Miasmah in Manchester


Out again to Trinity Church in Salford for an evening of musical performance from the Miasmah label. “Miasma” was a fitting word for this event since all three artists proved very adept at filling the humid air with great clouds of treated guitar chords, loops and electronic noise.

The aural miasms created by The Sight Below, aka Rafael Anton Irisarri and Simon Scott, reminded me of favourites Main whose Hz album I’d been playing earlier in the day. Main were among the first musicians in the 1990s to extend the sound of the electric guitar through samples and other processing, and everyone at the Trinity tonight was following a similar path, albeit with very distinctive, individual styles. The Sight Below add a pulse of heavy rhythm to their sheets of distortion. Svarte Greiner (Erik Skodvin of Deaf Center) meanwhile, played some great bowed Stratocaster then some even better squalls of Strat feedback. Very impressive all round and the combination of volume plus environment (old church carefully lit and perfumed by clouds of incense) showed again why these kind of intimate performances often trump their recorded equivalents; sometimes you just have to be there.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Deaf Center in Manchester
Machinefabriek in Manchester
Trinity rendezvous

Sam Amidon and Valgeir Sigurdsson in Manchester


Sam and ensemble.

Bedroom Community, possibly the best label in the world right now” was my earnest declaration back in March after seeing Sam Amidon play for the first time. A few months earlier I’d put Valgeir Sigurðsson‘s Ekvílibríum album on my best of 2007 list for Arthur magazine. Tonight’s event at Trinity Church confirmed that judgement with another great performance of songs from All Is Well by Sam, followed by a set from his Icelandic composer/producer colleague. Support for the evening was from Manchester’s own Denis Jones and a display of his one-man house of cards conjuring with samples and guitar.

Sam Amidon’s set this time lacked some of the stunning impact of the earlier gig but that’s only because the thrill of seeing him for the first time can’t be repeated. If anything the performances were better this time round, not least because there were more string players there to do justice to Nico Muhly‘s marvellous arrangements; Little Satchel especially benefited. Valgeir Sigurðsson (who produced All Is Well) helped out in the background then Sam returned the favour for Valgeir’s set, including singing one of the songs from Ekvílibríum. This easy swapping of roles is one of the things which makes Bedroom Community such a fascinating label; Valgeir produces, everyone plays on everyone else’s albums. All the people involved (Nico Muhly and Ben Frost make up the creative quartet) are highly distinctive and bring a considerable authority to their work. Most of Valgeir’s set this evening was instrumental (there are four songs on the album) and I missed Dawn McCarthy’s vocal on Winter Sleep but the vocal-less rendition gave an opportunity to hear the breadth of the arrangement. The BC site credits the other Icelandic musicians as Una Sveinbjarnardóttir on violin/mandolin, Sigríður Sunna Reynisdóttir on accordion/electric piano and Rebekka Bryndís Björnsdóttir on bassoon/cello.

“Bedroom community” is a euphemism for a suburb or dormitory town, as well as (in the case of the label) a play on the idea of the bedroom musician. Ignore the usual negative connotations of suburbs and think of this community as being one away from the decaying centre and the increasingly desperate frenzy of the mainstream. Back in the late Seventies Robert Fripp was presciently declaring the age of the music dinosaurs over, saying “In the new world the characteristic unit will be small, highly mobile, independent and intelligent.” Bedroom Community, its artists and its ethos, is precisely what he was talking about. We need more like them.

Previously on { feuilleton }
God only knows
Sam Amidon in Manchester

Polly Morgan, fine art taxidermist


Still Life After Death (fox) (2006).


Rest a Little in the Lap of Life (2005).

Polly Morgan‘s work is on display at The Exquisite Corpse exhibition, Trinity Church, Marylebone Road, London, until October 19th. (No exhibition website.)

Previously on { feuilleton }
Insect Lab
The art of Jessica Joslin
The Museum of Fantastic Specimens

Deaf Center in Manchester


Out this evening to Trinity Church again to see Deaf Center as part of a Type Records-themed event. Greg Haines set things rolling with a mysterious e-bow/autoharp performance where he managed to coax from a stringed instrument the kind of sounds more usually associated with electronic music.

Deaf Center are Norwegians Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland who were assisted this evening by Kristin Evensen Giæver on wordless vocals. Much of their set seemed to be versions of their Pale Ravine album which sounded a lot more substantial played live. Especially good were the clouds of noise with shifting harmonic layers, the kind of thing Boards of Canada do then often spoil by introducing a plodding rhythm. Deaf Center avoid plodding rhythms and are all the better for it.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Machinefabriek in Manchester
Trinity rendezvous
Helios in Manchester

Trinity rendezvous


The thundering virtuosity of Chris Corsano’s drums lured me out again this evening. The venue this time was the old Sacred Trinity Church in Salford which has been deconsecrated (heathens that we are) and turned into a space for music and other events. A very good space it was too, with subdued lighting and decent sound. Corsano was on magnificent form, playing another storming improvised set; Mick Flower of the Vibracathedral Orchestra provided chiming drones of unknown provenance. (I still haven’t worked out what peculiar string instrument it is that he plays.)

The photo above is another blurry product of my poor old Canon as it struggles with low light conditions and no tripod. But even in good light I’d challenge any photographer to adequately capture Corsano’s performance. The stuttering incoherence of this picture goes some way towards showing how it feels to watch him play.

Update: Gav advises that the church is still consecrated and that Mick Flower plays a shahi baaja or, as he prefers (after Klaus Dinger), a “Japan banjo”.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Chris Corsano again
Chris Corsano