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.


Three weeks late of the writing

December 2016
Green Door Store

I’m writing this in the hangover mist between Christmas and the New Year, I have video and recorded evidence to remind me, but my mind is frozen with stale beer & wine and congealed gravies.

The last Spirit of Gravity show was a good one, I do remember the warm glow at the end of another evening. But we’ve had a good year, again, so thanks to everyone who played in 2016.

Cutlasses

Cutlasses

First act for the December show was Cutlasses, Scott Pitkethly’s solo electronic act. He has a bright blue electric guitar plugged into his laptop, some home-made boxes on the table and some more on the floor. The electronics whirr his cleanly plucked guitar up into a mandolin frenzy while half heard airport voices murmur expectantly in the background. Vast slabs of sound sweep across the mix, rhythms tack and totter, and suddenly Scott unexpectedly wails off into some soaring guitar action with accompanying Ponderous drums. It’s not the only time he really messes with us, though. Deep tone basses and abstract digitally filtered guitars predominate, but there are plenty of excursions into weirder shifty patterns and rhythms, and sideways steps into sonic flight before ending with a stumbleover drum track and shiny overdriven guitar.


I’m Dr Buoyant and Ron Caines

I'm Dr Buoyant and Ron Caines

Second up for the evening is the return of East of Eden/West Hill Blast Quartet saxophone man Ron Caines with I’m Dr Buoyant. Ron sits stage left on one of the new uncomfy chairs that have replaced his usual Velvety throne, on the other side is Tony Rimbaud/I’m Dr Buoyant with his array of ill defined electronic goods. Tony starts with some vaguely unhealthy sounding loops that ooze out of the speakers, Ron adding some lonely lines across the top. He follows a melodic thread with occasional flurries of notes cascading out. Its rather scary, but beautiful with undertones of loss and decay.


Johannah Bramli

Johannah Bramli

Rounding off the evening we have Johannah Bramli, if ever something deserved to be heard through the PA at the GDs it’s her current set. Some things really benefit from the extended bass and a bit of volume….

She has prepared some visuals that she has running from the laptop she also uses for running Ableton at her feet, plus a MicroKorg some kind of one stringed instrument and at least one home-made wooden box. A lot of her set starts with a vocal manipulation. Some shimmers, a shudder or two of bass and a bit of ticking rhythm. There is a field recording of voices talking and slowly the shifting takes form and a song emerges from the mist of sounds she’s prepared before being subsumed back into the playground of statics and warbles. The second piece has a MONUMENTAL slab of bass that steps across it when it takes form. Around this builds a rhythm of whacked stainless steel doors and industrial surfaces. The bass and clatter stops leaving some analogue glitch and static to continue while piano leaks in from another dimension pulling in some more vocals from Johannah and then it’s off to space for the end.


Buzz and thrum

October 2015
Green Door Store

The Birds of Death Valley

Birds of Death Valley To start the evening we had the return of The Birds of Death Valley for their first show in an age. Dom was on pretty good form on a chair centre stage with iPad and bass guitar, stage right had Howard on recorder, venerable Wasp and some other bits and pieces, and flanking the oil drum table Ben on whistle, kettle trumpet, pipe and unused slide cornet. They started with a fairly abstract song of floating buzzes and analogue-y drones, before the kettle and a bassline get into a more rhythmic mode, the recorder tipping us over into more fragile almost Takako Minekawa area.


F.Ampism

F Ampism Next up was F.Ampism with his electronical cassette collages. On this form he has to be the best person doing this in Brighton at the moment, a stunning set, multi layered and constantly moving, there were some really interesting textures; voices, percussion, and an urgency – no sitting back and letting things wash over the audience, a constant evolution of audio images, evocative and rather mesmerising. Something about the quality of the sound put me in mind of the soundtrack to Black Orpheus, but I can’t quite say what.


