26th January - Lubomyr Melnyk at Cafe Oto.
You have no idea how excited I was to see this gig. An old boyfriend of mine played a gig with this guy in Estonia a few years ago and when he came back he was all like "you HAVE to hear him" and when I listened to his record Wave-Lox I can honestly say I've never before been so involved in a piece of music before, recorded or live. When I listen to Lubomyr I think fondly of sharing this with no one else except myself, selfish I know but this stuff is too good to share. Really though, this wasn't that hard to pull off because I honestly thought no one had heard of him apart from me (us) never mind owned a nice slab of vinyl containing his work (me, I went on to buy KHM off some dude in Denmark)
Imagine my surprise when I got outside Cafe Oto and there was a queue around the building, my only thought was that thanks to the promoting power of Cafe Oto, Lubomyr's YouTube video must have 'gone viral' and pulled all these folks in with his magnetic whirlwind of a sound. I was a bit pissed off to be fair. So selfish again but everyone could back off as far as I was concerned, this music should have been FOR ME and me alone.
I've got a friend who "knows people" and she'd saved me a seat right down on the front row, I waited patiently to hear him play. A gin and slim for nerves.
If anyone knows me they'll know I do this thing when I build up experiences I'm about to have far too high in my mind so it did cross my mind that this 'could' be a let down. Lubomyr had other ideas.
He played 3 pieces, all of which I was unfamiliar with and to be perfectly honest, I can barely remember what they sounded like and the reason for this is that his fast continuous music style of playing (a term he came up with) doesn't really rely on a *tune* to carry you along instead he produces this entire mass of dense notes which you are able to rest on and get carried on top of like surfing without a board. When I hear his music, my stomach moves, it twists up into a ball and I can feel it being pulled towards the sound. At Cafe Oto it was happening live and I realised that I didn't mind all these other people here sharing this experience because I couldn't relate to them anymore. I was totally alone, just me and the music. This was such a personal experience, I was unable to talk in straight sentences after he'd finished.
Lubomyr Melnyk you have my respect, keep doing what you are doing and please come back and visit me soon.
19th February - Some sketchy as hell noise gig in this weird squat on the Walworth Rd. I dunno what was going on at this place, they were serving small vodka jellies which got cheaper when you bought them in bulk, and a dude was being all rebellious by turning posters upside down. I'm fairly sure hes the one who left a human poo in a sink at this other (better quality) noise gig I went to at a high rise art gallery last year. We left quickly, bought a load of beers to take home and had a party which included some interpretive dancing to David Bowie's Labyrinth soundtrack. In a lot of ways, what we ended up doing at home was way more experimental than the stuff we saw at this terrible gig. Ben actually said, "that could be the worse gig I have ever been to" and I sort of agree.
3rd March - Aine O'Dwyer, Mark Fry and Piano Magic at the Union Chapel in Highbury.
Aine was so bloody brilliant at this gig. Her harp playing skills are a real treat, because she has this knack of showing off the awesome tone her instrument can make without making it sound either twee or cute which I think a lot of harp player's make the mistake of doing. Harsh core harp.. yeah ok.
And Mark Fry, what a legend. He has the sweetest voice yet sings about the weirdest stuff - makes sense that he would collaborate with Aine, I think they are coming from the same place with their music. Needed to play for about twice as long.
But then Piano Magic.. Jees, I don't wanna be rude really but these guys need a good shake up and need to get away from that whole Christian rock vibe. Plus, fair enough if you want to sing about subjects which could change the world but really adding lyrics like 'lets save the animals'? save it for a WWF advert, this made me want to puke! They were technically good, the female singer especially had a good voice but not my bag at all.
4th March - Bridget Hayden, Alex Tucker and some other dudes jamming about at The Grosvenor in Stockwell.
The whole evening we were literally waiting for Bridget to play. The build up was too much, certain people were hogging the stage for way too long teasing us with potential finishing lines and then doing a second lap, and third lap, and fourth lap and ... It was so boring.
Bridget was totally awesome so it was worth the wait. I've got a bit of a girl crush on her actually, shes one of the coolest people on the UK drone noise scene because she just gets on and does it in such a humble way. I like the way she clouds her songs with effects so that the words are hidden slightly yet she still manages to communicate exactly what she is trying to express. She also makes her beat up guitar work for her in a truely unique way for her truely unique sound.
9th/10th/11th March, Rammel Club weekender in Nottingham.
I not going to lie to you, I love gushing. I also love good music and good people both of which were in huge abundance at Rammel Fest and here's the gush, this festival's feel good factor was off the scale! I entered feeling pretty nervous (I played a set on the Saturday) and left feeling inspired, clear headed, warm and a bit gooey on the inside. Aw.
I missed a couple of things due to a couple of casual ales but here's a sort of run-down of what happened..
Makakarooma were first on. Stoke on Trent landed on Nottingham in traditional "Eh up duck!!" style. (This was literally screamed across the room at me, Eh up, its Sophie Cooper duck!!!!!) Naturally I'm biased being from the area and I've known a couple of the members for years so loved every second of their insane antics. They threw together a relentless drum beat, samples of those cheap pre-recorded prayer keyrings you get in Blackpool, almost tuneful singing, a bit of narly guitar played by my hero Andy Jarvis and it was fun which made loads of sense. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ogtUvEyai8
John Wall and Mark Durgan, these guys had an amazing computer vs homemade synth glitch battle. I find this type of music fascinating and it kinda reminds me of that bit in Superman 3 when the evil lady gets turned into a robot. Watch if you dare: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuSsSwg9MXs
Blood Stereo, I love these guys so much. I don't wanna be too wanky journo about this in case Dylan reads this and takes the piss out of me but what has always appealed about watching D&K live has been the confidence they exude when playing. It gives even the most subtle sounds they come out with such weight and poignancy. Loved it.
