Happy Birthday Delia

May 2017
Green Door Store

So, yes, it’s what would have been the eve of Delia Derbyshire’s 80th birthday if she hadn’t died so young. As one of the series of events in Brighton to celebrate that event, I think this was a suitable occasion.

Lorah Pierre

Lorah Pierre

Lorah Pierre is set up in front of the left hand stack on one of the round tables, a small breadboard device with wires, switches, unknobbed potentiometers wires and bare light bulbs sprouting out. She has a small jeweller’s screwdriver in her hand and the house lights down. She starts with small pulses of white noise serried up in blocks, the bulb pulsing in time. Silence erupts with darkness and then pow! Back in with a thin blast of white noise full throttle, again it pulses as she works at the hidden presets. The blasts fatten out and then fall away in volume. Darkness and flashes of light illuminating us standing around the table watching the concentrated effort. The set climaxes with full throttle blasts and then all too soon in darkness ends.


Karen Constance

Karen Constance

Karen Constance is up on stage, to one side of the screen onto which is projected full size some film by Andy Bolus, it’s large with stained glass colours and the intensity of melting celluloid. After a false start due to connectivity issues, she starts with what sounds like a cassette recording of bricks being chipped resonating through some kind of piano soundboard. It morphs into an unrecognisable lumpy rhythm, before being subsumed by chirruping tape birds and someone gulping a noisy tea before having a sliding door bash their head in. Karen’s collage sets are singular things. Evoking dreams of the city bombsites of my youth, weeds, dust. Machines. There are birds and natural sounds, but it’s not bucolic in any way, when the tonal wind blows it’s through a window, a bell is an oddly warped domestic sound pitch bending into an absurdist shape. Urban Horror. Dogs, elephants. Voices. I’m kind of lost. And a bit scared. It’s dark… she ends with a woman’s voice reading.


Roshi featuring Pars Radio

Roshi feat. Pars Radio

Finishing the evening is Roshi featuring Pars Radio, starting with a new song, well a new cover of an old Persian folk song, “Rashied Khan” with a short clip of an old Iranian film playing behind them. It’s pretty abstract, Roshi’s voice, a constant, her organ holding quivering notes behind her and Graham Dowdall’s occasional beats scattering about behind her. Then a trio of older ones, including the single “Don’t breathe it to a soul” with film, before finishing off with a rattling version of “Three almonds and a walnut” and unusually an encore! “Lor Batche”. Rocking.


Just the one duck

April 2017
Green Door Store

Duck Rabbit

Duck Rabbit

It was a warm spring day, but a cool spring evening. At the Green Door Store, first up for Spirit of Gravity were Duck Rabbit, intrepid and enterprising sound collectors who had done us proud at the Caroline of Brunswick about eighteen months back. Joe, James and Tom played two improvised pieces tonight – the first drawing on samples from a historic working grain-mill (the last full-time working one, they said), and the second from the sounds of a Liverpool scrapyard. Sometimes they whipped up a storm, twisting and wringing the sounds from their machines – in Tom’s case a self-made controller called a Clarinot. At other times – especially on the fadeouts – the sonics they conjured were so subtle that no one knew if they should applaud yet. Eventually, they did anyway.


Andrew Greaves

Andrew Greaves

Next up, Spirit of Gravity collective member Andrew Greaves played the final instalment of his Octabeast series – the ‘last will and tentacle’. Appropriately, its minor key imparted an elegiac sense of a page turned, or a book closed. Over layered, pulsating sequences and echo loops, Andrew added lyrical notes on the mighty Casio 400, with plenty of rhythmic and harmonic contrast and counterpoint to hold attention fast. Behind him flashed up magnificent, self-produced collages, in which Renaissance cherubs vied for space with Russian iconography, a boxer and 1950s goalkeeper (former Palace legend Bill Glazier, it emerges). Andrew hasn’t combined these two elements of his artistic output before but, on this showing, he should surely do it again. As a performer, the lad done great and, as always, gave 110 percent.


