Minimus Festival:

Standish & von Bergdorf/sourmilk/Swilly/Proctobysmasaurian Episode/the closer we are to dying/The Bleak Industrialists/Exchanged Tides/Brutalist Architecture In The Sun/whtthppnsfpshthtbttn?

Spur Battery, Fort Amherst, Chatham - 30 August 2021

"An afternoon of electronic noodling and visual arts"

This year's annual Electric Medway Festival culminated with an afternoon of electronic noodling and visual arts. This event was promoted as part of MOONSEED, and organised by Minimus, who presented a day of electronic and acoustic experimental music and sound at a former Napoleonic Fortress in Kent.

Minimus organises lo-fi informal events where musicians and non-musicians (if there is such a thing) can jam together with traditional instruments, mobile apps and found instrumentation for enjoyment. And if that sounds pretentious, nothing could be further than the truth. I can honestly say, of the two or three goatees on show, I didn't see a single stroke throughout the day.

For five hours the gathered individuals, a few families, dogs and fellow artists enjoyed the summer sun and mellow sounds emanating from the makeshift amphitheatre stage and two small indoor rooms, complete with visuals and lighting. Each artist played a short set comprising of found sounds piped through megaphones, electronic gadgetry with more wires and patch leads than you could shake a dog at, homemade instruments, acoustic drums and electric guitars.

whtthppnsfpshthtbttn? kicked of the afternoon. Two guys and a table of electronic gadgets created some very ambient waves, just as the sun arrived. Their releases can be found on Ombrelle Concrete

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Photos [L-R]: Electric Medway festival, whtthppnsfpshthbttn?, Brutalist Architecture In The Sun

Brutalist Architecture In The Sun is a coldwave project centered around Dean Clarke. Today he was mostly using an ARP2600, accompanied by his son Luca on electric guitar. They performed two instrumental soundscapes influenced by Tangerine Dream. The first of which sounded like the outcome of a creative jam with John Carpenter, circa 1976. They have recently released Post Democracy – the album, a collection of songs Dean wrote with vocalist Cye Thomas in 2016.

Exchanged Tides aka Jane Pitt stood out from the rest of the performances with her found sounds emanating meditative sounds from megaphones placed on the grass verge around the ampitheatre. This gave us all a respite and time to relax in the afternoon sunshine. There was peace and quite as all present appeared to take a moment. Follow Jane on Facebook here

The Bleak Industrialists is the project of Clive Smedley. Showcasing a new composition, voice samples entwined electronics err towards neoclassical and jazz-inspired electric piano. Pleasantly chilled like a medium dry white wine, this was a perfect musical accompaniment to a relaxing summer day. Just a shame he only used less than half his allotted 20 minutes. More info on bandcamp.

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Photos [L-R]: Exchanged Tides, The Bleak Industrialists, the closer we are to dying

Terry Lane was introduced as the closer we are to dying and the title of his dark and somewhat disturbing melancholy was the marriage of heaven and hell. He confirmed in conversation that the title of the track and its subject matter were inspired by William Blake and the brilliant John Higgs book, William Blake vs the World. Fittingly, this dronescape session started with Stephen Fry talking about the existence (or otherwise) of God, and ended with a terrifyingly loud scream. His everyone will live in their own cathedral EP is a good starting point.

I'm pleased to say, I was drug-free when the next act, Proctobysmasaurian Episode, appeared from a dark room. They started with squealing piggy samples and wore porcine face masks to hide their true identity. These noodling swine lay somewhere on an unbeaten path between the three little pigs and Slipknot. Electricity flowed through synthesizers and guitar reverberating waves through effect pedals & some welcome feedback, with the meditative and relaxing ringing sounds of Buddhist music bowls.

Swilly is the pseudonym of Simon Williams. His use of effect pedals, live performance loops and misuse of a guitar that spent much of his set lying flat on what could be best described as an operating table, while he abusively wedged metal cutlery into its aching body before creating and looping the noise of a handheld fan across the strings. This was like an exorcism of a bad spirit that had possessed the guitar. Once exorcised, Swilly was able to don the guitar and finger-pick less abrasive loops.

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Photos [L-R]: Proctobysmasaurian Episode, the Spur Battery amphitheatre, Forst Amherst, Swilly

A pigeon loudly flapping his wings as he flew overhead was a fleeting but surprisingly effective improv addition to the range of noises emanating from the stage. Swilly has the pure genius of a Swell Maps home recording that is as far removed from rock n roll as one man and his guitar can be. Both ingenious and captivating. His debut album is well worth a listen too. 

sourmilk is a vehicle for Andrew Kesbey. Rhythms, audio samples and some splendid, electrified pads and waves all emanated effortlessly from the one piece of kit, packed in its own groovy ARP2600 style grey suitcase. Multi-coloured patch leads appeared to cover the face of the synthesizer that was masterly managed by sourmilk and provided an orderly queue of electronic music buffs at the end of the set to gawp with eyes wide open. It was a modular synthesiser - a case full of synth components that he had assembled and patched together. This was the winner of the Best Kit prize.

Sourmilk's set included several inter-changeable rhythms and tunes that were locked together with a certain mellow restraint, much less extreme but equally as enjoyable as his debut album, Theory Of Regret.

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Photos [L-R]: sourmilk, Standish & von Bergdorf, Minimus collective jam

Standish & von Bergdorf are Kevin Younger & Chris De C B. Two-thirds of the brilliantly unique and original Hand of Stabs. Their music effortlessly evokes the same wonky, bizarre and bedazzled path of unearthly music produced on a telepathic level by two splendidly dressed, portly mature men, with nothing more than the occasional fleeting look towards each other. A vintage Burns guitar sound with a board of effect pedals collides head-on with an electrified bicycle wheel eloquently played with a violin bow. Standish & von Bergdorf perform to a mesmerised audience that completed the live performances by individual artists.

But no Minimus gathering is complete without a finale of the final hour that provides an array of instruments and jack leads ready to connect to mobile phone apps as all are welcomed to join in an informal and relaxed happy jam to complete the day. Electric Medway and Minimus should be applauded for a brilliant free afternoon of music at an amazing venue. It was great to be a part of it and meet so many interesting artists. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another 12 months for the next one. 8/10

Review: Buckley James Harvester
Additional Observations: Rob Dyer
Photos: Rob Dyer + Terry Lane