Concert Reviews

Sunday 27th November

November 28, 2011

It just occurred to me that I forgot to write a few words yesterday about the concert I went to see on Friday evening. As I have spent today listening intently to four different new albums of music, but perhaps haven’t quite listened to any of them enough times to firm up my thought son them yet, here is a brief review of that concert now. The concert was in the basement of a small art gallery named GV Arts, just off of Baker Street in London.Organised by the Soundfjord organisation, there were three acts performing, of which I could only really stay for the first two, primarily because both Julie (who came with me) and I had to be up relatively early the next day and had both set off pretty tired in the first place. The first set left me entirely indifferent, but then it sat in an area of music I stopped paying attention to years back- a kind of post rock meets folk instrumental thing by a duo named Padang Food Tigers. Their music was very pretty, all carefully picked and bowed banjo and guitar notes alongside some subtle laptop background, but ultimately the music lacked depth for me. It actually reminded me a lot of the kind of music you hear behind TV documentaries about stray wildlife wandering across deserted plains, if that makes any sense at all.

The trio that followed was the one I went along to watch, a meeting of Stephen Cornford and Daniel Jones (both electronics) and Angharad Davies, who was on this occasion playing amplified violin, its sound picked up by a small clip on microphone attached above the bridge.  And they made a lot of noise! Well, it would be wrong to say they were overly loud, but they quite surprise due with the thickness and occasionally harsh nature of the sound. I saw Jones and Cornford play with Patrick Farmer down in Brighton a couple of months back, and they played quite full-on then. On that occasion I put this down to the presence of Farmer, who has a tendency of late to rough up collaborative improvisations, but as he was replaced by the violin on Friday night, and given that both Davies and Jones have each played very quietly before I had wondered if that would be the case here. Shows what I know.

The music was a mass of details, quite a lot of extended sounds, feedback wails, amplified ringing metal from Jones’ miked-up prayer bowl and Davies’ semi-rhythmic bowed patterns, often dry, arid scrapes as the bow was inverted so the wooden part scraped the strings, but also often firm, bold tones when the music became more dense and active. In places I am certain that the two musicians playing electronics were not completely in control. Certainly there was some degree of malfunctioning with Jones’ equipment, and I suspect maybe with Cornford’s as well as several loud blasts of feedback appeared here and there, met my confused looks on faces. This element is though, in my opinion, quite welcome, as a degree of uncertainty on behalf of the musicians only reinforces the improvisatory moment. The way the equipment chose to behave then lead on to a rugged, brittle set that saw Cornford often let blasts of feedback rip across the music and Jones took late in the set to slamming a contact mic against the table, bringing a raw, elemental edge to the music that remained underpinned by beautifully controlled softer tones and Davies’ expert angular counterpoint. My only complaint was that this bubbling, fragile mass of sounds didn’t last long enough as they probably only played for about twenty-five minutes or so, otherwise it was a lot of fun, often making me laugh and a very enjoyable set of strong electroacoustic improvisation. Soundfjord often seem to put films of their concerts up online, and given that there seemed to be more cameras in the reasonably sized audience than people, I imagine some documentation of it will appear at some point, when I will link to it if I am able.

A full week of CD reviews begins tomorrow then.

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