From the creators of The Wire magazine comes Off The Page, a 3 day literary festival dedicated to contemporary sound and music, with exhibitions of archival research from the deep well of musical history, in the flesh discussions and interviews and A/V presentations. Off The Page features a formidable cast of music critics, academics, authors, musicians and artists.
Feast on full programme on the Saturday including audiences with Carla Bozulich and Paul Gilroy, plus new talks by Mark Fisher, Sarah Angliss, David Keenan, Julian Henriques and Richard King with Mike Darby and Pinch
who”s talk is called A Record Shop, Roots & Bristol Culture. Subjects addressed include a wide variety of contemporary music matters, from the history of recording to the aesthetics of volume and the legacy of Industrial culture. More info below.
Another Grey World: The Secret Sadness of the 21st Century
A sadness subsists beneath the 21st century’s busy hedonism – a grey world lurking underneath all the high-res digital gloss. Listening to a consummate 21st century pop artist like the Canadian rapper Drake, it’s clear that this sadness isn’t straightforwardly opposed to pleasure seeking, so much as it is its flipside. The melancholia arises in part from the insufficiencies and impasses of digital hedonism itself. But it is also a consequence of the 21st century’s failure to properly begin. The 21st century is clogged with the relics of the 20th. It’s no surprise, then, that some of the key moments of 21st century pop melancholia, such as Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreaks or Darkstar’s North, should have (re)turned to 1980s synth pop as a resource.
For this talk, Mark Fisher will examine what this morbid attachment to the 1980s tell us about the temporal pathologies of our current moment, musical and otherwise.
Mark Fisher is a UK academic, author and cultural critic. His books include Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? and Ghosts Of My Life: Writings On Depression, Hauntology And Lost Futures.
Richard King with Mike Darby and Pinch
A Record Shop, Roots & Bristol Culture
For more than 25 years the Bristol record shop Revolver functioned with a unique and occasionally hysterical resourcefulness and desire, one that had a subtle but lasting effect on the city and its sound. In his forthcoming book Original Rockers, author Richard King considers the long closed shop as a liminal anteroom to a certain kind of musical consciousness. This illustrated talk will draw on some of the ideas explored in the book, in particular the relationship between Revolver and the street level roots music of Bristol in the 1980s.
Following the talk King will be discussing the legacy of artists such as Talisman and Black Roots in Bristol bass culture with dubstep producer Pinch and Mike Darby, whose Bristol Archive label has curated a definitive Bristol roots catalogue.
Richard King is the author of How Soon Is Now? The Madmen & Mavericks Who Made Independent Music 1975-2005. Original Rockers is due to be published by Faber & Faber in April 2015
Visceral Music: The Corporeal Origins of Electronic Sound
Musicians have always been consummate cyborgs, enmeshing their bodies with machines and animal parts to augment their physical capabilities – and centuries before vocal plug-ins, musicians were seeking otherworldly voices by going under the surgeon’s knife. In music, any concerns about the dehumanising influence of technology have always been mixed with a degree of machine envy. When human sound first took flight from the body, with the advent of the telephone and phonograph, some listeners found the effect disturbing. Today, in the era of transmitted audio and disembodied music downloads, it’s the physical, sometimes fleshy precursors of our electronic sound technology which can seem uncanny.
In this exploration of the visceral roots of electronic sound and music, Sarah Angliss will discuss some surprising precursors of today’s studio technology, fashioned from flesh, bone, tallow, feathers and living animals.
Sarah Angliss is a UK composer, roboticist and sound historian. Her work explores defunct machinery, archaic variety acts and European folklore.
Crime Calls for Night: A Phenomenology of Transgression in Industrial Music
This audio-visual talk is triggered by the re-publication by Strange Attractor Press of David Keenan’s England’s Hidden Reverse, his landmark study of the UK’s esoteric Industrial underground via the key figures of Coil, Nurse With Wound and Current 93. The talk will track the sources of Industrial music’s thinking of the ‘unthinkable’, its obsession with secret histories and alternative sources of information, and its history of flirtation with – and sometimes outright embracing of – images of genocide, fascism, serial killers and the nighttime of the 20th century.
David Keenan is a UK music journalist, author and co-owner of Glasgow’s Volcanic Tongue record shop.
An Audience With Carla Bozulich: In Conversation with Frances Morgan
Carla Bozulich is a US musician whose work over the last three decades has emerged in a wide variety of contexts, from site-specific performance pieces to tributes to the outlaws of Country & Western, but which always leaves the floor strewn with blood and guts – usually her own. Emerging from the early 80s LA underground as a member of the notorious performance art unit Ethyl Meatplow, in the 90s Bozulich was on the verge of becoming a bona fide rock star courtesy of The Geraldine Fibbers’ mix of US roots music and emotional Grand Guignol. Instead, she has opted to spend the last two decades living a nomadic existence throughout Europe and the US, pursuing her interests in collaboration, performance, noise, improvisation and cathartic songwriting in her group Evangelista, and via alliances with the likes of Willie Nelson, Wayne Kramer, Lydia Lunch, Mike Watt, Nels Cline, Okkyung Lee, Christian Marclay, Xui Xui and many others.
For Off The Page, Carla Bozulich will be in conversation with The Wire’s Deputy Editor Frances Morgan, playing music and showing images from a prolific and uncompromising 30 year artistic life.
An Audience with Paul Gilroy: In Conversation with Tony Herrington
Academic, writer and sometime guitar player Paul Gilroy has been chronicling the history of music in the Black Atlantic for nearly four decades, most notably via such landmark studies as There Ain’t No Black In The Union Jack: The Cultural Politics Of Race And Nation and The Black Atlantic: Modernity And Double Consciousness. For Off The Page, he will be in conversation with The Wire’s Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Tony Herrington, discussing how his commentary on the development of black music in Britain has elided with a wider consideration of the aesthetics and politics of black vernacular cultures through civil rights and beyond.
The talk will be prompted by a playlist that will amplify how the changing character of black life in the UK is audible in the innovative music that’s been made here, as well as how those sounds communicate and inspire the enactment of a better world than this.
The Sound System Unplugged
For decades the sound system has been the engine of the dancehall scene in the UK, Jamaica and around the world. Considered as a musical as well as a phonographic instrument, an actual sound system is broken down into its component parts of crossovers, amplifiers, scoops, tops and the like. For this talk and demonstration, Julian Henriques will take the audience deep into the volumes, pitches and timbres of the reggae sound system set of equipment, discussing the history and ins and outs of its sonic production forces, and giving an in-depth appreciation of the sonic skills and connoisseurship at the heart of this crucial street culture.
Julian Henriques is a UK academic and author of Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques And Ways Of Knowing.
Plus more events to be announced
Throughout the day in the Arnolfini bar, Off The Page’s resident DJ Jonny Trunk will be spinning an esoteric selection of audio curiosities and sonic obscurities. Also in the bar area, The Wire bookshop will be open for business selling a selection of specialist music titles. Meanwhile, Arnolfini’s Dark Studio will host a rolling selection of experimental films, and there will be free sound-related family activities. Full details to be announced.
Produced by The Wire Magazine in association with Qu Junktions and Arnolfini
Fri 26 September, 8-10pm
Sat 27 September, 11am-11pm
Sun 28 September, noon-5:30pm
Three day festival pass: £30
Fri ticket: £10
Sat ticket: £20
Sun ticket: £8