Galactic Symphonies

Richard & Stevie 2Walked up North Road to purchase Karen Constance’s book of dark foreboding images “Two For A Horse” from “Painting Pottery Cafe” and helped the lady there re-arrange some wooden trestle tables.  Back at the Iron Gate, young Lazarus arrived to whisk Alice away for the weekend; while Sooty and I hired a cab over to the far end of Dyke Road, Brighton, to meet up with renowned socialite Lucy Hall and her partner Liz.

3pm.  We have come to witness Stephen John Kalinich and Richard Durrant perform their “Galactic Symphonies” collaboration at the BHASVIC Centre  –  for this year’s Brighton Festival.   BHASVIC is an odd venue, a semi-deserted redbrick Victorian schoolhouse on a Saturday afternoon  –  but we are guided by angels, so we don’t care.

“Internationally acclaimed guitarist Durrant and Los Angeles poet/lyricist Kalinich  –  plus light artist Malcolm Buchanan-Dick premiere an inspiring multi-media concert”, the flyer informs us…The Hand 2

We take our seats.  Richard Durrant, accomplished yet approachable, serious yet straight-forward down-to-earth manner, played a series of virtuoso guitar pieces in the first half, including a fine trance-like Steve Reich composition, repetitive but pleasing to the heart, unfamiliar time signatures, music of the spheres.  This man can play everything from classical Rodriguez concertos to raw spine-tingling bottleneck blues.  And all stations in between.  Bravo, sir.

Stephen John Kalinich took to the stage after the interval, looking every inch the declamatory poet, the stance, the commitment, the holy fool, the laurel leaf.  And it was good.  Amorphous primeval sounds filtered in “Ocean”  –  with stone sirens beckoning  –  and the endless thrashing of salt water beneath.  SJK’s poetic observations, grounded in personal visionary truth, spoke of how the sea, and by extension the universe, can be indifferent to our fate.  When the wave comes there is no time for hesitation…

Spare acoustic guitar shapes introduced “The Magic Hand”  –  a quieter quest for spiritual purity and the reawakening of the soul  –  the other side to that oblivious ocean.  He speaks of all there can be. The dead are walking down the street, look at them, look at them.

The highlight of the concert, for me, was the loud and rousing invocation to “Bring In All The Poets”  –  with Kalinich, shaman in residence, dancing like a man possessed (to Durrant’s complex and powerful soundscape  –  and Buchanan-Dick’s enchanting light art)  –  a spirit trance, a sorcerer, a faith healer  –   before it is too late  –  a man imploring us to “Bring in all the poets  –  hang them out to dry  –  turn their pockets inside out”.  Moving, sincere, enraptured  –  new wine in the vessels  –  culminating in some glorious and liberating choral harmonies as the passionate piece reached its resolution, its climax, its miracle.

More reflective notes on the continuing search for salvation followed in “A Tale of Man”, “The Days of Life” (so quickly pass) and the final “Listen to the Quiet”.

And then it all came rushing back to me:  Alice, the Dorset Street Bar, the images by Karen Constance, the abandoned classrooms, the trestle tables and the Painting Pottery Cafe, Lazarus, wine, speeding cabs through the city, time running out  –  the days of life so quickly pass.

The Hand & PianoAfter the recital, Kalinich personally signed the “Be Still” lyrics (one of the songs he co-wrote with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson back in the day)  –  “to Michael and Sooty: may your days be sweet”  –   and we also purchased a copy of his “If You Knew” collected poems.  The afternoon sun was sinking low, the tug was pulling at the libidinous heart  –  so another  taxi-cab, with Lucy and Liz (ladies that do), back to the heart of downtown Brighton and copious refreshment trolleys at “The Black Horse” and “Bar Ha! Ha!”

The days of life so quickly pass…

© Michael Kemp 2009

Galactic Symphonies Richard_Stevie_galactics

Friday, May 23 2008 @ 11:05 AM BST

In 2007 Richard was comissioned to write and record an album with Californian poetStephen J Kalinich. The resulting double sided CD/DVD (DAVD) is being released at the Brighton Festival Fringe during the weekend of 24th May (click here for gig details)
Stephen Kalinich is widely known for his work as lyricist for Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. He has also collaborated with dozens of big names as well as performing his poetry live.
Galactic Symphonies uses six of Stephen’s poems with Richard’s soundscapes & live guitar improvisations. The symphonies are performed with projected artwork and live vj-ing by digital artist Malcolm Buchanan-Dick. This combination was used as the basis for the DVD when a performance was filmed at Ropetacle Arts Centre in December 2007.
Click here to buy Galactic Symphonies.