Creative Contradiction: Poetry, Story, Song & Sound – Maggie Nicols

Fragile strength is what i've been
Radiant resilience
Changing before your very eyes
Though often unseen
- (from 'Trilogy')

As Takuroku hits the milestone of 100 releases over the past 6 months, we couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than a debut solo release (yes, the first ever!) by Maggie Nicols.

Maggie has been a familiar name around OTO over our 13 year history, lending her voice and talents to a series of unforgettable performances, including a session with Joëlle Leandre and Roger Turner, which remains one of our favourite archived live performances to this day. While she might be best known as an improviser, most notably in the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Feminist Improvising Group and more recently with the likes of 'Les Diaboliques', her talents stretch into song, dance, poetry, performance and composition.

This release, modestly recorded on her computer after teaching herself how to use Garageband during lock-down, brings forth her doubts, anxieties, loves and desires in a 13-part musical journey. Webbed through piano ballads, playful improvised ditties, stories, poetry and multi-layered vocal arrangements, 'Creative Contradiction' feels like a long-overdue catch up with a close friend. There's reminiscing, there's laughter, there's tears, there's chatter that floats on and off topic, there's things shared you don't feel comfortable sharing with others. When the world around us makes these sorts of relationships difficult or rendered void, intimacy through art can feel like an act of generosity: a hand outstretched in the darkness. Thank you Maggie for gifting us just that.
Maggie Nicols:  voice, piano, electric keyboard and ceremonial drum   

Recorded at home in 2020

Mastered by Oliver Barrett
Photo from a workshop a ‘Learning, Transformation and Technique weekend at ‘Hecate’s Haven'
What needs Nourishing’ guided by Portia Wintersduring
Additional musicians on Track 8: 
Katerina Koblizek - voice & Olitar (guitar made out of a Palestinian Olive oil can by cellist and guitarist Steve Moyes) 
Ludek Salac - guitar

1 - Trilogy [05:31]
2 - Impermanence [00:32]
3 - The Guest House [02:56]
4 - Noticing [00:59]
5 - Dynamite Dream [04:22]
6 - Questioning [05:26]
7 - Aug 5th 2020 [02:14]
8 - Hecate's House [06:42]
9 - A True Gift [00:47]
10 - Shadow and Light Source Both [03:42]
11 - Musings on the Breath [05:53]
12 - Vivid Black [05:09]
13 - Au Revoir [01:34]
Maggie's notes on each track:

a) Hiding & Opening musical improvisation to a poem I wrote a year ago
b) Gush & Flow “ “ “ “ “ “ I wrote in the eighties
c) Rain: a song I wrote recently (inspired by mindfulness teacher Tara Brach who uses the letters R.A.I.N to mean Recognise, Allow, Investigate and Nurture for dealing with difficult emotions).

2) IMPERMANENCE - an improvisation

3) THE GUEST HOUSE a poem by RUMI with layers of improvised music as a setting. 

4) NOTICING - an improvisation

5) DYNAMITE DREAM a song I wrote in the seventies from an improvisation 

a) Moods improvisation
b) "Was It?" - A song I wrote in the eighties. 

7) AUG 5TH 2020 - an improvsation

8) HECATE’S HOUSEHOLD - an improvisation and poem ‘For Hecate’ (written by me in the nineties) featuring the lockdown trio & household cat
Maggie Nicols, voice
Katerina Koblizek, voice and ‘Olitar'
Ludek Salac, guitar
Kyna, feline being

9) A TRUE GIFT - an improvisation

10) SHADOW AND LIGHT SOURCE BOTH Poem by Rumi, music by Maggie Nicols 

11) MUSINGS ON THE BREATH - a multi layered improvisation

12) VIVID BLACK - a song I wrote around 2002 

a) Reprise
b) Open & Protected

Maggie Nicols

Maggie Nicols joined London's legendary Spontaneous Music Ensemble in 1968 as a free improvisation vocalist. She then became active running voice workshops with an involvement in local experimental theatre. She later joined the group Centipede, led by Keith Tippets and in 1977, with musician/composer Lindsay Cooper, formed the remarkable Feminist Improvising Group. She continues performing and recording challenging and beautiful work, in music and theatre, either in collaborations with a range of artists (Irene Schweitzer, Joelle Leandre, Ken Hyder, Caroline Kraabel) as well as solo.