Tuesday, May 11, 2010

back in Canterbury

Saturday 08/05/10, a Smugglers Records night at The Farmhouse.

Tom Farrer and band were playing their last song when I arrived, the one that has a melody seemingly based on The Diggers' Song", called "Ye Jakobites". Cocos Lovers played next - struggling a bit with the usual murky Farmhouse sound and overly-loud ambience. I don't know what it is about that place, but the atmosphere always feels wrong (the only time it ever felt about right was when I saw Billy Childish rocking it up there). Their new song "Feral and Wild" is coming along nicely, and they've replaced "A Beggars Land" in their set with the traditional song The Wayfaring Stranger (which has a similar kind of sound and which really suits them).

Cocos were missing Pog (away with an eye infection) and James (looking after her), but were supplemented by the percussionist from Theo Bard's band, who played next. I liked his sound (despite the muddy mix) - a good mix of stuff, and the ubiquitous Ewan Bleach was there playing sax (someone I met at 5a.m. at the Secret Garden Party a couple of summers ago, wearing a zebra suit and a ruff...we had attempted some rather strung-out saz and clarinet tunes).

Cycling home, I got to hear the nightingales sing their hearts out in the abandoned pear orchard where they come to stay each May.

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Sun 09/05/10 The Boot Lagoon + Joe Inkpen's Mop Collective - part of the SoundsNew festival

The Boot Lagoon sounded a lot more confident, more solid, with a noticeably 'fatter' sound than the last time I saw them. They were accompanied by some beautiful kaleidoscopic fractal visuals, partially synched with the music. Callum (the youngest of the four musically active Magill brothers) is getting all the old Canterbury sounds out of his keyboard. The theme of this year's SoundsNew is the number "7", and TBL were playing quite a lot of pieces (all instrumental) in 7. Maybe some in 5 or 11...they don't seem to do even numbers. By the end of the set it was starting to feel just a little bit formulaic, but they're so young and talented, I've no doubt that if they keep together, they'll be producing some extraordinary music in a year or two.

The Boot Lagoon logo

The Mop Collective (who seem to have emerged from Canterbury Christchurch University's music department) performed an ambitious seven-piece suite called "Rainbow Conceptuals", composed by bandleader and electric guitarist Joe Inkpen. It was an orchestral prog rock kind-of-thing, something like a reduced version of Centipede's Septober Energy, but, unfortunately, nowhere near as engaging. There were at least a dozen of them up on stage, an interesting mix of instruments...this kind of creativity should be applauded, but for whatever reason, the music didn't do anything for me at all. Percussionist Rose Forbes was noteworthy for her playing (marimba? vibraphone?), which reminded me of certain Steve Reich pieces.

Joel from Syd Arthur was doing sound, as usual - he sent me a preview of their soon-to-be released album (to be called Moving World, I think) a while back. The band are interested in getting some feedback from their enthusiasts on track sequencing, etc. I sent back my suggestions. The final track on the current sequencing is a wonderful Ethio-groove-inspired instrumental piece on which Raven plays a bit of piano. And not just any piano. He's Kate Bush's nephew, and the album was recorded at her old family house in SE London - this was the piano Kate herself played in her youth. They were a bit worried that it was slightly out of tune, but I couldn't hear it and, in any case, it would just add to the Ethio-authenticity. I suggested moving "Planet of Love" from the middle of the album to the opening track, "Exit Domino" to the end (it's got a lovely, graceful, unexpected ending), and this new insturmental piece to the middle. It's almost exactly 40 minutes (proper old-fashioned album length), and quite "songy" as Joel puts it... I think they were initially imagining something less "songy" and more "jammy", but it works - they manage to pack a lot of musical creativity into these 3-5 minute pieces, and there are some imaginative segues, etc. to keep it interesting.

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What else has been going on, musically? Not going to see Erland and The Carnival at The Farmhouse, for some reason, despite being quite impressed by what I've heard of them. Playing at The Smack's Wednesday night open mic in Whitstable. Jamming with Tom and Miriam again (after a couple of months off while I was in the States).


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