The week ahead holds much excitement for fans of the outer sonic limits as London-based audiovisual label Touch continues celebrating its 25th anniversary with an entire week of gigs, discussions and workshops in South London. Founded in 1981/2 by Jon Wozencroft and Mike Harding, Touch has since grown to become one of the world's most respected sources of experimental electronic music. Through the consistently high-quality sounds it releases and the striking visual aesthetic with which it presents them, Touch has always seen to it that a record is more than just a product, but a product of passion.
The passion behind their albums will no doubt manifest itself in each of the events planned for this week's Atmospheres Festival. Running through Friday, Atmospheres is a joint production of Touch and the Museum of Garden History in Lambeth, with a majority of the events taking place at the museum. Everything starts tonight at 10 p.m., as field recording luminary and former Cabaret Voltaire member Chris Watson leads a small workshop entitled "Field Recording In The City". Sometimes the best source of unusual sounds is already all around us and this evening offers a rare opportunity to learn from one of the masters of the art of capturing everyday audibles. The workshop resumes Monday morning with a presentation and a review of the recordings, while the evening sees field recording-themed performances by Leafcutter John and Peter Cusack.
Tuesday takes us away from the museum, as Chris Watson, BJ Nilsen, Biosphere, People Like Us, Zerocrop and Autodigest all play The Bedford Arms in Balham. The rest of the week returns us to the Museum of Garden History, first with a Wednesday evening performance from Biosphere and a presentation of Chris Watson and BJ Nilsen's collaboration, Storm. A field recording project that traces the movements of a storm across the North Sea, with Watson recording from the North East of England and Nilsen based in Scandinavia, Storm will be presented in 5.1 surround sound to guarantee an immersive experience.
Thursday is perhaps the most eventful day of the week, with discussions beginning in the afternoon and performances that continue into the night. Events begin at midday with Touch founders Wozencroft and Harding interviewing a host of artists on their label, including Chris Watson. From 2 - 4 p.m., Watson will hold an audition to select his favourite edits from Monday's field recording workshop, which he will then perform at the gig that night. Also appearing on Thursday night's bill are Biosphere and BJ Nilsen. Lastly, the week concludes on Friday with a 7 p.m. gig featuring Scanner, who will be performing a work created specifically for the museum and which draws on its collections.
Long-time followers of the label and its artists will probably be out every night this week, but casual admirers and newcomers would also do well to take in a gig or two. If you had to pick just one to see, well, that would be impossible, so can we offer a draw? Our recommendation is a tie between Tuesday's night at The Bedford Arms and Thursday's day-long series of activities. Tuesday offers the most varied sampling of talent, whilst Thursday provides more of an overview of the label's history and a chance to hear conversations with the artists that helped make it great.
Photo by Jon Wozencroft, "A Path to the Cottage", taken from his collection of desktop images for Touch Music, available here.
Touch Music and the Museum of Garden History present Atmospheres Festival, 22 - 26 October 2007. For details about Tuesday's event at The Bedford Arms, please visit the Touch website. For details about the rest of the week's programme, please see the Museum of Garden History's website.