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SIMFONICA'S BRAND NEW DVD
"Letters In Time"
SIMFONICA'S BRAND NEW DVD
"Letters In Time"
SIMFONICA has had a long gestation!
Way back in the mists of time – even before the internet was invented – I was fascinated by the avant-garde. It was the 1960s when I first latched on to the attractions of Bartók, Stravinsky and Schoenberg. It seemed a simple and natural progression from there to explore – and go adventuring with – the likes of Morton Subotnick, György Ligeti, Lukas Foss and more.
But most important of all was Karlheinz Stockhausen. Even now, were I to find myself as Kirsty Young’s guest on the BBC’s longest-running programme, Stockhausen’s “Stimmung” would be a must-have for that mythical Desert Island.
So it was exciting for me that, as rock moved into the 1970s, the avant-garde became more and more influential on the mainstream. The Beatles (as always) had helped a lot, but it was the big German bands that particularly drew me. Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk were up there, but a particular favourite was always Faust.
I saw them live once at the Polytechnic in Leeds (now Leeds Metropolitan University). Musically, they were predictably incoherent and the singer’s hair caught fire. But it was a good night…
“CREATION”, the title track of my second Beau LP for Dandelion Records (now re-released on vinyl by the Guerssen/Sommor label), was certainly a departure from my normal “folk singer-songwriter” style. With a nod to the avant-garde, it featured a whispered lyric, doomy bass and swirling organ effects.
But for more than forty years, “Creation” was to be very much the exception to the rule; until Simfonica!
SIMFonic electrONICA – that’s the origin of the name, by the way – came from an idea to create large-scale electronically-processed pieces, unencumbered by constraints of time or strict form, but underpinned by cue-type rhythms.
The first Simfonica work to be released (in 2015 on one of Fruits de Mer Records’ “13th Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival” CDs) was described by Mark Barton of The Sunday Experience as the “frankly immense ‘Mother Russia’”.
Stylistically at least, I could mark that down as a success!
SIMFONICA’S first full-length album, “Song Of The Volcanoes”, came out on the specialist electronica label Cathedral Transmissions in October 2016.
Released as both a limited-edition CD (which quickly sold out!) and now a FREE DOWNLOAD, the set comprises four tracks of between nine-and-a-half and thirteen-and-a-half minutes in length. Using stretched, speeded and reverse effects applied to analogue instruments, voices and synthesisers, “Song Of The Volcanoes” is completely faithful to Simfonica’s founding principle.
It’s also best experienced on big speakers, and possibly whilst a little hazy of mind…
Commenting on “Mother Russia” – which also appears on “Song Of The Volcanoes” – The Sunday Experience concluded it is “a wonderful celestial ethereal sweetly harvesting monastic mosaics and ghost toned euphoric whispers atop a genteel motorik pulse, in short best described as kathedral kosmiche”.
You can’t argue with that! I guess “Kathedral Kosmiche” is to be Simfonica’s métier! And so a new genre is born…
SIMFONICA's second adventure has been a little more ambitious.
CONCEIVED AS an audio/visual experience from the outset, "Letters In Time" has proved altogether more tricky to place. The project reflects on significant letters from recent history by Emile Zola, Martin Luther King, Siegfried Sassoon and Oscar Wilde. Sadly, no one (other than a very supportive German label) felt able to even consider a 48-minute standalone concept electronica DVD.
Eventually, this label too had to back away as the political overtones of two of the tracks contravened their apolitical stance. However, they were kind enough to say...
‘You have created a very brilliant sound there. It is amazing to experience how you combine audible and visual aesthetics in order to illustrate your reflection of the individual topics. In my opinion it works very well. You must have spent many hours to create this fantastic audio visual piece of art. Great respect for that.’
And so in 2017 the TM Studios marque came into existence, distributing through Bandcamp; specifically to give Simfonica and the "Letters In Time" DVD the chance to take flight.
FOR AUDIO BUFFS out there, "Letters In Time" also streams through Bandcamp and is downloadable in a number of formats, including of course high quality FLAC; though I have to say, everyone who's experienced the DVD seems to agree that the audio alone is only a half of this particular story!
There will be more from Simfonica. Keep watching this space!
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