Skip to main content

FareWell Poetry / Matthew Collings / Hiva Oa / Opul

The Third Door, Edinburgh
Monday November 14th 2011
4 stars
Salsa class is cancelled tonight, according to the blackboard outside
what used to be after-hours hippy student dive Medina, but which now
looks intent on filling the DIY boho gap that the Roxy Arthouse and The
Forest once occupied so randomly. The lights are low and the room is
rapt for an exquisitely thought out bill to support Anglo/French sextet
and Gizeh Records artists Farewell Poetry for a nuanced evening of
low-key cinematic poetics.

The apocalypse starts early with Opul, a collaboration between poet JL
Williams and composer James Iremonger, who blasts out a laptop-sourced
blend of industrial beats and impressionistic piano sketches to frame
Williams' words. If the music resembles cities being razed and rebuilt
in some woozy dreamscape, Williams' words are witchy, her delivery
beguiling, threatening menaces with all the rhythmic performative drive
of Patti Smith or Kathy Acker, even as she looks the audience in the
eye and smiles them into submission.

Hiva Ova (named after an island in Tahiti beloved by painter Paul
Gauguin and writer/adventurers including Herman Melville, Robert Louis
Stevenson, Jack London and Jacques Brel, who penned his final works
there, pop-lit fans) creep out of the gloom with an altogether shyer
concoction that recalls the skewed murmurings of Movietone and all the
other wonky Bristol bands that pursued more twisted, trip-hop free
avenues.

Male and female vocals dovetail to a basic backing of guitar, bass and
cello. From this starting pad, a more sensurround experience of
glockenspiel and martial drums are thrown into a scratchily looped mix
that swirls and sways its way into being. Such quietude recalls the
very English avant-chamber miniatures by composer Jan Steele on his
side of an album also featuring work by John Cage and released on Brian
Eno's Obscure Records label in 1976. Like Steele's intricate
compositions, Hiva Ova stick to the shadows, erupting into a rolling
thunder as the band's swapping of instruments becomes a little
spectacle in itself before coming to a hush once more.

Matthew Collings' Glenn Branca style guitar assaults splutter and
phutter to a halt when Collings' lap-top conks out, only to be brought
back to life for a second wind that adds low-end dub sh'boom textures
to the frantic storm before the calm. At first wilfully formless, the
musical shapes Collings sculpts into play gradually ease into each
other with a sense that multiple possibilities could ensue in an
infinite work in progress.

FareWell Poetry, on the other hand, are the finished article. With the
entire sextet sat down, abstract black and white films flicker behind
them as poet Jayne Amara Ross begins a series of breathy recitations as
the band eke out a delicate dust-bowl twang beneath her musings. The
film images are opaque hints of horse-headed nightmares and white mice
in motion; the words breathy incantations of big-time sensuality; and
the music a series of increasingly wide-screen soundscapes that build
into clattering explosions of light and shade.

Together, FareWell Poetry (and note that upper-case W there) produce a
carefully crafted multi-media experience that sounds like a more
baroque, less apocalyptically inclined Godspeed You! Black Emperor if
fronted by one of the Bloomsbury Group. Either that or someone equally
plummy, Black Box Recorder's Sarah Nixey, say.

While all this is captured on their debut album and accompanying DVD,
Hoping For The Invisible To Ignite, in the flesh its even more
compelling. As the final extended piece, the Chaucer-referencing As
True As Troilus, builds to a crescendo, drums pounding like some
mediaeval call to arms, the raging calm that follows is an ornate
treasure to behold. Salsa class at The Third Door may be cancelled for
some time yet.

The List, November 2011

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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

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

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