Recording with Makoto Nomura

Makoto Nomura is a well established composer and performer well known for his work with animals and his use of  the melodica as his prominent instrument. I had the pleasure of working with him last week and recording a series of improvised works to be broadcast on UK BBC Radio sometime in tthe future. Our insruments were voice, printer ink carriages, scanner motors, 9v batteries, PC CD drives, cassette motors, bean tins and CD laser head carriages. The sounds came from the motors that are attached to these gears and carriages. This was indeed ‘motor music’.

We had a fantastic time experimenting with recording in the echoy corridors of the DMU PACE building.

A lot of what we worked on was lo-fi, especially the unique sounds that some of the motors made through the cardboard box amplifiers, they were very much preferable to the nice BOSE speakers whose sound was just too clean and characterless.

A very dirty night was had by all.

Dismantling scanners and printers

I’ve been dismanltling scanners and printers to make musical instruments from their moving parts. Every brand comes appart differently and every motor has a unique sound which makes for a set of fantastic kinetic devices that each have their own ideosyncracies.

This is an obsolete scanner. The sound is a DIRECT OUTPUT from the motor. It’s quite stiff so the initial movement is fast, making the output quite painful to the ear.

The waggly DIRECT SIGNAL OUTPUT from the motor hanging from the end of a paper guide roll.

And the wonderful lumpy DIRECT SIGNAL OUTPUT sounds of the motor that is a part of the ink cartridge carriage.

These are the raw materials for larger musical systems, and the cost nothing but time (which some may argue is the most expensive commodity of all).

ed. Everything comes apart in it’s own way and half the fun is working out how to dismaltle one of these without instructions. Over the years I have aquired a collection of tools that are useful for this task, such as extra long screwdrivers and a particularly useful pair of needle nose pliars that can be worked under plastic lips to unclip covers. Sometimes I can spend what feels like an age looking for that last hidden screw that is preventing me from dissasembling the device.

Ariel Ariel review

Here is a review of our performnace on 25th May 2018 of Ariel Ariel at Chisenhale Dance Space in London, also with ‘Maria da Luz Ghoumrass’ and ‘Anthologyofamess’.

“In Danai Pappa and Neal Spowage’s duet Ariel Ariel, the two artists construct rudimentary games from rough and scrappy materials. Beginning by dynamically transforming the space by drawing lines of electrical tape across the stage, they chase one another around a crude obstacle course; ducking and jumping at opposite sides of a circle. It’s stupid and delightful and I find myself grinning. They stop; and activate two small noise-making robots. They seem to change pitch according to proximity and touch, but not in any sort of consistent way. The performers try to develop a sort of game out of this, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. Things are left to gently collapse. They finish with a blackout, Spowage illuminating Pappa with a bare light bulb. She comes into our sight, and poses; he whips his hand away to plunge her into darkness.

There’s a pleasurable relaxedness towards their differences across all this: differences of gender expression, in the ways they move, in how they relate to both the stage and their audience. These games are a way for the collaborators to test one another, to offer new ways of perceiving this pair. But the games themselves are rarely tested, and are let fade away at the first chance. I notice my curiosity towards what might happen if they stuck to some things; to test or complexify these choreographic structures; to see what they might make possible or impossible. To create a problem, to get stuck; to be forced to find solutions, to find new strategies to persist or escape.”

Full review here:

Photo by Ioannis Athanasiou