MARVIN AYRES
Circadian Rhythms
(Wall Of Waves)

 

In 2012, U.K. electronic / experimental composer Marvin Ayres released his album called Harmogram Suite following by Ultradian Rhythms in 2014. Late in 2015 Marvin released another groundbreaking album called Circadian Rhythms. The six track, 47 minute Circadian Rhythms has all the hallmarks of a classical / avant-garde music masterpiece. Filled with Marvin’s tastefully recorded sonics, overdubbed architecture of strings, double bass and piano, Circadian Rhythms echoes some of the beguiling, often indescribable music of Harold Budd and even Brian Eno, without the overload of electronic saturation. Discussing his approach to sound Marvin tells mwe3.com, "Somebody once asked my permission to remix one of my pieces from the Neptune album called “Waves” and inquired what was its tempo. My answer was 'I don't know, what tempo is the sea'? So there is a relationship between earlier compositions and Circadian Rhythms in as much that I do not impose a structure at the commencement of the compositions. Eventually, with enough free flowing extemporization and layers the pulse or pulses emerge from within and ebb and flow naturally. However, with these last two albums and Harmogram Suite before that I have significantly added to the instrumentation, voice textures, psycho dynamics and the sheer quantity of live playing." Circadian Rhythms is a fantastic late night spin that's perfect for the times when you want to listen to atmospheric, sonically restful soundtrack-like sounds that borders on neoclassical meditation music. One part New Age, one part soundtrack, one part avant-garde, Circadian Rhythms is among the most brilliantly recorded instrumental albums you will ever hear. www.WallOfWaves.com




mwe3.com presents
an interview with
MARVIN AYRES



mwe3
: Can you tell us where you’re from originally and where you live now?

Marvin Ayres: I was born in Vauxhall in South London. I currently alternate between homes in London and the county of East Sussex.

mwe3: What are your favorite cities and towns in the U.K. and countries you like to visit?

Marvin Ayres: Obviously London. I also enjoy being in Glasgow, Manchester and Brighton. When I am away from home, I particularly like Italy and the West Coast of the USA.

mwe3: What was your early musical education like and what instruments did you study early on?

Marvin Ayres: My very early musical education was singing songs with my Dad, who was extremely musical whilst playing the ukulele. I knew every George Formby song before I was five years old! I developed a good ear by being constantly exposed to all kinds of music: my Dad's performances, he was an entertainer, my brothers' records... Beatles/Small Faces/Kinks and my mother's Scottish family’s traditional songs and dance. At school, I was only one of four from the whole of my primary school chosen to learn the recorder, and then later on at secondary school I began cello and piano lessons.

mwe3: Do you still practice your instruments or spend most of the time composing?

Marvin Ayres: I try as much as I can to practice regularly but have to confess that it's not as much as I want/like or need to.

mwe3: Were you more interested in rock, jazz or classical music early on in your career and tell us something about your early band The Government?

Marvin Ayres: I think I was interested in everything and not just in music. My friends were visual artists at Art School and their influences also played a part in my development. When I was a teenager, the merging of art forms or musical genres was quite rare and in the case of formal music study, training at Music College, it was frowned upon as not being serious or worthy. The major difference between Art School and Music College was that art students were encouraged to express themselves: to experiment, to play around, use their imagination, etc, whereas at music college you were expected to conform and interpret. This was a major conflict for me. I liked experimenting and improvisation, I liked avant garde, I liked rock-pop music and loved classical music. When I formed 'The Government', these were the things that inspired me, along with a pinch of punk and lashings of New Romanticism.

mwe3: Did you record with The Government and how do you balance such a wide-ranging musical background and vast music influences?

