Twos and threes

Dominic Lash / Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga / Phil Julian (Trio); Ute Kanngiesser / Clive Bell / Jennifer Allum (Trio);  Stephen Cornford / Dan Bennett (Duo)

Cafe Oto, Dalston

A fine evening of exploratory musicks at a somewhat sparsely attended Café Oto. Perhaps Dalston’s freak music community was still in shock after Thurston Moore’s super-rock supergroup graced the venue with its presence at the weekend. Never mind. It’s their loss, as the evening showcased three new ensembles with three very different approaches to creating sound.

We got off to a pleasantly barbed start with a duo of Stephen Cornford and Dan Bennett, rolling out some pure levitation buzz. The duo laid down a shifting background drone punctuated with electrical buzzes and bursts, like the protestations of the mother ship as she’s raised up for one last voyage. Things got more crumpled later with a series of lovely heavy clunks and hisses, an elevator descending deep into the earth, before suddenly switching into a force field of bleached out noise.

Kanngiesser, Bell and Allum took things from the electronic to the acoustic, their cello, violin and Shakuhachi ensemble creating an engrossing web of sound.

Clive Bell’s breathy flurries – like tiny wood shavings cast upon the wind – seemed to nestle on a bed of Ute Kanngiesser’s cello barely-there rustles. Jennifer Allum’s plucked and bowed violin, meanwhile, skipped and twirled around this verdant soundscape, occasionally disrupting things with dissonant, sawing swoops, a scythe cutting through the lush musical grasslands.

There were no such comforts from Phil Julian, Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga and Dominic Lash’s marvellously austere set.

Lash’s double bass was an ominous presence throughout, his long, slow bowing giving out deep and sinister vibes like a vast creature cruising the deep, as Lazaridou-Chatzigoga’s prepared zither rattled and whirred. Julian, impassive behind his laptop, conjured up all manner of burbles and squelches, the sounds inserting themselves around and between and inside the constantly changing field.

What started as an exercise in modernism, all sharp angles and opaque surfaces had, by the end of the set, evolved into many-stranded sonic network, something post-human perhaps, an enigmatic acoustic-digital organism.

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Thanks to Cafe Oto for the photo of Dominic Lash and Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga, taken from a previous gig. (My own photos of the gig are terrible.)

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