From head to hand

August 2019

The Rossi Bar

Andrew Greaves

Andrew Greaves commenced the evening playing a piece from his new album, a drifting melancholy line from one of his Electribes with counterpoint joining, played from the Casio MT400. The second Electribe begins to drift in circles around the first. After a while the tremulous recorded voice of Andrew’s father, a nicely old style tenor, committed to cassette may years previously, tremulously joins in the phrases from all parts circulating around the room, at once of a piece and also distinct – almost isolated. The first track ends on the old feller singing “I miss you, I miss you, I miss you”. The second piece starts with a drum machine, sparse bass drums and ticking delayed syncopating rim-shots, he once again has a sequencer playing lines which play around each other. There is plenty of movement in the drums, snares and hi-hats come and go. After some of this the Casio comes in, the organ working its own thread between the other lines. I enter some kind of zone and it’s all over far too soon.


Jonathan Higgins

I think a description of Jonathan Higgins’ glitch CD set up is key here, so at first glance a CDJ setup: 2 CDJs, a mixer and a Discman off to one side, the CD decks have no lids and patchboards. There also is a big wallet of CDs and a recently snaffled copy of one of Andrew’s new albums. It’s a performance in 4 parts, the first starts with a crackly cd of chimes looped with glitches, hums noises and drum rolls, as leads get patched things skip, degenerate, loop and just get generally overlaid with noise, here is a little of the classic CD stuck glitching, an odd percussion loop; the piece stays on the interesting side of noise, a more performative sampledelica.

The second piece starts with a lovely vocal drone loop overlaid with some unpleasant sparse digital freak-out, voices spin backwards, the vocal gradually morphs into a grinding nasal sound. Everything else comes and goes with the occasional digital noise squall. The next piece starts with a space noise that saw-tooths up quite quickly, this then unfolds quite slowly, extra drones shipping in, I think the Discman (broken I imagine) is bought into play for the first time, morse-ly stuttering away. There’s a section of what sounded like a CD being dragged through fine splinters of dangerous glass before we move onto the last piece which is when Jonathan gets stuck into the patch bay, patching; clearing; patching ripping out all the leads; patching; banging the Discman up and down. This is the most fragmented section – the most fun to watch, and probably the least listenable in retrospect. I think it ends on a recording of a numbers station. Glitched. Naturally.

You can see a video of his full performance at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfkkfhvasaQ


Luxul

So we finish the evening with Luxul, with Emilie robed in darkness with viola and effects pedals lit by a stark uplighter. She starts squatting, with a heartbeat banging of the electric viola onto the floor of the stage, the heartbeat is quickly forgotten when she adds a filthy distortion for a thunderous double beat. Add to that a nasty squeal of feedback and some screeching runs up and down the neck of the instrument and I think that sets the tone, she reigns it back in for a while before unleashing her powerful voice full throated into the pickups. Truly, this is terrifying. Back to the loop beat, and off again, she hits full overload, up off the floor and out into the audience of the tiny bar. There are some interesting layers to this – a harsh noise wall, a scuttling flurry of high notes, a pure tone of feedback, a throaty rush of wind tunnel bass, and some tasty wah-wah work. It relents for a while and again we hear the double crush of the heartbeat come through. I swear at some point she has the ghost of the flying Scotsman being channelled through her – whistle included. She briefly brings it down to her scream and 3 separate strands of feedback before one last full throttle blast to end.


Three, Two, One

April 2018
Green Door Store

Innixi Fix

Innixi Fix

To start the evening is Innixi Fix, billed as a three piece but playing as Jack on his own (he found out at 5:30 in the evening that this would be the case). So he set up on the floor with his guitar and electronics array. He starts by banging a loop of a clobbered string percussion part into the kit, supplemented with small flourishes giving it a clockwork feel. Before fattening out with balalaika twangs, reverb and then haring off down a blind alley of plics and ant-scurry thuds. Which devolves into a series of radiophonic space ping echoes. This goes on for not quite long enough before a tube train smashes through it. Which in turn gives way to an almost acoustic sounding passage of single noted loveliness which again evolves into some radiophonics mixed with gratuitous delay tweaking. It settles down into a more reflective passage before we get the Foghorns and heavy goods trains.


Andrew Greaves

Andrew Greaves

Andrew Greaves was also supposed to be playing with others in this case the percussionist was ill so Andrew fell back onto his electronic percussion along with organs and delays. The percussion ticks while Andrew played I think two pieces from his new album, which are long semi improvisations in some scales based on Indian Raags, played with extraordinarily long delays, and the occasional bass tone. The organ parts repeat, almost, slowing down and speeding up. Hypnotic is about the only way to describe it, I was quite in phase with the whole room by the time the first piece ended. He wound it down quite nicely and did the changeover to the second part pretty seamlessly. This continued the arpeggios and riffs style but with some longer, slightly slower parts woven into them. Both hands working together along with some suspicious looping technology and some more prominent action from the bass. Although again, it wouldn’t be called foregrounded. About a third of the way into the second piece the hi-hats tip over into woodblocks and rim-shots. Towards the end they trickle out just leaving the dynamic stasis of the organ figures worming into your consciousness.


