Tag: Meljoann

Wiring not Driving

January 2022
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.


Ghosts

March 2020
The Rossi Bar

We’re posting this now, a review of the last Show before Lockdown. It all seems strange now, being in the same room as friends and strangers. Enjoying people making music in the room, playing from their hearts into ours without the mediation of the internet. Writing this is partly a reminder to myself of what life was like a few weeks ago…

 

Ascsoms

So first up was Ascsoms, Adam, and a small table of kit. A bouncing word in a swirl of space delay starts the set, followed up by fatly quiet drone. He says something that’s distorted to hell into a munging delay, as space crickets and odd burbles get in on the act. A distant pair of notes as if played on a Mississippi bridge loop ominously, as we get odd foregrounded sounds like creatures of the river bank scurrying about their business. We get into a more industrial soundspace, like finding a vast working quarry in the middle of the downs. Giant Gerry Anderson machines slowly grinding their way round its circumference. We’re past, we can still hear the bridges in the distance, cyclists and door chimes, uncanny wildlife. This idyllic landscape becomes subtly more intense until it’s overwhelming. We go under a bridge where some pretty serious welding is occurring before getting into new, more tonal, country. A 3 tone beeping riff starts up, tape spooling, slowly denuded by a scouring wind bringing swarms. Finally we find some piece in some kind of saturnine lagoon. This was definitely a journey.


Meljoann

Second up was Meljoann. Mel, office ready, with laptop and recorder. I don’t have a recording of this set so my review will be light on details, sadly as it deserves them. Mel lured us in with her deceptive pop like charm, modern beats and shiny electro surface sheen but as with all our song based artists, she takes the songs off to strange places, amping up the energy levels with some rattling drums and extraordinary bass. I also get tricked by the brevity of her set and only get one song videoed. Its brilliant stuff, and we ask her back, but she’s done. You should have a look at her office life themed videos and feel nostalgic… www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhUrDac40s-VNUDMVVJYucqcqPKHchme2


Bela Emerson and Hervé Perez

And to round off the evening we had the return of Bela Emerson in a duo with Hervé Perez.  Bela on electric cello and electronics, and Hervé on laptop, electronics and occasional sax.  They start with Bela looping up a scouring edge of the bow on the cello strings and a nice edge of feedback drone, Hervé providing field recordings of birds in an electronic murmuration that swings in and out of sonic sight. He then brings in his first saxophone intervention. Flurries of notes, that Bela responds to, the birds swirl about too, before everything levels out in drawn out tones against an itching cello loop that drops away leaving the saxophone taking on electronic tones against a drone. Bela brings up a cello line and the sax drops away completely leaving her to slowly layer up an evolving that imperceptibly transforms into Hervé taking it on. I think this is the point at which Bela sat back with that smile of “this is why I love improvising” she takes back the line and passes it on again it a slow back on forth of stunning spontaneous composition. We move on, with Bela taking a slow bass line against bird song and smoky midnight sax. There is a hint of electronic manipulation from Hervé as he plays. After sitting back for a while Bela brings in a disarming cello loop of high frequency tremulous drone. Hervé octaves his sax against that to build the unnerving atmosphere some more. Bela contributes a bassline. And after an exchange of flurries from Hervé and an electronically mutated version of himself, Bela worries away at a bass string and the birds quietly return.  Hervé playing quiet high pitched bursts of notes, it rains, an odd 3 note trebly cello riff loops, Bela plays a slow line almost a drone it moves so slowly, Hervé’s electronics moving slowly round it, an accidental squeak gets into the looper and fades slowly away to smiles, an almost crystalline thin feedback line takes us slowly and beautifully to the end.


I think it was quite a show to take us into the current situation. It was our first night with visuals by midi-error, we were projecting onto the black curtain, which gave things a nicely subtle effect, but means you can’t fully appreciate them in the photographs and video.