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ANCIENT ROMAN LEATHER SANDALS           Hunterian Museum, Glasgow               

We all know that the Italians are the most stylish makers of the most stylish clothes. OK, let's concede couture to the French but, when it comes to designing and making clothes that people want to wear, everyday, then the Italians must surely take the lead. But 2,000 years ago? Apparently so. These amazing leather sandals are on display at the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow (...which gives us a rather dumb link to the previous CLIPS posting. Sean Shibe, the guitarist, was born and grew up in Scotland.)  So maybe the person who made these amazing examples of shoes to die for were designed and crafted by someone who was also born and grew up in Scotland. But I can't really believe that. I am sure that they arrived (months after they were despatched from Rome, or maybe Milan) packed in a pretty box, nestling in tissue paper. Or, if tissue paper hadn't been invented then, nestling in silk. [Reposted from Instagram.]


CORAL by Federico Mompou on CAMINO           SEAN SHIBE guitar


Monks in many traditions shed their hair as a symbol of their decision to depart from everyday pleasures and distracting preoccupations. They choose to fully focus their attention. Regain their concentration.  Change. This is surely one of the messages that Sean Shibe, the Scottish guitarist of Japanese and English heritage, is sending out to us with his current album, CAMINO.  Another message is that this album is a response to the Covid pandemic: 

"Over the last year and a half I have gone through periods of believing that recording my feelings of isolation and solitude would be worthwhile, but it didn’t take very long before I realised that I’d taken in enough meditations on loneliness for a lifetime. Instead, I’ve recorded something closer to the opposite. Some of these pieces are from my childhood; others reference a sort of ideal childlike state; but everything on this album has given me deep comfort and sustenance over a difficult and traumatic period."

 The album CAMINO is structured as a musical conversation between France and Spain. The focal piece is composed by the Catalan, Federico Mompou, who provides  a still and reflective musical tribute to the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela, Among the other pieces in this beautifully assembled recital there are the Spanish composer de Falla’s moving tribute to the French composer Debussy, Poulenc’s introspective “Sarabande”, a  handful of Satie's singular works for piano and Ravel’s “Pavane pour Une Infante Défunte” - all of them played with a spaciousness, a luminosity and a clarity that gives the listener a chance to depart - at least for a while - from everyday pleasures and distracting concerns. Perhaps even to fully focus their attention. Regain their concentration. Change. 

ELECTRIC COUNTERPOINT by Steve Reich          SEAN SHIBE guitar and tape

Sean Shibe performs Steve Reich's joyous and ever-fresh Electric Counterpoint in the warm and welcoming acoustic of the Wigmore Hall, London. And no coughing and shuffling from anyone in the audience! Sean, Scottish born to Japanese and English parents, brings the same elegance and relaxed control to the Fender as he does to the classical guitar. He brings the smiles out in Steve Reich's sonatina, written in 1987 for Pat Metheny. The soloist pre-records as many as 10 guitars and 2 electric bass parts and then plays the final 11th guitar part live against the tape.

SUITE in E-minor BWV 998 iv Sarabande  by J S Bach          SEAN SHIBE guitar 

This trio of clips from Sean Shibe reveal just some of the extraordinary range and depth he brings to what must be the world's best loved instrument, being in played in its most intense and intimate form. Two recent reviews confirm the feeling that this is music being played at the highest level, but with a delicacy and sensitivity that makes it completely approachable, even friendly:

“The best ever Bach recording of [guitar] … There seems to be no limit to Shibe’s characterful melodic instincts, with flourishes of rolling arpeggiations, exquisite harmonic placements and all kinds of textural delights. … the most interesting voice on the guitar for a generation”


“The greatest performers always push the boundaries, and that 28-year-old Sean Shibe […] is already in their select company. The spell, as always with Shibe, was total; no other guitarist that I know of is working at this artistic level.”



