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Hope, Cat / Erkki Veltheim: Works For Travelled Pianos (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

As part of her Colonial Piano Project, Australian pianist Gabriella Smart commissioned and performs "Kaps Freed" by Cat Hope, a contemplation of composer Percy Grainger's Free Music ideals, with Stuart James on electronics; and the alliterative "Two New Proposals for an Overland Telegraph Line ..." by Erkki Veltheim, inspired by the 1st piano to arrive in Alice Springs, AU.

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product information:

UPC: 752156101222

Label: ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd
Catalog ID: ezz-thetics 1012
Squidco Product Code: 28569

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Track 1 recorded at the University of Adelaide, Australia, on July 29th, 2018, by Jakub Gaudasinski and Stuart James.

Track 2 recorded live in Gabriella Smart's studio, on February 9th, 2016, by Ray Thomas.


Cat Hope's-composer

Erkki Veltheim-composer

Gabriella Smart-piano

Stuart James-electronics

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Artist Biographies:

"Cat Hope, born 11 March 1966, is an Australian musician and academic, based in Melbourne and is currently the Head of Music at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music - Monash University. She is best known as a noise, installation and performance artist. She was a founder of the legendary Perth noise duo Lux Mammoth; was a singer, songwriter and bassist in dark indie band Gata Negra, and she also performs solo noise music using bass guitar. Her current projects include a series of works that focus on low frequency called 'the low grooms' and a bass improv quartet Abe Sada.

Hope lectured in classical music and music technology at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. In 2000 she was awarded the Pandora's Box Film Festival Award for best film score. In that year her music was included in the Extreme Music From Women compilation, issued by the Susan Lawly label. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the UWA School of Music (now the UWA Conservatorium of Music)."

-Wikipedia (

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"Erkki Veltheim (b. 1976 Finland) is an Australian composer, improviser, performer and interdisciplinary artist.

Erkki has been commissioned by the Adelaide Festival, Vivid Festival, Australian Art Orchestra and Soundstream Collective, and his pieces have been performed by groups such as the London Sinfonietta, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Recent projects include Gawanjalkmi (Song for the fallen) for voices and large ensemble (2015), in collaboration with Gurrumul and Jonno Yunupingu, commissioned by Skinnyfish and Gone West, Belgium; audiovisual performance work Another Other (2014/2016), with co-creators Anthony Pateras, Natasha Anderson and Sabina Maselli, commissioned by Chamber Made Opera; and audiovisual installation Fusion of Tongues (2015), commissioned by Punctum and La Maison Folie, Belgium, for 'Mons 2015 - European Capital of Culture' program.

Erkki has performed with the Australian Art Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Elision and Ensemble Modern, and has featured as a soloist with the London Sinfonietta, Australian Opera and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He has long-standing collaborations with indigenous musician Gurrumul, improvising trumpet virtuoso Scott Tinkler, and composer-pianist Anthony Pateras.

Erkki is a recipient of a 2013 Myer Creative Fellowship, and in 2014 was appointed Artistic Associate of Chamber Made Opera. He holds a Master of Arts, for which he researched connections between music and ritual."

-Erkki Veltheim Website (

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"Pianist Gabriella Smart is a leading advocate of new music in Australia with sustained contribution over 25 years through performance, improvisation, collaborative composition, commissioning and curation. Her expertise as an Australian representative artist has been recognised with numerous awards and grants.

Most recently, she is the recipient of four prestigious awards in 2019: Art Music Award for Excellence in Music (Australian Performing Rights Association and Australian Music Centre), the Paris Residency and an Artist Grant from The Australia Council for the Arts, and a South Australian Government Creative Fellowship. In 2018, she was awarded a Prelude Composer Residency (Australia) and a UNESCO City of Music residency in Katowice, Poland. Previously, Gabriella has been the recipient of a Churchill Fellowship (2010), national Helpmann Award (2009), and Ruby Award for Best Event in South Australia in 2009.

With a background as a multi-award winning pianist specialising in classical and new music, Gabriella has performed extensively in Australia and internationally, premiering over forty new works for solo piano by Australian and international composers in Australia, Europe and China, and collaborating with musicians as diverse as Brett Dean, Elena Kats Chernin, Erkki Veltheim, Jon Rose and Tamara Anna Cislowska.

Gabriella's performance of Alvin Curran's solo for Cornelius was described as 'meltingly beautiful' and 'mesmerising' (The Australian). She has performed widely as a soloist throughout Australia, and internationally, promoting the works of Australian composers. Gabriella has performed in the Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide International Festivals, MONA MOFO, TURA (Perth) and in Europe and China (Forbidden Palace Beijing, Shanghai Conservatory, Lyceum Theatre Shanghai). In 2010, she represented Australia at the World Expo in Shanghai. Gabriella has given numerous live and recorded broadcasts for ABC Classic FM.

As an improviser, she has collaborated and performed with such luminaries as Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance, Academy Award winner for film music: The Gladiator), Brian Ritchie (Violent Femmes), Alvin Curran, Cat Hope, Derek Pascoe and Johannes Sistermanns as part of UnPiano Trio, and Paul Grabowsky.

Gabriella has extensive experience and recognised expertise in curation and Artistic Direction. For 25 years, she has been Artistic Director of Soundstream New Music, Ensemble in Residence at the University of Adelaide (Adelaide, Australia), having curated four festivals and twenty concert series, and is the instigator of the Soundstream Emerging Composer Forum, the highest paying Australian Forum for the mentoring, recognition and commissioning of new chamber works in Australia by emerging composers.

