"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Monday, 29 November 2010

Practical dreamers

Arnolfini, you're spoiling us. Ahem. Sorry, but the shame of that woeful not-even pun won't stop LMYE relishing a rapid return to the Bristol waterside this week for Thursday's jaw-dropping line-up of Ben Frost & Tim Hecker (oh, & the improbably Paul Morley-approved Ekoplekz).

This not-to-be-missed "monolithic double bill featuring two true international masters of sculptured noise, deep rumbling and artful sonic contrast" is a compelling follow-up to our recent gig of the year - the only UK Room40 10th anniversary show outside the metropolis, & another laudable coup for Arnolfini.

Looking back, Rafael Anton Irisarri stood out as the Room40 night's most positive surprise. Lawrence English was magnificently intense (pump that harmonium...) & demanding of a prone audience he'd sent to the floor, while Andrea Belfi was inspiringly subtle in his agile gong & keyboard double-act. Grouper too was gripping as she floated skeins of what began as voice & guitar (but came out as whisps & shudders) over her soundtrack tapes. But, more unexpectedly, the darkly grand & resonant romance of RAI's bowed & looped live dronetronica has stayed with me.

It's tempting to draw out the links between Bristol & Seattle - a pair of soggy, slacking west coast ports - to explain Irisarri's exceptional showing, with Belfi at first providing welcome colour splashes that I'd have liked much more of (as I would of him generally & of the later LE/Grouper pairing). But the previous night's fairly similar show at Cafe Oto (stream below) gives the lie to that idea - in both cases a dronier, somewhat deprettified & foggy version of his recorded self, going beyond the fine North Bend & making me long for his next record...

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