Motionless on the Roman underground

October 2016
Green Door Store

Steve Gisby

Steve Gisby

Steve Gisby introduces his set as an iterative set based on a sample from the London Underground. He explains the process in a bit more detail actually (you can read an online version here) it starts as a short repeating block of agreeable but white noise that opens out into what’s recognisable as a tube announcement looping, as we listen more layers come in, there’s one layer that has the rhythm of a train passing over points – but I’m pretty sure just that rhythm is a part of the process rather than anything particular for this evening. It quickly reaches a level of almost stasis, where you start to get sucked into details – the announcement loop shortens until the recognisable voice elements are gone and it sounds like a snare drum with the snare itself dropped bashing away. A wheel squeak whine comes slowly up out of the clatter which becomes chopped into another layer of two noted rhythm, things have fallen imperceptibly away, the noise elements shifting into tonal qualities and then the chop comes in to slice things up into a gated beat to close. Its almost syncopated.


You&TH

You&TH

Another set that starts with an introduction – I do like artists who communicate. Maria Marzaoli starts her set with “Fenesta ca lucive” a piece she did at Infrasection, Its an old song written for an old style Tenor, but her version is outstanding. She starts with field recordings from an Italian street, bells, footsteps and her voice low in the mix thin and plaintive.
The scene shifts to a café, someone else is singing and a family gathers while she starts to play her violin back against a previous version on the backing track. I seriously want to cry. Beautiful stuff. The piece finishes with sounds like a fishing trip while Maria sings again.
Her second piece is really empty a field recording of what sounds like a pretty intensely hot midday while she scratches out some unpleasant creaking loops of violin bow noise. Occasionally a squeak or a flurry of clean notes, a playground swing, distant bark. I feel creeped out fearing a zombie attack in a spaghetti western set. The final piece is based around a recording of the beach, Maria reciting verse too quietly for me to discern, she wrenches even more unpleasant sounds from her violin for this one – a base metal drum being hauled over concrete, plucked notes, delayed, train whistles, parched.
Before ending on a repeated lyrical thread that builds to a climax for the end.


The Static Memories with Al Strachan

Map71

Gus Garside starts the Static Memories set with some strokes of his bow across the double bass through the effects to through us off our track.
Alistair Strachan breathes through his cornet into a double effects chain and Dan Powell gets some unplaceable whirrs. For the three of them this may be an even Quieter and emptier set than Maria’s. sounds come and go, digital warbles, distant taps and clanks odd lengthy notes from the other side of space. Occasionally something of a melancholy tune escapes from Al and spreads itself gently through the sound stage. Gus may gently remind of his instruments range and dexterity, or Dan take some stately ascent into hyperspace. One of the oddest moments comes with Gus singing into god-knows-what effect that chirrups his voice into unintelligible electronic burblings. There is little in the way of melodic content, but the confluence of sounds between the three of them (or any two as often one will sit out) can conjure wonderful images. There is a rhythm at one stage. Drum machined, simple, flanged into some kind of muffled shimmer. It’s another rather lovely set.


How’d he manage to break that?

September 2016
Green Door Store

Henry Collins – Rummaging

Henry Collins Rummaging

Henry Collins was set up on the floor on one of the oil drum tables with two concrete blocks on top. One supported an expanded polystyrene box from the fruit market big and bassy full of rubble, the other a metal tray, the treble arm of the rummaging body. The mics were stuffed right down into the tray, Henry had cut his hand the night before so was protected by some heavy duty gloves. He starts with an introduction to his philosophy of rummaging, then fairly gently gets into it, pausing briefly to take a pace back before stepping up and getting stuck right in with the almost inevitable climax of the table going over churning the contents of the rummaging boxes onto the stone floor.


