M1-33 Trevor Wishart

M1-33 Beach Double



The original concept of Miniatures (before it was simplified to a simple one-minute time limit) was to take an existing long piece of music and shrink it. Miniaturise it. Drastically, preferably. Trevor is one of the few who did exactly that (others on Miniatures 1 include Roger McGough, David Bedford, Fred Frith, Neil Innes, Ken Ellis, Alejandro Viñao, Bass & Tenenbaum, Neil Oram, Pete Seeger – though your opinion may vary). His “Beach Double” is a super-condensed version of the 20-minute site-specific (on a holiday beach, that is) “Beach Singularity” – a piece for a small brass ensemble plus a lot of taped sounds. The full-length 1977 version is still out on CD here and in audio-only on youtube (plus a cheerful snippet of video of the 2005 performance on Scarborough Beach). It included Soft Machine and Third Ear Band cohort Lyn Dobson on saxophone. The previous link shows the rare 7-piece lineup of Soft Machine playing energetically in 7/4. The other sax player is Elton Dean, from whom, of course, Sir Elton John got his name.

Back to Beach Singularity. Audion Magazine gave it an excellent review which included this: “The otherworldly feeling created feels like a by-product from an early David Lynch film, not least the cacophonous deranged Beach Boys’ ‘Surfin’ USA’ and Wurlitzer dance-hall organ! The bonus Vocalise is an edited version of a solo performance by Trevor Wishart at the Recommended Records shop in March 1991, and adds another amusing touch to the proceedings. Someone once asked me why Trevor Wishart hadn’t gained the same seriously acclaimed notoriety as his European counterparts. The thing is that eccentric maverick lunacy and the serious avant-garde don’t go together (too proodish those high-brows you know), but Audion doesn’t mind – lunacy’s welcome here!” Ah, now I remember why I asked Trevor to climb on board the good ship Miniatures.

Five years or so later, Trevor climbed on board the good ship IRCAM (moored in Paris then – it still is) and was commissioned to create a piece using their state-of-the-art electronic music studio, based, like much of his work, on voices, extended singing techniques, processed voices, and so on. With his usual gung-ho spirit he helped initiate the Composers’ Desktop Project so that many other composers working in other locations can now have powerful music processing software available on their computers.

Trevor is still extremely active, as his info-packed website shows. It even has an “Availability” page showing you which days he is free for the entire rest of the year. Hurry before he runs out. In April 2013 he ran out to Northwestern University, Illinois, USA, for this audio piece (in a darkened room) called ‘Imago” – which he introduces (in a lit room).

Next up: Quietly breaking records…

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