The Rossi Bar
The first act of the evening is Ensemble 1, sitting in (as has been the case a few times recently) for an act that couldn’t make it down. It turned out really well. Basically it was one person, Tom, a guitar, one effects unit and a looper. So a lot more minimal that we’re used to seeing with “real instrument and effects” setups. I think minimal being the operative word. He took his lead from Terry Riley’s “in C”, in that instead of layering up a bass line and a percussion part and something noisy etc., he started with small pointillist picked guitar lines, which locked together moving forward, enhancing each other replacing earlier parts, progressing always shifting. Yes it did layer up and build, even reaching a crescendo about 2/3 of the way through – but as I say not in the usual kind of manner. It was intricate. Delicate. Finessed even. There is a second slighter crescendo involving some light strumming and a small amount of distortion towards the end and that’s it.
The second act was Gary Short in his Monzen Nakacho disguise. He has eschewed the space visuals but still plays what I inherently feel is space music. It all sounds super analogue coming as it does off his laptop, nice little detunes and vibratos on various tones. He starts down tempo, a wash and chimes, light chittering percussion and slow development, some prepared some played. The key changes in the first song provoke the ghost of Piero Umiliani oddly. The second song steps it up, both fast and slow, with flashing arpeggios and slow-motion tonal bass drum washed about with a gritty tailed tuned down snare. Halfway through this gives way to some ray gun effects, and then we’re back into space, this falling through time segues at some length into the next song, evoking lost eons and tumbling starships. The third song when it arrives has massive string synths and fat analogue sounding bass and some proper squelch and after some development goes out on the groove of bass and percussion. The fourth song is a brief creepy nursery chime led horror waltz. The last number it’s only fair to say is a Moroder inspired stomper of the highest quality.
Adam Bushell and Will Prentice perform Alvin Lucier
Rounding off the evening we had firstly Adam Bushell performing “I am sitting in a room”, after which he was joined by Will Prentice for “Criss Cross” both pieces written by Alvin Lucier. The first explores the sonics of a room by having the performer reading a text out into the room, recording it (in this case through a big old mic at the back) and then playing that recording back into the room, recording it and so on… It’s interesting and this is the third venue he’s performed it at for us. It degenerated fairly quickly into a spacey quite toppy drone with insect buzzes which I wasn’t expecting. “Criss Cross” is quite a different beast. Will and Adam sat opposite each other each with a guitar laying down in front of them plugged into an amp. They each had an e-bow on a single string, one tuned down from the normal note and one tuned up, they set the strings droning and at a set rate moved towards the normal note then on to where the other had been. This sets up all sorts of things in the room. You notice first the notes beating as they do when you tune a guitar, then you may accidentally move your head and all hell breaks loose inside as your mind tries to cope with what happens. On one level it’s a simple thing, on another…. wow