Tag Archives: soundlab

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.
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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….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x328QJ9oKyk

Strings, Wires, Threads and Guts!

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This is my first introduction to the ‘viola d’amore’. What a beautiful looking and sounding instrument it is.

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Emma Lloyd seems to have no problem wrestling with its fourteen strings indeed during the first piece she plays with some strange electronic mitten on her fingering hand and is wired up her sleeve through to what we in the know refer to as a box of tricks. It’s unclear to me whether the subsequent skronks and squeals are being manipulated /generated by colleague Matthew or if it’s purely her own handiwork (Boom, Boom!)
After ‘Solo for Viola d’amore and Electronics‘ is finished, she removes this cybertronic oven glove and reverts to ‘normal practice’ with yer man at the desk throwing his all into treating the sound and how it arrives at our ears.
She is very, very good and indeed so is he.
After the interval  we hear
Ulation
Do You Remember the Planets? 
and finally Prologue from Les Espaces Acoustiques
The duo are launching a new album tonight and while I am engrossed, if not engorged, with this sonic dish……. I am unsure whether I would splash out on their platter. This is all about being in the moment and watching her exertions and her peching and panting, for it is a strenuous, or appears to be, performance to be sure, I’m not sure sitting down with the Sunday papers and a cup of coffee would make me feel the same. Nevertheless I would cheerfully  fork out my hard earned readies to experience this again ‘in the flesh’. Bravo!

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Jim McKenna, Soundlab

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It’s always a sign of a good gig when you wish your pals were there too and so it was with tonight’s soundlab featuring Jim McKenna.

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Within two minutes of him beginning  his latest composition entitled Fata Morgana (a modest 45 minutes long)  I was really regretting not insisting that Spanner, and to a lesser extent Shields, had accompanied me to The Recital Rooms tonight.

Commanding a conglomeration of analogue synths, sequencers, and (I think) an echo facility all arranged in a somewhat abstract eccentric  fashion, that to me resembled a recently ram raided Cash Converters, the music that emanated was absolutely sublime. Imagine a Popul Vuh/Tangerine Dream soundclash and you might begin to get a flavour of the feast that was laid out before us. I was absolutely mesmerised and will be watching out for further performances.

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A cliché, I know, but the tunes tonight  are soundtracks to movies that have yet to be filmed. As I slowly drift off on a flight of fancy I can almost see Gordon Brown, ragged trousered and completely alone, riding a horse along an unknown beach. He stops and we zoom in close to his widening eyes and sweated brow
“Oh my God… I’m back. I’m home. All the time, it was… We finally really did it. [falls to his knees screaming] YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! AH, DAMN YOU! GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL! (camera pans to reveal the half-destroyed Kelpies sticking out of the sand)

Horsing about with Graeme Miller and Sven Werner

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What a perfect night to go see someone attack a piano with horsehair.
“It’s rock and roll, Jim but not as we know it”

Dressed in blue dustcoats, and looking like a pair of pantomime mad scientists, our protagonists, Graeme and Sven, stood pushing and pulling some absolutely heavenly sounds from their distressed piano. Due to the nature of the instrument, the finite length of the equine tailfeathers and the required proximity of the players, it was difficult occasionally to see what they were up to. Milking a cow? An impromptu game of Wiff Waff?
Regardless. At all time, the sound, which is what I was there for after all, was wonderful and superb. A sawing polyphonic multi-timbred racket ricocheting around the rafters of the sonically ‘bright’ Recital Rooms.
The sort of thing you could imagine a short trousered Phillip Glass whistling on his milk round.
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