The gigantic clouds of ash from the Tambora volcano, with the biggest eruption in recorded history, caused a ‘year without summer’ in 1816 in Europe and the US. Lord Byron’s eponymous poem ‘Darkness’ on the subject, and recorded witness reports, connect the different musical worlds of ancient bronze of gamelan ensemble Gending with the electronica of electropop trio Daisy Bell (Evelien van den Broek, Dyane Donck and Richard van Kruysdijk). Year Without A Summer premiered on March 28th 2014 in NWE Vorst, Tilburg, NL.
‘(…) this project by Ensemble Gending and Daisy Bell is very special. Atmospheric and at times fierce’. – Mixed World Music
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.
“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.
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.
composition & concept daisy bell (evelien van den broek, dyane donck, richard van kruysdijk) | performance daisy bell & ensemble gending | voice edvard graham lewis (wire) | light design ate jan van kampen | video & design richard van kruysdijk | production peter van amstel, betti plug | publicity marisa tempel | live technicians ron ruiten, sandor caron (sound), bart verzellenburg (video & light)
Supported by the Performing Arts Fund NL, SNS Reaal Fonds, kfHein fonds, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Gemeente Utrecht and Ventener van Vlissingenfonds. Live photos by William van der Voort.