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March 2018 – a psych/noise cavalcade in London for Rocket Recordings’ 20th anniversary (9th to 11th March)

28 Feb

There are still some tickets left for the rollicking, rampaging twentieth-anniversary concerts for venerable yet vital psychedelic noise label Rocket Recordings. These will be packing out the Garage and its sister venue Thousand Island in north London for three consecutive days over an early March weekend.

It’s not the first time that Highbury Corner’s been rammed with psychoactive weirdness and well-plumbing musical explorations. In its earlier incarnation as Upstairs at the Garage, the smaller Thousand Island saw hundreds of strange and wonderful leftfield acts pass through; to pick just one example, twenty years ago the building hosted occult ensemble Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels and their ‘Highbury Working’ “beat seance” in which Alan Moore and David J explored and mined the hidden histories of the Holloway Road from the horse goddess Epona to the rapidly poisoned utopianism of the Black House, from the schemata of Aleister Crowley to the madness of Joe Meek. So the Corner’s no stranger to strangeness… but it’s good, for a full weekend, to see strangeness rise so outrightly overground amongst the traffic fumes, creeping gentrification and salsa nights.

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The Rocket days kick off on Friday 9th. Fluxus-inspired Italian garage groove-band Julie’s Haircut mingle smearing, chuckling Ash Ra Tempel guitars and flutes with a Georgio Moroder wobble, while from Sweden there’s creamy-toned garage darlings Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation (whose more recent recordings pulse along on a fluting, closed-eyed Can patter) and the detailed anticipations of Flowers Must Die, who burst shining locked disco grooves through hanging tapestries of improvised “oriental-influenced” psychedelia (like an unexpected frug in a Tibetan temple). A couple of spinoff acts from Salford industrial/sociological alchemists Gnod are playing– the fleshy beats, brutual mechanisms and cellar drones of Chris Haslam’s electronica project Dwellings and the “slow burning vocal loops (and) devotional mindscapes” of A.P Macarte’s AHRKH. Also on the bill is the spontaneous, impulse/emotion-driven semi-improvised “dirty techno” of Coldnose, swilling in acid house, industrial, electro, drum and bass and distorted vocal snarls. For the after-show winddown, there’s DJ-ing from assorted Teeth Of The Sea members, but more on them later…







 
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Sorry, but it’s returns only for Saturday 10th. Although Hills (with their gruff and deafening meditational rock, like Joy Division trapped inside a raga) have had to pull out, their Swedish compatriots Goat (costumed acid/world fusioneers who’ve already made a big splash at Glastonbury) are still in play. So are Italian “kosmitronic” rockers Mamuthones – a delightful confection of slippery tinkling rhythms, chatterbox riffage explosions of lateral noise and sing-song babble, they’re what Dutch Uncles might have sounded like if they had less of a taste for arch Roxy-isms and had taken more of a liking to Pere Ubu. There are also slots for the onetime heavy doom-psych of Hey Colossus (who, like their spiritual forebears The Birthday Party, are evolving steadily out of the chaotic London murk they began in and starting to tell stories) and the bellowing, unreconstructed Tyneside sludge-acid of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. Minimalist Malmö trance-rockers Ved preview their imminent Rocket EP ‘DDTT’, and there are sets from amelodic No Wave revisitors Housewives, block-partying noise duo Gum Takes Tooth and the elasticated buzzing Russian “stargaze” band Gnoomes.









 
In addition, there’ll be a rare solo appearance by Teeth Of The Sea’s modular analogue synth guy Mike Bourne who – in parallel to his band work – has recently put out a couple of odds and ends on Bandcamp including the gradually-evolving ‘pætʃ’ album of electronic experiments (including black-and-white vampire music and harmonium/Harmonium-esque sketches with a dash of Geiger-counter, and the vast shadow-steeped minimalism of his soundtrack to Ben Lister’s horror short ‘Wine Dark Sea’). Opening the evening, the blipping electronics, kettle-banging, forceful ranting and rises to aggressive crescendos of Temple Ov BBV (a collaboration between Gnod and Dutch experimental psychedelicists Radar Men From The Moon) resemble a more spacious meeting between early Swans and cultural rhythmatist John Chernoff). DJ-ing for the evening comes from a four-strong squad of Cherrystones, Jamie Paton, Mike Keeling and Chris Reeder.



