Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 2
Listening: These New Puritans
Hair Day: ropey
What I can see from my window no. 11: Smog (or 'SMOG OF DEATH', as the Daily Wail calls it)

It's been Gig Central here at Kerry Towers of late. With Anna rather melon-like in her late-stage pregnancy, it was now or never for launching juice's very impending album, 'Songspin', at Nonclassical's new Hoxton venue, the Troy Bar, with its quirks of ill-functioning loos and a worryingly-bowed ceiling mixed in with its downlow charms. The gig was lovely, and we are itching with excitement to see the actual CD come out, now that we have heard all the totally pumping remixes and are just waiting for some last-gasp mastering to take place. Woohoo!

Never one to launch just ONE album in a fortnight, I also rocked with Metamorphic in Leeds, Liverpool, and lastly London with our official album launch in Highgate. It's out on the F-IRE label NOW!

I've also been enjoying some gigs by Proper Musicians. Sarah from juice and I took ourselves down the Cecil Sharp House to see Jim Moray, who wrote a song last year for our Laid Bare: 10 Love Songs set, so it was high time we saw him perform. Super-slick with visuals and some subtle electronics, Jim and his boys played a sort of stadium-rock-meets-folk set, which felt slightly strange in CSH's posh-primary-school-hall stylings, but rock out they did. Songs included his grime/folk version of Lucy Wan though my favourite was a sweet stripped-down ditty, Valentine; more of them, I say! We grabbed him for a chat in the interval and shared SXSW stories (he went in 2010) and hope to see him again soon.

I also popped to the South Bank to a) support Anna Meredith, who was performing some of her latest electronica, but really b) to join the many all-aged hipsters worshipping at the Church of James Blake. This was another of Olly Coates'-curated nights, meaning an eclectic first half, including a rare airing of Seb Rochford's solo material. Those who have ever heard Seb introduce one of his other bands will know that his rowdy jazz drumming belies a voice of dulcet mouse-meekness, so rest assured this acoustic slot did not explore Seb's penchant for extreme death-screamo. The candy-floss-haired one then bashed some skins for Anna's set of laptop-menace, which actually felt restricted in the Purcell Room's hushed and formal ambience; I'm keen to see how it translates to the discerning club-floor (and would pay good money to see dancers become toe-tied by the fluctuating time signatures and accumulate in a pile of tangled, slim-jeaned limbs). Finally, there was a pretty sweet piece for Olly, Seb and four hammer dulcimers. What slightly let it all down was the inept presenting, which left me curled of toe and unable to watch. James Blake doesn't fail here: he just said a firm 'thank you' after every song, each of which was a magnificent thing of dark, deconstructed dubsteppery (Minus most of the dub. And the step), topped by JB's hoarsely soulful voice, with weird spiky beats, dolorous keyboard and samples from the trio. I LOVE HIM.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Cultcha Vultcha! Kerry Becomes Older And Overindulges On Art

Never one to shirk the responsibility of celebrating my birthday up to max, I gave myself a crammed cultural schedule yesterday to see in my ‘dirty-third’…

In the morning, Andy and I went to London Street Photography at the Museum of London, a pithy exhibition spanning the 1860s to the present day, depicting a city full of life and exuberance, poverty and politics, which made me want to snap everyone in sight upon leaving. We chased that up with a dash around the Barbican’s show on the 1970s downtown New York scene with work from Gordon Matta-Clark, Trisha Brown and Laurie Anderson; the best of this was some of Brown’s choreography performed live, in which three jumpsuited dancers moved effortlessly around a vertical white wall full of symmetrical holes, rather like a heavenly Connect 4 board, whilst film of large buildings and moving figures was projected onto them. Elsewhere, there some great graphic scores from Anderson, and a ‘Handphone Table’, in which you placed your elbows in two hollows and conducted electronic sound to your head from the table by placing your hands over your ears.

Then it was onto the highly decadent Bob Bob Ricard’s in Soho for afternoon tea served by waiters in pink blazers and waitresses in deep turquoise waistcoats, latterly to match the colour of the leather booth seating in the ‘20s/’30s interior. Cat and I channelled our inner Bright Young Things whilst quaffing Pol Roger champagne and eating teeny sandwiches and cakes… I then squeezed in a showing of ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’, Werner Herzog’s gasp-inducing 3-D documentary on the Chauve Caves in France, home of the most remarkable rock paintings in the world, preserved for 25,000 years by a cliff-collapse and only recently discovered. In 3-D, we were transported into the swelling, undulating depths, filled with astonishing formations, cave bear skulls cloaked in calcite, and cave art so prescient and immediate that it made your heart stop. Herzog’s delicately philosophical narration drove home that by taking part in art, you are continuing a thread that has been infinitesimally spinning from the beginning of human consciousness. Our need to create memory in physical form, to stamp our place in the world and communicate to our descendants, may have morphed into 3-D movies and junkyard glitch-orchestras (see below), digital photos and installations, but it remains as powerful an instinct as it did to those early homo sapiens who hunted rhino and lions, walked with wolves and laid red handprints on the walls an unimaginable age ago.
To the South Bank! Micachu and The Shapes revisited last year’s collaboration with the London Sinfonietta, ‘Chopped and Screwed’, apparently inspired by the hip hop technique of slowing samples and the mix of ‘purple drank’ and cannabis oft-imbibed alongside it. Preceded by some mostly diverting solo pieces and a lovely trio by Laurence Crane (reminding me that economy of ideas always works best), Mica’s piece was a collection of strung-together songs with plenty of gorgeous textures and off-kilter rhythms; alas though, a lot of its subtlety was lost up in the cheap seats. However, her voice is just ace, a croaky, offhand thing that goes to envy-making low notes, and as a leftfield pop gig it was great. I rounded off my Big Birthday Bonanza with a British Season cocktail (gin, cucumber, lemon, ginger, served in a glass teacup and saucer) in the Skylon Bar looking onto the river, feeling very Mad Men, before tottering home to bed, blown bottles fluting in my ears, hansom cabs and wall-walking figures and cave paintings drifting in front of my eyes…