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Grady, Spencer / Fermata Ark / Mark Wastell: Thus : Excerpts From A Smaller Work (Confront)

UK sound artist Fermata Ark, aka Harry Smith, composed this work from improvisations recorded by Mark Wastell performing on cello, double bass and harmonium, and Spencer Grady performing on 5-string banjo, ebow, violin bow and brass slide, creating an extended work of immersive and mesmerizing textures and tones, sounds rising and falling in sublime and passionate ways.

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product information:

Label: Confront
Catalog ID: core 15
Squidco Product Code: 29576

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: UK
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Studio 3, in London, UK, in October, 2017, by Rupert Clervaux.


Fermata Ark-composition, field recording

Mark Wastell-violoncello, double bass, harmonium

Spencer Grady-5 string banjo, ebow, violin bow, brass slide

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Artist Biographies:

"Fermata Ark is a UK based experimental Producer/Composer and Sound Designer."

-Fermata Ark Bandcamp Site (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Mark Wastell Born 1968; cello.

Much of Mark Wastell's relationship with his chosen instrument is concentrated on the tactile, textural and sonic possibilities of both violoncello and bow. He is increasingly interested in working with extreme elements drawn from frequency, timbre and pitch.

His early activity was consciously and subconsciously influenced by a variety of improvising musicians including John Stevens, Barry Guy, Phil Durrant and John Russell. Subsequent exposure to contemporary composers lead to a greater understanding and appreciation of the works written for strings by Feldman, Cage, Nono, Lachenmann and Sciarrino. The use of live electronics and music concrete by Tudor, Parmegiani, Xenakis and others was another important early influence.

Wastell's current instrumental material primarily focuses on using abstract principles of space and texture - encompassing elements of new London silence, pro-instrument minimalism, new complexity and electro-acoustics. Because of the very nature of his chosen instrument, he tends to favour 'chamber' style ensembles and is a member of a number of regular groups:

• Chris Burn's Ensemble, with John Butcher, Rhodri Davies, John Russell, Matt Hutchinson

• Derek Bailey's Company - with, for example, Will Gaines, Simon H. Fell and Rhodri Davies

• Evan Parker's String Project, with Peter Cusack, Hugh Davies, Rhodri Davies, Phil Durrant, John Edwards, Kaffe Matthews, Marcio Mattos, John Russell

• Assumed possibilities, with Chris Burn, Rhodri Davies and Phil Durrant

• The Sealed Knot, with Burkhard Beins and Rhodri Davies

• Necessaire with Alessandro Bosetti, Ignaz Schick and Burkhard Beins

• IST with Simon Fell and Rhodri Davies

• Quatuor Accorde with Tony Wren, Phil Durrant and Charlotte Hug

• Broken Concort, a duo with Rhodri Davies

Mark Wastell has also performed with many other leading musicians including John Zorn, Keith Rowe, Peter Kowald, Hugh Davies, Roger Turner, Veryan Weston, Lol Coxhill, Mark Sanders, Axel Dorner, Hans Koch, Phil Minton, Max Eastley and Steve Beresford.

As a soloist he has played at the Micro-classical Festival (London 1996), LMC Festival (London 2000) and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (2000). He has travelled extensively with various groups, performing on tour and at festivals in the USA, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Greece. Other work includes the launch in 1996 of his own record label, Confront Recordings. Wastell is also joint co-ordinator of the concert venue All Angels, together with Rhodri Davies."

-European Free Improv (EFI) (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:

1. Thus : Excerpts From A Smaller Work 37:00
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Harry Smith's work is always looking in two directions at once: towards sound, and towards process. Listening to 'Thus', we are clearly immersed in both of these: it is a glorious celebration of sound, spinning a world of glittering textures, hovering drones, and fractured kaleidoscopes; but we are equally caught up in the unfolding of the work, with the riveting feeling that we are discovering the work at the same time as its maker is, with a shared sense of discovery and rapture. The soundworld evoked by Smith follows its own inevitable path, with Smith perhaps serving more as host or catalyst than calculating composer. But this image is deceptive: there is impeccable mastery and control here - control of his sounds and materials, but more importantly, an effortlessly masterful control of the shaping of time - that mark Smith as an artist of remarkable insight and talent.

'Thus' is a work that rewards headphone listening. No background music this; it is a work to lose yourself in. It is by turns intoxicating, hypnotic, ominous, serene, profound. It is a world of space and of texture, moving effortlessly from the gentle fluttering of insect wings to the dizzying swirling of primordial masses. Occasionally, the curtains part, to reveal a fragile and human world behind; before we can quite reach it, the fog rises, the clouds close, and we are lost once again in a sea of sound.

It is difficult not to be moved by the music on this album. It is a tactile and bodily experience, music to be felt as much as heard. The feelings it evokes, the imagery, the sensations, are all fleeting, transitory, evading any attempt to take hold of them and draw them into the light. Give yourself up to this music. You will not come away unchanged."-James Andean, Confront Recordings

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Electro-Acoustic Improv
Duo Recordings
Electroacoustic Composition
Field Recordings
Solo Artist Recordings
New in Experimental & Electronic Music
New in Improvised Music
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Other Releases With These Artists:
Recommended & Related Releases:
Veliotis, Nikos / Mark Wastell
Live at All Angels
Collusion Duo (Nick Smith / Mark Wastell)
IST (feat. John Zorn)
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BEFOREHAND (Lazaridou / Wastell)
Live at Hundred Years Gallery
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Caressed On The Brow By Unseen Hands
Ist (Davies / Fell / Wastell)
Consequences (of Time and Place)
Davis, Matt / Phil Durrant / Mark Wastell
Confront Collectors Series
Ist (Davies / Fell / Wastell)
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Derby 11.05.2002 / Liverpool 10.05.2002
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Sealed Knot, The (Beins / Davies / Wastell)
and we disappear
(Another Timbre)
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Other Recommended Releases:
Frequency Disasters (Beresford / Magaletti / Martino)
Frequency Disasters
Sealed Knot, The (Beins / Davies / Wastell)
Seen, The
For Sake Of Joy Of Study Of Oneself Together
Rowe, Keith / Mark Wastell
Live At I-And-E [VINYL RSD]
Virtual Company (Fell / Wastell / Bailey / Gaines)
Virtual Company
Eastley, Max / Fergus Kelly / Mark Wastell
The Map Is Not The Territory
Andersen, Arild / Clive Bell / Mark Wastell
Tales Of Hackney
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Archive : Volumes Vi - X : 2014 To 2016
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Wastell / Marhaug
Kiss Of Acid
Eastley / Halliwell / Parker / Wastell
a life saved by a spider and two doves
(Another Timbre)
Davis, Matt / Phil Durrant / Mark Wastell

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