 
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The highlight of the Sunday show – at least as far as Rocket themselves are concerned – has been their success in securing the British live debut for the duo project by Polish reeds/keyboard player Wacław Zimpel and his compatriot, the “magic brutalistStara Rzeka guitarist/singer Kuba Ziołek, as Zimpel/Ziołek. They’ll be showcasing the psychoactive-minimalist jazz-folk stew of last year’s eponymous album.



 
That said, there’ll be pretty strong competition from trumpet-toting electronic rock partisans Teeth Of The Sea. Having DJ-ed on the first night, they’re returning at full band strength for what will presumably provide another exhilarating set and another chance for us all to slither around in a puddle of non-stick definitions (are they noise? are they rave? are they dream-metal? are they what you might’ve had if Miles Davis had rashly agreed to a Foetus production job?). Also returning are Gnod – this time in person, playing a “greatest hits” set, which you can vote for here).



 
There’s further Gnodness via yet another pair of spin-offs: Paddy Shine’s immersive “tantric vocal loop” project Ayn Sof and Marlene Ribeiro’s work as Negra Branca (around which circulates various splutters including “squashy analogue”, “temple goddess” and “dreamscape”). Veteran psych bass player Gareth Turner is making two appearance – one as a third of the Anthroprophh trio (in which he’s joined by Heads guitarist Paul Allen and drummer Jesse Webb to blend “garage-bound filth (with) wayward, abstract artistry”), and the other as half of Kuro (in which he grabs a double bass and joins forces with violinist Agathe Max for electrically-enhanced string-drones). Finally, there’s also space for Liverpudlian heavy-psychedelic noise-rockers Bonnacons Of Doom and shamanic ritual trio H.U.M. (Mark Wagner, Heloise Zamzam and Uiutna) whom I last described as “a kind of psychic cross-cultural art coven, citing “alchemical practice, incantation, chanting, drones, ritual drumming, French variété” as both inspiration and activity.”







 
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Further details and ticket/info links below… if you’re reading about this for the first time, you’re already stragglers, so get going…

Rocket Recordings 20, 9th-11th March 2018

Baba Yaga’s Hut & DHP present:
‘Rocket Recordings Twenty’
The Garage/Thousand Island, 20-22 Highbury Corner, Highbury, London, N5 1RD, England
Friday 9th March 2018, 7.30pm
Saturday 10th March 2018, 3.30pm
Sunday 11th March 2018, 7.30pm

– information here and here
 

February 2016 – upcoming gigs – from electro-salsa sizzle to cinema cello to sorry sighs with Daylight Music (Arcadio, Michael Price & Peter Gregson, Dakota Suite & Quentin Sirjacq); Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Luminous Bodies, Casual Sect and Girl Sweat glisten in Hackney; LUME give us improvising strings, Fauré jazz and a female bandleader summit (Njanas, Percy Pursglove’s Far Reaching Dreams Trio, En Bas Quartet)

4 Feb

More assorted crossovers and team-ups via Daylight Music…

Daylight Music 214

Daylight Music 214: Arcadio + Michael Price & Peter Gregson + Dakota Suite & Quentin Sirjacq
Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, Islington, London, N1 2UN, England
Saturday 6th February 2016, 12.00pm
– free/pay-what-you-like event – more information

Arcadio brings together London’s finest improvisers and percussionists to create a nomadic exploration of rhythm and movement. Led by composer Andrew Hall (also known as trumpeter for the vLookup Trio and Mak Murtic’s Balkan folk-futurist ensemble Mimika), Arcadio also features double bass player J.J. Stillwell, soundmangler Phil Maguire, woodwinder Rob Milne, multi-instrumentalist Ben Zucker, vLookup drummer Tom Atherton and several Mimika members (saxophonists Mak Murtic, Seb Silas and John Macnaughton; percussionist Paul Love). The band defines itself as the point where “electro-salsa meets free improvisation.” This will be their debut gig.