Marvin Ayres: Yes we made several recordings. In fact I'm restoring them and plan to release them in the near future. I don’t know if the vast influences ever did balance out, lol, but looking back it was like a punk prog band, which is of course a contradiction... but it was fun, and I learned so much by playing with excellent musicians and the discipline of rehearsing, practicing, gigging and writing.

mwe3: Who are some of your favorite artists from the rock world and other genres including classical, neoclassical, avant garde music and jazz? I read you’re a fan of Arvo Part and Vaughan Williams. What are your favorite albums by those composers and how about big rock album influences? What is your favorite Bowie album and how big of an influence was Bowie on you? I saw your pic with you and Tony Visconti.

Marvin Ayres: My brother John used to watch a band in their early stages at a small club in Beckenham. He used to tell me they used an electric violin. The band was Curved Air. I bought him their latest LP Second Album as a present, but before I wrapped it up I played it and was transfixed by these anomalous atmospheres and exotic sounds that I'd never heard before. I think the biggest influence for me though was Roxy Music, who were the personification of art-rock The sophistication just shined through everything they did on those first four or five albums. Bowie was also an enormous influence and somebody I admired greatly. It's very difficult to pin down one favorite album, but I'd say it's between Station To Station, Aladdin Sane and Ziggy Stardust.

These works have also been seminal to me for varied reasons:

Vaughan Williams 5th Symphony,
Arvo Part ‘Fratres',
Eno 'Discreet Music/Apollo',
Shostakovitch 5th Symphony,
Dusty Springfield 'In Memphis',
Motown 'Chartbusters Volume 3' ,
George Formby,
Roxy Music 'For Your Pleasure',
Curved Air 'Phantasmagoria',
Bach - Unaccompanied Cello Suites,
Talk Talk 'The Colour Of Spring',
Joni Mitchell 'Blue/Hejira',
Beatles 'Sgt. Pepper',
Cockney Rebel 'Psychomodo',
Jethro Tull 'Thick As A Brick',
Carole King 'Tapestry',
Miles Davis 'Kind Of Blue',
Debussy 'Préludes',
John Barry,
Purcell ' Dido and Aeneas',
Janis Ian 'Between The Lines',
Gilbert & Sullivan 'HMS Pinafore',
Adam Ant 'Kings Of The Wild Frontier',
The Smiths 'The Queen Is Dead',
New Order 'Substance',
Blondie 'Parallel Lines',
David Darling 'Dark Wood',
Sex Pistols 'Never Mind The Bollocks',
Terry Riley 'A Rainbow In Curved Air',
Pink Floyd 'Dark Side Of The Moon',
Steve Reich/Kronos Quartet 'Different Trains',
Radiohead 'Amnesiac/Kid A',
Faure 'Requiem',
Mozart 'Requiem',
Satie 'Gymnopedies',
Police 'Regatta De Blanc',
Tallis 'Spem In Alium',
Queen 'A Night At The Opera',
Perotin 'Sederunt Principes'/'Dum Sigillum',
Japan 'Tin Drum',
Kathleen Ferrier,
Jeff Buckley 'Grace',
Lassus 'Masses For Five Voices – Infelix Ego',
Cesaria Evora 'Cesária',
Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares 'Volume 3',
Kate Bush 'Hounds Of Love'.....


mwe3: Your 2016 CD is called Circadian Rhythms. How did you decide on that title, what does the title signify and how do you feel the album is a continuation of your earlier album titles and musical vision? The title and meaning may go over my head but thankfully the music is much easier to absorb and become one with.

Marvin Ayres: The title is related to its 'twin' which was my last release Ultradian Rhythms. Both Ultradian and Circadian Rhythms are naturally occurring pulses and rhythms which form sleep and rest patterns. Pulses and rhythms are not the same as musical time codes or beats which are normally metronomically correct. I thought that it was close to a lot of my compositional ideas and processes whereby I avoid any formulaic or conventional time signatures, or 'bpms' and tempi. I like to explore the musical territory that is unsullied by pre-conditioned time. For example, if you're on a train you can often hear the noise of the wheels/tracks and carriages which produce a rhythmic sound, 'clickety clack' or whatever, but it's not in a strict tempo, it's not rattling at 120 mm or 120 bpm, it's falling in and out of time. This mirrors Circadian Rhythms in that they are relevant rhythms but not robotic.