Wild Anima

Wild Anima

The rest of the evening was run in conjunction with Blue tapes and X-Ray records who have strong local ties although having artists from all over, starting with Wild Anima from France. She began her set with field recordings and loops ending with fragile more orthodox songs. The first song had loops of rain and water with her vocals echoed back through extra long delays. It wanders through several sections before evolving some nice ticks that turn into a near beat to round off the piece. The second piece works her vocals around a pretty hefty bass drone, with electric piano coming about halfway through and layered up vocals on the backing track. The last song was pretty straightforward after that.


Map71

Map71

Map71 were third up, and continuing their recent run of form – on fire. Their set was about 50% new to me, the new stuff all really good, strong electronic backing tracks and drumming from Andy and Lisa Jayne’s diminutive figure commanding the stage. And the older pieces well chosen. A really strong set well delivered. Sometimes you see someone who really seem to have hit their moment and Map71 seem to be in this position right now. Lisa Jayne ends the set with the book of words behind her back and a small smile.

Benjamin Finger

Benjamin Finger

Benjamin Finger rounded the evening off, another European this time from Norway. It’s a pretty epic set and really feels like he could have settled in and continued playing till around 2am. It starts with thick, thick washes of synths with shudders and bells smeared over it. Scatterings of percussion come and go without doing much more than indicating at a rhythm. Things naturally seem to chunk up into songs based around sounds or sets of samples, but the timbres seem pretty steady all the way through. There are hints of ambience or dark basses from more recent genres. Yeah good, great LP for sale, too.


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We interrupted this transmission from outer space

August 2016
Green Door Store

Ahtuf Kontrol

Ahtuf Kontrol

Mike Turner-Lee – dance
Seb Turner-Lee – guitar
Mickey Ball – trumpet
and Patrick Turner-Lee – dangerous wires
It starts with Seb and Mickey seated across the back of the stage, Patrick’s silver hair bobbing up and down behind his Juno. Shiny slow notes chime out from guitar while the heavily effected trumpet and keyboard wind slowly out and Mike starts to move from centre stage opening himself up onto the floor in front. Patrick’s shiny radiophonic tones set the backing for a lead trumpet line with odd echoes on the guitar. It shifts into some harpsichord patterns before setting for some properly unsettling synth action, a buzzing with decaying drones falling around it before the guitar comes to lift it back into space music. A deceptively nicely structured piece.


MSV FCK

MSV FCK

Matty – Drum machine. synths, samples and noises
Lee – Guitar, voice, synths, samples and noises
Jason – Drum machine, synths, samples and noises
Sonically it’s hard to turn that description of line-up into anything sonic, it’s hard to differentiate the individuals in the way that live music sometimes is (belying that this is their first show). Everything sounds electronic, the drums are often distorted, or seem to be doubled. Things come and go and sometimes not even voluntarily. There’s some nicely deranged lead lines, all micro-tuned and confusingly pinched, some expansive bass tones and engagingly oddly syncopated rhythm parts. They occasionally settle into something like the groove of a daddy longlegs missing a couple of limbs, a bit lurching but effectively getting somewhere. considering what they do, its impressive how they manage to keep the spaces and sense of structure as they evolve through their set.


Memorial Bench

Memorial Bench

Ollie seems to inherit a land on the edges of drone, drone-ish, but far too quickly moving, taking us beyond the finely detailed Aqua Dentata of last month into a strangely liminal region where we have density and lightness, stasis and yet a plethora of tonal qualities that change at an incredible rate. There are hisses, throbs, organ piping, space peeps, boops and all sorts all whirling about in a dreamlike charm. there are hints of rhythm and even a vague sense of some melody just beyond discerning. After the exciting start, it settles down into what sounds almost like a field recording on alien world, much thinner, buzzes, squeaks, rattles with underlying alien washes, un-water liquid bubbles foaming unpleasantly. Ollie seems to have loosened up by this stage, the density and kineticism of the first third of the set is gone, we still have constant and relatively fast moving change but over fewer layers and it’s a little more languid, as if made in a parallel universe where Edgar Froese was a Martian.


And up into the ring, where’s my hanging microphone…. “Laydees and gennelmen….Tonight, and FOR one night ONLY…. ITS….”

