Category: SOG-BLOG

I don’t think it’s a sawtooth

January 2023
The Rossi Bar

The first show of the year, its cold, the room is full. Onstage is Iplu returning after a year and a day. He presses play and wanders off into the crowd. A drum and bassy break a descending bass, slowly picks up while we find out about Haribo, pies and non-UK brewed beers from the audience. The melody is nicely detuned and tremelo’d.  By the time he’s finished and returned to the stage, the track is winding down. The second track starts with a 4 to the floor and shiny pad that shifts around, nicely before and old style house pause and off into a slightly more melancholic melodic line. The third starts with a skippy beat with a tasty ping and pitch bending mid line.  Another one of them pauses and the rhythm just churns up into something thicker and much tastier. And eventually we get the extremes and proper (sub) bass line against top end piano. Another change to half tempo. The next song starts with someone telling a story about being an asshole in a car against a really minimal backing, no beats, slow space piano. Next track starts with a flexatone, not a physical one, through many effects and plenty of odd noises. Creepy. Gradually everything is just effected into a mush from which you can faintly hear the sounds of the descent to hell. An organ drone, no two, slightly different organ drones. A deep bass line, a squelchy top line, “excuse me”, murky rhythms. The top line goes down to again a slightly melancholic lo-fi whistle sound.  “Feeling Quirky!” a dirty bass, the dirtiest of the year to date, suddenly its tempo halves and Arthur starts talking over it. “I sit in a café listening to Strawberry Switchblade pretending if the weather’s this shit I’m in Glasgow in the 80s”.

Simon Pyke is next up with his first live performance in 12 years. Not that you could tell, he’d obviously been biding his time. It starts with a 4 note granulated riff, several interleaving kinds of drone, a stuttering piano part on several pianos in different ranges, then filtering nicely away into a slightly simpler riff then a drone that modulates straight up high to a lead melodic line. At the same time a slow, slow bass part creeps in and one of the subdued piano parts comes back in. the melodic line is all over the place tonally constantly modulating timbre and pitch. Now we have a Harmonium line. The final nautical part looped and then chopped. A one note piano on the 8s clears the decks and we hear water. The harmonium comes back with a new, higher line. Almost a concertina. Then again more in the middle. A swirl of many organs, church-ish, flurry around us before settling into a pulsating fat, interlayered pad. Slowly it morphs into an organ arpeggio with a big melodic line, the high notes counterpointing the rhythm. The harmonium is back again. It thins out to a paper fine flutey tremble for quite a while before a simple harmonium figure comes in, then repeats with interesting effects applied before disappearing into some kind of rising motif. A melodic line comes in and everything around it detunes away from it, and it drops done into a fat bassy drone. The harmonium again, pumping against big doomy chords that slur into southern gothic songs before bouncing back as a rhythmic counterpoint to the pumping rhythm that’s still feeding in the background. The next passage starts with what sounds like the dulcimer tones taut snare played with knitting needles, this is enveloped in a massive space reverb, to be subsumed into the sound of crumpling paper and piercing whistles. It ends with each slow note detuning into a an endless pitch drop.

Finally to finish off the first show of the New Year, we have Automouse, Kate Reed in overalls with her head in a box with the single vast blinking eye. The introduction is underpinned by a hammering bass drum and a lo-fi bell riff, snares start to alternate with the bass drum; a bar of each, then a bass, I can’t describe it – deep but with that weird cadence so you could hear it on a phone,  its all dirty and noisy, getting more distorted as the tension rises, then suddenly the noise falls away and it sounds ominous, about to break into something still getting tenser. Then it all falls apart into the next track, slower, a big flapping buzzing bass following the four to the floor, some very nasty noises puncturing the rhythm, it breaks down to gunshot snare and a BitCrusher melody. Not melody; top line, and something broken crunching around in there. The snare and bass drum do that alternating thing again. And then a breakbeat and a horrible murky detuned brass riff like I’m standing outside a Wrong Music night down at the Volks in the late 2000s. Everything falls apart around a rearrangement of the break beat then a buzzing bass brings a break played on a old tobacco tin,  and the filthiest bassline yet flattens everything around it, filling every space in the Rossi Bar with its heavy breath. This one appears to have 3 separate basslines playing at once, then it all gets barged aside by a monster clean loud 4 bar drum riff underpinned by a 2 note bassline topped off by some tasty feedback. We get some mid- range rhythmic stabs interlocked with a white noise percussion part that syncopates like a fever dream JAZZ THING. And we get a breakdown the relief is tangible respite, our delirious minds can rest before the hoover starts to berate us. And back into a slow breakbeat and rumbling bass drone. A squeaking gate counterpoint to the rhythm comes in that seems on the verge of modulating into a melodic line as the drums drop out. And eventually the drums dismember themselves into a 4 note bassline. Again noise, clattering, feedback tonal dropping into great squalls and again the BitCrusher playing a half tune. The drums are almost lost in distortion and general racket, but can be felt. Then everything empties out to a groove, soon to be overlaid by noises that sound sourced in age old cassettes of street vendors cries from the 50s. Then we get into a more insistent rhythm track with 4 bit bowed bell scrapes around it. Roaring bass parts, feeding back delays, doubled up snares, the sounds of short circuit sparks and shocks. Everything becomes part of the beat. At some stage around here Kate goes walkabout into the dancing audience (yes, I know – again!) It ends and I’m laughing maniacally.

