Tag Archives: The Black Heart (venue) – Camden Town – London – England

November 2016 – upcoming gigs – The Scaramanga Six in Winchester and London (5th, 12th) with A Formal Horse, The Bitch, The Fiascos and Zen Motel

2 Nov

Following a period spent spawning, recording, dispersing around the country, essaying the odd solo gig or micro-festival appearance, and carrying out whatever grim and murky business keeps them afloat in between shows and records, the various members of The Scaramanga Six have reconvened for a couple of autumn dates in southern England.

The Scaramanga Six, 2016

Still stubbornly insisting on being a quartet (one which won’t refund a third of your ticket price, so don’t ask) and still possessed of the most ferocious fraternal-twin-brother glower since the heyday of the Kray brothers, the Six continue to mine a rich and rewarding seam of murky kitchen-sink rock drama: like a small belligerent family of pub singers who’ve rushed the stage, mugged the house band and grabbed the mike in order to settle a few scores and tell a few hard tales in public. With Tony Bennett, The Cramps, The Stranglers, Cardiacs and Pixies amongst their crowd of musical influences (the sartorial ones include Moss Bros funeral directors, glam rock queens, small town wide boys and absinthe dandies), they’re still toting around last year’s album ‘The Terrifying Dream’, a collection of songs based on skull-rattling nightmares (some of which may not have anything to do with being asleep).



 

I’ve always liked the Six, right for the time I first encountered them and got the opportunity to dub them one of the country’s “most timely” rock bands – expressing inflated smalltown-British bile and huff with better tunes than anyone else. Fourteen years later, you’d have thought that they’d have lost that particular title; and it’s true that their ebullient theatricality has allowed them to sidestep strict reality any time they like. (As far as being state-of-the-nation signifiers goes, they were always more ‘League of Gentlemen’ than ‘This is England’.) But as long as there’s a supply of twisted romantics with alarming habits, touchy self-deluders going off the rails, and sinister broody men as likely to harm themselves as much as others, the Scaramanga Six will have material to juggle with and ram home; and whenever it runs short, they’ll fill the gaps with bullish tales of self-reliance in adversity (who says their Yorkshire base hasn’t rubbed off on them?) or one of bass-player Steve’s gonzo rockabilly bawl-alongs. God knows what they’re making of the poisonous post-Brexit seethe. It’ll probably provide them with enough inspiration for a double album.

  • The Barn @ The Railway Inn, 3 St. Pauls Hill, Winchester
    SO22 5AE, England, Saturday 5th November 2016, 8.00pm
    (with A Formal Horse + The Bitch) – information here and here
  • Pure Rawk @ The Black Heart, 2-3 Greenland Place, Camden Town, London, NW1 0AP, England, Saturday 12th November 2016, 7.00pm (with The Fiascos + Zen Motel) – information here and here

The two shows this month bounce off different aspects and intimations of the Six. At Winchester the emphasis seems to be on art rock. The main support coming from sparkly Southampton band A Formal Horse, whose continually flexing music tosses math and prog ideas around under Hayley McDonnell’s crystal clear folk voice, a bounding conceptual glitterball. I couldn’t find out anything about the other support band, The Bitch, but with a name like that it’s unlikely that they’ll be playing detailed chamber-folk or be led by a woman with a concert harp (although, on second thoughts, it would be wonderful if they were…)


 
In contrast, the London show and supports – courtesy of promoter Pure Rawwk – are absolute Sunset Strippery. The Fiascos describe themselves, variously as “filthy punk rock’n’roll from The Cronx, south London”, “Motörhead in a sweet shop” and “Social Distortion playing to get out of jail. They feature former members of Spizzenergi and the Brijitte West band, plus ubiquitous go-to-drummer Robin Guy (the onetime Rachel Stamp/Sack Tricker who’s filled in for everyone from Sham 69 to Rancid, Faith No More and The Bay City Rollers). Gleefully trashy and explosive Essex hard-rockers Zen Motel (pals with the Wildhearts) open the show with a rare acoustic set.



 
In both cases, the Six are likely to be glowering at the top of the bill and bringing the weight; like elder brothers, or dangerous uncles.
 

