Last night we hosted hard reality and Leonardo’s Valentine’s party. I was auctioneer – we “sold” off a bunch of slaves – raised an amazing £1193 for chariteeee (British Red Cross) through the sale of 11 people. I, perhaps rather rashly, bid, and now have to pay, £210 for Fern and Jess (who came complete with two £50 vouchers for local restaurants, and the promise that they would do my filing all day – except I don’t have any filing, just a desk piled with magazines and pieces of paper that need to be filed in the bin). I only did it to protect them from Gary – he had bid £200 and, seeing the look on their faces, I couldn’t bear seeing them sold of to an old lech like him so I put the bid in to save them from a fate worse than… well, worse than being my slaves for a day.
Actually, they’re not having to do anything too slavish. We pootled off to the Cod with the first of our vouchers and enjoyed a thoroughly tasty lunch: langoustine risotto, which was completely heavenly and just the kind of warm baby-food I needed to help soak up my hangover, followed by char-grilled tuna with spinach, leek and langoustine wanton and a sauce of aubergine and something or other – sounded awesome when the waitress described it, but the tuna was a bit chewy, and my recently-detoxed palate had trouble dealing with the saltiness of the sauce and the texture of the wanton, lovely though I’m sure they were.
We spent lunch trying to make hungover conversation, bursting into laughter at our own inability to complete sentences (or even to start them properly), said that it would be nice to go to the London Aquarium and hide out in the dark, but we didn’t, we went back to the office and I gave my two slaves the rest of the day off. Shame really, as I only had ownership of them for a day. Just think of the possibilities missed…
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.