James Ray presents 4080 Peru

The Garage, London - 26 February 2005

"An utterly brilliant dark ambient soundscape"

4080 Peru was the first live appearance from the James Ray's Gangwar frontman for years. Publicity for the gig from promoters Flag cautioned: "Expect the unexpected as he presents his new project playfully described as 'avant goth' on a symphonic scale and the soundtrack to the best horror movie film you've never seen. This is not a Rock 'n' roll show!" They weren't kidding.

[James Ray: 4080 Peru]A large screen, a solitary microphone stand and a laptop were the main components in James Ray's arsernal tonight. Minimal to say the least. But then that often pays the best dividends in the hands of those who know that talent counts for a darn sight more than piles of equipment. What we had here was, essentially, a soundtrack performed live to a projected film, presumably the 4080 Peru of the billing. I use the word 'live' carefully since all the music was sequenced. The occasional fiddling of knobs by Ray may have as much for show as effect but that didn't bother me. What mattered was we were hearing some glorious noises. Besides, Ray delivered some achingly affecting vocals, punctuating the ominous score. His voice beautifully reflecting years of seasoned performing.

The searing noise opening and flicking images reminded me fleetingly of Richard Kirk's solo gigs. Then, some words appeared on screen: "And just like everything I ever knew"... more bubbling, rumbling, droning, then: "It all came true." Black and white footage of koi carp and ethereal-looking women in ethereal dresses blowing in what one imagines is an ethereal sounding wind. It all sounds interminably pretentious and dull, but that couldn't be more from the truth. Spiralling churches, ocean-lapped beaches, running children, crawling insects, magnified water droplets: all the hallmarks of a 'work of art'. This was an utterly brilliant dark ambient soundscape; the effect astonishing. A must have DVD if ever one is released.

[James Ray: 4080 Peru]It was only when you paused to analyse just what you were hearing that you realised, for example, that there were barely any recognisable instruments and few discernable percussion sounds. But this wasn't just some solid wall of noise. Standing right below the stage, as I was, there was a lot of fine detail to make out. Slowed samples of undefinable banging, helicopter rotorblades in slow motion: everything captivating. Birds in flight stepping frame by frame over the screen to the soundtrack of Eraserhead. As footage of mist-shrouded forest filled the screen, so too the room filled with dry ice. The effect was enveloping. Like being inside the images with the sound and mist surrounding you. Brilliant. The blinding, flashing white lights reminded me of when I last saw James Ray - about fifteen years ago in the Bull and Gate pub next to the Town and Country Club (as it was in those days). It was impressive then, even more so today. Performances such as this just go to show what gems you can miss if you don't make the effort.

A quick chat to James Ray after the show unearthed the fact that Ray is to tour 4080 Peru including two dates in New York City, one in Barcelona and one in Milan. He is considering a release on DVD depending on the response. You and I can only hope that the response he gets is what he wants.

Rob Dyer

Live footage on dsoaudio.com YouTube Channel

Video Clip 1 (11MB/AVI)
Video Clip 2 (28.3MB/AVI)
Video Clip 3 (8.8MB/AVI)
Video Clip 4 (14.5MB/AVI)

Official 4080 Peru website: http://www.4080peru.co.uk