September 2016 – upcoming London gigs – ANTA + Lords Of Bastard + Thumpermonkey at the Black Heart (2nd)

28 Aug

Here’s very quick news on another psychedelic, proggy, metallic Facemelter show in London at the end of the week… Since I’m in a hurry, all rushing, enthusiastic verbiage below is courtesy of Chaos Theory…

Facemelter, 2nd September 2016
Chaos Theory Promotions presents:
The Facemelter: ANTA + Lords Of Bastard + Thumpermonkey
The Black Heart, 2-3 Greenland Place, Camden Town, London, NW1 0AP, England
Friday 2nd September 2016,
– information here and here

“A fantastic lineup for fans of modern and classic prog, with ’70s psychedelic twists, off-kilter melodies, seriously heavy bass, stoner rock riffs and heavy organ sounds.

ANTA are a truly thunderous modern prog band, driven by heavy organ and bass sounds, vast soundscapes calling back to classic 70’s progressive rock, yet maintaining a distinctly modern sound that remains very much their own. We’ve been fans for many years, having seen them perform crushingly heavy sets at gigs in London and at ArcTanGent, and they’ve shared the stage with legends such as Mugstar, Trans Am, Chrome Hoof, Thought Forms and Bardo Pond. We continue to play their extraordinary albums ‘Centurionaut’ and ‘The Tree That Bears The Equine Fruit’ to this day, but they serve only as a reminder of the velvetine cosmic textures delivered as a hammer blow to the soul that ANTA are capable of when in front of you on stage. A genuine experience and we can’t wait to hear some new material that they’re recording as we speak…


 
Lords Of Bastard are a four-piece heavy psychedelic rock band from Edinburgh, most recently described as “out of the box, out of your mind, psychedelic stoner sludge” as well as “Scottish”. Following the global success of their 2nd album, ‘Cuddles’ in 2012, they released an EP entitled ‘I’m Fun’ last year, to international rapture. As writing new material for their next album is going so well, they’re taking a break to travel down and play for you southerners.


 
Thumpermonkey are a hugely acclaimed band who’ve spent years arguing between themselves about whether to play prog, punk or art-rock, and never seem to have quite settled. After a hugely successful show with them supporting The Display Team during their album launch, we are super uber mega stoked to have them grace the stage of The Facemelter.


 
“We’ve been waiting a long time to get these people down to The Facemelter, and their live shows are rare, so this is a great chance to catch all three bands together in a spectacular show.”

There’s more on ANTA and on Thumpermonkey elsewhere on the blog…
 

Upcoming London gigs (Rumour Cubes in Camden on Friday 7th August, Arthur Russell Instrumentals in Bethnal Green on Monday 10th August)

6 Aug

More quick London gig news – art rock, post-rock, electronica, and a dash of classic New York downtown.

Rumour Cubes + Dresda + kontakte @ Facemelter, August 2015

Rumour Cubes + Dresda + kontakte @ The Facemelter (The Black Heart, 2-3 Greenland Place, Camden, London, NW1 0AP, UK, Friday 7th August, 7.30pm – £8.00/£6.00)

Sumptuous instrumental and electronic post-rock from ex-Glastonbury and ArcTanGent Festival performers, plus a UK debut.

Post-rock veterans Rumour Cubes have been spreading tentacles of ambient, soaring soundscapes across the globe, catching people’s attention with their classical and electronic nuances, attention to the finest details and unassuming political statements embedded in their writing. Their work with poets and film-makers has allowed them to create a multi-media experience and has propelled them to performances at Glastonbury, ArcTanGent and a support slot for Sólstafir; while their albums ‘The Narrow State’ (2012) and ‘Appearances Of Collections’ (2014) received wide critical acclaim.

Celebrating their tenth anniversary this year,  Dresda hail from Genova, Italy, and will be driving over to make their UK debut. Their music is intricate, dense and introspective yet gloriously cinematic. They have several well-received releases under their belts, including soundtracks for critically acclaimed Italian independent movie ‘The Krolevsky Case’, and the short movie ‘La lingua del disordine’. In 2009, they were featured on the Italian DVD edition of the Canadian documentary ‘RIP! A remix manifesto’, distributed by Feltrinelli Real Cinema nationwide.

Conceived in 2005 from a string of old 4-track demos and further realized via a labyrinth of digital workstations and computer software, kontakte blend organic instrumentation within an electronic and hypnotic framework of programmed beats and pulsing synths. Pooling influences such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai together with Brian Eno, krautrock and shogaze sounds, this duo manages to perfectly blend shimmering electronics and ethereal melodies. They have too many releases to name and have been remixed by many visionaries including Tim Holmes of Death In Vegas, Chris Olley of Six By Seven and Russell. M. Harmon.

More details here, and tickets available here.