Design A Wave, Tom's music is so weird and funny. I was dancing up at the front with his girlfriend having a ball of a time but dancing quite slowly like we'd been smoking tons of weed outside. I love, love, love, his lyrics which is the main reason for my "weird" comment... You have to be pretty confident to sing lines like "Dinosaur, do, do, do, do, do, do" over and over again which he does with great effect. I want his record.
Woke up totally crapping it at the thought of playing first this day so spent a few hours jamming out my tunes on the guitar Bridget Hayden has kindly lent me for a bit. Like I say, I opened the Saturday and it went so well... I must express a huge thank you to the one and only Joincey for accompanying me and complimenting me so perfectly. Also big loves and hugs to the Rammel guys for asking me to play in the first place. It's given me the kick up the arse I've needed so watch this space as they say. I'll link to a vid when I upload it.
Nick Jonah Davis Nick is on the Tompkin Square label which'll give you an idea of what he's about. Nice enough finger picking guitar and lap steel music. He did a prepared lap steel piece at the end of his set which I was really into.. seemed like a nice chap as well. Good aura.
Spoils and Relics this was my favourite set from the weekend. The set up was fairly simple, three blokes putting tapes through effects pedals but they did it so well and allowed each other space so you could actually hear everything nice and clearly. The highlight though was when the owner of the bar did a completely darkside poem halfway through. It lifted the piece to a different doomy level and the delivery was amazing. Good work.
Sleaford Mods I'd never heard of these guys but apparently they are a bit of a local legend in Nottingham. I stuck around at the back for a few songs which I thought were pretty funny. The singer was ranting on about how and why he hated social media so much over some slick riffs and keyboard beats and he presented a convincing argument.
Storm Bugs were really interesting. I'm not going to lie to you, I'd had a couple by this point and my memory of exactly what happened is a bit sketchy but I remember really liking their singing. I spoke to Steven Ball of Storm Bugs for quite a long time afterwards about the use of song in noise music of which we had a lot to say. He only lives down the road from me so hoping to bump into him and have a further word with him about this some time.
The rest of the night was spent dicking about downstairs drinking and chatting with buddies I'd not seen for ages although I heard both Bill Kouligas and Heatsick from afar and everyone said how ace they were later. Can I just say Bill wins heart throb of the weekend, you have no idea how many people were talking about how smooth he is. Bill, you have some Bilievers out there!
What day is it, where am I? We're a long way from home, Toto.
Surfacing Surfacing would have been better if they'd gone with one idea and played it out. There was an awful lot of chop and changing which I found a bit confusing. The beginning was good mind.
Swallows I was really into Sian's set. It made me feel as though I was in an episode of Twin Peaks and we were being projected through an 1980's Russian hologram depicting Julee Cruise's image in front of some red velvet curtains. The sound honestly conjured up so much imagery for me, I couldn't stop imagining what the music looked like during her set. Really interested to see how this project develops.
Nacht und Nebel My old pal Henry is such a dude! I've never seen his noise project before, he was in Army of Flying Robots when I knew him in Manchester which was straight up screaming hardcore. This set was minimal noise stuff and really great. He played in almost darkness except for these green neon lights he strapped to his hands. Really liked it.
These Feathers Have Plumes What can I say about one of my main ladies Andie Brown? She absolutely smashed it by playing the most considered drone, this time on wine glasses through a few effects. She has the guts to take the time to really build up the sound she's making without going too crazy with it. She can take the smallest sound and turn it into a whole "back in the womb" (quote Swallows) experience. Absolutely damn impressive and not many people are brave enough to do this. All hail the new Queen of drone! Andie Brown rules.
And sadly, this is where the story ends because I had to head back to London to get on with the reality of living. Roll on the next one.. Rammel, you were incredible.
24th March - Ben Nash, Jack Allett, Chora, Hessdalen at The Sebright Arms, Bethnal Green
Kinda hard for me to 'review' this one as I live with Ben and Jack. What can I say? Of course they were all really great..
21st April - Jandek with Alex Nielson and Richard Youngs at St Margaret's Church, Whalley Range, Manchester
Dunno what to say about this at all really. There was such a big pressure on everyone in attendance to be totally in awe of Jandek this evening. He's not played in the UK for a long time and there's the whole 'myth', the who, the what, the why... Personally, I wasn't that fussed by what I was hearing.
28th April - Gals with Guitars at Deptford Town Hall, S. London
This is my own project I run with Sharon Gal. We get a large group of women together to collaboratively put together a piece of music over a 2 day workshop and this was the occasion when we played the end result. I think it went well.
2nd May - James Blackshaw at Cafe Oto
5th May - Broken Flag, 30th Anniversary at Tuffnell Park Dome.
Oh goodness. Well I left my camo trousers at home and am a woman so was instantly alienated by this total cock-fest. Man tweaks his nipples and licks a photo of a young person much to the 'shock' of the audience and then he grabs his dick. No thanks. Thankful I only went for the one day, think all 3 might have killed me.
6th May - Bonnie Prince Billy and The Trembling Bells at The Union Chapel
Didn't stick around for long but what I heard was really nice. Had a sort of spiritual "what am I doing with my life?" breakdown a few songs in and had to leave hyperventilating and aided by my knight in shining armour to calm down in Stoke Newington.
7th May - Sharon Gal, Steve Beresford and Elaine Mitchener at Boat-Ting, Temple
Sharon uses our old friend chance to select two pieces of paper, both say the word "aggression" on them which she interprets in her wonderful way. Great gig and it was on a boat which was pretty special. They were supported by a man reading a poem about his penis accompanied by a guy playing The Pink Panther theme underneath.