& SYLVIA HALLETT
The Many Moods of Bread and Shed
(The Orchestra Pit)
MONSIEUR DELIRE 2012 09/07
Cette collaboration entre la vocaliste expérimentale Anna Homler et la
violoniste expérimentale Sylvia Hallett me faisait déjà saliver sur papier. L’écoute de The Many Moods of Bread and Shed a comblé toutes mes attentes. Au point où je dirais que ce disque est le meilleur opus de Homler depuis l’exquis Corne de vache.
Il faut dire que les univers sonores de ces deux grandes dames sont
forts compatibles: elles ont un intérêt similaire pour les objets
détournés, les petits instruments, l’improvisation délicate. Et
force est de constater que Hallett a su embarquer à fond dans le
monde enfantin et naïf de Homler, qui chante de merveilleux petits
riens tout au long du disque. Hallett ressort même sa roue de vélo
musicale pour l’occasion. Dix chansons improvisées pour grands
enfants extraterrestres perdus sur Terre. J’adore.
This collaboration between experimental vocalist Anna Homler and
experimental violinist Sylvia Hallett had me already salivating on paper. A first listen of The Many Moods of Bread and Shedhas fulfilled all my expectations, to the point where I’ll say that this is Homler’s best record since her exquisite Corne de vache.
Of course, these two great great artists are highly compatible to start with, as they share a similar interest in hijacked objects, small instruments, and delicate improvisation. And Hallett clearly had no trouble stepping into Homler’s childlike, naive universe. Homler sings imaginary songs in an imaginary language throughout, and Hallett even gives her bowed bicycle wheel a spin (it had been a while, I believe). Ten improvised songs for grownup alien kids lost
on Earth. I love it.
ANNA HOMLER & SYLVIA HALLETT –
The Many Moods Of Bread And Shed
By Massimo Ricci on June 7, 2012
The Orchestra Pit
“Bread And Shed” is the sobriquet of the
Homler & Hallett duo, this CD being their first recording
together in spite of a transoceanic friendship lasting since 1992
(Anna hails from Los Angeles, Sylvia from Tottenham, London). The
work may be titled “The Many Moods”, yet the unequivocal only
mood that it transfers to this listener is one of pureness. The
joyous disclosure of polymeric instrumental patchworks projected by
the artists is not distant from the kind of sinlessness that any
healthy person can detect when observing toddlers vocalizing in
trance-like fashion as they’re intent in destroying some of their
playthings or just staring at a fixed point, genuinely meditating as
no Zen master will ever be able to in a whole lifetime. Not a wonder,
then, that one of the finest tracks herein was generated by a
fabulous juxtaposition of sounds coming from squeaking rubber animals
and chanting frogs. A delight.
On the other hand, the foundation for the bulk of
these surrealistic fantasies is constituted by ductile looping
structures enriching the music with scents of “mesmeric security”.
Picture a charming garden of which we can clearly see the surrounding
walls, full of beautiful flowers amidst the ivy. Now, envisage the
feeling of relief as you think to the potential dangers that are
avoided by remaining inside. The timbres are a multitude, all
splendidly evocative; the palette includes everything between
“unadulterated acoustic” and “semi-radical electronic”.
Homler’s voice depicts simple melodies reminiscent of ancient
Eastern cultures, yet – as long as I can hear – the languages she
uses are more or less fabricated, which increases the level of elfish
befuddlement. We imagine a Meredith Monk doll clone performing in a
small town’s square with a Chinese folk ensemble. Even where the
pairing of glissando and massive stratification evokes rainbows in
dark skies, the results appear accessible and heartwarming.
Several years were necessary to reach this balance
of ingredients. And in this slam-bang world ejecting mediocrity by
the minute, a record like this equals the pleasure of warming your
lap with a purring cat set to pierce your soul through an inimitable
Anna Homler & Sylvia Hallett
The Many Moods Of Bread And Shed
on The Orchestra Pit
It would be tempting and easy to portray the music on “The Many Moods of Bread And Shed” as a rich, alien interplay of two outstanding and innovative artists. It is certainly that and much more. It is somewhat like the invented language of
vocalist Anna Homler in the sense that it contains vast amounts of emotional conveyance but at the same time stripped of cold, intellectual understanding.
Long time British improviser, Sylvia Hallett sets the stage with an assortment of backing tracks, each different and distinctive. Violin,loops, marimba, saw, bowed
bicycle wheel, and much more create a varied and colorful pallette over which Homler intones her magical voice and adds some miscellaneous instruments as well.
Not just a thrown together” lets see what happens” kind of collaboration but a substantial and complete artistic announcement, this is a carefully balanced and
nuanced exposition of possibilities from two of the world’s foremost improvising artists. Much of this is delicate with little toe tapping beats but cast with implied rhythm and movement. This is a playful and ceremonial outing and it sounds inspired, or perhaps I should say, it inspires me.
