Skip to main content

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 all the coruscating power of everything else that’s on offer, spread out over three nights the fare feels a tad thin.
Nevertheless, Friday night’s spires and wires duet from machine age alchemist Norbert Moslang (of Voice Crack) and Borbetomagus sax player Jim Sauter accelerates from zero to 100 in an instant. Where Moslang zaps his targets dead centre, a hunched conjuror in search of secret formulas, Sauter blows lumbering zigzag patterns overhead, taking pot shots while on reconnaissance, his instrument becoming disembodied enough from its source to sound as gutturally unsax-like as possible.
There’s an impending physicality at play too. Moslang doesn’t so much flick his switches as swat them in a prolonged interrogation, first toying with, then battering his wires across the table, breaking the code with increasing force. Sauter’s bulky presence looms in constant twitching motion from the off, at one point giving the impression of a constipated bear dancing on his effects pedals, so intent is he on whipping up whooshing valleys in a meandering attack that’s only occasionally slippery enough to collide into Moslang’s own.
This is nothing, however, to the short sharp shock of Maso Yamazaki’s Masonna persona. A wraithlike black-clad dervish, he flings himself into an astonishing exercise in pure sonic terrorism that’s a smash and grab raid on the senses, cartwheeling into oblivion without recourse to either safety net or government health warning. Barking out an angry mantra, his giant shadow writhes and flails heroically across the walls. Then, in less than ten minutes, it’s over, and some in the rapt audience are purged enough from the experience to erupt into fits of liberating giggles. It’s a satori of sorts.
Mercifully, Yamazaki has recovered enough by the next night to offer an altogether more static presence to his analogue synth project Space Machine, as a familiar array of sci-fi swoops and extra-terrestrial squiggles divebomb appealingly but ultimately unthreateningly into the ether before projected swirls of orange and purple that meld lazily into one another.
Double Leopards are even more spectral, if altogether more traditionally meditative on their path to enlightenment. Down on their knees from the beginning, the two boys and two girls of this ascetic looking Brooklyn quartet utilise an array of playpen analogue white noise machines and guitar scrapings bent out of shape to distort the hush. Plugging into the pulsating scree left over from some eerie backwoods ritual, they then cautiously but meticulously beam it out to the middle distance and beyond.
Out of the gloop slowly evolves an all embracing languor, gnawed through with nagging little rhythms that are tongue-tied, primal and, after wonderfully prolonged exposure, the next best thing to holy. Towards their set’s climax, one Double Leopard even covers his eyes with his hands, like one wise monkey lost in the moment.
The odd coupling of 1960s veteran Asmus Tietchens and Thomas Köner’s Kontakt Der Jünglinge collaboration is an oddly soporific choice to close proceedings. Named in tribute to two works by Karlheinz Stockhausen, the pair sit impassively side by side, Köner in baseball cap, Tietchens stern in grey and black.
Awash with glacial motifs, the slow-motion peals of partially submerged debris that ooze their way into the nervous system are exhaustingly concentrated, however gently they stroke the audience into submission. Even a mobile phone’s rude intrusion (twice) can’t shatter the aura, despite Asmus Tietchens’ magnificently hawkish series of scowls. Beyond such audacity, the brooding chimes dripping across each other towards slow burnout provide closure of sorts, but little accompanying thunder. In all, 100 pairs of earplugs go unused.
The Wire, issue 242, April 2004

ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Edinburgh Rocks – The Capital's Music Scene in the 1950s and Early 1960s

Edinburgh has always been a vintage city. Yet, for youngsters growing up in the shadow of World War Two as well as a pervading air of tight-lipped Calvinism, they were dreich times indeed. The founding of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 and the subsequent Fringe it spawned may have livened up the city for a couple of weeks in August as long as you were fans of theatre, opera and classical music, but the pubs still shut early, and on Sundays weren't open at all. But Edinburgh too has always had a flipside beyond such official channels, and, in a twitch-hipped expression of the sort of cultural duality Robert Louis Stevenson recognised in his novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a vibrant dance-hall scene grew up across the city. Audiences flocked to emporiums such as the Cavendish in Tollcross, the Eldorado in Leith, The Plaza in Morningside and, most glamorous of all due to its revolving stage, the Palais in Fountainbridge. Here the likes of Joe Loss and Ted Heath broug