Category: SOG-BLOG

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.

The Summer breaks

September 2022
The Rossi Bar

Standing in for Ingrid Plum at a few days’ notice we had Electric Ape, a longstanding audience member and a member of the [beep] group as well as starting his own Kosmische night, I find it hard to believe Simon hasn’t played for us before.

Set up on the stage floor with his modular synth angled up before him with a tidy tray of effects next to him he started off with a lovely unfolding set of drones. Slow chimes, breaths, the occasional wood block. Then there was a subtle shift into almost Martin Denny territory, very exotic mid-tempo percussion, overtaken by an electric hihat and booming bass, a little piano chord here or there and a very eighties sounding string synth. Nice. The next piece is almost all percussion, up-tempo, rim shot, hi tom, shaker, maybe more Afrodesia, if we’re still talking Denny, a wind gets up and a little sonic LFO activity on it, whirling through the slight shift in percussive balance. I can hear what sounds almost like Matt Johnson muttering in the background. The percussion shifts again. Building intensity with little snare roll, then its a drop,  and an end. Theresa little gap for applause. Then a boinging bass drum, hyperactive rattly hi hat, more speedy high toms, woodblock. A little gentle interlude of soft piano, then it’s back into the rhythm, then the interlude again, then a  little unison, and the rhythm thins out, and goes, the interlude takes us to a slow down into the delay tunnel of resonance.

Shit Creek is next, a warm drone from the keyboard starts, soon to be enveloped by a long note off his violin fed into a looper, they slowly rotate around each other; you can feel the beating and modulation in them, rasps and gurgles form and bubble. Some shimmers slowly emerge, what sounds like the Shangri Las “oooohhh”ing in the next basement, it’s all indistinct and revolves very slowly, blissfully, a slight warble of what could be feedback subtly swans about. It’s all very subtle, enveloping, not a lot seems to be happening even though Lewis is very busy behind his bits and pieces, it’s blissful. Marvellous.

In contrast to the apparent near stasis of Shit Creek, we have the hyperactivity of Yes Indeed. My best description of them was “like two seven year old musical prodigies trying to reconstruct ‘Yessongs’ from a single listen”. I still think that’s reasonable. They have a backing track, and play bass guitar, keyboards, and other things over it. Starting with singing distantly off mic and electric piano. It veers between very structured and completely freeform in a quite erratic manner. There’s headbanging and duck calls. Moments sound like Tuxedomoon, then space chords offset by honking, nicely rounded bass runs. Fat organ chords butt up against lead fuzz bass and twinkling lead piano. Is that a kazoo? Remarkable, haven’t seen anything quite that off the wall in a while.

No Looper

August 2022
The Rossi Bar

Secret Nuclear starts with a nice fat drone that gradually resolves itself into a 2 note bassline with a ticking hi hat. Over this we get some very Trans Europe melodic lines. The droneline resonates out into nothing, then comes back as a muted electric piano riff. The second piece alternates fat squelchy bass and pinging acidy beeps, they gradually merge. The third starts with an empty wind that slowly tonalises around nocturnal clicking and growling wildlife. Another little pinging riff sets us off in another direction. The growling returns, detuned and unsettling that’s overtaken by noise and nasty synth slapping. The next piece starts up with a sparkling piano riff, a sneaky staggering bass slips in with the first drum part in a while, the piano comes and goes, the drums fade and more parts interweave around the piano ending on a riff that just repeats into delay for a nice while. The next track starts out like Dick Hymans “Bell and Tony” with a bit of squelch underneath, a nice meandering top line gives it some depth before a rhythm track bubbles up like a crunchy robot in a fish tank. It drops down to a one note bassline for the end. The final track gets into spooky territory, a delayed two not pinging riff, gloomy growling bass, lots of swampy atmosphere, a slowly arpeggiating Goblin-ish riff finishes off the atmosphere properly.

Mark Wagner is next up, just wearing a pair of shorts with a set of hand pricked Hermetic tattoos covering his body, microphone and his kit set up on a shiny black clad alter. He plays his new album, Son of the Sun, distorting and twisting it into new and alluring shapes, using the album as a starting point for something a lot more interesting. The first track is sparse drums, ominous basses and stentorian vocals. Everything is louder and nastier than on the album. The vocals thicken up, the synths more Carpentarian. It’s pretty big stuff, of a piece, really coherent; focussed, the bit of “Shout, Shout” was a bit of a surprise, but works really well in context. The middle of the set he plays fairly straight  but towards the end he gets into some nasty glitching of the songs again, mangling beats and backing vocal tracks, some almost Gabba moments there.