Map 71

Map71

So Map71. A real drummer and one poet. Lisa Jayne, slight, static, book of words glanced at, pages thumb flicked occasionally. Andy Pyne a perpetual movement machine, elbows, knees, sticks, head, feet. The first track is drums and words alone, a circular patter around the kit, around the kit, around the kit. Anti-noise. The second is an older song. Starting with a cheap synthesiser riff before Andy and Lisa kick in. The electronic insistence rises during the song. The third song starts like “Summer breeze” closed hi-hats in threes, uneasy words. The fourth song is new I think too, starting with a staggered snare pattern “freak radar collision” Lisa’s word come at you in obsessional bursts. Every few bars everything stutters. Another new song follows, slight piano echoes, brushes occasional Kick yr ass drum. Lisa less declamatory than usual. The rhythm is still in her voice. Back with the favourites “controversial dance moves should not be attempted” buzz bass, half speed drums. A song about shopping. Hah. Lisa speaks between songs, I think this is a new thing. They still are the most charismatic act to grace the GDS stage. The final song is a tightly wound arpeggio that takes an age before the drums kick in. The tension mounts constantly, even when parts drop out. Insistence.


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.


That last Scope

January 2016
The Scope XVIII

I think it was a good one to end on, we’ve had a good run up here at The Caroline of Brunswick and put on a lot of rare stuff we wouldn’t otherwise have seen. Thanks to Dan Powell for playing at so many of them.

Baby

Baby Baby was depleted even beyond the trio we were expecting, Adam Bushell turned up, set up his Vibraphone and drums, slept for an hour and then had to go home poorly. So we were left with Alfie on Double bass and Will on guitar and flute. I’d not seen Alfie before. He started with some plucked figures with Will interjecting on screwed up acoustic guitar, before switching to longer bowed figures and Will switching to flute, with some interesting overtones, switching between lower tones and almost feedback sonorities Alfie tapping the bass body in lieu of Adam, before dropping back to Will on the guitar chords and Alfie back off the bow. Before finishing strongly on long flute tones and bass rumble.


Andrew Greaves vs. the Electrocreche

Andrew Greaves vs the Electrocreche
The electrocreche was already set up playing through Andrew Greaves’ mixer in preparation for his set, where he would process it through a couple of monotribes (mmmm, a fetching pink number with enhanced Valvery) and add some Casio and some recordings from the bar downstairs. It slid in more or less seamlessly, the toy guitar feedback and cheap Yamaha synth merging with static cassette hi-hat staggers manufactured on the fly. Structure gradually emerging from the chaos as people rotated through the crèche toys and Andrew’s processing picked out different elements and manipulated them. Rhythmic patterns, pseudo sequences, bass lines. It was quite odd, you would be playing something on say the kids guitar and switch from one end of the neck to the other or drop off the overdrive and nothing you could immediately put your finger on would change, but the sounds would shift in quality but if you tried to make it a conscious thing – not a hope. In many ways this was the success of the evening as it seemed quite unlikely that it would work beyond being an interesting idea – everything else was a cert! It all finished with a percussive rhythmic part and the bar voices coming back in full strength, the guitar left unattended holding down some keys on the Yamaha.


The Static Memories with Will Miles

The Static Memories with Will Miles
Third was The Static Memories with Will Miles. Dan on electronics, Gus on double bass and effects, although pretty light on them generally and Will playing guitar. Lots of listening, sliding and pointillist punctuation. Odd notes, spaces, slurs of shimmery bees, unworldy string groans. Gus playing against what he’d been doing in his recent solo sets. Sparing and searing in his astringency. Dan almost like Roger Turner in the intensity of his staring at the other players. In musical terms what? Swatches of sounds often overlapping, textured but never dense, never a feeling of layering up loops or ribald noisery. Will scratching or pasting a staccato strum or bell like string pluck onto the process, redirecting things, almost bringing them to a halt at times before something else beckoned.


Fernando Perales

The Static Memories with Will Miles
Fernando Perales was on his second appearance at The Spirit of Gravity and it was nice to see him in the more intimate settings of the scope where you could see what he was up to with the guitar. He was actually travelling with just a guitar neck, but had borrowed a full body for the evening, flat on the table with effects arrayed around it and some bits and pieces for later use scattered about, for p[lucking, filing and layering around. He first worked out the spaces the un-tuned guitar afforded, how much rumble, wash and twang it would give up. So we worked around some drones initially, the edge of feedback, before clanging out some church bell chimes and getting some things into the strings and bridge and getting some resonant tubewheel scraping on. Unfolding from there through some warm space hiss into a gorgeous slow motion music box, which morphed into a windstorm flapping electronic noise and pulsing out into Moonlight Serenade.


