Ribble Valley musician working with Bjork

Bjork
Bjork

FORMER Ribble Valley student Matt Nolan has been helping world-famous Icelandic singer Björk with one of the bespoke instruments she will be using on tour.

“It has been my great pleasure to be working recently with a world-leading artist and Iceland’s only Pipe-Organ maker,” said Matt.

“After a few different ideas were kicked about, I was commissioned to produce a set of 61 chromatically tuned bronze tone-bars with an Indonesian Gamelan sound.

“In a volcanically heated workshop on the south coast of Iceland, Björgvin Tomasson rebuilt an old, battered celeste into a larger solid oak case and fitted it with MIDI actuators – so the instrument can be played with its own keyboard or remotely with another electronic keyboard or computer sequencer. The result is the “gameleste”.

“This amazing instrument features prominently on two tracks on Björk’s forthcoming album, Biophilia, the first of which, Crystalline, will be the first single and is due out at the end of this month.”

Matt (37) attended St Augustine’s RC High School, Billington. He was a member of the school’s famous choir and then band, led by local teachers Peter Rose and Anne Conlon, the award-winning writers known for their WWF-sponsored environmental musicals for children.

Living in Bath since his university days there, but whose parents still live in Wilpshire, Matt was a senior engineer designing electronic chips, before he started his hand-made cymbals and gongs craft business three years ago.

The only resident UK cymbal and gong smith, Matt travels to Europe and the USA exhibiting his bespoke instruments.

Lovingly designed and hand-made in his workshop, which is based under four railway arches near Bath Station, his creations are bought by an ever increasing list of famous musicians.

The gameleste will appear live at Björk’s seven-night residency at Manchester International Festival. It will join a host of other specially commissioned mechanical and electro-mechanical instruments. The Manchester dates sold out quickly, but the Biophilia show will be touring the world later. Rumours suggest Sydney, Reykjavik, Rio and San Francisco are on the list.