Sunday, 24 May 2009

More former than latter

We mostly got away with that - although we set a rather frisky pace, which was somewhat at odds with the mood of the evening. Picture a post-rock, Shoreditch-close version of Jazz Club. Nice.

Indicative exchange of the evening:
John enters the little in-house record-shop; CDs and records are placed on every available surface - the floor, shelves, electricity meter and consumer unit. John browses them for a while, and then, puzzled:
John [to man in record shop]: I don't recognise any of these records. Not one. I have three thousand records at home. OK, I don't like all of them, but how is this possible? Are all the records in this shop just obscure experimental noise or something?
Man: Yes.

Anyway, to the gig. I was late, and stressed by the lateness, and by the overheating of the vehicle which got me there. I barely coped with a disastrous soundcheck and broken guitar. After a drink and a drop in heartrate, I was able to problem-solve a bit more clearly: we swapped guitars and amps around for the gig, and thanks to a stand-up soundman, it sounded great.

George was on fine form for his Former Utopia set, and he also saved my ass by lending me his guitar after mine decided to be broken. I covered the door for him while he played, much to the consternation of the kid who appeared to be running the place. I was a little laissez faire for his liking I think.

I started off on my own. I played Smoke, and Let's Get Fired, and Tethered Not Caged (two new songs) on my own. Then Andrew and John joined in; we began with Andrew on banjo for Hard Work of Simple Things and New Hat, then on guitar for Ricochets, Steep Learning Curve, Sniper (which didn't really work without drums), Thieves and Curses (which worked better than I expected, but which, unfortunately, I sang with all the grace of a lonely tomcat), and then Spon (which sped up rather hilariously).

Grubbs was in ''Optimist Notes the Dusk' mode, more than, say, Wingdale Community Singers or Gastr Del Sol mode. This seemed to be what most people had come for (he had an incredibly attentive audience). I wasn't in the right frame of mind for that, really, after our set: I daydreamed my way through a lot of the spacier bits. Plus it worries me a bit whenever I discover I am listening to a 'piece' rather than a 'song.' I feel like I've ventured into grown-up, metropolitan territory where I don't belong, a bit like when I find myself in meetings with People Who Wear Suits at work.

But there was a lively version of Two Shades of Green, and a memorable new song [sorry, new piece] about a hermitage in the clouds which [when it finally got going ...] was very pretty indeed. And there was a magical moment of transition from piano to guitar which carried over a rather claustrophobic musical figure and chiming pattern first set up on the piano, and then somehow transformed it into something very beautiful and transcendent.
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Friday, 22 May 2009

Pre Grubbs emotions running high

Following on from Michael's thoughts...

I have had to work out at least 3 of the bass lines from scratch, having not played these songs live 'for a while', and in one case, 'before'.

Are we holding true to some kind of misguided DIY ethic, or running along in the ill fitting but fashionable trainers of confidence? Either way, there is a high chance that either the tools will not be sharp enough or that our shoe laces may not be tied tightly enough.

I am intrigued to see what happens. jp
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Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Arthur Clamp

This week's L.Clamp gig for Damnably with David Grubbs and Former Utopia is now Michael, John and Andrew, rather than just Michael on his ownsome.

There will be banjo.

And some mistakes (rehearsals have consisted of one early morning telephone conversayion about equipment, and a couple of emails about the songs we can't play without drums). What can possibly go wrong?

On 22nd May, at Cafe OTO, Dalston, London.

Details here:
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