Flowchart / Ryo-co / Jolyon

Notting Hill Arts Cafe, London - 23 June, 2001

Jolyon "Ryo-co was slowly sculpting the air"

At some gigs you get bands at the bottom of the bill that are somewhat out of sync with the main act. Jolyon were a prime example of this. Flowchart - the main act - are ambient glitch electronica. Jolyon are Tubeway Army sound-a-look-a-likes. Singer/guitarist and professional psychic Jolyon not only lends his name to this retro Numanoid outfit but dominates it. That is save the lovely two synth playing Japanese ladies swaying seductively in their deliciously short skirts, schoolgirl socks and kinky boots. Jolyon's vocal gymnastic wailing and cheesy pose striking left me largely and suitably cold, my attention focused unsurprisingly on the more sedate and entrancing female flesh flanking him. The guy standing at the back looked like an extra from Dark City and on tracks like Hermes my concentration was fleeting broken and I concentrated briefly on the music. If you love early solo Gary Numan but don't want to listen to a cover band then Jolyon are made for you. Otherwise, I can only really think of two reasons to recommend them to anyone else - and they're not musical.

[Ryo-co] Far more in keeping with the American headliners was Ryo-co (another Japanese female). Casually sitting at at small table featuring an Apple Notebook, mixer and Korg Kaos pad, this diminutive woman lit her cigarette and settled down to her Susumu Yokota, Leaf-like ethereal dronescapes. The 'performance' consisted largely of the occasional key press on the laptop and the odd frantic leap to the mixer to correct a level. Using the fascinating, Theremin-like Kaos pad, Ryo-co looked like she was slowly sculpting the air - which perfectly suited the sounds that gradually enveloped the Notting Hill Arts Cafe.

Although clearly composed entirely of digital sources, the music was organic both in sound and evolution. Mild drum 'n' bass and techno influences affected the rumbling white noise feedback as tracks flowed like water throughout the set. In the closing moments technology gremlins maliciously interfered with the captivating tones and Ryo-co concluded her set looking back and forth at the sound engineer who seemed unsure if the set had finished or not. The audience were equally hesitant until Ryo-co finally stood up, at which point the cheers and furious applause caused the young woman to take a well-deserved yet modest bow.

Flowchart Flowchart are Sean O'Neal and Erin Anderson from Philadelphia USA. Their unrestrained post-techno grooves have appeared on many a label over the years - demonstrating not only their unpredictability but also their willingness to pull in all kinds of influences and resources in order to deliver their distinctly quirky sound. But tonight they too are suffering technical difficulties - and this while they are setting up their equipment. After a short while they reluctantly but ingeniously decide to mix their own tracks on vinyl with live keyboards and laptop loops.

The result lacks punch and meanders even more than one is used to from Flowchart but aside from calling it a night before they'd started there was obviously little else they could do. The psychedelic projections help engage the audience a little more as Flowchart largely improvise their way through the next 45 minutes. The subliminal beats, cool keys and funky vibe still succeed in coming across albeit with even more unpredictability than they usually plan. Whether any of the tracks they placed came from their new album Wishworm (Endorphin) I couldn't say. After the messing around with equipment the band have lost valuable time and the bar curfew means that Flowchart had to rap it up long before they intended but perhaps mercifully, no sooner than they'd have probably liked. Following a Europe wide tour, I imagine they felt that tonight came as something of an frustrating anti climax after the likes of Barcelona, Frankfurt and Oslo, but for anyone who hadn't seen them before it at least provided a taster of possible things to come.

Rob Dyer