What another great night.

Before the chill

December 2022
The Rossi Bar

sThe evening started with Jake Smiths return this time as The Warped Love Group; starting with a bell and tube noises, a shimmery delay, a tonal siney, bass drops with a hint of an organ offbeat. Subtle sonic effects bubble away just drifting in and out of hearing. Is that a guitar strum, a voice, the delay modulates, the bassline mutates slightly. Are we on the second piece. Whistling, the sea. A full blown organ skank. A ticky tack rhythm track. The delay goes full on copycat tape delay and a stripped down new bassline and male vocal comes through. Two note clock organ. Repetition. But not repetition. Always evolving. Shifting. The bassline changes again, the organ only slightly. The rhythm track gets lost in shuffling ball bearings. We lose half the notes in the bassline, new voices. New bassline. Same shimmer. Stray percussion; slow actual drums. Ponderous. Actual singing from the computer. The organ skank is back. This bassline may be from Roots Radics. Everything drops and the last syllable from the vocal is stretched beyond recognition.  New bassline, a rhythm made of breath. Electric piano. A melodic part. A Rockers beat. A clocked snare, double up, a smear of a bassline. No snare. Electric piano, submerged by something that resolves into a two note snare. A vocal snatch from earlier. It builds like something off Dark Side of the Moon. Shiny. Ends on the bell.

Next Emma Papper’s new project with Jason Smart “A Day Trip to Europa”, Emma on laptop and Electronic Wind Synthesiser, Jason on words. Arpeggios start; with warped noises from the EWS swirling round it. There is something of the Space Age Bachelor Pad to the start, when flight was glamorous rather than a threat. Jason soothes as we set off. The second song is thicker more luxurious, the arpeggios muted, surrounding sonics slightly awry, unsettling. Weightless. The third starts with picked guitar, as Jason sings, we orbit Jupiter’s ocean moon. The next one is all drifting liquid. The next one continues like that but vocally goes all Solaris, but with fish. Jaunty guitar chords start the next singalong: “Who put the cosmos in my cocktail” I assume, it has a nice cosmic middle 8. The next track starts more disturbingly- random beeps. Seems to be about Euthanasia, a bossa nova beat referring back to that mid 90s lounge revival again, just adds another unnerving layer. The next one has picked guitar effected to almost harpsichord, and EWS spirals. Jason sings back to earth through bass burbles, swirls and twitters. Or he could be singing from the bottom of the European sea.

And the quite literally finishing us off is Chris midi_error in his Gun Boiler guise, promising us a set starting at 200bpm rising to 1200 at the end. He’s dressed up in a white mask and green spike wig, and in his garish shirt and jacket looks quite alarming. His set is surprisingly melodic and not as jarring as we may have anticipated. Staccato string stabs and superfast washes lull us into a false sense of security before the kick does come in along with the rattling snare, the drum rolls start turning into washes already: Chris has set out his stall. Submarine pings, I start laughing already. The drops to the kick just sound amazing. Some backwards stuff on the next breakdown. Its interesting enough to keep us distracted from what he’s doing. I assumed this would be brutal, and purely percussive, and although melody is going to be scarce it is surprisingly musical. I’m not going to describe each song individually, especially as get into abusing them with his Kaos pad. Sometimes they try and seduce us by pretending to be half speed, so we’re like “Oh, yeah?” before pow, in comes the bass drum again. I wish Wrong Music was still going at this point, this is made for the Volks. The second one has a sound like a hyperactive 7 year old bashing a 6” nail around the inside of a beer tankard. It does indeed get faster as we go, without getting furious or even dark. It’s fun. One track has a vocal sample, needless to say its incomprehensible and reduced to hypnotic percussion, he uses this as an excuse to do a slowdown. It doesn’t help us work out what it is. Is it like a frog in hot water, it seems normal. I can’t really process the differences in tempo now. By the final track the bass drums begin to blur into each other. The hi-hat’s a smear.