Resonant Blue

Resonant Blue

Last but unleast, Resonant Blue from Hove, who let it be known during the sound check that they would be loud, and didn’t disappoint in that or in the overall impact of their set. With a simple guitar and laptop setup, the duo produced the kind of soundthrob that really rolls and rumbles in the stomach. On the screen, logs burned in a grate – keeping the home fires burning, while Guardian news alerts went off in my pocket about bombs landing in Syria. Much of Resonant Blue’s loudest sounds derived, I think, from a single sampled growl; the higher frequencies sang in the ears, in my case for some days afterwards, enhancing the sense of time well spent. Towards the end to the set, what sounded like a fire alarm mutated into something closer (odd as this may sound) to ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us’ played on the bagpipes.


Unfortunately, no video was taken of this event.


Solid brickwork

March 2017
Green Door Store

Feed Back Cell

Feed Back Cell

Feed Back Cell were just back from a trip to Iceland, where they’d been doing more development on their modified cellos. Alice Eldridge’s cello seemed to have more acoustic adaptations, apart from the speaker built into the back run off a small car radio amp (with battery) that both were equipped with, hers had sitar style drone bass strings from the bridge up under the neck and some other adaptations, Chris Kiefer had more obviously electronic adaptations with an array of about 25 potentiometers built up over one quadrant.
So; the speakers built into the back can get a feedback loop drone going on, resonating strings and things filtering away. And then you have the standard and extended cello techniques on top of that, and both players have a full repertoire of both, so there’s plenty of that lovely cello rich scrape and drone to go round. There’s a lot of intense watching between the two, odd complimentary moments – and considering the constant changes far fewer of those “who made that sound” looks of surprise than I’d be making.


Clive Henry

Clive Henry

Clive Henry has a simpler setup, notionally, some devices, sampler, contact mic / hydrophone, a big metallic spring and some sleight of hand stuff he keeps hidden behind his back. We’d originally booked him for a Harsh Noise Wall, as I’ve heard he’s about the best at the full on blast of static. But, what we got was a set of subtlety and variety, richly textured, considered, with a surprising dynamic range. To be sure there was some pretty terrifying high frequency wail, and some clothes flapping bottom end, but this was tempered with quiet, sombre passages and the odd moment of comedy boing. And Theresa May which we’ll gloss over. The set seems split into three sections based on originating sound sources, each with their own particular set of sonics and peaks, and their own version of the burst full throttle noise.


Gagarin

Gagarin

And rounding off the evening was Gagarin, we had three new songs, a couple from ‘Aoticp’ and some of the more textured pieces from the ‘5 Hills in Surrey’ pieces. Yeah, so how do we describe Gagarin freshly? He’s added a phone to the setup since he last played at SoG that has some live time-stretching of samples, but he still largely uses the foot pedal triggered drums and hand controlled pads, with a keyboard added. There’s still that satisfaction of watching him dance between the pedals, even if his mobility has been slightly reduced by breaking his pelvis last year. The new stuff is good as well, it sits satisfyingly deep in the bass bins of the Green Door Store while bringing in the more fractured slower tempos of the looser things he’s been doing recently.


I dreamed it was spring again

February 2017
Green Door Store

Slow Listener

Slow Listener

Slow Listener bathed in blue light standing just for us. Fidgeting at his lone black box, collaging drones of pure tone and odd blasts of manipulated clank and fade. A slowly unfolding collage of metal sounds, tones give way to reverse cymbal, gong scrape and jangle. Unsettling, unhuman, oddly – but not cold. Emotionally its quite challenging, sucking you in one minute with its rounded pleasantness before forcing you back with some serious high end chittering and blackboard scrape, that giving way to weirdly gated, pitch shifted voices while some ghost breathes backwards through a plasterboard wall. Ending on an endless sustain bell-tone with a one legged pirate stumbling around the flat upstairs in slow motion.


PSK

PSK

“We are PSK it is the only way”. Kev Hough plays long bass guitar notes through some really nasty fuzz pedal while sat behind a trestle table Steve Quixote/Fagan/Psylon provides some electronic rhythms and Pat keyboard and I think voice. Kev also has his megaphone and he’s not afraid to use it, even to reference Theresa May. Steve brings the history of electronic dance music, Kev brings ugly washes of noise and pat 60s organ tones and string synth washes. It works well, Steve’s understanding of the dynamics of programmed drum tracks makes quite the difference. Even when he’s caning the phaser on them. They even have some hooks in there. Possibly even more remarkable at a SoG than the burst of dancing we had a couple of months ago….


D503

D503

D503 drone slowly up from silence seated behind a trestle, Francesco on guitar ringing out occasionally while bass rasp and a trace of white noise slowly firm up, the rhythms more electroshock metronomic here. Eventually the guitar is submerged and as the bass turns to a bulbous pulse the guitar scrapes and flattens out to washes and the whole thing degrades to a 50Hz buzz. Then space winds sweep in and we’re on another build, the hi-hat turning into a robotic scaffold pole thwack around the head before everything empties out leaving endless guitar delays and a whirr of faulty electronics.


Stormy all round

January 2017
Green Door Store

Meshmass

Meshmass

Starting early we had Meshmass, Peter Picket on the uncomfy chair to the right with laptop, saxophone and effects, Richard Miles to the left with a normal sized guitar (this time) that still looks small on his lanky frame. They start so early because they like to warm up slowly, some ride pattern tapping, a slur of guitar and smoky sax tones setting a misleading mood, as the guitar slowly drifts in wayward taps and wanders off to one side. The second piece starts with Richard building tonal loops of sustain, with a rattley snare loop, xylophone plonks, thickening up with some textures and e-bow, synth and long sax notes. It breaks down a couple of times before peter starts hammering the sax with a pretty serious blart. And that’s pretty much how it continues, a loop or two, a layer of rhythm some misdirection and some disruption. They’ve played at SoG a few times now, but I think this was the most satisfying performance. The pair working well at the layers.


The Zero Map

The Zero Map

Second up was the Zero Map, us, like everyone else getting a piece of them while the getting is good. They have the full trestle on the go, Chloe sat behind the (bass) guitar for once – it being flat on the table ready to be bowed, they start with field recordings, blown shell drones, chimes. Karl lightly thrums a mandolin; Chloe sings through cave-ish echo. She makes other more disturbing sounds with her voice, too. A thumb piano loop plicks in the background as waves of voice and bowed bass wash back and forth. Someone introduces the voice from the Red Room and things start to get a bit darker. The sound thickens and the volume increases. At the same time the film – 5 year’s worth of short clips from Chloe’s outtakes from what looks like half a dozen different cameras starts to get a bit scarier. Distortion. Wailing. Some feedback. A train. A hoover. Harsh Noise. And out into radio static.


Scrase

Scrase

Last up and in the dark is Scrase, there are folk travelled up from Portsmouth to see him. They’ll need good eyesight – Ha! Can hear him plenty though. This is a laptop set, generative processing and completely tonal. So abstract its hard to describe, its the kind of thing that would normally be expected to be cold and distant, but this is warm, and immediate and oddly thrilling. Um, things change abruptly, algorithmically I suspect, sometimes slurring, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet. Things switch back and forth as if controlled by an old style squarewave LFO. There sa bit that reminds me of EVOLS clanger conversation set back at the Komedia, but then it drifts off into moogy space territory. Some passages are dense with incident, some sparse and rather lovely. Constant motion. I’m going to give up now. Proper artistic endeavour. And I loved it.


Three weeks late of the writing

December 2016
Green Door Store

I’m writing this in the hangover mist between Christmas and the New Year, I have video and recorded evidence to remind me, but my mind is frozen with stale beer & wine and congealed gravies.

The last Spirit of Gravity show was a good one, I do remember the warm glow at the end of another evening. But we’ve had a good year, again, so thanks to everyone who played in 2016.

Cutlasses

Cutlasses

First act for the December show was Cutlasses, Scott Pitkethly’s solo electronic act. He has a bright blue electric guitar plugged into his laptop, some home-made boxes on the table and some more on the floor. The electronics whirr his cleanly plucked guitar up into a mandolin frenzy while half heard airport voices murmur expectantly in the background. Vast slabs of sound sweep across the mix, rhythms tack and totter, and suddenly Scott unexpectedly wails off into some soaring guitar action with accompanying Ponderous drums. It’s not the only time he really messes with us, though. Deep tone basses and abstract digitally filtered guitars predominate, but there are plenty of excursions into weirder shifty patterns and rhythms, and sideways steps into sonic flight before ending with a stumbleover drum track and shiny overdriven guitar.


