Tag: The Zero Map

A Tinnitus Special

May 2022
The Rossi Bar

It surprised me that we haven’t had more people using mobile devices play at The Spirit of Gravity, around 2010 I was convinced they’d sweep all before them, but they never did, we’ve had a few acts use them as sound sources, but Fizzell brings them centre stage as the major part of his tech, with an outboard processing unit and a little mixer. His set starts with filtered and modulated speech, well I assume speech as it has something of the rhythms and patterns of speech but garbled into pure sound. This ebbs and flows until it’s replaced by a sine bass, rhythmic slab of synth pad, and then a rhythm set by an odd loop of a matchbox drawer being popped, and an odd very 80s sounding bass synth line. He gets working on this building up a warbling rumble in the background. There’s a passage of really nice bell like tones against occasional detuned bass notes. It’s a set that chops from this to that, the next passage is like being clobbered by someone with a typewriter, this section actually builds and develops into something layered, lots of staccato lines warping around each other with a songlike structure and a really good tone bassline, and a really funny breakdown that almost gets clobbered by a fat drone. But when the main lines come back in, there are a couple of other nice indirections like that, too. The last section again seems based around chunks of voice based sound sources, this time filtered down to some pretty strange sounding bass tones.

Second on were The Zero Map, their first show since they played well before lockdown 3 years and 3 days previously…. Karl and Chloe set up behind their tables of stuff, stringed instruments, wind instruments, effects, a Theremin a plethora of stuff. Starting off quietly with muted bass guitar string scrapes and odd sounds played through end of a tunnel reverb, they incrementally build, slowly; sooo slowly: looped long sung exhalations, some odd  guitar flourishes, drones, quivers, I don’t know whats. Then about 15 minutes in it really starts to amp up, the bass drones take on a slightly fiercer tone, the guitar is just that bit more distorted, the drones louder adopting a bit more bite. There’s a slicing detuned guitar that circles ominously. Some voice rather than singing, some wailing, the Theremin gets a bit of work. Finally Karl (as he always does) gets right into my tinnitus frequencies and I have to block my ears for a while. It’s getting good and thick now, a soup of sound, like falling through 2001s stargate. A proper bass roar from Chloe, some actual feedback from somewhere. Some squalling synth sound. Bit of Harsh noise Wall to finish. Bang and done.

And finishing us off for the evening was Teignmouth Electron. I’d seen Maureen play at Wrong Music’s National noise Day event as part of Polly Shuan Kang Band who were excellent, and don’t think I’d seen her since. Maureen had twin cassette players and effects and a few small objects on her table, she stood behind it robed with her hands wide in benediction. “Without freedom of choice there is no creativity” the voice slips backwards at once point then slips away altogether overtaken by a gurgling toney burble. I can make out voices, but not the words. Resonant tunnels seem to spirit the meanings away. Some stately musical parts push through the murk, barely audible, over lowly clanking machines or whistling factories. There’s a nice little riff on that distinctive Casio organ sound. The voices on the cassette cajole and berate inconsonantly, indecipherably; tube trains come and go behind the walls. There are long passages of unfolding, evolving sounds, star trek fx, passages of loops; repetition. There are uncertain pitch controls, pinch wheels seem oval warbling the recordings. A super slow William Burroughs intones against a return of the Casio part. The Casio is replaced by a new synth part, higher penetrating constantly rising against a plethora of women’s voices, conversational looped and frrrp rewound. Frrrp rewound. Frrrrrrrrrp rewound. A murky guitar riff peeks through and disappears behind some proselytising. How nice. Everything drops down to a single woman’s voice, conversational that falls into a loop. The plaintive Casio returns along with Bill and a hymn. “you are not adhering to the current…” then a jangle of the small table bell and its done.

Don’t think about it that way

May 2019

The Rossi Bar

Zener Breakdown

So we jam packed the acts in for the May show.  Starting us off nice and early we had Zener Breakdown, a new project from Jason Hotchkiss, notorious creator of the Tesla Organ, and Chris Calcutt. They were line checking kit as folk were coming in, the demarcation of their set starting was a bit of introduction. Starting with an LFO activated pulse that they soon subsumed with some distortion and gritty bass washes, they were off. Lo-fi drum sounds mixed with crystal clear hi-hats, they got filtering the synth rhythms, and it came over like some old style acid on heroin rather than ecstasy.  Uneasy and indefinably itchy before glitching out into something else a lot mellower. Which burbled for a while until joined by some lovey string synth. The glitch re-asserted itself in some clowning gait and Cabaret Voltaire stabs. Things picked up again with an off centre groove accompanied by shots, swirls and meeps. Dropping down to another odd rhythm track they set up for an altogether slower emptier and more ominous ending.