Festival times

May 2015
The Scope

So due to festival humours we were based down at the Coach House in Brighton’s Kemptown area. It was a lovely evening, balmy even, with a trace of sunlight in the garden.

Wahabi Wimmins Collective

Wahabi Wimmins Collective Inside, we started with Wahabi Wimmins Collective Aharon and Simon McLellan engaged in a conversation about improvisation while Simon improvises on the guitar, including a couple of lengthy periods when he’s too busy talking to actually play. But still all that’s improvising, right? They get everyone involved but we don’t really have the time to go into any kind of depth, so like its origin in the communal kitchen, it could do with the space to really unfold. An interesting idea.


Haz ‘n’ Daz

Haz 'n' Daz Following quickly, immediately in fact, we bang straight into the scarf waving shenanigans of Haz ‘n’ Daz. Dan has a pretty nice looking effects chain, and Howard switches between his full size vintage MS20, recorder and phone. At half time we get oranges. A healthy act. Howard has been at Whitehawk recording crowd noises. Many started by himself. Dan layers on some noise, and Howard synths it up.


Andrew Greaves and Adam Bushell

Micromelodics The second half proper of the evening was opened by a reading of Andrew Greaves’ new piece “Micromelodics” performed by himself and Adam Bushell. The performance has a projection of the score onscreen, a set of coloured rainbow lines (echoed by the cd covers and colour wheel badges) with the instructions. The piece itself has a progression through a number of improvisations in overlapping scales. Some have a couple of notes some seem to have five or more. Adam and Andrew bounce off each other well, the clear resonance of the vibes in the small space counteracting the fuzzier organ arpeggios.


Arma Agharta

Arma Agharta And rounding off the evening with have Arma Agharta. He disappears at the end of the micromelodics to reappear in khaki and red stripped woollen suit. His set oddly reminds me of Friske Frugt in the tones he uses, but he has field recordings, backing tracks, odd cheap Yamaha sounds and loopy effects chains. And he sings. Presumably in Lithuanian through strobing tremolo. It’s a heady murky psychedelia of mysterious northern origins the like of which I really can’t really recall except by Compass.


There’s got to be an easier way to get your Five-a-day

August 2014
Back to the Green Door Store in August, and a hat-trick of fine visuals to accompany the usual high quality music this month.

Andrew Greaves

Andrew GreavesAndrew Greaves began with a premiere of his piece for organ, ‘Octabeast’. A rare foray into composition for SoG, this was a massively physical performance, with his swift fingers producing relentless arpeggios, the effort becoming increasingly visible as the piece developed. The overlaying echo, and rhythmic pulse which began to introduce itself, produced a kosmische feel. The accompanying visuals were provided by street photographer Simon Peacock, presented in Andrew’s patent flowing slideshow format, and grounded the experience in a way that more spacey images would have failed to do. Watch out for a photographic exhibition from Simon, with the possibility of further collaborations in store, and you can also find a CD of ‘Octabeast’ at our Bandcamp page at http://spiritofgravity.bandcamp.com/album/octabeast.


Gagarin

GagarinSet to his trademark film of Soviet space footage, Gagarin’s set eased in with ambient washes and picked out keyboard notes, but soon his mode of more delicate physical performance was introduced. Moving as lightly as Fred Astaire, his hands and feet danced across his pads and keys, always a pleasure to witness. Glitch funk recognisable from his Biophilia CD, nicely pulled apart and played around with live, was interspersed with less rhythmic interludes creating a subtle and nuanced set. The visuals developed into a more abstract, washed out style as things continued, closing with a more robust beat-driven sequence.


Pawnsphinx

PawnsphinxThe professionalism of Pawnsphinx’ musical presentation apparently caused some confusion, with some mistaking his set of original pieces for a DJ set. Muscular beats emerged from his laptop, bouncing well-developed drum and synth pads around the venue. He also shared with a bemused audience the bizarre video art of Matthew Barney, from his Cremaster cycle (www.cremaster.net/). This involved two identical women stealing grapes through a tablecloth from a load of air stewardesses in two blimps, with the stolen fruit defining the choreography of a Busby Berkeley-style dance troupe on an American football pitch below – no, I wouldn’t believe me either. Possibly a bit too distracting to make the most of the sounds developing, but Ben was given leave to continue past our normal curfew time to provide something of an SoG rave-up to finish the evening.


Travelling through time and space

As we all do, we usually manage to keep in some linear path, unless something comes along and waylays us. I’m not quite sure what happened to me, but a previous post (http://spiritofgravity-brighton.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/surprise-visit-to-quiet-place.html), theoretically for May – and once labelled as being June – was actually April.
The last post is right about being for June, which means that the  REAL May has been laying up in limbo. Not even posted up on soundcloud or youtube.

Till now:

May was film night as it turned out, the début of Andrew Greaves’ twenty twenty project, a film/soundtrack from Jobina Tinnemans and not film related directly but pretty epic stuff from Daniel Alexander Hignell.