Tag Archives: Kevin Plummer

January to March 2020 – assorted London gigs – Holly Penfield at 100 Club (8th March) and with Ian Ritchie at the Fiddler’s Elbow (10th January); skewed surf, pop and acoustica with Kenny Process Team, Keith John Adams and The Happy Couple (13th January); Balkan/Gaelic folktronics with Arhai (18th January); plus Minute Taker’s ‘Wolf Hours’ in Manchester (24th January)

7 Jan

Holly PenfieldIf you missed Holly Penfield’s London launch gig for her ‘Tree Woman’ album back at Halloween last year – or if you attended and wanted to see it again – then she’s looping back on herself and staging another one at the 100 Club on 8th March. For those unfamiliar with her, here’s what I wrote (indeed, here’s what I recycled) last time.

“Raised in San Francisco (and a veteran of the 1980s LA pop scene with the scars to prove it) Holly spent much of the ‘90s writing and performing the psychodramatic one-woman pop show ‘Fragile Human Monster’ in London and elsewhere. A show with such troubled and intense undercurrents that it eventually blew itself apart, it’s now spawned a return… but under very different circumstances. The whirling mirror-glass synths and saxophones of the old days have been replaced by a gritty post-Americana rock band (which growls, gnaws and struts through her songs like a Cash or Waits ensemble) while Holly herself has mostly forsaken standing behind a keyboard (except for when a grand piano ballad calls for that set of skills).

“It’s funny, sad, uplifting and stirring all at once. Once the very embodiment of storm-tossed waif and precarious survivor, Holly’s now a wiser and much happier woman. She still absolutely owns the stage, though, helping herself to a big dollop of the jazz and blues flavourings which shaped her initial development, playing a dash of ukulele and engaging in some zestful shimmying (and some delightfully ludicrous party outfits, worn with wit and flair – it seems as if her recent steps away from cabaret involved at least one sly step back).

“What hasn’t changed is the quality of her singing, and of her songs. While old FHM standards like Misfit, The Last Enemy, puddle-of-grief ballad Stay With Me, and slinking fingersnapper You Can’t Have The Beauty Without The Beast have shed skins and made the transition to the new show, Holly’s also been dipping into a trunk of neglected and mostly previously unheard work, including the tremendous state-of-the-world song Confessions (based around a lyrical hook she once dangled in front of an intrigued Joni Mitchell) and the vivacious Tree Woman (a more recent effort in which she vigorously embraces both her own ageing and the resilience that comes with it).”



 
Holly Penfield & Ian Ritchie, 10th January 2019If you can’t wait until March, Holly and her multi-instrumentalist husband Ian Ritchie (the latter an ex-Deaf School member recently fresh off playing sax on the Roger Waters tour) will be playing another London gig this coming Friday, up at the Fiddler’s Elbow. This one will be an “experimental thirty-minute duo gig of originals with vintage ‘80s drum machine… interesting, quirky,and challenging!”

Although Holly and Ian are going out under their Cricklewood Cats moniker (under which they’ve previously released a few synth-jazz swing songs), theirs has been a long and varied partnership also encompassing cabaret, out-and-out jazz balladry, noisy rock diva songs and the bewitching sequencer-torch-pop of the ‘Parts Of My Privacy’ album. So you could expect takes on all of the above and more, including some of Holly’s newer songs. At the moment she’s on a serious creative upswing, and there’s rarely been a better time to see her than now.


 

* * * * * * * *

Kenny Process Team + Keith John Adams + The Happy Couple, 13th January 2020On the following Monday, the reunited and reinvigorated Kenny Process Team launch their own new album, ‘Travlin’ Light With… Kenny Process Team’. Actually, it’s an old one, recorded as a live session over twenty years ago with the band’s 1998 lineup but lost in the abstracted shuffle of the band’s history, which has seen members swap out, disappear, impale themselves on fences and even join Oasis.

Part avant-surf, part Afro-prog and compared in their time to both The Ventures and Captain Beefheart (while proggies will also find parallels with Television and The League of Gentlemen), there’s more on the Kenny Process back story here. In the present, with the addition of Rhodri Marsden as new guitarist (replacing the late Simon King) and thanks to his existing connections with Lost Crowns and Prescott, they’re further cementing their links with London’s current crop of art/prog/psych/cellularists.



