Category: SOG-BLOG

A pendulum clicks

July 2023
The Rossi Bar

A New Question, a chime, mangled voices reversed electronics and strings. Speaking the effected version seems to irrupt before the words leave the lips. The artist wears a Venetian (?) mask and parka. It’s July before the suns come. Twin aerials of a hidden television seem unused. Suddenly a clatter of interruption, an improv cascade of percussion. Then speaking again over juddering bursts of static. Click and scrape and very creepy breathing. The string riff returns to do Tuxedomoon-esque battle with a backwards organ. Is that some machine starting up. Running water, but not in a relaxing way. Stop. Start. There is an incident where the laptop goes flying and everything stops, but a quick recovery to cheers, and it’s a fairly brutal return. Devil voices. Back-masked. Nice. It’s still a somewhat truncated set, ending abruptly not too long after.

Sonaura follows up, starting with a high pitched whistling off his multi cassette deck just about my tinnitus threshold. Some folding in of bass and then clanger burbles writ as drones lead us on into a buzzing landscape of wide vistas. The slow plod of a time dilated clock keeps time, tone-washed murmurs wash In and out and as if of yore a TV voice tells us something then gets looped. Some slow keyboard part lays in. gently recycling itself. The voices die and some big electronics, Greek, old, powerful slide in. there are sum and difference frequencies beating in the weight of the drones, adding texture and even more depth. They wind out to an evolving three note distorted / reverbed chime modulating slowly off into the distance; into a feeling of dread, repetition. Is that a guitar gently strummed? And a finally verrry verry slow fade out to bliss…

Új Bála also starts with voice (his own) an ill-defined bass sequence like a stammering double bass, and growling synth. Synthetic Whale song, scurries of sequenced slurring tones. In the visuals he folds back in on himself. A staccato drum track bursts into life, a monotone bass pulse providing an almost gabber kick for the drums to form around. Over this radiophonic synth sounds and noise jostle with his vocals, a pause and off back into it again. Everything is rhythm. The rhythm degenerates and falls away to another semi random set of noises, bass buzzes, odd wirbles, that eventually build into something rhythmic, at least the phrasing is rhythmic but the tonalities never repeat. You can nod your head but not sing along. The rhythm fades into wobbling bass and squiggling trebles. Driven over by a large diesel motor and malfunctioning church organ. A bass drone pitched up and down (is that not a drone?) makes a bass line, some epic reverb on it and short pitched squeals give some melodic feel, and some LFO action gives it a soaring, whirring feel. Some other bass tones meld in and it gets all John Carpenter on us as the noise levels amp up, then into some kind of pitch distorted gating frenzy and it’s done.

The hottest show on record

June 2023
The Rossi Bar

We had a bonus guest tonight due to illness with a touring package due to play at The Bees Mouth, so we started off with M G Dysfunction, he was set up in front of the stage in a fine cowboy short and baseball hat, on a high stool. Which he soon abandons. It’s fair to say he splits the audience, and quite quickly. He starts with a nice piano tune, which he quite quickly annihilates with some hideous country style caterwauling. “Fuck the boys in blue”, I thought it was quite funny. That segues into a drone, moving into a grime inflected number. The backing track on the next one has something of Eno’s Discreet Music about it, and he talks over it about the moon & stars. Back into drones and a murky slow bass drum. Very slow. He sings again. Next one up is dedicated to all the Junglists in the audience, he makes some quip about Chocolate Monk that goes over everyone’s head. The tune has nothing to do with Jungle though. Some fat ugly bass drone, circular ranting. The noise rises up within it, ranting continues. This is my favourite part of the backing track. Juddering bassline, noise swirls through various delays, then a modern RnB backing that quickly tips back into the disgusting racket.

So first of the scheduled acts was the welcome return of Dale Frost, minimal drum kit, electronic pads, novelty cymbals (triple decker-ed, dimpled and warped or full of holes) and some other bits I couldn’t see. Starting with a shimmering roll on the synth triggering drum pads interspersed with occasional drums before he fires off a more familiar song set into the pads, is it sequenced, is it played. Both. Neither who knows. But holing down drum parts and synth lines Dale really pushes the idea of the independently controlled multi-limbed drummer to new lengths. It’s great to watch. The next track is more heavily into the beat, the synths more beeping rhythm lines weaving between the drums. Nice steps up when the beat thickens and the synths multiply with delays. The next track is definitely running off a sequencer. An odd whistly line giving way to a steel drum tick, bass drum on the fours. Then I’m not so sure about the sequencer, he seems to be playing the lines. Playing with my mind. Towards the end of this song he gets stuck into the hidden bits of kit, a keyboard and analogue delay, I’m guessing. One song has a nice one note bassline with some chunky stabs before giving way to something jerky that syncopates within a beat. The last song slows it down, with a nice fat bass and some pinging Tom Tom Club synth sounds. It slowly speeds up, the bass getting a bit rawer and groovier, other sounds trailing around it with a melodic synth line emerging in the firing chorus bits of it. And a big organ flourish to end on a high energy finish.

