Nova Studios is proud to have been named as one of the trustees of the musical estate of the experimental music pioneer Basil Kirchin, who died in Hull in 2005.
It’s a strange and wonderful responsibility, but then most things associated with Basil’s life lean toward the strange and wonderful – after all, this is a man who spent a reasonable amount of time devising ways to record the sound of spiders talking to each other.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. Kirchin, he started his career during the war at the age of 14 and soon became one of the country’s leading jazz drummers.
In the late 50s, he then went on a spiritual (and somewhat stoned) journey around the world to expand both his consciousness and his approach to music, before coming back to become one of England’s most innovative composers of film and ‘production library’ music.
Around this time (and you’ll have to come and watch our film – details below – to find out why) Basil started visiting Hull and fell in with local musician and pioneering studio supremo Keith Herd of Fairview Studios. Together Basil, Keith and a bunch of talented Hull-based musicians started pushing the boundaries of what a recording studio could do…
The late 60s and early 70s saw Basil get even further into unexplored landscapes of sound, creating two albums Worlds With Worlds I & II, and IV & V which are now critically lauded and recognised as paving the way for ambient, electronica, technological improvisation and sonic art.
The albums – original copies of which now change hands for thousands on ebay – hardly sold any copies at the time, so Basil slipped from view and spent the latter days of his life with his beautiful but troubled wife Esther, living in poverty and obscurity in a two bedroom terrace off St George’s Road, Hull.
But he never stopped making music and thankfully Basil and his work were rediscovered around 2000 by British jazz fan and musical archaeologist Jonny Trunk. Thanks to Jonny’s releases on Trunk records Basil’s music started to be heard again and influenced a new generation of musicians including Stereolab, Nurse with Wound, Jim O’Rourke, Broadcast and more
Basil was a true outsider artist and one of twentieth-century Britain’s great composers, and yet he remains relatively unknown, loved by a growing band of devotees across the world who – ourselves included – believe Basil Kirchin’s music is amongst the most beautiful and unique music you’ll ever hear.
So what does it mean to be a trustee of Basil’s estate?
When Basil died he left his musical estate to four of his friends: Wally the Flute, Pat Ryan, Clive Leslie, and his old Hull mate Keith Herd.
Only Keith survives – and so, to help grow Basil’s name and legacy he has appointed three new trustees, Nova Studios, Jonny Trunk and Professor Alastair Borthwick of the University of Hull.
The plan is that we bring Basil’s music, archive and story into one place, help to grow his name, and then establish a trust to support and develop artists and musicians exploring new approaches to sound and music.
Quite how we’ll do that, we haven’t figured out yet – the legal bits have only just been sorted.
But the point is, the body of the remarkable Mr. Basil Kirchin may have expired but Basil’s spirit lives on through his music – and it’s our intention to make sure his reputation grows.
Keith Herd and Fairview Studios, together with the excellent Mr. Andy Richardson, are releasing a new compilation of Basil’s Fairview and Hull-based work on March 29. Déjà vu features some of Basil’s most innovative and accomplished work – a wonderful selection of previously unreleased material spanning nearly 40 years of his career.
And to support this release Nova Studios is screening our 40-minute documentary Mind On The Run, commissioned for Hull 2017 which tells the story of Basil’s life and work.
Mind On The Run is on at Kardomah on Saturday afternoon, April 6 – it’s a free event with an after-show discussion with Nova’s Matt Stephenson and Fairview’s Keith Herd – donations to Dove House Hospice where Basil died in 2005. You can reserve your ticket here.
And to cap it all, Jonny Trunk of Trunk Records is soon to re-release Basil’s influential Worlds Within Worlds on vinyl – but if you simply can’t wait you could always buy the original vinyl pressing on Discogs for £7,780.