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.


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.


Is it birdsong, or is it bridge FX?

It was the kind of evening that starts with a walk down the hill that just makes you happy to be out and about, a proper August Spirit of Gravity night.

Resonant Blue

Resonant Blue starts off squatting on the front of the stage, low level drone-stuffs laid out in front of him: keyboard and laptop, it modulates nicely for a while then seems to lift in a rush that precedes a whirr of traffic and field recordings and goes off in a more Ypsilon in Malaysia pale mode, the noise becoming tones and chimes, again it lifts into more digital sounding synths, before thickening up again with more choral drones and heading for deep space. Truly music for Starfelds.



Shinamo Moki

With the busiest stage we’ve had for a while, Shinamo Moki have guitar (!) electronic drums and electronics. Minutes before going on the guitarist’s effects rack goes west, so we have a slight delay while Tim Holehouse sets him up with his array; credit to both of them, I can detect no problem during the set. Shinamo Moki operate somewhere between Cornelius and Japan, the idea of eastern pop and its actuality. With the age and haircuts, it’s tempting to look on them as an indie band born of YouTube, but I think they go beyond that and manage to eschew vocals, which obviously helps us. It’s all bent sounds; gongs, string synths, drums that detune, everything shifts and stutters – a lightness around the rhythm and deftness of touch that make this as far to pop as we’ll go, and we go happily.



Timothy C. Holehouse

Timothy C Holehouse reclaims his effects array and sets up his collection of objects, and starts Ashtoreth Shaman, his new project. He has his effects and is just feeding sound in: throat-sung didgeridoo gurgles, drones and whistles, Brighton beach stones, sticks. And it’s just that: an hallucinatory ever-thickening drone of immense depth. We just soak it up, eyes closed, letting the sound wash over us and watching the internal unfolding.