Cromer Waves

I’ve written instrumentals for two videos I recorded last year when a heavy storm battered the Norfolk coast. Both were filmed in Cromer, a beautiful town on the North Norfolk Coast as heavy storms were hitting much of Britain. I’ve been going there for years to watch the waves, but this was the wildest the sea had been in sixty years.

The video footage is often shaky and erratic ; it was shot on an iPhone 5 in a howling gale, and for some of it I was leaning out of a window to take the shot.

The first piece is a piano improvisation I recorded against the film while testing out ideas. My original plan had be been to slow the waves to half their speed, and create a sound track using strings and electronics, but nothing I tried seemed to work as well. Showing the waves against a melancholy musical backdrop seems to give the illusion that they are at a slower speed, I like the balletic grace it lends them.

For second video, I went for something more turbulent and tortured. The sounds are very bright ; it might be rather harsh on cheap speakers.

I’ll write a more detailed update on the various things I’ve been up to shortly.

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Henry Fool – Men Singing

A rather belated update, the first of several.

A few months ago, the second Henry Fool album “Men Singing” was released on Kscope, more than a decade after the band’s debut.

Henry Fool is an odd band for me… The band is a very deliberate re-imagining of some of the prog rock / prog jazz albums I loved in my youth, and as such is far more nostalgic and less original than most of the projects I like to get involved in. It’s not really music I listen to anymore (I still haven’t heard the final album!)

But… I have enormous fun playing on it. In this case, I turned up to a studio somewhere in Norfolk, played bass all day (one of the few times I’ve played bass in the last ten years sadly), and some time later, thanks to the machinations of Stephen Bennett, Jarrod Gosling (who I’ve yet to meet) and Tim Bowness, an album appears!

Phil Manzanera plays some very interesting guitar on the album, which means I’ve now worked with two Roxy Music members entirely independently.

A limited edition mini-gatefold package has now sold out (I really should update this page more quickly) but the jewel case version of the album is still available:

There’s a brief promotional trailer for the album here (very funny picture of me in rock monster form at 1:15)

You can also listen to a few tracks here:

Updates on the tour with Underworld’s Karl Hyde and a reissue of California, Norfolk, my album with Tim Bowness to follow shortly… honest…

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Karl Hyde live band

Some very exciting news I can announce at last: I’m part of a live band formed by Karl Hyde of Underworld which will be touring this year to promote his first solo album, Edgeland.

I met first met Karl in 2009 when he and Brian Eno were preparing for their Pure Scenius project (which included Edgeland’s co-producer Leo Abrahams.) Like Brian, Karl has a genuine passion and excitement for making music that’s a joy to be around. When I heard he was putting a band together, I did something I rarely do, and with a modest cough hinted that I might possibly know a keyboardist who would be interested. I’m delighted that he indulged me. The band – I’ll let the other musicians identify themselves – has been rehearsing this last week, and I can’t wait for us to take it out on the road.

Sonar Tokyo is the only date that has been announced so far and I haven’t any other information. Meanwhile, here’s the track Cut Clouds, one of my favourite tracks from the album:

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Meet the Developers Video Podcast

On October 5th, Brian Eno and I were invited by the Apple to give a talk about our new app Scape at their store on Regent Street, London. This has now been released as a podcast. It’s 45 minutes long, including a Q&A session at the end, available as both video and audio. I’d recommend the video version, as there are sections where we’re displaying Scape as we discuss it.

It was an extremely enjoyable to talk onstage with Brian, and as an unashamed Apple fanboy, a thrill to do so at the stylish Apple Store on Regent Street. Slightly peculiar seeing myself onscreen for the first time. It looks like I’m getting well on my way in my long planned transition into a mad professor.

We also filmed an interview to Matt Cowan from Reuters earlier this week, which has been cropping up on news channels around the world. I believe a longer edit may surface at some point. Matt’s also posted some pictures from the interview.

On an unrelated note, I’ve reviewed the atmospheric iPad puzzler “The Room” on my Unworldly blog.

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Talk with Brian Eno in London at Apple Retail Store

Brian and I will be discussing our new iPad app Scape and more with Matt Jones this Friday, October 5th at 5:30 pm at the Apple Retail Store, Regent Street, London. There’s no reserved seating, so if you’d like to come, please get there early.

In the past week, we’ve given several interviews concerning Scape:

Guardian Interview, with Stuart Dredge
Wired UK, with Ian Steadman
Brian in conversation with Rory-Cellan Jones (BBC)

More to come!

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Scape for the iPad by Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers

Scape is a new iPad app I’ve been developing with Brian Eno for nearly two years. Although it is a further venture into generative music, it’s very different to our earlier apps, Bloom and Trope.

View Scape on the App Store

Here’s a video of Scape in action, narrated by a mystery voice:

We actually released Scape last week, but unfortunately there was a nasty issue causing a crash at startup for some users. After spotting a pattern – all of the emails were from non-English speaking European countries – we were able to narrow it down to a regional setting. An update is now available from the App Store which fixes the problem. Sorry if you were affected by this bug!

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Unworldly

I’ve started a new blog at unworldly.co.uk, focussed on some of the unusual and artistic apps that have been released for the iPhone and iPad over the four years since it started.

I’ve realised that recently I’ve been more excited by apps than music. It’s still a young platform finding its own vocabulary, but there are some extraordinary titles appearing that are fast establishing entire new genres. Outside of software, art has traditionally been static, art works set in stone as soon as an artist has finished working on it. Software can be fluid and flexible, able to respond to its user and even change form completely.

