Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bristol and Exeter

Another excursion to the West Country, 17—20 February 2013

A couple of nights before heading out I found myself, through an unexpected turn of events, at Adam and Kim's place near Barham. They showed me the (intentionally) ridiculous new Delta Sleep video which the band filmed in a field across the road from The Bungalow on the New Dover Road — this was meant to be a way of promoting their eternally forthcoming EP, and it somehow went almost instantly viral (9000+ hits in 24 hours!) leading to some kind of record deal. I think Adam even said "BMG" (although I might have misheard)! He was on the verge of leaving the band, but has decided that if he's going to stay around here playing in Lapis Lazuli, he might as well be in another band as well. I also got to preview a couple of Lapis pieces they're working on, currently known as "The Alien Tune" and "Abracadaver". They're getting very ambitious, six people collectively composing some increasingly strange and wonderful music. Toby (the new bass player) is now fully integrated, and everyone's looking forward to the first gig with this lineup.

I got to Bristol on Sunday night, stayed at the new shared house Thom T's recently moved into on York Road. His housemate Ella was interested in my saz, we got talking about traditional musics, and when Brittany came up, she mentioned the Green Angels (Stevie P and Sam's Breton fusion quartet) — it turns out that she used to go out with George who played bass with them (before heading out to Barcelona to join Gadjo). She got her accordion out and we attempted a couple of simple Breton tunes in the kitchen.

The next evening I was down in Exeter jamming with John, Keith and Henry (all from Children of the Drone) at Lucy and Henry's house. I enjoyed the experience of seeing them and playing some music but didn't think the output was up to much. But Henry has since sent me his recording and I was very pleasantly surprised. Here are my edits (about 80 minutes in total):

Listen Here

The next day I was in Bristol, met up with Melski to go to a seminar given by my old neighbour and psychogeographical colleague Phil Smith (of the Wrights & Sites collective) to the Human Geography students at the university there. Thom came along, everyone ended up down the pub afterwards, and I got to meet a Sondryfolk friend, Tom Stone (who it turns out Phil supervised during his MA, and who I'll be working with on an artist-in-residency in Canterbury in late March).

From there Thom and I headed to The Louisiana for a very special gig — Syd Arthur had been touring Britain (England, Scotland and Ireland this time, but no Canterbury gig), and were on top form, supported by their friends Rae, now very much Bristol-based. Rae played an entirely new set (apart from one song off Era). Leon's now playing something in between a cello and a double bass, which he swapped with Leonie for her guitar on one song. Her singing completely blew Thom away and he immediately bought a CD — it has that kind of effect on people. It's a joy just to see them as a group of people, and then you get the wonderful music on top of that!

Syd Arthur had turned up their magnificence by another notch or two since hitting the road. There were four or five new pieces (including "Garden of Time" which I'm familiar with as an acoustic guitar thing Liam's been doing for a while), all extremely promising. Liam's guitar was more distinctive sounding than usual, "crunchier" — he explained afterwards that he's come up with a new arrangement for his arsenal of analogue effects pedals. Raven's playing the Prophet '08 quite a bit more, and his and Joel's backing vocals are becoming more confident and prominent. You can just tell that the second album is going to be mighty... I won't review the gig as such, 'cos someone's already done that very well here. But there was a real buzz in the venue — I'm so used to seeing them play to familiar audiences in Kent, so this was an interesting change of perspective...most of those present (largely quite young, with a few old heads among them) would have read about them online or in the music press.

I stayed over at Elise's new place in St. Agnes (part of Bristol I hadn't even heard of, but it's just a few streets from the old place in St. Werburghs — she and her housemates moved en masse, and they seem to have successfully moved the vibe with them). Sophie came over in the morning so we could collectively talk about Sondryfolk plans — a wonderful idea was collectively conceived as a result of trying to work out what to do with an old piano we were given (but which can't stay where it currently is). More on that soon... Sophie also told us about seeing Rupert Sheldrake at the TEDx Whitechapel event late last year. It's not music-related, but everyone should watch this video!


She was also very enthused by Rupert's son Cosmo who did a performance there with a Loop Station which involved samples of various species of owls! That wasn't online at the time (it's now here), but she showed us this video of him...


...and it gradually dawned on me that this was the same Cosmo that I'd seen performing at Small World Festival in 2010 (you can read about that here). Going back through this blog a few days later, I was reminded that I'd actually jammed with him (and a few other people) briefly — he was playing banjo...I can vaguely remember that now, but if I didn't write such a detailed blog I'd have completely lost that memory! I can remember enthusing to him that he was the first "loop artist" I'd seen who'd completely shed any hip-hop pretense (most of them stem from an extension of the beatboxing scene). I knew Rupert Sheldrake had sons called Cosmo and Merlin (great names!) but had no idea this was one of them. It all makes sense now.

On the coach back to Canterbury I got a text message from Eldad with the sad news that Kevin Ayers had passed away...


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