 
Also playing is KPT labelmate Keith John Adams. Once Rhodri’s bandmate in zestful 1990s avant-skifflers Zuno Men, for twenty years now Keith has been a solo act coming at acoustic pop from a gently skewed angle, buffeting around friendly lyrical ideas like a sozzled housefly bumping against a lampshade and turning out understated little song-gems as he does so. His accidental forebears might include Robyn Hitchcock, Kevin Ayers; you might also pretend that he’d been dreamed up from some lazy Walthamstow afternoon when Leon Redbone shared a sofa with the young Bill Oddie.



 

Opening the evening is The Happy Couple, the languid instrumental duo formed by Kenny Process drummer Dave Ross and his life partner Judith Goodman, born out of two decades of inseparable love mingling with the inspiration of the Epping Forest woodscapes where they live. Judith plays a variety of open-tuned guitars, predominantly a Weissenborn acoustic slide guitar but also a 4-string tenor and a 3-string cigar box model (plus a mysterious “early English” example which suggests a rewriting of instrumental history). Leaving his drumkit behind, Dave plays a variety of mouth-held lamellophones: a classic American jaw harp, Indian morchangs in both brass and iron, a Norwegian Munnharpe and a mouth bow harp created in Devon. As for the music, it’s a relaxed evocation of companionship, glissando and boing and intersecting rhythms: or, as Judith comments, “it’s about the sounds that happen when we put our sounds together. We just create a world we want to be in.”



 
* * * * * * * *

Arhai, 18th January 2020

The following Saturday, British/Serbian electronic folk project Arhai slip into the little cellar at the Harrison to deliver their own electro-acoustic atmospheres. A two-decade-long project led by singer/composer Jovana Backovic, they were a traditional Serbian acoustic octet for their first ten years, gradually shifting into electric terrain before dissolving and allowing Jovana to form the current duo with British multi-instrumental specialist Adrian Lever (mediaeval dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, guitar, tambura, Bulgarian lute etc). Now they’re Balkan-cum-Gaelic, intertwining ancient and technological: or, as they put it “rethinking the archetypal modes of music performance in the context of modernity”. Which sometimes means they’re ultra-accessible and synth-quilty in the familiar Clannad model, and sometimes means that they’re off and racing like a cross between izvorna and a hyperspatial hip hop track.




 
* * * * * * * *

All of the above events will be in London: for the next one, you’ll need to head up to Manchester, where singer, songwriter and electronic pop creator Ben McGarvey, a.k.a. Minute Taker, is unveiling his multi-media performance ‘Wolf Hours’. Ben is no stranger to mixing theatre and music, having already presented a love-and-ghosts story on tour with ‘To Love Somebody Melancholy’ featuring animations from Ana Stefaniak. ‘Wolf Hours’ is an even more ambitious undertaking – “a unique performance combining mesmerising film with a dynamic live soundtrack. From forbidden love in the First World War, to the pain and rage of AIDS, to contemporary hedonism and heartbreak, ‘Wolf Hours’ explores the stories of gay men at different points in time through their dreams. This series of stunning new short films (directed by John Lochland, Joe Stringer, Kirk Sylvester, Raphaël Neal and Ben McGarvey) are accompanied throughout by Minute Taker performing an intimate musical and vocal score that both builds the atmosphere and pulls on the heartstrings. Visually explosive and emotionally thrilling, ‘Wolf Hours’ transports the audience through pleasure, grief, lust, joy and our collective historical imagination.”



 
In this interview with ‘Superbia’, Ben expounds on the approach he took when putting together ‘Wolf Hours’, which he describes as “jumbled-up memories, fears and fantasies.. It’s presented a bit like late night TV from back in the ’80s and ’90s (when anything queer was relegated to an after-midnight slot!) with different programmes and images emerging out of the static as you drift in and out of sleep… I also decided to include lots of archive footage in the show, which explores the way homosexuality has been portrayed in the media over the years… all of the stuff that finds its way into the subconscious minds of the characters as they lie awake at night, having an effect on how they view themselves and the gay community.” He’s hoping to take the show out on a broader tour much later this year, but for now this is all that you’re getting…

* * * * * * * *
Dates:

Holly Penfield & Ian Ritchie: The Cricklewood Cats
The Fiddler’s Elbow, 1 Malden Road, Kentish Town, London, NW5 3HS, England
Friday 10th January, 2020, 8.20pm
– no information links, just turn up…

