Ghosts

March 2020
The Rossi Bar

We’re posting this now, a review of the last Show before Lockdown. It all seems strange now, being in the same room as friends and strangers. Enjoying people making music in the room, playing from their hearts into ours without the mediation of the internet. Writing this is partly a reminder to myself of what life was like a few weeks ago…

 

Ascsoms

So first up was Ascsoms, Adam, and a small table of kit. A bouncing word in a swirl of space delay starts the set, followed up by fatly quiet drone. He says something that’s distorted to hell into a munging delay, as space crickets and odd burbles get in on the act. A distant pair of notes as if played on a Mississippi bridge loop ominously, as we get odd foregrounded sounds like creatures of the river bank scurrying about their business. We get into a more industrial soundspace, like finding a vast working quarry in the middle of the downs. Giant Gerry Anderson machines slowly grinding their way round its circumference. We’re past, we can still hear the bridges in the distance, cyclists and door chimes, uncanny wildlife. This idyllic landscape becomes subtly more intense until it’s overwhelming. We go under a bridge where some pretty serious welding is occurring before getting into new, more tonal, country. A 3 tone beeping riff starts up, tape spooling, slowly denuded by a scouring wind bringing swarms. Finally we find some piece in some kind of saturnine lagoon. This was definitely a journey.


Meljoann

Second up was Meljoann. Mel, office ready, with laptop and recorder. I don’t have a recording of this set so my review will be light on details, sadly as it deserves them. Mel lured us in with her deceptive pop like charm, modern beats and shiny electro surface sheen but as with all our song based artists, she takes the songs off to strange places, amping up the energy levels with some rattling drums and extraordinary bass. I also get tricked by the brevity of her set and only get one song videoed. Its brilliant stuff, and we ask her back, but she’s done. You should have a look at her office life themed videos and feel nostalgic… www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhUrDac40s-VNUDMVVJYucqcqPKHchme2


Bela Emerson and Hervé Perez

And to round off the evening we had the return of Bela Emerson in a duo with Hervé Perez.  Bela on electric cello and electronics, and Hervé on laptop, electronics and occasional sax.  They start with Bela looping up a scouring edge of the bow on the cello strings and a nice edge of feedback drone, Hervé providing field recordings of birds in an electronic murmuration that swings in and out of sonic sight. He then brings in his first saxophone intervention. Flurries of notes, that Bela responds to, the birds swirl about too, before everything levels out in drawn out tones against an itching cello loop that drops away leaving the saxophone taking on electronic tones against a drone. Bela brings up a cello line and the sax drops away completely leaving her to slowly layer up an evolving that imperceptibly transforms into Hervé taking it on. I think this is the point at which Bela sat back with that smile of “this is why I love improvising” she takes back the line and passes it on again it a slow back on forth of stunning spontaneous composition. We move on, with Bela taking a slow bass line against bird song and smoky midnight sax. There is a hint of electronic manipulation from Hervé as he plays. After sitting back for a while Bela brings in a disarming cello loop of high frequency tremulous drone. Hervé octaves his sax against that to build the unnerving atmosphere some more. Bela contributes a bassline. And after an exchange of flurries from Hervé and an electronically mutated version of himself, Bela worries away at a bass string and the birds quietly return.  Hervé playing quiet high pitched bursts of notes, it rains, an odd 3 note trebly cello riff loops, Bela plays a slow line almost a drone it moves so slowly, Hervé’s electronics moving slowly round it, an accidental squeak gets into the looper and fades slowly away to smiles, an almost crystalline thin feedback line takes us slowly and beautifully to the end.


I think it was quite a show to take us into the current situation. It was our first night with visuals by midi-error, we were projecting onto the black curtain, which gave things a nicely subtle effect, but means you can’t fully appreciate them in the photographs and video.