A Tinnitus Special

May 2022
The Rossi Bar

It surprised me that we haven’t had more people using mobile devices play at The Spirit of Gravity, around 2010 I was convinced they’d sweep all before them, but they never did, we’ve had a few acts use them as sound sources, but Fizzell brings them centre stage as the major part of his tech, with an outboard processing unit and a little mixer. His set starts with filtered and modulated speech, well I assume speech as it has something of the rhythms and patterns of speech but garbled into pure sound. This ebbs and flows until it’s replaced by a sine bass, rhythmic slab of synth pad, and then a rhythm set by an odd loop of a matchbox drawer being popped, and an odd very 80s sounding bass synth line. He gets working on this building up a warbling rumble in the background. There’s a passage of really nice bell like tones against occasional detuned bass notes. It’s a set that chops from this to that, the next passage is like being clobbered by someone with a typewriter, this section actually builds and develops into something layered, lots of staccato lines warping around each other with a songlike structure and a really good tone bassline, and a really funny breakdown that almost gets clobbered by a fat drone. But when the main lines come back in, there are a couple of other nice indirections like that, too. The last section again seems based around chunks of voice based sound sources, this time filtered down to some pretty strange sounding bass tones.

Second on were The Zero Map, their first show since they played well before lockdown 3 years and 3 days previously…. Karl and Chloe set up behind their tables of stuff, stringed instruments, wind instruments, effects, a Theremin a plethora of stuff. Starting off quietly with muted bass guitar string scrapes and odd sounds played through end of a tunnel reverb, they incrementally build, slowly; sooo slowly: looped long sung exhalations, some odd  guitar flourishes, drones, quivers, I don’t know whats. Then about 15 minutes in it really starts to amp up, the bass drones take on a slightly fiercer tone, the guitar is just that bit more distorted, the drones louder adopting a bit more bite. There’s a slicing detuned guitar that circles ominously. Some voice rather than singing, some wailing, the Theremin gets a bit of work. Finally Karl (as he always does) gets right into my tinnitus frequencies and I have to block my ears for a while. It’s getting good and thick now, a soup of sound, like falling through 2001s stargate. A proper bass roar from Chloe, some actual feedback from somewhere. Some squalling synth sound. Bit of Harsh noise Wall to finish. Bang and done.

And finishing us off for the evening was Teignmouth Electron. I’d seen Maureen play at Wrong Music’s National noise Day event as part of Polly Shuan Kang Band who were excellent, and don’t think I’d seen her since. Maureen had twin cassette players and effects and a few small objects on her table, she stood behind it robed with her hands wide in benediction. “Without freedom of choice there is no creativity” the voice slips backwards at once point then slips away altogether overtaken by a gurgling toney burble. I can make out voices, but not the words. Resonant tunnels seem to spirit the meanings away. Some stately musical parts push through the murk, barely audible, over lowly clanking machines or whistling factories. There’s a nice little riff on that distinctive Casio organ sound. The voices on the cassette cajole and berate inconsonantly, indecipherably; tube trains come and go behind the walls. There are long passages of unfolding, evolving sounds, star trek fx, passages of loops; repetition. There are uncertain pitch controls, pinch wheels seem oval warbling the recordings. A super slow William Burroughs intones against a return of the Casio part. The Casio is replaced by a new synth part, higher penetrating constantly rising against a plethora of women’s voices, conversational looped and frrrp rewound. Frrrp rewound. Frrrrrrrrrp rewound. A murky guitar riff peeks through and disappears behind some proselytising. How nice. Everything drops down to a single woman’s voice, conversational that falls into a loop. The plaintive Casio returns along with Bill and a hymn. “you are not adhering to the current…” then a jangle of the small table bell and its done.