Caines & Eldridge

Caines & Eldridge Finally we had Alice Eldridge & Ron Caines celebrating the launch of “Rothko Veil” the latest release on our Spirit of Gravity label (spiritofgravity.bandcamp.com/album/rothko-veil). They recorded the album in 2011, and this may have been the first time they’d played together since and it really felt like something special right from the start. They started with “Sukran” one of the themes off the album, and it was a really good choice . Alice’s thrummed cello almost a bass part circling loop like while Ron’s lyrical playing really set the mood for the rest of their set and gave him a great starting point to work from. They had the themes for the evening on music stands and use another two from the album and two new ones. Alice going through chamber music sonorities and rhythmic parts to drones and over the bridge harshness, while Ron really let fly as the evening progressed.


Gnarly duos

April 2015
The Scope

Renfield

Renfield Renfield is Dan Powell and Geoff Cheesemaster, Dan had his laptop with some Pure Data patches scratching out noises fed through an effects chain while Geoff had a no input mixing desk setup with some old fuzzboxes and a couple of analogue delays feeding off an old noisy Yamaha mixer. Definitely it was one of those things where you’re wondering who the hell is making that sound. Dan’s output was quite digital and grainy, but the effects chain put some analogue spin on that and the two setups merged into a nice mulch of noise. Textural.



I’m Dr Buoyant and Ron Caines

I'm Dr Buoyant and Ron Caines Ron Caines and I’m Dr Buoyant started with Colleen-ish chimes looping from Tony and Ron slowly starting in on his soprano sax from the shadows off at the side, the whole thing was rather lovely, aching with melancholy. It took some time in unfolding before Tony got to work on the effects units and it degenerated into something altogether a bit gnarlier, with Ron picking up the Alto and blowing a bit and Tony got into some orchestral rhythm hammering. They then seemed to do a piece based on loops of Ron’s Sax and it all went into an uneasy dreamstate before rounding off in a circular synth sweep with heavily delayed sax resonating feedback washes overlaid. A really good performance from Ron and Tony, possibly their strongest to date. They’re up again at SafeHouse soon.


Chemical Bbrench

Chemical Bbrench Chemical Bbrench is Karl Waugh and his mate Felix. Apparently they play annually, but its their first time at The Spirit of Gravity. They had two guitars, two lots of effects chains and all played back through the PA. Literally. Occasionally you can tell a chunk of noise originates in some chirruping fret run or string scrape, but rather than guitar music it was mostly a solid blast of effects chain full throttle overdrive leavened with slow phaser grinds and broken down by low bouts of feedback. The temptation is to think of it as a straight noise set, but listening back, its a lot more nuanced than that, quite textured and with some nice interplay between the two of them. Which isn’t to say that it didn’t have some nice HNW moments.


Not all as advertised

September 2014
Month 2 of the Scope was great fun.

Benzo Fury

We’d booked Daniel Spice and Verity Spott expecting wordplay and were completely outflanked and got a tasty improv session from the debut outing of the pair, Verity on Cello and Daniel on his usual varieties of trumpet, bamboo sax, and percussion. Dan was on fine form playing some nice lines and they worked really well as a duo. Unfortunately, no photographs appear to exist for this performance.


I’m Dr Buoyant and Ron Caines

I'm Dr Buoyant and Ron Caines I’m Dr Buoyant and Ron Caines have played together a few times now and Tony Rimbaud seems to bring out the best in Ron, giving him the freedom to weave his lines as he wished. At the start Tony started by working on Ron’s sounds, looping and effecting them round. As the set progressed he worked up some more orthodox backing tracks to rumble away under Ron’s improvisations.


Ashtoreth / TCH

Ashtoreth / TCH Rounding off the evening Tim Holehouse in collaboration with Ashtoreth. Ashtoreth started by burning a great swathe of Sage in a quite alarming manner before getting to work on his acoustic guitar loops. Tim had some doom-y chords going on under that before they both got into some gravelly vocalising and then twin electric guitars sweep up all the loose ends in the looping stations and Ashtoreth gets back to the acoustic guitar for the finale.


Unfortunately, we also have no video available for this event.