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Mind on the Run
Music Festival

The Basil Kirchin Story

Mind on the Run festival weekend highlights

“A founding father of ambient”

Brian Eno

The Forgotten Genius of Music

Originally a drummer inspired by jazz and mambo, Basil Kirchin’s remarkable life stretched from the days when British dance music mutated into rock’n’roll, through a headlong succession of film scores and pop songwriting, before retreating to Hull, where he created sonic landscapes that still challenge convention while seeking out an increasingly reclusive existence until his death in 2005.

Is he the forgotten genius of post-war British music?

Basil Kirchin. Ilustration by Anna Bean

Probably unfamiliar to many, Kirchin worked with the likes of Mick Ronson and Jimmy Page and his music can be heard in films like Catch Us If You Can and The Abominable Dr Phibes.

The composer was also a pioneer of musique concrète, who Brian Eno called “a founding father of ambient”.

Basil Kirchin’s legacy offers a collision of popular and experimental musical cultures that continue to inspire musicians today. One of the musical highlights of the Uk City of Culture, the Mind on the Run weekender and subsequent events throughout the year are an opportunity for music lovers to immerse themselves in Kirchin’s intriguing life, work and some fine music created and performed by some of today’s musical innovators.

Acts performing at Mind on the Run – The Basil Kirchin Story included:

Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory

BBC Concert Orchestra

The High Llamas’ Sean O’Hagan

Evan Parker & Spring Heel Jack

St Etienne’s Bob Stanley

Hidden Orchestra

Steve Cobby

Jerry Dammers


Hidden Orchestra headlined the evening concert, Journey to the Unknown, alongside saxophone maestro and Kirchin collaborator Evan Parker with a specially assembled band, including cult electronica duo Spring Heel Jack.

The Hidden Orchestra

Then, Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, in association with BBC Radio 3, curated Musical Modernism, a programme that responded and reacted to Kirchin’s fascination with texture and sonic collage. Performing alongside members of the BBC Concert Orchestra, this genre-defying event included specially commissioned new music from Sonic Youth’s Jim O’Rourke, St. Etienne’s Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs also created a new music and visuals piece Abstractions of Holderness. Internationally renowned Leeds based pianist and sound explorer Matthew Bourne opened the concert, which was recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Hear and Now.

“The musical highlight of the weekend for me was a beautifully controlled improvised set with Evan Parker on soprano sax and
the sounds of Spring Heel Jack (Ashley Wales and John Coxon) plus Matt Wright on turntables and Adam Linson on double bass and electronics… I very much hope that the Mind on the Run weekend will lead to a wider recognition of Kirchin’s music.”

Tony Dudley-Evans, London Jazz News

Hull-based DJ and producer Steve Cobby, of Fila Brasillia fame, curated an afternoon of mixes and remixes drawn from the Kirchin back catalogue of reel-to-reel tapes. During Worlds within Worlds, live musicians responded, in real time, to the sounds from the reel-to-reel tapes that form part of Kirchin’s lasting legacy.  An electro-acoustic interlude was provided by respected musician, author and former Flying Lizard, David Toop.

Hull’s very own Liam van Rijn, DJ and electronica artist also known as Revenu and part of Gilles Peterson’s Future Bubblers programme, opened Sean O’Hagan’s, We Start Counting and singer-songwriter Jane Weaver was added to O’Hagan’s band which also included some of his High Llamas band members.

Other previously announced acts include improvising keyboard specialist Alexander Hawkins and founder of The Specials, Jerry Dammers.

“We are delighted to be working with the UK City of Culture on Mind on the Run. The partnership with J-Night, Nova Studios, Radio 3, the University of Hull and the City of Culture Team has been immensely stimulating, and the opportunity to celebrate the story of an extraordinary and quietly influential talent, whose creative life reflects so much of the changes in British culture since the 1950s, has been a fascinating voyage of discovery. As has the opportunity to assemble a cast of artists – old and new friends, and some extraordinarily talented young creators – all of them with an enthusiasm fot the Kirchin legacy that’s both unbounded and inspirational.”

John Cummin OBE, Director, Serious

There was also a showing of the cult classic British horror flick from 1971 – The Abominable Dr Phibes directed by Robert Fuest and featuring Vincent Price.

Supported by the British Film Institute, this film screening was accompanied by live music from keyboard specialist Alexander Hawkins, played on the mighty Hull City Hall pipe organ.

Inclusive Access
For Audiences

In developing the programme for the UK City of Culture, it was important to ensure that everyone had the chance to participate and engage in the cultural programme. The year itself presented an opportunity to increase the volume of assisted performances, and to pilot new access initiatives in the city.

Through partnership working with key agencies, such as Hull and East Riding Institute for the Blind (HERIB), a focused programme of engagement took place. This included testing new approaches to captioning at events, such as the use of handheld devices, as well as
British Sign Language (BSL) tours for major visual art exhibitions, the use of live audio description for Land of Green Ginger and touch tours, such as those for the BBC Concert Orchestra performance as part of Mind on the Run music festival.

“Liam – You have always been such a huge support. Your organisational skills are superb.”

Susan Pattrick, Disability Specialist, Dancing Giraffe

Ambient Sounds ~ Then & Now

It was great for me to be involved in telling the story of Basil Kirchin, as a founder of ambient – especially as one of my first music event experiences was producing the Ambient Lounge for numerous music festivals around the UK.


Basil Kirchin – a founding father of ambient says Brian Eno