Monday, May 28, 2007

Friday seems like an eternity ago, particularly because it was a day off. A precious commodity that tend to become soured because when you go back there’s always some petty, snidey interference stinking up the place.

Anyway, the Robbie show in Glasgow was a masterclass in everything that’s good and pure and right about music in general. To paraphrase Cher’s mate, Meat. The songs, the stories and the chutzpah are just three of the things that make this guy top notch, with or without a band. This solo show ran nigh on two hours and felt like 10 minutes (or indeed 5 if you read this Herald review) I think that pretty much says it all in my advanced stages of ADD. If you aren’t lucky enough to be located close to an upcoming show then grab his “Revenge” doublepack because it is indeed “sweet” in the Eric Cartman sense. And never sickly. If anybody who was there is looking to get a hold of the song “Godfrey” then this link will take you to it.

Saturday was the second day of Le Weekend in Stirling, Bill Wells/Norman Blake etc. had played on Friday night. It kicked off with a screening of two episodes of “This Is Our Music” introduced by Andres Lokko. The first of these was Maher Shahal Haz Baz and was followed up by another about Little Wing. The bizarre world Tijuana brass of Mahar is always worth a drop-in and they have a show in Glasgow at Mono on June 6th.

I’m not convinced the “Little Wing” episode wasn’t some elaborate hoax, a grizzled beardy surfer “dude” of the slacker folk variety channelling both Mark and Mike from “American Movie”. These were commissioned my MTV Europe that makes the concept even more peculiar. Caught a couple of songs by Richard Youngs who seemed enthral the audience but not me. What he was attempting to do went over my napper at some considerable altitude. It was short ordeal but fairly traumatic. Tour managing the Swedish cultural attaché, I was relieved when he decided he’s had enough also, possibly thanks to the Tolbooth’s not exactly comfortable auditorium seating. Got home in time to catch “The Station Agent” which nullified the new age heedrum hawdrum.

Incidental music in the bar was provided by Mr McRobbie. This added some depth and pop shade to the experimental nature of some of the beast. Prior to hitting the venue we stopped by the Design It Yourself exhibit. Pretty good with some Marc Baines and Aggie Wright stuff on show as well as examples of Raymond Pettibon stuff from the collection of Dep Downie. There a facility for kids to get some hands-on DIY going and this runs at The Changing Room in Stirling until June 9th. Didn’t make it in time to catch the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra so today’s shot of culture began with a film about Cornelius Cardew’s Scratch Orchestra by Luke Fowler. The main event for much of the people there was the debut UK performance by Nagisa Ni te from Japan. I never heard their records but was pleasantly disturbed by their Galaxy 500 augmented by Dave Gilmour sonicisms. It was clean as a whistle and at points very loud. I had been told to expect some Neil Youngisms, those were presumably the few grungier guitar breaks. Get these folks onto Jools Holland watch them go. The many millions who would dig this have no pipeline to even knowing they exist. I especially liked the touch of the necklace on the cymbal that made the percussive element shimmer. Very cool.

Which brings us to Justice Yeldham. Normally I’d be at home half asleep after the Emmerdale/Coronation St action or possibly in front of this bloody computer. However I’m watching an Australian guy with a passing resemblance to Lester Bangs making farting noises with a piece of amplified, unburnished glass in the shape of a sharks fin. Let’s consult the programme for a second… “a not to be missed contortion of the idea of physical noise music”. Er, well this antipodean government funded extremism is only really dangerous to the extent that the guy appears to draw blood as he creates pedal-induced noise from his “instrument”. It’s like hip-hop percussion, some fearsome noises but ultimately, really, how do you arrive at the fact that this is what you want to do with your life? It’s part Jim Rose, part dearie me. I decide that I don’t know about art and decide to leave because I thought there was another 15 to suffer. As it is, the performance only lasts for as long as the glass holds out which on this occasion was a further 5 minutes. Ever get the feeling you were cheated?

And finally, tired and emotional is perhaps not the best way to approach an encounter with The Thing + Zu. A 6 piece scando-italian fusion of brute energy that includes Mats Gustavsson who as you may know has appeared on records by The Nomads. This is more formative avant extremism with a free jazz slant and Electric bass duels with stand up bass. Drums vs drums whilst the saxophones wail as only those beasts can. The resultant howl is as visceral as you’d expect. Not pretty and not conventional but it’s so tight as to be like a display by the red arrows. Provided the pilots were way over the permitted decibel level. There was something distinctly military about the deconstruction of proven musical paths. Evidently two drummers doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll make you sound like the glitter band. Particularly when both guys sound like a proverbial drum corps on their own. Just before we head out into the night, they burn down “The Witch” like Big Jay McNeely being cloned and jamming with Teenage Jesus. No wave skronk seldom comes as cleansing as this, particularly out of a tunnel that often recalls Morricone crime jazz. Not sure how this would sound on cd, I doubt if your building would withstand the necessary volume but live it’ll strip paint and I unreservedly recommend a tussle should you get the opportunity. I’ll close this on the tip I came in on. Robbie Fulks once said that Country Music isn’t pretty. Well neither was this but, as you know, cosmetics are far from being everything.