Simon Drinkwater & Paul Khimasia Morgan
Its that time of year when I'm either already ill, about to get ill or recovering from just being ill and last night I was in some kind of all three combined netherworld whereby I was forgetting what I was doing, losing things, putting things down and forgetting where I'd put them and even inexplicably leaving my zither at home after I thought I'd finished packing the car with all the equipment we need to put on an aural detritus concert.
Luckily, when I arrived at Simon Drinkwater's flat to pick up him and his harp, he casually mentioned he had an auto harp suitable for use - many thanks Simon! I could sit here and type a list of all the other crucially important things I forgot to bring with me last night here, but I don't think you'd thank me for wasting yours and my time. Instead, on to the music:
Simon Drinkwater and I started proceedings by quietly manipulating harp and auto harp with Cage-ian preparations and electronics in Simon's case and small objects and e-bow in mine.
Then, the first of the evening's international sound artists, Athens-born, London dwelling Yiorgis Sakellariou aka Mecha/Orga, performed an amazingly immersive set of live mixing desk-manipulated field recordings in the darkened room. Unable to attain complete darkness due to the outside street lighting seeping into the space, Yiorgis suggested that we close our eyes for the duration of his set. Without any specific visual artifacts to latch on to then, (not even the sight of Yiorgis himself who performed from behind the mixing board at the back of the room), we were able to really concentrate on what we were hearing. I think due to Yiorgis' deft use of live EQ and volume control dynamics, I found his composition of natural and/or (seemingly) unprocessed sounds extremely powerful and effective/ing.
After the customary half time drinks intermission, Brighton resident Joshua Legallienne treated us to a stunning set of (mildly amplified) solo acoustic guitar improvisation. Joshua has fantastic technique but I would say that he utilises it in ways leaning more towards Derek Bailey than say, John McLaughlin. He does employ as much melodic information as dissonance within his extended methods, but in very short bursts which tumble and collide together in a very pleasing way. He plays hunched right over his instrument, clearly oblivious to his surroundings, looking up to face the audience only once his task of interfacing micro-second musical decisions with the guitar was over. Keep an eye on this young man....
Finally, Columbian sound artist and field recordist David Velez treated us to another immersive set of field recordings with the lights out, but this time produced in a very different way. Where Mecha/Orga's set utilized many recognisable sounds in unfamiliar juxtapositions, David Velez's work, composed in real-time from sound files on his laptop, set my brain to work trying to decode their origins. David used many techniques from (what sounded to me could have been) doubling, mild processing, to looping and hard editing to produce a maelstrom of domestic sounds crashing into rural sounds, city noises bereft of any human voices... in fact for me, it was this lack of basic human vocalising in his work which we're all so used to hearing around us every day (unless you're a hermit - like me) lent a surreal edge; more so even than the disorienting way his source material had been arranged.
Many thanks to our favourite globe-trotting field recordist Simon Whetham for introducing us to David and Yiorgis, Kev Zygotic who provided projections, Simon Drinkwater for sound engineering, Holly Jarvis for helping get the word out, Graham and Kev for allowing me to go on their new Brighton Community Radio show, "Zygotic Episodes" this week (link below) to talk about adcs and Belinda at The Phoenix.
Our next 3-day concert series will take place at Phoenix Brighton this June, with a special presentation to follow in september - more info on those shows here, soon.