Skip to main content

Le Weekend


Tolbooth / Various venues, Stirling
The longest running leftfield music festival in Scotland now styles itself as ‘Stirling’s No Limits Music Festival’. This year it spread its wings not only throughout the Tolbooth’s multi-tiered interior, but offsite to spaces ancient and modern, from the Church of the Holy Rude next door to a concrete underpass on the edge of town. The biggest presence over the course of the three days was Bill Wells, whose prolific output as pianist, bassist and composer has made him a quietly powerful force, both as a sideman and in his own right. Wells introduced the weekend with a teatime set by his self-styled National Jazz Trio of Scotland, their classically elegant originals setting a wistful tone for a Friday night of understated pop. 
Swedish trio Tape led the quiet charge, their mix of harmonium, guitar patterns and electronics a prettified and gentle display that sounded like Roy Budd scoring for State River Widening. Taken by Trees, led by former Concretes singer Victoria Bergsman, peaked with their nursery rhyme version of Guns N’Roses’ Sweet Child O’ Mine, rendering the song’s sentimental machismo into something truly childlike. The ongoing metamorphosis of The Pastels finds them applying trumpet, flute, a couple of stray Teenage Fanclub guitarists, and, on piano, that man Wells again towards some low-key equivalent of Pet Sounds. 
Wells returned with viola player Aby Vulliamy for the launch of The Loathsome Reel, a lavishly illustrated limited edition compendium of 61 of his own scores. The pair took just over an hour to get through all 61 of them in a charming take on parlour entertainment. This was followed by a rare screening of Ebba Jahn’s remarkable film Rising Tones Cross, a two hour document of New York jazz, filmed in 1984 but looking so ramshackle and magnificently unreconstructed as to resemble a down at heel scene from a good decade earlier.
 Over at the Church of the Holy Rude, a quartet of Evan Parker, Mark Wastell, Graham Halliwell and Max Eastley took advantage of the space’s glorious acoustics, looping Parker’s sax and an assortment of gongs and throbbing undercurrents into airy abandon. David Fennessy’s Big Lung revelled in the space’s acoustic potential, as Fennessy conducted percussionists Asuka Hatanaka and Tom de Cock’s innocuous wooden block and glockenspiel arrangements, only to blow them away with a full-pelt Gothic organ assault. 
An evening of inspired duos followed, with sax player Raymond MacDonald’s pairing with Portuguese electronicist Miguel Carvalhais far from obvious. After MacDonald’s opening rally of busy soprano splutters and Carvalhais’s foreboding bass tremors and air hockey clicks, the pair eased into a deliciously brooding melancholy. It was as if John Coltrane’s After the Rain had been reimagined for the 21st century, replacing the implied downpour with acres of static. Hamid Drake and Raymond Boni were even warmer, if a whole lot more propulsive, as Boni’s guitar became as percussive as Drake’s bodhran in a wonderful moment of unison. Elliott Sharp and Franck Vigroux’s maverick virtuosity conjured up a fierce set of pulse-driven extravagance, with Sharp plucking the piano strings to make a moody and at times manic noir. 
Sunday began with the insistently named Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo’s adventures in concrete, as the Edinburgh duo set up shop in a nearby underpass. Their two pieces used squeezebox drone and a carefully laid out array of cassette recorders to build up layers of sound from their immediate surroundings. 
Most anticipated arrival of the weekend was Annette Peacock, whose off-kilter lounge-bar torch songs inspired serious devotion from those who made the Stirling pilgrimage. While they weren’t left wanting, one can’t help but long for more light and shade in Peacock’s minimalist palette of piano and synthesizer. The woozy, half-spoken poetics are delivered in a consistently downbeat tone, with Peacock’s portable set-up single-minded to the point of austerity. 
Shattering the mood, 7k Oaks were an all too welcome rude intrusion. With Alfred 23 Harth on sax and Massimo Pupillo’s fuzz bass joining forces with drummer Fabrizio Spera and pianist Luca Venitucci, their fusion of European free jazz and noise scene blitz was just the right side of relentless. After such a barrage, their version of Chic’s At Last I Am Free, by way of Robert Wyatt’s own take on the song, took things into the spiritual, and was all the more jaw-dropping because of it.
The Wire, Issue 294, August 2008
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