A bit intense for this time of year

November 2022
The Rossi Bar

A busy night, starting off with a set by Evey, who runs the Electronic Music Open  Mic nights at The Rose Hill. Starting with a harpsicord arpeggio underpinned by a bassy wash, the harpsicord gets filtered out into something slightly spookier, other noises lurk about underneath, ending with a scream/machine noise that just overrides everything before fading off into reverb. The second track starts with a nicely resonant bassline, something picked and ‘Get Carter’-ish counterpoints this before a sub bass line swings in. Our first hint of drums comes in with a nicely reverbed out snare. The resonant bass is constantly moving, hardening the sound. The third track starts with what sounds like a one note bassline repeated on 3 instruments, that resonant picking sound comes back to pick up the melody line again. A full on churning beat comes in, with a noise drone and the lead line fills out, the noise mutates into a pulsating feedback line. The beat straightens out into a driving simplicity and everything else tumbles along in its wake. The next track starts with a big crushing rhythm, against this an electric piano and the chime work against each other to melodic effect. Lovely. The tempo picks up for the next one, a rhythm track working against the lead line, with a nicely detuned space noise doing odd things over it and a hammering riff building under it. The 6th song is short and spacious, just the chiming lead and some simple percussion. The penultimate track starts with a nice drone, before a intricate rhythm part swirls in under electric piano. The final track has the chime playing A Baion rhythm in a lower register than usual, against this percussion parts grind, a staccato bass drum, almost 80s snare sound, and eventually a 3 note pad riff with some squelching.

Ingrid Plum provides the tasty sound art filling in our beat-y sandwich of an evening, it’s the launch for her new album, “Corporeality” (available via Ryoanji Records) and the first time any of it has been played out live. The first track “Corporeality” starts with field recordings  of rain & birds, thunder, big pinging  drips into a metal bucket, elements of this get picked up into a subdued rhythm track and Ingrid exhales, shells scrape and the singing bowl gently bongs. Ingrid sings, somehow double tracking her voice on parts. The second piece features a special synth built for her, its starts with some pretty tortured breathing from Ingrid, breath in and out looped and rattly, some sampled speech on a slow loop, washes of white noise/drizzle, cassette organ with an almost bass guitar fuzz tone. The tape chirrups, some overtone whistling/singing from Ingrid. The third piece starts with a heartbeat, a gentle bassy drone that ever so slowly modulates, Ingrid breathes, a slow piano part, Ingrid sings. It has a real stillness.  The next song (“Stutter”) starts with a rhythm track of more sharp inhales/exhalations, looped and layered up to complexity. Staccato words “Are. You. You” tremulous vocalisations all churn into the mix. The final song (“The inversion of a shout”) starts with a clear almost crystalline tonal drone, it must be two drones as we can hear it beating against itself, shells again, breaths, what sounds like very distant monks, Ingrid is whispering. Spooky.

And to finish us off, we have Dhangsha back again. He starts with what sounds like a loop off his Monotron delay, but I don’t think he’d brought it, its has that murky, noisy quality to it that’s so appealing. Its chopped up into a more rhythmic part, delay added, twisted. A bass drum, kicks, stammers, and finally gets on that dancehall tip while the Monotron sound finally swirls itself into the ether. Bass comes booming through, almost totally out of the subs, near formless (Aniruddha was enthused by the PA at The Rossi, the way you could really get into the subs). And we hit a noisy groove. Squelching resonances come in, the drums drop, we get filtering, constantly mutating top lines before dropping down to a filthy bass drone, filtered up into noise, then a new bassline. The drums kick in again and we’re off into another groove. Insidious noises join the rhythm and fade away until we’re lost in delay feedback. This eventually seems to form itself into the next track. A bass drum and staccato hi hat bosh on, the kick overdriven to produce a bass tone, dry snare. Delay. Distorted voices. Effects units seem to pick up elements of the rhythm track to warp into new sounds over everything. Everything drops out for the fattest bass of the evening, berrooom, berroom, and back come the drums. This is the least cluttered by noise of his tracks, lean, driving. Until the breakdown, then we get a detuned counterpoint to the rhythm. The hi hats go just leaving us the bass elements, then everything’s back, new voices, tasteful delay feedback. “Insurrection”. The distortion levels increase, we lose the shape of the sounds, and they’re back again. Then finally we lose the rhythm track to several different delay decays and noise. Tasty.

