Saturday, 25 April 2015

duck-rabbit: interview ahead of tonight's EP launch


Duck-rabbit are a London-based improvising trio made up of Joe Wright, Tom Taylor and James Opstad. They are launching the EP tonight (7:30pm, Saturday 25th April) at the Hundred Years Gallery in Hoxton, where they will be joined by the formidable duo of Aisha Orazbayeva (violin) and Peiman Khosravi (electronics).


Their last two EPs, Scattered Voices: Parts I and II, have followed the electronic side of the group. Each instalment uses sounds collected on location as source material for improvisation. They then use unique electronic instruments that they have designed, built, and developed themselves (an awesome document of which can be found on Joe's mega Musical Making blog) to improvise around this material. I asked James about the project...
Scattered Voices is an ongoing series where each part focuses on sounds and images collected in a particular location. The sounds are then used as source material for electronic improvisations. In this sense, the music is an improvised form of musique concréte. So far we have travelled to a desolate beach on the south coast, a scrapyard near Liverpool and, most recently, the Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall in Wales.
By their nature, Scattered Voices: Parts I and II had a strong focus on metallic sounds. We were keen to do something quite different with Part III and were drawn to the idea of using water. Naturally, this lead to the idea of visiting a waterfall and we settled on the particularly dramatic setting of Pistyll Rhaeadr.
Photo by Peter Black 
 Some rights reserved
The waterfall presented new challenges in collecting an interesting and varied set of sounds. With such a huge body of water crashing down, the audible effect was something akin to white noise. Our initial efforts showed that much more interesting results could be obtained underwater using a hydrophone. We collected our sounds by recording the underwater flow at various points downstream from the waterfall. The chaotic bubbling was richly varied and unpredictable and offered an aural window into a submerged world of flux. It has been very stimulating to work with such detailed sounds and as improvisers we have enjoyed both exploring their instrinic nature and transforming them in a variety of ways.
Here's a teaser of the new EP:


Although the musical ideas are initially difficult to pick out, given the random aquatic source material, they emerge and morph in dreamlike patterns over the course of the record. What I like most about duck-rabbit as a group is the sheer musicality of their development - where a lot of improv can sound as if it's seeking out chaotic energy (or, equally, entropic silence), these guys stack and restack one another's ideas until they reach a satisfying musical stasis. It's a beautiful, challenging process, and an inspiring result.

I would heartily recommend picking up the rest of the Scattered Voices series, as well as their acoustic record Path to Field: