I think we’ll be seeing a lot of this

December 2021

The Rossi Bar

So Dolly Rae Starcore stands in at the last minute for someone laid low by The Rona, for which we are grateful, and happy. Starting with a stroke of the Zither and a massive boom off the mic. Arrayed before her on the table a selection of small percussive objects, two large brass singing bowls, her book and the sheath of papers from which she will read. She reads, pings the Flexatone shakes the shakers and reads, she gently strokes the singing bowl which booms beautifully. One of the singing bowls is a quarter full of water which modulates it when swirled. She reads, pings the percussion. The atmosphere builds, some unaccompanied sections, some densely swirled about. Chimes.

Andrew Greaves filling the middle slot, playing through his latest release, songs and improvisations based on loops of his father singing that were recorded on cassette before he died. The set starts with a manipulated loop of the singing all the consonants lost, murky, monkish. Over this a crisp rhythm track starts up. Slow organ rolls out and back, arpeggiates, the voice wanes. The organ parts thicken, overlap. The voice returns. The second part is structurally the same, it floats more. There is a lot more space and what sound almost like guitar parts. Dogs. A Casio organ solo emerges, the whole thing slowly dissolves into space winds.

The last time Xylitol played for us it was a set of DNW inflected fun played on toys and cheap synths, this time Catherine turned up with a laptop for a set of kosmische drum and bass. It’s got the same sense of fun as before but the tempos are ramped up. There are hints of Harmonia, pointillist interlocking rhythmic keyboard parts fix inside the drum parts before it gets abstractly into resonant pitch shifting frog drums. We nod our heads. The next track almost starts like an Irresistible Force remix, before getting into some serious rhythm scrambling and deranged bassline before allowing the piping melody line to whistle through. The last track starts with a high level of scrambled drums and repeated pinging keyboard parts, repeated to the point of delirium. All the melodic parts steamroller while the movement is all in the drums before eventually the melodic parts all break down into new patterns and the drum cycling starts again.

The wind chilled dew

November 2021

The Rossi Bar

Starting things off with lots of banging we have FROST. It’s unusual for us to have drums, and Dale has drums set up on the front of the tiny Rossi Bar stage, wires going off to a few devices, and the electronic pads. So he starts with a fairly open piece, rolling sprightly tight drums with pinging Raymond Scott sounds and a nice whistling melody over the top, from there he’s straight into more proggy territory, jerky beats, an elliptical sequence (backing track? I don’t think so by the way the sound modulates). There are too many beats to the bar, the timing is way odd. No melodic elements to this one, it’s all point/counterpoint. The third tune has a breathless Casio whine drone, with a more straightforward rhythm, this turns into a riff like Friske Frugt, it stretches out into a chiming section that alternates with something chiming in an altogether trickier time signature. The next starts with a chirrupingly tapped rhythm, that turns into some odd detuned riff, with pizzicato scattered rhythms and some buzzing hardcore on the cheap saw wave stabs. The last one is a full on prog action epic, that he somehow gets electric piano chords in amongst the staccato drum pattern.

Second up was Territorial Gobbing “down from Leeds”.  With his table of stuff, twin cassette players, a loop pedal, a springing ruler, desk bell, honker, file, matt with contact mic. He starts like some quick draw artiste with a cassette player in each hand, swinging each arm back and forth. Squalling feedback at us instead of bullets. Then we get a beautifully timed comedy patch of silence. Then we get into staccato snatches from the tapes, music, speech, reverbed, sped up, looped. Or not. A bout of rummaging gets us into a denser noisier passage while Theo tries to summon “Alex .. a … A.. Alex…. Alexa” He has a deft touch, the kind of comic timing we haven’t seen in an age, and an ear for when to let rip with a proper screech of noise. And he works hard at the table, I don’t think much is unused at the end.

Rounding the evening off we have Emma Papper, with laptop, Electronic Wind Instrument EWI5000, and clarinet. The first track is bouncing chimes and wafts of trilling synth with occasional tonal arpeggios with a hint of flexitone. The second has a percolating synth line, with a melody from the EWI that’s all slurred detuned washes that occasionally have stringy touches of Chi Mai sung out by ice bound sirens. The third is all angelic choirs and distant aliens that slowly shifts into focus, with some deep shifting detail. The next piece is harsher, winds and icy, gritty high pitched spines. Abstract and less comfortable. It feels like an ice cave, I can even hear the dripping, giving way to a landscape of slowly undulating tones. The next piece carries on from here with warmer vocal washes. The penultimate piece tends toward what sounds like overdriven guitar drones, with strings and hints of birdsong in its fluttering synths. The final piece brings the clarinet up off the table, meshing it against the shifting drones from the laptop, the backing shifts so slowly it’s almost imperceptible, giving the clarinet an evolving background to work on.

Joining the long list of people who have enjoyed playing at The Spirit of Gravity so much they’ve released their set afterwards here we have Emma Papper’s set from the November show: emmapapper.bandcamp.com/album/emma-papper-live-at-the-spirit-of-gravity

Spin ‘Em Enthralled

October 2021
The Rossi Bar

So we start the evening with Dan Powell with his mic’d up tray of objects, and eschewing his Raspberry Pi for a shiny new laptop for processing. I couldn’t quite see what he was up to a lot of the time, occasionally is hands moving around through gaps between things. Or picking up something to bong on it. Starting with some scrapes and tones, big reverbs that have note-ish resonances, there are some beautiful space wobbles and synthy warbles that come through over the scrapes and chimes. Some seem sourced from clashes or clatters from his small bits and bobs, transformed by his Max MSP patches out into otherworldly oscillations.  It all actually feels oddly unhinged, detuned, deranged – but calm, relaxed even. Interestingly not “right” in the best possible way. Ambient but not in that stoner vibe fashion. There are times it reminds me of the electronics in “Outer space with sounds”, primal but not brutish, something from the deepest unconscious of electronics. Properly unnerving.

Superficially rocking a similar setup to Dan, we had Nil By Nose with a cookie tin, mic’d up mat and small synth in a tiny box, it’s a very different output, fed through with a tonal line of feedback and distortion we come from a much more confined acoustic space. Thicker and more claustrophobic. Looping percussive clacks and ruler thrums, bringing in traffic from the upstairs street. Although it’s not a looper, it’s a very slowly decaying delay. At one point our masked hero bashes and shakes the tin onto the mat bashing out a rhythm that runs for a few bars, then a flurry of conversation, mangled up with intertwining repetitions, the feedback turned into a windy howl. Distorted thumb piano crushes play compression tricks on the whine. It sounds like someone shuffling office furniture.
Rounding off the evening we had The Founders as This Sound Bureaucracy with their not entirely reliable history of the spirit of gravity. Tony running his usual looping set up, nice circular washes with a rhythm of ball bearings falling down a glass staircase – we had Nick slowly letting us know he was going to be verbalising this evening. He started the set taping a slogan onto the front of the box/table Tony’s kit was set up on, there’s a shift in rhythm and Nick starts his historical tale. This probably the best sound I’ve heard from tony, its driving, Nick sync’d up, pauses working right, changes right in place. My introduction got a nice distorted launch. As Nick gets properly into the Free Butt years, Tony winds down the rhythms and transmutes into a staggering noise pulse “we were fields, all fields” getting its usual appreciative reception. Tony gears everything back up, only thicker and noisier. Sirens. “Stand aside Nietzsche”. Then as a bonus, we get “The Manifesto Of Experiential Music”, proclaimed over laser jabs, raucous trills, noise bolts and general horrible noises. I’ve never managed to work out if Rilke was taking the piss with this manifesto, its accurate to the point of mockery. Tony finishes off the evening with a turgid, lumbering, detuned rollicking rhythm of noise and destruction. While Nick finishes off his tapework in the inevitable fashion.
This was the first time we’ve had visuals from midi_error, which was a real improvement, the screen was a bit cobbled together – it will be better in November, but the visuals were great, from filtered landscapes to static straggling lines.

Our 20th Anniversary Year finally starts

September 2021
The Rossi Bar

The Rossi Bar Thee Founder Tony is the true editor of Gravitational Pull and he’s asked me to write reviews of the online shows we did, I’ve not done it. They’re still online at our YouTube channel, each one is about an hour long, I think we definitely grew into them and I just want to say Thanks to Tom from Ensemble 1 who edited the shows together and Chris midi_error who did the graphics. I think they did a cracking job and I’d recommend you watch them if you haven’t done already. Or even if you have. And obviously a big thanks to all the artists who took part.