Somebody once asked my permission to remix one of my pieces from the Neptune album called “Waves” and inquired what was it's tempo. My answer was 'I don't know, what tempo is the sea'? So there is a relationship between earlier compositions and Circadian Rhythms in as much that I do not impose a structure at the commencement of the compositions. Eventually, with enough free flowing extemporization and layers, the pulse or pulses emerge from within and ebb and flow naturally. However, with these last two albums and Harmogram Suite before that I have significantly added to the instrumentation, voice textures, psycho-dynamics and the sheer quantity of live playing.

mwe3: It’s incredible to find out that you created Circadian Rhythms through overdubbing all by yourself. Who else was involved with helping you achieve such a high level of audio perfection in the studio and how would you compare this way of recording to working with other artists on a recording or album? I was thinking Circadian Rhythms as a kind of a 21st century Tubular Bells type album!

Marvin Ayres: I work with a team of excellent engineers who are able to facilitate the epic nature of recording hundreds of layers of orchestral parts and creating the amazing sound and sound quality with innovative recording techniques. My compositions are obviously unique to me and I therefore have different approaches to recording others and adapt to their vision of what they want to achieve, but never compromising on quality. I can see your reason for referencing Tubular Bells, but I'd see that as a more 'pop' pastiche of Steve Reich's Music For 18 Musicians. Although I have overdubbed hundreds of parts, the soul of the piece is quite different from something like Tubular Bells. I'd probably say Tubular Bells had a time signature too. (lol)

mwe3: Do you consider your music to be metaphysical, meditative and otherworldly and how did you start up with your “sacred spaces” music projects? What are some of the sacred spaces in England that inspired you to create this unique environmental and ambient type of music and has something like this been done before?

Marvin Ayres: I, like most composers/artists, find difficulty in pinning down what it is you actually create, being so close to it. Certainly there are elements of all three of those components you mention. For me, it's just a stream of an unconscious flow of free form modern classical composition that juxtaposes real playing with creative studio artistry and arrives at its exponential and non-premeditated conception. I always say I'm just the conduit.

One day I had the idea that instead of creating feelings and passion from my instruments, wouldn’t it be great to try and extract those essences inherent in an environment. Its secrets... trails of expelled moments of life, almost like the vaporized outlines of the victims of the atomic bombs in Japan. So I made up a list of fairly eclectic architectural and iconic spaces... thinking of all that history and experiences that occurred for example on a war submarine, or the ship HMS Victory, or a cathedral.

Within those interiors are the energies that witnessed and absorbed the life that was and I wanted to capture that latency via my celli/violins/viola and then refine those into compositions back in the studio untreated with effects. I don’t think my sonic environments have been achieved by anybody else in the same way, at least not that I'm aware of. My skills are probably unusual and rare in as much as I play several classical instruments, I extemporize and 'treat' and manipulate their sounds in my 3D / Surround Sound studio.

mwe3: What other composers in the U.K. and elsewhere do you feel are currently creating instrumental music that might be considered kindred to your own approach or sound?

Marvin Ayres: You may think this an odd answer, but it's the truth, and that is, I go out of my way not to listen to other composers because I do not wish to be distracted from my own sojourn or potentially be 'contaminated' by another's artistry. I do not wish to unconsciously replenish my inspiration by unwittingly borrowing from those influences.

mwe3: When did you start the Wall Of Waves studio? I read that you worked with David Bowie on creating strings for him as well as other artists. Who are some of the other artists you worked with at Wall Of Waves?