July 2016
Green Door Store

Shirty

Shirty

Shirty sets up on the stage, a keyboard and laptop, at his feet a light (oddly making his feet a focal point of the show) and slowly leaking smoke machine and to each side of the synth a thin black tower just visible joining these towers in the smoke wisping up are three traces of green light. he runs a techno front track (what’s the opposite of a backing track? everything but the drums?) and supplies the beats shadow boxing the lines to provide the beats. he does three tracks like this in total slowly getting more complex, the last one has a slowly unfolding piano part that he loops his hand played rhythms into. After these three he gets audience members up to play around, some guitar samples are loaded in, or some T99 stabs. I almost rush up for a bash at “Anastasia”. Its a lot of fun.


Before Ian and Nick get started Alex Peckham shows two short films, one by Jo Knell (aka Jojo Gingerhead) and one of his featuring her hands and sewing machine. they segue well, and the soundtrack shifts between them are nice from Jojo’s noises to Alex’s cut up soundtrack, with its almost verse chorus structure.


Nicholas Langley and Ian Murphy

Nicholas Langley and Ian Murphy

Ian Murphy and Nicholas Langley are set up with their piano guts spilling over the wall from the Green Door Store room area out onto the main floor. Everyone gathers round as they apply their machines, bits of metal and odd devices to the thing, working around the soundboard, swapping sides, back and forth. Endlessly fascinating as theatre and at its best when they work together on a pattern of sounds for a while, not quite rhythmic, repeating, they are listening and playing – improv as it should be – but on a single instrument. Somehow they seem to cover a lot of ground from the first few Pink Floyd albums. Very odd, that. Nice.


Aqua Dentata

Aqua Dentata

And to finish the evening off, in complete contrast to everything we’d had previously was Aqua Dentata, its his first visit to Brighton in two years and the first time ever at The Spirit of Gravity, so we’ were really chuffed as he got to work on the PA, slowly chasing up the ends of the sound spectrum with his constantly developing stasis of highly detailed drones. Without anything obviously changing he keeps us mesmerised with shifts of stereo balance, tonality, timbre. The bass is full and the top end hits several sweet spots I never knew existed in my tinnitus ranges. Gorgeously wafting out with the gentle wash of Eddie bowing a flying saucer..


‘Ere’s one for yer

June 2016
Green Door Store

Tim and Dylan have found some new synths dumped outside, one in particular has some fine fine settings, but some busted keys. Let’s ignore those – we have Hardcore stabs to the max!

Dolly Dollycore

Dolly Dollycore

The first act of the day proper is Dolly Dollycore who has a new thing with laptop drones, field recordings and her array of small percussions. She starts with a verse, setting the scene before a recording of water, with layering in over the top transport and rumbles, bells recycling backwards under newer more personal words. The second piece seems more celebratory, the words looking forward where the first piece looked back. The backing is more tonal, there are notes and music and (even) beats. It’s pretty psychedelic, slow backwards gongs evolving into a foghorn climax and winding down in spaceship whirls and tambourine.


Sexton Ming and Jason Williams

Sexton Ming and Jason Williams

The second act is Sexton Ming and Jason Williams, which is idiosyncratic and very personal in a quite different way. Jason comes on first with the green first aid box belping and blooping while Sexton skulks up under a sheet in his underpants. There’s some growling and then he gets dressed and Jase switches to guitar while Sexton tries to light his farts. There is a bash through a Buddy Holly number that warps into “Addicted to Love” all in 90 seconds. Sexton then throws a mixture of Naphthalene and Dettol around while Jason plays bass oud and an ending falls into place quite perfectly.


