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.
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….