“Listening to the entries for me has been positive proof that the boundaries of experimental music are ever-expanding.’ Judge for the 2020 AFFA Robin Rimbaud/Scanner
Aine O’Dwyer, Klein, Ashley Paul and Natalie Sharp have been selected from a longlist nominated from experts in the field across the UK. The judging panel for the award comprised of artist and writer Salome Voegelin, artist and composer Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner and musical director, DJ & regular presenter of BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction Max Reinhardt who commented;
‘They share a stunning talent and ability to question, reimagine and redefine the contours of music, sonics and much else, by producing a continuing series of highest quality works, with an immersive attention to detail and desire to keep on searching and shapeshifting.’
Their approaches and aims of this experimental genre are hugely diverse. Sound artist Aine O’Dwyer uses untraditional performance spaces to give voice to the historical and sociological lifeblood of each locale such as in Accompaniment for Captives. Sited off the south coast of Ireland the performance centred on the choreography of two fishing boats, their movements triggering pre-recorded sounds played back from speakers situated across the bay. For multi-instrumentalist Ashley Paul, the idea of beauty in failing has become the underpinning of her work. Elements of simple melodic beauty juxtapose with piercing reeds and metal clatter to produce a deliberate uneasiness in her work as realised in her acclaimed album Lost in Shadows, a song cycle largely influenced by her experience of becoming a new mother; in the past few years experimental artist Klein has been manipulating sounds, often recorded by herself, which morph into something akin to classical or jazz in her live performances. In 2018 she wrote and directed a musical titled Care at the ICA where the soundtrack mixed her disjunctive beats with anything from gospel music, Disney films or Nigerian B-movies. Natalie Sharp uses the live context to trial and test mechanisms including new electronic composition. Combining stage design, sculpture, costume and make-up art, she presents music as a dynamic and cross-platform experience, establishing interfaces between the ‘human’ and technology. In her latest show Trifle, overarching themes of gluttony and excess were used to explore industrial, surreal and fetishistic sound while the audience took part by dressing up in overtly sexualized, inflatable and subversive costumes.
Set up in 1993, The Arts Foundation gives financial awards designed to pay for artists’ living and working expenses allowing them to focus on their artistic practice with no strings attached. The last AFFA in Experimental Music was in 2006 when Lina Lapelyte, Rie Nakajima, Richard Skelton and Jennifer Walshe were selected as finalists.
The winner of the £10,000 award will be announced on the 27th January 2020 at the ICA where the finalists in the other four artforms, Comics, Experimental Short Film, Visual Arts and Social Innovation in Materials Design will also be announced. All runners-up will receive awards of £1,000.
Image of finalist Ashley Paul