Sunday, September 07, 2008

Review: Colour out of Space Festival, Brighton, Saturday, 6th September, 2008...




























Saturday

Afternoon.


Made it to the Bruce McLure show... Two pieces, introduced by the man himself – again, that American communication with the audience, this time to briefly explain his strategies. Hallucinatory mix of image and music – blips of scruffy white light flashing with the rhythms, occasional blurred images appearing and disappearing as if buried by the visual static. McLure sets loops running and blends/rams them into each other setting up cross-rhythms that collide and fall into step and separate again. The second piece introduced more syncopation in a jazzy way, moving across a strong three beat rhythm that changed to four and back, some fast ticking eighth notes giving a feel of 6/8 at one point. Usually falling back into a heavy pounding that echoed for me the Velvet Underground – a conscious New York influence? Hallucinatory flickers...

Night.

Fewer acts seen – got there a little later than planned due to apocalyptic downpour that had me pinned for shelter in the dooway of Safeways for ages! First up:

Charles Draheim. One man and his electronics table... but something different going on here. Draheim started innocently enough in the usual sonic territory but proceeded to go further and further away from the centre until he was banging mightily against the walls – and perhaps breaching them – of what an ear can tolerate. Not just the volume, particularly, but the high screeling, finger down the blackboard, dentist's drill nightmare granularities that did provoke a few to leave. Later he explored the deeper territories where bass gets very physical indeed and you feel that your heart beat is being interfered with... Transgressive stuff that posed many a question – which is what experimental music is supposed to do... This I dug...

Skullflower came straight out of the traps and held a climax for the whole of their segment. Tantric, what? Violin, guitars, blending into one roaring tangle of sound, powered on by the drums. Violin dropped out before the end – something to do with a dead lead? Or choice? Interesting, that sawed-out string sound out of the Velvets (back via John Cale to Tony Conrad/Dream Dyndicate and earlier minimalism) still rings on through the underground... A favourite band, encountered live for the first time.

Paul Hession and his two saxophonist cohorts, Biggi Vinkeloe (alto, doubling flute) and Sami Pekkola, tenor saxophone come straight out of free jazz. A purely acoustic lineup in such a predominantly electronic festival may have posed a few problems. Which were ridden over immediately. As they sound-checked and proceeded to play what turned into a taster for their main set people were drifting in and getting straight into their music. When they stopped, there were shouts for more! The hall filled up and they played a great set, coming off the polyrhythmic fire and skill of Hession, a master drummer who has been around in heavy company down the years. I hadn't heard his two bandmembers before and they were intriguing. Pekkola can go from what now has become straight ahead free playing across all the registers to the more conceptual interrogations of the the physicality of his instrument, in one sequence removing the mouthpiece, then later part of the neck to produce a variety of swooshing, farty sounds. Vinkeloe's flute was fascinating – plenty of orthodox technique again but she pushed into further territory, heavily breathing/speaking through it to produce other levels of sound – in Roland Kirk mode, certainly, but with her own spin. Overall, they gave a superb demonstration of dynamics, going from full-bore blowing to a quieter section that explored small nuances, bowed cymbals and brushes from the drummer and pointillism from the horns, bouncing ideas of each other all the way as Hession constantly varied his timbres and attack. Usually you see/hear this stuff in smaller venues, where the audience can get a bit precious, to be honest. I enjoyed the rowdier atmosphere as the saturday night fandango cranked up and the booze and whatever else flowed – many shouts and hoots of encouragement to the band that contributed to my thinking that this music benefits from being thrown out of the usual performance space into a more public arena. Hession and co looked as if they enjoyed themselves... one of my highspots of the weekend...

Vibracathedral Orchestra I have seen before and heard a lot of on cd , another favourite UK band. I remember first encountering them on a radio show ('Mixing It') about the music scene oop north and being blown away by the purity of their music and the way they build a set. No great surprises tonight perhaps – except maybe in the mellower sounds they produce compared to many other acts. Dissonance there is, cutting across the tonalities rising up from the drone base, but they tend to resolve rather than hang bleeding on the sonic wires. Not a criticism, rather the opposite in that they created their own space within the jostling sound worlds of the weekend – still widening the wide field they have fine-ploughed these last years. Rare beauty...

To the last act: Reines D'Angleterre. Ho ho... God save them... The enigmatic Frenchman Ghedalia Tazartes, flanked by Jo Tanz and él-g on electronics and 'vocals,' produced a barnstormer – something completely different. Singing in his own polyglot of fractured English, French and whatever else flits through his perception, moaning and hollering in cadences that seem to move from French chanson through minor key Jewish and Arab wail and beyond, he stands on the babel tower of his culture, producing a small accordion occasionally to blat out a fractured accompaniment and blowing and whirling a length of rubber pipe which is a secret signifier of Parisian street culture which I am sure he must be aware of. He's the same age as I am, and I remember the character who used to busk on the cinema queues on the Left bank, a clochard who blew a wild sound out of a length of garden hose looped round his neck. Whom we dubbed 'Hosepipe Feliciano,' circa 1970. Wish I could have asked him... (Wonder what happened to the Ratman? But that's for another day...).

The crowd loved him, as I did – I'd like to hear more. His accompanists gave out a sympathetic aural carpet of matching vocalisms and minimal but sufficient – and witty - background sounds from the kit on their respective tables.

There is a big article on him in this month's 'Wire' mag, worth checking out...

Apologies for the photos - I couldn't be bothered to jostle down to the front as I am just recovering from a broken toe... and no links either, as fast blogging off wifi and with duff battery...

6 comments:

SoG said...

Thanks for the review, I had to leave Brighton this weekend for a family do in Ely, but I'm enjoying your description.

Hopefully Sunday was a good'un too.

Geoff

Rod... said...

Thank! Sunday was a blast - culminating in wild Corsano/Moore/Naces blowout... I know Corsano from discs etc but missed him a few times over the last couple of years - an awesome drummer!

Anonymous said...

Thanks!!!!

Anonymous said...

The Hession trio was my highlight, as well as finally seeing Skullflower.

Have just put up an excerpt of the Hession set on youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re1olrCG-68

Anonymous said...

Totally awesome weekend - Fridays highlight was the Nyoukis / Robertson & Bohman trio - Tent was packed out! vocal grunts and screams and an incredible array of bric-a-brac / instruments - dont know if they play in this trio often but I highly recommend catching them if you can.

Rod... said...

...sorry I missed some of the stuff in the tent... but can't stand up for too long at the moment due to recovering from broken toe on one foot and damaged ankle on the other one... winging over - what a great weekend!