Exercises in ambience

April 2019

The Rossi Bar

Not By Radium

So first, starting before anyone comes in for a proper long form set, is Not By Radium is sat sideways on at one of the small coffee tables that The Rossi Bar seem to have multiplied up from the one at The Green Door Store. We’ve seen his dice directed work before, but I don’t recall anyone ever performing with a notepad and paper. So everything unfolds very, very slowly. As you would expect. He starts with a slowly modulating wash of drone ebbing and flowing, after quite some time a fan like wisp filters through, to be joined later by what sounds like (but I’m assured wasn’t) the introductory chords to “Dream Baby Dream” complete with rim-shot tap at the end. By the time we get to about 15 minutes in things have filtered down somewhat and I’m starting to unwind. Around 25 minutes we hit minimal impact levels of stasis. The still of icy deep space. Somewhere around the half hour mark there is an odd interlude when someone slowly plays a piano in a church a couple of miles away. About 40 minutes in we get something a bit raspier in the drone department, and I’m starting to unravel a bit. As we come to the last 15 minutes or so a vaguely euphoric choral sound builds in and blissingly lifts us up towards the close. There is no climax or crescendo.


Stone Cornelius

Stone Cornelius starts her set with a wind up bird in a cage that chirps musically. There is also a loop of birdsong and some Mozart. The wind up bird in the cage winds down quite quickly. The birdsong is slightly distorted and a bit too loud. The Mozart is phased and looped into increasingly short loops. There is a voice as well giving what I’m sure is good advice, but it’s inaudible and uncomfortable. This should be ambient heaven, but it’s increasingly jarring; my shoulders slowly rise up alongside my neck. At various times Emu adds wind chimes, some kind of massive red apple, and various other ephemera into the mixture. It’s funny, at times it achieves a bizarrely cluttered level of relaxing as the Mozart loops have achieved a lovingly modulated numbness.


Distant Animals <in a forest of signs>

Distant Animals <in a forest of signs> started his set with an introduction saying it’s his first new piece of music for a while, and reading from the book it’s based on. After he’s finished reading Dann starts a two note wobbly beep loop that slowly emerges into audibility from his modular set up. Occasionally a sub bass rattles the PA in a wave underneath it like being chased by the Tardis in a snowstorm. Occasionally he crosses the room to pick up one or two carefully selected patch leads. There’s an odd flashback to Emu’s winding the cage sound that could be directly from the synth, or it could be rattling bits around the room. Here’s an odd thing, he never takes out any leads but at one point the sound subsides to a tiny vibration. He then builds it back up with a subtly layered set of durational sounds, whistles, washes vibrations and something of the icy calm from the deep space section of Tony’s set. This settles in nicely before some more patching brings in a spooky violin part counterpointed by ancient alien spaceships


An opportunity for reflection

August 2018
Green Door Store

I’m Dr Buoyant

I'm Dr Buoyant

So in front of an animation of a method of straightening a spine twisted by scoliosis Tony Rimbaud aka I’m Dr Buoyant wrestles with his dark looping equipment and tries to distract our slightly perturbed eyes. He starts off with a drone of heavy slow machinery drawn up through a long zinc tunnel, occasionally a slow human moan or stellar slope of thin fuzztone guitar emerges and disappears, before the dark wind takes over. Footsteps come up the tunnel, the two tone riff of the guitar comes back with a jetliner friend. The riff filters out into a horrible thin resonant ghost of itself before Godzilla’s vast footsteps stomp in. Some really nicely detailed trebly grained up drones wash through everything from here with some flying saucer pulses that eventually soar off into a delay loop hammershop crunch. And finally we get washed up with a really nice layered drone that degrades well into a locked groove.


Not for the Suffering Type

Not for the Suffering Type

Iain Paxon & Eleanor Campbell, performing as Not for the Suffering Type, set up on the floor in front of the stage on one of the trestle table covered in a range of keyboards and things, Iain having a bass guitar. Eleanor plays a long descending keyboard part into a looper. Iain plays a bass part, and sings. Eleanor punctuates things with odd sounds. A drum part is written into the Volca beats. It’s wonderfully low key and engaging. Eleanor reads from her book. The bass rolls gently, the noises squirrel around them.


Distant Animals (in a forest of signs)

Distant Animals

Distant Animals (in a forest of signs) finish us off for the evening, with a set of 3 or maybe 4 halves… starting at a mic stand in front of the stage Daniel Alexander Hignell is dressed in a rabbit outfit. This goes on for a while then he peels that off and gets into a worn dinner suit. I don’t think he’s said anything during this time. Nor made a sound. He gets onto the stage left and some business goes on with a cassette player. His accomplice at some stage appears at a chalk board. There are projections based on a camera pointing at the blackboard that feeds back into the main screen. An oddly modulated string part emerges from the cassette. And he makes some odd sounds on some things he has on a table a zither I think. At some stage he gets down of the stage and changes into some NDW type cap sleeved t shirt and things get into a bit of a modular stomp. We then get into an odd bit where the groove goes, and we have the acoustic things getting processed going through a tablet, and the cassettes come back. It’s somewhat confusing, definitely entertaining and if I hadn’t almost immediately gone on holiday I’d be able to remember what I thought it was all about…