Then the return of f.Ampism, we had him booked in for one of the first shows after lockdown ended, in that spell of Will It Open Or Not. And it didn’t. But here we are now. He advises us to watch the projections rather than himself as he sets up some almost drones. There’s a bit too much going on to be actual drones, swelling, subtly shifting pitches, a hint of growled voice, a smidge of harmonium, a slowly unfolding melodic line that emerges gradually and slinks away. Its the sound of hot sun coming down through unruffled leaves, a hot still day, something stirs indistinctly in the distance. What it is we never mind. I’m drifting; open my eyes and 10 minutes has blissed, passed. Paul is working away, much more active than would be obvious, but the shifts are there, nothing is actually static even if you never noticed it change, it’s all different.  At some point he gets me up to muck about with the monitor and we get some extra modulating midrange reedy layers sliding into the mix. It’s now quite a think complex montage of sounds. Still quite precise and separate, everything pulsing and morphing in its own individual way. It reaches a crescendo but I’m too blissed out to really notice and stops.

Rounding off the evening we have Cornish (via London) artist Yiskāh. Carrying on where Paul left off with a somewhat more menacing drone. Under this she feeds in a vibrating thin whirr the drone starts to vibrate and branch off, into sub bass whoomf and airplane hum. A ghost of a wind sends its icy chill to taunt us. The PA is pushed about as Jess plays with the sonics of the room. A creeping sensation spiders its way into the stew. The sounds is solid, it’s not unpleasant enough to be HNW, but it has a similar monolithic indistinctness; a vast incomprehensibility where it just quietly fills your head and erases sense of time and place, gentle rather than roaring but nonetheless abstract and almost formless. There are touches of tone that emerge from the fog, perhaps slippery streams of feedback that evaporate as you start to latch onto them. Occasionally things in the room vibrate, shifting around as the pitches from the stage evolve. As it winds down, we’re left with the more pitched sounds; wind, a swirl of sea. Tyre on gravel. None of these things.


May 2023
The Rossi Bar

While we were sleeping starts with glitches redolent of a record kept in a damp corner of a cellar for 10 years. Some crackling bass washes slide in with ghost cars and distant bombers heard through ears dropping out from sound pressure. It’s an oppressive start, terrifying. Eventually one of the washed out sounds starts to modulate into something with pitch and we get some drones starting to evolve. A shortwave radio scan of “I am sitting in a room” brings us from behind the settee, and as the fear subsides, the drone subsides, Guy messes with the speech, in non-resonant ways tape winding, slowing it down, pitching it up. We get some heavily delayed intermittent synth line. The speech devolves into noise and acoustic grit and eventually bass pulse. Odd slurs of sound slip around it and the speech comes back. White noise percussion forms a pseudo beat about the pulse which modulates through various stages before settling on something like a bassline. Ah drums. A brass riff stolen from the mid ‘00s makes a surprising appearance dragging the beats down to a virtual deranged standstill. Lucier’s words return over bits of burnt brass, and shiny little slivers of distortion.

Tullis Rennie is next up, in another life he is a tromboning free-improv-er, and the brief disappointment I have for him turning up trombone free soon disperses once he starts. A lovely pulsating shimmer of a brisk arpeggio’s synth kicks off his set. A space whine sees this off; modulates around us briefly and the arpeggio returns. A deeper synth line unfolds and subsumes everything, there are slight flourishes hinting at what we’ve heard before. And now everything majestically stills and our vistas seem to expand, and then we’re suddenly returning home from the environs of Jupiter. Back on to Rock-a-nore beach in Hastings in 2021. The sea laps and a pointillistic synth note carries us along into another trip. We have percussion on this one, subtle a-go-go, perhaps. Lopsided unassuming synth riffs propel us. Interlaying lines build, the odd bass note, perhaps a dulcimer line. A quiet bass drum. Its given a good amount of time to gently evolve. The next section has a sharp stabbing line overlain with thick washes of sound, some detuning goes on and then an impossibly fat bassline runs through us several times and stops. We then get into a set of uneven interwoven lines a lurching rhythm, sharp synths, scurrying bells all weaving lines around each other.

