Last European Home

January 2020
The Rossi Bar

Hardworking Families

So, Hardworking Families starts the evening, Tom sat hands rummaging inside a black box containing Some Things, the lid flaps open towards us, balanced on top is a small PCB with a pot and a couple of other components. By the side of the box is a cassette player. His set starts with stuttering feedback-ish stammer. There’s something of a rumble train-ish, very reverbed coughing.  The rumbling gets grainier and bassier. A pseudo rhythm of gulps hits away in the background and everything falls away around it. A thin tone somewhere between a Casio organ and a reedy metallic whine is conjured from something hidden away. Something happens with the cassette and the reedy whine becomes a thin shard of feedback. There’s some static Morse code. Wind-jammed mic.  Whirr of an oscillator that rolls down into a pretty meaty judder while the Morse flips inside the tone to form a noise barrage. Other oscillators go about similar dirty business and we suddenly get into this toney noise wall that modulates outwards into several frequency strands all winding around each other. Something with some proper bass struggles up from beneath this like a jetliner over a Sicilian beach then it all gets very quiet before one last hurrah of a mechanical woodpecker getting to work in a lumber mill.


Monty Oxymoron

Monty Oxymoron had the second set, he’d played at The Spirit of Gravity previously as part of a trio and a quartet (once famously on copper dog and bird cage) but this was the first time we’d had him play solo, and I think the first time I’ve seen him do a set solely as a musical piece playing the keys on a keyboard (rather than extemporising on the case, lid, stand and anything nearby as well). It’s a piano/synth setup. He starts with some sparkling space jazz that sounds like something of Sun Ra’s from the head, shimmering flourishes and chords that spangle off into a little squelching synth line before zooming off. Some bassy synth crushes bring us back, then its twinkling off again before modulating chords bring back a hint of the original melody and then a little chord riff takes us off again to get lost in fantastical arpeggios. There’s a passage of wah wah stasis that’s rather lovely, that gets eventually overrun with harpsichordian dances of notes that slowly mutate back to piano sounds of the melody again then the electronic drum we can’t see at his feet comes into play. Starting with a jazzy ride with occasional rolls around the virtual kit while his hands keep at work fidgeting away at filtered stabbing chords the feet working away at an insistent rhythm under the table that fades away into an electric piano flourish drowned in a sweeping massive phase. Lovely. Then there’s a bit of an encore, a more orthodox-ish jazz piano ballad, that gets into a Yes Album left hand on a synth chord accompaniment for a bit of a dynamic with a slow wind down.


Kina:Suttsu and E-Da Kazuhisa

Kina:Suttsu and E-Da Kazuhisa finish off the evening. Kina with a midi roll flat piano keyboard starting with backwards piano into a slowly decaying long delay pedal building up a slowly revolving insistent piano part that she wordlessly vocalises over. E-da has a physical ride cymbal that he tings over this. There is birdsong the piano part decays into a churning organic murk, Kina keeps working away at her piano roll pushing notes into the delay chain until it loses all form in an undulating wave of little notes, E-da picks up the tempo on the ride to match this until it all slowly fades away. Kina brings the birdsong back, E-da gets a hand drum to work and Kina starts on the alto saxophone, a stutter skronk alternating with longer lines. E-Da is putting some effects on his drum, the bassy thumps really getting some presence. Kina gets some fire in her playing and E-Da follows her round, the birdsong seems to spiral off tiny electronic tones that glitter in the inner ear.  E-da gets right into it, driving us on under Kinas spiralling lines, then it all falls away underneath her. And she returns to the piano. Single notes: high, low, the memory of the last leaving a notion of melodic drift as it loops, she breathes the sax gently over the top. E-da has some rattling and rainstick washing away. She eventually starts adding extra notes in and the loops build up the effect of delays as E-Da starts with a beater on the cymbal. It all gets a bit psychedelic. Mushing, washing in and out like great waves. The deep layers of piano producing odd accordion-like tonalities amongst the sparkling of the high note hits. It ends like a two chord riff with E-Das cymbals rolling in like great Atlantic rollers, slow and stately and all enveloping, and then Kina beaks it all up with some free form playing on the piano and saxophone and we’re done for the night. subtlety.


All sounds are up

July 2019

The Rossi Bar

Rapt

First up was Rapt, sat behind a laptop, his whole performance was an exercise in stasis, an almost Zen-like lack of activity, featuring variations on his first EP. Starting with shimmering drones layered several deep the overlying shifts between, I don’t know, three or four notes in an almost achingly emotional slowly unfolding melody line. The second piece takes things a bit more up-tempo, the parts moving around more dynamically, some murky bass drum and hint of hi-hat. It keeps the intensity up, without appearing to do much. Close listening reveals cycles of clacked bottles buried in the mix, but he is stationary at the monitor, not giving anything away, occasionally sipping Polish lager. The third and final piece has another slow motion melodic top line (this time it starts the piece off), the sound slowly filling out with bass washes and modulating synth lines underneath it. It doesn’t really unfold as engulf you in a warm wave of feeling. His new stuff is quite a bit different, but worth hearing: soundcloud.com/raptmusicuk/albums


Kina:Suttsu

Kina:Suttsu was about as far from that as you can get, we’ve been playing some of her music as bobobobin!!!? On the radio show, but this was a different thing. She was joined by local percussionist E-da Kuzuhisa. Kina starts on her odd guitar stick with gentle strumming, E-da has a contact mic on a rain-stick and some bells, Kina sings gently out of focus. The sound comes out of the quiet, slowly. Occasionally E-da bats his floor tom with a beater. Some cymbals wash and we shift; slowly the guitar becomes effected a Sitar-like chime, a rhythm picks up on a hand drum, her vocals shift into gasped phrases. This breaks down into a reverberant rainstorm. After that E-da picks up a tapping rhythm on a ride, and Kina moves briefly onto an Alto sax and gives us a good skronking while E-da gets a proper battery up on his limited percussion. Then she is back with the guitar on her lap with beaters and E-da is getting some shakers going. And some more distant singing to end.


Simon James

Finally And to finish we have Simon James, we had intended bringing his Synth and space echo to the front, but in the end it was too intricate a setup, so we left it at the back of the stage, which meant that Simon had to perform with his back to us – but that did mean we got to see the Buchla synth in all its glory. Simon had his NASA suit on as the set was to be a tribute to the Apollo 11 mission which had just had the 50th anniversary of its launch, so his set was suitably radiophonic in sound. Starting with a thin drone underpinned by a Sputnick-y beeping and full bass, this soon picked up space arpeggios and all sorts to take us on our journey. As we move out into orbit we get a stripped down bass drum and odd pong sound that slowly evolves into a grooving bass thing with more odd space noises. The further we get into this piece the harder it gets to describe. Glorious old style electronic space music. We can feel the stars moving in the sky and the Earth recede. As we get into Earth orbit things quieten right down for the slow beauty of Earthrise as we come round from the dark side. And finally they walk on the moon. Simon gets called back for an encore, so he treats us to a bleep and booster space jam, that ends abruptly with an “that’s what it sounds like in my room!”. Marvellous.