In his native Manchester, England, tuba player and composer Robin Hayward had originally studied classical music before he became involved in London's growing improvisation culture in the mid to late 1990s. Hayward then moved to Berlin to engage with the more open musical culture among younger, like-minded artists. His restless curiosity and inventiveness began to peak in that environment.
As Hayward became more interested in the tuba as a solo instrument, he experimented extensively with extended techniques, microtonality and unobtrusive dynamics. Searching for the more unusual resonances of the tuba and manipulating air flow through the valves, Hayward elevated the low-end instrument to one with a broader functionality and greater range. Working with an instrument manufacturer, he developed the first completely microtonal tuba in 2009. Hayward went on to record in an all-tuba trioMicrotubwith Kristoffer Lo and Martin Taxt and later recorded a solo/duo album, Nouveau Saxhorn Nouveau Basse (Pogus Productions, 2014).
Stop Time is a single, thirty-minute, self-titled, solo track with the microtonal tuba and refined electronic effects. The piece was commissioned for Belgium's Leuven Festival in 2013 as part Hayward's "Tuning Vine" invention. The "Turning Vine" is, in short, a software platform that explores space, mathematics and pitch and more, here surveyed from the perspective of the music, though the music itself represents only one segment of Hayward's larger vision. While the overall vision is intended to link physical and intellectual characteristics in a way that cannot be completely captured in an audio recording, the music stands out as a unique creation in its own right.
Stop Time is, not surprisingly, difficult to describe. Think of it, musically, as a bit like accordionist/electronic artist Pauline Oliveros meeting Bohren & der Club of Gore. There are elements of pleasing drone accented by a subdued power that subtly rises and falls. The piece, though minimal in tone and atmosphere, is both evocative and hypnotizing and quietly overflowing with life.
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