To my great regret, I never got my shit together sufficiently to attend Bristol’s ambitious, pioneering Venn Festival during its five-year tenure. Its spirit is one that’s lived on locally, in the venues it inhabited and in promoters like Qu Junktions; insanely consistent hand-picked bills of inspiring experimental music, presented with remarkable frequency in all manner of locations. It’s great to see like-minded groups of people around the country wringing all they can out of local authorities and their own wellsprings of enthusiasm to put on similar events, too. Brighton’s way-out Colour Out Of Space sound and art weekender, the heroic Supernormal near Oxford and this weekend’s Tusk Festival in Newcastle are just a few examples, and this cracking Qu Junktions line-up is part of a touring arm of the latter.
BILL ORCUTT is one of two musicians playing both festival and tour, and his appearance in the UK can justifiably be called long-awaited. His improv style is possibly unlike any you’ve heard from an acoustic guitar before, at times intense and mantra-like, other times unhinged, chaotic, seeminly out of control. Formerly guitarist in confrontational 90s noise outfit Harry Pussy, Orcutt’s solo work has on the surface some of the primal atonality of his old band, but listen closer and the lulls in the frenzy reveal blues and minimalist influences. Coupled with the almost out-of-body wailing that surfaces from somewhere within him on a few tracks, it’s pretty haunting stuff; calling his album How The Thing Sings seems appropriate, like he’s letting the guitar play itself, and him.
By comparison, Dubliner CIAN NUGENT’s own acoustic explorations would seem almost conventional, but the tumbling complexity and alternating patterns of calm and storm on his VHF debut Doubles are actually a pretty apt counterpoint to Orcutt. There’s much in the two 20+-minute tracks that echoes the familiar likes of James Blackshaw, John Fahey etc, but also subtle detours into jazzy improv and synth noodling with a full-band accompaniment. It’s by turns challenging and head-spinningly accessible, and very lovely stuff. He’ll be playing with a band at these gigs, should be stellar.
Joining Orcutt on the full tour is JESSICA RYLAN. A label owner, synthesiser builder and sound artist, her unique analog creations have been showcased in sound installations across North America. Meanwhilem her playful, uncompromising sound explorations, bending and warping synths, sung and spoken vocals and other electronic detritus (most commonly under the name Can’t) have seen release on Ecstatic Peace! and Important amongst other vanguard experimental labels. 2007′s Interior Designs invested her bracing noise with a daft humour and an awkward, arrythmic near-danceability; don’t go expecting much other than a testing but rewarding time here, mind.
Finally, POSSET represent Tusk’s home city of Newcastle and open the night with mischevious sampledelia, found sound and curious nuggets of junk shop pop. Nothing to fear here, embrace the oddballs, marginals and freaks.
Qu Junktions present:
CIAN NUGENT BAND
Thursday 13 October 2011
Dove Street South, Bristol BS2 8JD
7.00pm – 11.30pm | £6 adv | Buy Tickets
A night of high-end acoustic guitar thrill and more cerebral lush tones, bent and unimaginable sound worlds of static, flows and analog synth modules from the 4 artists making up this killer bill.
Bill Orcutt: etch the name into your subconscious. The man vanished from the seminally sick Miami trio Harry Pussy only to appear again to astound with limited LPs. Bill lets loose on acoustic guitar with ridiculous chops, his style deeply philosophical, free and joyously spewwy. A splatter/flicker montage of guitar sounds and vocalisations that make your hairs bristle and blood thin. SERIOUSLY Qu cant wait.
Cian Nugent has that tender touch. A young guitar player from Dublin who draws on a rich mix, suburban/coastal blues, traditional musics, late 1960s & ’70s singer-songwriters, jazz ambitions, 20th century composition and the Takoma school into a deeply personal style.
Jessica Rylan runs Flower Electronics, producing her own line in compact analog synth modules and noise flingers of various models, and as Jessica Rylan and also as Can’t, she has produced a string of often very personal and liberated/liberating releases that can hurtle from caustic sound projectiles to blissful, sometimes childlike a cappella experiments and back. Again Qu has been DYING to see her live.
Newcastle’s Posset flesh out collections of miniature collages, dictaphone rants and blends noise and non-music components into captivating oddball songs. However odd they may sound, there’s an easiness and an everyday feel to these folks.
Part of the touring end to Tusk Festival.