So finishing off the evening was Rotten Bliss, her cello feeding – left foot right foot – into separate effects chains. She starts with a raspy mid tone line. Occasionally swelling out into something more sonorously bassy, but really taking a free improv approach, bit of side of the bow to give it a proper scrape, not too much going on with the effects at first. Eventually a two not blast makes itself into a refrain, alternating with what she was doing before. She gets into something that could be a tremolo, before some proper blasts of screeching noise. She lets that unfold for a while. Lulls us into a false sense of security with some more of that tremolo business, then gives our ears a bit more of a lash, but at a much lower volume. She rides that for a while, layering it up with a nice simultaneous bass line. She goes out on a different mid-range line from here, lots of space, almost repeated motifs. More space. Avoiding the smooth full cello sound, she keeps the two effect chains in trim, reining back the overloads and distortions, a little melodic line rasps out of this space. It fills, takes larger form, marching, developing. Eventually she moves off onto a variation of this melody, developing that for a while. It reverts back to a polka inflected version of the previous melody. She keeps that going while with the other foot gives us a few delicious pulses of noise, then winds it right down for a super slow motion run through to end.

That hot week

July 2022
The Rossi Bar

So first thing we had as well as the advertised Nuclear Whale we had the bonus of a completely banjo free Fane (I was a bit disappointed with that to be honest) But he did bring some acoustic instrumentation – but also – electronics! Starting with the pair of them on a super fat multi layered drone – organy, but nicely buzzing then added to with nasal whistles and bass nastiness. James started reading from some prepared Gnosticism, there’s a palpable tension to the drone by this point. There’s a deft transition when he stops speaking a modulation to the drone until it’s just a bleepy warble with a nasty glitchy rhythm struggling to come through. James picks up his acoustic guitar and starts a tape of bagpiping. The beeps and rhythm slowly form into actual things from their nebulosity. Shimmers, washes, drums all separate out and run on under James’ strumming. Jon takes his turn in a more declamatory style from his book. The drone storms back in shivery and strong with some chunky rumbling and beatwork under it. We get into a section of whirrs and more acoustic guitar, Jon has some vocal samples he gets into stuttering repetition asJames goes Americana on us. Although he does manage to get it playing backwards by the gentle fade out of the set.

Then it was the return of Robyn Steward, after a brief introduction to her sound world she starts with a breathy loop of her trumpet octaved down for a bass warble, a nice breathing part of mid-range, and a plaintive almost Cornet like line over the top. Stunning. The second song starts with another fairly slow 6 note trumpet line that underpins everything. Over this she harmonises some pads layered into chords, and takes a higher line for the next layer pf loops and drops in the occasional bass wash. She adds a heavily delayed vocal part. The third song seems to unfold immediately, a drone of whistles, bass trumpet pads and mid-range washes. Over this is more developed delayed trumpet part, again fairly melancholy, but this time wandering all over the acoustic spectrum. Some vocal parts lurk around in the background. The final part is more up-tempo seems to be something about trains, its starts with a nicely turned vocal loop that encapsulates a steam train really nicely. There are more interlocking trumpet parts for this Looping round, stuttering ribald notes, melodic parts, the train slips over the hill and stops.

And finally it was Eyal Talmor and his broken synth, he also has some other devices and delivers a set of great subtlety and invention.  You can read this but it makes more sense to go and watch the video on our YouTube channel with the best set of headphones you can find. Anyway, it starts with a chirruping uber murmuration, replaced by a big slow disjointed almost beat of squelching and booms. He uses the full range of the PA, quivering high ends, proper bass, the depths of sub bass, it’s never overbearingly loud but properly sonic with a lot of volume and timbre changes. Rhythms come and go, the sounds from the synth vary wildly, some distortions some fantastically digitally detailed. A lot of dynamic variation, some things unfold slowly some scurry around developing and fading in seconds. His hands move around the keyboards “Like Bobby Crush”, according to one audience member I spoke to, working away at the buttons – there’s one moment where you can see he’s just poised about to make a change but something happens … and… he’s just hanging waiting, enjoying that moment then the moment is gone and he’s back at it.