May saw the end of an era, but also a visit from a legend.
4thirtythree hadn’t played together for six months and Stuart Revill the guitarist was less than twenty four hours off the plane from Canada. Not that it noticed, like an avuncular band in your front room they immediately settled right into it: left to right we have acoustic guitar through loop station dropping still notes in slow motion cascades; tenor sax and un-tipped vocals providing nourish grit; finally soprano sax, chime boxes, thumb pianos, flute and piano loops bringing the ether. In spite of all this looping it’s a sparse, empty sound. Occasionally it winds backwards through psychedelic space, Tim’s cycling words repeating some elliptical husky semi-profundity; a hiss popping almost rhythmically; a piano note or ringing clean guitar note burrowing into your unconscious. An elliptical start to the evening.
The Organ Grinder’s Monkey
Quite a different thing was The Organ Grinders Monkey; one high tech man with earpiece foldback, headphone mic, shiny fender jaguar and slick laptop/processing unit, Tearing through a highly structured set of songs. Jittering drums, bass pulses, odd swoops, heavily processed vocals, everything stopping and juddering in bizarre places, its sing-a-long in a warm jets pop way, if you can get round the leaps of logic, that is. A highlight comes where he hands over a controller to an audience member to mangle (filter; tremolo) the end of a song. The whole set seems like a battle between his innate song-writing ability and the flighty imagination that just wants to turn this knob, try this effect, stutter edit. Ending on a stuck CD lock.
By the time he hit the stage Asmus Tietchens had already given us two sneaky sets of minimal pings and bops on the elektrocreche – he seemed quite smitten. His actual performance was a restrained and masterful set of digital clicks and warm tones, light hums, space noises and Spooky shimmers. It’s low key and mesmerising, creepy with barely perceptible shifts in tone followed by cascades of skittering insect feet between the speakers. At one point a gated German speaker tries to hold a conversation with an alien who appears to be travelling backwards through time. The sound appears to reach escape density, but it’s not really a climax, its beyond that kind of thing: a staccato minor bass distracts the human voice who’s still trying to talk, in the distance a spaceship enters the void, it changes, opens up into toneful knocks and crickets.