvisation as it was by traditional musical training, and his work continues to explore both lyrical and abstract means of sound making and composition. Since 2007's 'Red Deer', Scott's solo releases to date have seen a switch between guitar, piano and keyboard as their focal point (often with the addition of bowed objects and strings, field recording and electronics). United by a preoccupation with modern composition, traditional music, improvisation and song, Scott's recorded work also draws inspiration from visual and literary sources, with certain titles often citing a now largely archaic form of dialect particular to Scott's home county of Cumbria.
Scott is currently working on a collaboration with the filmmaker Laurence Campbell and continues to perform and record with Ashley Paul, Andrew Chalk, Ecka Mordecai, Timo van Luijk and Russell Walker (primarily as Charcoal Owls).
Anna Peaker is a visual artist and graphic designer who began working with sound in 2016. Working from a small attic space at home, she uses budget keyboards, drum machines, loops and effects to create microcosmic soundscapes. Sounds are influenced by domestic spaces, how we spend our time in them and escapism from them.