Archive for April, 2013

Bish Bosch, I Was Taking a Bath

bishboschTim Bowness’s lavish praise of Scott Walker’s Bish Bosch was intriguing enough for me to give said album a go, and what a trip it is. I must confess right at the outset to not being too familiar with Mr. Walker’s earlier output, which in this case is probably not such a bad thing. Bish Bosch is a bizarre oratorio, an amalgam of musique concréte and Walker’s almost operatic voice, which hovers above a background of strange noises juxtaposed with orchestral and electric instrumentation. Hummable pop with catchy refrains this is not; don’t expect the DJ down the pub to give any of these tracks (not sure whether the epithet “song” applies here) a spin any time soon.

I am reminded of Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock, a dark ambient album which at the time was just about as far removed from the groups earlier, 80s synth pop output as you can possibly imagine. (There is a continuum, but it’s not readily apparent.) Another one is Peter Hammill’s opera The Fall of the House of Usher, which evokes a similarly oppressive mood, has likewise lots of recitative passages and, in general, is — as one would expect of a work based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe — a horror story set to music, although in this case the story is somewhat more obscure. I can imagine Bish Bosch working far better on top of visuals from The Shining than the infamous Dark Side of the Moon/The Wizard of Oz mashup.

Bish Bosch is one of those idiosyncratic magna opera where the wonder lies in not that it works so well, but that it works at all. Far be it from me to suggest any similarities between dancing bears and Scott Walker, though.

In Pursuit of Higher Knowledge


Once upon a time, before the invention of the wheel, I applied for a job at IRCAM in Paris. I was told in the phone interview they were down to two candidates. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, which in turn meant I never got business cards with the coolest office address in the entire universe: 1, place Igor Stravinsky, 75004 Paris.

This May my dear friend, Belgian composer extraordinaire Daniel Schell, myself, and our esteemed colleague Thomas Pintelon (who also happens to be Daniel’s son-in-law) will be presenting our work on “the optimal connection of chords”, which features heavily in Daniel’s compositional work, at IRCAM. The date is 24th May, the time is 2.30pm, and the address is as stated above. If you’re in the neighbourhood, do drop by, it’s free entry, and if you mention this blog post I will shout you a beer afterwards. There’s a short blurb in French on IRCAM’s pages. (Edit 2013-11-09: The whole presentation was caught on video! I had no idea.)


If you are in Espoo on 29th April, I will be giving a talk titled “Monitoring sleep quality with non-invasive sensors“, which is also the title of my recently completed licentiate thesis. The time is 1.15pm, the location is Tietotekniikan talo (Computer Science building, hall T2) at the Aalto University campus in Otaniemi, it’s likewise free entry, and the beer offer stands for this occasion as well. Welcome.