Saturday, 21 December 2019


Come Hell or High Water
Sunday 22nd December 2019, 3-6pm

Dear friends, 

Come Hell or High Water personally invites you to a monthly event that takes place at low tide. Please join our pocket of resistance on the banks of the River Thames by Canary Wharf, a place that exists between water and land, private and public space, wealth and poverty, past and present, and an unknowable future. Where the tide slowly recedes, and a small foreshore is temporarily exposed, there will be a series of performances. 

We are between. Please join us. 
Hayley, Anne, George and Sarah

ON: Sunday 22nd December 2019, 3-6pm: sunset on this winter solstice, as the sun hovers 
between its furthest point from us, over the Tropic of Capricorn, and its return. 

AT: Three Colt Gallery, 82 Three Colt Street, London, E14 8AP

3.45pm: Performances on the foreshore Robin Bale, Harriet Latham & The Neo Naturists 

4.30pm: Presentations in the cafe Sarah Andrew, Anne Bean & Hayley Newman 

Yuletide refreshments served. 

Come Hell or High Water has been activated by Hayley Newman, Anne Bean, George Pringle& Sarah Andrew. If you would like to hear more from us please reply to this email and cc to join the Come Hell or High Water mailing list.

Thursday, 19 December 2019


Here's the recording of the performance and interview on the marvelous Sound Out (archive of shows here) show, hosted by Carole Finer on resonancefm. It went very well and was thoroughly enjoyable to do, which I think comes through in the recording.  Also on here, in addition to the talk and live improvised pieces, are as promised two tracks from the forthcoming album The Time of Our Apparitions. They are the title track The Time of Our Apparitions and De Goncourt. Both feature my home made springboard and (as yet nameless) bowed violin type thing, plus a knackered 3/4 size accoustic guitar and various extended playing techniques.

Saturday, 7 December 2019


Those of you in London, who get radio reception for it, can listen to me doing some live stuff utilising several of my DIY instruments and being interviewed on Carole Finer's rather excellent Sound Out show on Resonancefm this coming Tuesday (10 December, 15:00- 15:45). Otherwise, you can hear it live online here, wherever you are. All the shows are archived here for listening to at leisure. I'm pretty excited about it. 


All going well, listeners will also be treated to a small preview of my new album, "...The Hour of Our Apparition is Forever Fixed (and we are returned always the same)..."  which will be available on Bandcamp in due course. The title is from Auguste Blanqui's work Eternity By The Stars (available here), written when the revolutionary was imprisoned on a rock off the Brittany coast whilst the Paris Commune rose and was brutally suppressed. It is a strange work, that takes the logic of mechanistic 19th Century science to a disturbing conclusion: that in an infinite space ruled by physical laws consistent in all places, operating on a finite number of elements, repetition is inevitable.

Fortress Taureau, where Blanqui, incarcerated, wrote Eternity By The Stars
[...]in order to fill its expanse, nature must repeat to infinity each of its original combinations or types. So each heavenly body, whatever it might be, exists in infinite number in time and space, not only in one of its aspects but as it is at each second of its existence, from birth to death. … The earth is one of these heavenly bodies. Every human being is thus eternal at every second of his or her existence. What I write at this moment in a cell of the Fort du Taureau I have written and shall write throughout all eternity – at a table, with a pen, clothed as I am now, in circumstances like these. And thus it is for everyone. … The number of our doubles is infinite in time and space. One cannot in good conscience demand anything more. These doubles exist in flesh and bone – indeed, in trousers and jacket, in crinoline and chignon. They are by no means phantoms; they are the present eternalized. Here, nonetheless, lies a great drawback: there is no progress. … What we call “progress” is confined to each particular world, and vanishes with it. Always and everywhere in the terrestrial arena, the same drama, the same setting, on the same narrow stage – a noisy humanity infatuated with its own grandeur, believing itself to be the universe and living in its prison as though in some immense realm, only to founder at an early date along with its globe, which has borne with deepest disdain the burden of human arrogance. The same monotony, the same immobility, on other heavenly bodies. The universe repeats itself endlessly and paws the ground in place. In infinity, eternity performs – imperturbably – the same routines.

This text had an enormous impact on Walter Benjamin; particularly in the enormous, fragmentary, Arcades Project and also in his last writing - Theses on the Philosophy of History

Monday, 28 October 2019


This one utilises the stumpf fiddle I made. It was a very varied bill for the event "Street of Disgust", organised by Luke Jordan; held in a mostly derelict row of shops that had been squatted somewhere in Bermondsey, as far as I remember. I performed outside in the yard.


Saturday, 12 October 2019


On Sunday 27th October, I will be contributing some form of sounds and words to John Wild's drift around East London. Details on attached image.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019


I think it's timely to post some pictures of the instruments I've made over the past couple of years.
First up:

The Springboard

A piece of ply with springs attached. Some chains, nails and a bit of sandpaper for scraping. electric junction boxes affixed to attach long wires for twanging or toothpicks or similar for plucking. Can be played with fingers, bow or a small file. The clip on the edge holds a contact mic. It's very handy to use with a looper.

It can be heard in action here and (a few minutes in) here.


