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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

no sign of the rapture, then...

Slightly Off Kilter sat 21st may 2011 Caroline of Brunswick review

A breezy Saturday night in Brighton in the middle of the Festival. A plush upstairs salon bursting with experimental music aficionados. Beer. Nice Cornish ale on draught to start with. Unfortunately that doesn’t last long before the barrel runs dry and make do with a generic euro lager for the rest of the evening. urrgh. Oh well, luckily there’s no generic euro sound/poetry, (whatever that may be), on the bill for our entertainment this evening so lets proceed.

Tonight’s event is a four-way album launch for the latest releases on The Slightly Off Kilter Label; Daniel Spicer’s engruntled, Anthony Murphy, Adam Lygo and EMB’s 2-disc set blood blister, Adam’s solo 2-disc set The Girl With The Leopard In her Mouth and Martin Preston’s Vapour.

The running order is as follows; a grouping of Adam Lygo, Duncan Harrison & EMB; The Anthony Murphy Quartet and finally Daniel Spicer solo. An attempt to screen footage of some vintage 1990’s performances by Martin Preston was unfortunately derailed at the eleventh hour. Hopefully this will happen at the next Slightly Off Kilter event. Musical interludes were provided by Slightly Off Kilter’s house DJ Mr Stephen Drennan who has been augmenting SOK events for the last ten years. Stephen drew on his mammoth 7” vinyl collection and we were treated to tracks from Wild Man Fischer, late-period Captain Beefheart, and that’s where I stopped recognising stuff.

Adam Lygo carried out his glossolalic piece accompanied by Duncan Harrison on prepared, amplified acoustic guitar and the man known as Euphonious Murmur Blend on subtle electronics. Lygo’s vocal approach was alternately severe and overdriven and haunting and laryngeal. Both approaches benefitted from augmentation by digital reverb controlled by a masked Adam. The mask wearing added an element of both theatricality and unease. Meanwhile, Harrison wrestled with his acoustic guitar, worrying it with a small thumb piano and contact mics before severing its head completely while EMB seemed to do nothing at all for a long time until it suddenly became apparent to me that what I had at first taken to be a hum from the PA had turned into a crisp metallic drone almost without me noticing. A convincing stab at vocalese from Adam Lygo, particularly as I gather it was the first time he’d performed this material in front of an audience, with an intriguing sonic element.

I sensed that The Anthony Murphy Quartet (Anthony Murphy – prose, Adam Lygo – guitar, EMB - electronics, Jet – more electronics) were bent on making a bigger noise than Adam Lygo’s trio the moment Lygo strapped his guitar on for their set with a mischievous look in his eye. That and electronicist Jet’s gargantuan (for this small venue) laser theremin pulsing red in the exhaust cloud of a fog machine. And so they did, so much so that Anthony Murphy’s vocals were a little lost in the mix for the first few minutes despite being processed through Jet’s amorphous synthesisers. With the vocal levels corrected, Murphy’s prose became audible and his stories began a mighty tussle with Jet’s processing. After about ten or twelve minutes, Murphy capitulated to allow the behemoth of the instrumentalists’ digital outputs to crank up a gear and slowly chew the venue walls off. EMB produced a particularly disorientating church organ drone which crossed over from Terry Riley territory to what I imagine La Monte Young would sound like if he joined Sunn O))) (please let me know if this has already happened). The group created a wall of sound which grew in intensity until it imploded in a cloud of ash and static.

After a lengthy break to allow audience members the chance to recharge their glasses in the downstairs bar, no doubt braving the charms of the rock/metal karaoke activity going on down there, Daniel Spicer took to the stage. Armed with an amplified, processed violin, a couple of gongs and later a harmonica, Spicer presented one ten or so minute piece. His prose reminded me of Burroughs’ cut-up technique in part, but delivered in a smooth conversational way. Surreal perhaps, (not sure if he’d describe it that way) and attenuated with sudden gong, shouts or town cryer-like singing. Not without humour either: the line “that’s not a tea towel – it’s a stick!!” getting a big laugh. Despite it all potentially coming over as entertaining wordplay nonsense on first hearing, there were interesting references to The Rapture, Deep Heat, the church, natural history, clubland’s year zero 1989, and more. The violining is a psychedelic echo scrape and despite competence, had no folk reference whatsoever, although Spicer’s blues harmonica is just that complete with manic ape-like footstomping. Overall, Daniel Spicer is an engrossing and fascinating proposition, offering a strangely edifying glimpse into his own brand of post-ecstatic passementerie.

All four albums are available now direct from us at the following prices all including postage:
Daniel Spicer engruntled cd-r £5
Martin Preston Vapour cd-r £5
Anthony Murphy Trio blood blister 1 x 5” cd-r & 1 x 3” cd-r £8
Adam Lygo The Girl With The Leopard In Her Mouth 2 x cd-r £7
Please Paypal or email us for alternative payment arrangements.

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