Programme – CrossCurrents 2024: Mahtani/Mapp Duo

20.00, Wednesday 6th March 2024 – Lapworth Museum of Geology, University of Birmingham

“This is the great burden that now rests upon writers, artists, filmmakers, and everyone else who is involved in the telling of stories: to us falls the task of imaginatively restoring agency and voice to nonhumans. As with all the most important artistic endeavours in human history, this is a task that is at once aesthetic and political – and because of the magnitude of the crisis that besets the planet, it is now freighted with the most pressing moral urgency.”

From The Nutmeg’s curse by Amitav Ghosh, p. 204

IKOsystem Collapse – Marty Fisk

Holmfirth – Steve Saunders 

Silhouettes – Teddy Hunter

Gardening Humans – Annie Mahtani and Chris Mapp 

Programme Notes

IKOsystem CollapseMarty Fisk

A live semi-improvised performance created for presentation on the IKO speaker. All sounds are generated and spatialised in Max, with some additional sequencing carried out using a Novation Circuit Rhythm. Live routing changes within the patch allow a multilayered interconnected system to be built up, with parameters of sound and spatialisation gradually taking more and more instruction from within the system, and less and less from the performer.

Holmfirth Steve Saunders 

Holmfirth is a multichannel composition inspired by countryside walks, in which the meditative act of solitary walking through nature causes a shift in the way environmental sounds are heard. Throughout the piece, footsteps interact with other sounds derived from nature, representing the auditory experience of walking with a clear mind. All sounds used to make the composition were recorded on various walks during a weekend break in a small cottage in Holmfirth, but have been affected in numerous ways. The piece is my first experimentation with acousmatic composition and takes some influence from ‘surrealism’, in which disparate sounds are purposely contrasted as ‘blocks’ of sound. 

Silhouettes – Teddy Hunter

Silhouettes explores the dark soundworld of the Wyre Forest through winter where the days are short, forests are seemingly still but are always interacting with humans on a micro level.

Through recording the sap movements within trees with sensitive microphones, Silhouettes uses rhythms to entice you into the cyclical nature of the forest leading you to the shaded and darker areas on the edge of the underland.
The use of multichannel allows for the micro sounds to become displaced in the forest world by bringing them to the forefront for the listener.

Gardening Humans 

Annie Mahtani – electronics, field recordings, spatialisation 

Chris Mapp – bass guitar, electronics 

“Scientists now accept that trees in a forest are able to communicate with each other in certain circumstances…  it is only that they lack language—a human attribute—that tress are mute. But in that humans lack the ability to communicate as trees do, could it not be said that for a tree it is the human who is mute? 

It may seem obvious to humans that their ability to destroy trees and forest endows them, and them alone, with the capacity to act. But intentional action can also unfold over completely different scales of time. Trees have inhabited the Earth much longer than human beings, and their individual life spans are, in many cases, far greater than those of people: some live for thousands of years. If trees possessed modes of reasoning, their thoughts would be calibrated to a completely different time scale, perhaps one in which they anticipate that most humans will perish because of a planetary catastrophe. The world after such an event would be one in which trees would flourish as never before, on soil enriched by billions of decomposing human bodies. It may appear self-evident to humans that they are the gardeners who decide what happens to trees. Yet, on a different time scale, it might appear equally evident that trees are gardening humans.” 

From The Nutmeg’s Curse by Amitav Ghosh (2021:p197-8)

Where does the natural world begin and the human world end? We often discuss ‘the environment’ as if we are not part of it. It is something to be understood, cared for, destroyed, manipulated, exploited, something apart from being human. Yet, as the climate crisis deepens our inextricable connection to our environment intensifies. This complex relationship has formed our past, maintains our present and will shape our future. Instead of thinking of ‘saving the planet’ we should be thinking of saving ourselves. 

The enormity of the task at hand can be disempowering; how can the behaviour of individuals bring about the wholesale change that is needed? At the same time we cannot do nothing. We must draw on our pasts to create collective solutions using the resources we have in the place we now find ourselves. We must listen. 

Gardening humans tells a story of our duality of existence as caretakers and as those who are being cared for. We want to illuminate our deep and unbreakable connection to our environment, to give a voice to the nonhumans we share it with. We are informed and inspired by them. We shape and manipulate them as they shape and manipulate us. We find new ideas and possibilities through the process of making music in the present, in this place, that draws on all of our pasts and makes possible a future. So that when we are gone, the world is a better place. 


Marty Fisk

Marty Fisk is a composer from Gloucester currently studying a PhD at the University of Birmingham. His research interests include electroacoustic live performance, novel sound interfacing technologies, and interactive works; exploring the dynamics between performer, audience, and sound. 

Steve Saunders

Steve Saunders is a Birmingham-based composer, improviser and guitarist working in contemporary music, jazz/improvised music and the space in-between. He has performed regularly with leading British jazz figures including Xhosa Cole, with whom he recently completed a 40-date tour, and Paul Dunmall, including on albums and concerts with Evan Parker, Percy Pursglove, John Edwards and Mark Sanders, amongst others. Highlights as a composer include his forty-minute, large ensemble work performed on the Birmingham Symphony Hall Stage, commissions from various UK/US ensembles and mentorship from composer Robert Saxton. Steve is a Music scholar on the Composition MA at University of Birmingham, for which he is supported by the Vaughan Williams Foundation and Countess of Munster Musical Trust. 

Teddy Hunter

Teddy Hunter is a Cardiff based audio visual artist and electronic musician working in alternative music and immersive audio. Her practice takes root in sonic arts, exploring the environment through sound and installation where the gentle immersive ambience are combined with song writing and traditional instrumentation.

Annie Mahtani

Annie Mahtani (UK, 1981) is an electroacoustic composer, sound artist and performer working and living in Birmingham. Her output encompasses electronic music composition from acousmatic music to free improvisation. As a collaborator, Annie Mahtani has worked extensively with dance and theatre, and on site-specific installations. With a strong interest in field recording, her work often explores the inherent sonic nature and identity of environmental sound, amplifying sonic characteristics that are not normally audible to the naked ear. Her music explores abstract and recognizable sound worlds and all the spaces in between. Annie works extensively with multichannel audio both in fixed medium works and in live performance. 

Chris Mapp

Chris is a bass player, improviser and composer living and working in Birmingham. His work falls somewhere between composition and improvisation, using sound, music and electronics to satisfy his own sonic curiosity. As a bandleader with Gonimoblast he has worked with Arve Henriksen,Maja Ratkje, Mark Sanders, Leafcutter John and Dan Nicholls as well as being a key member of the healthy Birmingham improvised music scene. 

In 2018 Chris formed the trio stillefelt with trumpeter Percy Pursglove and guitarist Thomas Seminar Ford. Together they explore the narrative between improvisation, composition and the everyday. He is also one half of CollapseUncollapse with drummer Mark Sanders.