Johanna Bramli’s set starts with a slowly blistering bass drone, superfast subliminal morse staccato blips run over it until eventually her piano and vocal comes in. A drum threatens to start, a slow oceanic scrape and the sound of swimming. The bass has slowly become threatening, a loping rhythm track skips underneath, the drone oppression slowly lifts as a piano starts afresh wordless vocals make us wistful, elegiac, the sounds of the pool become ghostly, distant. Some bursts of distorted bass, bring a different less threatening drone. Hi-hats seep in from a door opening onto a grime party in another building. There’s a grinding. Slow organ, a description of another room, a bass drum throbs, literally rumbling under it, then stops, returns. A counter melody to the organ and a nasty jet noise.  Again half heard distant things add depth and mystery. A male humming, the grime party door and the bass throb are linked… another organ line heralds the next section. Drums and sub bass form a line galloping towards us, a softer organ line and layered up vocals, male female, not unison, but united. Indecipherable sounds block around the singing, Johanna now, through effects. We get a low key percussion workout which slowly evolves into the final section of her set, the drones slowly return, layering, warm and enveloping and not threatening this time either. A click, spool winds, short busts of static, or morse. And finally falling into the Stargate for close.

They’re redeveloping my waste ground

April 2023
The Rossi Bar

Starting with Andrew Greaves & Dan Powell onstage set up facing each other for a run through of the new piece they composed while on residency at The Rose Hill. Dan with his tray of small objects, his laptop and a new tray pf glasses from the location, Andrew with his usual mix of serious synths and trusty Casio. They start with Dan’s glass armonica warblings played against synthesiser drones from Andrew, some gentle clatter and bell chime mutated by MaxMSP and proper bass rumblings. Emergent is a slow haunting, detuning melody first on a synth, then the Casio organ, the clinking falls away and a bassline is revealed, Dan filtering in some subtle scraping of bow on glass. As the melody ebbs away we get some radiophonic beeps and arpeggios blending in, if the first piece felt like Dan, and the second Andrew, this is a nice meld of the two. Andrews repeated organ figures with Dan’s sinuous drones piercing snakelike in between, until overwhelming with a fat bass-y wash, phased in with wind FX and Andrew providing the drone. Plane, car or sea recordings, glass pub clatter, rattle and chime ruler thrum on table. Spacious churn of a bit of a rummage through what’s on the table, roll of saucer, shortwave whistle. Some speech, sounds like my friend Ursula. The organ riffs are back wedded with odd noises and washes again.

Next it was You&th, Maria and violin, field recordings, LoopStation and effects. Starting with a looped bass violin figure playing off against seagulls, Maria winds a melancholic line over it, something about it takes me back to my youth and the sound of the one legged violin player every Saturday playing under the railway bridge at Earlsfield station. Next up is a song called rainbow, I think, a drone underpinning this one, the lead line sliding between notes, I can hear the traffic along the main road behind the man’s back. The melodic line changes slightly; sawing, insistent. The traffic thrumming as it passes. Weird delays spiral off. The third song starts with an aching melodic line, solo, I think this is one of the songs Maria learnt from her Neapolitan father, at the end of the verse a little pizzicato phrase and we can hear the streets again.  Maria sings, birds chirrup, she has some odd double tracking on her voice. There is rain, loud on sheet metal, wind provides bass. It’s beautiful. The violin is back. I can feel the trains riding overhead as I hold my mother’s hand and can vividly see the man’s empty left trouser leg neatly pinned up, the arm holding the violin jammed firmly against the crutch holding him up. It’s amazing the unexpected images great music can conjure. That’s something I haven’t recalled in a very long time. Beautiful set. I wanted to write more but every time I try I’m lost in time.

Finally, it’s a newcomer to The Spirit of Gravity, Pylon&on&on coming to us via our friends at Electronic Music Open Mic. He’s launching a CD. He starts with a continuation of the melancholic lines from Maria’s set, slowly lifting them with some shimmering, shifting pads, everything seems to ebb and flow. An enormous, massive bass block swings slowly in, the pads fade to birdsong. Boom its back slower than plodding, birdsong; BOOM; harmonium; BOOM, occasionally something like a snare. Rattling, a bassline, slow – but double speed of that boom – and an organ part comes in. It’s as if he’s channelling the evening to date into the first few minutes of his set. We get what seems like a breakdown to a detuned synth phrase, bass tomes and mutating buzzing synths swarm around it. We get a distorted bass drum salvo, it almost has the sense of a pattern that’s constantly just beyond comprehension. Some voice then its back again almost breakcore in intensity, then something that’s definitely a drum pattern boots its way in boom clack rattle, some repetition – I can tell, then developing quickly into stop start distraction. There’s a voice, like clipping. rhythmic then nothing, a wash of gentle white noise, a hint of siren, filters, a slow half a bar of recurring beat. The other half filled with typing, the bass drum slowly consuming the whole bar with its insistence then  four to the floor in it comes, bosh, siren flailing. There is some shuffling (the horror) amongst the audience. Arpeggio, breakdown, filtered noise. Clanking and we’re into the next track, half a vocal phrase rhythm against a double beat bass drum in another building and untuned synths. A bubbling line slinks up under everything, then to end it veers off into some grime bass fatness that suddenly shoots off into breakcore crazed beats for the finale.