The Rossi Bar
The first unheralded act of the evening was Ninit / Polysicness, who literally agreed to play 24 hours before he stepped on stage, the first of two COVID stand-ins. A background thrum of cassette distortion seems baked into the start of the set, the sound is thick, warm, enveloping in that nicely saturated manner that iron oxide gives you. Barging their way into this comes a murky rhythm and some drums, the wash of background sound dissolves and the sudden clarity makes your ears pick up. Greg is stopped over afar too low table, it looks painful. He suddenly off and wandering round the audience in the creepy see through mask giving delayed words to us. The music canters off a nice rumbling uneven bassline and rhythmic piano-ish stabs giving way to arpeggiated counterpoint. There is some serious pitch adjustment to lead lines giving things an odd eerie edge. A general mutation as we progress through the set, each part built on one piece from the previous. Rhythms change, drums grow lumpy or staccato, holding back the drive or suddenly lifting us forward. In the middle of the set there’s a pause where everything fleetingly disappears save a child’s voice, just enough to give us a bliss of tension before the release of everything coming back and we’re off again. As we move through the sound gradually thickens back up, the parts get noisier. As we approach the end everything gets louder, more muffled. Slows down. Speeds up. More shouting. Riffs revisit. That tape ambience is back. More bass drum. More reverb.
With slightly more notice, our first replacement, playing second, was Monty Oxymoron. Opening with a flurry of Morricone-esque guitarish notes off his keyboard, bouncing off the delay, a sound somewhere between guitar, space organ and electric piano Monty was running up and down the keyboard, twinkles of top end notes. Razor edged bass parts. Pausing and slowing down for more retrospective passages, before a proper shimmer of space sounds held us blissfully for a minute or so, segueing into a lovely passage of jazz tinged spaceness. He had a very plastic looking electric tambura that droned in somewhere around here, giving him the opportunity to go right out into the further reaches. Little melodic flourishes, scary bass lines, then off on another extended pianistic improvisation. Then we have a pause while he reads some passages from his book “The Cosmic Brain Explodes” over the tambura backing. Then a flurry of super-fast trebly Tangerine-ish arpeggios herald the return of the cosmic jazz. He does some odd stuff with timbre where he almost disappears into a black hole, before emerging again, pulsating and twinkling.
So finally and the only person who knew he’d be playing 6 weeks – or even a week previously we had Alien Alarms. Starting in a twinkling manner that flowed on quite nicely from Monty’s set, with a vocal sample from what sounded like a documentary on that new-fangled electronic music. The melodic parts float over a sparse bass line, that seems to go missing for bars at a time without losing anything, the drums are constantly evolving, this is where the real movement is, the dynamism. Without straying into Aphex style erraticism, they shift, add dynamics imperceptibly, drive us on. The second track carries on the bassline becoming more constant, dropping into massive long slurred tones at one point. Gradually the tempo shifts upwards, the third track takes the longer bass notes, not so much notes as a bar long pitch bent single note at times. Over this is a queasy 16th detuned string part and something about vegetation. Track four gets all Marxist on us over something approaching super-fast drum and bass drums under super slow everything else, like that old joke about people dancing at 2 speeds at D’n’B raves put into very visible action. The final track has some very nice vocoder action, and continues the speed up, with some proper deranged pitch bent, well everything, basslines, pads, melodic lines all meandering all over the shop, the vocoder itself ending up washing out the voice into almost a complete synthetic wash.