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Colleen/Nalle/Phosphene

Britannia Panopticon, Glasgow
4 stars
Music halls were made for matinees. So it is with late afternoon and evening fundraisers for the ongoing restoration of the oldest surviving music hall in Glasgow (www.myspace.com/britanniapanopticon). With three acts straddling an array of retro-futurist traditional pursuits, where worlds could have collided, setting and content merely gave each other counterpoint and context in a charmingly low-key endeavour that left headliner Colleen confessing to feeling “stupidly emotional.”

Colleen is French musician Cecile Schott, whose instrumental loops combine pre cello string instrument the Vasco Da Gamba with clarinet, music box and wind chimes. Understated baroque layers meld into one another to sound both ancient and beguilingly contemporary.

As similarly do Nalle, the Glasgow based trio that sets Hanna Tuulikki’s astonishing vocal inflections against Chris Hladowski’s bouzouki and Aby Vulliamy’s strings to make a spectral, stripped bare evocation of Scando-east European folk. Investing such sensibilities into a version of the theme to 1970s anti Blue Peter TV show, Magpie, makes for a spine-tinglingly pop-eyed experience. Tuulikki had earlier appeared with Schott for a live reinterpretation of Tuulikki’s installation, Salutations To the Sun, in which imitated bird-song was looped by Schott to create an evocative one-woman aviary.

Compere of the day was John Cavanagh, whose Phosphene project continues his exploration of analog powered sci-fi sound begun with his earlier Electroscope nom-de-plume. Augmented by clarinet, a stylophone solo on Syd Barrett’s song, Rats, and a reimagined Norfolk folk air accompanied by Vulliamy, guitarist George Burt and ubiquitous sax player Raymond MacDonald, Cavanagh reveals a vocal style akin to The Wicker Man’s Lord Summerisle, as played by Christopher Lee. Vintage stuff, then, at every level.

The Herald, June 22nd 2007

ends

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