Artist Playlists: Music and Film

Ahead of our collaboration with Central Saint Martins on Wednesday 10 December we present to you two playlists: one music, one film.

The first playlist from composer Jacob Thompson-Bell gives us an insight into some of his favourite music of late, in the run up to our premiere of his solo piece at Alternative Visions. Alongside this, students from Central Saint Martins have shared some film clips and videos that have inspired their film-making process.

Jacob Thompson- Bell

Lawrence English – The Liquid Casket (from Lawrence English: Wilderness of Mirrors, Room 40, 2014)

This intense, symphonic record is so absorbing. There’s something claustrophobic about it – the sound seems confined, as though English has squeezed a vast, dense sonic mass into a tiny chamber.

Richard Ginns – Looking Nort (from Richard Ginns: Sea Change, Slow Flow Recordings, 2011)

I’m a big fan of mixing field recordings and music. This track weaves subdued chords through moving layers of wood, metal and water, made by the movement of oars in a rowing boat, gradually revealing the sound source as the music progresses.

Alexander Schubert – Semaphores (from Alexander Schubert: Plays Sinebag, Ahornfelder, 2011)

Even with the scratches, crackles, and clipped beats, Schubert manages to produce a very pure sound on this track. I like the eccentric mix of classical, ambient, jazz, folk and electronica all bundled together like a unique clockwork machine.

Grouper – Vapor Trails (from Grouper: A I A: Dream Observer, Yellowelectric, 2011)

Grouper, a.k.a. Liz Harris, is in these recordings somewhere, though her voice is buried within a shimmering haze of guitar reverb and distortion. Trying to locate her seems to draw me into the rich, ambient texture.

Thomas Mapfumo – Yarira Ngoma (from Chimurenga Rebel, Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks, 2011)

This piece has such infectious rhythms and a really uplifting quality. Mapfumo’s guitar mimics and mixes with the sound of the thumb piano or “mbira” (the metallic plucking sound) – part of Mapfumo’s inspiring efforts to champion the culture and identity of black Africans in the embattled post-colonial Zimbabwe of the 1960s and 70s.

Steve Reich – Eight Lines (from Bang on a Can: New Counterpoint, Eight Lines, Four Organs, Nonesuch Records, 2000)

Reich adds layer after layer in this piece, and every one of them is worth listening to on its own. All the instrumental lines fit together so neatly that, even after you’ve heard each line repeated, the beats keep catching you out.

Francis Bebey – Agatha (from Francis Bebey: African Electronic Music 1975 – 1982, Born Bad 2012)

Bebey isn’t usually credited with a volume of electronic music but this album of lesser-known pieces is a real find, with some catchy riffs. This track features Bebey part-singing, part-speaking throughout, and he sounds as though he’s having a great time! His laugh is incredibly contagious (particularly from about 2:30 in).

Messiaen – Trois Liturgies de la presence divine (from Myung-Whun Chug conducts Messiaen, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Deutsche Grammophon, 2008)

I love this piece. Prickly birdsong motifs on the piano punctuate the syrupy combined sound of a female-voice choir, strings and Messiaen’s characteristic ondes martenot. There are also some rhythmically exciting passages for solo violin and percussion.

John Cage – Four Walls (from Richard Bunger and Jay Clayton: John Cage: Four Walls, The Tomato Music Works Ltd., 2003)

Some of Cage’s music is disarmingly simple. I think this is one of those pieces. The harmonies are very plain; very beautiful.

Handel – Pifa (Pastoral Symphony) from Handel’s Messiah (from The Monteverdi Choir, John Eliot Gardiner, Universal, 1992)

It’s nearly Christmas, and the whole oratorio is pretty much back-to-back great tunes! This particular movement always makes me think of a festive fireside keeping out the winter cold.


Central Saint Martins Students

Jaques Tati Mon Oncle

Sleeper Banana Skin

Das Triadische Ballet

Len Lye Rainbow Dance

Romy Schneider l’Enfer

Samsara Office Man

Seyit Uygur Ebru Art


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