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.


Birdsong and red noise

March 2016
Green Door Store

I love the first Spirit of Gravity show of the year that I get to walk to with a bit of daylight. This was it, just. There’s something of the light that gives me a right proper buzz. Even if it did herald a cold spell then some more rain…

minimal impact

minimal impact

We managed to prise Steve away from the Electrocreche for a minimal impact set. He’s doing a series of ten, each building on recordings of the previous one. In this case, enhanced with what he calls “Black Box III: the uncontrollable”. The sound comes in three layers, there is a background of deep bassy washes, indistinct murk hummering around the stinky corners, then digging into that are these vibrantly gritty buzzing chunks of sawtooth bass, then a mantle over that, separated by some distance of foggy treble. The uncontrollable device does plenty to keep it interesting, before I think, exasperated, he decides he’s had enough and abruptly truncates his set.


Bible

Bible

Bible are next up, Graham Zygotic drumming, Chris Parfitt switching between standard and alto flute. They start off with some pattering drumskins and the alto’s resonant tones entrapped by some fairly roomy delay. This naturally gets going into some fuller battering from the pair of them, Chris switching to the normal flute to get some squeal into things. Then G gets out his selection of pound shop sex toys, various bits humming and vibrating on the cymbals and strung up rattling the piccolo snare. We get the drum kit as a generator of tones and drones, with a different scape for Chris to work against.


Antipattern

Antipattern

Al Strachan sets up his Antipattern kit on the floor. No Volca sampler, so we’re bereft of an obvious rhythm, but we have not so obvious rhythms, plenty of them, as we’ll see. He starts with the trusty Strachan Cornet with some octave effects and gets the aquaphone into a glass of water, blowing bubbles through a pipe into it – pop pop popop pop, before wandering through the audience with it, still piping, swirling whooth whooth around his head, and then getting the aquaphone into the gob with a load of space dust, crack crack pop crackle. I’m glad I don’t have to clean up his kit. He never did get round to using the little wooden bird cage.

Resonant Blue with Lucy Day

Resonant Blue with Lucy Day

Finally Resonant Blue with guest Lucy Day on vocals and percussion. They set up on the floor, Jake with his laptop and keyboards, Lucy to one side with singing bowl and gong. They start off with things pretty electronic sounding, some filtered backwards sounds looping casually, some gentle brass washes from the percussion and Lucy’s breathy singing dreaming its way into your subconscious, then slowly they start drift off into fractioned shimmering acoustic guitars, microscopically dismantled into tiny fragments of light with Lucy’s vocals drifting effortlessly across them.


Guitar night

February 2016
Green Door Store

It’s still a bit light as I walk down the hill, this is always my favourite Spirit of Gravity show of the year; coming out of the darkness. It’s not raining, which also helps.

Elena Desai

Elena Desai Elena Desai has assembled a group of guitarists to accompany her film “Micro Infinity”, she’s sat up by the sound desk with her laptop playing the soundtrack and monitoring things. Onstage are the three guitarists, although one has an SH101as well judging from this angle. There’s some suspicious flanger, but that gives things a Twin Peaks creepiness at times, which adds to the films degraded and oversaturated but washed out feel. There is the impression of an unpleasant factory that lurks just out of view of the skies and streets visible through her window.


Swarbrooke

Swarbrooke You can see him onstage with a collection of effects and home-made boxes – a step sequencer and a couple of circuit bent toys. Swarbrooke starts up urgently with an irritated buzz, Harvey enveloped in a comforting darkness, he slashes some chunks of noise across it as the bee starts to warble in a far from idyllic manner. The chunks morph into a machine grind before we drop to something like a live mains applied directly to the head and into a popping rhythm into which he cuts some of the rawest noise I’ve heard in a long time, twisting into an oscillating morphing crush. At one stage you can make him out in the darkness, toy lights flashing as he carries something flashing around the stage screeching. It’s a truncated set, washing out to a thin white noise hiss, but shows how much imagination can be applied to something as seemingly restrictive as noise. Thrilling.


Jeff Stonehouse

Jeff Stonehouse Jeff Stonehouse finishes the evening off in a lovely wash of blue light with a red spot on the screen behind him. He has a long trestle table with his laptop at one end and a novelty guitar stand propping up his 60s Woolworth’s guitar at the other. An office fan blows ribbons gently onto the strings and occasionally he wanders over to it to jangle the bracelets that hang from its head or scrape the strings. The laptop processes all this and has some backing tracks possibly, or field recordings. The whole piece drifts almost in stasis, enveloping and warm. People sit on the floor (in The Green Door Store!) Shimmering developments slowly crystallise from the drones, time passes. I don’t fall asleep this time.
Apparently the performance is based on “the words just won’t come”.