Neil Mudd chats to field recordist Jez riley French about capturing the ‘music’ of the Humber Bridge for ‘Height of the Reeds’, his Hull UK City of Culture 2017 collaboration with Opera North
‘Noises must become music,’ wrote Robert Bresson in Notes on Cinematography, with a characteristic exactness that might just as readily be used to describe the work of artist Jez riley French – a pioneer in field recording and creative sound.
Presented with a tape recorder at a young age by his mother, French has spent his life listening to noise in all its myriad forms, either with his ears or through the high-specification microphones he designs himself. Alongside Chris Watson, French is an important figure in British field recording. He lectures and runs workshops about it around the world. He has curated numerous performances, installations and exhibitions, with works and performances for Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, The Whitworth and others. He runs the label engraved glass, a music imprint through which he releases limited editions of his own composition work and those of like-minded spirits; he publishes an e-zine verdure engraved to showcase other artists’ work; and he creates photographic scores for an occasional series of collaborations with his daughter, the artist, Phoebe riley Law. (more…)
During the mid-1930s, British and overseas newspapers were full of incredible stories about Gef, a ‘talking mongoose’ or ‘man-weasel’ who had allegedly appeared in the home of the Irvings, a farming family in a remote district of the Isle of Man. This bizarre story is the focus of Christopher Josiffe’s forthcoming book, Gef! The Strange Tale of An Extra-Special Talking Mongoose, published by the estimable Strange Attractor Press on 8 May. Find an extract from the book below.
Both author and publisher join us at our second Horse Hospital event, taking place on Monday 20 March. More info and tickets here.
“I am not a spirit,” Gef declared. “I am just a little, extra clever mongoose.” By mid 1932, James Irving had come to revise his earlier opinion that Gef was nothing more than a flesh-and-blood, physical animal – albeit one with extraordinary gifts, such as the power of speech. Instead, he had begun to think of Gef as something supernatural. Nevertheless, several pieces of evidence were incompatible with his being a conventional spirit or ghost.
Despite Gef’s garrulous and lively behaviour at night, eventually, he too would require sleep. For Gef, bed was either a nest of grass or moss in his ‘sanctum’ (Fodor had taken a sample), or a pillow downstairs in the dining room – the Irvings claimed to be able to discern an indentation in this pillow the next day. (more…)
Dear Caught by the River,
I would like to bring to your attention an event taking place at the end of next month at the Writers’ Centre Norwich in collaboration with UEA celebrating the work of wild swimmer and nature writer Roger Deakin. This afternoon of talks, readings and discussion on Sunday 30th April will explore the two great themes of this important author – Water and Woods.
We have a great line-up of speakers and readers and we ask that you might share this with anyone among your readers who you think might be interested in joining us. All are welcome.
With kind regards,
For tickets and information visit the UEA site HERE.
Artwork designed and created by Nick Hand
Following the success of our sold out evening at the Horse Hospital last month, we’re delighted to announce that we’re teaming up with our Scottish brothers and sisters Neu! Reekie! to put on their first ever London event.
Where Are We Now? takes place on Wednesday 26th April at Caught by the River’s spiritual clubhouse, The Social, 5 Little Portland Street, London W1. Doors open at 7pm; tickets are £8 in advance and can be bought here. (more…)
A quick rundown of Monday’s Bloomsbury shindig, accompanied by the photo documentation of Neil ‘Tomo’ Thomson
This week, under cover of near total darkness, we staged our first ever event at iconic central London arts space The Horse Hospital. Our thanks go to Sholto at the venue, Will Burns, Martha Sprackland, Adam O’Riordan, Ultramarine, Kate Carr, Nick Luscombe, and, of course, our audience. (more…)