Tag Archives: Ticklish

July 2016 – upcoming London gigs – CV FREQS modular synth meet and performances at New River Studios (31st) featuring Colloid, Finlay Shakespeare, Gregg Wilson, Pouya Ehsaei, Phil Durrant’s Sowari Modular, Form Constants, the Deep Learning superblip and possibly Eden Grey

23 Jul

I shouldn’t let it bother me, but I was worried that the recent slew of clean acoustic nu-folk gigs which I’ve been covering were making this blog look a bit too cosy. It’s perversely comforting to find that the electronic ends of things can be just as cute.

Eden Grey presents:
CV FREQS London
New River Studios, Ground Floor Unit E, 199 Eade Road, Manor House, London, N4 1DN, England
Sunday 31st July 2016, 2:00 pm to 11:00 pm
– free event (suggested donation: £5.00) – information here, here and here

CV FREQS, 31st July 2016, LondonHosted by Eden Grey (a budding classical composer whose life changed when she fell in love with electro and dubstep), CV FREQS appears to be a globetrotting all-day modular synth meet. Since Eden’s move to London, it’s begun to base itself more in the city: the last one, back in May, was down on the south bank at IKLECTIK, while this month it’s pitching up in a different riverbank locale in the north. CV FREQS starts off by defining itself as covering “innovations in modular synthesis design, focusing on Eurorack format, custom synthesisers and embracing the DIY spirit” but rapidly gets excited and starts enthusing about being “a wonderfully cacophonous event focusing on the tools that are ideal for sound design and music creation.” and ends up frothing about “a carnival of soundwaves and control voltages”. As if it were a soundclash – or a picnic – attendees are invited to bring their own synths and speakers along.

Apparently, it would also be nice if you could bring a table. Never mind soundclashes. This is starting to sound like a church jumble sale in Hampshire, albeit one that’s about to go all sonic-bacchanalia.

At root, this is part encounter group and part informal trade show in which hardened or nascent electronicians can wander around, trying out and picking up those innocuous-looking, technoporn-titled hardware or software plugins which bring joy to a sound-masher’s heart (and a battery of warped noises to their woofers). This is where to get previews and demonstrations of convulsion generators, wavefolders, stargigglers, deflector shields, quantimators, proton gabblers, spectral devastators, squishmagogs and source-of-uncertainty modules plus all of the other gizmos that sound as if they’ve sprouted from a game of ‘Elite’ back in 1983 along with a starship cargo of Ceti rabbits and Baltah’sine Vacuum Krill. Yes, really – I only made a couple of those names up.

CV FREQS, London, 31st July 2016

Cheap geek-to-geek shots aside, CV FREQS is the kind of event which quietly – and effectively – changes a musician’s life. Wandering around in the crowds at the show there’ll be at least one nascent electronic musician about to finally finds the device, devices or piece of advice which unlock the doors to a new technique: the key to making them sound or work like themselves rather than a follower. Gaining the right implement, the right process, the right move – it’s probably more important than gaining a hero. That’s something to remember the next time I’m tempted to make a smutty joke about ring modulators.

As a bonus that’s far more than a simple sideshow, attendees have the chance to see a range of modular synth performers in action, beyond the straight demos. The range available might not compete with a festival in terms of numbers, but would easily match one in terms of sonic breadth. This is heightened by the fact that many of these players aren’t just end-users but genuine solder-and-code sonic innovators, building or programming the tools which they use.

Finlay Shakespeare from Future Sound Systems offers spacey zap-crackle-and-pop dancetronica, while Colloid (the performance alter-ego of Ginko Synthese’s Jan Willem Hagenbeek) pursues “an ongoing search for noises, clicks and evolving sounds… deep drones with uplifting arpeggios and cut up beats.” Jan doesn’t mention the squiggling, lapping clouds of avant-garde piano (perhaps because they don’t fit the twangy modular remit), but they’re a significant part of the puzzle as well. The rapid-fire music of Gregg Wilson is stimulating, cheeky and mischievous: a typical piece sounds like an argument between at least eight bits of blipping, boing-ing minimalism, and is likely to turn into a massed affectionate chiptune brawl-cum-pub singalong.


