Invisible friends can be real friends, too

April 2024
The Rossi Bar

Starting the evening we had I’m Dr Buoyant with a set founded on his heavily sample based new album. Its starts with a loop of what sounds suspiciously like half a John Barry orchestral phrase, with a tension building pause, superseded by a looped short orchestral jab. Finally Tony gets stuck in with some effects and a switch around with another stab, the two of them circling each other, with pings and whooshes. Another layer of brass on a much longer loop. The delays make it all a bit delirious. Then suddenly it’s into a slower more sonorously lovely phrase. Hmm oboes… and chimes, looping, looping, near repetition breeding disorientation. There’s a guitar phrase almost identical to the chimes swapping with it set against distorted seabirds. Some speech sits just above a slowly circling whistling breathy wind, the whistle goes and it all gets more ominous until a thumped beer bottle bang! Bang! Bang! Pause. Offset against this a distorted string does a slightly delayed matching rhythm. They both briefly step up. The sound is thickened with delays and slower sounds, bass hums. The rhythm steps up against. Its nervous, twitchy, some quick synth-y burbles. Insistent. Space laser zaps. There is a slow build-up of waves and an ominous undercurrent of delay feedback that swells to the end. The whole set is a really disorienting psychedelic repetition, slow evolution and textures

Gagarin starts his set off quietly, water, slow pads, before the warm middle-y arpeggio starts up set against whooshes and what must be called a pretty banging beat comes blasting in – uncertainly at first, but then pow. Bass drum pounding,pinging percussive sounds, the occasional tinging hi-hat. A cold long note, slowly evolving timbre. And a strong humming riff. It’s taken the recorded version of the track and used it for something much more insistent and driving. The beats stop and we have an almost jazzy set of flourishes out to end. The second track starts with beachy steps, or wet leaf steps, perhaps. A drone starts up, pulsing, bass-y, a thinner slow melodic line, matched by a lovely reedy counter line and then very electronic synthesiser, all working together building, watching, ticking hi hats tickle in, then the booming bass drum: boom boom  boom bdum. More relaxed this time if equally big, then a big sub-bassline that rolls up and down its notes. Everything now drops down to the rhythm tracks. A scratching over them. The melodic lines come back imperceptible until suddenly you notice you’re in the middle of them. The third track starts with a repeating nasal synth line of a rattling tonal electric motor synth. Birdsong and a fast hissing hi-hat pattern, followed by quitter shapeless bass drum, and staccato snare, the synth figure keeps going and the beat speeds along. Super low bass synth line pushes everything along even harder. Graham tapping away on percussion lines, interweaving, a choir sample “oo-ahhs”. A bit more of that birdsong, but this feels a long way from the mellow ambience of “Corvid”. The track segues almost seamlessly into “Stanmer” starting with slow piano notes echoed against the birdsong, it’s a stunning piece he conceived up at The Willow Dome on what is now the Eco-musicology project site at Stanmer Organics. The piano line continues, almost a repetition, but each time through slightly different.  A string pad slowly underpins the piano, and eventually a slow drum comes in, again not quite looping, hi-hat, and then a synth line that follows the piano. It gently eases back out to the slowly dissolving piano and birdsong. A set that worked really well in reverse to what almost anyone else would have done.

And finally we had Melancholic Robot Tantrum easing into his set with a pure warbling set of reversed bell like tones dodging round each other, then a stately buzzing bass in foghorn timing. The bells drop a couple of octaves and then a monster mid-tempo beat kicks in along with some detuned rhythmic synth noises. Hi-hats pick up the energy. Then a vicious noise synth ramp. This is the main melodic component. There is a slightly malevolent air to the piece, it lives in that place where you aren’t sure if it’s repetition or s l o w evolution., the rhythm cuts out and three or four delay feedback strands carry us into the next track, identified by a thunderous jungle rhythm and noise bass. This is driving. Full on, the noise synths just adding passing juggernaut washes. The bass solid. There are no breakdowns, just powering through. The melodic line here provided a metal on metal screech. At some stage the bass breaks up into a cut staccato 8th note battering. The rhythm eventually just falls apart. The next starts with fast pulsing bass and hammer snare. The drums sourced from abstract sounds this time round. Odd noises rhythmically punctuate the bass. Eventually a hissed beat murks up around the bass, and everything morphs to let it in, then a much slower almost Laibach rolling beat takes it out. Everything around that becomes sparer, dubbed punctuation. Then a lighter jungle rhythm floats in. The density overwhelms us then thins out suddenly. Ending on a bass drum, voice (?) and more feeding back effects. A slower D’n’B beat starts the next track with an even slower march beat restraining it. The bass is a double off beat, the drum track evolves quickly, new snares endless changes, the bass coarsening in sound. Its fast/slow, head-nodding. The next one starts with a superfast thrumming bass, syncopated drums work around it, some nice white noise snare, rising synth notes. A breakdown at last for the drums to get all Drum and Bass-y again, and then another build. Some squelching, and a rolling interlocking set of sounds driving us on, the bass thickens , expands and dominates turning into a continuous rumbling morphing note. Another breakdown for something that sounds like a version of the Get Carter soundtrack recalled in a nightmare, while a racketing build builds up hysterically under it. And it all ends chaotically again. We have a few minutes left, unexpectedly, so another track is done, but it takes a while to find. It’s another junglistic monster, this time the rattling fed by drones and pads. This one has a lot going on in the beats they evolve and change constantly. The drones are more subtly altered until you realis that everything is this nasty noise and then some squelchy bass starts in and the drums scatter and everything stops.

Many thanks for the video shot by Tony Bowall: