Friday, December 12, 2008

Orbis Tertius? in Bristol

Wednesday 10th December, the Cube Cinema in St. Pauls. This was our first musical venturing beyond the Exeter area.

Occasional CoTD collaborator Melski had organised this as a debut gig for her 'Bristol Feral Choir' (and Complaints Choir). Proceeds went to the Gaza Children's Hospital.

outside the Cube

This was the second time Jim's performed with us. The first was a completely spontaneous thing out at a micro-festival near Coleford during the summer. This time we had a quick run-through the night before. We got a 40 minute set to open the second half of the evening, and were all very happy with how we played. In fact we were so relaxed during the soundcheck jam that we just kept playing until people started drifting back into the auditorium (from the foyer, where, supposedly, a Solstice King and Queen were dispensing blessings). The mix seemed good (despite our lack of monitors), although the recording's a bit muddy due to my placement of the H2 recorder. The set was well received, and ameliorated by some visual stimulation (which we're usually completely lacking) - a slideshow projected behind us featuring a couple of hundred images of extraordinary, trippy ice/snow/frost formations which I'd downloaded the day before. I was sitting sideways to face Henry, so was able to enjoy this out of the corner of my eye - I almost lost track of what I was playing as a result of a couple of the more extraordinary images.

me - saz
Keith - electric bass guitar
Henry - percussion
Jim - low whistle, melodica, glockenspiel

Listen Here

Before the first half, Jim and I caught a bit of a harpist called Marie-France playing in the foyer - a wonderful, flowing, intricated improvisation played with complete ease, an O'Carolan tune Jim recognised, and others. Members of the Feral Choir and Cube Orcestra were getting decked out in greenery, then some choristers processed into the auditorium singing a very old-sounding song called "Green Groweth the Holly". The audience followed them in, and were then treated to an improvisation by the Cube Orchestra (including Ale, who's played a bit with me and COTD). The Feral Choir sang a semi-conducted/semi-improvised piece to accompany a 1950's black and white documentary about "Eskimos" projected silently behind them. The Cube Orchestra then improvised to a section of Chaplin's The Gold Rush (the bit with the cabin teetering on the cliff-edge), which worked especially well. Some anti-consumerist Christmas song re-writes were sung with the audience, and the Complaints Choir improvised on a diverse list of written complaints generated by audience members as they had arrived.

After we'd played in the second set, the Feral Choir sang "Pat-a-pan" with me and Jim accompanying on saz and low whistle, respectively. Melski, Jim and I all know this from long-term mutual friend Pok, who sadly couldn't be there (although on his way to the West Country at that time). Other solstice songs, kids' 'traditional' rude versions of Christmas carols, anti-consumerist songs, etc. were sung. There was a hilarious, fast-paced 'crap raffle' (all the prizes were crap, intentionally) and the proper old pre-Christianised version of "The Holly and the Ivy" to end, with men's and women's verses - felt really moving. That was the Feral Choir again, joined by Jim and others. I suddenly remembered seeing Jim years ago at the Assembly Rooms in Glastonbury, singing the same solstice songs as part of a similar event organised by his bandmate Tim from The Invisible Opera Company of Tibet.

* * *

That evening, Jim and Keith also discovered a shared love of certain old Canterbury sounds (Hatfield and the North, Matching Mole, etc.) and Jim mentioned this extraordinary bit of footage from Pip Pyle's recent funeral. That's Richard Sinclair (Caravan, Hatfield) singing Robert Wyatt's "God Song" - not sure who's in the band. Note the stickers all over Pip's coffin, and the child's drawing right at the end.


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