Treated myself to my first LMC gig in yeeeeears last night, Free Love (a free concert of free music on Valentine’s day). Cycled late from work straight to Conway Hall and prepared myself for some strange and beautiful noises.
I was a little unsure of myself – ready to make a quick retreat if necessary. After all, it had been a long time. And I wasn’t sure that I still liked free improvisation that much – although I remembered moments of rapture, I also seemed to have been avoiding that part of my CD collection recently. First up was Sylvia Hallet, a tyre-less bicycle wheel slung over her shoulder which she played with a violin bow. The resultant skwawks, swoops, keenings and clangings were fed through a delay unit to create layers of rhythym and sound textures which she played and sang over. Some undoubtedly beautiful stuff there – at times my heart pulled me up and I lost myself in the music, but then my head would always pull me back down again, busy trying to analyse, intellectualise, comprehend, when I should have just gone with the flow. All the old problems of improvisation gigs came back to me – should I watch the performance, and thus distract myself from the music, or close my eyes and enjoy, and risk missing some vital moves: understanding where a particular noise came from, seeing what implement made what sound, or just dodging the person fleeing the concert who’s about to bump into me. In the end, as usual, I spent most of my time with my eyes open, but still didn’t get much idea how the musicians extracted such a wierd and wonderful array of sounds from their wierd and wonderful array of objects.
For me the night all came together at the end, with a performace by the Bohman Brothers. I was looking forward to this, having chatted to Jonathan Bohman a couple of times on the phone, and been sent a CD of his brother Adam which I really enjoyed for its humorous and musical use of speech and household implements. The performance lived up to and exceeded my expectations – the brothers came on stage with large sheets of paper from which they read short quotes, presumably pulled from newspapers, books, magazines, wherever. Words and sentences mingled, and a tape of the two brothers reading gradually merged with the live performance so that four voices were throwing up quotes, creating new sentences out of old. The theatricality of the performance really enhanced it, and had me giggling in my seat. Jonathan occasionally glanced across the stage, looking with annoyance at his brother, or ranged around kicking an old violin. During the next piece, when they bowed wine glasses and other mundane objects, Jonathan not only poured wine into the glasses, he had a good drink too (before beating the bottle about the table with a fire-brush).
Cycled home, lifted.