Gabriella was awarded a PhD in Music from the University of Adelaide in 2018, with publications on new music, curation and Australian musical history."

-Gabriella Smart Website (

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"Stuart James is a Western Australian-based composer, performer, sound designer, audio engineer, and producer. His compositional work explores both acoustic and electronic instruments, and he has been commissioned to write compositions by the ABC, Decibel Ensemble, Tetrafide Ensemble, the WASO New Music Ensemble, percussionist Louise Devenish, and visual artist Erin Coates. Stuart's work has also been performed by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and Michael Kieran Harvey, and his work has been released on Tall Poppies. Stuart won the state finals of the ASME young composers' competition, won the Dorothy Ransom composition prize, and has also been nominated for Australian Music Centre Awards for his percussion pieces Temperaments and Kinabuhi | Kamatayon. Stuart has been a founding member of the Decibel ensemble, and has performed as part of this ensemble throughout Europe and Asia. Stuart also manages and operates a commercial recording studio, and has recorded and mixed national and international artists including ShockOne, Kele Okereke, JMSN, Ta-ku, Loston, Jaime Page, and others. Stuart also completed his doctorate for research in spatial audio, spectral synthesis, and wave terrain synthesis, and has continued to publish regularly on music technology."

-WAAPA, Edith Cowan University (

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track listing:

1. Kaps Freed 20:08

2. Two New Proposals For An Overland Telegraph Line From Port Darwin to Port Augusta, From The Perspective Of Alice Springs 58:47

sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Kaps Freed (2017) is a contemplation of composer and pianist Percy Grainger's (1882-1961) Free Music ideals, a musical concept inspired by the observation of waves on a lake in Melbourne, Australia as a boy. He believed the future of music lay in freeing up rhythmic procedures and using more subtle variations of pitch outside the tempered scale. Grainger explained his concept of Free Music in a letter to critic Olin Downes in 1942:

"In this music, a melody is as free to roam thru tonal space as a painter is free to draw and paint free lines, free curves, create free shapes ... In FREE MUSIC the various tone-strands (melodic lines) may each have their own rhythmic pulse (or not), if they like; but one tone strand is not enslaved to the other (as in current music) by rhythmic same-beated-ness. In FREE MUSIC there are no scales - the melodic lines may glide from and to any depths and heights of (practical) tonal space, just as they may hover about any 'note' without ever alighting upon it..." from "A Musical Genius from Australia" Edited by Teresa Balough, Nedlands, W.A. : CIRCME, School of Music, University of Western Australia in association with Soundscapes, 1997.

These words also describe the musical concept of Kaps Freed, and capture the challenges Grainger faced when attempting to notate his concepts for musicians to perform; now possible to over-come via animated notations - moving scores facilitated by computer technology. 'Kaps Freed is named after the Kaps piano, the childhood instrument Grainger would have been playing during his period of inspiration for Free Music, and attempts to free the piano from the rigid harmonic structure imposed on its design. The aim of the piece is to transform the sound of the piano as closely as possible to Grainger's idea, by sampling moments in the piano and transporting them into Theremin like tones carefully notated on the score. The shapes for this notation were taken from the composer's drawings of the surface of the same lake that fed Grainger's original ideas in Melbourne over 100 years later, and are rendered audible via pitch tracking and spectral processing."- Cat Hope, April 2019

Two New Proposals for an Overland Telegraph Line from Port Darwin to Port Augusta, from the Perspective of Alice Springs: "This piece is inspired by the first piano in Alice Springs, which was carried there by camel when the town was founded in 1872 as a telegraph repeater station, being roughly at the halfway point of the Overland Telegraph Line between Port Augusta and Port Darwin.

I translated the idea of the telegraph line by utilising the fact that the distance in Hertz between the lowest and highest notes of this instrument roughly equals the distance in kilometres of the Overland Telegraph Line. Metaphorically, the keyboard thus traverses a line between Port Augusta and Port Darwin, with Alice Springs being signified by the pitch Eb4 when following an exponential curve, and the pitch A6 when fol- lowing a straight line between the two endpoints, proposing two interpretations for the placement of Alice Springs on this imaginary map.

This distance is also converted into the duration of the piece. The Overland Telegraph Line had 11 repeater stations along the line, which were used to manually repeat the weakening original message. The electronics part uses the idea that the ‘message’ in my piece, a repeated morse code phrase on the dyad Eb4/A6, is similarly copied by such ‘repeater stations’ through a series of delays and pitch shifts, again using both an exponential and a linear interpretation. The effect is a gradual fanning out of the morse code across the entire range of the piano, as it reaches towards the two ends of the line on both the vertical (pitch) and horizontal (time) axes.

The morse code spells out the text of the most retweeted tweet (as reported on 13 January 2015), origi- nally tweeted by Ellen DeGeneres on 3 March 2014: If only Bradley Cooper’s arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars I found there to be an absurd connection between the need to repeat and reinforce morse messages across large distances, and the obsessive retweeting of meaningless messages on social media. The Overland Telegraph Line revolu- tionised communications between Australia and the rest of the world, facilitating the deliv- ery of urgent and important messages. The rise of social media messaging represents a new kind of communication revolution, which has repurposed each one of us as a repeater station of trivial bits of information. We are now strug- gling not with the speed and reach of data, but rather its excessive volume, as it saturates our lines of communication in an endless and ever-accelerating cycle of self-generated regurgitation"-Erkki Veltheim, April 2019

This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!
Related Categories of Interest:

Hat Art
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
Saxophone & Drummer / Percussionist Duos
Duo Recordings
New in Improvised Music
Hat Hut Masters Sale

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