Music Lover's Field Companion 05

20–22 May 2005
The Sage Gateshead, Gateshead

Taking our festivals south of the border we set out to offer a few cardinal pointers in the vast array of experimental music practices.

The programme included a special 4-hour performance by Keiji Haino - "The Secret of Music", Vibracathedral Orchestra, Kazuo Imai, My Cat in an Alien, nmperign, Takehisa Kosugi, Jandek, Shuji Inaba and Kyoaku No Intention (Munehiro Narita and Shoji Hano). Luc Ferrari and eRikm had to cancel at the last minute so Charlemagne Palestine performed in their place.

What we said at the time:

Your informative guide in the search for new aural pleasures. Taking our festivals south of the border to The Sage Gateshead we set out to offer a few cardinal pointers in the vast array of experimental music practices. 

In an ever-changing musical landscape, The Sage Gateshead presents a festival of performances from some of the most exhilarating and urgent underground musicians the world has to offer, artists who define genres, break moulds and inspire scenes; it’s an exploration of the bold and exciting in new music.


In 1954, composer John Cage (often perceived as the father of experimental music) was invited to write an article on music in an edition of the United States Lines Paris Review, primarily devoted to humour.  In it he suggested that a lot could be learnt about music by looking at the other great passion in his life: the mushroom.In particular, or at least most pertinently to this festival, he bemoaned the lack of guidance when surveying the ever expanding, potentially confusing genre of experimental music.  If you were serious about mushrooms then the first thing you would reach for, when out for a Sunday afternoon picking, would be your trusty Field Companion to guide you towards the tastiest, non-toxic examples in the field.  Why couldn’t there be such a companion to music?

Although not offering anything quite as pompous as a complete guide to the outer reaches of experimentation in music today, this festival does humbly set out to offer a few cardinal points to both those deeply embedded in the scene and to those who might wish to take a risk and expand their horizons, to venture into the undergrowth.  All the performances here are from genre defining, hugely important musicians, lions in their field.  They may not necessarily be household names, but their influence reaches far into contemporary music.

MLFC 05 was reveiwed by Andy Hamilton for The Wire here


Supported by Arts Council England, Gateshead Council, 2005 Alive, Japan Foundation, Japan European Union 2005, The Wire

Thanks to Alan Cummings, Motochika Kinoshita, Takako Okamoto, David Keenan and all the staff at Sage Gateshead.