ESR MONTHLY A music capsule delivered by ESR
A music capsule delivered by ESR
A couple days later here's this month's newsletter, penned by April who you may know from a couple shows at ESR.
About the Editor
April Clare Welsh is a freelance writer and journalist from London who relocated to Lisbon in 2018. She has been writing about music and culture for over a decade (covering and reporting on music from Portugal in recent years) and has worked as a staff writer for FACT magazine and freelance writer for publications including the Guardian, Dazed, NME, Mixmag, Wire, Huck and more.
She lives in Arroios and loves it.
Space is the Place
To quote the time-travelling legend himself, Sun Ra is clearly “of another dimension” entirely. The Afrofuturist trailblazer, synth pioneer and free jazz aficionado steered his own interplanetary musical spaceship from the 1950s until his death in Birmingham, Alabama on May 30, 1993.
Space is the Place is Sun Ra’s 1974 82-minute (uncut version) odyssey directed by John Coney, co-written with Joshua Smith, and accompanied by an original soundtrack. In this dizzying mix of sci-fi, blaxploitation, musical performance and social commentary, mystics predict a landing from outer space; none other than Sun Ra who plays himself and who shows up in his spaceship in present-day Oakland. He begins his quest to promote and recruit people for his Black utopia in outer space, coming up against evil adversary the Overseer (Ray Johnson), the FBI and other obstacles along the way...
The film features Sun Ra’s sprawling collective of musicians – the Sun Ra Arkestra – including singer June Tyson and helmed by the unstoppable Marshall Allen (who is now 97 and still at it). I was lucky enough to see the Arkestra perform at the Jeff Mangum ATP in Minehead, UK in 2012. Some memories of that festival are hazier than others, but some will certainly last until “after the end of the world.”
Uproot: Travels in 21st-Century Music and Digital Culture By Jace Clayton aka DJ /rupture
This book covers so much ground and is written so vividly that it’s really in a league of its own.
Uproot is a dense exploration of music in the digital age and non-Western geographies from a multitasking writer, mixtape-maker, DJ and all-round good egg. Jace Clayton travels all over the world to examine the impact of technology and globalisation on audio culture. The Harvard-educated wordsmith (who in 2012 created a free suite of music-making software tools called Sufi Plug-Ins) meets a group of Berbers in Morocco working with Auto-Tune, goes to soundsystem parties in Brooklyn and loosely connects the dots between dadaism and digital tools (with a whole chapter dedicated to FruityLoops). It’s all quite nerdy stuff, but it’s still an accessible, future-facing book; Clayton never over-intellectualises anything and that’s what makes it so good. That, and the wanderlust, will no doubt draw you in.
Zadar sea organ
I visited Zadar, a city on Croatia’s sparkling Dalmatian coast, in 2019 and came across this really cool sound art installation; the Zadar Sea Organ. As its name suggests, it’s basically a musical instrument played by the sea! Designed by architect Nikola Bašić and completed in 2005, it’s a natural organ driven by sea waves that’s built like steps so you can sit on top of the installation and hear the sound of the organ pipes as the waves roll in. I love stuff like this. There’s also another installation right by the sea organ that was created by the same architect. It’s essentially a pattern of solar-powered glass panels that provide a pretty impressive light show at night.
As always, hope you enjoyed and see you next week.
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