The Rossi Bar
As usual all plans are provisional, so our last minute lineup change had Astral Engineering step up at the 11th hour. Excellent news. I’ve been enjoying the CD from 2020 over lockdown. Starting with a nice fat multi-layered drone to settle us down before hoofing off into a nicely spatial arpeggio with odd spinning tones and occasional bass line part. A detuned string synth melodic line wanders in before we segue nicely into the next piece. Slightly more insistent drums, and some piano that gives the impression of a space waltz without actually being one. Another creepy melody stalks this one. The next tune starts with a gated shimmer, joined by a staggered synth line and loping bass drum. It all gives way to an ascending synth line; and a key change that leads us off into the space bassline of the next tune. Occasional small craft whirr past us as space drones, the bass line gets some subtle filter work before some proper acid squelch activity occurs on it; this one could easily be 20 minutes long if I had my way. A white noise snare indicates the arrival of the final track with a clockwork hi-hat. The unfolding synth sounds like a CZ101 and we get a proper rolling bassline. It sounds almost like a played bass guitar at times, the way it seems to stand and then roll back into life.
Hear more from Astral Engineering on his BandCamp site: astralengineering.bandcamp.com/
Its Iplu’s first live show ever. He doesn’t seem nervous. His set starts with some field recordings, some subtle processing, some layering. It’s a little bit crunchy; gritty even in places. Some electronic whirps and understated uneasy drone. It’s not a drone it shifts slightly into discernibility, some tones, resonance. Having heard him speak, unlike most of the audience, I can hear his filtered voice amongst the ducks and tea-making. As the field recordings start to get busier the effects get less prominent, glass bells with a hint of something, and then it’s all tuned delay, hints of feedback loops, clanking. After about 15 minutes a glitched up beat starts, cd stammers and winds. A rhythm brings us out of our reveries. Its again heavily processed, I feel my head being slapped by it. Before it gets overwritten by a slow pad melody, some squelches eventually join and an LFO lifted bassline ebbs and flows. The final piece starts with reverbed bass notes on a piano, an occasional interspersed upper register note, a busy percussion part starts in, working around the high notes. A much busier high synth riff provides some melodic colour before we get a drop for some work on the percussion and it plays out with a slow build-up of parts counterpointing the synth melody before the drums are back for a fairly emotional climax.
Due to the lack of the regular sound engineer Meljoann’s vocals are a little low in the mix due to feedback issues, which robs is of some of that pleasure, but means we can revel in the joy of her backing tracks. She starts with her guitar strapped on. She starts with her customary “I hope everyone likes RnB”, before the backing track kicks in and she starts getting into some fretwork, the vocals are desperate. The bass is super fat and envelopes us, the drums thwack like benny hill swatting that bald bloke. It’s a fully warped sound, Jam & Lewis run amok with a PC producer. The second track eases up on the density for “Assf*ck the boss” an ode to the ways of call centre life. We get straight back into the high density and higher tempo for the next track “Trophy Wife” , this one comes on like a deranged mid 80s BoysTown banger with layers of resignation and an urgency of fidgeting trebly stabbing synths over another monstrous bass. Then we get a break with a word from The Mustics corporation, Meljoanns sponsor. I haven’t mentioned any visuals yet, Meljoann supplies her own, with advert breaks.
She has her own mythology, it’s worth checking out her videos on YouTube, you get a whole stream of life improvement videos from the Mustics Corp as well as well as her own more orthodox, but equally disturbing videos for the songs, anyway back to the set. The next track comes on like Prince wrestling a sea-serpent bass, occasionally the whole thing gets overwhelmed by a circling detuning queasiness inducing synth.
We get the second ad break, the Mustics representative staring malevolently at us while delivering her platitudes. The tempo goes right down for the ballad “I quit”, a two-note bassline, ghost synths, a heartful vocal and a stirring guitar solo. With proper posing. The final track “Business Card” starts with a bassline full of static, Gameboy beeps and really defies description once it starts, nothing sounds quite right, layers build and overwhelm us. It could really do with being VERY LOUD.
Apart from Meljoann whose visuals are an integral part of her set, the excellent visuals are from Chris midi_error, as we’ve quickly become accustomed to.