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Electronica and infinity rows in new music video by James Black

Electronica and infinity rows in new music video by James Black

James Black has just issued the music video SHEL, which is a part of the digital album Music Is Not Always Participatory, which was released on Dacapo earlier this year.

07 April 2021

James Black’s album Music Is Not Always Participatory has been composed during – and inspired by – the global lockdown that resulted from the corona virus. Immediately prior to this, James Black had received a working grant from the Danish Arts Foundation which gave him the financial basis for composing. The motivation for the award included this:

"In James Black one meets a universe of true insanity, where ‘everything goes’. Where DIY video, choreographed hopeless episodes and precisely notated scores – and much more besides – in a deliberately inelegant mix make up the total work."

This resulted in an album which is formed by limitations and flirts with fiasco, but which at the same time explores artistic and expression-related basic concepts are explored in depth.

Techno track with opera quotations

The piece SHEL is the prologue to the album and demonstrates its most striking use of the infinity row, in the form of Benjamin Britten’s twelve-tone figure from the opera The Turn of the Screw. This series becomes a rotating sequence that is subsequently played as a canon of itself, so that the overlaps create strident dissonances.

"The idea was to make a kind of techno track, drop included," Black explains.

"SHEL is an homage to the electronica that I loved when growing up - Röyksopp, Air, The Books. Per Nørgård's infinity series, opera quotations, and serial procedures are combined with the eternal sound of the Casio keyboard. The video is an exercise in and celebration of scarcity: just myself, a dress (inspired by Robbie Williams), a wig, some Buffalo platforms, a camera, and an office block hallway."

James Black’s music video SHEL can be seen at Dacapo's YouTube profile.

The album ‘Music Is Not Always Participatory’ is covered with Black’s musical fingerprints – a Roman Catholic melodics, computer-game music and ‘a kind of techno-meets-heathen-trash-folk’.
  • James Black, Connor McLean

    Music is not always participatory