Tag Archives: Ireland

November 2016 – upcoming gigs – electronics and harps and balloons – Morton Subotnick + Kevin Drumm & Jason Lescalleet + Áine O’Dwyer in London (1st); Judy Dunaway’s inflatable European tour (1st to 30th)

28 Oct

Here’s some close-to-the-event news about an imminent avant-garde, fringing-on-noise event in Hackney; plus news on one of the oddest upcoming tours that I’ve ever had the pleasure of previewing in here.

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Morton Subotnick + Kevin Drumm & Jason Lescalleet + Áine O'Dwyer at St Johns Hackney, 1st November 2016

St John Sessions present:
Morton Subotnick + Kevin Drumm & Jason Lescalleet + Áine O’Dwyer
St John at Hackney Church, Lower Clapton Road, Clapton, London, E5 0PD, England
Tuesday 1st November 2016, 7.00pm
– information here and here

Full description scrounged from various press releases:

“Innovators and sonic architects come together for a St John Sessions performance.

Morton Subotnick is a true electronic pioneer who has worked extensively with interactive electronics and multi-media performance (often in collaboration with his wife, vocal virtuoso Joan La Barbara). With Pauline Oliveros and Ramon Sender, Subotnick co-founded the San Francisco Tape Center, an influential cultural organisation and electronic music studio. The Centre was instrumental in the invention and development of the Buchla synthesizer and was, in turn, a fundamental influence on all electronic music that followed.

“Subotnick is an innovator in works involving instruments and other media, including interactive computer music systems. Most of his music calls for a computer part, or live electronic processing; his oeuvre utilizes many of the important technological breakthroughs in the history of the genre. Tonight, Subotnick performs a solo set on the Buchla synthesizer – undulating, moving and almost psychedelic.


 
“Preceding this performance, we are pleased to present the debut UK performance from Kevin Drumm and Jason Lescalleet. Emerging from Chicago’s improvised music scene during the 1990s, Kevin became one of the world’s pre-eminent prepared guitar players, later expanding his work to include electroacoustic compositions and live electronic music made with laptop computers and analog modular synthesizers. His early recordings contain mostly sparse, quiet sounds; recent works have been more loud and dense. For twenty years, Jason has been making electro-acoustic sound work, using all manner of source material to engage listeners in both site and narrative by providing a rich and physical sense of place. Two formidable musicians and performers in their own right, their collaborative releases on Erstwhile Records create a soundworld that is at turns beautiful and terrifying, comprising ambient recordings and brooding drone.


 
“Irish musician Áine O’Dwyer creates chance- and improvisation-based compositions, and has performed widely as a solo artist on harp, organ and various objects, and also regularly performs with United Bible Studies, Charlemagne Palestine and Mark Fry. Her album of improvised church organ music, ‘Music for Church Cleaners’ (released on MIE last year), received critical acclaim. Here, she brings her idiosyncratic approach to composition to sacred space once more.”


 
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You might not have thought that a person could still bring what’s essentially a party trick into culture houses and make a career of it; but if so, Judy Dunaway is proving you wrong…

Judy Dunaway, 2016

“Judy Dunaway performs avant-garde compositions and free improvisations on amplified latex balloons played as musical instruments. She is known internationally as a ‘virtuoso of the balloon.’ She plays a variety of shapes and sizes of balloon instruments, each with its own special qualities, pushing the extremes of both pitch range and artistic limits. Her large rubbed ‘tenor’ balloon gives Jimi Hendrix’s guitar a run for the money and her giant balloon pulsates into the depths of the subaudio. Her abstract music and sounds are difficult to equate with other forms, depending upon the perception of the individual like the images seen in fire or clouds.”

Below are a couple of videos – one of which is an overview of Judy’s techniques and approaches as regards her ballooning skills (including audience interaction), and one in which she performs uninterrupted.



