Category: SOG-BLOG

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.

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.