* * * * * * * *

There might also be tickets remaining for the performance of Arthur Russell’s Instrumentals early in the following week. This is a repeat visit of a show that’s been on and off the road at various points around the world since 2012 and which last visited London via Cecil Sharp House earlier this year… so if you missed it before, now’s your chance.

Visions presents: Arthur Russell’s Instrumentals, directed by Peter Gordon @ Visions Festival (Oval Space, 29-32 The Oval London, Bethnal Green, London, E2 9DT, UK, Monday 10th August, 7.30pm – £21.50 plus booking fee)

For those of you who don’t know about Arthur Russell’s turbulent, productive (and sadly curtailed) life, he was a vigorous participant within the downtown New York music scene between the mid-1970s and early 1990s. Having studied as an avant-garde cellist and composer, he rebelled into Manhattan nightlife, vigorous cross-fertilization and event curation. Russell rubbed up against Fluxus, disco, avant-garde theatre, New Wave and no-wave, making the most of the breadth of the prolonged New York creative ferment of the times, feeding his assorted roots and collisions into music of his own.

During the last decade of his life Russell wrote and performed voice-and-cello songs – predominantly solo but employing loops, echo and sundry effects. In these, he synthesized all that he’d learned into what were perhaps his most personal and accessible works. These are probably what he’s best known for now, thanks to the more prominent releases of albums such as ‘World Of Echo’ and ‘Another Thought’, but they’re only one aspect of his work

A notorious perfectionist reknowned for agonised work gestations (and who left hundreds of pieces uncompleted at his death) Russell nonetheless completed what was, at the time a remarkably bold, broad and modern array of work from orchestral pieces and theatre music to forays into electro-pop and dance music under project names including Dinosaur (for ‘Kiss Me Again’) and Loose Joints (‘Tell You Today’). Today this kind of equivalence and eclecticism is more commonplace in the orchestral or ensemble work of composers such as John Zorn, Django Bates, Anna Meredith or Tansy Davies. In the 1970s, though, Russell was a pioneer, notoriously shocking the staider elements of his avant-garde classical audience with ‘24-24 Music’ (a contemporary classical piece equating the pulses and disciplines of New York minimalism with those of disco music).

Coming from the zone of Russell’s talent which drew most on his contemporary classical roots, ‘Instrumentals’ is an example of his chamber music, Dating from the late ‘70s, it was initially conceived as a forty-eight hour piece, its duration far exceeding even the infamously massy protracted works of Morton Feldman. Versions of the work were performed over the years, and a selection of excerpts appeared on a Disques du Crepuscule release in the mid-‘80s.

The piece as it stands owes much to Russell’s friend Peter Gordon, a fellow eclectician from the 1970s downtown scene and Russell’s bandmate in The Flying Hearts and Gordon’s own ongoing Love Of Life Orchestra. Gordon worked closely on the original performed version, assisting on keyboards, arrangement and notation. Two decades after Russell’s death in 1992, Gordon brought a new version of ‘Instrumentals’ back to The Kitchen (Russell’s old home venue in Manhattan. Following the initial sold-out performance in March 2012, Gordon has periodically revived and toured the new arrangement. The performance at Oval Space will feature several members of Russell’s original ensemble, and will also feature photographs by Yuko Nonomura which were projected during the original 1975/78 Manhattan performances of ‘Instrumentals’.

More information and tickets are available here.

 

Arthur Russell Instrumentals @ Oval Space, August 2015

Upcoming London gigs for 3rd July (Shiver/The Fierce & The Dead/Alex’s Hand in Camden, and The Spiders of Destiny in Deptford); Tim Bowness tours in August; a release date for Levitation’s ‘Meanwhile Gardens’

30 Jun

More art-rock roars coming up…

Facemelter, 3rd July 2015

Shiver, The Fierce And The Dead, Alex’s Hand @ The Facemelter (The Black Heart, 2-3 Greenland Place, Camden, London, NW1 0AP, UK, Friday 3rd July, 7.30pm – £8.00/£6.00)

A night of insane math rock, prog, jazzcore and experimental riffs from some of Europe’s finest.

Shiver are the latest group from Acoustic Ladyland and TrioVD guitarist and producer Chris Sharkey. The trio have been challenging audiences perceptions of music for just over a year, sitting as comfortably at EFG London Jazz Festival as they have when headlining the PX3 stage at ArcTanGent Festival. Stretching the span of instrumentation and the imagination, this trio flits between solid, head-nodding riffs, ambient spaces and frantic electronic cacophony. Tonight they will be playing new material from their recently released third album.

