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.


Laboratory conditions

January 2015
The Scope

The Four Heads

The Four Heads
There are already a good number of people in when the Four Heads start. Dan is set up with singing bowls and an odd single stringed instrument at the back also mic’d up and playing quietly back through the PA, Geoff is perched on a stool just inside the door playing his ukelele through a cheap delay to a quiet amp on the other side of the room. The idea is an immersive sound that isn’t overwhelming, so the uke washes back and forth with occasional plonks, and Dan gongs and pings with his singing bowls, and bows more or less everything he can see.


Laborotoro

Laborotoro Before Laboratoro play we move people around a bit so that Xelis has some space on the floor. He has reflector dishes with microphones (and pickups?) suspended from the ceiling feeding thin wires to Ed who is set up under the Caroline of Brunswick’s screen. Xelis talks and sings into the dishes the sound is processed by Ed’s Max MSP patches into arpeggios, or noise or something… There are field recordings – bird song and bunker sounds – and they both play a range of trumpets and hunting horns, Ed has a couple of drums he sticks or pats with beaters. Xelis dances and prowls, too. It’s good to see that they’re still not managing to do anything straight.


Duncan Harrison

Duncan Harrison The gap between sets is far too long but we keep the wide open space for Duncan Harrison. He balances his mixer on a stool, puts on dark glasses (after apologising) and starts talking about and from Henry Miller & Henry Rollins. He has some text in the middle of the floor and a cassette recording of some of it, he reads the text; standing, kneeling, crouching – after a while of this he presses a button on his mixer and we’re engulfed with a not loud but very unpleasant squall of feedback so that it feels like someone has unplugged the speaker on reality. You can see Duncan continue talking but not hear anything distinctly. He comes over to Agata who has been taking photographs and whispers in her ear. The horn player from Birds of Death Valley leaves the room visibly distressed: it is very unpleasant. Duncan shuts it off and I don’t remember if he reads some more or just stops.


duck-rabbit

duck-rabbit duck-rabbit are set up on a table at the “stage” end of the room, Tom Taylor playing a keyboard loaded with crunchy step sounds from Dungeness beach, and one of Joe Wright or James Opstead playing a weird joystick controller thing slung round a neck, and the other with a non-keyboard controller controlling a box synth I’d not seen before. the results are somewhere on the line of free improv and abstract electronica, Tom’s fingers bashing impressively around the keyboard bringing forth all manner of horrible noises. This mismatch is even more pronounced on the third improvisation where they replace the Dungeness sounds with those from a Widnes scrapyard.