new music reviews authored by paul khimasia morgan

Thursday, 20 August 2015

BEAMSPLITTER, Annie Kerr & Gus Garside, Andrew Greaves & Dan Powell 19 AUG 2015

Brighton's long-running avant-music promoters Spirit of Gravity have branched out this year to present more challenging musicians at their The Scope events.  Last night's edition, (XIII), in the cosy environs of the Caroline of Brunswick's Upper Salon comprised a selection of highly virtuoso musicians.
Andrew Greaves & Dan Powell's re-imagining of / homage to Terry Riley's In C on massed electronics I missed due to the willfully erratic sleep patterns of my youngest child, but a quick poll of friends in the audience later on indicated a very interesting presentation of Riley-esque material.  As a fan of Terry Riley myself, I am always keen to find out about anything remotely associated with the bearded one, so I was disappointed to miss this.  Also, Dan Powell is a friend and collaborator of mine, so the regret is doubly chafing.
Annie Kerr & Gus Garside were about halfway through their set when I arrived and having never witnessed Annie Kerr's violin playing before this evening, I was pleased to witness her extremely accomplished standard and extended techniques in mutually supportive interplay with Gus Garside's double bass.  Both amplified, Gus kept his playing clean, (I've sometimes seen him employ digital effects in collaboration with others), and dry while Kerr used the merest hint of, (spring rather than digital?), reverb from her amplifier, presumably to sweeten her violin in the resonance-less Upper Salon and separate her sound from Gus' somewhat.  Their set was extremely immersive with little or no overt references to free jazz in the portion I witnessed, resulting in a delicate and even placid sound environment in places.  They are playing together again at the Coachhouse in september so I shall make sure I get to that one early.
BEAMSPLITTER are Audrey Chen and Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø on cello/vocals and trombone respectively.  They produced a solid half-hour performance of impressive interplay of ideas both using a palette of unusual extended technique; Chen having developed an impressive range of sounds through use of a single chopstick on her cello.  Mildly amplified, they both utilised their microphones as if they were also instruments - mainly through proximity - to great effect.  Chen's vocalese is possibly informed by traditional Chinese song as well as contemporary avant-vocalists like Phil Minton for example, (with whom she has worked).  Henrik M-N's playing is restrained mostly, sometimes mirroring Chen's sounds, until he really lets loose with some noises that actually sound like a trombone towards the end of the set.  Marvellous.  I didn't want it to end.

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