I’m Dr Buoyant and Ron Caines

I'm Dr Buoyant and Ron Caines

Second up for the evening is the return of East of Eden/West Hill Blast Quartet saxophone man Ron Caines with I’m Dr Buoyant. Ron sits stage left on one of the new uncomfy chairs that have replaced his usual Velvety throne, on the other side is Tony Rimbaud/I’m Dr Buoyant with his array of ill defined electronic goods. Tony starts with some vaguely unhealthy sounding loops that ooze out of the speakers, Ron adding some lonely lines across the top. He follows a melodic thread with occasional flurries of notes cascading out. Its rather scary, but beautiful with undertones of loss and decay.


Johannah Bramli

Johannah Bramli

Rounding off the evening we have Johannah Bramli, if ever something deserved to be heard through the PA at the GDs it’s her current set. Some things really benefit from the extended bass and a bit of volume….

She has prepared some visuals that she has running from the laptop she also uses for running Ableton at her feet, plus a MicroKorg some kind of one stringed instrument and at least one home-made wooden box. A lot of her set starts with a vocal manipulation. Some shimmers, a shudder or two of bass and a bit of ticking rhythm. There is a field recording of voices talking and slowly the shifting takes form and a song emerges from the mist of sounds she’s prepared before being subsumed back into the playground of statics and warbles. The second piece has a MONUMENTAL slab of bass that steps across it when it takes form. Around this builds a rhythm of whacked stainless steel doors and industrial surfaces. The bass and clatter stops leaving some analogue glitch and static to continue while piano leaks in from another dimension pulling in some more vocals from Johannah and then it’s off to space for the end.


Now that’s what I call a Spirit of Gravity AV Dance Party

November 2016
Green Door Store

Noisferatu

Noisferatu

Noisferatu start with a gong, a recorded bell and a thunderstorm. Onstage are the masked duo joined by Kev Nickells on what will turn out to be heavily delayed saxophone and at the back of the stage with an easel, artist graham Fletcher. They’re showing their customised sped up version of the 1922 Mernau film. They start slowly with an “All hail Thee Radish” and some pleading for radishes for Graham. Kev Hough wanders about, clanking percussion, Carl creates the drones and beats, Kev N works up a pattern of skronk, It’s some kind of beat nightmare and all starts to slip and slur. Kev H gets to work on a dulcimer, as everything blurs into terrifying drones, the painting is revealed as a portrait of Vlad the Impaler in vermilion powder paint. The radish chant restarts and they do the dance and troop off single file.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOcVj2cs6Us


Timeron

Timeron

Timeron is James, he sets up just in front of the mixing desk looking at the stage so he can see his visuals, and not get in the way. He’s running an AV synth setup, so everything he does with the controls impacts on both the tones and visuals. It’s a pretty sweet setup, nice tonal electronics, very rhythmic with almost oscilloscope visuals for a lot of it, lovely green swathes of colour dancing around the screen. We also had some folk dancing around on the floor, too. It’s not the first time we’ve had dancing at SoG, but I wouldn’t go as far a to say it was the 5th. There’s a nice radiophonic techno feel to it. Warm and analogue but not too dense. And you can see exactly how the sound and visuals fit together, there’s some nice bits where one colour is pulsing with the bass while we see washes of colour swirl the drones around the screen.


Isn’tses

Isntses

My recollection of Isn’tses seems to bear no relation with the clips I’ve got: my mind says, crazy rhythmic structures – trance party vibes, but twisted; nothing at all like the Harsh Noise Walls I know these acts for – yet the videos are both blasts of adrenaline. There’s one that at least looks like the “Subterranneans from Stingray having a rave-up” that I remember, but is plastered by a heavy bass noise wash, with Lisa’s growling vocals 5 or 6 octaves below where her voice would normally be. The masks and her reflective suit look the part very much though. They too have a video synth, but theirs generates small regular pseudo geometria, that don’t tie up so closely with the sound.
To be fair they do blast the start with some Heavy beats, before slipping into some pretty noisy interludes and sliding out with voices and a simple if irregular beat.

Other material available online

Carl Anderson posted video of Noisferatu and Timeron on Vimeo
https://vimeo.com/album/4237544

Agata Urbaniak’s fantastic quality photos of the night:
Noisferatu

Plus the whole Isn’tses set is available on Bandcamp:
https://isntses.bandcamp.com/album/spirit-of-gravity-brighton/