 

Dedicated improviser, software-synth guru and former Ticklish man Phil Durrant will be bringing along his Sowari Modular project for its debut live performance. A spinoff from his Trio Sowari (in which he usually plays with saxophonist Bertrand Denzler and percussion/device-fiddler Burkhard Beins), this setup sees Phil experiment with Sowari ideas alone with his synth. Also playing is Iran-born, London-based polydisciplinary artist Pouya Ehsaei, for whom music is one of a number of interlocking forms (among other qualification, he’s got a music doctorate for the University of York, a prime training ground for contemporary classical and experimental musicians). On 2014’s ’There’ – his first record under his own name – Pouya analysed and reflected both the ancient and recent history of his birth country by processing and pulverising samples of traditional Iranian music (including two Ahmad Shamloo prison poems) to tap into culture and repression, melancholia and rage. On this occasion, however, he’s more likely to be playing as his Seated Figure project – ambiguous analogue techno which juxtaposes an eerie mix of springiness, queasy pitch-and-key shifts, and a baleful solitary tone.


 

It’s not entirely clear who Deep Learning are, but the clues point towards a full or partial teamup of two trios – the Sydney-based electronic/noise/pop/“fantasy beat” band PVT (whose Richard Pike recently relocated to Britain), the London-based Hrím (singer Ösp Eldjárn, programmer/Brian Eno sidekick Cherif Hashizume, and singer/multi-instrumentalist Anil Sebastian of London Contemporary Voices and assorted Imogen Heap projects)- and Merkaba Macabre (a.ka. Steven McInerney, founder of the Hackney Film Festival and the Psyché Tropes experimental record label). The three tracks below will either point the way towards the collaboration, or completely misguide us.


 

Throughout the event, Newport audio-visualist duo Form Constants (Ginko‘s synth tinkerer and circuit-bender Aidan R. Taylor and video artist Kim Da Costa, who call themselves “a plethora of electrified grit for the senses”) will be using their self-built video synths to run “hypnotic light bands” around the venue. As for Eden Grey, there’s no evidence that she’s going to be actually performing at the party she’s throwing, but my guess is that she won’t be able to resist. Whether or not that’s true, here’s a taste of some of her recent work (in the techno vein, though she’s also been known to put a post-Wendy Carlos spin on Erik Satie).



 

July 2016 – upcoming London gigs – improvisation running rampant at the Classwar Karaoke mini-festival (16th & 17th)

14 Jul

Classwar Karaoke mini-festival, Greenwich, 16th-17th July 2016

Minesweeper Collective presents:
Classwar Karaoke Mini Festival
A secret location in Greenwich, London, England
Saturday 16 & Sunday 17th July 2016, time t.b.c.
information

Experimental music and short-film label Classwar Karaoke celebrates its eighth year of existence and collective-based “unambiguous meritocracy” by assembling a host of improvisers and audio-visualisers for the third in its series of underground mini-festivals. The event will be embedded somewhere deep in the London Borough of Greenwich along with the laser-limned meridian line, the maritime history and the stand-up comedy. We’re told we can “expect such things as improv, free jazz, avant-rock, jokes, theatre, noise, audio-visuals, absurdism, spoken word.”

The first of the two days features a sixteen-strong lineup of Murmurists, the project which coalesces around the work – if not precisely the leadership – of Anthony Donovan (composer, musician, poet, filmmaker and Classwar Karaoke  founder). Murmurists date back to 1991 and use varied lineups to realize Anthony’s compositions in live situations. Over the years, these have moved from being small and predominantly improvisational line-ups to becoming larger and more meticulously-directed ensembles which employ graphic scores and timing instructions to deliver Anthony’s written material. Latterday Murmurist ensembles – both on and off record – use speech, narrative and foley work (spontaneous live sound effects) as key components alongside the musical ones; while live performances employ film projections and dance.