Michael Price is one of the UK’s most sought after composers and arrangers. His work for film and television includes ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ (both of which he co-scores with David Arnold), ‘Unforgotten’, ‘Hot Fuzz’, ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’, ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Quantum of Solace’. Michael’s first film experience was as musical assistant, co-producer and arranger to the late Michael Kamen, with whom he collaborated for five years, working on a number of exciting projects including ‘X-Men’, ‘Band of Brothers’, ”The Iron Giant’, and ‘Metallica – S&M’. Having begun his career as a pianist and composer for contemporary dance, he has now established the Michael Price Trio and Ensemble to perform his own work in diverse venues across the world. His critically acclaimed debut album ‘Entanglement’ (on Erased Tapes Records, released in April 2015) was described as “gorgeous” by Rolling Stone.

On this occasion, Michael will be performing with New Music cellist and composer Peter Gregson, who has recently premiered works by composers including Daníel Bjarnason, Max Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson and Steve Reich.

 

Now approaching its twentieth anniversary, Dakota Suite is not so much a band, more the brainchild of Chris Hooson. While holding down a full-time job as a social worker in Leeds, Chris produces affecting sadcore music under the Dakota Suite monicker, usually working in collaboration with multi-instrumentalist David Buxton, but sometimes with Italian ambient composer Emanuele Errante and American composer-cellist David Darling.

Since 2009, another regular Dakota Suite collaborator has been Parisian composer and pianist Quentin Sirjacq – improviser, New Music performer and composer of music for film, theater and radio. A musician who has performed as part of rock groups, big bands, symphony orchestras and avant-garde ensembles, Quentin has also worked Fred Frith, whose music he has performed (alongside that of James Tenney and Frederic Rzewski and José Maceda) as part of his continuing explorations of the avant-garde and its relationship with older traditions. Quentin’s other recent collaborations have included work with Akira Kosemura and Shin Kikuchi, leading to releases on the Japanese label Schole Records.

Current collective Dakota Suite/Sirjacq plans include an upcoming studio record featuring the Hooson/Buxton/Sirjacq trio and the release of a live album featuring the Hooson/Sirjacq duo, some of which may be touched on at this gig.”

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I’m not sure whether I’ll be covering as much garage rock this year as I did last year. I find that a little of it goes a long way without generating much to write about, unless you start reviewing the audience or pulling in some other contextual hobby-horses. That said, I do like what Baba Yaga’s Hut do, and part of what they do includes this noisy sweatbox of a show coming up at the weekend:

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs + Luminous Bodies + Casual Sect + Girl Sweat @ The Victoria, 6th February 2016

Baba Yaga’s Hut presents:
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs + Luminous Bodies + Casual Sect + Girl Sweat
The Victoria, 451 Queensbridge Road, Hackney, London, E8 3AS, England
Saturday February 6th 2016, 8.00pm
more information

Heavy-motorik Tynesiders Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs are pretty brutal. That psychotic iteration-stutter of a name gives it all away before you even get to the music. I dropped a few chromosomes just by listening to them. Imagine the tangled ball-web of a lurking cellar spider: imagine Hawkwind being carjacked halfway down Ladbroke Grove, the steering wheel dragged out of Dave Brock’s hands. Expect a dystopian thrum of attenuated gutter grooves, early Ubu synth sousings and righteously pissed-off howls from singer Matt Baty, plus tossing, turning rhythm and cymbal work from the band’s drummer Ewan MacKenzie, who adds a powerful synaptic crackle to the whole business. Here’s twelve-and-a-half minutes of them…

 

Regarding the support bands… Luminous Bodies lurched up from the underground back in December, when they were seen supporting Rocket From The Tombs in London. For those of you who don’t remember that particular occasion, they’re a noise-rock supergroup, a gang of self-proclaimed knuckle-draggers pounded together like clumps of dirty wet clay, sharing players with bands including Ikara Colt, Part Chimp and Terminal Cheesecake. Casual Sect began knocking out their ratchety noisepunk (part conspiracy paranoia, part wink-to-camera) across a set of demos and gigs last year. Girl Sweat is less familiar to me: a one-man show of soiled electro-pop exotica and psychedelic fringe from Stockton-on-Tees, where the smog chews at the fake leather in the pub furnishings.



