Friday, April 29, 2016

early 2016: my own musical exploits

There's been a bit of a backlog with all of this, so I'll keep the descriptions brief:

The recording surfaced from the experimental-musical-theatre-type performance in Holly's bedroom that Tom, Aidan, Juliet and I did as "Binnewith News" the evening of the winter solstice (you can read about that here):

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Six weeks later, to mark the largely overlooked festival of Imbolc, Tom, Juliet, her friends Josh (guitarist) and Becci (visual artist) and I went for an epic sunset-into-twilight-into-darkness woodland walk to the north of Canterbury. We ended up in a cosy nook, Tom, Josh and I jamming til late while Juliet and Becci painted on blank jigsaws:

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A happy and memorable gathering. A few days later I sat in with Josh as part of the Thursday evening slot he was doing regularly in the back room of The Shakespeare (off the Buttermarket) with Jules as "Houdini's Hat" (a variety of gypsy-jazz, latin and blues material). That didn't get recorded, but we seem to have rapidly established a very easy musical connection.

And here's a mishmash of jams from G(h)ent (when I visited Sven in January), Margate in mid-February (with Kirsty who I met at Knapp Hill, near Avebury, several summer solstices ago) and near Lewes a bit later that month (with Stella playing harp):

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"Binnewith News" morphed into "Binnewith Amnesiacs" (via "Binnewith Gnus") in time for our gig at Bramleys, part of the Crash of Moons Club Arlet album-launch event on 16th March, also featuring a three-piece version of Medway's wondersome The Flowing. In the interim there were numerous rehearsals (with and without Aidan's accordion, with and without Juliet's live art projections) as well as a kind of costumed micro- bedroom gig at a slightly odd party. That was just Tom and I, interestingly sabotaged by a tiny northern girl who kept grabbing instruments and "jamming along", i.e., completely ignoring what we were doing and playing badly over the top of it). Local legend Luke Smith showed up and entertained guests on the piano downstairs (I remember him graciously going along with someone's request for Bon Jovi (!) as well as playing Matching Mole's "O Caroline" for me). There was also a chaotic party at Juliet's the next night — no Binnewith representation, just playing stuff like "Shake, Rattle and Roll" hectically in the tiny front room with Kallum, Sam Brothers, Jules, et al.

The Crash of Moons gig didn't go at all the way we'd planned, but ended up being a real success nonetheless. Time pressure, and Juliet hurrying to get the last details together and in costume, meant we didn't start with a sudden proclamation, but rather sort of faded in, Tom and I saz/uke noodling on our cardboard raft, Aidan silent, the audience (who'd accidentally been let into the back room too early) voluntarily going quiet and paying close attention...Miriam said that it felt as if we'd been there playing for eternity. When we finally winded the jam down and looked at each other in our deeply puzzled Amnesiac style, Juliet was ready with her introductory verse, and then we managed to squeeze slightly shortened versions of six pieces into the allotted time with her working the drawing and painting live and manipulating cutout silhouettes and transparencies.


The music didn't get recorded, but I think we played as well as we ever have. The somewhat chaotic circumstances made it happen in a more spontaneous way — Aidan in particular was doing some really interesting stuff and keeping us on our toes. I have no idea what a recording would have revealed, but the combination of the music, costume, set and projected visuals (including some silent film captions I'd made up) seem to have worked to produce some powerful atmospheres. What felt like it could have been a disastrous failure, even when it had already started, turned out to be anything but that. I was left with a strange feeling of "What the hell just happened there?" as if something beyond we four individuals had somehow got involved in the way it had unfolded.





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