On this occasion, Murmurists are as follows:

  • Anthony Donovan (on voice, bass and film work)
  • dancer-vocalists Rebecca Bogue, Carolyn Roy and Jane Munro
  • foley performers/vocalists Annie Dee (Destroyevsky) and Michael Clough
  • percussionists/vocalists/electronics operators Lawrence Casserley (a frequent Evan Parker/Bob Cobbing collaborator) and David Cunliffe (Spidey Agutter, Igor’s Roomy Labcoat and Coffin Boffin)
  • Geoff Leigh on flute/soprano sax/voice (best known as an early Henry Cow member, but also for Ex-Wise-Heads, The Artaud Beats, Black Sheep, and many others)
  • Mark Browne on soprano sax/percussion/ voice (a three-and-a-half-decade veteran of multiple projects and collaborations including Cockpit Improvised Music, Conspiracy, The Fanatics Of Disaster and The Fastidious Amateurs Of Grief)
  • K.T.Reeder on trombone and voice
  • Martin Archer on bass clarinet/recorder/voice
  • Tim Drage (a.k.a. Cementimental) on electronics
  • Black Howler and Union Furnace duo Anthony and Rosie Osborne (saxophone/keyboards/voice)
  • percussionist/vocalist Walt Shaw

The large Murmurist group will be supported by small-group improv work from various Murmurists members – lineups to be drawn from a hat.


 
* * * * * * * *

The second day of the festival, July 17th, features a wider lineup of individual projects.

  • Lewisham-based improvising trio LOFE describe themselves thus, in lapping wordplay: “driving beats, driven words. jewel carriageway chords. It’s got that biodynamic, organic whole grain texture and that lively lambic yeasty rhythm. It hits 260°C, when it’s baking.” The man who’s probably guilty of scribbling that account is their performance-poet/fractal-rapper vocalist Zolan Quobble (a Deptford Urban Free Festival founder who’s also voiced One True Dog, Rabbidog and Dodmen). Other involved parties are bass guitarist Elwell (a multi-instrumentalist whom at various times has played with Brain of Morbius, Bert Shaft Orchestra, One True Dog, Foul Geese and South East London Music Collective) and one-man keyboard-and-Ableton orchestra NikTheDeks (see also NakeDBeatZ Radio, Furby-Core, Gabber-Karaoke and others)
  • Warrior Squares is a Hastings-based free improvising electronic/acoustic four piece comprising Geoff Leigh (flute, sax, voice, electronics) James Weaver (electronics, guitar), Paul Gardner (iPad, percussion) and Nick Weekes (bass, sticks, found items).

  • Adam Bohman improvises sounds from “stuff we ignore – toast racks, clothes pegs, styrofoam, upholstery springs, you name it” as well as making tape collages (read some more about him here).

  • Harmergeddon is the duo of audio-visual performance artists Nathan and Fae Harmer, who since 2010 have been creating performance material from mongrelised data sources, physical oddments and information detritus (mangled VHS cassettes, bar code check outs, etc), crossing it over from one format to another. They build instruments and performances from “the unwanted, unheard and unseen… rebuilt from the ground up with whatever comes to hand” and present “sound pieces and visuals improvised as a feedback loop between gesture and combined consciousness.” A Harmergeddon performance is usually a collation of profound industrial drones, haunting sounds, voice snatches and found-object noises with lights which interact with signal sources or body movements, plus abstractions on TV screens. (See below.)