Kenny Process Team + Keith John Adams + The Happy Couple
Servant Jazz Quarters, 10a Bradbury Street, Dalston, London, N16 8JN, England
Monday 13th January 2020, 7.30pm
– information here, here and here

Folk and Roots presents:
Arhai
The Harrison, 28 Harrison Street, Kings Cross, London, WC1H 8JF, England
Saturday 18th January 2020, 7.30pm
– information here, here and here

Minute Taker presents ‘Wolf Hours’
Hope Mill Theatre, 113 Pollard Street, Beswick, Manchester, M4 7JA, England
Friday 24th January 2020, 8:00pm
– information here and here

Holly Penfield
The 100 Club, 100 Oxford Street, Soho, London, W1D 1LL, England
Sunday 8th March 2020, time t.b.c.
– no information links yet
 

June 2015 – upcoming London gigs on 26th June – Bing Selfish & The Windsors/Andrew Ford/élan/Ragmatic play Club Integral @ The Others; The Many Few/Purple Implosion/Halcyon Days play the Dublin Castle

20 Jun

Usually I’ve got pin-sharp memories of where and when I saw a band play. The one occasion when I saw The Kenny Process Team is an exception. I’ve got next to nothing. A scruffy black cube of a room somewhere, with guitar leads and primary-colours gaffa on the floor; a small-kit drummer ticking away with a pair of bisected sticks. A guitarist and bass player sit on amplifiers or boxes, playing with the whiskery, matter-of-fact precision of master joiners shaping their umpteenth wooden cabinet. A second guitarist stands off to one side, with a flowing sheaf of dreadlocks. The lone black guy in an otherwise white quartet, he almost looks as if he’s been teleported in from a reggae backline but his eyes, wary and committed, tell a different story. Clearly engrossed in the music, he plays blunt, abbreviated questioning lines against the rolling machinery of his bandmates; their mixture of Fifties-twang and conversational Fred Frith art-rock arpeggios, of lean spare proggy lines a-tilt on the wave tube.

As regards the rest of it, I remember nothing. Not the stairs up or down to the venue, nor where it was. “Somewhere in London” is the best I can do. Otherwise, this little memory exists in a cell of its own – a room floating in a void, a space that existed purely as a setting for the music. I certainly wasn’t drunk, nor under the influence of anything stronger than a semiquaver. I may well have been slightly hypnotised by the Team’s cramped fluidity, the crystallising complexities jagging up from simple bases. Bar a single, rare record, the band themselves have sometimes seemed to have vanished down a black hole. Even the web only offers the smallest scraps on them. While I only encountered them once, they apparently played together for eighteen years. Perpetually on the sidelines? Deliberate masters of self-effacement, only really coalescing for gigs?

Seeing a different iteration of The Kenny Process Team pop up around a decade later for a Club Integral gig, therefore, is quite surprising, although everyone concerned has probably been hiding in plain sight. I guess that they won’t have been the invisible band to everyone (and, in particular, not the more knowledgeable people who are likely to make up a Club Integral audience) – but if, like me, you remember the Team as an oblique one-night encounter which snagged in your memory, here’s an opportunity to catch up.

Blurb follows…

Club Integral presents “A Thousand Butterfly Skeletons” featuring Bing Selfish & The Windsors, élan, Andrew Ford and Ragmatic (The Others, 6-8 Manor Road, Stoke Newington, London, N16 5SA, UK, Friday 26th June, 8.00 pm – price £5.00/£3.00 concession)

In an exciting one-off performance, fabled DIY pioneer and visionary misanthrope Bing Selfish is joined by micro-lounge minimalist rock quartet The Windsors. From the early eighties Bing Selfish has followed his own unique path, assisted on the journey by a plethora of maverick musicians from Jim Whelton, Rob Storey, through to Bill Gilonis and Chris Cornetto. Drawing from the well of European avant-garde sensibility, from the Symbolists to the Situationists, coupled with relentless punning and sardonic rhyming, Bing has built his own parallel world, defiantly in opposition to 21st century neo-conservative capitalism, and mainstream musical consurism. Many magazines, records, radio shows and films later he still stands upon the stage, and he’s still seriously pissed off. Chris Cutler has described him as “a phenomenon in the galaxy of songsters today” while ‘The Wire’ has hailed him as “an intuitively sharp lyricist with few peers.” More pungently, Options USA has imagined his character as “a self-pitying drunk, a self-loathing homosexual, a bitter poli-sci professor, or all of the above.”

