Romney rattle and the slightest twist

December 2019

The Rose Hill

Antipattern

Antipattern was on first. Al Strachan was late arriving due to the inevitable train problems, off the train down to the Rose Hill, set up, plug in, quick line check and start playing. So also inevitably it was a slightly atypical Antipattern set, which isn’t to say it wasn’t a corker. Al started by feeding his cornet into some kind of gate or delay effect that chopped it up, and then ground it into a delay built machine drone. Some throaty gurgle looping followed that with what sounded like the hydrophone bubbling away (I was listening from the front door for most of his set, so I’m not actually sure) into someone tap dancing at the far end of a train tunnel. He finally plays a muted part on the cornet over drizzling rain, he plays it again through an Octaver that shreds it down into the depths then into some shrill upper register work and then it’s back into abstraction, before we get into some shimmery space sounds with burbling cornet slurred over the top. Then it’s into some serious planetary fly-bys and a full stop.


Ron Caines and I’m Dr Buoyant

So continuing our cunning plan of amalgamating the best of the free improvisers of Brighton with electronics we had Ron Caines and I’m Dr Buoyant, Ron on Alto and Soprano saxes, Tony Rimbaud on various electronic devices and effects. They basically started where Alistair left off, definitely a Blade Runner feel, and Ron in fairly mellow mood. Even his flurries of notes were laid back, Tony capturing them on the fly and giving them back to us in slowly decaying delays over distant launch pads. Eventually Ron does let rip a torrid flurry of notes bouncing back from all sides over a heartbeat pulse and ball bearing bounce rhythm, Tony torturing them into harsh reflections before it subsides again. This time Tony grabs a little motif and loops that and Ron bounces some haunting lines against it until it all disappears in a drone. The next section is more spacious, Ron operating in the lower registers against a fairly minimal modulating whine. Smoking at a street corner under drone surveillance, Ron fights against it, avoiding the Ax Gang from Kung Fu Hustle, who bustle past angrily before they all get swallowed up by reverb. The final section sees a slowly unfolding dis-chordal line forced into submission by some fairly burly playing from Ron. It retreats to give him space to play against himself in endless delays to the end.


Toshimaru Nakamura / Sam Andreae / David Birchall / Otto Willberg

My previous experience of Toshimaru Nakamura had been his solo set at Fort Process 2016, a loud, fierce thing of extreme frequencies and sudden, careering changes that rattled the corrugated iron building he was in so hard that it was almost as if the rivets were about to ping and the whole thing would spring up into flat sheets. So I was intrigued to see how this was going to work: playing at The Rose Hill, playing with a set of largely acoustic UK free improvisers. He was set up on the stage to the right with his own set of speakers at head height, next to him Otto Willberg on double bass, Sam Andreae on saxophone and David Birchall on guitar. So this was a display of subtlety, squeaks, small changes, the no-input mixing desk squeaking or whistling, creaking of the bow forced against the strings of the double bass, the sax tracking Toshi, a thrum of something under the guitar strings being twanged. Toshi working at his mixer nudging a knob a fraction of a degree, the sax rattling its keys, a flurry of notes trip off the guitar. A sudden squall of mixer noise. A burr of bowed double bass. Moments of near quiet, slight trails, a ping of guitar string above the bridge, a squall of (quiet) feedback. Some more double bass. Everything coalesces as if composed, everyone playing elbowing some room for the odd sounds, and a build into some kind of sustained crescendo, Toshi and Dave Birchall trading chunks of noise, the sax laying down some lengthier lines, the bass burbling away underneath, then slapping and rattling away. There is a part of me that would still have loved to have seen this full volume at the Green Door Store, but as it was, it was a real opportunity to see a unique performance up really close and appreciate the subtlety.


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.