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Laurence Pike is a drummer/composer/producer based in Sydney. His work is acclaimed internationally with his group PVT (formerly Pivot), who were the first Australian act signed to the influential UK label Warp Records.

He is a member of Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders, as well as currently working with ARIA award winner Sarah Blasko, veteran jazz pianist Mike Nock, and with UK electronic musician Luke Abbott in their collaborative project Szun Waves. Laurence has appeared on over 40 albums, and performed in 35 countries across the globe with artists as diverse as Bill Callahan, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Prefuse 73 to name but a few. Festival appearances include; Glastonbury, Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Vivid, Splendour In The Grass and Sydney Festival. He has recorded countless sessions, as well as composing music for television, remixing, and presenting radio nationally in Australia for Triple J and Double J.

Laurence Pike
is In Wild Air



Culture

ECM Records


I first became interested in the music of German record label ECM as a high school student. It has been a love affair ever since. The label was started in 1969 by Manfred Eicher, and he has remained at the head until present, along side personally producing almost all of it's 1300 or so releases.

I've always loved the utterly uncompromising nature of ECM. It's astonishing (now more than ever) that a record label could release essentially what ever it likes and remain viable and relevant for nearly 50 years. Aesthetically there's a thread running through their catalogue, but I'd say they're as much defined by the diversity of their output. Musically you could loosely describe what they do as 'contemporary creative music' - recordings drawn from the worlds of jazz, improvisation, world music, and classical (encompassed by their ECM New Series imprint), all impeccably recorded and crafted. Music aside, I consider ECM somewhat of a design icon as well. Their images and layouts have set the standard in album sleeves for the better part of half a century in my opinion.

A couple of years ago I had a resurgence of interest in the music and started collecting their LPs in earnest. I've now got around 160 on vinyl along with about 100 CDs. They don't stream their albums anywhere, and I'd always rather have a physical artefact when it comes to their releases. ECM are a testament to creativity, quality and conviction, and in my mind that's worth preserving and celebrating, as it sadly seems to be something of a dying art these days in the music world.

People

Yuval Noah


My friend the photographer Mclean Stephenson gave me the book Sapiens by Yuval Noah recently, and it's an astonishing read. Aside from the sheer breadth of it, I found the exploration of the intersubjective realities that humans create particularly revealing. I'm not even going to attempt to summarise a 500 page analysis of human evolution here, but this book is an extremely valuable and timely piece of work. It'll knock your socks off if you're interested in history, being a human, and 'things'.

Professor Stephen Hawking recently said we've got 1,000 years left on the earth at best. It may seem like a long time, but this book may make you think otherwise.

Places

Running


I started running about 3 years ago, and I am convinced that it has saved my life.

Firstly, I don't have the conventional build for a runner. I'm 6'4" and look more like rugby second rower, but I've discovered anyone can run with a bit of basic technique and mental application. Most people find running horrible for the first few attempts, but once you build up some basic fitness and discipline, and discover your rhythm, it becomes impossible to imagine it not being part of your life. I now do about 5km a day, 6-7 days a week (rain, hail or shine), which is a nice amount for me. I don't have any aspirations of moving to long distance. I don't time myself or wear a fit bit or any of that shit. I like to do it alone, and be outside.

The other striking thing about running is its mental and physical similarities to playing the drums, or any instrument really; Relaxation, pacing, discipline, focusing your senses and being aware of what your body is doing. Becoming a runner has undoubtedly made me a better musician.


Things

Ludwig Acrolite


I'm not terribly obsessive about equipment, at least not like some people I know. I just like to have the right tools to call upon, and tend to only buy a new piece of gear when I hear or imagine a sound that I don't have. Don't get me wrong, I'm very particular, I'm just not a hoarder. Snare drums are often the central 'voice' of the drum kit, and you need to have options for that voice depending on the song, the studio, the band, or the microphones. I've currently got 5 snare drums, which isn't that many, but I find between them they cover most of my interests. Tuning drums is a bit of a dark art too. No one teaches it to you really. It's a skill you acquire over a period of time; how to balance sound and feel of the instrument, how particular drums respond to different environments, how an acoustic sound translates to a recorded or amplified sound etc.

This snare drum is not uncommon (although its unusual matt finish is particular to around 1980 from what I understand), in fact the Ludwig company originally released the Acrolite as a student version of their more famous
supraphonic drums.

Aside from it sounding terrific (an amazing mid range grunt, that almost sounds already compressed), this drum bares a special significance for me as it was a gift from my wife. In hindsight I was probably at an impasse in my career at the time, musically and mentally, and I suspect she could see that more clearly than me. A new piece of equipment can often reinvigorate your playing and open up new possibilities, but nothing compares to the person you love believing in what you do, as abstract as that thing can be at times.

Thoughts

Improvisation


I became interested in musical improvisation from an early age, largely through discovering the music of Miles Davis when I was 13 years old. Subsequently I studied it more seriously at the Conservatorium of music when I was 17. It's since become an integral component of all of my music making in some way, and I can imagine it being a form of expression that could sustain me for the rest of my life.

The great pianist Bill Evans once said that he believed jazz to be a way of playing music rather than a style of music, an idea which always resonated with me. That's not say that improvisation is limited to jazz, it's a key component of some of the earliest music made by humans. A very natural state of expression. It's a language that continues to influence the music I make with PVT for example, enables me to travel to Norway and make up an album of duets with Mike Nock that reflect the environment and experience, or, get together in a room in London with two people I've never met before and form a band called Szun Waves that plays cosmic modular synth music. It's a way of playing that relies on a heightened state awareness. It has taught me how to anticipate, and most importantly how to listen.

More recently I've become interested in exploring it in a solo capacity, which is one of the more confronting experiences a musician can undertake; how to make something from nothing, create cohesion from potential chaos, no safety net, just you and the mountain.

Improvisation is a form of magic to me, It can reveal things about yourself and the world that can't be expressed through words.


Wildism

BBC World Service


I can't remember at which point I started doing it, but for several years now I have been listening to the BBC World Service in bed at night.  I got the habit from my English grandmother, who would do the same thing when she would visit Sydney when I was a child.

I've always loved radio as a medium, and I've done a bit of it myself in the past. Aside from obviously having a keen interest in world news, I admire the on air presentation as a sort of performance in itself. I also like to let the soothing English voices lull me to sleep, or the opposite depending on the content.

It feels like 2016 was a pretty disastrous year for humans on a lot of levels, so I have found myself averting my ears at times of late, but there's a strange reassurance in knowing that a whole world of information and ideas awaits me if I want to plug them in, regardless of where I am in the world.