John Cavanagh & The Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre – Glasgow

This is a special place in Glasgow. With a dedicated and brilliant team to help run it.

I was invited to do a gig at the monthly ‘Live Music at Sharmanka’ series curated by John Cavanagh.

Semay Wu @ Sharmanka, Glasgow – 10min

[Gavin Brown/Onthefly edited and filmed this video]

John has his regular weekly radioshow ‘Soundwave’ broadcast on Radio Six International and other stations (since Oct 2010):

The Sharmanka series has also been going for ten years. One of the initial main ideas behind it, was/is to allow the invited guests to choose how they would interact with the space and with the beautiful machines.

I chose a sunday vibe – with three basic parts:

1/ acoustic – free improvisation (cello) with the surrounding sonics of the machines.

2/ electroacoustic – maxMSP software patch manipulating live recordings of improvised voice, objects, cello, and field recordings from around the world sent to me via social media or otherwise – a minute of the person’s surroundings. An aural landscape of where you are in the world at that point.

This was inspired by a randam recording that was sent to me from Berlin, of birds at the Tiergarten. I received minutes from a Moscow Metro as well as a Russian musical fountain; Sounds from Bogata, Columbia; frogs from Dordoigne; Bells from Vannes, france; Illinois summer evening; a chicagoan library; Vienna street sounds; peaceful Dutch atmospheres; an old deaf cat chomping; the Hong Kong Metro; soldering sounds from a Manchester jewellery workshop; Thai birds and cicadas; a Scottish folk choir singing; a ferry trip by the Isle of Wight; and Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. I hope more come my way!

There may be thoughts on furthering these sounds (as a side) by turning them into topical themes for a possible album.

3/ acoustic – cello in the vibe of Roberta Flack’s ‘First Time’ and Alice Coltrane.

I was also able to drop in at an earlier date to see a show to remind myself of the different automata and personalities on display. Robin from the team also allowed me to hear the machines without the audio on top, so i could suss out rhythms and textures. Awesome experience. And they are loud!

One further note: John Cavanagh was directing the machines – and with a basic structure, set out to improvise with my set. Lots of bells and glorious machine noises.