Bex Burch (UK)
Bex Burch is a composer, percussionist, producer and instrument maker.
Employing percussion and hand made xylophones, she has carved out a unique sonic space for herself. Her restless creativity and desire to embrace new musical challenges across a range of percussive instruments have led to collaborations with a diverse range of artists such as Peter Zummo, Kuljit Bhamra, Tamar Osborn, Leafcutter John, Mariá Portugal, Tony Buck and Evelyn Glennie. Her recorded music with Boing!, Flock and her celebrated band Vula Viel has seen her straddle the divergent worlds of minimalism, post punk, and improvisation with equal success.
Bex spent three years in Ghana under the apprenticeship of master Dagaare xylophonist Thomas Sekgura, a formative experience that gave her a deep seated respect for the powerful music and also the confidence to pursue a path that reflected her own voice and the myriad strands and tastes of her personality.
Formed by Bex in 2015 Vula Viel’s music has shifted over the course of their three critically acclaimed albums from Afro jazz-tinged adaptations of traditional Dagaare music towards a unique sound rooted in post punk. Placing Bex’s rawly delivered gyil rhythms as the central element, the band’s scything rock dynamics have seen them championed by Iggy Pop. The trio, whose line up is completed by bassist Ruth Goller and drummer Jim Hart — have gained further plaudits for their pulsating live shows at venues such as Café OTO and Total Refreshment Centre, and festivals such as WOMAD, Moers Festival, and Willisau Jazz Festival, while they have performed live sessions for Gilles Peterson’s BBC 6 Music show and at Worldwide FM.
The last two years has seen Bex expand her sonic palette yet further as an improvisatory artist. Boing!, her collaborative album with Leafcutter John saw the pair combine minimalist percussion and exuberant synth rhythms to spectacular effect. Released on her own Vula Viel record label — a company set up by Bex in typical DIY punk fashion — the record earned a Guardian Contemporary album of the month accolade for its rich melding of seemingly divergent styles.
Flock, her latest collaborative project — produced by Bex and released via Strut Records — is perhaps the percussionist’s most ambitious work to date. It features some remarkably intuitive rhythmic interplay between her and Sarathy Korwar, Al MacSween (Maisha), Dan “Danalogue” Leavers (The Comet Is Coming) and Tamar Osborn (Collocutor). The music is a perfect encapsulation of an ever-shifting sound that Bex refers to as ‘messy minimalism’. More collaborative projects are promised soon as Bex’s open-hearted, open minded and wide-eyed approach to improvisation continues to break new musical ground.
Beyond writing and performing music and running her expanding record label, Bex mixes, produces records and curates radio shows. Her broadcasting work to date has included BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought, BBC6 Music’s Freakzone playlist, and Drummers Inc. for Worldwide FM, for whom she also produced a guest mix for Steve Reid Foundation Day.