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There are two more upcoming jazz’n’improv gigs from the LUME organisation:

Njanas + Far Reaching Dreams Trio @ LUME, Vortex Jazz Bar, 8th February 2016

LUME presents:
Njanas + Far Reaching Dreams Trio
The Vortex Jazz Club, 11 Gillett Square, Dalston, London, N16 8AZ, England
Sunday 7th February 2016, 7.30pm
< – more information here and here

Njanas is a brand new project consisting of four female musician/composers – Laura Cole (piano), Filomena Campus (vocals), Tori Handsley (harp) and Ruth Goller (bass) – who are all band leaders in their own right. The ensemble, which celebrates women’s art and music, started more than a year ago.

Njanas state “we often feel under-represented as women in the worlds of jazz and art, and in this project all compositions are inspired by a female artist (such as Frida Kahlo, Niki de Saint Phalle, Gertrude Stein, Franca Rame and many more) or written by a female composer. The name Njanas is an encounter between the gigantic sculptures called ‘Nanas’, created by painter and sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle, and ‘Janas’, ancient legendary female figures and fairies/witches that relate to the myth of the Sardinian Goddess-Mother.”

Following the critically-acclaimed success of his ambitious nine-part jazz suite ‘Far Reaching Dreams Of Mortal Souls’, multi-instrumentalist and composer Percy Pursglove now debuts the music as re-interpreted by his fascinating new Far Reaching Dreams Trio, featuring himself on trumpet, Paul Clarvis on drums and Ivo Neame on piano and accordion.

Percy composed the original suite during 2013 and 2014, working with the support of a Jazzlines Fellowship. The multi-lingual piece (including sung texts referring to Anne Frank, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Malala Yousafzai, Charles Darwin, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Benjamin Franklin and Joan of Arc) was originally arranged for a nine-piece ensemble, conductor and eight-piece choir for its October 2014 premiere. Percy describes ‘Far Reaching Dreams Of Mortal Souls’ as “a project that has been in the back of my mind for a few years now. I had some wonderful experiences singing in choirs at an early age and the sound of and purity of massed voices has always drawn my ear. I wanted to find a way to access that broad spectrum of possible textures that Gabriel Faure had introduced me to all those years ago, but within a chamber ensemble setting that has the scope to offer another layer of unforeseen spontaneity.”

En Bas Quartet @ LUME, London Review Bookshop, 18th February 2016

LUME presents:
En Bas Quartet
London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place, Bloomsbury, London, WC1A 2JL, England
Thursday 18th February 2016, 7.00pm
more information

En Bas Quartet are string-section improvisers. In order of rising pitch, they are Seth Bennett (double bass and group leader), Alice Eldridge (cello), Benedict Taylor (viola) and Aby Vulliamy (viola).

Seth comments “I’d long been interested in contemporary chamber music, and wanted to investigate that aesthetic in an improvised context. A ‘low’ quartet also allows me to join in – the bass part in a quartet is usually taken by the cello – and write music for a chamber ensemble, with all the interaction and rhythmic subtlety they use. I find the parallel between a small jazz ensemble and a string quartet very interesting; both groups will stretch time, allow the music to breathe and pause, and find a way to play as a single unit. I chose three of the best string improvisers in the country to form the rest of the ensemble, and was lucky enough that they all agreed to take part in the project.”

Here’s what they do:

According to LUME, at this gig the Quartet “will be playing Seth’s quartet for improvising low strings, based on the Northumberland folk song tune Sair Fyeld Hinny, and exploring various settings and provocations for group and solo improvisation. Inspired by the quartets of Shostakovich, Beethoven and Bartok, as well as more contemporary jazz ensembles like Arcado String Trio, the Masada string trio and contemporary British free improvisation, En Bas Quartet weave their disparate influences into a compelling whole.”

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More gig news shortly – Teeth Of The Sea, an evening of Bad Elephant Music, and much more (including plenty of folk-baroque guitar).

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