Tag: Kieran Mahon

Firelighter Funguscake

February 2022
The Rossi Bar

Starting the evening of people playing under their own real names we had Martin Chick. Last time I saw Martin play he was surrounded by a load of bulky kit including an old Korg, this he slimmed down to a Modular synth and another box, the inevitable clutter of wires ensuring it’s not too tidy. Starting with a bass pulse on the 8s with bell on the ones, he blends in some white noise snares, warbling tinnitus pitch tones marshalling in more drums. A bit of random pitching ushers in a more minimal section that ends up feeling like a fence post being replaced after a storm. Slowly, slowly, blocks of bass or noise or stem whistle are folded in and left to drift off. The sound empties out; cuts of drum in and out, beep tone, bass teased back, then again out. Those blocks of pink noise back, flexatone. A steam kettle in another room washes out everything, building to blistering boil and end.

An SD card incident has removed two thirds of my recording of Kieran Mahon’s set, but hey, I streamed it on FaceBook Live, so can revisit that. Kieran hisself starts the set tucked down behind the upturned box hiding his modular from us – so a much sleeker look to his kit, a dreadbox perched on top. Mid-range drone modulates to wobble as buzzes and the sounds of a dinosaur in a cardboard box reverb subtly into our audio view. An untuned high stabbing on the 32s distracts from the indecent growling, everything goes back do drone, then we get some proper across the board pulsing. Then slowly we get a bit of the beeping sequencing peeping through – and that’s what we come to Kieran for. All around it science fiction shimmers and tones form and fade. Some time later a counter arpeggio assembles against the first and the two dance around each other. This slow unfolding is mesmeric. The sequences morph chaotically, pitches bend, timbres mutate. Shudders whip through, then all we’re left with is the ephemera. Echo thrums and a doorbell riff lead us on into the final section of  almost free improv clanking, finally a bass heartbeat grounds us  and a long arpeggio sends us blissfully off into space.

Finally we had R. Dyer to end the night. She started with what I suspect was an unplanned version of “Little Victories” with a new set of recorded good moments, they’re as funny as usual, the song as gloriously melancholy as usual, looped soprano sax lines weaving around each other over a low keyboard drone as Becca sings over the top. There’s a lot of new victories so we have a fairly extended outro involving washing up, Coventry, bells… other things. The second track starts with a strong keyboard bass line, organ notes, chimes, a couple of gently muted sax layers, vocals. Little raindrops is like an afternoon spent in the loft of your childhood home. “Canaries” was next, after a chat about the canary resuscitator, they were only retired in the late 80s. Who knew? It starts with a creepy creaking walking pace keyboard part, with some odd fx and singing from the canary’s perspective, an interlocking set of soprano layers, more singing finishing with the song of a toy canary. Starting with drum machine tambourine, unison soprano, I missed the name of the penultimate song. There is a sax solo in this one that really flies, lifts the spirits. “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. For “King Alfred’s Cakes” Becca’s harp became detached from its contact mic, so she performs it acoustically, no electronics(!) but it’s wonderful, so we don’t mind. Voice and harp, do we need more description.

Snowshoes on, then

January 2019

The Rossi Bar

Rough Work

So we started our tenure at The Rossi Bar and the evening itself with Rachel Cohen and Kev Moore as Rough Work. Rachel most visibly had some teapots that she started, lid off, pouring water from one to the other, and bubbly blowing down the spout. Kev had some things probably electronic inside an attaché case, lid up. There are resonant ringings and janglings, chains and occasionally you can see Kev moves onto a physical thing. Rachel has found some school books from the year of the drought, if I’m any judge. She occasionally reads from them. There is paper unravelled and torn and some encounters with tightly stretched parcel tape that seems comically to stick to everything. Clatter and burble, rattle, the clash of lid on pot. Big electronic stereo exhalations. Tapping. Space noises – “The water came from the pond”. They chant in unison “A force cannot be seen” as a kind of chorus to readings from her physics exercise books. There is a brief discussion on whether a word is Pirate or Pivot. Then some more time spent showing unstructured can be fun and it’s over.

Kieran Mahon

In contrast to the empty improv of the first act Kieran Mahon kicks off his set with a thick meaty electronic drone, mostly sourced from a Microbrute, with a nice resonant sweep over the top. A third strand powers through the middle of this for a while, before chunking up into a slow stepping sequence, while we’re concentrating on this the original drone is mutating away out of sight into a LFO driven braid of intersecting tones. By now the drone has completely given way to melange of discrete sonics, beeps, buzzes, chunks of bass all stepping around each other in some semi delirious Edgar Froese vision. This slowly steps out of phase through noise into some inverted version of the original setup, a new stepping sequence, a drone with a new shimmering space tonality. At this stage Kieran introduces a hint of unfolding melody hidden away that again morphs into space dust.


Child finished the evening off, Annabelle starting her set with an echoed chime riff and high flutelike parts underpinned by some seriously detached bass. She sings, while the parts loop around her. She speaks. Its eerie. She feeds some shaker into her delay chain and morphs into the second section. The decay on her vocals seems endlessly spacious. Some bass drum and twisting resonant synth brings in the next piece. Then its game time, it seems we start the Experience half way through her set. The bass has been pretty lightweight for a while, but she brings back seriously after this with a filtered bass line and a slow motion cascade of drums, she sings into a wine glass. There is some more physics (Newton’s Gravitational laws, rather than forces) as the beats drop away just to the bassline and vocals. To finish with the bass takes on a drone quality, while around it percussive synth parts shift in space and tone, her voice drifts in and out and weirdly Casio-tic keyboard melodies surprise us and shimmer.

By the time we finish and get upstairs, early as it is, the snow is thick and buses and taxis have stopped running. Kev has to get back to Southampton, and I think I have a hard time getting up to the racecourse.