Don’t think about it that way

May 2019

The Rossi Bar

Zener Breakdown

So we jam packed the acts in for the May show.  Starting us off nice and early we had Zener Breakdown, a new project from Jason Hotchkiss, notorious creator of the Tesla Organ, and Chris Calcutt. They were line checking kit as folk were coming in, the demarcation of their set starting was a bit of introduction. Starting with an LFO activated pulse that they soon subsumed with some distortion and gritty bass washes, they were off. Lo-fi drum sounds mixed with crystal clear hi-hats, they got filtering the synth rhythms, and it came over like some old style acid on heroin rather than ecstasy.  Uneasy and indefinably itchy before glitching out into something else a lot mellower. Which burbled for a while until joined by some lovey string synth. The glitch re-asserted itself in some clowning gait and Cabaret Voltaire stabs. Things picked up again with an off centre groove accompanied by shots, swirls and meeps. Dropping down to another odd rhythm track they set up for an altogether slower emptier and more ominous ending.


The Zero Map

It was lovely of The Zero Map to ask us to share in their tenth birthday. Karl and Chloe unfold more slowly. Recordings of birds, dozens of ‘em, with a slight shimmer of a drone to give them something to bite against. The drone slowly becomes less slight, awash with endless reverbs and perhaps hints of guitar flourish or rumble. It seeps into your consciousness, erasing thought until you eventually become aware that ITS ACTUALLY QUITE LOUD NOW, PEAKING… Chloe adds voice, and bowed bass tones. Then it subsides again into something like one of Steve Hillage’s late 70s albums with Karl playing light guitar lines. Chloe brings in her pipes, there is a second swell, not quite as subtle as the first one, that ends in some definite roaring and a hefty wall of distortion. And then a final tail off into space


Xylitol

Taking us away from the amorphous wash of The Zero Map, Xylitol is discrete chunks of mostly song. Catherine starts with an odd chime and Casio and sound effects number, to confuse us into thinking we’re on a different tangent, before the spooky riff starts. The second song starts with a cheap rhythm through slight delay, that gives the song an odd slurred quality like trying to avoid the staggering drunk on the way up the hill, the organ drones and melody enhancing that effect. The next segment is like testcard music played by skeletons, the song after the skeletons are joined by squeaky toys and balloon farts. Its delirious. Everything is short, energetic, tending to frenzy at times, and manages to reference Bruce Haack, Raymond Scott, DAF and house music in the space of a few seconds. By the time we get to the penultimate number – a tremulous drone, with bleep and booster larking over, I’m in quite an odd state of mind. The epic last song (at 7 minutes) has a steady beat looming from a warehouse several miles away, over this melodic splashes of bell and tone permeate the mind quite irresistible.


Robyn Steward

So finally it’s Robyn Steward, Radio Mic’d trumpet through delays and octavers (up and down), this really is space trumpet. She kicks off with a stepped riff into the loop pedal that she uses as an intro, before getting into some improvvy blowing air into the instrument giving us a ground to add some sonorous bassy notes before dropping some gloriously detuned melodic top layers. She talks too us a bit before starting off again along a similar route that goes to a very different place, breath again starting the loop, with short parps, and blocky notes, before she gets into some much higher register stuff over the top, and wanders off into the audience playing Arkestra style (even if it is a procession of one). The next section starts with a tape delayed almost indefinitely, valve noises. She plays some slow mid notes over this, again with that odd octavy detuning effect. The space noise layer up in this bit without making the sound dense and she gets into some really nice playing over the top. She rounds the set and evening off with a staccato segment. Getting people clapping, with bass notes, and a really weird thing where the octave trumpet is REALLY squeaking quite wildy. Its all gets a bit intense, big bass tones, these scurrying mids and a thick, thick layer of high frequency noise that washes out to leave Robyn’s solo trumpet playing cleanly to flourish the end.


