At the end of my last musical update I'm sure you would have been happy to see the list ofthings i was looking forward to, and last week they all happened! even bass clef and steve reid and kieran hebden which i thought i would have to miss, but i didn't , indeed no.
arrived the cooler on wednesday 22nd march to find the place filling up as fast as you like, which was an odd experience seeing as last time i was there i was 17 and they were playing suede to a fairly stupid looking and rapidly emptying crowd. tracked down rlf and had a big hug, then settled in to see mr hopkinson's computer play. he opened with his cover of 'where is my mind' and i have to agree with the review on his myspace page, that there is somehing weirdly heartbreaking about a computer singing. i think maybe this relates somehow to the disembodied mechanicalism of the vocal, with what are really poignant and sorrowful lyrics. i guess it kind of taps in to this idea of the dissociation of depression, the flatness of the voice seems to emphasise the pain in the song. i also thoroughly enjoy his personality, that self effacing sweetness. popped out for a bit but came in in time to hear him duetting with audrey 3000 on odb and kelis' 'got your money' which was a lot of fun, and a good switch of direction from the more familiar songs. a little secret is that the last tune was unexpected even to dave and mr hopkinson's computer themselves, but seeing as it was big party track and by this point the place was heaving and fully up, so even if it was a mistake, it was a very pertinent one.
Next up was Bass Clef and it has been a long time, not since the Black Swan. I think that the Cooler needs to think a little bit more about its sound, i'm not sure the mic was high enough on the trombone and the speakers were in a bad place, but nothing can detract from just how great a performer rlf is. Was great to hear new tracks and those off the album, 'cannot be straightened' sounded fantastic, and '5am on stokes croft' was crazily good, i love the bass line on that track, and the crowd were really enjoying it. i guess bass clef is pretty dub step these days, but also he has kept a real recognition of the wider range of influences and the musical background of past projects and records, which builds to a real richness of sounds and avoids him becoming homogenic. who else plays the trombone and the theremin like that for instance? and he has huge energy on stage, and really makes the audience spellbound on his side.
plus he is lovely.
the night finished with steve reid kieran hebden, 'robotic morris dancers' according to my good friend chris. really powerful sounds, huge cacophonies of electronica and folk twinges, it was very intense and very interesting, really good. (sorry, i was drunk by that point as usual so my review of the headline is as sketchy as ever)
Thursday 23rd saw the Friendly Fires at the Cooler. Such a shame that it was so quiet, especially with it being rammed on Wednesday, but the boys played well. Again, they were tight and worked so well together, and although the dust buster stayed hidden, again it was a fine use of variety and sampling that really make them stand out.
and no, jack assures me, not nu rave, but disco pop rock, which i much prefer.
had to stagger back to the cooler on friday morning so they could pick up equipment before heading off to support !!! and then after VERY YUMMY but very overpriced breakfast from boston, headed to london, caught up with beautiful andlovely friends in drunken venues, then on saturday was Bristol meth at the Spitz.
Again, shame it wasn't busy, but those who were there enjoyed it. jay le surgeon was on the decks playing an eclectic mix that really suited the variety of acts playing. he dropped in mos def, roots manuva, white stripes, nicole wilis, james brown, spank rock sounded excellent, good reggae beats for the quieter moments, a very representative big ting set in fact, backed up by his shouting 'big ting' on the mic periodically. lots of bristol music too, a few hombre tunes amidst others, to keep the spirit of the night happening. mixing sounded good, and the great scratching that we expect from him!
francois and rozi plain took the stage first, playing live to their films. the films were gorgeous, very delicate animation worked over live action, the combination of the whispering music and the elegant visuals was quite moving. lovely use of locations around bristol, everything was very dreamy with a note of something sinister perhaps. soft lyrics and vocals were accompanied by keyboards, accordian and i think a harmonica, all together creating something delicate and beautiful.
was amazing to see 'cutting up my friends' again. i love it so much! dave is such a talented filmmaker, everything in it fits together perfctly, it takes you on a journey through bristol, through its people and personalities, and it doesn't miss a beat, evreything is cut to make sense and create a rhythm and flow that fits together through leitmotifs. and it is really funny, and that is its charm, the creation of something so clever and effective, whilst being completely unpretentious, it is just a real celebration of music and place and people.
Next up was Vexkiddy, Time Travelling Victorian dandy scientists Cuthbert and Strangeways searching for vexkiddy. Brilliant! First of all the two of them create their characters so perfectly and naturally, talking and joking with the crowd in a completely convincing way, before launching in to some hectic and crazy drum n bass and gabba rave (? im trusting jay, im shit at genre) that lies completely at odds with the prim and proper victorian image. it was intense and sheer weirdness, but also really great sounds, fast and interesting beats, loads of distortion and odd samples floating in and out ("hello, im bernard cribbins"), whilst the two of them flew all over the stage, to a bemused but i would say appreciative audience. im not sure that i am writing it properly, because it does kind of defy description, but then i suppose that is the point of victorian drum n bass isn't it? recommended anyway.
mr hopkinson's computer headlined, and all i said about his performance on wednesday was pretty much confirmed by his cover of portishead's 'roads', a song which is pretty heartbreaking in itself, and again, there is something in this weird dichotomy of something emotionless singing so emotionally, its very disembodiment adds this poignancy. the world would be a worse place without singing computers that's for sure.
sunday saw roast dinner and beer in the swimmer before heading home, sigh! but tokyo on monday and apparently going to a musical festival over there, so exciting!
meanwhile, until i tell you all about my japanese exploits, i would ask you to read 'bianca' as i am intrigued to what people think of it.