 
I’ll admit that (as with most friction-based instrumentation which leans over the borderline into readymade art) listening to this kind of material can end up as a test of endurance in which your mileage and tolerance, plus the outcome, may vary. As far as I know, no-one’s yet tried to tune and tour a scraped blackboard. Yet ultimately, Judy’s commitment to this kind of music making is fascinating. No one-trick pony, she also worked as a guitar-toting singer-songwriter on other occasions up until 1995; but she’s entirely serious about ballooning – publishing papers on her approach, making points about microtonality, and collaborating with string quartets on serious avant-garde compositions. Having mastered a variety of dextrous noise-making techniques which drive the amplifed latex into flexible, cunningly-controlled roars and squeals, she invites us to reconsider a balloon (quite legitimately) as an “orb-shaped string”.

On the other hand, she’s also integrated vibrating dildos into her balloonwork (in one case via a piece called Flying Fuck), so there’s clearly a downtown New York sense of humour at work as well.

Full dates for the European Solo Balloons Tour below:

 

More September gigs – Gong’s Dave Sturt and friends travel the world from Derbyshire on the 23rd; London gets more Daylight Music eclectica plus a Blacklisters/Joeyfat/Himself jabber-rock summit on the 26th

17 Sep

Here are details on some more interesting concerts coming up later this month. These run the gamut from soft psychedelic world-folk atmospherics to jabbering electric art-punk noise and sprechtstimme via dream-folk, caustic love songs and extended-technique art-rock instrumentals. (It was a shame to hear about the cancellation of the Charles Hayward gig in London on the 23rd – taking its ANTA, Gnob and Kavus Torabi support slots with it – but I’m sure that something similar will be rescheduled for anyone in need of their art-mash/stoner/prog/psych/metal salad…)

event20150923davesturtwirkw

Dave Sturt presents An Evening of Dreams & Absurdities (Upstairs @ The Red Lion, Market Place, Wirksworth, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 4ET, UK, 23rd September 2015, 8.00pm) – £8.00

As part of the Wirksworth Festival Fringe, Dave Sturt (bass guitarist with Gong, Bill Nelson, Steve Hillage and Jade Warrior, as well as being half of Cipher) showcases tracks from his forthcoming solo album ‘Dreams & Absurdities’ in an evening of world-class all-instrumental musicianship featuring beautiful eclectic music, soundscapes and various field recordings from Gong tours and elsewhere. The music is “mostly mellow and ambient – somewhere between melancholy and elation.”

For the performance, Dave will be accompanied by three guests. Chris Ellis (guitar and piano) is a multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter/actor, an ex-member of Anglesey band Ghostriders, and an award-winning soundtrack composer – he’s also a collaborator with Dave on the Past Lives Project (which recreates the recent ancestral histories of British communities by resurrecting their old cinefilm recordings and setting them to new music). Brian Boothby (low whistle, djembe) is an acclaimed folk musician, dramatist and writer and a member of the Derbyshire mixed-arts collective Genius Loci. Jeff Davenport (drums, percussion, HandSonic pad) has worked with jazz musicians Andy Sheppard and Phil Robson, pop artists James Morrison and Laura Mayne, and currently collaborates regularly with “Silent Pianist” Neil Brand providing soundracks to silent films, as well as working in Europe and the Far East on various projects with all manner of musicians.

Up-to-date details here  and here, with tickets available online from here or available from Traid Links via email enquiry.

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On the last post, I plugged a London double event on the 19th – a day with a Daylight Music concert at midday and a noisier rock gig in the evening (both events which are still about to happen as I post this). In another week’s time, history’s repeating (fortunately not as farce, though anyone familiar with the bands in the evening show can expect some twists and jabs of humour) so here’s what’s coming up on September 26th…

Daylight Music 200

Daylight Music 200: Ex-Easter Island Head + French For Rabbits + Louis Barabbas, plus a photo exhibition (Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, Islington, London, N1 2UN, UK – Saturday 26th September 2015, 12.00pm-2.00pm) – free entry, suggested donation £5.00

An extra special event to celebrate the 200th Daylight Music, featuring some of the most popular acts from the last six years (643 performances by 530 different acts; 15,254 cups of tea or coffee drunk; 9,863 slices of cake scoffed; 5,003 pieces of quiche devoured) and during which we’ll be raising funds for Daylight Music in 2016.

Ex-Easter Island Head are a Liverpool based musical collective composing and performing music for solid-body electric guitar, percussion and other instruments. They have performed their original compositions solo, as a duo, trio, quartet and as a large ensemble across a wide variety of events from site-specific installation works to live film scores. They create a sensation whenever they play. If you’ve never seen musicians hitting electric guitars with mallets before, then cancel all other plans for the day and head down.