I have been a fan of both artists for many years and could barely believe it when I heard they had an album together. I feel like I just got very lucky.
Anna’s vocal melodies and incantations run a very long gamut and because
there is no word identification the emotional power is infused in the
delivery and sound of her voice.
It never gets scary like Diamanda Galas but is closer in spirit to some of the expressive power of Julie Tippetts, or Phil Minton, to me. Sadness, joy,
longing...of course but much more in the implications of her subtle styling.
Am I “over the moon” about this collaboration album? No, I am way past the lunar pull and now traveling back inside of myself to rarely visited,and unknown areas opened by this portal that I have just walked through.
"No Pigeonholes Radio", 30 April 2012
SYLVIA HALLETT and MIKE ADCOCK
The Orchestra Pit
by Julian Cowley . The Wire 2010
Two of my favourites in the invaluable Emanem catalogue are Sylvia Hallett's White Fog and Sleep It Off by Mike Adcock and Clive Bell. Both were recorded around 2000, but now Adcock and Hallett have teamed up for Reduced, further proof that improvisers can still sidestep well-trodden formulas and create unique music that makes its own rules and is complete in itself. It's music about intimicy rather than self-advertisement;cultivation of a wondering ear for sounds rather than display of technical flash. As well as violin, Hallett uses saw, bicycle wheel, lentils, FX pedals and her voice; Adcock supplements accordion with guitar, autoharp, marble chute and percussion. Reduced has warmth and charm; rare qualities for music that's so unpredictable and set apart from any orthodoxy.
White Fog review, amg
Visitez / Visit the All-Music Guide at www.allmusic.com
2001 07 01
Even though White Fog is Sylvia Hallett's third solo CD, for the British free improv label Emanem this is a first: in almost thirty years of existence, it had never released an album including lyrics, nor extended sound art techniques. All that to say White Fog is a beautiful album but it may have difficulties finding its public. The CD contains three works. First is “Wheelsongs,” a gripping cycle of improvised songs (with written lyrics), accompanied by bowed bicycle wheel. You read right: these captivating plaintive sounds that form a rich shroud emanate from wheel spokes. Digital delay boxes are used to create soundscapes -- their manipulation is not seamless, but the crude use of the technology enhances the fragility of Hallett's voice, often bringing to mind Anna Homler.“Violet” and “White Fog” are two highlights. “The Onyx Rook” is a ritualistic-like improvisation on violin and voice, a very fine example of the woman's performing abilities. The set closes with “Snail and Curlew,” a sound collage piece. Made of water, bird and vocal sounds for the most part, it also includes electroacoustic sounds, synthesized sounds and even
fragments of tunes. Gradually moving from one dreamy state of conscience to another, the piece offers an interesting aural journey, but fails to strike the imagination as strongly as the opening cycle. For “Wheelsongs” alone this CD is worth hearing, especially for fans of Homler or other delicate feminine voices of the avant-garde.
1.Wheelsongs: A Wheelwright Used to Live Here~11:53~Hallett, Sylvia
2.Wheelsongs: Violet~4:56~Hallett, Sylvia
3.Wheelsongs: Woman with Dustpan and Brush~7:25~Hallett, Sylvia
4.Wheelsongs: White Fog~4:34~Hallett, Sylvia
5.Wheelsongs: Private War~5:02~Hallett, Sylvia
6.Wheelsongs: Walnut~2:09~Hallett, Sylvia
7.The Onyx Rook~12:46~Hallett, Sylvia
8.Snail and Curlew~15:07~Hallett, Sylvia
Hallett, Sylvia/bowed bicycle wheel/home-built
White fog review, Rubberneck
Sylvia Hallett, White Fog (Emanem 4057 CD). Sylvia Hallet has been involved with the LMC since the mid-70s, and has more recently become involved with creating soundtracks for theatre, dance, puppet companies, and even BBC Radio. Primarily a violinist, Sylvia is not afraid to take her bow to other objects, and also, unlike many improvisors, has not been afraid to introduce electronics into her work. This CD is a fine example of her approach. Half of it is made up of tracks that use a bowed bicycle wheel as their basis. The sound is eerie and rather reminiscent of old Radiophonic Workshop recordings or maybe Nurse With Wound. Sylvia is stimulated by the Cageian unpredictability of her chosen instrument: "...you can never be quite sure which harmonic will sound; it will often skip to the one above or below the one you are trying to play!" Although this is similar in some ways to the work of Kaffe Matthews (who uses violin and electronics), Hallett's work is more mournful than bombastic, and often the electronic aspects are restricted to a cavernous reverb. Subterranean echoes counjure up a murky, frozen world, vibrating with ugly undercurrents. For a visual context, imagine the water-logged, grey landscapes of Andrei Tarkovsky's movie, Stalker. Like the HÃ©tu release, this disc has its poetry, but sadly it sits on top of the sound, rather than becoming part of it. The vocals on one track work for me though. 'Private War' has a lilting, doomladen, almost folksy feel, which is very similar to that of bands of the 'Apocalypse Folk' genre: Sol Invictus, Current 93, et al. The other tracks on the album include a violin and voice improv, and an excellent tape collage which uses natural sounds to build a pleasingly fatalistic texture. Sadly this is marred slightly by the introduction of a rather bland electronic melody which undercuts the simple sadness of the birds, water and wind.
Ambiances Magnetiques: www.actuellecd.com
Text copyright Rubberneck 2002
Live gig review Sylvia Hallett
TERMITE FESTIVAL 2003
CLIVE BELL + MIKE ADCOCK
2O Nov 2003
A small-ish crowd gathered upstairs in the Adelphi to witness the first night of events for the 20th Termite Festival. It began as it meant to go on, quietly. Quite literally the quiet before the storm of tomorrow night, German table-top improv guitarist Annette Krebs was the first on the bill to perform. The diminutive musician sat herself behind her table of equipment including a contact-mic'ed acoustic guitar, dictaphone and radio. Once positioned and ready, Krebs surged into an understated beginning, looking all the part like a conductor. She rubbed scouring pads over the guitar strings and manipulated these sounds via her two foot pedals. Further in she utilised a violin bow on her guitar and slowly built up a fragile framework of similar sounds, all the while incorporating static and white noise from the radio. Equal parts silence and noise, the highlight of her set was the finale of a small hand-held fan, its blades tickling the guitar strings on the machinehead, triggering insectile chatterings to escape from the speakers. The occasional burst of underground bhangra from some local radio station merely added to this wonderfully idiosyncratic performance.
A personal highlight of this festival was Sylvia Hallett, who was next up. Stood at the back of the stage, Sylvia began by bowing her infamous amplified bicycle wheel, processing and looping the results via the rack of FX gear to her left. I was somewhat surprised at the mournful, emotive sounds a bowed wheel can produce. Over this bed of sound, she sang beautiful wordless vocals which she also delayed and processed. Other implements for sound she used were a saw and the more traditional violin. Full merit is due to Sylvia for the way she handled the rather rude interruption of some bright-spark bursting into the room to ask whether the owner of an L-reg Cavalier could rescue their vehicle from imminent towing. She instigated a round of applause for the man, before giving us a further 10 or so minutes of solemn beauty.
Clive Bell and Mike Adcock were a breath of fresh improv air. They performed an acoustic set played on a wondrous array of bizarre and intriguing instruments. Mike Adcock began by playing his amazing prepared guitar. He appeared to wind it up and it seemed to have music / toy box parts inside that rang out an occasional broken clockwork lullaby every time he played a melody on the actual strings. Bell continued to impress as he pulled out ever larger and weirder wind instruments from his box of delights, from simple recorder-esque single reed flutes, to multi-horned pipes... emitting all nature of haunting, wonderful tones and sounds. Back on stage Adcock swapped between a squeeze box and glockenspiel. This was something of a completion of a cycle as Bell told of how he had been one of the artists who played on that very first Termite Fest. To round off the night, all four artists returned to the stage to begin a 10 minute collective improvisation. It was a joy to watch these three acts from disparate musical genres gel so well together. All had a masterful ear for interaction and knew when to hold off or chip in. The mix of acoustic and electric as well as analogue and digital sounds was excellent. A wonderful start to the festival.
Live Gig Clive Bell and Sylvia Hallett
online review of Freedon of the City Fest at Dan Warburton's Paris Transatlantic magazine at:
here's the bit about us........
The final act of the afternoon session was Clive Bell and Sylvia Hallett. Using violin, amplified bicycle wheel and saw (all three played with a violin bow), Hallett set up shifting looped samples of her own playing, over which Bell played a succession of woodwind instruments taken from various musical cultures. It was refreshing to see the resources of non-Western music explored with none of the pietism or commodified assimilation to Western popular music endemic to so-called World Music. The unique juxtaposition of Bell's alternately piercing and floating woodwind sounds and Hallett's metallic rotations was striking, and their encore, one of only two during the entire festival, was richly deserved.
and his concluding para......
Overall, I enjoyed the festival. The atmosphere was casual, unpretentious and friendly, and the music often displayed some excellent improvisational skills. My reservations concern the advancing age and perhaps staleness of the musical paradigms in which the featured groups tended to embody their improvisations. Newer currents of improvisation do exist in London, being regularly presented in the basement of Mark Wastell's Sound323 shop and elsewhere in the city, but have never been strongly represented at Freedom of the City. This is no doubt a reflection of the tastes and preferences of the organizers, who are of course under no obligation to put on performers who do not appeal to them. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the main festival dedicated to free improvisation in London is largely given over to the music that established the city's reputation as a centre for free improvisation in the late 1960s and early 1970s and not the cutting-edge developments that will keep the music alive as a radical force in the twenty-first century.
The Orchestra Pit CD OP9