I first heard Matthew Kaner‘s work during an interview with pianist Richard Uttley. Organum, which melds ripples of woodwind with electronic fizz and warped gongs, stopped me in my tracks. Turns out Matthew’s preoccupied with this collision of ancient and modern, acoustic and digital – a relationship he explores in this wonderful mix. More words from the man himself below.
Matthew has a residency on Radio 3 starting in September, be sure to tune in.
‘For this mix I wanted to try to offer a glimpse of something that really fascinates me in culture today: the strange and wonderful array of connections that exist between the music of the distant past and the present. (The title of the mix is in fact stolen from the twitter profile of the inspiring and brilliant Viola de Gamba player, Liam Byrne. If you enjoy this, I’d recommend checking him out.) So at times you’ll hear that I’ve directly juxtaposed the ‘old’ with the ‘new’, as a way to highlight links between them. Elsewhere though, I’ve simply selected tracks that explore these links of their own accord.
I start with Benedict Mason’s beautiful String Quartet which, with its subdued, heavily muted string sonorities, sounds to me strongly suggestive of the wonderful sonorities created by authentic baroque strings. So I follow this directly with a trio sonata by Henry Purcell played on these very instruments. And with its intensely exploratory harmonies (as if he were creating tonality from scratch), the Purcell seems to search for language in a way that strikes me as intensely modern and fresh, even today. Hans Abrahamsen’s beautifully subtle Schnee, on the other hand, is directly inspired by the music of J.S. Bach, exploring the technique of ’stretto’ found throughout his fugues, but in a completely radical new way.
The bleak, wintry stillness of the ending of Schnee also seemed the perfect link to Jürg Frey’s incredibly calm Extended Circular Music. For me, the pure sound of the saxophone quartet reaches back as far as it does forward, reminiscent even of renaissance choral music with its heightened attention to subtle dissonances for expressive effect. And as you might have guessed, this kind of stillness also connects up with electronic Ambient. So from Frey’s still instrumental music, I move straight to Amon Tobin’s ambient meditation on Jupiter’s moon Io. Brain Eno, arguably the inventor of Ambient, also himself features later on.
Towards the middle of the mix, the outright ‘newness’ of contemporary technology features in the music of glitch artist Ryiuchi Ikeda, which I place alongside an iconic track by one of my all time heroes: the tireless pioneer of cutting-edge music-technology, Herbie Hancock, who in 1974 seemed to have glimpsed forward in time to the advent of dance music with Nobu.
Finally, we then move back towards much stiller sound worlds,with the wonderful orchestral music of Aaron Parker. Captured was consciously inspired by Ambient electronic music, but freshly reconceived for ‘old’ acoustic orchestral instruments. At the very end of the mix, the wonderful pianist Sarah Nicolls reinvents an ‘old’ instrument by exploring its insides (she plays an ‘inside-out’ piano, with the strings directly facing the performer), using these eerie sounds as kind of ‘ambient’ backdrop to a meditative chorale.’
Benedict Mason – String Quartet (Part 1 – Perambulation) / Arditti Quartet
Henry Purcell – Trio Sonata no. 5 in A minor Z794 (ii. Adagio) / Respect Trio
Hans Abrahamsen – Schnee (Canon 1a) / Ensemble Recherche
Jürg Frey – Extended Circular Music no. 6 / Konus Quartett
Amon Tobin – Io
Jonathan Harvey – The Angels / Latvian Radio Choir & Kaspars Putnins
Boards of Canada – Turquoise Hexagon Sun
Ryiuchi Ikeda – data.flex
Herbie Hancock – Nobu
Aaron Parker – Captured: II / London Symphony Orchestra & François-Xavier Roth
Brian Eno – Unfamiliar Wind (Leeks Hills)
Sarah Nicolls – Seagull Chorale