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Showing posts from April, 2020

Epiphanies – Plato’s Ballroom

Mr Pickwick’s was a Liverpool legend, even long before the handful of wet Wednesdays when it would transform into Plato’s Ballroom. A city centre chicken-in-a-basket dive beside a deserted car park no man’s land, it once aspired to supper club classiness: the kind of place that inspired Tony Hatch to write Downtown. By 1981, however, its pseudo-Dickensian interior was reduced to hosting midweek grab-a-granny nights. In the most densely populated clubland in Europe, there were a million nitespots like this – provided that insurance job fires hadn’t claimed them first.
The one thing Mr Pickwick’s had going for it was its semi-circular dancefloor, the biggest in town. A raised platform around its rim allowed diners – squeezed into kiddie-size tables with fringe shaded lamps casting an unhealthy yellow hue – enough distance to focus on the stage without their mastications being disturbed. Top light entertainment for all. Even so, nobody danced. Plato’s Ballroom announced itself via a series…

Subcurrent

Asmus Tietchens and Thomas Köner’s Kontakt Der Jünglinge, Double Leopards,  Nobukazu Takemura, Norbert Moslang and Jim Sauter, Masonna, Space Machine CCA, Glasgow  Handing out earplugs at a festival designed to explore “the hidden wiring linking early experimental composition with the new wave of contemporary electronica”, as the programme notes have it, sends out some contrary signals. Then again, given that the all-seated interior of the über-minimalist CCA5 space looks somewhere between a sushi bar and a padded cell, an air of cautious formality is implied from the off. This certainly isn’t the fault of the curator, The Wire’s own David Keenan, who has enthusiastically pulled together an ambitious collection of pan-generational avatars and mavericks, many of whom are making their Scottish and, indeed, their UK debuts. But with the Glasgow date of Nobukazu Takemura’s Contemporary Music Network tour seemingly grafted onto Subcurrent by the venue’s bums-onseats sensitive management, for …

INSTAL 03

The Arches, Glasgow Boredoms,  Cosmos, AMM, Merzbow, Ryoji Ikeda, Whitehouse, The Paragon Ensemble  When Instal’s all day festival of “Brave New Music” was launched three years ago in the murky subterranean expanse of The Arches — a converted railway sidings and a building still resonating with the burr of past arrivals and departures — it allowed its audience to drift through multiple spaces, absorbing sounds that often bled across each other, melding into an aural mass that moved in and out of focus. This year, it opted to occupy two of the building’s largest spaces and, while more conventionally contained, it remained equally iconoclastic in form and content. The Paragon Ensemble, Scotland’s leading contemporary classical ensemble, opened proceedings with a ripped and stripped improvisation of scarified Baroque, marrying gossamer flute and cello scrapings to an impending laptop clip-clop before erupting into a gallop, obliquely referencing Gershwin and Highland drone en route. In stark…

Kill Your Timid Notion

Phonographics, Ruins, Sunburned Hand of the Man, [The User], Acid Mothers Temple, Philip Jeck, Ira Cohen Dundee Contemporary Arts  “I feel more at home here than I do in my neighbourhood in New York,” says sixty-something Beat poet, compulsive namedropper and living shamanic totem Ira Cohen, introducing a screening of his legendary Angus Maclise/La Monte Young soundtracked film, The Invasion Of Thunderbolt Pagoda. Bearing in mind that it’s a Sunday afternoon in Dundee, such a magnanimous statement, however much it’s designed to flatter, is pretty big cheese indeed. Taking up residence amid the chi-chi white cube main gallery inside one of Europe’s sexiest 21st century spaces, this provocatively named three day festival of sight and sound embraces two specific strands of thought criss-crossing each other beyond its solely aural/visual interface. On the one hand, Philip Jeck, [The User] and Phonographics offer more insular reflections that tiptoe cautiously but utterly, unremittingly focuse…

Gabi Delgado - An Obituary

Gabi Delgado – Singer, DJ
Born April 18, 1958; died March 22, 2020
Gabi Delgado, who has died aged 61, was the mercurial frontman of Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft (German American Friendship), the band he formed in Dusseldorf with Robert Gorl in 1978. Initially a quintet before stripping things back to a core duo of Delgado and Gorl, DAF produced a muscular and at times menacing form of rhythm-led electronica, over which Delgado declaimed, howled and provoked. The result was an intense, sensual and at times relentless brutalist assault of pumped-up primitivist punk-disco that pre-dated hardcore techno.
Gabriel Delgado-Lopez was born in Cordoba, Spain, before his family moved to Germany. Delgado and Gorl met at a punk club, and after forming DAF, briefly left the band prior to its debut album, Ein Produkt der Deutsch Amerikanischen Freundschaft (A Product of German American Friendship), a set of improvised instrumentals.
The band moved to London in 1980, by which time a version of …

Ochre 10 – Glide, Thighpaulsandra, Applecraft, Longstone, 90° South, Grace & Delete, The Serpents

Guildhall Arts Centre, Gloucester For a decade, Ochre Records has existed in a backwoods wilderness of its own design. Even at this, the Cheltenham based label’s tenth anniversary all-dayer, which took place in the civic confines of Gloucester’s Guildhall — its spiritual home, having hosted the label’s fifth and seventh birthdays — it all seemed unfussily homespun and low key. A sure sign of confidence from any cottage industry.
Nowhere was this better personified than in opening act The Serpents, Ochre’s very own ‘supergroup’‚ whose ranks have previously been swollen by members of Super Furry Animals, writer Jon Savage and even reality TV model Catalina. This time out there were eight people up there, mostly culled from Ochre acts scheduled to play later on. Their one minute’s noise for the late John Peel whipped up a glorious storm of rustic Prog clatter, augmented by bass clarinet and singing bowl. The extended piece that followed magnificently cascaded through a landscape of inters…

Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune

Dundee Rep Love - pardon my French - comes in spurts. The hard part is keeping a tight grip on what you've got. Too tight though, and you're left with nowt but a notch on the bedpost and a bittersweet memory of what might've been. But, hey, that's the sort of romantic guff - however true - that makes playwrights like Terence McNally so darned popular. His plays ditch plot like a cheap date in favour of everybody's favourite piece of tittle tattle - Relationships And How To Do 'Em. Or not, as the case may be. McNally champions the little guy on the ropes, gets him together with the small-town girl, and lets 'em at it.
This is the basic premise of his 1987 hit romantic comedy, which thrusts together this pair of downbeat lovers - already a legend, if in name only - and hopes for the best. Dundee Rep associate director Michael Duke's production begins in the dark, with the pair abandoned to the last lengthy gasp of the ultimate intimacy. The post-coital joie …