Some Some Unicorn

Some Some Unicorn

Some Some Unicorn are in informal gathering of musicians led by Shaun Blezard who came down last year on his tour of seaside towns. On this occasion the Unicorns were all local:
Annie Kerr – Violin;
Gus Garside – Double Bass;
James Parsons – Drums
Andrew Greaves – Synth
Daniel Mackenzie – Synth
Chris Parfitt – Soprano sax
Jamie Sturrock – Shakahuchi
And Shaun Blezard on phone electronics.
They start with a composed piece of music called “Sustained Piece” by John Stevens – part of his book “Search & Reflect” that sets up the rest of the set quite nicely, it’s slow and evolving and gets everyone into the headspace that Shaun wants. That piece is about four minutes long and after that it breaks into a short duet by Gus and Annie, before switching back to drones. Even the occasional flurries of percussion or flute seem to be soft and loquacious, as the music fades in and out and I’d say most people spend around half of the set one way or another listening rather than playing. It’s all rather lovely.


Punterland

May 2016
Green Door Store

Broken Star

Broken Star

For various reasons, I’m not doing things at this show, and when I arrive Andrew and Tom have just started the Broken Star set. They set up on the floor of the Green Door Store, so as not to occlude the slide-show of Toms photographs of London. Updated since they first did this show at The Komedia. Tom’s getting some pretty nasty textures from his e-bowed guitar while Andrew switches around between electric piano and organ arpeggios, he hasn’t been wasting the things he’s learnt on his recent shows based around exploring Terry Riley’s mid sixties pieces, there’s some nicely psychedelic work afoot in here, slowly unfolding melodies in strange keys.


Leaver

Leaver

Second up is Leaver, one of whom toured with Tim Holehouse last year and enjoyed his show with us so much he had to come back to Brighton and spend some more time here. They do short constructed but completely unnerving songs. There’s something very sinister, unsettling about them. They do enjoy the live ambience of the GDS though, Angel at one point fleeing his laptop on the stage to howl around the room.


Ræppen

Ræppen

While he’s doing that Ræppen has robed up and quietly set up to the side of the stage, as Leaver wind down, Tim starts rubbing beach stones together and getting his loops into shape, he starts the throat singing and things really start to get intense,there’s some chanting, and sudden drops each time buildng back to a dense storm of rich textured vocalese.


SQ feat KET

SQ feat KET

Finishing off the evening SQ feat KET clean the stage standing to each side, Thomas Bjelkeborn on the right, a Wii controller and laptop glitching the voices coming from Koray Tahiroglu’s visuals fed in from the left. Slurred, degraded video of an old Siberian mangled up by Bjelkborn’s software. Its very clean sounding and digital after the analogue murk of the rest of the evening, interesting how much space you can get into something so distorted and messed up.


Shirt flapping fun

April 2016
Green Door Store

Hardworking Families

Hardworking Families

Billed as a laptop set, Hardworking Families do have one on stage and even plugged in. To the mains. Tom plays it with a small radio. passing the device back and forth over the screen front (AND back), keyboard, power supply etc., and feeding the results through his usual array of pedals and other malarkey. It’s a pure noise set with an interesting variety of tones and textures and I particularly liked the way you could see the source of the range of harsh tonalities.


Lend Me Your Underbelly

Lend Me Your Underbelly

Second act of the evening was Lend Me Your Underbelly, over from The Netherlands. He played a guitar and a synth into a super drone machine for the first set of the mentioned sartorial vibrational bassy goodness. Over this he plays some quite delicate pointed guitar, clean and understated. It’s a contrast that works well, giving the drones a wash of psychedelic overtones. It’s like a thick hearty, satisfying soup that also tackles your palate with some citrussy high notes for surprise and to top it off.


Futuro De Hierro

Futuro De Hierro

Futuro De Hierro is a somewhat different kettle of fish, although he keeps the clothes flapping away quite nicely. He’s thunderous in the Green Door Store and really makes the fullest sense. The beats distortion adds thunder, the bass gets everywhere in the room, and Matt the sound man gets stuck into the Strobes (“I don’t normally do this for the Spirit of Gravity, but…”). Viktor works at his sequencers and effects, shouting in Spanish and swinging the microphone round by the monitors so he can get to work riding the feedback. It’s a wonderful racket, and I laugh like a series of drains.