The Windsors rose from the ashes of the legendary Kenny Process Team, described by Eugene Chadbourne as “forward-looking electric guitar music with a rock base, (stylistically) somewhere between the precision control of surf rock groups such as the Ventures and the almost classical compositions Captain Beefheart.” The new group (Simon King – guitar, Tom Murrow – drums, Matthew Armstrong – bass, and Phil Bartai – keyboards) play intricate, driving instrumentals composed by Kevin Plummer with the band. This is a one-off chance to hear them apply their genius for deftness, intricacy and dynamic arrangement to the anarchic poesy of Bing’s song catalogue.

élan is the kosmische muzik side-project of Dave Tucker (The Fall, London Improvisers Orchestra, Charm School) and friends. He is joined by Matt Chiltern (Spork) on bass, and Ed Lush (Test Dept. Spork) on drums and percussion. Expect krautrock.

Ragamatic is Reiner Heidhorn, a sitar-and-electronics musician from Weilheim in Germany. The music is a result of Reiner’s many years studying classical Hindustani music whilst simultaneously making electronic music. With an emphasis on ragas from northern India, played in the style of master sitar player Vilyat Khan, Reiner locates the natural meeting point between Indian classical music and contemporary electronics.”
Projections by Rudapinka, aka Inga Tillere.

Andrew Ford is also playing – details to be circulated later.

More information on the concert and on other Club Integral events is here.

If you’d prefer something a little more straightahead, then another option is to catch The Many Few playing on the same night, promising to “edify and exultate your earballs and eyedrums with our own original guitar-drum-and-vocal shenanigans… on an optimistically lovely Friday Juneful night coming soon, in the company of assorted fellow groovesters.”

(Headliners t.b.c.) + Purple Implosion + The Many Few + Halcyon Days (Bugbear @ The Dublin Castle, 94 Parkway, NW1 7AN, London, UK, Friday 26th June, 7.30pm – £7.00/£5.00)

I covered some early Many Few demos some years ago, offering assorted comments and insults on their witty, slightly wonky songcraft which the band still seems to remember with affection. As for other descriptions, Bugbear settles for “kitchen-sink lo-fi indie-pop with female/male harmonies and vocal sharings over some Smiths meets McCarthy C86 type backing. Some interesting twists and turns. A bit of The Monochrome Set, something of Yeah Yeah No and stuff like that.” (The Bugbears go on to quote a bit of the ‘Misfit City’ review a bit later on – or, rather, misquote it. It’s a bittersweet world, writing about indie-pop.)

Also on the bill are Halcyon Days (“hooky electro-pop with a nod to 80’s pop but with an electro interface more akin to New Order off-shoot Electronica”) and Purple Implosion (“another great band mixing spiky post-punking punk-funk with counter-cultural garage-birthed rock’n’roll featuring out-there frontman antics.. but always pretty damn danceable.”) In addition, there’s also an unconfirmed headline act. Probably Kate Bush again, or perhaps The Sonic Jewels. You’ll just have to go along and hope, I suppose.

More information here and tickets here.

Post-Punk Monk

Searching for divinity in records from '78-'85 or so…

Get In Her Ears

Promoting and Supporting Women in Music

The Music Aficionado

Quality articles about the golden age of music

ATTN:Magazine

Not from concentrate.

Xposed Club

improvised/experimental/music

I Quite Like Gigs

Music Reviews, music thoughts and musical wonderings

A jumped-up pantry boy

To say the least, oh truly disappointed

PROOF POSITIVE

A new semi-regular gig in London

We need no swords

Organized sounds. If you like.

:::::::::::: Ekho :::::::::::: Women in Sonic Art

Celebrating the Work of Women within Sonic Art: an expanding archive promoting equality in the sonic field

Ned Raggett Ponders It All

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Headphone Commute

honest words on honest music

Yeah I Know It Sucks

an absurdist review blog

Pop Lifer

Waiting for the gift of sound and vision

Archived Music Press

Scans from the Melody Maker and N.M.E. circa 1987-1996

OLD SCHOOL RECORD REVIEW

Where You Are Always Wrong

Fragile or Possibly Extinct

Life Outside the Womb

a closer listen

a home for instrumental and experimental music

Bird is the Worm

New Jazz: We Search. We Recommend. You Listen.

Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

eyesplinters

Just another WordPress.com site

FormerConformer

Striving for Difference

%d bloggers like this: