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!!!MERZBOW!!!

This is more like it! After the mogadon jazz vibe of Bohren it was up to Merzbow to give my brain a damn good sand blasting. Which he did in spades.

There were the usual excoriating sheets of white noise with occasional passage of rhythmic clonking. Guest participants too, including Eugene from Oxbow.

Noise is a curious genre, and Merzbow’s  noise is amazingly detailed, restless and fractal. When it’s done well noise can send me into a really relaxed, contemplative state. And it did, I was kinda embarrassed afterwards when I realised I’d been swaying to the swells and build up of noise. Dancing to noise music…well I wasn’t the only one. My friend “the Flatulent Freaky Dancer” was jumping up and down and throwing rave shapes to the whitenoise skree.

 

 

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Intriguing name, had to check them out. My mate loved them, he thought they had “The Red Room in Twin Peaks Vibe.” I’m afraid I found them funerally slow and torpid, lounge music played after drinking too much cough medicine. Imagine the theme from Blade Runner run through Paul Stretch. Judging by the audience response I think I was in a minority cuz they got a very appreciative response.

Kevin Drumm played the Old Library. I enjoyed his gravelly textured digital grit and there was an interesting dot field projected behind him which helped jog the ol’ synaesthesia along. I left before the end of the set to catch Hookworms. They played a churning Neu-ish groove, actually in retrospect they reminded me of late 80’s landfill band Flowered Up, except they were good (Hookworms that is). Here’s a clip, you may notice the freaky dancer from Modified Toy Orchestra, this time he was sporting a jaunty sailor hat and managed to clear a floorspace to himself through performing spastic aerobics routine along with liberal amounts of foul flatus.

I returned to the Old Library to watch Jarboe’s set of Swans and World of Skin songs. I thought Jarboe’s voice was fantastic, rich, mellifluous and enveloping. I always enjoyed how she tempered Swans sturm und drang but maintained their emotional intensity.

Afterwards I pottered around the marketplace, visited the “creepy cabin” and managed to buy one of Morton Underwood’s austerity synths which I have to say I’m very pleased with 🙂

I’m typing this tired but tingly from last night’s lineup. There was so much variety from the Finnish folk cooing of Lau Nau to the strange and enigmatic Hype WIlliams. This year the sound and visuals really worked well to lead to some really memorable gig memories. You can probably guess that I had a great time 🙂

I started the day by checking out Lau Nau. She was a Finnish folk singer who strummed and looped to create a rather beautifully eerie head space.

Next stop was Sir Richard Bishop over at the Boxxed venue. He treated us to skilful arabesque guitar work with a touch of flamenco to it.

Modified Toy Orchestra

 

Ahhh, Modified Toy Orchestra, a regular performer and favourite of Supersonic. I love their sound, it’s amazing the sounds they can wrest from the ghosts of Chritmas past. I’ve got a couple of clips for you to peruse, including footage of a guy who was freaky dancing through the whole set and clearing a space for himself by dropping his guts on a regular basis. IMHO gigs have become much more “pungent” since the smoking ban 😦

I’m afraid I retired home after this, the soul was willing but the flesh was weak and needed Ovaltine.

First band up were Free School. I’d not heard of these guys before. They were decked out in rather unsettling sheep masks and pumped out (to my ears anyway) an Underworld groove. For a dance act they were welcomingly visual and kinetic, no staring at a laptop screen here, instead we had live drumming, vocals and stage presence. All in all, a good start to proceedings, here’s a couple of clips to give you a flavour.

Afterwards I went to see Devilman. No footage I’m afraid and there was no info in the program or website but it looked like KK Null and other luminaries of Japanese noise jamming. Whatever / whoever it was the music was ferociously loud and the bass waves got my windpipe quivering and sent ripples through my scalp and got the (few) hairs on my head tingling. Me gusta mucho!

 

 

Another year, another Supersonic. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Birmingham’s best musical festival. There’s quite a varied line up this year so I shall try and sample as much as I can. I managed to drag my carcass to DIgbeth despite feeling knackered from work. Luckily I soon perked up. Whilst waiting for the bands to start I checked out the vinyl rally exhibit. It is the brain child of artist Lucas Abela (aka Justice Yeldham, who incidentally provided one of the most memorable Supersonic 2005 performances when he “played” a piece of glass hooked up with piano mics). Imagine a multilevel scalextric composed of vinyl. A remote controlled care drives across the vinyl, controlled by whoever sits in the modified arcade driving cabs. The car has a camera which transmits a first person perspective to videomonitors and the driver can also alter the audio output using various knobs and filters. The result – well when I checked it out they appeared to have teething problems, the car seemed to have difficulty finding traction on the vinyl and would tend to flip over or get stuck. I’ll try again tonight and see if they’ve managed to get it working.

Silent Sounds

Hahaha- one of my Junto contributions got played on an internet radio show.

For the 30th Junto we were asked to record “silence” and then make it into a track.

Here’s my effort.

I recorded an audio track into Acid with an unconnected audio cable in the mic socket of my laptop. I got some clicks when the jack brushed against my wedding ring. I resampled the space between the clicks and amplified, filtered,stretched, squashed, gated and flanged them until I got something audible. I than ran it through Hourglass granulator to try and tame some of the instability and drop outs (only partially successful I’m afraid). I kept the clicks and jiggled them around a little.

The 30th Disquiet Junto project was the subject of an edition of At Water’s Edge (linky http://www.rebekkahhilgraves.com/at-waters-edge-4-august-2012-sounds-in-silence/ )

I highly recommend you stream / download as there are some fascinating, frightening and confounding pieces there. It’s best listened on a good set of cans at 3 am with the lights off. The conversation between tracks is stimulating too, a good rapport going on. It left me feeling I’d taken part in something special. If you’ve not done so already, make sure to check out the http://www.disquiet.com site and join in.

I’ve uploaded a few tracks over the last month.

Glossophobia was an entry into the 27th Disquiet Junto project. The mission was to create a track using the text instructions for the brief and nothing else. I decided to paste the Turkish text into a speech synthesizer and enjoyed playing around and warping the resultant voices but the time limit constraint on Junto submissions meant it ended up a bit too murky and unfocussed for my liking.

I tried “remixing” it, the result was Glossophiliac. I like how the speech synthesis sample becomes more natural sounding but I think in retrospect I could’ve hacked the last 2 minutes off the track.

Finally….ShitSummerTime Blues was me faffing around with thumbjam in my car whilst it tipped it down outside. Here in England we have had a truely abominable summer, it’s pretty much rained heavily since March, with the odd 4-5 days of respite. Damp, mouldy, grey weather. I don’t think you’re supposed to get Seasonal Affective Disorder in the summer but yechhh….those pregnant black clouds are sapping my yin.

 

Finally finally…..staying on a watery theme, for the 29th Junto project we had to compose a track using running water and enhancing it’s rythmic qualities. I filled up a washing up bowl and sampled it to death, pasted it into Acid and a KP3 and twiddled around until a rapidly expanding bladder got the better of me.