year without a summer 

indietronics trio Daisy Bell + gamelan ensemble Gending

A blasting musical performance inspired by the biggest volcanic eruption of recorded history

The gigantic clouds of ash from the Tambora volcano (Indonesia) caused a "year without a summer" in 1816 in Europe.

Lord Byron's poem “Darkness” on the subject creates the textual link between the different musical worlds of ancient bronze of Gamelan ensemble Gending and the contemporary indietronics of Dutch trio Daisy Bell

British poet Lord Byron (1788-1824) wrote the poem "Darkness" in 1816, inspired by the effects of the eruption of the Tambora volcano (Indonesia) the year before. "I had a dream, which was not all a dream./ The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars / Did wander darkling in the eternal space". 

The eruption caused the formation of gigantic clouds of ash, enveloping the whole western hemisphere. It blocked so much sunlight that harvests in Europe and Northern America failed, causing an estimate of 200,000 people dead as a result of famine. Many people committed suicide, believing the Apocalypse had arrived.

Even Napoleons defeat at Waterloo is believed to be partially caused by the sudden climatic change, causing his troops to be stuck in mud after unusually heavy rains.

In this 'year without summer', Byron resided in Switzerland, sharing a house with writers couple Percy and Mary Shelley at the Lake of Geneva. Influenced by the darkness, coinciding with a dark period in his private life, he encouraged his fellow writers to write dark stories and to read them to each other.

These sessions gave birth to some classics in literature, like Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", John Polidori's "The Vampyre" and Lord Byron's "Darkness".

 

"Year Without A Summer" by Daisy Bell and Ensemble Gending is like a "concept album":  a collection of separate songs with an overarching theme, an underlying storyline that connects the different parts. "Songs" in the broadest sense of the word that is, as conventional song structures are often abandoned, while melodies and rhythms reappear in different parts of the composition.

Lord Byron's poem serves as the textual basis for the lyrics, but is only used partially and is not integrally read or sung.

 

The instrumentation consists of: gamelan (six players), vocals, live electronics (on gamelan and vocals), voice (also on video) acoustic and electronic percussion, electric bass guitar and guitar: instruments that can adapt to the non-diatonical tuning of the Javanese gamelan. Unorthodox playing methods of the gamelan are also explored.

Credits

Composition & Concept

Daisy Bell (Evelien van den Broek, Dyane Donck, Richard van Kruysdijk)

 

Performance

Daisy Bell & Ensemble Gending

 

Voice

Edvard Graham Lewis

 

Light design

Ate Jan van Kampen

 

Video & Design

Richard van Kruysdijk

 

Production

Peter van Amstel, Betti Plug

 

Publicity

Marisa Tempel

 

Live technic

Ron Ruiten, Sandor Caron (sound)

Bart Verzellenburg (video & light)