Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Lowest Form of Music | Smegma | La Forte Four | Morphogenesis - Beaconsfield, London, 22 October 2010

The Lowest Form Of Music seeks to celebrate the work of the Los Angeles Free Music Society. The 3-day festival includes performances by original artists and those inspired by the experimental ethos espoused by the movements key players.

Morphogenesis open the evening. They’re a UK configuration of four artists including Adam Bohman and Clive Graham. Instrumentation is predictably eclectic. Bohman has a table of rasps, files, assorted ephemera including a pine cone. It looks like someone's emptied the contents of a shed onto a table. Someone on the other side of the stage is amplifying a pump blowing bubbles through a jar filled with water. It’s not so much music as sound constructions. We get the chirps of cyber bird calls over the sound of tape rewind and modem whirl. Despite the disparate elements the sound is cohesive.

The same cannot be said for La Forte Four. Apparently this is their first UK performance for 28 years. Whilst the array of instruments and their invention is admirable their set doesn’t work. If I am honest it is frankly a racket. I appreciate the dedication to the unconventional. Blowing into metal piping, amplifying children’s toys and bowing polystyrene packaging is admirable in it’s quest for discovering new sounds. But if the resultant noise is an incoherent, ungainly, awkward, potpourri then the experiment fails on its own terms.

Smegma headline the night. I saw them some years back in 2006. It was my first encounter with them and I was blown away by their mastery of genre convention and avant-garde experimentalism. Tonight, though, I am utterly under whelmed by their performance. I am at a loss to interpret their set. It’s an indecipherable, uninspiring, turgid murk. They play for barely half an hour. They are reluctantly, and unaccountably, urged back for an encore by the audience. Against my better judgment I stay in the hope that I’ll hear some of the inspiration that I previously heard. I am unfortunately left disappointed.
Preferred drink: Fullers 1845


Anonymous said...

Hmmm I was also there on Friday and was similarly underwhelmed.Maybe Saturday which was meant to be the big night was better

Jilted Barfly said...

Interested to hear that it wasn't just me who was left disappointed. On paper Friday's line up was strong enough. I chose to go for Friday night because of who was playing. Sometimes you don't enjoy a gig because you can't 'get' the music. But sometimes it's because it doesn't happen for the band. I think Friday was one of those occasions.