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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Splitting The Atom review

Club Zygotic presented an all day event of “eclectronica”, as they describe it, over two stages at The Hydrant in Brighton, providing off-kilter music fans of all stripes a viable destination on a Bank Holiday Sunday otherwise haunted by the spectre of the England-Japan game.

Ian Murphy & Duncan Harrison
I saw Ian Murphy in duo with Dylan Nyoukis at Active Crossover II earlier this year, but Duncan Harrison’s name is new to me. Playing through the main PA with their backs to the audience, they quickly set up a dense, high volume set of electronic modulations from seemingly very little equipment. Ominous for the most part. Mr Harrison wrestling with a microphone searching for feedback. Glass smashing sounds appeared through the mug of filtered repeats in a satisfying way. Moving drones at work; darkly psychedelic possibly. A great start to the proceedings and certainly set the tone well.

Adam Lygo & EMB
Formerly an improv/noise guitar duo approaching ten years vintage, Adam Lygo & EMB now resort to using the guitar as a starting point only. Adam Lygo uses his guitar flat on a table, sounding its strings with a small fan and modulating the resulting drone with a series of processors while EMB forsakes his guitar completely to rely on effecting a number of samples taken from a 1989 recording of his solo guitar.

Remedial Queen Of England
Girls beating the boys at their own game. Craven guitar-bashing resulting in spectacular, full spectrum drone.

Slow Listener
Slow Listener seems to me at least, to be about maintaining the equilibrium of pure tone relationships. He needs strength and stamina to keep physical control of multiple devices constantly on the brink of collapse. Like a juggler, he keeps his eyes on many things at once; skilfully adept at manipulation.

Noteherder & McCloud
Annoyingly, I missed these guys’ set somehow but my last experience of their electronics / sax improv attack left a good impression.

Crayola Lectern
Proggy, Robert Wyatty. A flautist. “Proper” music played on “proper” instruments and not experimental in any perceivable way. Well, that’s how it seemed to me. Sorry, not my cup of tea.

Earth Creature
Boy/girl noise duo it seems. Boy on electronic devices; girl on theremin, vocals and pink boilersuit. Fantasy songtitles could be: “I Am Looping My Theremin”, “I Am Producing An Unholy Racket”, “I Am Lying On The Floor...”, “I Am Screaming Pointlessly”, “I Have Removed All My Clothing And I Am Now Running Around The Venue Scaring The Audience”. Brilliant.

The A Band
Empty flailing. Fantastic. If you like the idea of watching a random group of freaks trying to make as much noise as possible, that is. A megaphone seemed to be the focus instrument as several group members had a go on it. You’ll probably have read about them in the wire recently so you’ll know what hype is all about; and no, the fella from ASC did not attend.

In terms of seaside town analogies, if the A band are Sidmouth, Bolide are St Tropez. There’s an unlikely yet appealing aura of Beefheartian rigour mixed with electric-era Miles Davis’ cigarette butts. Sure enough its free, but its not empty flailing. They’re much more sophisticated, and presumably like to lean more towards louche jazz histories than freedom for freedom’s sake. I was also charmed by the variety of wind instruments used which leant the proceedings a vaguely North African flavour one moment and an Asian or Indonesian one the next. Plus there was nonsensical shouting off mic which was great. Exuberant. That’s a key word here.

Ian Helliwell
This film-maker and perhaps more specifically Artist certainly presented himself as such tonight. Perched mid stage with a self-built example of his “Hellitronics”, dubbed The Hellisizer, (a large item visually resembling a cross between something made by Don Buchla and a sideboard), resplendent in garish vintage polyester and 1960’s NHS specs, Helliwell cut a figure that could have been straight out of a Frans Haals painting if a time machine were handy, that is. His self-built knobular, analogue instrument, presumably the latest in Helliwell’s individual approach to the development of dc circuitry, disgorged a stream of multi-phonic moving tones; cracked sines and sawtooth waves, modulated arpeggiation; its synthesis, (and I won’t bore you with technical terms any longer), although simply produced, very otherworldly and somehow disconcerting.

Will of ViV
Vocalese, a bit of flute and what i would describe as an “homage” to Derek Bailey on acoustic guitar.

John Wall & Clive Graham
Shame they had to wait all night to play, it was around midnight as they took to the stage and by then the audience had diminished somewhat to a raggletaggle collection of drunken revellers all chatting, drinking and/or playing pool rather than giving their full attention to what should have been the focus of the event. Still, John and Clive took this Bank Holiday attitude in their stride and proceeded to give us a great experience of contemporary electronic composition.

Overall, a nicely varied bill which maintained momentum over the whole day. Plaudits to the boys from Club Zygotic for having the balls to manoeuvre the difficult logistics of events of this type. Same time next year?

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