Tag: Hardworking Families

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!

Last European Home

January 2020
The Rossi Bar

Hardworking Families

So, Hardworking Families starts the evening, Tom sat hands rummaging inside a black box containing Some Things, the lid flaps open towards us, balanced on top is a small PCB with a pot and a couple of other components. By the side of the box is a cassette player. His set starts with stuttering feedback-ish stammer. There’s something of a rumble train-ish, very reverbed coughing.  The rumbling gets grainier and bassier. A pseudo rhythm of gulps hits away in the background and everything falls away around it. A thin tone somewhere between a Casio organ and a reedy metallic whine is conjured from something hidden away. Something happens with the cassette and the reedy whine becomes a thin shard of feedback. There’s some static Morse code. Wind-jammed mic.  Whirr of an oscillator that rolls down into a pretty meaty judder while the Morse flips inside the tone to form a noise barrage. Other oscillators go about similar dirty business and we suddenly get into this toney noise wall that modulates outwards into several frequency strands all winding around each other. Something with some proper bass struggles up from beneath this like a jetliner over a Sicilian beach then it all gets very quiet before one last hurrah of a mechanical woodpecker getting to work in a lumber mill.

Monty Oxymoron

Monty Oxymoron had the second set, he’d played at The Spirit of Gravity previously as part of a trio and a quartet (once famously on copper dog and bird cage) but this was the first time we’d had him play solo, and I think the first time I’ve seen him do a set solely as a musical piece playing the keys on a keyboard (rather than extemporising on the case, lid, stand and anything nearby as well). It’s a piano/synth setup. He starts with some sparkling space jazz that sounds like something of Sun Ra’s from the head, shimmering flourishes and chords that spangle off into a little squelching synth line before zooming off. Some bassy synth crushes bring us back, then its twinkling off again before modulating chords bring back a hint of the original melody and then a little chord riff takes us off again to get lost in fantastical arpeggios. There’s a passage of wah wah stasis that’s rather lovely, that gets eventually overrun with harpsichordian dances of notes that slowly mutate back to piano sounds of the melody again then the electronic drum we can’t see at his feet comes into play. Starting with a jazzy ride with occasional rolls around the virtual kit while his hands keep at work fidgeting away at filtered stabbing chords the feet working away at an insistent rhythm under the table that fades away into an electric piano flourish drowned in a sweeping massive phase. Lovely. Then there’s a bit of an encore, a more orthodox-ish jazz piano ballad, that gets into a Yes Album left hand on a synth chord accompaniment for a bit of a dynamic with a slow wind down.

Kina:Suttsu and E-Da Kazuhisa

Kina:Suttsu and E-Da Kazuhisa finish off the evening. Kina with a midi roll flat piano keyboard starting with backwards piano into a slowly decaying long delay pedal building up a slowly revolving insistent piano part that she wordlessly vocalises over. E-da has a physical ride cymbal that he tings over this. There is birdsong the piano part decays into a churning organic murk, Kina keeps working away at her piano roll pushing notes into the delay chain until it loses all form in an undulating wave of little notes, E-da picks up the tempo on the ride to match this until it all slowly fades away. Kina brings the birdsong back, E-da gets a hand drum to work and Kina starts on the alto saxophone, a stutter skronk alternating with longer lines. E-Da is putting some effects on his drum, the bassy thumps really getting some presence. Kina gets some fire in her playing and E-Da follows her round, the birdsong seems to spiral off tiny electronic tones that glitter in the inner ear.  E-da gets right into it, driving us on under Kinas spiralling lines, then it all falls away underneath her. And she returns to the piano. Single notes: high, low, the memory of the last leaving a notion of melodic drift as it loops, she breathes the sax gently over the top. E-da has some rattling and rainstick washing away. She eventually starts adding extra notes in and the loops build up the effect of delays as E-Da starts with a beater on the cymbal. It all gets a bit psychedelic. Mushing, washing in and out like great waves. The deep layers of piano producing odd accordion-like tonalities amongst the sparkling of the high note hits. It ends like a two chord riff with E-Das cymbals rolling in like great Atlantic rollers, slow and stately and all enveloping, and then Kina beaks it all up with some free form playing on the piano and saxophone and we’re done for the night. subtlety.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/6Yh-ajRtlsM https://www.youtube.com/embed/3Z0-WIC_IUo https://www.youtube.com/embed/QA-1zcpOlWU https://www.youtube.com/embed/SzUGp_phG00 https://www.youtube.com/embed/piI68vNvX54 https://www.youtube.com/embed/AXo28QFrtdM

Shirt flapping fun

April 2016
Green Door Store

Hardworking Families

Hardworking Families

Billed as a laptop set, Hardworking Families do have one on stage and even plugged in. To the mains. Tom plays it with a small radio. passing the device back and forth over the screen front (AND back), keyboard, power supply etc., and feeding the results through his usual array of pedals and other malarkey. It’s a pure noise set with an interesting variety of tones and textures and I particularly liked the way you could see the source of the range of harsh tonalities.

Lend Me Your Underbelly

Lend Me Your Underbelly

Second act of the evening was Lend Me Your Underbelly, over from The Netherlands. He played a guitar and a synth into a super drone machine for the first set of the mentioned sartorial vibrational bassy goodness. Over this he plays some quite delicate pointed guitar, clean and understated. It’s a contrast that works well, giving the drones a wash of psychedelic overtones. It’s like a thick hearty, satisfying soup that also tackles your palate with some citrussy high notes for surprise and to top it off.

Futuro De Hierro

Futuro De Hierro

Futuro De Hierro is a somewhat different kettle of fish, although he keeps the clothes flapping away quite nicely. He’s thunderous in the Green Door Store and really makes the fullest sense. The beats distortion adds thunder, the bass gets everywhere in the room, and Matt the sound man gets stuck into the Strobes (“I don’t normally do this for the Spirit of Gravity, but…”). Viktor works at his sequencers and effects, shouting in Spanish and swinging the microphone round by the monitors so he can get to work riding the feedback. It’s a wonderful racket, and I laugh like a series of drains.

Obfuscation and misdirection, the close up magic of aleatoric scores

December 2015
The Scope XVII

We don’t normally run a show this far into December, but we had the opportunity to do something with HardWorking Families and go about realising some of Dann Hignell’s text scores, so it seemed like an opportunity not to be missed.

Duncan Harrison

Duncan Harrison Duncan Harrison was originally slated for the middle slot, but as we had only three acts and were starting late he opted for the first. The score he was performing was this (page 115):
“A short reflection upon the fact
That those on the outside
Have as much right to be here as any of us that
Their voices carry through walls and
If they don’t they should
(I am not sure how you would put this to song but a good start
Might be to ask everyone to open a window)”

We didn’t know that at the time, but the realisation went something like this: Duncan had a portable cassette player on a table with a small stage type lamp next to it. He switched it on and it appeared to be a recording made downstairs in a bar, it was quite trebly and distorted. He started the tape and got up and ran around the room checking the windows and then turned the lights down and cleared off. We could hear noises coming from outside the door, so I was expecting him to come back. he didn’t after about 20 minutes during which we’d kind of worked out it was a recording from downstairs (punk, Saxon and suchlike through the distorted conversation) someone went downstairs for a drink.

“I don’t think he’s around”
Tom went and checked, “I can’t see him anywhere”
So at around 30 minutes we turned the lights back up and started setting up for Tom’ s set, but without the electrocreche, and we started chatting over it then at 45 minutes the tape finished “clunk” and everyone cheered.

It makes a lot more sense knowing which score he was performing, I don’t even think Dann Hignell did at the time – excellent levels of confusion.

Hardworking Families

HardWorking Families Hardworking Families without Nan; unfortunately Nan shipped their Cello off to far-most Africa two days before the show and we couldn’t source a replacement in time. This meant Hardworking Families had to step in to cover the fray on their own. I’m sure there’s some kind of wider metaphor there, but I’m going to move on.

Anyway, it was Tom Bench with his new glittery guitar from the Train of Thought Emporium. And a nicely constructed set of Noises through the effects chain, some playing of cassettes into the pickups and the player rubbed on the strings, some things inserted in the strings and general muckaboutery at a reasonable volume for the most part before he stood up and started trying to get some feedback going.

There was some feeling that the cassette voices at the beginning was almost a continuation or reference back to Duncan’s set, but I’m not sure if that was intentional, or just me.

Dan Hignell Ensemble

Dan Hignell Ensemble

Dan Hignell had his ensemble set up through the middle of the room facing the screen so they could see the scores. From left to right looking at the backs of their heads (i.e. towards the stage, if you like) were Dan Hignell on a lovely old portable organ, all brushed aluminium and slightly bent plastic sliders, Kev Nickells on Violin and sharing a French horn with John Guzek who played violin, too, then on the far side from me Barnabas Yianni on some electronic things.

They ran through about six of Dan’s scores with accompanying cards, the realisations varying from scratchy repeated violin figures, to the feeling of someone wrestling with a French horn on the beach. some pieces felt like the musicians were working against each other some as if everyone was in their own universe. The last piece was a bit special, it was quite a bit longer than all the others, Dan playing space organ drone figures, with very long violin slides from one player with the other providing some over the bridge wrenching and Yianni’s electronics running in the background bringing a repeated pip figures, with the piece ending on a slight crescendo with arpeggiating violin parts.

A good Scope to end the year, really filling out the ideas we had for it when we started doing it.