30th January, 2014
I was just back from New Zealand the previous day, completely spun out from jetlag and a mildly flu'y cold thing I'd picked up just before leaving, and it was a miserable cold wet night (this has been the weather all winter, I've been told). But I made an effort to get myself down to Canterbury for this. Koloto (Maria Sullivan, the bass player from Delta Sleep and brother of Neil from Lapis Lazuli) was just playing a twenty minute set as part of an evening involving four acts (the others post-rock or post-punk bands I vaguely recall registering from the poster, but I wasn't in any state to stick around for them) and I was curious how she plays her intricate glitchy electro-acoustic compostions live.
What she's doing is triggering all of the percussive sounds (and they are many, and counterintuitively timed throughout) with an Akai MPD26, a module involving a rectangular array of small pads, hooked up to her Mac which is running the rest. She did seem to be modulating the melody track(s) in some way between bursts of percussion. It was certainly more interesting to watch than the usual laptop artist, transfixed in the glow of their screen, who might as well be checking their email. The obvious dexterity and timing needed to pull this off made the set compelling to watch in the same way that good juggling or speedcubing can be.
The setlist as I remember it: "Fox Tales", "Antares", "Kill Screen" "Cedar Shed" and a piece I'd not heard yet. I was hoping Maria would have copies of her (now completed) debut EP, Mechanica, for sale, but alas not. Something to look forward to.
To fully perform this music live would require more than one person. If we're lucky, there'll be an ensemble performing Koloto pieces at some point in the future. I heard an Aphex Twin piece being played by a chamber ensemble called Alarm Will Sound on Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone the other week, and her work is worthy of that kind of treatment, so you never know...