belief that in any field of creative endeavour the best ideas are
quite often just that. Ideas that never become anything more.
That's when they are at their most perfect, most unspoilt, most
beguiling. As soon as ideas are fixed, they lose their magic on
transmutation. And yet, this first ever appearance by Coyte as
Shape Navigator was utterly sublime. What must his unfixed ideas
be like? Nirvana.
remarkable electronica set the tone (and bar impossibly high)
for a day of truly creative, and rewarding exploration. An incredible influx of quality.
Tread Lightly on The Planet, Girl Taken, Margate Clouds,
Untitled, Norham Sunrise (as all compositions are new,
some have working titles)
collective that thrives on musical improvisation, offered
another of their unpredictable journeys into the avant-garde.
Their performance a testament to the power of spontaneous
creativity and unconventional sonic exploration. It was, as ever
they are, a brave departure from the familiar, leaving sections
of the audience in awe of their daring spirit and the alluring
sounds that, in part, can be conjured up from an upcycled
the brainchild of Graham Dowdall, an artist that’s been active
since the late 1970s. His sometimes storied, musical history,
from his days with cult Manchester band Ludus, to being invited
to join Pere Ubu by founder member David Thomas, and backing for
Nico’s live appearances during the 1980s. He started and closed
his set with two new tracks - Lomea and Stanmer respectively.
In between we also got Enchanter’s Nightshade from his
last album The Great North Wood.
transported the audience into a realm of propulsive rhythmic
autobahn vibes. Playing live pads in a unique fashion, Dowdall's
performance stood out as an electrifying blend of rich
tonalities intermixed with the sounds of nature. The
incorporation of bird song with time-lapse flower projections by
video DJ diz_qo creating an immersive experience. He was joined
at the end of his set by Jack
Hayter (electric violin), Rob Shepherd (accordion), and Terry
Enchanter’s Nightshade, Desire Paths, Stanmer
[L-R]: Gagarin + friends, the closer we are to dying x2
closer we are to dying
closer we are to dying (TCWATD), aka Terry Lane, introduced his
set with Stephen Fry's notorious dressing down of the
idea of God on RTE TV (the Irish public service
broadcaster) - and here in God’s own house too. After an initial
battle between TCWATD’s ambient soundscapes and the hissing and
spitting of the venue’s coffee machine for dominance, the music
soon won out. Thankfully, what followed was a captivating blend
of dark ambient soundscapes and emotional, thought-provoking
Clouds Hung Heavy Over Gravesend not being in the set list
was surely a missed opportunity given the festival’s location,
but what we heard we needed. Lane's project requires immediate
immersion for maximum effect. Its meditative, gradual,
evolutionary sound is both optimistic and ominous. The ideal
soundtrack to modern life then really. Disruptive visuals,
glitched images, abstract colours and pulsing white flashes were
the perfect visual accompaniment.
intro, C / Song for Eliane, Llanberis, All Nightmares Begin
in Dreams, All Dreams Begin In Life
Inkpen, a composer and guitarist specialising in polytemporal
music (I had to Wikipedia that one), wove intricate soundscapes
using a combination of sampling live guitar and then looping
that, before overlaying more live performance. He performed two
pieces. The first was Translate, an older one, the second
Ruinous Ambition was a new composition and the first time he'd
played it live.
I often enjoyed the transitional sections during the pieces
rather than the main elements themselves. The more menacing
moments were the most effective, especially where the guitar was
treated beyond what it was designed for, creating deep bass
tones or angular shards of noise. The couple of moments he sat
still, not performing, listening - like the audience - to the
backing loops he’d just created felt a little odd though. Like
we’d gatecrashed him practising at home.
aka London based musician Andrew Kesbey, had been dabbling with
modular synths and analogue electronic equipment before deciding
to start Sourmilk in 2019 as a public outlet for the creative
possibilities he was exploring. Sourmilk
rarely (never?) has a setlist. He just plays as the mood takes
him on the day.
he’s been recording various extracts and improvisations in his
studio and then sampling pieces from that as the basis for
tracks due to appear on his next release. Initially the focus of
the project was on dark ambient drones but has since expanded
the melodic and rhythmic palette, particularly in the area of
modular synthesis. Even though I’d seen Sourmilk live several
times before, I was surprised at just how 'dancey' his sound was
opening track, reminiscent of 90s dance that had been filtered
to within an inch of its life, was very beefy and bassy, setting
the stage for a distinctive suite that picked up the tempo over
everything heard so far. And so it continued. Projections of
retro video games Battlezone and Luna Lander enhanced the visual
aspect, creating an audio-visual journey that nicely warmed the
audience up for further increases in BPMs that were to come
[L-R]: Joe Inkpen, Sourmilk, Mieko
my first time seeing Mieko Shimizu, a London-based Japanese
artist, this was my introduction to her unique fusion of Eastern
and Western influences. Undergoing a few name changes down the
years, from Apache 61, Mico and now going under her own name,
Mieko worked with Japan’s Mick Karn, Nitin Sawhney and the
London Symphony Orchestra on scoring the 1933 silent film Yogoto
no Yume by Mikio Naruse.