  • Jeffersubstanshall Helicopter is most probably another version of whoever’s behind Oblivian Substanshall, the anti-novelist/performance poet/absurdist contributor to various Klasswar and Deptford events of the past. With those pseudonymic hat-tilts to both the Bonzo Dog Band and West Coast psychedelia, expect some late-‘60s-inspired counterculture/cut-up lunacy. Here’s something of what he did under the original moniker:

  • Phil Durrant & Kev Hopper will provide a duo performance from two very different and complementary masters of a musical continuum stretching from avant-garde to pop and dance. A classical music graduate who plays violin, synth, electronics and (increasingly) state-of-the-art software instruments, Phil has been composing, improvising and performing since 1977 over a career that’s spanned over sixty albums, almost as many collaborations and probably thousands of improvised gigs. His work has included being the third leg of an influential trio with John Butcher and John Russell, sundry ensembles (including Secret Measures, Quatuor Accorde, Lunge, Beinhaltung, Assumed Possibilities and the international electronic orchestra Mimeo), 1990s house/breakbeat work with Fabio, Grooverider and Shut Up And Dance, and exploits into dance-theatre music, site-specific installations and sound design. Kev first came to attention as the fretless bassist whose rubberband playing style anchored early ‘90s popsurdists Stump. Subsequent adventures have involved various avant-garde improviser lineups, albums of musical saw playing, and most recent the delightful improv-rock quartet Prescott. He and Phil previously played together in ’90s improvising quartet Ticklish.


     

Upcoming London gigs – Prescott + A Sweet Niche + V A L V E @ The Harrison, August 26th; the welcome return of Daylight Music (with Pete Astor, TEYR and The Left Outsides), August 29th

22 Aug

Coming to a Kings Cross cellar next week…

Prescott - as beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella...

Prescott – as beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella…

Prescott + A Sweet Niche + V A L V E (The Harrison, 28 Harrison Street, Kings Cross, London, WC1H 8JF, UK, Wednesday 26th August, 7.00pm) – £5.00

Prescott are a percolating musical alliance between Kev Hopper (who once played elasticated bass guitar for Stump and went on to participate in offbeat experimental projects from laptop improv to pocket pop), veteran avant-indie/improvising drummer Frank Byng (of Crackle, Snorkel and the Slowfoot label) and polymath keyboard player Rhodri Marsden, whose curiosity, industry and dry wit has drawn him through a patchwork career of interesting music (including The Keatons, Zuno Men, The Free French, Gag and Scritti Politti) and deft, wry journalism on everything from drum machines to dating disasters.

According to the Harrison’s blurb, the band deliver “a curious mix of the melodic and discordant with syncopated funky, skewed beats and lopsided, sometimes jabbing riffs that emerge from a complex web of musical interactions and expand or contract like sections of a stuck record.” The band themselves talk about “jabbing heteroclite riffs, circular rhythmic patterns, vibrating harmonic clashes, irregular note intervals, all contrasted with pockets of beautiful melody” and their trick of “microriffing” – repeating the same tiny melodic segment for “as long as they can hold their nerve” (out of a sense of persistence, a zest for irritancy or a desire to pay homage to loop culture) .

I’ll add that while these descriptions make Prescott sound like a set of ticks on a battered art-music bingo card, they’re actually one of the most entertaining and even danceable bands I’ve seen in recent years; pumping out a surprisingly melodious batch of hiccups, peculiar grooves and inventive colours, and sometimes seeming to plug into a monstrous late-Miles Davis synth-fusion groove (entirely by mistake).

I’ve written about A Sweet Niche before, having encountered them a few years ago when they were roaring the roof of a cellar off in Spitalfields. Between them, guitarist Keir Cooper, baritone saxophonist Oliver Sellwood and drummer Tim Doyle have an intimidating list of project credits. In this band, however, they make a brinksman’s racket of free-form punk-jazz, bringing in whatever else they’ve learned from excursions into rock, theatre work and the thornier ends of contemporary classical.

Making the most of their disparate backgrounds (Oliver is a qualified musical academian, Keir more of a non-institutional outsider, newer boy Tim somewhere in between) they’ll attack their musical ideas at full blurt and with plenty of noise, like angry men stripping the wreck of a ca. They’ll toss disparate fragments up into the air and rant about them, but then sideswipe expectations with a run at a cute theme. Last time I described them as “if Bagpuss had joined Slayer”, and they seemed to like it. See what you think.

