A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Murcof & Francesco Tristano, Queen Elizabeth Hall, 16/11/10

When I bought my ticket for this concert earlier in the year I had initially thought it was going to be a Murcof solo show. I had always wanted to see him play live after really enjoying his albums. Pianist Francesco Tristano was later added to the bill and the gig was grouped as part of the London Jazz Festival (although probably the least ‘jazz’ of all concerts in the festival). The improvised collaboration that was to follow was quite special.

Before Murcof & Tristano came on stage however we had The Hidden Orchestra in support. They are a five piece from Scotland, comprising cello, violin, keyboards, electronics, bass and (two sets) of drums. They played a set of slow-building, cinematic tracks, containing hints of jazz, modern classical and electronica.

Murcof assumed a position behind his laptop and Tristano was on the other side of stage at the piano. They played a set consisting of three pieces. The first piece started slowly, Murcof creating a still, sonic vacuum into which Tristano dropped isolated piano notes. It was 15 minutes before we saw the emergence of any kind of beat, corresponding with a slight increase in the stage lighting. Tristano soon began intermittently leaning into the piano, producing abstract sounds and muffled knocks. He then started to feed these sounds through a laptop, creating a secondary layer of electronics to complement those already being produced by Murcof. The second piece was where they came closest to occupying a similar musical terrain, the electronic ambience and piano lines merging cohesively. The final piece was the highlight of the set, featuring probing piano chords which gradually developed into an extended, pulsating rhythm which were enveloped in Murcof’s opaque, cosmological soundscapes. By the end of the set these had reached a hypnotic, breathtaking climax.

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