French For Rabbits hail from the remote natural setting of Waikuku Beach, in New Zealand’s South Island. Vocalist Brooke Singer expresses intimate narratives against the cast of the damp colonial cold; her voice delicately steeled against winsome guitar lines and the eerie instrumentation of her bandmates. It’s a weather-beaten dreamscape, nostalgic for warmth and hopefully lilting towards sunnier climes.

Louis Barabbas is a writer, performer and label director, best known for caustic love songs and energetic stage shows that leave you pumped up and breathless.

The icing on the cake this week is an instrumental soundscape provided by Irish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adrian Crowley, who (over his six-album career) has been described by the Independent as “a master of understatement” and cited by Ryan Adams as the answer to the question “who’s the best songwriter that no one’s heard of?”

To celebrate the fantastic photography taken throughout the lifespan of Daylight Music by a very talented bunch of volunteer photographers, there will be a lo-fi photo exhibition consisting of 200 postcards on the pews of the chapel for people to take away; plus there will be a limited numbers of brochures to buy featuring all of the photographs.

More information on the concert is here.

In the evening, there’s a change of pace and milieu over in Hackney as post-hardcore rubs up against a bit of playful English Dada. I’ve got a liking for those occasions when rock music drives itself up against persistent, wayward speech and stubs its toes on it; and this gig will offer plenty of opportunities for that…

Blacklisters, Joeyfat, Himself, September 26th

Blacklisters + Joeyfat + Himself (Pink Mist @ The Shacklewell Arms, 71 Shacklewell Lane, London, E8 2EB, UK, Saturday 26th September 2015, 8.00pm) – £8.00

Blacklisters’ aggressive, confrontational and darkly humorous performances have earned them a reputation as one of the best acts on the UK underground, drawing comparisons to the likes of The Jesus Lizard and Pissed Jeans. Their debut album ‘BLKLSTRS’ was released in 2012 to critical acclaim, landing them supports with Scratch Acid, Pig Destroyer, Future of the Left and Big Business, as well as a live session at Maida Vale studios for the Radio 1 Rock Show. Tonight’s special show is in support of their fearsome new record ‘Adult’ on Smalltown America. Produced by Matt Johnson (aka MJ of Hookworms) the album is a clear progression for the band and sees them fuse abstract art-noise with the brutally minimalist riffs that first put them on the radar.

Also playing are amorphous cult stalwarts Joeyfat, a band who’ve been defying conventions of “band logic” longer than most of us have been able to get into shows at all. Their sinewy math-inspired spoken-word has seen them share stages with the likes of Bilge Pump, S*M*A*S*H, Clearlake, Lords, Dartz, Art Brut, Trencher and Green Day, obviously. Catch them at this rare London show.

Direct from Leeds (unless they stopped off some place on the way), Himself’s shouty/talky interactive noise rock has been winning them plaudits up and down the company, including from Radio’s Daniel P. Carter who invited them to record a live session for the Radio 1 Rock Show earlier this year.

Tickets for the Shacklewell Arms gig are available here and here. Note that this is an 18+ event.

 

Album reviews – R.O.C.: ‘Virgin’ (“from the surreal and experimental to pure pop and simple emotion”)

29 Sep
R.O.C.: 'Virgin'

R.O.C.: ‘Virgin’

Cut‑ups are wonderful things. TV samples. Answering machines. Category‑defying noises. Harsh vocals. Scattershot free associations. Beautiful vocals. Hazy guitars. Clattering electro‑rhythms. A sense of the surreal. A sense of the melodic. Glorious eclecticism. The perfect post‑modern pop group.

Hallelujah! R.O.C. are back.

