Saturday, March 07, 2009


Level of conviction in own genius: 7
Amount of creative activity acheived in last 24 hours: 0
Reading: Just finished Ian McEwan's pert, beautifully concise 'On Chesil Beach'
Hair day: the asymmetrical long bit at the back has got so long I've started to put it in a wee plait

Gosh have been so busy and haven't blogged a darned thing. Have done a number of gigs at nice churches to beamingly gratified oldies with juice, unassuming jazz bars in Stokey with DOLLYman and metamorphic, been heavily embroiled in my educational project with local schools and the Museum of Childhood, and eaten lots of curries. But, fighting the frequent urge to curl up in a ball in front of BBCiplayer every night, I've also been out to some great gigs of late:

1) Tanya Tagaq at Cafe Oto, Dalston
Oto is such a great venue you forgive it even when it programmes dismally introspective muted-trumpet improv on a Saturday night. Sarah and I, flying the flag of experimental vocal music high, went to see the sometime Bjork-collaborator and Inuit throat-singer Tanya Tagaq. Our most high-art pal and general friend to the stars, Mikhail (on whose new album, Morphica, juice features) was there to introduce us to the Canadian vocalist, who had the most frighteningly disarming, bonkers manner, insisting she'd met us before before swerving onto telling us about her ex-boyfriend who was currently 'fucking his way through Europe' with electrodes attached to his body in the name of art. She then proceeded to perform a kind of highly-sexed snake dance along to increasingly tribal-trance leanings from her laptop and drum boys. In truth, the music got a little samey, but there was no denying her incredible array of vocal utterances: she seemed to pull seagulls and tigers screaming from her throat, and veered from breathy tunes to earthquake-starting rumbles. Afterwards, she explained to Sarah and I, after we'd come to congratulate her, that the reason she was so good was because she had a pussy. We retreated gently as she shouted at us how much she loved her pussy, grinning and nodding, wishing we weren't so inhibited and.... BRITISH.

2) Firefly at the Gallery Cafe, Bethnal Green
At a loss on a Friday night, Andy and I decided to go to the nearest place we could, the beguiling Gallery cafe, so near we can basically fall into it from our window. We caught the end of the open mic at one of their Organic Nights, before I realised that three of my workshop-leader acquaintances had brought their band along to headline. And darn it but they turned out to be one of my new favourite bands, a gorgeously goosebumpy mix of folk, jazz, improv and contemporary classical subtleties. They're another band, like the excellent Stravinsky-meets-folkfunksters 7 Hertz, who DOLLYman recently played with, who I feel a genuine affinity with. Hhm, I feel an askew, avant-everything collective coming on...

3) Beatabet Collective at the Shunt Lounge, London Bridge
The Brighton-based arts collective Beatabet, who count loop-vocal queen Bunty who I've programmed at Gobsmack in the past, and Nick, mus-tech wizard who I'm curently working with in schools, among their number, were curating a four-day artsfest. Unbelievably, I've never graced the underground chambers of the Shunt Lounge before, and dang that was worth the ticket price and the 30-minute queue alone! Cavernous brick arches, musty corridors, a shadowy theatre, boho bar areas, coupled with the video and sound art, installations, music and occasional trapeze artist, made us feel like we were slouching around in early 90s Berlin. We watched my 'cello-blues-avant-garde diva pal Laura Moody play a set above on of the bars, played some glockenspiel in a cupboard, avoided the gaze of weird actors and manipulated a sort of sensor-piano-gramaphone thing. It was easily the most happening event I could possibly have been at last night. London rocks, baby.

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