6 Dec 2006
The Eye of the Fire @ Wigmore Hall, London 
The splendid surroundings of London's Wigmore Hall saw the reuniting of two of the founding fathers of Factory Classical, Rolf Hind and The Duke Quartet for a mixed programme of modern classical music.

The Eye of the Fire Tour, which also takes in Edinburgh tonight and Cardiff tomorrow, was conceived by yoga fan and spnm artistic director Rolf Hind. Hindu mystics believe that through meditation and yoga a "third eye" to a new level of consciousness opens up in the middle of the forehead and it also lends its name to a quite superb piece for piano quintet that concluded last night's performance. There was even a yoga demonstration as a prelude to the evening's musical entertainment.

Each movement was inspired by a different yoga position and also by the personal characteristics of the members of the Quartet. Louisa Fuller led the Dukes who produced some amazing sounds with all parts of their instruments and even whistling. The resulting music was reminiscent at times of the closing piece on Brian Eno's 'Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks' and even Talk Talk's 'Spirit of Eden'.

In his programme notes, Hind thanked "maverick impresario" Tony Wilson for getting his recording career started. Indeed it was Factory Classical artistic director John Metcalfe who brought the young Rolf Hind to the attention of AHW when the label was getting off the ground. Hind laments the passing of Factory Classical and notes that it wasn't until two years ago in Bromsgrove the he and the Dukes would actually play together (by some coincidence, when they did, it was for the premiere of 'The Eye of the Fire'.

Earlier on there were world premieres for new works by Naomi Pinnock, Shiori Usui and Philip Venables. During Usui's 'Liya-pyuwa, for piano quintet', Rolf Hind displayed his virtuosity by hitting and plucking various parts right inside the guts of the instrument. The mirrored lid craftily provided us with a view of proceedings. I would like to see the musical notation for those manoeuvres!

The concert was recorded for Radio 3's Hear and Now and will be broadcast on 24 February 2007.

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A Certain Ratio

"Manchester, 1978. In the beginning there were four: Jez Kerr (bass), Martin Moscrop (guitar/trumpet), Peter Terrel (guitar/effects) and Simon Topping (vocals/trumpet). Four thin boys with a name borrowed from a Brian Eno record, the intense, drummerless quartet initially drew influence from Wire, Eno, the Velvets and Kraftwerk, and gained a manager in Anthony Wilson of Factory Records.

"May 1979 saw the release of their first ACR single, the dark All Night Party, although the sound and musicianship of the band would be transformed by the arrival of funky drummer Donald Johnson (DoJo) in August. Over the next few months the band gigged widely, often with Joy Division as part of Factory packages, and recorded demos with producer Martin Hannett as well as a Peel session. Their support slot with Talking Heads on their UK tour in December 1979 set David Byrne on a new course, and provided the compelling live half of their chic cassette package The Graveyard and the Ballroom. Post-punk, ACR now reflected the influence of Funkadelic, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, The Bar Kays and James Brown."

- intro to ACR Biography by James Nice (LTM)

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