And against the odds, too. The debut album of this transatlantic trio (Fred Browning, Karen Sheridan and Patrick Nicholson, with roots in American, Ireland and Britain) welded pop music with a wilfully obscure grab‑bag of eclectic styles. Spookily emerging out of nowhere, it was critically hailed as the pinnacle of the ’90s zeitgeist, but the record‑buying public remained resolutely silent. Yet, here are R.O.C. ‑ back! ‑ on a new major record label deal (Good on you, Virgin, I take back everything I’ve ever said about the majors… well, almost…)

Dada opens the album with a statement of intent akin to the surreal art movement of the same name. Grasshoppers and various indecipherable speech samples give way to pounding, discordant and (very definitely) tuneless harsh electronica, accompanied by sinister laughter. Jeez, they’re such awkward people that you almost get the feeling that this is the spirit of ROC laughing at you for not understanding it, not getting it. Not very welcoming, either musically or emotionally. Thus, not for nothing does the oh‑so‑English conversation (too formal, too well‑accented to call rap) of the next track (Dis)Count Us In begin with the question “Are you still with me?” before Fred Browning relates a tale of watching a woman across a crowded room, to a backing of post‑modern electro‑pop.


 

All change. Mountain is R.O.C. as a slightly less comatose Mazzy Star performing to acoustic guitar and warm This Mortal Coil‑style atmospherics. Karen’s lyrics detail her observations ‑ highly emotional but somehow dispassionate ‑ of someone whose life has no direction and is spinning out of their control ‑ “Here we go again, / You’re going to take another rollercoaster ride through hell” ‑ in a beautifully recorded wash of womb‑like electronics.

Cheryl is a pop Suicide for the ’90s, an almost cheesy pop melody set to gleaming pulsating electronics and interludes of demolition percussion. Karen sings (Cheryl’s?) lyrics of a big fuck‑off to a man (antiquated sexist attitudes, thinks he’s God’s gift) and states her own terms for independence; “If it’s all the same / I think I’ll move on up… / I’m gonna get myself some dedication.”

Ever Since Yesterday starts as an acoustic‑guitar based lament to the departure of Fred Browning’s lover before all manner of randomly‑emitting Disco Inferno‑ish sampledelia and phased electronica makes its presence felt, distorting the whole sonic collage and moving it out into the realms of post‑rock. Instead of fading out, it collapses in on itself as the tape mangles. Gorgeous.

25 Reasons To Leave Me features Browning returning to his husky Shaun Ryder vocal style, set to a loping laid‑back musical backing not unlike a more uptight Happy Mondays; whilst K.C is a dry disconcerting, upfront recording, led by a simple and affecting sequence of organ chords, later joined by a soloing trumpet and brass accompanying a vocal of more third‑person observation from Sheridan. It’s no criticism to say that this track resembles late‑night bedsit pop at its best. Kind of a meeting between Prefab Sprout and The Cure, if you will.

Cold Chill Just Lately details the crossed wires, cross‑currents, accusations and arguments of a relationship break‑up. This rather harrowing subject is carried by the track’s broken, exhausted vocals. He’s not happy, but there is a certain black humour typical of R.O.C.: “But I guess it’s just a fucked‑up world we’re living in, / and you know it couldn’t get much worse. / But then it turns you over and fucks you in the ass… / She only cares about herself / She never cared about me.” Such bile is performed to an incongruous accompaniment of smoothly enveloping, ebbing waves of sound, a lurching rhythm, and throbbing strings adding a chamber‑pop element.

The final track, Ocean And England, opens with the sound of thunder and rain, and a bare strummed guitar‑‑the poignant musical lead is then swapped to a ringing electric piano and harpsichord before a huge sampled orchestra swoons in. Like many bravely experimental acts, ROC always remember that, sometimes, all one needs is a song and an affecting melody. “Ocean And England” is just that, and even includes a lovelorn lyric: “Hey you, / the ocean and England are so far away. / Won’t you consider coming home / to be with me again?”


 
Ultimately, though, this album lacks a little of the debut album’s magical Wonderland atmosphere ‑ swapping the feeling that anything could happen within the space of the next track for the feeling that yes, plenty will happen, but it will be more regimented and organised. Yet how many bands would have the sense of vision to travel, in one album, from the surreal and experimental to pure pop and simple emotion?

R.O.C. Still utterly beguiling.

R.O.C.: ‘Virgin’
Virgin Records, CDV 2829 (7 24384 29472 4)
CD-only album
Released: September 1997

Get it from:
(2018 update) quite a rare release these days, best obtained second-hand.

R.O.C. online:
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