David K Frampton and R. Dyer

Welcoming us back to the Rossi bar for our eventual first show of 2021, our 20th anniversary year we have David K Frampton with R. Dyer, David Frampton on synthesisers and R. Dyer on soprano saxophone. They start with slow pads of synths and Becca’s sax weaving in and out of them the heavy reverb lending it an odd 80s air, before Dave comes in with his distinctive heartfelt vocals, occasionally switching into a higher register. The second number picks up the tempo considerably with a heavily filtered arpeggio, that switches around between instruments before Dave starts singing, then we have a lengthy instrumental section featuring Becca again, some more vocals and then Dave gets stuck into doubling up the arpeggios. It ends up nicely stripping down to lengthy section with just the arpeggio a fat foghorn drone and sax flurries. The third is again a slower one, thick churchy chords, ticking drums, sax responding to Dave’s voice sometimes in response, sometimes swirling around it. After a while a bass drum subtly comes in, just giving it a little nudge of dynamism for the final section. There’s an impromptu quiz before the final song kicks off, upping the tempo again, a two chord riff with Dave singing before other things switch in, a burst of arpeggios, slow work from Becca, this one stuck with me for quite a while. Hooky.

Hardworking Families

Next up is Hardworking Families, starting with a bubbling burst of synth from a new tiny Korg, one of a collection of small things that Tom is using this evening, passing this through the Monotron delay, there’s a cassette deck, which isn’t actually introduced for a while and a contact mic we’ll most certainly hear from eventually. The burbling gets caught up into an effects loop mushing it into some quite nasty edges, before the delay mutes it down to counting station static. The contact mic gets some action, it s a big clunky thing and seems to produce some scraping and odd springing sounds. After this we get a passage of spacey drones and meeps veering into Forbidden Planet territory at times. These firm up into a harsher juddering tone that eventually spirals out to a proper bit of fat drone hard buzzing synth, with undercurrents of noise and whirring.

Ravine Machine

It takes a while to get set up for Ravine Machine, 2 projectors and a whole set of things that get used as sources for projecting and for shadowplay. I think one projector broke down during the set, but I wasn’t in the right position to see it. But undaunted Amy carried on, improvising with what tools (and candles) were available.  Scott has an interesting set of things, too; a small array of sound sources, autoharp, thumb piano all feeding into a hand built modular device of some kind. Is it a mixer? A synth? All of these things maybe. They start fairly quietly with a low drone, over which eventually we get a scratching rumbling loop that provides some creepy rhythmic body. Some backward thumb piano subtly chimes in for that sepia nursery haunted house feel. After being properly spooked out by that we get gentle washes of the autoharp circling over it. The whole thing slowly shimmers off into much gentler zones without much seeming to have happened the atmosphere lifts. And eventually, slowly, hardens as a tidal surge of noise washes in looping out and returning harsher and more resonant every time. Thin strings of feedback taper past, there’s an undercurrent of watery gurgle, that pulsing relentless thick wave of noise keeps returning and finally ebbs away leaving the remains to filter back through the pebbles of whatever this metaphor has degenerated into and ends.

Well, I think that was a pretty damn good start to our anniversary year, but next month will, of course, be even better!

Fourth Spirit of Gravity online streaming event: June 2021

Featuring Kieran Mahon / Rdyer / Melancholic Robot Tantrum / Andrew Greaves

Kieran Mahon: This piece was made and recorded especially for Spirit of Gravity and was entirely improvised in one take. It is a repetitious cosmic drone, based on two very simple sequences and a lot of random modulation. Over the last year I have found increasing inspiration from the music of Michael O’Shea  – this piece owes a lot to him. It would be best listened to on headphones.

Rdyer uses saxophone, saw, harp, found sounds, tape samples, looped vocals and synth to create mesmerising baroque pop laced with chaotic improvisation.

Melancholic Robot Tantrum: Industrial tinged electronic music for robots & humans.