One string cigar box guitar (with magnetic pickup)

Straightforward CBG (everything anyone could ever want to know about cigar box guitars and variants can be found here). The body isn't an actual cigar box; these are harder to find these days than they used to be. It's a box from a local craft shop of the sort that people buy to paint, decoupage or whatever. As the instrument has a magnetic pickup, the box isn't really necessary for resonance or anything, but it is a handy place to mount the tone and volume knobs and to protect the wires. I put in the pickup, rather than a more usual contact (piezo) mic, because of the feedback problems that they tend to have at higher volume, also because I can use my ebow with a magnetic pickup. It's fretless and I often play it with a metal slide.

The bridge is the traditional nut and bolt arrangement and the nut is just a sliver of the hardwood that I used for the neck. The "strap" is some £ shop pink plastic twine, though I think, despite liking the aesthetics, that it needs changing due to the fact that it's uncomfortable and slips a lot.

It can be heard here, again. I'm using the ebow and a pitch shift down an octave. There's at least one other performance I've used it in, with a harmoniser pedal, but I'll have to find the video for that. I haven't put it online yet.


Diddley Bow, or monochord zither

Self-explanatory. It was originally to have two strings, hence the second machine head, but for one reason or another it now only has one very old bass string. The plank was found on the street, probably part of a bed base, the beers I drank (obviously). It sounds good played with the handle of a vegetable peeler or a heavy screwdriver. It's a percussive instrument as much as one that is plucked; as in one can hit and slide with whatever one is using to produce notes. A metal slide on the finger doesn't seem to work so well (for me, at least). The action is very high, due to the bottles so no possibility of fretting it. It can be amplified with a piezo clipped to one of the bottles. Amplified, it has a good bassy sound.

I have a very old floorboard that I found along the "corpse lane" (ancient bridleway to the church and cemetery) around the corner. I'm intending to get around to making that into something similar with it. It seems to me that there will be magical properties inherent in the voice of an instrument from such a place, even as, or even because of, its accelerating gentrification.

Unfortunately, there aren't any recordings of me playing this. Maybe soon. I will post as soon as there is one.


The Stumpf Fiddle, or Pogo Cello, Bum Bass, Hum Strum, Teufel Stick  

...Which is currently broken, due to being struck too hard at a performance in a squat in Southwark the other year. Epoxy simply isn't up to the job of withstanding repeated blunt force trauma. I will repair it using something more appropriate, because it is lovely.

It is a combination percussion/stringed (or springed) instrument. Britannica has this about the related instrument the "Jingling Johnny", the provenance of which it suggests is as an instrument used in Turkish Janissary military bands:

[...]It possibly originated as the staff of a Central Asian shaman...
Which obviously appeals, but whatever; these instruments are all basically a stick with a ball (in mine its a dog chew) or boot on the bottom to be banged on the ground with strings, wire, a spring or springs stretched over a resonating chamber made from tin plates or similar. They often have bells, wood-blocks, old fashioned car horns or hi-hats attached as well. Mine just has a wood block at the top. It is played by bashing, or bouncing it on the ground whilst beating the tin, bells and other attachments or "bowing" the springs with a notched stick.

For this one, I used a long hard wood stick (cheap from a builders merchant where they are sold as tool handles), £ shop baking tins and there is a machine head for attaching a guitar or bass string. However, I found guitar strings too short and the bass was too long. It would be possible probably to fit some sort of string; then the problem of how to play said string with the springs would arise... maybe some day.

It has a piezo stuck to the rear baking tin and a jack socket taped to the stick a bit further down. As can be seen in the photo, the baking tins are no longer stuck together. This is the bit that needs fixing. Probably piercing them around the rims and tying them with the notorious pink plastic twine would be the most durable solution, but I have no pillar or press drill, so it'll have to be a hammer and nail job.

There is video on this very blog of the stumpf fiddle in action here. I have found the footage of the other Southwark performance, where it broke, and it will be up here in due course.


Stick fiddle

This was inspired by Tuvan and Mongolian instruments. I like the high, slightly grating sound. My version has two, rather than four strings. It is made to be bowed, but pizzicato is also possible. The body is another box, but with very thin wood, from the craft shop, the neck is another hard wood tool handle and the strings are made from strimmer cord (a tip I found on CBG Nation forums), which the £ shop was stocking this summer. As a material, it bows very well. The nut is a cable tie, the strings are threaded through holes in the stick at the bottom and fixed with washers and I carved the bridge myself  (fairly badly). The strings are (roughly) tuned to G and E.

I know that the Tuvan ones don't have a fingerboard but I'm thinking of adding one to this (made from UPVC pipe) as I'm finding it difficult to hold down the notes due to the height of the action and the narrowness of the neck. I read about some Korean and Vietnamese instruments that aren't fretted as such - the player uses the back of their fingernail pressed against the string. This does work to an extent - more than I expected - so I'm in two minds about it. The other difficulty in playing it is that it tends to swivel in my lap. It might be necessary to make some kind of stirrup that sits over my leg.

There is, as yet, no recording or footage of me playing this, but rest assured there will be - when I can play it, at least a bit.