The Zero Map

It was lovely of The Zero Map to ask us to share in their tenth birthday. Karl and Chloe unfold more slowly. Recordings of birds, dozens of ‘em, with a slight shimmer of a drone to give them something to bite against. The drone slowly becomes less slight, awash with endless reverbs and perhaps hints of guitar flourish or rumble. It seeps into your consciousness, erasing thought until you eventually become aware that ITS ACTUALLY QUITE LOUD NOW, PEAKING… Chloe adds voice, and bowed bass tones. Then it subsides again into something like one of Steve Hillage’s late 70s albums with Karl playing light guitar lines. Chloe brings in her pipes, there is a second swell, not quite as subtle as the first one, that ends in some definite roaring and a hefty wall of distortion. And then a final tail off into space


Taking us away from the amorphous wash of The Zero Map, Xylitol is discrete chunks of mostly song. Catherine starts with an odd chime and Casio and sound effects number, to confuse us into thinking we’re on a different tangent, before the spooky riff starts. The second song starts with a cheap rhythm through slight delay, that gives the song an odd slurred quality like trying to avoid the staggering drunk on the way up the hill, the organ drones and melody enhancing that effect. The next segment is like testcard music played by skeletons, the song after the skeletons are joined by squeaky toys and balloon farts. Its delirious. Everything is short, energetic, tending to frenzy at times, and manages to reference Bruce Haack, Raymond Scott, DAF and house music in the space of a few seconds. By the time we get to the penultimate number – a tremulous drone, with bleep and booster larking over, I’m in quite an odd state of mind. The epic last song (at 7 minutes) has a steady beat looming from a warehouse several miles away, over this melodic splashes of bell and tone permeate the mind quite irresistible.

Robyn Steward

So finally it’s Robyn Steward, Radio Mic’d trumpet through delays and octavers (up and down), this really is space trumpet. She kicks off with a stepped riff into the loop pedal that she uses as an intro, before getting into some improvvy blowing air into the instrument giving us a ground to add some sonorous bassy notes before dropping some gloriously detuned melodic top layers. She talks too us a bit before starting off again along a similar route that goes to a very different place, breath again starting the loop, with short parps, and blocky notes, before she gets into some much higher register stuff over the top, and wanders off into the audience playing Arkestra style (even if it is a procession of one). The next section starts with a tape delayed almost indefinitely, valve noises. She plays some slow mid notes over this, again with that odd octavy detuning effect. The space noise layer up in this bit without making the sound dense and she gets into some really nice playing over the top. She rounds the set and evening off with a staccato segment. Getting people clapping, with bass notes, and a really weird thing where the octave trumpet is REALLY squeaking quite wildy. Its all gets a bit intense, big bass tones, these scurrying mids and a thick, thick layer of high frequency noise that washes out to leave Robyn’s solo trumpet playing cleanly to flourish the end.

Stormy all round

January 2017
Green Door Store



Starting early we had Meshmass, Peter Picket on the uncomfy chair to the right with laptop, saxophone and effects, Richard Miles to the left with a normal sized guitar (this time) that still looks small on his lanky frame. They start so early because they like to warm up slowly, some ride pattern tapping, a slur of guitar and smoky sax tones setting a misleading mood, as the guitar slowly drifts in wayward taps and wanders off to one side. The second piece starts with Richard building tonal loops of sustain, with a rattley snare loop, xylophone plonks, thickening up with some textures and e-bow, synth and long sax notes. It breaks down a couple of times before peter starts hammering the sax with a pretty serious blart. And that’s pretty much how it continues, a loop or two, a layer of rhythm some misdirection and some disruption. They’ve played at SoG a few times now, but I think this was the most satisfying performance. The pair working well at the layers.

The Zero Map

The Zero Map

Second up was the Zero Map, us, like everyone else getting a piece of them while the getting is good. They have the full trestle on the go, Chloe sat behind the (bass) guitar for once – it being flat on the table ready to be bowed, they start with field recordings, blown shell drones, chimes. Karl lightly thrums a mandolin; Chloe sings through cave-ish echo. She makes other more disturbing sounds with her voice, too. A thumb piano loop plicks in the background as waves of voice and bowed bass wash back and forth. Someone introduces the voice from the Red Room and things start to get a bit darker. The sound thickens and the volume increases. At the same time the film – 5 year’s worth of short clips from Chloe’s outtakes from what looks like half a dozen different cameras starts to get a bit scarier. Distortion. Wailing. Some feedback. A train. A hoover. Harsh Noise. And out into radio static.



Last up and in the dark is Scrase, there are folk travelled up from Portsmouth to see him. They’ll need good eyesight – Ha! Can hear him plenty though. This is a laptop set, generative processing and completely tonal. So abstract its hard to describe, its the kind of thing that would normally be expected to be cold and distant, but this is warm, and immediate and oddly thrilling. Um, things change abruptly, algorithmically I suspect, sometimes slurring, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet. Things switch back and forth as if controlled by an old style squarewave LFO. There sa bit that reminds me of EVOLS clanger conversation set back at the Komedia, but then it drifts off into moogy space territory. Some passages are dense with incident, some sparse and rather lovely. Constant motion. I’m going to give up now. Proper artistic endeavour. And I loved it.