The Fierce & The Dead are a hugely respected and critically acclaimed noisy pronk four-piece from London. Their precise musicianship and schizophrenic, immensely complex, yet catchy music has earned them headline slots all over the UK. Featuring internationally renowned guitarist, loop artist, blogger and all-round independent music guru Matt Stevens, TFATD have shared the stage with bands including PHILM, Knifeworld, Thumpermonkey, Anathema, Cleft and Lost in the Riots. Tonight they will premiere unheard material from their upcoming EP.

Formed in Seattle a few short years ago, experimental four-piece  Alex’s Hand subsequently relocated to Berlin and have been wreaking havoc on Europe’s DIY noise, post-punk and garage ever since. They’ve shared the stage with MoRkObOt, which must have been a bizarre evening. As at home on stage as they are playing avant garde installations (such as 24 hour festival Avant Garden) in a punk squat in Berlin, this will be their first venture to the UK.

More details here, and tickets available here.

I should put in a particular word for Alex’s Hand here, having watched them grow and sprawl over the past few years along a meandering but inspiring path from arch art-pop parodists to noisy song-brawlers and most recently to a kind of spontaneous noise-prog ensemble. There are a few ‘Misfit City’ reviews of their earlier material – one for ‘Madame Psychosis‘ and one for ‘This Cat Is A Genius‘. Although I’ve not covered Shiver yet, I do also have reviews of early Fierce & The Dead material (here and here), as well as a look at the band’s Matt Stevens playing a solo slot.

******

If you’d rather spend a free evening with Uncle Frank, The Spiders of Destiny are playing another London gig of Zappa music on the same day. As ever, expect some of London’s most accomplished art-rockers to work their way back and forth through the Zappa catalogue. The Deptford venue they’re playing this time has plenty of history, whether under its current name, its old monicker of The Oxford Arms or any other title it’s enjoyed over several hundred years. If you don’t spot Frank’s ghost leaning on the sound desk and having an appreciative smoke, you could try looking out for the ghosts of Dire Straits or Christopher Marlowe instead… Up-to-date details here or here, with two-as-yet unnamed bands to be added to the bill.

The Spiders of Destiny (The Birds Nest, 32 Deptford Church Street, London, SE8 4RZ, Friday 3rd July 2015 – 7.30pm, free)

The Spiders of Destiny play Zappa, The Birds Nest, July 5th 2015

********

Tim Bowness live flyer, August 2015Looking further ahead, Tim Bowness is out on a very brief tour in August, playing a handful of dates in England and Poland to promote his imminent album ‘Stupid Things That Mean The World’ as mentioned last month. His band features his usual cohorts of Andrew Booker (drums – also of Sanguine Hum), Michael Bearpark (guitar – Darkroom, Henry Fool), Stephen Bennett (keyboards – Henry Fool) and the more recent recruit Colin Edwin (bass guitar – Porcupine Tree).

The Lousiana, Wapping Road, Bathurst Terrace, Bristol, BS1 6UA, UK, Tuesday 25th August, 7.00pm – tickets here and here.

The Boston Music Room, 178 Junction Road, London, N19 5QQ, UK, Wednesday 26th August, 7.00pm – £17.00 – tickets here and here.

Ino Rock Festival, Theatre Letni, Inoclaw, Poland, Saturday 29th August – 35.94 euros – tickets here (other acts at the festival are Fish, Motorpsycho, State Urge and Millenium).

Playing support at the Bristol and London gigs will be Improvizone, the flexible live-ambient improvising collective led by Bowness band drummer Andrew Booker. The rest of the Improvizone lineup looks as if it will be drawn from the current Bowness band (Michael Bearpark is a frequent Improvizoner) so perhaps you should expect the same band playing in two very different configurations. Up-to-date news will be here.

*****

Levitation: 'Meanwhile Gardens' (2015 issue)

Levitation: ‘Meanwhile Gardens’ (2015 issue)

Another follow-up from last month – there’s now a release date from Flashback Records for the lost Levitation album ‘Meanwhile Gardens’. Mark Burgess of Flashback posted the following on the Facebook fan page for the band’s lost recordings yesterday:

There is at last a provisional release date for ‘Meanwhile Gardens’. 23rd October 2015! Pre-orders will be available in due course from the Bandcamp site and elsewhere. The album is now with the pressing plant, but the lead time on the vinyl is long (pressing plants are straining under the pressure of so much vinyl at the moment, hence the provisional nature of the release date). You should all give yourselves a pat on the back and raise a toast to this group because without this page it might never have happened. Thank you all for your enthusiastic support!

Levitation, circa 1992

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