Wednesday, June 7th, ISSUE presents a rare appearance by two fearless musicians: Peter Brötzmann (reeds) and Heather Leigh (electric pedal steel guitar). Capable of extreme dynamics and subtleties, the duo began their musical partnership in May 2015 at the Tectonics Festival in Glasgow, Scotland. Since that time, they’ve furthered their collaboration into a dialogue that, in the words of The Wire’s Richard Thomas, “spews a raucous, unrelenting, spiteful, acid-drenched, caterwauling hate-bomb; a maelstrom; a toxic dreamscape; a grotesque collision of desperate lungs and screaming metal; a romantic Taser blast to the heart."
Leigh and Brötzmann have honed their collaborative work In Krakow, Poland playing several concerts together and in collaboration with Joe McPhee, William Parker, Steve Noble and Peeter Uuskyla. In early 2016, they toured Europe and played Peter’s 75th birthday celebrations alongside Han Bennink, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Toshinori Kondo, Steve Noble, John Edwards and Jason Adasiewicz. Together they bring countless decades of experience at the cutting edge of ferocious speed-of-thought improvisation and deep lyrical soul.
“Surely it’s all too abrasive and disparate to conjure subtle emotion? In fact, the opposite seems to be true; something ascends in the cracks between his squall and her wooze...there’s a moment when caustic fades into dulcet and the space between their instruments is exhilarating…” -- Spencer Tomson, The Wire.
Free jazz saxophonist Peter Brötzmann makes his instrument bray, wheeze, blare and scream, a righteous chorus of sounds described in his AllMusic biography as “emotion-driven white noise.” The 71-year-old Brötzmann is an undisputed hero within the intimidating world of free jazz. Brötzmann started off as a visual artist in Wuppertal, Germany. Self-taught, he first began playing clarinet and saxophone in the late-50s, and quickly progressed to mounting a transcendent sonic assault informed by titanic free-jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler. Since then he’s released scores of material under his own name — 1968’s Machine Gun being the canonized entry point. A lifetime of collaboration has seen him recording with groups such as the Die Like a Dog Quartet, and seemingly every free jazz musician of note. His steps outside of the genre include work with Japanese noise musician Keiji Haino and avant-garde polymaths Bill Laswell and John Zorn.
The daughter of a coal miner, weaving a trail from West Virginia to Texas and now residing in Scotland, Heather Leigh furthers the vast unexplored reaches of pedal steel guitar. Her playing is as physical as it is phantom, combining spontaneous compositions with a feel for the full interaction of flesh with hallucinatory power sources. With a rare combination of sensitivity and strength, Leigh’s steel mainlines sanctified slide guitar and deforms it using hypnotic tone-implosions, juggling walls of bleeding amp tone with choral vocal constructs and wrenching single note ascensions. In late 2015, Heather Leigh released her first proper studio album, ‘I Abused Animal’ on Stephen O’Malley & Peter Rehberg’s Ideologic Organ/Editions Mego labels to widespread acclaim. Renowned as a fearless free improviser, ‘I Abused Animal’ is a breakthrough work showcasing Heather Leigh’s songwriting prowess, foregrounding her stunning voice and her innovations for the pedal steel guitar. Warmly recorded in a secret location in the English countryside, the album transmutes the power of her captivating live performances to a studio setting, capturing her tactile playing in full clarity while making devastating use of volume and space. Heather Leigh explores themes of abuse, sexual instinct, vulnerability, memory, shadow, fantasy, cruelty and projection across the album’s psychedelic hymnals. At times the intimacy of the recordings makes you feel like she’s singing directly into your ear, playing just for you.