Marvin Ayres: The studio began life as Atelier Studios in 1999 which morphed into Wall Of Waves in 2009. I was gradually being commissioned to add strings to various projects/ /songs/adverts/films, etc and so I created the Marvin Ayres String Orchestra (MASO). Tony Visconti was looking for an artist of his to use my strings and he ended up endorsing me as did Martyn Ware (Heaven 17/Human League). I even ended up doing backing vocals of a Boy George song on the BEF album Dark on the song I arranged “Be Your Dog”. Here's a list.

mwe3: How and when did you meet Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit and what was it like touring and recording with him? In what way was the German group Can a big influence on you and your music?

Marvin Ayres: When I was signed to the label Mille Plateaux, the label manager was in the process of signing Jaki Liebezeit's band Club Off Chaos. Jaki Liebezeit had heard my albums Cellosphere and Neptune via the label and was interested in me doing some remixes and recordings. Then the manager suggested a tour. To be honest, I discovered CAN relatively late in life so I can't really cite them as an influence, but they are superb!

mwe3: How and when did you meet Sonja Kristina and what albums did you work with Sonja on? What kind of influence did Sonja’s band Curved Air have on your music and will you be working with Sonja again in the future? What's your Favorite Curved Air album?

Marvin Ayres: I first met Sonja at a recording studio that my friend and I gatecrashed when we were 14 years of age, whilst the remnants of Curved Air were trying to record an album! It was all very grown up for a pair of impressionable 14 year olds. The lovely Martin Rushent was there producing it and we ended up staying 3 days. Fast forward 27 years and I had a chance meeting with her as she was working as a kind of A&R person for a record company that were looking for unusual acts, and I was looking for a release for a Surround Sound DVD Installation. She was working on a jazz album and asked me to add strings and co-produce it. After the album was finished we embarked on a project called Mask and released two albums and scored a Billboard top 30 dance single. I returned to my composition and production and she returned to a reformed Curved Air.

When Darryl, the violinist, dropped out she asked me several times to join, but I never wanted to be part of somebody else's history. I am excited by embracing the new and Curved Air for all their merits were by now, for me, somewhat anachronistic. However, I produced their Live Atmosphere album, re-mastered the historical recording On Air, including the John Peel sessions at Wall Of Waves and worked intensely on the preproduction of their studio album. Unfortunately, the actual recording of the studio album was riddled with problems and dramas and it became an extremely difficult, intense and sad time as my mother was gravely ill and eventually died. The whole saga ended up like being in a Spinal Tap sequel.

I just wasn't prepared for the absurdity of the situation. I was hired as a producer, but it became apparent that what they really wanted was a therapist, cheerleader and co-engineer. The contrast between coming back from the intensive care ward in the hospital to e-mails from middle aged men stamping their feet because they hadn't got what they wanted, when they wanted was grotesque. Nobody wanted a producer, so I was hung out to dry. I was very let down and the treacherous nature of it all left me scarred. In the end I suppose people have to deal with their own consciences but the whole episode was very damaging. Thankfully, though, I've worked with some lovely people since. My favorite Curved Air album? Phantasmagoria.

mwe3: What are your hobbies and what other interests do you have outside of music or is it music 24/7 for you?

Marvin Ayres: I have a passion for film and literature as well as architecture. I also renovate property. I’m lucky that I'm now able to divide my time in two different creative spaces, London and the East Sussex coast. I have an apartment overlooking the ocean which is truly inspirational where I can write and be inspired. As well as that I have the most adorable dog and we take him for long coastal walks. It's funny too because when I go into my rehearsal studio to practice and play, he will come in and just sit beside me and listen.

mwe3: Are you planning to bring Circadian Rhythms to a wider audience and are you planning a follow up to Circadian Rhythms and what other ventures, musical and otherwise do you have for 2016 and beyond?

Marvin Ayres: As with Ultradian Rhythms, Circadian Rhythms will be scored and eventually played live. There won’t be a follow up to Circadian Rhythms as they were planned as twins and they’re now both complete. I will be going out on the road again later this year. The Sacred Spaces project is ongoing and I have recordings from several locations which I will be working on. As for the future, I have three collaborations planned as well as two upcoming releases on the WOW label.





 

 
   
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