Here is a new, exciting, step in the discover of the genius of
John White, the maverick master of British Experimental
Music. This double CD represent one of a thousand in
between the musical facets of his enormous output.
As Dave Smith says in his liner notes: "Most of the pieces
recorded here date from the period 1984-6. They reveal a
delight in exploring areas of contradiction, particularly linear
and rhythmic, within an unlikely sound-world in which
parameters such as volume, timbre, texture and speed remain
fixed. As a contrast, scattered through the album are five
brief, apparently zany Nintentions from 1993.
John’s attitude to electronic machinery has often been
relatively lo-fi (at times, decidedly so) as demonstrated in the
recordings of Livebatts! - a performing trio featuring battery-
driven instruments with Jiggs Coldiron and Andrea Rocca. The
sound sources used on the present recordings are closer to
those of pop musicians of the time and the general approach
can be considered in opposition to the laborious and
expensive world of institutional electro-acoustic music."
In the words of John White: "(Electronics) It’s like flower
arrangement - just picking out things which were there
before you... it’s a perfect medium for irony".
These pieces are the perfect counterpoint to the visual
works of Surrealists and Dadaists, whose unusual, ironic and
disturbing beauty is well summarized by the infamous
Lautréamont's quote: "Beautiful like the chance-meeting on a
dissecting table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella".
John White was born in Berlin in 1936. He studied piano with
Arthur Alexander and Eric Harrison, and composition with
Bernard Stevens at the Royal College of Music.
Since that time, he has been continually active as a
composer, performer and teacher. His career includes
composing and directing music for the theatre, ballet,
experimental music and in electronic ensembles.
John has headed the music department at the Drama Centre,
London and performed as a solo pianist and accompanist.
These have included the Promenade Theatre Orchestra,
Hobbs-White Duo, Garden Furniture Music Ensemble, Farewell
Symphony Orchestra, Nordic Reverie Trio, Instant Dismissal
Symphony Orchestra, Lower Edmonton Latin Lovers’ Choral
Society. He also formed the ensemble Live Batts!, originally
with Christopher Hobbs, then in its final form, as a trio with
MJ Coldiron and Andrea Rocca, featuring unusual
combinations of instruments and other sound sources.
In the 1960s and 70s, he was closely associated with English
experimental composers. During that time, he invented the
British form of Minimalism known as ‘systems music’.
John has played bass trombone with the Royal Ballet Touring
Orchestra and tuba in the London Gabrieli Brass Ensemble. In
addition, John has toured widely as a piano recitalist
specialising in late Romantic music, in particular Erik Satie.
In theatre music, he has composed scores for the Royal
Shakespeare Company. Productions and has also composed
many products for the Royal National Theatre and various
regional theatres. Lastly, he has provided musical direction of
the Western Theatre Ballet and numerous musicals in
London’s West End.
Several recordings of his music are available; notably most of
his Piano Sonatas (now counting near 200) were recorded by
important performers as Roger Smalley and Jonathan Powell.
The album LIVEBATTS!, with pieces from the end of the 90s,
was released by ANTS in 2018.
1. The Merry Samurai’s Return From Work (7:22)
2. Idleburger Salsa (3:45)
3. Nintentions 1 (1:22)
4. Singles Bar (4:25)
5. Fluter's Tango (8:49)
6. Nintentions 2 (1:05)
7. Boschwalzer (4:49)
8. 11th Symphony (38:32)
1. Breakfast at the Academy of Martial Arts (6:44)
2. Trent's Theme (from "The Assignment") (3:44)
3. Nintentions 3 (1:05
4. Blues Theme (from "The Assignment") (4:31)
5. Russian Tea Room (from "The Assignment") (6:44)
6. Nintentions 4 (2:32)
7. Tyrolean Apres-Ski Muzak (5:22)
8. Ricercar (14:48)
9. Nintentions 5 (2:08)
10. 16th Symphony (14:31)
11. Sitcom Theme (from "A Piece Of My Mind") (0:46)