Somerset House Studios

Karen Gwyer | John Butcher and Lasse Marhaug

Part of ASSEMBLY: Christian Marclay

Sun 10 Nov 2019
18.30 - 21.00
£12.00, all 3 nights £30.00
Lancaster Rooms
New Wing

Karen Gwyer will approach the street noises as drums. Building over the course of the performance, Karen will use and process the ambient sounds to create a multilayer, polyrhythmic piece created from the more punchy and identifiable sounds as well as distorting the general hum. The mood and intensity will shift as the performance progresses. On top of the rhythmic street sounds, layers of synths will build to create a moving yet sobering composition that draws on Karen’s own emotions around her 12 years as a Londoner, both the pain and relief of leaving, and the conflict of looking at it now from afar.

Saxophonist John Butcher will use the system to allow his playing to modulate the street sounds, while Lasse Marhaug’s electronics will combine and process both the outside sounds and Butcher's saxophone, which is itself responding to the street sounds and Marhaug's output. Thus a complex multi-ingredient feedback system is created and manipulated in real time

For the second edition of ASSEMBLY, resident artist Christian Marclay curates a series of intimate musical performances in the Lancaster Rooms responding to the sounds and acoustics of the street outside the Neoclassical building.

Acknowledging and working with the unpredictable activity and noise to define a compositional framework, Marclay invites a series of guests to collaborate in bringing the outdoor inside for an evolving series of electro-acoustic performances. Presented over three nights, six new performances corresponding to Marclay’s sonic vision will be created live in the space, each responding to the concept in a different way.


Karen Gwyer was born in the southern US and raised in the north. Now based in Berlin after more than a decade in London, she shifts between pumping, thickly melodic, just left-of-techno dancefloor vibes and diversionary acidic psychedelia in her expansive, largely analogue live electronic performances. To date, she has released a handful of acclaimed recordings on Don't Be Afraid, Nous Disques, Opal Tapes and Kaleidoscope, among others. She has produced remixes for labels such as InFiné, Software, and Public Information, and has created a number of commissioned pieces for Berlin's Pop-Kultur festival and Open Music Archive in London.

John Butcher is a saxophonist who attempts to engage with the uniqueness of time and place. His music ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback and unusual acoustics. Since the early 1980s he has collaborated with musicians including Derek Bailey, David Toop, Eddie Prevost, Fred Frith, Okkyung Lee, John Tilbury and Matthew Shipp. Additionally he values occasional encounters - from the WDR Sinfonieorchester to duos with Akio Suzuki, Keiji Haino, Otomo Yoshihide, Sophie Agnel and Joe McPhee.

Lasse Marhaug has been one of the most active artists in the Norwegian noise/experimental music scene since the early 1990s. As a performer and composer, Marhaug has collaborated with many artists in the fields of noise, experimental, improv, jazz, rock and extreme metal, as well as working with music and sound for theatre, dance, installations, cinema and video. He has also been active as an organizer, promoter, producer and visual artist.

Production by Music Hackspace and sound system by Call & Response, with sound and interaction programming from Black Shuck and Preverbal Studio. Lighting design by KitMapper.

ASSEMBLY is supported by the Adonyeva Foundation and PRS Foundation's The Open Fund and John S Cohen Trust