That said, I had a very enjoyable Letka recording session with Steve Bingham yesterday, and have been playing Husky Rescue‘s album Ship of Light to death over the last few days. There’s still plenty to keep my interested in good old-fashioned albums.

Incidentally, this wasn’t the big announcement I was mentioning in my previous post… that’s still to come!

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“Free” album anniversary / Slow Electric / Letka / Facebook

Ten years ago today, I tried an experiment in viral distribution. I recorded an album, and gave away two CDRs to friends at a gig in Canada. Each bore the instructions that in return for getting the album for free, the recipient should make at least two copies, and give them away to other friends who might like it.

Obviously, if that kind of exponential duplication had continued unchecked CDR copies would now cover the earth to a depth of seven inches, so presumably it hit some cul-de-sacs. But I’d love to find out how far it reached. I once had the experience of sitting at a table in Cambridge, UK, and seeing someone from Spain pass on a copy, so at very least it hopped two countries.

If you received or duplicated copies, please drop me a line at this email address:

free@peterchilvers.com

It’d be great if you could let me know what country you’re based in, and pass the email on to anyone else who you think received the CD. I apologise, but I’m unlikely to be able to reply.

I gave the CD a listen for the first time in ages – well, actually on an MP3, technology has moved on a little in the last ten years. I liked the two songs, and the four motel pieces, the others sound a little too digital to me now. If you have the CD, I hope you found something that you liked.

In another news, you can also now follow me via Facebook. I’ve only just set it up, so please ignore the sound of tumbleweed blowing past.

The Slow Electric album is now available on iTunes. A mixture of atmospheric songs and textural improvisation, it features Tim Bowness and Uma with a guest appearance from bass legend Tony Levin. Slow Electric will also be performing live in Estonia on December 7th, joined by Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin. Click here for more information and a psychedelic poster.

Letka will be performing live at the Green Note in Camden this Sunday, joined again by violin maestro Steve Bingham.

A big announcement to come soon!

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Letka Album with guest appearance from Brian Eno

After a long incubation period, I’m pleased to announce a new album from Letka, a project with Irish vocalist Sandra O’Neill. Here’s the press the release:

“From the opening Beyond the Fold, featuring backing vocals and production from Brian Eno, to its epic closing track I Dream a Highway, Far Off Country seamlessly combines Country and Ambient influences in a uniquely ethereal way.

Featuring layered vocals, treated guitars, pedal steel and electronic textures, the six track collection of traditional songs, covers and new compositions represents a warm reflection of the desolate landscapes of the Mid West.

The evocative digipack, designed by Carl Glover, features images from his archive of photographs of American ghost towns.”

The album is available for preorder now from on Burning Shed, release date is 16th January 2012. It will also be available on iTunes from that date.

Several excerpts are available on Letka’s SoundCloud page.

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Piano Album on iTunes

‘Piano’, my imaginatively titled album of solo piano improvisations from 2006 is now available from iTunes.

The album was inspired by the ECM solo piano albums from Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock that began appearing in the early seventies. While I can’t claim to be remotely in the league of those extraordinary musicians, improvisation has always been central to my playing and I think there’s something unique to the structures that emerge from spontaneous composition.

I created the video below using the wonderful ‘Terragen’ package. Originally I’d intended this to accompany the ‘A Marble Calm’ track ‘Another World’, and created an unreal landscape using the colours from the album cover, but in the end I felt it suited Piano better.

I dedicated the album to many of the people who in some way encouraged or shaped my interest in the piano. Sadly two of those people have since passed away.

Lynda Phipps died several years ago after a long struggle with cancer. She taught music at my school in Bath, and her encyclopaedic knowledge of classical music was matched only by her enthusiasm in conveying the subject. My fondest memories of senior school were of the tiny A-Level classes, which were simply comprised of me, my friend Peter Gay, Lynda and a piano. She had an extraordinary ability to turn to the piano at any point in the lesson, and begin playing from memory sections of whatever piece was in discussion, arranging it as she went to pick out whatever melodies were relevant to the point she was making. I’ve since discovered that the musician and comedian Bill Bailey was a former pupil. He wrote a very touching tribute to her in the Times Educational supplement. By an extreme coincidence, Peter and I were also at the gig in Cambridge he mentions. We’d met in a pub prior to seeing Bill Bailey perform, and were discussing how we’d like to get in touch with Lynda. When we turned up at the venue, there she was at the door as if she’d been expecting to see us. Wonderful to see her again.

Professor Tony Oakhill treated me at Bristol Children’s Hospital when I was extremely ill back in the early 1980s. Although he was a pioneer in treating childhood cancers, it’s his sense of humour I remember most, a hugely reassuring presence to both children and parents alike. I continued to see him yearly as an outpatient throughout my teens and into early adulthood, when I could barely fit into the waiting room chairs, designed for younger frames. When he learnt of my interest in music, he suggested I give Keith Jarrett a listen. Although I had been improvising at the piano for some time, I had no idea that this was something people actually did in public, and the introduction to the ECM catalogue broadened my musical tastes and gave me a context in which to work. It’s a terrible and unjust tragedy that having given so much of his life to treating cancer in others, he finally succumbed to the disease himself at only 56. I’m deeply grateful to him for the gifts he gave me and many others.

Rest in peace.

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