Conversations after, out on the street

October 2022
The Rossi Bar

Gus Garside returns to the Rossi Bar for this wintery evening show, he stands at the front of the stage with his double bass an array of pedals at his feet. He feeds some long drawn notes from the bass, some rattles  into the pedal chain, puts down the bass and gets down on the floor noisician style to get to grips with his effects chain for a hypnotic opener. The second piece starts with some low key notes thrummed from the bass with the beater into the effects chain, It ends early with an unexpected bit of kit behaviour and a quip that draws a laugh from the audience. The second piece is a return to something he played the week before at an impromptu set at the Green Door Store, all low level subsonics and extended technique creaks. Its abstract and speaker destroying, washes around the room quite nicely. By the end of the piece the sub bass is booming quite ominously.

Then also returning to the Rossi Bar and The Spirit of Gravity we have MelJoann, she’s just about to release a new single from her deep dive into wellness cults (sorry lifestyle brand) and The Mustics™ corporation. We start with an advert for Mustics that ends in a nasty sonic noise and switches directly into the first song the old favourite, “Assfuck the boss” from her last album “HR”, there are some problems with feedback whistles due to monitor problems, but the occasional whistles are mostly in tune. This sing is all massive bass whooshes detuned synths and breathy sarcasm (a feature of her set). The second song “Rainbow language” has a more martial feel, the bass has a monster buzz to it, The third song switches back to the “HR” album for ravey stomp that seems to touch on every decade since the 1970s for synth touches. Then it’s the second Ad. The next song has a more contemporary feel, with rattling trap-ish hi-hats and multiple basslines that tip over into drum and bass frenzy at times. The next comes on like a Kate Bush having been forced to work in a call centre rather than live in Surrey. The last song “Business Card” is crushing bass, strident mid tempo synths and Missy Elliot drum parts.
The whole thing comes on like a head on collision between top rate song writing abilities, Biting satiric anger at the way the modern world tries to consume us all, extreme sonic sensibilities and an incredible sense of world building. I didn’t mention the keytar.

I am Fya (Fire, if you were wondering), hasn’t played for us before, played a set for us based around field recordings made in Barbados while exiled there during lockdown.

The first piece starts with exotic birdsong, into which she passes sporadic percussion and vocals for heavy processing. Bells. Buzzing synth swoops. Glitching. An aeroplane passes. Ominous drones creep in as the vocals circle each other. A bass line shows itself and disappears. Conversation, an old lady talks to us just beyond the comprehension threshold. The bassline turns into extended thrumming notes. A rhythm track is just discernible, the bass starts popping. Tempo goes up to frenetic as the vocal is pitched out of control.  The second track “Second Home” starts with what sounds like a factory noise forced into bassline shape, coarse metallic but tonal, again heavily processed wordless vox. Lots of space, a creepy pad that sounds like wind blowing through a UFO wreck, bells. A staccato hammer mid-range bash where a bassline should be, the bass being long tones and timbres. By the time it finishes it’s a song. There’s a funny conversation about Radiohead. Which I think has something to do with the third song, but that passes me by. This one is built around a loop of something I can almost pinpoint, its rhythmic, has bass and midrange elements that fit quite nicely as a song base. She layers conversation and vocals over this, then a drum loop from about 1990 drops in. She rides this groove with a lengthy vocal section and then it drops away to a fairly abstract half tempo section. The next track features vocals from a young family member, a song she made up. Over a slow rhythm informed by a flapping sound overlaid with a dancehall bass drum and detuned spooky synth. Anthea really gets to work on the Rossi Bars sub bass units on this one with a nice sparse bassline. Tasty. She finishes up with her new single on Rose Hill records “Consciousness” starting with fat bass winds and a ticking rocking chair, then a vocal section (lyrical rather than the previous wordless vocals) some bass structure and a breakdown that brings in a box rattling break, the vocals layer up. Submarine pings.  A vocal breakdown and then the bass distorted returns proud and evil, getting slower and slower, more and more ominous while Anthea pushes her voice, it’s an unexpected end, powerful rather than the beat frenzy I felt was coming. Nicely done.