Thursday, 18 June 2015

Rhian Thompson / Rhodri Davies & Mark Sanders / Shelly Knots / Callan - Live at The Old Police House, Gateshead [18th June 2015]

[2015.06.18] Tom Hollingworth, for NARC Magazine.
 
As people arrive for Hauskonzert #20, quietly growing his set out of his soundcheck, DJ Callan moulds tones quietly through the PA kneeling discretely at the side of the main living room space. Using LP’s with soft ambient tones, he delicately interacts with the dials of a little box in loop with the vinyl player, effecting and editing the sounds. This gradually evolving ambiance graciously soothes the ears.
 
Stepping up behind her laptop in a bright yellow Adidas jacket, Shelly Knotts then starts her set, teasing, what sounds like a hive of lizard tongues lashing, into life. These percussive acceleration and deceleration cycles then adopt a soggier character and we are transported from the desert to the monsoon. At a climatic point, a wonderful dominant seventh interval sustains in a synth sound as clashing thunder falls around it. SK shrugged as she finished her set, suggesting a concern about what she had produced. The audience’s applause however indicated that if she had doubts, they were her own.
 
Next up, on the first floor, a drum kit and harp sit, anticipating heartbeats. If you need a further reason to love Hebden Bridge, Rhodri Davies introduces his long-term musical collaborator, and duo partner for tonight’s performance, South London drummer Mark Sanders, with an anecdote explaining that he first met him whilst visiting West Yorkshire’s artist’s haven in 1994, and that discovery of Sanders’ musicianship was a primary influence for his own exploration into the greater world of improvised music. 

The improvisation between them that follows is sublime, with Davies and Sanders’ intuition of each others instincts palpable. The combination of Davies’ emerging muscular arpeggio patterns breaking free, and Sanders’ more fluid and joyful beats, blends into a complicated and fascinating animal. Sanders would swim in sections of his drum kit throughout - a hydra of cowbells, then a woodblock and tambourines for example - and draw focus to these timbres before moving on to another compliment with unstoppable enthusiasm.
 
If this jam put excitement and encouragement into the audience’s blood, Edinburgh’s Rhian Thompson concluded the bill, putting a chill back into it - with an eery piece, complete with indistinct voices (wound and rewound live on a handheld tape recorder,) klaxons, and doll rattles. With the daylight fading fast outside of the window, Thompson uses these sounds, supported by synthesised drones and pedal notes, in an interrupted and less repetitive way; not allowing any certainty to establish itself in the mind of the listener. She concludes this instrumental, reaching the maximum tension, by sustaining a loud high-pitch feedback, defeating some listeners into shielding their cocleas. It has been another delectable edition to the history of Davies’ Hauskonzerts for sure.

On a personal note, I think it is important to note that composer Mariam Razaei, with close friends such as Adam Denton, has, in a short period of time, turned this once Police Station, then Youth Centre, into a magical space for passionate musicians to create and perform without any distractions beyond the occasion itself - nought but music and participation. We are fortunate to have discerning curators like herself and Rhodri, supporting peculiar talent in this area, and connecting us with such from afar too. Involve yourselves in the events that take place in this little house on the Gateshead side of the river, and the rewards will be true.

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