A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

To Rococo Rot, Gudrun Gut & Antye Greie (AGF), Vladislav Delay, Thomas Fehlmann, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Ether Festival, 23/04/10

Another day, another visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hall to see another gig as part of the Ether Festival.

This time it was an evening of contemporary German leftfield, experimental electronica, entitled 'Berlin Sounds'.

Before however, inventive modern post-jazz quintet Polar Bear played a free show in the Front Room to a large crowd. They showcased a selection from their new album 'Peepers', featuring some irregular, patterned drumming from Seb Roachford alongside powerful, broad saxophone lines from Pete Wareham. I always find them engaging whether live or on record, and they were on fine form on Friday with their headstong, loosely structured flurries of noise.

Vladislav Delay was on stage first. His set began with synthesised pulses of sound which were gradually overlaid with cut-up, jagged shards of splintered noise. It was these that increasingly rose to prominence, becoming more twisted and hard-edged. A drifting auditory skyline was present in the background throughout. By the end of his 30 minute set the disparate sounds had integrated into a cohesive body. A part-ambient, part-glitch, part-crackling static soundscape.

Female duo Gudrun Gut and Antye Greie (AGF) took to the stage next, immediately launching into a piece called 'Baustelle' (which translates as 'Construction Site'). It is dark, noisy and industrial - replicating the sounds found on a construction site while a film is projected on to the screen at the back of the stage. Their laptops and other electronic devices are placed on a desk at the front of the stage which is wrapped with plastic security tape which extends to the adjacent step ladders. The film itself ranges from esoteric, blurry shapes to images from construction sites and the associated materials, machinery etc. At one point the film shows ghostly black and white images of human figures chainsawing trees. 

Sharp blasts of white noise are deployed alongside electronically simulated drilling sounds to create deep sonic excavations. It all ends in a tremendous climax of crunching beats and techno rhythms. Half way through they wear construction site hard hats as if to protect themselves from sustaining injury from the surrounding mechancial noise and a part-whispered, part-spoken, part-sung vocal narrative surfaces, AGF singing lines such as "You bring the water, I make the mortar" and "You give me stone, I give you sand". An excellent show.

All desks and construction site paraphernalia are cleared from the stage for the second half which features German trio To Rococo Rot playing tracks from their new album 'Speculation'. After seeing two acts appear earlier using exclusively laptops & electronic equipment to produce their music it does take a little time to adjust to the sight of To Rococo Rot who line up in a more traditional style with live drums, bass and keyboards/synthesisers. They start with a series of discreet, bass-led workouts helped along by some tight, motorik drumming. It is all executed in a clinical, slightly cold, dispassionate fashion and after a while I thought it came close to being a little one-paced.

Faust member Hans Joachim Irmler is introduced on stage and he takes up a position behind what looks to be a small bank of keyboards/synthesisers. Whatever it is, he has an immediate impact, introducing harsher, more abrasive sounds to the show, totally altering the dynamic away from the bass grooves and punching holes through the dense fog of sound that we had previously. Irmler conjures squalls of electronic noise which invigorate the performance and results in a much improved, stronger second half to the show.

After leaving the QEH auditorium I spent some time back in the Front Room listening Thomas Fehlmann lay down some textured soothing minimlaist techno.

After crossing the Thames I noticed the London Eye lit up for St. George's Day...

1 comment:

groove68 said...

Berlin Now, 1985 documentary feat. Gut's 80s band Malaria

Watch as video on demand stream