Tag Archives: John Cavanagh

Seth Rozanoff, City Hall, 13th May 2015

I haven’t listened to it for some time, late seventies probably, but I have, hidden away somewhere, a vinyl album by Basil Kirchin entitled  ‘Worlds Within Worlds’.
One piece, that my visiting friends found particularly harrowing, involved two ‘half speed gorillas’ from one speaker while a crowd of children from a ‘Swiss School for the Autistic’ could be heard singing in the other (it was particularly effective on headphones) and that’s what sprang to mind a few times during tonights performance.
Expecting to see guitar and electronics (I was thinking, perhaps even hoping for , something along the lines of Fripp & Eno), we were quickly advised by tonights host, John Cavanagh, that French guitarist Olivier Jambois was unable to attend and, therefore, the arising void onstage would be filled by a percussionist  whose name I’m afraid I didn’t catch but whose hairstyle, however, should certainly deserve separate billing on any future flyers.

Violin bows, cymbals, woodblock, tambourine  and a large tomtom were all deployed at some point in this tour de force of ‘assault and batterie’ (it’s the way I tell’em) He was a complete dervish, and perhaps, who knows, the bastard grandson of Jamie Muir? This was in complete contrast to Seth, who sat silent, and motionless, at his Apple. It was clearly all too much for a table of Japanese backpackers who had plumped themselves down at a front row table, long before ‘showtime’. Ten minutes into the unnamed first piece, they beat a hasty retreat straight to, and quickly straight through, the back door never to be seen again.20150513_201734

Twenty minutes later, this quite fascinating item shuddered  to its climax. The interval arrived and the stage was then immediately cleared of the subsequent percussion detritus, leaving only the Apple Mac for Part II.
My heart always sinks a little when I enter a venue and see that wee white apple glowing in the gloom. It’s never quite clear to me, the extent of what the operator is actually contributing to the performance, (I may well have covered this already elsewhere!).
Let us all go out and demand that all such shows in future have a back projection of the monitor screen, in order that the curious punter can bear witness to the talent  in action. For all I know, Seth, during the second half ,was just playing a  big pre-recorded WAV file while sneakily outbidding me on that snazzy pair of boots I’d ‘favourited’ on eBay earlier that afternoon.
Back to the show and the second half. This is a more structured piece, a pleasing use of the stereo soundstage, with what was quite clearly samples of Jambois’ strings being scraped, stretched, plucked and generally distressed. I am immediately reminded, in a good way, of Fred Frith and some wee rhythmic snippets of this unnamed tune are also reminiscent, to these ears, of those catchier bits from Revolution #9
Seth is clearly getting into the zone (either that or he’s being repeatedly outbid) as he now grimaces repeatedly, a look that’s not dissimilar to those many pub guitarists, we’ve all seen, trying to channel their Inner-Clapton.
Looking around the predominately male/bald audience I notice that apart from myself only one other audient doesn’t have their eyes closed.

For the Kirchin curious reader….



Say Hello, Sinewave Goodbye!


Type John Cavanagh’s name into Google and, nearby, you’ll nearly always see references to Syd and The Piper at The Gates of Dawn.
However, this evening, that isn’t the album that’s holding a lit Zippo to the feet of my synapses, and making me applaud, as Mr Cavanagh, in his occasional guise of ‘Phosphene’, accompanies an edited version of Roger Corman’s movie, The Raven.
No,instead, it’s flashes of my favourite pieces of musical mayhem from that second album, A Saucerful of Secrets, that keep flashing past the inside of my eyelids………….…and that’s no bad thing at all!
Like some modern day silent film pianist (the soundtrack and dialogue had been muted) he beavered away be-headphoned, twiddling, twerning and cajoling all sorts of synchronised accompanying squeals & sounds from his VCS3 (or Putney as we in ‘the know’ like to call them)

The first half, meanwhile was a tad gentler with John reading a short fairy-tale, The King That Would See Paradise, from Andrew Lang’s ‘Orange’ Fairy Tale Book (1906) This piece came in at just around half an hour long and featured a pleasant burbling analogue synth, reminiscent of Tim Blake’s early work. I could also hear many percussive delay sounds that recalled Dave McRae’s intro to Matching Mole’s ‘Gloria Gloom’.
When not reading the text, and indeed what a sonorous timbre he has, John also made good use of chimes, some Ganesh style singing bowls and heavily processed/delayed/choral vocals.
As the story ascended to its inevitably bleak denouement we were treated to a Cavanagh clarinet solo so shrill, deranged and unexpected, it would have sounded quite at home snuggling up to Flash Gordon’s Ape. I was annoyed to hear that this was the penultimate soundlab show as I would have liked to have experienced more.


To paraphrase Janice Nicholls, “I’d give it foive!”