Guest of the Month October 2011: Sam Underwood, aka Mr. Underwood
Sam Underwood is currently a participant in New Music Incubator – a unique, international exchange programme for performers, composers, improvisers and sound artists from the UK and Sweden.
Under his guise as Mr. Underwood, Sam works as a musician, sound artist and instrument designer. As well as being an accomplished music producer and live performer Mr. Underwood is often found working on a variety of leftfield projects, from setting up elaborate field recordings, to building obscure mechanical musical instruments.
He has an almost unhealthy fascination with sound, often being distracted by a squeaky shoe or the sound of the ventilation system when he should be concentrating on something else. Mr.Underwood also can’t help but twist the uses of objects, to find new ways of creating sound and interfaces with instruments and technology.
What Sam’s been listening to recently…
Secret Chiefs 3 – ‘Saptarshi/Radar’
This is my latest musical purchase. I’m not sure whether it’s on general release but I’d happily recommend most Secret Chiefs 3 releases. Having witnessed them live at Supersonic Festival only a few days ago I felt compelled to put my hand in my pocket to buy this, their latest release.
The performance they gave took my breath away. Such great musicianship and so tight as a band. I love the way they mix multiple influences and styles but I never thought they’d pull it off so impeccably live. Unfortunately, their tour is over now but I’d recommend anyone who has chance goes to see them live!
EVOL – ‘Magia Potagia’
During my time at Brunel University, as part of the PRSF New Music Incubator programme, I was introduced to EVOL by Mark Fell. Algorithmic music fascinates me. I don’t know much about EVOL or any detail of how they work but I love this release. It’s pretty challenging listening!
Earth – Extra – ‘Capsular Extraction’
Earth’s drone doom music has been an influence on my listening since they formed in around 1990. Their sound has influenced a lot of people, not least Sunn O))) who it is said were formed in tribute the early Earth when they ceased to be for a period. The new Earth sound still features the same glacial pace but is infused with a country music and filmic qualities.
I’ve been playing “Extra – Capsular Extraction” again recently partly because my own band “Ore”, a drone doom tuba band, does a cover of the version of “Ouroboros is Broken” that is featured on this EP.
The Necks – ‘Athenaeum, Homebush, Quay & Raab’
The Necks are one of my all-time favourite bands and Athenaeum is never far from my Hi-fi. If you have something in your mind’s eye (ear?) that defines what a jazz trio sound like, think again. Their epic pieces, often around an hour long, are just stunning. They are even better live and are touring Europe in November. GO!
Katia & Marielle Labèque – ‘Erik Satie – Gnossienne’
I’ve been trying recently to get into “proper” classical music. It’s an area I’ve never really got on with. I am being assisted in this by Stuart Estell, my friend and doom tuba collaborator. He’s tried various ways in so far but has found it hard going. So, he seems to have taken to doing solo concerts for me on piano. He recently played me Satie’s “Gnossiennes” and recommended listening to The Labèque Sisters recording of them. It is delightful.
Meatfeast – ‘Hands Like Claws’
I’ve been a fan of Mike Patton and Mr Bungle most of my life. When I first heard Birmingham band Meatfeast the parallels were obvious. This is something they are proud of. It’s balls-out fun and great musicianship to boot. Their latest EP gets regular play in my studio, especially now they have asked me to remix one of the tracks from it.
Afel Bocoum – ‘Alkibar’
I have yet to hear any Malian music I didn’t like. I guess some must exist but it’s definitely a place I associate with good music. After Afel Bocoum was played on Late Junction recently I purchased “Alkibar”. It’s a beautiful record.
Other listening has included Alva Noto, Pekko Kappi, Klaus Kinski and a myriad of other bands appearing at this year’s Supersonic Festival. So much good stuff on and I need to work out what not to miss.
Lastly, The Melvins have been getting a lot of play here recently. They are currently on a European tour and I am looking forward to catching them in Birmingham!
(Top left photo of Sam Underwood, provided courtesy of Pete Ashton)