Saturday, December 10, 2011

Another St. Mary Arches Drone, on to Bristol

7th December 2011, St. Mary Arches church, Exeter

I made a point of integrating a flying visit to Exeter into my current trip to Bristol/Somerset/Wales, timed with the December COTD session. It was worth it — a good one. A nicely mellow, soundscapey kind of session, not much bass (I played some acoustic bass rather badly for a bit before returning to saz) or sustained rhythm. James S did his thing mangling samples of radio evangelists and swallows in his farmhouse with his Kaoss Pad, as well as playing some rather lovely harmonica. Particularly good to see everyone again this time. James T did a couple of bits of poetry, a powerful one about the River Exe (a request from Lucy, who's working on a multimedia piece about the river with Vicky), and another poignant one about aging.

At one point a young woman came in during the middle of one of the three long pieces, whispered something to Keith, then went and unlocked the pipe organ, retrieved some sheet music and departed. He later told us that he'd told her she should join in with us &mdash if only! We've been tempted in the past, but the organ is always locked.

Lucy — alto sax, vocals
Annie — alto sax, flute, clarinet, vocals
Keith — electric guitar, acoustic bass guitar(?)
Brian — keyboard
James T — keyboard, percussion, water, poetry
James S — Kaoss Pad, khamak, glockenspiel, harmonica, acoustic guitar
me — saz, acoustic bass guitar

Listen Here

me and James S
me (cold in there that night, hence the wooly hat!) and James S — photo by Keith

Annie and Brian
Annie and Brian — photo by Keith

Lucy and James T
Lucy and James T— photo by Keith

...then it was on to Bristol for Sondryfolk time, staying with Elise and co. at her new place in St. Werburghs (bringing back mad memories of mad times in the early to mid-90's, getting to know some of the Mina Road squatters). One of her housemates, Felicia (from Eigg!) also plays guitar, and another, Sara from La Rioja has been getting into didg playing, so we've been filling the front room with late night jamming sounds. Elise's guitar playing is all her own, really original, but still quite easy for me to follow. Felicia is more sing/song oriented, got into singing "Cocaine Lil" (a daft old song learned from a John Martyn record, one I know via The Mekons, although existing in numerous forms, this acoustic Grateful Dead version being my favourite, a barely recognisable version of the same thing), which then slipped into the old standard "Hit the Road Jack", one that can just go on and on and on...

And then Saturday night, Melski suggested coming along to the Full Moon Orchestra at the Arnolfini Arts Centre. This is a monthly (well, lunar) open improv session, facilitated by Jesse Morningstar (who comes over from Paris every month for it) and various guest "conductors". Some of the "conductions" worked, some were farcical, but the whole experience was entertaining. Musical coughing, musical pingpong, a "score" based on the timings of coloured balls being potted in a snooker video, etc. Mel got up and took us through a four-part minimalist thing in the Aeolian mode which she called "Steve Reich Eclipses the Moon with His Great Big Cape" or something (there had been a lunar eclipse that afternoon, but unfortunately not one visible from Bristol).

Afterwards, in the cafe/bar, Melski wanted to introduce me to Jesse, in a slightly forced (but hilarious) kind of "psychedelic man, meet psychedelic man" way, but he's lovely and we had a great chat about what he's doing with his wife (a.k.a. This Is The Kit), potential Kentish connections, a Krautrock-obsessed friend of his in Canterbury who I've never met, and Jesse's days back in The Moonflowers (late 80's/early 90's psych band who I'd completely forgotten, but then suddenly remembered — John Peel sessions, controversial opposition to the Poll Tax and 1991 Gulf War, tours with The Levellers, etc.)

Then home to sit up pouring over some number theory literature at 3a.m. listening to Pharaoh Sanders ("Astral Travelling", etc.) with Felicia, Sara and friends, in late from a party...Sarah's boyfriend Jack is deep into his late-period Coltrane and delighted me by putting Thembi on. Oh, and a really good robotics/neural nets/parapsychology/philosophy-of-science conversation with the German roboticist next-door neighbour that afternoon, too — I like Bristol.


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