Friday 28 September 2018, 7.30pm
- 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).”
“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.
Sylvia Hallett is a composer and improviser, working with instruments (violin, hurdy-gurdy, saw,) and objects (bowed bicycle wheel, bowed branches etc) alongside simple live sound processing. She has worked extensively with dancers and in theatre, most recently with choreographer Miranda Tufnell on a tour of outdoor site specific venues in Northumberland. Recent albums: Tree Time and Bolt and Latch.
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.