BRAVE NEW MUSIC
Talking to Peter Gabriel one is struck by how he is as much into technology as music, and deeply involved in the political implications of both. You can see why Gabriel brought out the late Martyn Bennett's powerful roots-electronic album Grit on his label, Real World, and why he's excited that his connection with Bennett's 'Brave New Music' has led to Real World's first Scottish showcase, at Celtic Connections next week.
"At it's heart it's a Martyn Bennett tribute" he says of the show. "Even when Martyn was ill he had this remarkably philosophical approach to a permanent state of crisis, and, underneath it all, always this sharp mind. He was an enormously gifted, soulful, passionate, generous musician, so we are bringing up a wide variety of artists to celebrate that."
"We are all very upset to learn of Martyn's death. It has been such a delight for us to work with him over the last 4 years. He was mixing traditional Scottish music with contemporary grooves and arrangements in a very unique and soulful way. He will be badly missed as a creator, player and inspiring man."
31 January 2005 at 1:28pm
To understand Gabriel, the Real World studios label and the "recording weeks", one has to understand their mutual link with WOMAD. In 1982 Gabriel helped found WOMAD, and he and Genesis - the band he had formed many years earlier but left in the 1970s - bailed them out with a concert benefit following huge losses. While not directly involved after the first year, he's been in the background ever since.
The Real World Studios were built in 1986, while the Real World label, founded in 1989, has always been associated with WOMAD artists. The recording weeks were Gabriel's brainwave, as he saw how musicians met backstage at WOMAD but had no space or time to really explore musical ideas.
Bennett died in 2005 at just 33, after a prolonged battle against aggressive cancer. He was an acclaimed virtuoso on pipes and fiddle, a self styled 'Dreadlocked Funkster' who created hardcore dance music as well as composing for symphony orchestra and string quartet. Gabriel sees Bennett's vision of tradition and experimentation walking hand-in-hand as a Real World trademark.
Extract from: Jan Fairley interview, The Scotsman, Critique supplement, 27th Jan 2007
"In different ways Daby Touré and Sevara [Nazarkhan] share things with Martyn," he says of the two performers appearing at the showcase. "Sevara shares Martyn's bold approach. She also has Martyn's sense of mischief. Daby is stripping back, simplifying and purifying his approach like Martyn did."