s t a r g a z e and Qasim Naqvi release new piece Inaugural Music

Inaugural Music is the fruit of a divine collaboration between Berlin-based experimental orchestra s t a r g a z e and extraordinary percussionist and composer Qasim Naqvi, who is also one-third of longtime favourite avant-jazz band Dawn Of Midi. Eerie and riveting, Inaugural Music was written as a response to the disturbances Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory gave rise to and was just released fittingly ahead of the US election next week. Naqvi offered some insight into the piece::

“Inaugural Music was originally commissioned by stargaze for the Musica Nova Festival in Helsinki. I wrote it during the time between Donald Trump’s election victory and his inauguration – roughly from November 15th of 2016 to January of 2017. This was a deeply troubling moment in our country and the anxiety and sadness was palpable. Many people felt the ground opening under their feet. We were afraid of what was to follow, which most definitely surpassed our wildest expectations at the time. During this transitional period between presidents, writing this piece was a way to assuage a lot of life and death type fears and anxieties that were bubbling to the surface. It was like therapy for me – a coping mechanism.

Another main pillar of this work is the electronics, which were made on a Moog Model D synthesizer. I was drawn to its subtractive properties- a type of synthesis that involves the removal of certain frequencies from a complex sound, through the use of filters. This, along with many other magical properties of the Model D, became the nucleus of the work and the subsequent material for stargaze was the outgrowth. It was a kind of intermingling between complex voltage-created vibrations and the analog of instruments- acoustic sounds generated through breath and string vibration.

The premiere in Helsinki happened on February 5th of 2017 and the recording was made the following year at the Muziekcentrum van de Omroep in Hilversum, Holland. We had access to Studio 2, which is the oldest radio studio room in the Netherlands. I can’t thank stargaze enough for commissioning this piece. At the time it was my first opportunity writing for them, and since then we’ve developed a wonderful, long-standing friendship and creative partnership.”

s t a r g a z e conductor André de Ridder also commented on the piece:

“We first noted Qasim’s music through a release of his chamber work Preamble, which we wanted to perform and managed to program quite a few times. We had met when stargaze and Qasim’s band Dawn of Midi both played the same Dutch festival, Cross-Linx, I think in 2016. We exchanged emails and then it’s one of those things where we can’t quite recollect how we became good friends via quite similar interests and mutual respect for each other’s work. I was curating a festival in Helsinki, the Musica Nova Festival, where I was able to invite Qasim as composer in residence – stargaze were due to perform a concert too. For this concert we commissioned Qasim to write a piece for stargaze specifically, with the brief to create a hybrid work of electronics and live instruments, and this became ‘Inaugural Music.’ We’re so happy to have recorded this in the studio, where we were able to explore the particular sonorities that this beautiful work evokes and requires, as a dialogue of the ensemble and the sounds of the Moog and pulses that we compliment or comment on, while often being enveloped by the ambient soundscapes, too.”

Inaugural Music is a piece we want to hear again and again. Here it is.

Inaugural Music is out now on Transgressive Records

Listen to Qasim Naqvi’s new single ‘Onna At Pulse’

Back in March, extraordinary percussionist and composer Qasim Naqvi announced the reelase of Beta, the follow-up to last year’s Teenages which was one of our 15 Album Picks of 2019. Beta is meant as a sister release to Teenages, and just like it, was brought to life using the analog modular synthesizer Naqvi built over the course of two years. Originally slated for a Record Store Day release through Erased Tapes, the new record will now be released on June 20th, coinciding with the first ever Love Record Stores Day, and digitally on July 3rd, which will be Bandcamp’s Artist Appreciation day.

we had already heard the striking ‘Matic’, and now Naqvi has shared another taste from Beta called ‘Onna At Pulse’, saying this about it:

“Onna at Pulse was the first piece of music I made with an extremely rudimentary modular synthesiser. I had just acquired two components and I wrote this simple exposition as an exercise to see what the machine would do. It was like teaching one eyeball to blink.”

Take a listen to ‘Onna at Pulse’ below.

Qasim Naqvi set to release new EP, Beta, for Record Store Day

We’re thrilled to know Qasim Naqvi has a new release on the way, following last year’s Teenages, which was one of our 15 Album Picks of 2019. Entitled Beta, the album is meant as a sister release to Teenages, which was brought to life using an analog modular synthesizer built by Naqvi over the course of two years. The extraordinary percussionist and composer explains:

“Beta is a prequel to the story of Teenages. At the time I had the most basic elements of a modular synthesizer- one oscillator and a random voltage generator which is a module that releases sporadic currents through the system. Ironically, this component provided a lot of warmth and humanness to the music, a kind of fallibility. I fed simple melodic ideas and rhythmic patterns into this bare bones setup and observed the responses, while occasionally guiding the music in other directions. It was like a diagnostic test. At the time I felt that this music was underdeveloped but listening back, I think the Beta tracks add an interesting dimension to the entire Teenages arc. They’re the zygotes.”

The B side of the record is a live performance of the track ‘Teenages’, recorded at London’s Southbank Centre in February 2019. “I had performed this work just a couple of times and this particular one was special”, says Naqvi. “There were microphones up everywhere and you could hear the room bleeding into the sound of the synthesizer.”

Beta will be released as a limited edition on clear vinyl for Record Store Day on April 18th through Erased Tapes but we can already hear a striking track off it, ‘Matic’. Take a listen below.

Watch Qasim Naqvi’s new video for ‘No Tongue’

Pakistani-American percussionist and composer Qasim Naqvi has just released his debut solo record, Teenages, through Erased Tapes. Hot on the heels of his album release, Naqvi has paired the first single ‘No Tongue’ with a video, directed by Christina Burchard and performed by dancer Matthew “ET” Gibbs.

Burchard comments on the video:

“The track “No Tongue” is minimal, cerebral, and the harmonic shifts and strange sounds that appear throughout give it an otherworldly vibe. Qasim and I talked a lot about his relationship to this album and how he felt sometimes he was dealing with another consciousness inside the machine, and the experience was more like a conversation with a sometimes unwelcome host. These conversations conjured images in my mind of aliens, artificial intelligent machines, or parasitic organisms that affect the brain. There was also something about the song that felt computational, like mathematics and geometry
I immediately thought of dancer Matthew “ET” Gibbs. I had been following him on Instagram and am a big fan. ET is a bone breaker. Bone breaking involves mostly arm contortion, an optical illusion that makes it appear he is breaking his body to create new shapes. It feels unnatural, uncanny, and beyond. He also specialises in tutting which uses hand and arm gestures to create geometric shapes in space. Matthew choreographed his own performance and often pulls from movement found in nature, like jellyfish and spiders, to inspire his moves. He also pulls from fantasy and alien-like creatures.
I found a guy in East LA who owns three old bunkers from WWII and we used one of them for the location of the music video. I love how Matthew looks in the space, like he’s in a vortex swirling the energy around his body. His muscles flexing to every nuance in Qasim’s track as if in conversation with the sound. Our Director of Cinematography Lucas Gath did an incredible job building a milky atmosphere bringing us deeper into the void.”

Here’s the video.