Shoreditch and the Serengeti collide in Z’ev and Chris Watson’s new work

By , Aug 5 2010


The South London Gallery will play host to the first live collaboration between Chris Watson and Z’EV.

East African Nocturne is a new 45-minute work by the duo, scheduled for CD release through Atavistic Worldwide in September. The work combines natural sounds captured by Watson in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park with industrial percussion textures recorded by Z’EV in the crypt of the Hawksmoor-designed Christ Church Spitalfields. The premiere live performance of the work takes place on September 10, with a second performance taking place on September 11.

The piece arose out of an online exchange of ideas and files between Z’EV and Watson over the course of a year. Watson, a founder member of Cabaret Voltaire and later part of The Hafler Trio, is one of the world’s most respected sound recordists, and has worked on wildlife documentaries for the BBC (most notably David Attenborough’s The Life of Birds and The Life of Mammals) as well as creating several classic solo and collaborative albums for Touch.

Z’EV is an American musician and sound artist primarily associated with the industrial scene. Over the years he has collaborated with the likes of Boyd Rice, Lydia Lunch, Peter Rehberg, Charlemagne Palestine and Sunn O))’s Stephen O’Malley. He is currently based in LA and London.

The South London Gallery performance of East African Nocturne will see Watson live mixing the sounds of birds, elephant, frogs, hyenas, lions, vultures and myriad insect species that he recorded in the Serengeti, and Z’EV providing live percussion. One of the inspirations for the project was Bela Bartók’s ‘Musiques Nocturnes (The Night’s Music)’ the fourth movement from Out of Doors for solo piano (1926), in which Bartók attempted to imitate the sounds of nature.

According to a press release, “The rhythms of the work are generated as Z’EV and the instruments move in and through the gallery, producing orchestrations of highly rhythmic acoustic phenomena. Watson’s mix also moves through the gallery, processed by Paul Gillieron’s Ambisonic surround sound system, 3D AudioScape, presenting a special electro-acoustic experience: a fully immersive sound field, where wildlife dawn and dusk choruses will create an exceptional experience of sound. This new musical composition summarises the cross-over between contemporary live performance and field recording.”

The two performances take place at 9.30pm on September 10 and 11; tickets are £10/£7 and booking is essential. The South London Gallery is situated at 65 Peckham Road, London SE5 8UH. More information here.

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