And so we start again.

January 6, 2007

Yep, with 2007 less than a week young I caught my first live show this afternoon, the first mini concert to be put on in the Sound323 basement for over a year, and possibly the last as Mr Wastell has new plans for that space.
So, encouraged by personal invites and free alcohol, around 30 people squeezed into the tiny basement space to catch two sets involving members of the Swedish group The Skull Defekts.

First up was a thirteen minute solo from Henrik Rylander, who worked with an electronics set up hooked up to a tiny set of speakers. The tiny performance space and the OffSite-like proximity of neighbours make anything bigger impossible.
The Skull Defekts have been known to work in a variety of musical areas (Their web page describes their work as Avant and Hypnotic rock/noise) but you sensed that Rylander was more used to a bigger PA and far higher volume. The rythymic, pulsing drums and white noise piece he produced sounded watered down at low volume and really did very little for me. I may be wrong about Rylander usually working with louder music, but the additional velocity of a raised volume would probably be the only thing that could happen to this set to make it more interesting.

The following set though, involving fellow Defekt Joachim Nordwall alongside 323’s own Mark Wastell proved much more rewarding. Nordwall, who runs the Gothenburg based iDEAL label used the same eqipment as Rylander, yet produced something very different alongside Wastell’s tam tam and Indian harmonium. The first few minutes of the set consisted of no more than a very low volume bass hum pitched so low that the walls of the performance space vibrated. This single quivering note stayed only marginally above the audible, rising in volume very slightly only when Wastell began to add gentle smears of his trademark tam tam drone.
These days Wastell can coax the most incredible sounds from a big disc of metal with seemingly the tiniest of efforts. The rolling sheets of sound that he allowed to rise and fall in the early parts of the set sounded eerily electronic as they blended into Nordwall’s humming tones. The Swede introduced a gentle static hiss into play as Wastell picked out single strikes of the tam tam and for a while the music settled into a relaxed wash of sound until during an interlude in Wastell’s playing Nordwall twisted a dial and brought the low hum up in pitch. Wastell’s response was immediate, the wooden handle of his beater deftly scraped suddenly around the rim of the tam tam followed instantly by a perfectly pitched drone from the harmonium on the floor beside him. The combination of Nordwall’s single tone and the bellows driven undulations of the harmonium made for a pleasing final few moments of the set before things came to an end with the low bass hum that had begun proceedings returning only to die away into a charged silence.

All in all, including a badly needed if pretty awful cup of tea with Alastair in the café next door this was a very nice way to spend an otherwise grey and rainy Saturday afternoon.

I picked up a few CDs once I managed to fight my way through the crowds to the counter:

Tomas Korber / Bernd Schurer – 250904 (Balloon and Needle)
Max Neuhaus – Fontana Mix – Feed, Six Realisations of John Cage (Alga Marghen)
David Tudor / Gordon Mumma – s/t (New World Records) Looking forward to this following Robert’s exceptional review over at Bagatellen.

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