08 July 2023

Opening the middle

I could only manage one of two sessions, but each evening at Midpoint at Ainslie Arts Centre had three performers so this was still a generous vision of the style.  The style was electronica-cum-dub-cum-pop whatever.  The classifications have exploded so I might talk of one tonight as post-rock.  Whateva.  But I always expect an intellectually satisfying outing at AAC and it didn't disappoint this night.  

First up were locals Ben Marston and Chris Thwaite.  Both well renowned in jazz circles, trained at the SOM, appearing variously, if these days less frequently, in jazz or such outfits.  Ben had his trumpet of course, and a table with laptop and various effects and perhaps triggers or keys; Chris had his kit with a drum pad and laptop (I guess) beside him.  And that overegged floppy bassy kick that remained for the night over the PA; probably apt for the style.  You could hear the jazz chops as they worked through various improvisations.  Ben would play with electronic tones with just a hint or occasional quote from his brassy-clear trumpet themes.  The harmonies are not complex in this music.  I noted a pretty simple scale with a few flats and notes dropping Bb-A and Eb-D and Cs and Gs ad Fs.  A feel might change between those themes, or when Chris reappeared after a break or when he played with some gorgeous polyrhythms or moved accents within bars.  This music moves, subtly, slowly, mesmerically.  There were some slips with too loud noises, but electronics do this occasionally: they are so literal!  Then for a later theme, a lovely octaver on trumpet, then some descending chromatic arpeggios.  I'm thinking '70s Miles.  Great stuff and not too indulgent, perhaps ~35mins.

A younger generation and different gender followed.  Two young women appearing as Shāyú, I think a take on their names.  One controlled a laptop with controller; the other read poetry, spoken word.  The laptopper started with a heavily reverbed welcome to country, then, if I got it right, a recorded female voice from a university library speaking of love and dating with plenty of giggles, all backed with big  orchestral-like sounds moving slowly between adjacent pitches or chords, then into several spoken word works, poems, by the poet of the pair.  I couldn't catch all amongst the accompaniment, but it could be jokey and mostly returning to the theme of dating and relationships.  Like, ask what is the most common item in your wardrobe, socks, that was so funny.  Or her fave, Devotion is a river, about parting in the morning, of kisses and a face like the moon, a common love of Arianna Grande and compared playlists.  Thus are concerns of this age and gender, and good on them.   It makes me feel old and withered.  Or another on food fads after a relationship ends, with music mostly droning in accompaniment, but climaxing with the relationship's end.  An interesting conversation and promising new duo.

Ben Marston (trumpet, electronics) and Chris Thwaite (drums, electronics) opened the first evening of Midpoint at Ainslie Arts Centre.  Shāyú followed.  They comprised a laptopper and a poet but names unknown.

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