I heard this, by chance, on the radio ... chance being one of the essential pleasures of listening to the radio. The piece leapt out with clarity and zing that surprised me. The striking energy created by the dialogue between solo violin and live electronics woke me up on a slow-starting Sunday morning. Antheme 2 emerged gradually out of Boulez experimenting with a short violin solo he wrote as a competition piece in the early nineties. At IRCAM, the musical laboratory he created at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, he and his colleagues introduced a conversation between the the violin and electronics which sounds as vivid today as it must have done when it was premiered in the late nineties. This performance os from a BBC Promenade Concert from 2014. How I would like to have been there.



Two artists touched by greatness. Both are sons of great musical dynasties, where they were taught to extend a great tradition. Sometimes greatness is just the word you need. Yet this is greatness without vast numbers and big noise, and the crushing weight of celebrity. This is the greatness of forest streams and soft winds, building to thunderous showers. Above all things it is the most attentive of conversations.


"Every time you step out on to the stage, you learn something which helps you grow and be a better communicator. It’s not like you’re the master. You’re always a student." ZH



Can there be anyone in the world quite like Barbara Hannigan? She's long been a brave singer, with a fabulous vocal range and a taste for adventure that takes her to the extremes of musical possibility. She has worked and played with the songs of composers on the edge, and has then taken them further still. And for the past ten years she has worked closely with orchestras to create a new kind of performance conducting that combines devising shaping and singing with an infectious sense of freedom. Often humorous, but with no fear of being serious.


Barbara created this performance, Crazy Girl Crazy, out of the one of the classic musicals of George and Ira Gershwin. Crazy indeed, but fabulously so. Her collaborative band here, and often in others contexts too, is the LUDWIG Orchestra. The  superb arranger is Bill Elliott.

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MAKONDA is taken from Montparnasse Musique's debut self-titled EP, and features Kinshasa band Konono No1. It will be released on limited edition neon orange vinyl on January 14, 2022. Filmed on the streets of Kinshasa by award-winning documentary filmmaker Renaud Barret (Systeme K, Benda Bilili!), the music video offers a glimpse of the Congolese capital city’s unique street art movement — a fitting visual accompaniment to the sound of Montparnasse Musique, which connects the acoustic grit of traditional Africa with the pulse of modern Johannesburg through collaborations with Congotronics innovators such as Konono No1 and Kasai Allstars.


Featured in the video are members of the Bakoko collective, a group of fashion designers who combine their unique art with body performance. In their weekly ghetto catwalks, the performers pay homage to the Congo’s famous La Sape movement, representing it in a brand-new way. The costumes are inspired by the ancient Kingdom of Kongo — the Bakoko collective’s interpretation of an era for which there is very little documented evidence. The garments are exclusively made of bamboo and Mayaka seeds (a plant particularly associated with the area of Lake Mai Ndombe, in the western part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.


The name ‘Bakoko’ means ‘spirit of the ancestors’, and the collective’s primary creators Arnold Mbo and Pipiyu see their creations as a political statement, and part of a process of de-alienation. They urge Congolese youth to reconnect with ancient spiritual values instead of diving into heavy consumerism and imported spirituality of the ever-growing Evangelical churches. Their work is also dedicated to great historical figures of the Congolese rebellion against colonisation such as Maman Kimpa Vita and Simon Kimbangu. Lyrically ‘Makonda’ conveys the message that ‘man is all alone in the face of life and death’. It features the first new music from acclaimed Kinshasa-based band Konono No1 since 2016, with frontman Menga Waku.


Download, stream or pre-order on vinyl:


PANTER (featuring Kasai Allstars) is the debut single of Montparnasse Musique, an electronic production duo comprising Nadjib Ben Bella (Les Amazones d'Afrique) and South African DJ Aero Manyelo.       

Filmed in Kinshasa by Renaud Barret and edited by The Bow.

Co-produced with Mukalo Production.

Vocals: Muambuyi (Kasai Allstars) Backing vocals: Kuyinda (Basokin) Guitar: Mopero Mupemba (Basokin) Percussion: Diesel Mukonkole (Basokin) Bass/synths: Ben Bella / Manyelo Production by Ben Bella Jazz Recorded and mixed by Kwezydoctor at Khaima studio Mastered by Oli Jacobs at Real World Studios.

On Real World X, an imprint of Real World Records.