england's dreaming

last wednesday free103point9 had a benefit for its radio station, headlined by colin potter of nurse with wound. since i love nww, especially the most recent work they've done, and this is the closest we can expect to a nww show in the US for the time being, i had to go. there was also a show the following sunday at mercury lounge, but the openers on this night sounded interesting and i like supporting this place.

the first act was mostly two laptops, which i'm getting used to now. the secret to dealing with this, if they don't bring visuals of their own, is to either find some small detail to stare at and enter a hypnotic state, or close your eyes. this night free103 had a video camera trained on the stage, and the image projected on the wall (see above). it also helps if there are seats, which there were. the music was a lot of minimalist clicks, drones, and loops made from field recordings, plus a third person's unfortunately hidden live manipulation of various mic'ed objects, making various squeaks and scrapes. this was not as boring as it sounds, at least if you're into deep listening and you're somewhat familiar with this sort of thing. it made me think of a more digital version of organum.

the second set consisted of one of the previous laptop artists and free103 alumna tianna kennedy. tianna played an amazing combination of melodic/harmonic/atonal cello sounds and looped them live on a guitar pedal. her output was also fed into the laptop where it was further manipulated.

colin potter played two sets of long, slowly building soundscapes, manipulating pieces from nww's angry eelectric finger and shipwreck radio volume one, the latter of which was released on colin's own ICR label. using recognizable snippets from the CDs as jumping-off points, he ran them and who knows what else through a laptop and a tangle of wires and knobs, which he twisted and clicked to create layers of beautiful waves and drones in real-time. the small but dedicated audience's warm applause was proof that if the sound is good enough, you don't need a dynamic stage show to give people a great musical experience. between these shows and his recent work with nww mastermind steven stapleton, colin has proven the value of his quiet but invaluable work over the years, and probably taken a step forward in the minds of experimental music fans.

the title of this post comes from a book about the original 70's british punk explosion, without which, arguably, artists such as nurse with wound would have had a much harder time releasing and selling records.