White crusty muffins

December 2023
The Rossi Bar

Starting with Llaabb wwoorrkk, white coated boffins surrounded by an array of identifiable and unidentifiable objects, things to rattle, buttons to push, things to bash and things to gong. An array of percussion, from the tiniest up to a meter wide gong and an East European clone of a Putney VCS. What’s not to love, it’s the first outing for Dolly’s new project with an old friend Simon, and it marvellous, short vignettes of synth business and percussion and whistling, starting with what sounds worryingly like feedback to the sound engineer, but is in fact deliberate, that gives way to a lovely pulsing, with the mentioned whistling. The next piece is chimes and enveloping swoops of synthy-ness. Some lovely modulations unfolding. I’m going to concentrate inevitably on the showy synth, but it’s all really well framed by Dolly’s subtle percussive accompaniment. It’s all marvellously radiophonic as can’t be helped given the sound source, filmic and science fiction-y at times, wailing and droning buzzes in the wind. A set for closing the eyes and waiting for the pictures.

Second up was Secret Nuclear; and it’s not just me that thinks this was a cracking Secret Nuclear set, it’s now available via Bandcamp if you get the urge to listen to it in full. Dorking’s finest. Outflanking us at the start with a white noise/ blasting wind sound (field recording? Noise set?) before settling into a bug buzzing bass and ticking drum machine. The melodic sounds are John Carpenter-ish, OMINOUS. And slowly developing. It’s nearly halfway into his set before we hear a bass drum, and that provides rhythmic punctuation rather than an obvious beat. Even the arpeggios are unnerving, the audio samples murky and confusing sounding like they’ve been ripped from VHS.  The second song breaks into an orgy of glitchy bitcrushing before hitting a fat drone. About 20 minutes into the set a full rhythm track gets in under the heavy drones to push us along with the melody line. Then everything really comes together for the last song, the beats are suitably propulsive, the melodic lines hooky, the bass monstrous, it’s all just creepy enough, it even has a little dub version of itself in the middle. It’s another set with film score undertones.

And finally we have The Yorkshire Modular Society, he has inevitably a racked up modular, in a case that slopes up away from the table with a DR-9 drum machine underneath it, that’s sole function as far as I can tell is to have its light on so it looks nice reflected off the shiny brushed aluminium bottom of the Rack case…. and what he plays is a slowly unfolding generative drone set, ish. Is it constant enough to be drones? I’m not sure, it has high levels of almost repetition, the sound is enveloping and at a volume that it’s almost physical and warm; something to wallow in. At points Dom, ex of Brighton, gets up from his kit and wanders around to ensure the sound is right out in the room. There are sounds that come and go, a whistling wind, a washing swooshing synth, a thrum, a bass that sneaks in rattles everything and then slowly fades away again. Mind rinsing. It’s constant and constantly shifting, a drone, not a drone.