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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Biting Tongues

In the grey days of late 1970s post-punk Manchester, youth culture was a serious affair: every musical performance was measured mostly by the conviction of its delivery. The term 'New Wave' opened up free vistas where acquired skills could once again be exercised after punk's monochrome blur. It could be applied to anything from a James 'Blood' Ulmer record to the latest Throbbing Gristle release, Magazine to Swell Maps. Move outside that terrain into Sun Ra, Parliament, Frank Sinatra and Martin Denny, and your options were suddenly without limit...

Then came Tony Wilson's Factory Club (at the Russell Club in Hulme) offering an open invitation to experiment that was taken up when Ken Hollings, Howard Walmsley, Eddie Sherwood and a few others decided to make some noise to accompany their 16mm silent epic Biting Tongues. A further performance followed a few weeks later, when Colin Seddon and Graham Massey disbanded their Post Natals project and joined up. The film itself, a flashing series of negative images, became a memory; the name remained.

- extract from the LTM Biting Tongues biography

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