Friday 28 September 2018, 7.30pm

Tropical Gothic – Mike Cooper with Sylvia Hallett & Clive Bell

- Mike Cooper / lap steel guitar, electronics, voice, video editing
- Clive Bell / shakuhachi, flutes, accordion
- Sylvia Hallett / violin, sarangi, accordion 

Mike Cooper presents his new Tropical Gothic project alongside multi-instrumentalists Clive Bell and Sylvia Hallett, followed by a set of musically deconstructed protest songs. Tropical Gothic examines Gothic within a specific geographical area of ‘the South’… as well as transnational movements of the Gothic… Tropical Gothic includes, but is by no means limited to, a reflection on a region where European colonial powers fought intensively against indigenous populations and against each other for control of land and resources. Gothic – relating to a style of fiction characterized by the use of desolate or remote settings and macabre, mysterious, or violent incidents.

“TROPICAL GOTHIC is inspired in particular by my reading of the films - Onibaba, by Kaneto Shindo and Legong-Dance of The Virgin, one of the last silent films and shot on two colour strip film, by Henry De La Falaise in 1933 in Bali. I would also include F.W.Murnau's Tabu (1931) and W.S.Van Dyke's White Shadows In The South Seas (1928)

The title 'Tropical Gothic' first came up as shared black and white photographs, mostly of palm trees, on facebook, initiated by my friend Lawrence English. Pursuing Tropical Gothic on-line a collection of short stories came up that included The Woman Who Had Two Navels And Tales Of The Tropical Gothic by the Filipino writer Nick Joaquin. 

Following more links I came across a blog, 'Tropical Gothic' from Daniel Sa where he writes - "Establishing the concept of Tropical Gothic as a critical term to investigate specific cultural traditions of the supernatural and the strange in the warmer parts of the globe is not an easy task. At first glance the expression itself seems to be rather contradictory; an oxymoron that combines the opposing ideas of 'solar' and 'gloom' in one concept. Academics that do not work in the field of Gothic Studies question the value of applying the Gothic - a literary and critical term originated in Britain - to the investigation of texts from other traditions." He goes on to say that some argue that "..the category of Magic Realism already covers the tradition of the supernatural and the strange."

Others that I would consider to be 'Tropical Gothicists' would be the writers Pierre Loti, Robert Louise Stevenson, Greg Dening, Louis Becke, Frederick O'Brien (author of White Shadows In The South Seas);  Lefkadio Hearn and William Shakespeare (The Tempest) et al. 

Some contemporary film makers that I also consider to be 'Tropical Gothic' are Lav Diaz, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Pedro Costa, Khavn De La Cruz and Kaneto Shindo. These names, perhaps not widely known, can easily be found on-line. My own videos are influenced by all of these directors in one way or another. 

Lav Diaz is a Filipino independent film maker known for his very long, slow films. Apichatpong's films combine the spirit world, mythology and politics of Thailand. Pedro Costa, although not strictly tropical being from Portugal, has for a number of years concerned himself with the Cabo Verdian (Cape Verde Islands) diaspora in Lisbon. Khavn De La Cruz is a flamboyant director who's film Mondomanila is both bizarre and gothic. 

Three of my own 'Tropical Gothic' videos were shot in Hong Kong and on the island of Pulau Ubin, a small island between Singapore and Malaysia (see my web site for more information on those).”

Mike Cooper

“The icon of post-everything music” – Lawrence English (::Room40::)

For the past 50 years he has been an international artistic explorer constantly pushing the boundaries.

Mike Cooper’s output of the past half century has been described as ‘post-everything’. It’s a fitting phrase really when you consider he has been at the beating heart of so many critical musical moments. From the development of the blues touring circuit in the UK, through the growth of the folk scene and into the explosion of free improvisation that came to define a generation of UK musicians. Amidst it all, working at stitching these disparate forms into some kind of deterritorialised zone, was Mike Cooper. - Lawrence English Room 40 Records.

“Cooper, 75 this year, is making the most adventurous music of his life… incredibly rich and evocative, and as a live performance, it’s utterly flawless. Cooper takes live guitar processing and sampling as his raw material, using it to build something complex and substantive, full of ideas and surprises, not just abandoning it half-formed.” – (Jonathan Dean – Brainwashed)

He plays lap steel guitar and sings, he is an improviser and composer, song-maker, a visual and installation artist; film and video maker and radio arts producer.

www.cooparia.com

Sylvia Hallett

Sylvia Hallett studied music at Dartington, and then spent two years studying composition with Max Deutsch in Paris. She now works both as a composer and as an improviser, and has had pieces performed in Britain and Europe. She has played in many international festivals since the late 1970s, working with several well-known and respected musicians, including Lol Coxhill, Maggie Nicols, Phil Minton, Evan Parker, and the groups Accordions Go Crazy, LaXula, British Summer Time Ends, Arc,The London Improvisers Orchestra, and the London Hardingfelelag. She also performs solo, (eg. in Museo Wolf Vostell, Caceres), and in duo with Clive Bell, with Mike Adcock, and with Anna Homler. Projects with various theatre and dance companies include collaborations with the dancer/choreographers h2dance (Hanna Gillgren and Heidi Rustgaard), Miranda Tufnell, Emilyn Claid, Jacky Lansley, Lost Dog, and Eva Karczag, and the live art puppeteer Nenagh Watson, and Suffolk-based Wonderful Beast. She has performed and musically directed the music of Adrian Lee in world tours with the Young Vic's highly acclaimed "Grimm Tales", and The Royal Shakespeare Company's productions of "Comedy of Errors", "Tales from Ovid" and "Canterbury Tales".

Sylvia has released three solo CDs, two on the MASH label, which contain songs, improvisations, and tape collage pieces derived from her compositions for theatre and dance. Her 3rd solo release, White Fog on the EMANEM label features the bowed bicycle wheel. Commissions include incidental music for several BBC Radio Plays, most recently Two Men From Delft. Her work on Virginia Woolf's Kew Gardens received favourable reviews for its innovative use of voice and sound manipulation.

http://www.sylviahallett.co.uk/

Clive Bell

Clive Bell is a musician, composer and writer with a specialist interest in the shakuhachi, khene (Thai mouth organ) and other East Asian wind instruments. He has travelled extensively in Japan (where he studied shakuhachi with the master Kohachiro Miyata), Thailand, Laos and Bali, researching music and meeting local practitioners. He currently tours with UK-based Japanese drumming group Taiko Meantime, and joins koto and shamisen players to perform the Japanese classical repertoire. He toured for over a decade with Jah Wobble, including shows at Ronnie Scott’s and the Glastonbury Festival.

Clive is the shakuhachi player on Karl Jenkins's album Requiem on EMI Classics, the final two Harry Potter movies, and the Hobbit. His shakuhachi playing has been featured live on Radio 3’s Late Junction and In Tune. In 2013 at the BFI, Sylvia Hallett and Clive Bell performed a live soundtrack for Walk Cheerfully, Yasujiro Ozu’s 1930 comedy gangster movie.

Clive Bell has a substantial recording history as both a solo artist (his solo album, Shakuhachi: The Japanese Flute was reissued in 2005 by ARC Records) and as a composer for film, TV and theatrical productions (Complicite, Kazuko Hohki, IOU, Whalley Range Allstars). Jazz pianist Taeko Kunishima, Jaki Liebezeit, David Sylvian, David Toop, Jochen Irmler of Faust and Bill Laswell number among Clive Bell's collaborators. Based in London, he writes regularly for the music monthly The Wire. 

https://soundcloud.com/clivebell