V A L V E is the solo project of Chlöe Herington – reedswoman, experimenter and Magma/Zappa/Peter Maxwell Davies fan. She’s best known for blowing taut, assertive bassoon and saxophone parts in Knifeworld and Chrome Hoof, but has also worked with lo-fi art-rockers Jowe Head & The Demi Monde and elusive psycho-lounge band Made By Monsters, as well as a clutch of contemporary classical projects. V A L V E places the bassoon to centre stage, surrounded by Chlöe’s clusters of technology and (when required) selected guests. At the Harrison, the project will be appearing in “its first non-gallery show ever”, which might either involve letting it off the leash or playing a little more safe. (Come and find out.)

Dotted around Chlöe’s other band commitments, V A L V E releases have been sparse so far – odd fits and starts on Soundcloud or YouTube plus a couple of Bandcamp tracks. Here are a few tasters, including the soundtrack to a dinosaur battle, something which Chlöe developed from a piece of music found in a skip, and a more sombre contemporary classical effort.

Up-to-date gig information available here and here. (Or, if none of this really floats your boat and you’d prefer some lustrous art-rock croon, here’s one last linking plug for the Tim Bowness/Improvizone gig at the Boston Music Room on the same night.)

* * * * * * * *

On the Saturday, it’s time to welcome back Daylight Music, who are starting up a new series of free midday gigs (and are still writing their own promo blurb, which makes things a little easier for me).

Daylight Music 198 - Pete Astor + TEYR + The Left Outsides
Daylight Music 198: Pete Astor + TEYR + The Left Outsides (Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, Islington, London, N1 2UN, UK – Saturday 29th August, 12pm to 2pm)

Ex-leader of The Loft, The Weather Prophets and numerous other esteemed acts, Pete Astor creates timeless chamber-pop, brimming with wry lyrical insight and haunting melodic hooks. Now recording for Fortuna POP!, he has his first full length album for four years ready for release. This has been made with Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls and Proper Ornaments main man James Hoare along with Pam Berry (Black Tambourine, Withered Hand) on vocals, Alison Cotton (The Left Outsides) on viola, Jack Hayter (Hefner) on pedal steel and guitar, Emma Winston on synth bass (Darren Hayman’s Long Parliament, Owl & Mouse) and Susan Milanovic (Feathers) on drums. The recent single, ‘Mr Music’ has been very warmly received with Astor and band recording sessions for Marc Riley and headlining the Church stage at this years’ Indie Tracks festival among many other recent live outings. For the Daylight Music show Astor will be joined onstage by James, Pam, Alison, Jack, Emma and Susan making a seven-piece group playing Astor’s songs, old and new, for an edifying and nutritious lunchtime performance.

Forged amongst the hustle and bustle of North London’s folk scene, TEYR (“3” in the Cornish language) are a trio of formidable musicians who showcase the many sounds of the British Isles. With roots running from Ireland to Wales to Cornwall, James Gavin (guitar and fiddle), Dominic Henderson (uilleann pipes and whistles) and Tommie Black-Roff (accordion), the players thrive on close interplay and pushing the possibilities of acoustic music. Having met on the traditional music scene through late night sessions, each performer holds an intuitive sense of folk music, evident in their deft arrangements and compositions. The trio draws influence from neo-folk groups such as Lau, Kan and Lúnasa, whilst harnessing an innovative combination of strings, reeds and voices. With this distinct mix, TEYR strike an enigmatic path through the current folk wave.

The Left Outsides are Mark Nicholas and Alison Cotton, a London-based husband and wife duo whose atmospheric, hypnotic songs echo Nico’s icy European folk, pastoral psychedelia and chilly English fields at dawn. Their second album ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’ has just received a welcome and much-praised vinyl release on Dawn Bird Records and an album of new material is currently being recorded. The duo have played across the UK, France, Germany and in the USA; and have recorded radio sessions for Stuart Maconie’s Freakzone, Tom Robinson’s show on BBC6 Music, Pete Paphides show for Soho Radio and Tom Cox’s radio show.

As ever, Daylight Music is free, although you’ll have to pay for your tea and cake, and further donations are encouraged. Full up-to-date information is available here.

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