Endless travelator

March 2023
The Rossi Bar

Will a member of management please go to the security panel.

A boom arm full of loops of quarter inch tape hangs obscuring our view of Ascsoms as he sits at his tape player and effects. He introduces the pieces tonight as being from a work in progress called “A state of emergency”, a homage to klaxons, alarms and such. And it’s full on radiophonics, a lovely cascade of beeps and whirrs spills out of the PA, occasional tonal swirls, that are eventually swallowed up by a quiet repeating rasp. A fuzzy ill-defined drone hovers away in the background as the swirls occasionally continue and a Tuxedomoon shimmer whooshes through. A buzzing fly eventually realises itself as a thinned-out air raid alarm, pocket calculator tones away. Adam occasionally gets up to refresh the tape he’s using as a sound source. The tones vary, there’s a descending run that ends in bassy delay feedback. A circular saw seems to have defined pitch, everything slurs. One tape seems to have oud playing on, that he picks notes of particular frequencies to highlight that give us a rhythmic patter. Car horns unobtrusively provide a honking beat. A laser battle breaks out in the quietest traffic jam in the world. Stereo sonar pings!  It’s all surprisingly warm & emotional.

Jo Thomas is sat behind a Chapman stick laid out horizontally on the table in front of her. She plays with by hammering on to the strings, her hand like a piano player’s; reaching for the widest chord, she has some field recordings which come in under her sparse bass lines. Rhythmic leaf crunch, gives way to something ill-definably thumpier. I think of the Chapman stick as being a bass, but she gets some nice high notes out of it, including some nicely sustained feedback, which she distorts into a penetrating grind. Jo is also not immune to a little radiophonic warble here and there. Starting subtly then amping it up to overwhelm the field recordings. All the time making runs & rumblings on the stick. She runs for a while on a really nice abstract loop given rhythm by repetition, its quiet with a few notes, rumbles and whistles. We have walking / raindrops / knocking giving a counter beat, then a sudden rush of sub bass and take off rumble evolving into wind-tunnel  roar and improv rattle. Everything drops away leaving the sub-bass to loop away with sparse chords layered over.

Simon James rounds off the evening with his famous Buchla synth, once again the synth set up facing the audience and he sits with his back to us – we can see him working away: patching; adjusting, tweaking. He has programmed up a lot of sounds from his neighbourhood in Shoreham, the harbour, the beach, the wind, the occasional chime. The wind gradually becomes tuned and effected, a drone underpinning it. It drops away to the wind again, lock sirens, the distant warehouses. Distant foghorns boom gently, as we enter a factory, metal is dropped and lifts hum. We enter a world of water, waves against a wall, and Simon in his car talking about the wind of the sea buffeting his car. Lorries running past the bass off their exhaust enhanced by the Rossi bar’s PA. The final section starts with what sounds like a small wind turbine judging by the pitch, tuned up and down and briefly sawtoothed, ghosted with delay and some more proper bass and it suddenly stops to general laughter before recommencing back in the watery pool. Sirens woop and a ship engine throbs and vibrates past