It’s all gone a bit crispy

August 2017
The Green Door Store

Spheress

Spheress

Spheress is up on stage when people start coming in, a mix of hardware and laptop, some synths and Volcas, he starts with a double duck being hit with a squeaky toy quickly escalating to an industrial beat, before eventually a bass drone warps in with a gabba kick and an old-style hardcore tone providing a pseudo bass line. It falls away to a different rhythm before it’s drowned out in a squall of drone feeding back through an ancient reverb box. Back to another beat and bass line before building up to a different kind of feedback distortion falling in metallic sheets. Another breakdown before he gets to work on the synths with a Crybaby wah wah, ending on a nasty layered 2 note fuzz attack.


The electrocreche is a bit funny tonight, we have only one toy as the other broke while I was setting up, we scrounge some kit from Spheress and end up with almost a no input electrocreche. Which turns out to be quite fun.


Xylitol

Xylitol

Unfortunately Ommm is poorly so we have Xylitol doing a solo set. I don’t think we were disappointed. Catherine starts her set with abstract lo-fi electronic noises, chimes, Tardis sounds and disembodied voices. Arrhythmic part comes in with a nasty fan drone washing in and out and it ends on some weird Bruce Haack tip. She has songs, mostly 2 to 3 minutes. The next one starts with a Raymond Scott vibe before heading off into something quite 90s J-Pop-ish, with a really nice full bass that slowly rolls out to a repeated quiet organ figure with delay feedback slowly mutating over it. Next up has a glitchy rhythm and Casio organ moving around all over it. I can’t even describe the next one, it has elements of toy music, minimal techno and subtle use of noise. And so it continues, elements of the last 50 years of electronic music, blended into something that sounds like all/none of them, modern and nostalgic, radiophonic and digital. She has a few copies of her 45 remaining, it’s very good, you should buy one.


Dylan Nyoukis

Dylan Nyoukis

Dylan Nyoukis is next up, as promised with his double cassette set up of complete audio mulch. Starting with a slurred down loop of some indecipherable something, a guitar string ping and scrape add some slight sense of rhythm to proceedings. The loops slowly open out, not quite lurching but definitely elliptical in their gait. Dylan works quietly away adding small touches, bringing things in and out slowing or speeding up a touch as required. It’s hypnotic and bizarrely hooked. At some point it sounds like he sneaked the ghost of a bowling alley into the Green Door Store before smuggling it out through the back. Suddenly it switches to something a bit more pier-ish, papier-mâché monsters in cases banging against the glass, Kids with lollipops hitting the metal stands while someone is noisily bending balloon animals. It’s quite dark in an Avengers manner. As the surrounding clutter falls away we find ourselves in a field, the cows moaning not quite happily. A glottal stopping owl starts an argument with a stretched violin chicken. Someone takes a ham fist to a typewriter. A shuffle of someone sandpapering next door winds down with someone talking very slowly backwards over the first musical drone of the set.


Olivia Louvel

Olivia Louvel

Olivia Louvel is finishing the evening off with a selection of songs from her new album “Data Regina” about Mary Tudor, with visual animations written specifically for the event. They’re an interestingly odd blend of almost 80s geometric solid figures with realistically modelled faces acting out various scenes from her imprisonment. I think. (You can see some of them here: www.olivialouvel.com/)
She starts with a glitchy piece with vocal fragments minced up with the light electronic rhythms. The second has a spacious buzzing bass line, with odd notes ringing around it with a full breathy vocal part. The third is more stately affair, “Good Queen Bess” all vocal layers, slow and moving. The next song “My Crown” eschews the space and fills the room right out with a throbby bass, with vocals and further bass tones. It’s a bit epic without breaking out into a full-on beat. So the next song has a very rhythmic structure, everything in it seems to pulse. The next has alternating pulses like it’s all modulated by a square LFO, but the vocals are fragmented, lost. Then straight into the next with Spartan martial snare rolls scattered. The second half has a harmonium slowly unfolding over it. She ends on a long version of “Love or Rule” starting with violin drones and parts, occasional buzz of bass, after a long while a set of machine-like rhythmic parts come in.