today was characterised by vocal sampling and synth drones,
creating an epic sonic landscape. Shimizu's ability to layer her
voice over resonating bass and intricate percussion, tempered
with a flute that she also sampled and looped, transformed her
set into a multilayered hypnotic chant. Climbing scales sounded
akin to a pipe organ, appropriate given the setting and for the
fact that the venue has its very own pipe organ in-situ. Her
performance was a captivating journey through hidden emotional
Morphosis, Flute Etude, I Still Hear
(real name Simon Arnold) is an electronic artist and musician
from South London. He’s a synth builder and classically trained
music teacher making music with modular synthesis. During the
introduction to his performance I learned that Fat Boy Slim has
been quoted as saying that Mós’ latest album is the best thing
he’s heard so far this year.
deeply immersed in the UK drum and bass scene and experimental
house and techno, he presented an entirely improvised set,
perhaps inspired by his trip to Berlin earlier this year and a
recent return to DJing. Hunched over a flightcase spewing
modular synth patch cables, he looked a bit like a BT Openreach
engineer repairing a junction box at the end of your street.
performance, a product of modular synth techniques with a
distinctive groove twist, was a testament to his musical
evolution. Always on the cusp, without quite going into
overdrive, he maintained a steady groove throughout.
has been making music under various identities in a variety of
musical genres for the past 20 years. More recently using the
moniker DJ Counselling. His track Cool Air was named as
one of Spotify's 'Best Electronic Songs of 2021', and this event
saw him finally unveiling DJ Counselling as a live act.
a steady rhythm to the festival, a refreshing contrast to the
more staccato sets earlier in the day. The performance, marked
by the use of gamelan drums, cymbals, pedals and some impressive
fingerpicking guitar techniques, was mesmerising. Seeing him
constantly moving between equipment and instrumentation made it
an interesting watch too.
most chilled passages it made me think of Ulrich Schnauss'
sublime debut studio album Far Away Trains Passing By,
and that’s no shabby company to be with.
Architecture In The Sun
the festival, Dean Clarke’s Brutalist Architecture In The Sun
project brought a unique sound to the stage. Their blend of
modular synthesis backing overlaid with falsetto male vocals
(courtesy of Cye Thomas) and higher BPM tempos within more
traditional song structures, set them clearly apart from
everything else we’d heard today.
their sound 'concrete pop', a mix of that 1979-82 synth sound,
industrial pop and a sprinkling of 90's dance. I've been a fan
of Clarke's work since his first (solo) album under the
Brutalist Architecture In The Sun name, All Is Grey,
self-released in 2015.
have been that such a dramatic step-change in style over the
predominantly less structured performances that led us here
might have jarred. Instead, it gave the event and the audience a
welcome boost of energy. As always, their set was an exploration
of sometimes challenging subject matter, often delivered with
thumping beats creating an uncommon melancholic air to much of
Mós, DJ Counselling, Brutalist Architecture In The
was this better demonstrated tonight than in the song Complete
The Shape from their latest album Loneliness Kills.
A superb blending of all of Clarke and Thomas’ influences into
an imposing sub-four minute slab of concrete pop if ever there
also has a distinctive line in AI-generated (largely monochrome)
videos to accompany their releases. Video DJ diz_qo took these
and manipulated them further, mapping them (as he had throughout
the day) to neatly fit within the dramatic architecture -
including some tall stained glass windows. The visuals projected
alongside their set added an extra layer of intrigue to their
Humanise, Complete the Shape, Worlds Collide, I Don't Need
This Thing Called Us, Desolation Street, This Black Platform,
You're Not There, Goodbye, Drive By Suicide
Concrète's autumnal festival of electronic and experimental
music was a testament to the power of creativity and innovation,
and a complete success. Unfortunately, the previously-billed
Melinda Bronstein was unable to appear due to illness.
Nevertheless, each artist present brought a unique flavour to
the event, leaving me (and a seemingly appreciative audience)
with some vivid memories. The festival proved that the spirit of
experimentation is alive and thriving, offering a much-needed
escape from the ordinary.
collaboration with DJ diz_qo added a significant extra dimension
for the duration. Ombrelle Concrète's commitment to pushing the
boundaries of electronic and experimental music was on full and
glorious display, and I can't wait to see what they have next in
store for us. 8/10