On není jako on – a new album release

Mar 23, 2014 by

On není jako on – a new album release

Long, droning, quasi-classical releases by Nick Gill (that’s me) are like buses: heavy, unwieldy, underused and very few of them in North London.  But also…

In a couple of months, the Kickstarter-funded LP Grey season will be coming out, and I’m extremely excited about it; there’s also a new sprawling album of nonsense from The Monroe Transfer in the pipeline.

In the meantime, something that’s been hanging around for ages in a semi-finished state is On není jako on – developed from the score I wrote for Katharina Schmitt’s Czech production of the play of the same name, it’s a one-hour piece for ‘cello, monophonic synthesiser, electric guitar and piano, against a background of field recordings and gentle, granulated electronics.

I’m releasing it as an extremely limited edition CD (only 72 numbered and initialled copies, in a handmade slipcase) and as a digital download on 31st March.  Pre-orders for the highly-limited (and rather snazzy) CDs are available now from Bandcamp – just click the image below.   It’s also available from 7Music, Amazon and iTunes, if that’s how you like to get your music.

This is also the first release from Effra Press, the imprint run with Vic Knowland from our garage in South London.  Our equipment is very nearly ready for our first book, and we hope to make small, foolish things for many years to come.  The website’s starting to come together, so please have a nose around, have a read and a listen…

slipcase & sleeve

PRESS RELEASE

release date: 31st March 2014

About the play

On není jako on (German: Er nicht als er) is a play by the German Nobel Prize winning writer Elfriede Jelinek, dedicated to the late 19th century Swiss writer Robert Walser (1878-1956).

In 1929 Walser voluntarily committed himself to a sanatorium for the mental ill, where he wrote very little until his death.  The play itself takes place in a psychiatric clinic, and has no protagonist- though the stage directions state that several people are present, none of them are named or described.  It’s hard to pin down a definitive meaning in the script, as it’s a meditation on numerous subjects- fairy tales, myths, loneliness, isolation, the nature of art and writing, and ultimately death itself.

About the music

This score was written to accompany a 2011 production at MeetFactory, Prague (dir. Katharina Schmitt) in which Ivana Uhlířová shifted between presenting four characters- a psychiatric doctor, Elfriede Jelinek, Robert Walser and the actor herself. The instrumentation of the score reflects this fracturing of personality, using a combination of acoustic, amplified and electronic instruments.

The music makes use of what Schoenberg termed klangfarbenmelodie (‘tone colour melody’): while traditional composition prizes melody and harmony (in essence, an ear-pleasing sequence of changes in pitch), klangfarbenmelodie instead focuses on changes in timbre and quality of the notes: on a guitar, for example, many notes can be played in different positions on the fretboard, with each note having a different quality.

On neni jako on uses this principle by way of a simple, four chord structure spread across the instruments, repeating and restating the melody lines in different octaves and rhythmic patterns, using a variety of playing techniques to produce the notes, as well as numerous combinations of the instruments themselves, to create a constantly changing sound within a static harmonic structure.

Just as the idea of character and meaning are buried in the dense writing, so the music is swathed in crackle and hum, along with processed recordings of the rehearsal process, whose volume swells and fades around the instruments. The result is a slowly-developing piece that immerses the listener in the opaque world of the play, and the mind of a writer isolated of his own free will.

About the release

There are only 72 numbered and initialled copies of the CD, entirely printed letterpress.  The handmade slipcase is covered in Conqueror laid paper, printed with wooden and metal type inked in multiple colours with hand rollers, making each case unique. The CDs themselves are finished with a brush pun. Downloads available from Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon and other online retailers.

About Effra Press

Effra Press is a small, private press run by Nick & Vic in South East London, releasing short runs of books and music.  On není jako on is the press’s first offering; in 2014 the press will be releasing Nick’s grey season LP (an album of ambient/home listening music) and their first book- The White Space Specimen Book 2014.

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