Tag: Simon James

Endless travelator

March 2023
The Rossi Bar

Will a member of management please go to the security panel.

A boom arm full of loops of quarter inch tape hangs obscuring our view of Ascsoms as he sits at his tape player and effects. He introduces the pieces tonight as being from a work in progress called “A state of emergency”, a homage to klaxons, alarms and such. And it’s full on radiophonics, a lovely cascade of beeps and whirrs spills out of the PA, occasional tonal swirls, that are eventually swallowed up by a quiet repeating rasp. A fuzzy ill-defined drone hovers away in the background as the swirls occasionally continue and a Tuxedomoon shimmer whooshes through. A buzzing fly eventually realises itself as a thinned-out air raid alarm, pocket calculator tones away. Adam occasionally gets up to refresh the tape he’s using as a sound source. The tones vary, there’s a descending run that ends in bassy delay feedback. A circular saw seems to have defined pitch, everything slurs. One tape seems to have oud playing on, that he picks notes of particular frequencies to highlight that give us a rhythmic patter. Car horns unobtrusively provide a honking beat. A laser battle breaks out in the quietest traffic jam in the world. Stereo sonar pings!  It’s all surprisingly warm & emotional.

Jo Thomas is sat behind a Chapman stick laid out horizontally on the table in front of her. She plays with by hammering on to the strings, her hand like a piano player’s; reaching for the widest chord, she has some field recordings which come in under her sparse bass lines. Rhythmic leaf crunch, gives way to something ill-definably thumpier. I think of the Chapman stick as being a bass, but she gets some nice high notes out of it, including some nicely sustained feedback, which she distorts into a penetrating grind. Jo is also not immune to a little radiophonic warble here and there. Starting subtly then amping it up to overwhelm the field recordings. All the time making runs & rumblings on the stick. She runs for a while on a really nice abstract loop given rhythm by repetition, its quiet with a few notes, rumbles and whistles. We have walking / raindrops / knocking giving a counter beat, then a sudden rush of sub bass and take off rumble evolving into wind-tunnel  roar and improv rattle. Everything drops away leaving the sub-bass to loop away with sparse chords layered over.

Simon James rounds off the evening with his famous Buchla synth, once again the synth set up facing the audience and he sits with his back to us – we can see him working away: patching; adjusting, tweaking. He has programmed up a lot of sounds from his neighbourhood in Shoreham, the harbour, the beach, the wind, the occasional chime. The wind gradually becomes tuned and effected, a drone underpinning it. It drops away to the wind again, lock sirens, the distant warehouses. Distant foghorns boom gently, as we enter a factory, metal is dropped and lifts hum. We enter a world of water, waves against a wall, and Simon in his car talking about the wind of the sea buffeting his car. Lorries running past the bass off their exhaust enhanced by the Rossi bar’s PA. The final section starts with what sounds like a small wind turbine judging by the pitch, tuned up and down and briefly sawtoothed, ghosted with delay and some more proper bass and it suddenly stops to general laughter before recommencing back in the watery pool. Sirens woop and a ship engine throbs and vibrates past

All sounds are up

July 2019

The Rossi Bar


First up was Rapt, sat behind a laptop, his whole performance was an exercise in stasis, an almost Zen-like lack of activity, featuring variations on his first EP. Starting with shimmering drones layered several deep the overlying shifts between, I don’t know, three or four notes in an almost achingly emotional slowly unfolding melody line. The second piece takes things a bit more up-tempo, the parts moving around more dynamically, some murky bass drum and hint of hi-hat. It keeps the intensity up, without appearing to do much. Close listening reveals cycles of clacked bottles buried in the mix, but he is stationary at the monitor, not giving anything away, occasionally sipping Polish lager. The third and final piece has another slow motion melodic top line (this time it starts the piece off), the sound slowly filling out with bass washes and modulating synth lines underneath it. It doesn’t really unfold as engulf you in a warm wave of feeling. His new stuff is quite a bit different, but worth hearing: soundcloud.com/raptmusicuk/albums


Kina:Suttsu was about as far from that as you can get, we’ve been playing some of her music as bobobobin!!!? On the radio show, but this was a different thing. She was joined by local percussionist E-da Kuzuhisa. Kina starts on her odd guitar stick with gentle strumming, E-da has a contact mic on a rain-stick and some bells, Kina sings gently out of focus. The sound comes out of the quiet, slowly. Occasionally E-da bats his floor tom with a beater. Some cymbals wash and we shift; slowly the guitar becomes effected a Sitar-like chime, a rhythm picks up on a hand drum, her vocals shift into gasped phrases. This breaks down into a reverberant rainstorm. After that E-da picks up a tapping rhythm on a ride, and Kina moves briefly onto an Alto sax and gives us a good skronking while E-da gets a proper battery up on his limited percussion. Then she is back with the guitar on her lap with beaters and E-da is getting some shakers going. And some more distant singing to end.

Simon James

Finally And to finish we have Simon James, we had intended bringing his Synth and space echo to the front, but in the end it was too intricate a setup, so we left it at the back of the stage, which meant that Simon had to perform with his back to us – but that did mean we got to see the Buchla synth in all its glory. Simon had his NASA suit on as the set was to be a tribute to the Apollo 11 mission which had just had the 50th anniversary of its launch, so his set was suitably radiophonic in sound. Starting with a thin drone underpinned by a Sputnick-y beeping and full bass, this soon picked up space arpeggios and all sorts to take us on our journey. As we move out into orbit we get a stripped down bass drum and odd pong sound that slowly evolves into a grooving bass thing with more odd space noises. The further we get into this piece the harder it gets to describe. Glorious old style electronic space music. We can feel the stars moving in the sky and the Earth recede. As we get into Earth orbit things quieten right down for the slow beauty of Earthrise as we come round from the dark side. And finally they walk on the moon. Simon gets called back for an encore, so he treats us to a bleep and booster space jam, that ends abruptly with an “that’s what it sounds like in my room!”. Marvellous.