Andrew Greaves is a Brighton based musician, visual artist and member of the Spirit of Gravity. His work over the past decade has focussed on electronic minimalism, keyboard improvisation, live film soundtracks and sound collage. During the past year, Andrew has set aside his intense Casio organ improvisations; central to his previous work, in favour of layered analog synth sequences, arpeggios and loops. Andrew is exploring the meditative effects of gradual melodic and harmonic development, where multiple elements build, mesh, shift, vie for dominance, ebb and flow. Andrew starts his June show performance with some synthesiser improvisations intertwined with a collage of found cassette recordings of his father’s classic tenor voice. Andrew’s melodic approach at times recalls the simple and brittle themes of Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Tonto’s Expanding Head Band and Robert Wyatt. While his more intense improvisations seem a contemporary development on the works of Terry Riley, Suzanne Ciani or Mike Ratledge. The use of non-western scales is a constant and Andrew acknowledges the influence of African, Indian and Far Eastern musics on his work and its wider impact on all kinds of minimalism, experimental and electronic musics. This mix of influences and approaches can be heard on his most recent album “Works From Home”, just released on the Spirit Of Gravity Bandcamp label.
For this event, Andrew hopes to recapture a little of the feeling of an intimate performance at the Spirit Of Gravity show in the basement of Brighton’s Rossi Bar.

Stream visuals by midierror: soundcloud.com/midi-error
Incidental music provided by midierror and Kristoffer Lisgaard: https://www.kristofferlislegaard.com


Third Spirit of Gravity online streaming event: May 2021

Featuring: Ascsoms / child / Not By Radium

Ascsoms: “For this Spirit of Gravity stream I revisited my Isolation Reels project which I started during the first lockdown. I make a tape-loop measuring 2 meters in length, the ‘social distancing’ measurement. This loop forms the bedrock from which all sounds are sourced and manipulated. Then the audio effects and signal processing are introduced into the system, acting like a virus, mutating the sound for nineteen minutes. This performance features three tape-loops, one for each lockdown, played simultaneously on both Akia reel-to-reel tape machines and was recorded in one take.”
Instagram & FaceBook @ascsoms

A live set by child: Two synths and a voice embark on a journey through the Clouds and Big Sky portals.

A piece by Spirit of Gravity co-founder Tony Rimbaud’s long-form project Not By Radium – featuring flute and saxophone samples provided by Chris “Noteherder” Parfitt, with images inspired by a pessimism concerning the state of the natural world.


Second Spirit of Gravity online streaming event: April 2021

Our second online event, featured in no particular order Ensemble 1, The Zero Map and Cutlasses: home-made kit, drones & interwoven intricacies from the Brighton and Hove area.

Cutlasses is the solo project of maker and musician, Scott Pitkethly. A sound art project which seeks to integrate the process of creating music with the process of making the sound creation tools themselves. The compositions combine field recordings, recorded from various sites around the British Isles, which are heavily manipulated using DIY electronic controllers and effects he has designed and built himself, accompanied by live guitar drones and melodies. Taking cues from the world of sound art and horror film soundtracks but always trying to apply pop sensibilities, the result is lush and cinematic soundscapes topped with delicate melody.
www.cutlasses.co.uk/about :

The Zero Map is Chloe Wallace and Karl M V Waugh … (blah blah) … Brighton …. Since 2008 … (blah blah) … psychedelic ambient noise … (blah blah) … released albums on Apollolaan, Sonic Oyster, Infinite Exchange, Ikuisuus, Golden Lab, Different Lands, Armed Within Movement, Tor Press, RHP and Sheepscar Light Industrial … (blah blah) … frequently with video installations … (blah blah) … Supernormal / Splitting The Atom (s) / The Spirit Of Gravity / & around the U.K. … (blah blah) … other bands they’re in include: Thee Hairee Kuntz, The Larsens, Eye-eN T T, God’s Teeth and the Interstellar Tropics, Binnsclagg, The Emperors Of Ice Cream, The A Band (wherein they have both played extensively) … (blah blah) … facebook around the internet and thezeromap.bandcamp.com/

Ensemble 1: Solo home performance vid of ‘Submerged Harmonics’ for electric bass and delay, a long-form work utilising high feedback delay loops over three broad sections consisting of variations on tone frequency, technique, process and rhythmic counterpoint, FFO Steve Reich, Eliane Radigue, John Luther Adams, Live Minimal/Electronic/Instrumental.