Category: Uncategorized

Is it birdsong, or is it bridge FX?

It was the kind of evening that starts with a walk down the hill that just makes you happy to be out and about, a proper August Spirit of Gravity night.

Resonant Blue

Resonant Blue starts off squatting on the front of the stage, low level drone-stuffs laid out in front of him: keyboard and laptop, it modulates nicely for a while then seems to lift in a rush that precedes a whirr of traffic and field recordings and goes off in a more Ypsilon in Malaysia pale mode, the noise becoming tones and chimes, again it lifts into more digital sounding synths, before thickening up again with more choral drones and heading for deep space. Truly music for Starfelds.

Shinamo Moki

With the busiest stage we’ve had for a while, Shinamo Moki have guitar (!) electronic drums and electronics. Minutes before going on the guitarist’s effects rack goes west, so we have a slight delay while Tim Holehouse sets him up with his array; credit to both of them, I can detect no problem during the set. Shinamo Moki operate somewhere between Cornelius and Japan, the idea of eastern pop and its actuality. With the age and haircuts, it’s tempting to look on them as an indie band born of YouTube, but I think they go beyond that and manage to eschew vocals, which obviously helps us. It’s all bent sounds; gongs, string synths, drums that detune, everything shifts and stutters – a lightness around the rhythm and deftness of touch that make this as far to pop as we’ll go, and we go happily.

Timothy C. Holehouse

Timothy C Holehouse reclaims his effects array and sets up his collection of objects, and starts Ashtoreth Shaman, his new project. He has his effects and is just feeding sound in: throat-sung didgeridoo gurgles, drones and whistles, Brighton beach stones, sticks. And it’s just that: an hallucinatory ever-thickening drone of immense depth. We just soak it up, eyes closed, letting the sound wash over us and watching the internal unfolding.

It’s all quite straightforward really

Thee Founders back with a bang

Ill-Fitting Suit/s

The return of the Ill Fitting Suit/s was something of a joy; combining thee founders performance art roots, Nick Rilke’s ongoing obsession with the human voice and Tony Rimbaud’s moderne processing. And some string telephones (6 into one, unless I’m much mistaken). They had prepared a list of twenty or so items and over the course of a set and half, probably only performed half of them. It was alienating, funny, adventurous, daft, entertaining and a good listen. And once more a very hard to describe without resorting to blow by blow description. Words, the human voice, effects, suits.

Animal Magic Tricks

In between the two sections of their set Animal Magic Tricks demonstrated a new instrument she’d been working on: resonating spheres placed inside containers to produce rich ringing tones with a laptop controller. So she ran through an introduction and slowly introduced the sounds before forming the abstractions into a quite startling version of “Love hurts” with Frances’ thick voice bubbling up as though through honey sitting on top of this completely abstract backing. Quite remarkable, she then had a workshop session for members of the audience before the grey suits returned.

Hobo Sonn

Hobo Sonn had established himself at the back of the room between the elektrocreche and the sound desk in almost complete darkness except for his usual low light that allowed us to follow his hand movements as they went back and forth over his twentieth century sampler taking on the sonic overspill from the bar with hums and clicks; low levels of distorted near silence followed by squalls of quasi-musical noise. It seemed quite a struggle to find a centre for the sound of the room for him to work off, before he identified this orchestral racing car ramp that pitched from bass up to some blistering treble fragmenting into coruscations of blistered hiss. It rounded off with midnight ghost clock chimes and Lovecraftian insect ticking.

Either he’s bigger than he looks, or that’s not quite a trombone

Full marks for dedication on two counts this month.

Birds of Death Valley

Some whistles on the recorder, shortwave radio bursts and abstract block sounds, give way to sustained chords swelling over a gentle reverse hi-hat and plucked strings. It evolves gently, chiming and ringing, odd whistles Wasp buzzes synthetic drones layering away, until a slide trumpet player heaves swelling onto the stage to duet with echoed recorder for “The Cruel Landlady”… things continue to shimmer under the sustained trumpet notes, with a round of the songs chorus slowly rotating under the final gentle squalls of songs fade until a rather harsh stomp of four to the floor comes thumping martially in with some bass oomph and sonic wibble pays a little visit.


Carrying on with the ringing resonant tones, Pawnsphinx, on the first stage of his honeymoon, gave a more formed and focussed set, less whimsical as befits something based on Dostoevsky but strangely sympathetic in the way it followed on till disrupted by a heavy bell-ish thump that seemed to emerge from some devilish rave memory initiating a freefall beat that really seemed to disrupt the dynamics more that drive them. It all got very ominous with creaking doors and unpleasant chords before some unlikely wobbling bass reminded us it is the 21st Century after all. Some Detroit beats led us on via throat singing and some cockney swearing on to the finale with some excellent detailed snare and rhythm patterns that took me right back to the heady days of Instrumentality.

Karl M. Waugh

In the absence of Chloe, who was laid up with a cold that had been conspiring with the unseasonal snow to rob us of as much of our regular audience as possible, the Zero Map gave way to a solo set by Karl M V Waugh. On guitar. For a full half hour. Which was really exceptional and may be one of the best things I’ve seen Karl do. Starting off with a cascade of scrapes before some clean endless echoing picked chords came through. He managed to avoid being too close sound-wise to The Durutti Column, my default mental state for clean guitar, due to some interesting eastern intervals. Something more like Dick Dale’s more thoughtful homages to his ethnicity. Having kept it clean for the majority of the set Karl eventually gave in and let rip with some max noise over-strumming, which still managed to maintain the context of what he’d been doing up to that point. Very tasty.

A return to chin-stroking

For March, normal service is resumed, with an opportunity to drool at some vintage equipment.


TwentyTwenty consisted of a new set of twenty one minute films with an improvised soundtrack provided by Andrew Greaves (SH101), Dan Powell (scrapey guitar), Tony Rimbaud (odd electronic things) and the very tall Richard Miles and his tiny guitar. As such its a much more electric sound than previously lots of beeps, some nice trafficy hums and washes, some clicks and scrapes. Each four minute segment starting on some strange base of atmosphere as they take it turns to lead off and build up into quite a different montage. The whole thing managing to go through a range of moods while remaining quite delicate and considered.

Sonic Roundabout

Sonic Roundabout were a two piece with some lovely old equipment that had been switched on while most of us were eating our tea: the minimoog needed tuning up just before they went on stage, it was a visual reminder of the sleeve notes of all those 70s Moog LPs… As well as the moog there was a rare sighting of the wonderful Lyricon, a clarinet powered synth, and some drum patterns based on old Simmons samples. Marvellous. Naturally it was heavy on arpeggios and warbly leads, wonderfully warm analogue sounds all round. Marvellous. Really. For a couple of numbers they were joined by a singer with a strong Germanic vocal style.


Taking a sidestep into digital synthesis, Baconhead were another two piece, this time ensconced behind Macs with midi controllers and fiercely bobbing heads as they stepped up the tempo, the bass and the harshness of the beats. As suits an act so allied with Wrong Music it’s a playful set, allied to a love of the harder edges of modern music, although not approaching the light-speed of days of yore.