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Fritz Welch – Crystalline Chrysalis Crisis

Summerhall, Edinburgh until July 13th
Four stars

Down in the basement, Glasgow-based American percussionist and international noise scene doyen has created a DIY bunker that turns the left-behind detritus of a former machine shop into the ultimate pop-cultural dungeon to hang out in. As with all temporary tenants, Welch has customised existing fixtures and fittings with his own stuff, so the result looks like a gonzo-styled Frankenstein’s monster interior pieced precariously together like a junkyard anti-IKEA.

A things-to-make-and-do vibe bursts through a riot of old sofas, big TVs perched on flight cases showing footage of Welch beating out his rhythms on the streets of Hebron in Palestine as kids follow him a la Pied Piper. On another screen, more footage, of a woman dancing on the edge of a canyon, is off-set by a blob of Blue-Tack stuck to the screen.

Spray-can graffiti smears walls with horror comic style cartoons pinned on. A4 Xeroxes are framed in an ornate glass table-top. Display cases with broken chairs on top show off a cabinet chock-a-block with trinkets, gonks and ornamental tat. All that’s missing is an electronic arm to try and collect your amusement arcade prize. A mess of lanyards each with a photo booth mugshot of Welch dangle in a clump from a wooden pole. Wine bottle corks link up through twigs to form some scientific atom-splitting mobile.

The words ‘SURPRISE YOURSELF’ emblazon one tucked-away corner opposite CCTV footage of of a noise-fest in a gallery space in Brooklyn, NY, circa 1999 that covers the whole of one wall. All of this was animated into life by way of A Dank Hangout for U.F.O. Enthusiasts, a one-off three-hour performance by key figures in Scotland’s avant-noise underground. The likes of saxophonist Tina Krekkels, guitarist Adam Campbell and composer Daniel Padden carve up the air with assorted interventions. Alongside Usurper’s Malcy Duff, dressed for the part in hard-hat and overalls they embrace the building site production line with sounds as improvised as its magnificently messed-up interior.

The List, July 2018

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