Thursday, December 07, 2006

Droning with the absence of Lou Gare (and Melski)

Keith - electric guitar, electric mandolin, percussion
James S - saz, khamak, voice, percussion, piano, singing bowls
Henry - percussion
Philip - saxophone, percussion, bowed singing bowls (and other objects), bits of the church
James T - piano, percussion, water, poetry, manualism
Mick - acoustic guitar (part of first set only)
me - saz, balalaika, percussion, reading of text, tearing of paper, bursting of balloons

James S, Henry, Keith, Mick, James T
James S, Henry, Keith, Mick, James T

An exceptionally interesting, varied, exploratory Drone session last night, and my last one for 2006. It was a total contrast to last week's sweet, melodic, groove-based session at the Rainbow in Crediton. We were half-expecting 'legendary' free-jazz saxophonist Lou Gare to turn up (he emailed to say he was coming, after having chatted with Keith at the last Orbis Tertius? gig and checked out the COTD website). He didn't, but, somehow, it's as if he was there in spirit. The sound was more jagged, atonal, arhythmic and generally 'avant-garde' sounding than anything we've done in a long while. Just the sort of session I'd have expected had he turned up. Just two long pieces (40 and 70 minutes) separated by the customary tea break. Philip was well in his element with this kind of sonic environment, and James S's contributions were as perfectly judged as ever (cryptic sung/mumbled vocals miked up through effects, bits of khamak and saz). James T's piano playing was really well suited to what was going on, and I got a bit of feedback/distortion-laden saz weirdness happening more than once.

Another person who was supposed to be coming but didn't was Melski - it was also very much her kind of improvisation. Characteristically, she had to cancel because of an important job interview the next day for a music therapist position in an asylum!

We had a small audience for part of the second set. Local artist Veronica Gosling brought a couple of friends along to listen as she sometimes does. A couple of fluorescent yellow policeman also stuck their heads in during the tea break to state the obvious, telling us that the door of the church was open. I suggested to the others that we were lucky they didn't come while we were making a howling, atonal racket; James T suggested that they may have found the sound "arresting" (groan).

Also, there was no bass, for the first time in quite a while. That may have contributed to the lack of groove-based playing. And my balalaika was back in action after quite a while of being in a severe state of disrepair.

Listen Here

I thought I'd taken a photograph of every single interesting feature of the inside of the church, but just as the last of us were shuffling out of the side entrance, Henry pointed out this extraordinary plaque to former Rector of the church John White Hedgeland:

J.W.H. May plaque

"On Sunday morning May 11, 1890 he most impressively delivered his Master's Message here: at eventide he was not. The Lord had taken him to his service Above."

"He...feared God above many," it says, quoting the prophet Nehemiah. "He had good reason to," observed Keith.


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