Friday, September 20, 2013

...and more Arlet

The Lounge
Christchurch University, Canterbury
Saturday 14th September 2013

This is a new venue, first time I'd been inside it. The event was under the umbrella of "Folk in the Barn", usually folk-style music in a barn near Kingston, south of Canterbury. I was actually late, felt awful about that, arriving after Arlet had started to find a seated, attentive audience (I was expecting more of a chattering drinking crowd for some reason). But apparently I only missed the first piece.

This was yet another permutation on Arlet, with Nick Walters on guest trumpet (he was in Zoo For You years ago, has gone on to great things since, last seen with the Riot Jazz brass band at WOMAD) and Annie Whitehead on guest trombone. So with trumpet, trombone and euphonium (not on every piece, but quite a few) it was the most brass-oriented lineup yet, hence completely unique versions of tunes like "Medway Services". Annie and Nick both took ridiculous solos and then just jammed together towards the end of "Chasing Tales", everyone clearly having a lot of fun (good monitoring, apparently, to match the near-perfect sound out front). I really wish I'd recorded it now (wasn't expecting such a total lack of audience noise, was out of batteries, and in a bit of a hurry to get there...oh well).

The new one, "Big Red Sun", had evolved considerably in the preceding week it seemed (I'd listened to the live recording from the previous weekend a few times and become familiar with it). Their version of Eno's "The Big Ship" didn't get played (they had limited time, and were playing for a folkie crowd, so that was only to be expected, but I do hope they play it again). During "Mattematix" it struck me what a big thing it is to have your name attached (sort of, in this case) to a piece of music. A copy of Clearing has now gone to the British Library, who'll theoretically keep it safe for generations after we're all gone ("Mattematix" isn't on the album, having been written after it was recorded, but hopefully will be on the next one.

Aidan mentioned that "V12" was written for local drummer Vince Clarke (who Aidan and jazz pianist Frances Knight play with, and who's played with Hugh Hopper, Dave Sinclair, Graham Flight...). I'm hoping to get Aidan, Frances and Vince to come and play crazy accordion-and-drums jazz in the woods next spring!

I got a chance to chat to new percussionist Lucy afterwards. She was originally a kit drummer in rock bands,then discovered folk mu sic, then got bored with it, then found Arlet. And she's really enjoying the challenge of the constantly shifting, twisty-turny rhythms.

Annie and Aidan are both in Alister Atkin's band, the Ghost Line Carnival (as is Caravan's Geoffrey Richardson) who were the main act. They're a great band, I enjoyed hearing them play, but Alister's American-influenced singer-songwriter style is just not my kind of thing (he mentioned having named his newborn son after Lowell George, so he's obviously steeped in it). He seems to be a luthier of some repute as well as a celebrated songwriter. The songs are undeniably well constructed and fully deserving of the Radio 2 airplay, just not my kind of thing. I enjoyed hearing Geoffrey's tune "The Lighthouse" arranged and extended for this band, though (this originally appeared on one of Morgan Fisher's Miniatures albums, which involve fifty or so pieces of about one minute each).


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