Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bill Orcutt | Jessica Rylan | The Cian Nugent Band - Cafe Oto, London, 14 October 2011

I feel like death warmed up. I've been struck down by a virus. But I head to the gig anyway.

The Cian Nugent Band open the night. Well I think they open it. I thought there was another band. If they played it must have been brutally early. Before they start to play Nugent makes a series of unconnected remarks to the audience. He can tell we're not engaged and he seems unsettled. If you're going to talk to the audience either make sense or do it after you've earnt some good will by playing something we like.

Anyway, the Cian Nugent Band are a three piece. Guitar, drums, and violin. It's built around Cian Nugent's complex guitar playing. The violin mostly adds texture while the drumming asserts itself into the pieces. The opening song is six or seven minutes long. The rest of the set is one extended instrumental folk raga. It begins very slowly with chasms of silence inbetween the solitary sounds of the different instruments. The piece slowly builds and Nugent's playing becomes more fluent. The violin lays down nice chordal blocks of sound while the drummer scrapes his kit with bric-a-brac coaxing a range of sounds from it.

Jessica Rylan starts her set by recounting a very dull tale about her last gig in London. I'm beginning to think I've come to a gig of the world's worst anecdote artists. But she gets down to tweaking her table of effects gear soon enough. There's a smooth ECG reading repeated beep with deep sub bass underneath it. The sounds and tones are delicate and the set is well constructed. Some of this type of music borders on random twiddling, but a strong authorial sounds comes through clearly in her set.

Bill Orcutt, assuming you know who Harry Pussy are, needs no introduction. He plays malfunctioning blues on an out of tune guitar. Dense clusters of notes fly from the simple wooden guitar. Imagine a spider scrabbling over the strings and frets and you might get an idea of the sound. It reminds me of Paste, an alias of Dennis Callaci who used to run the Shrimper label. Orcutt hums and moans seemingly in pain, punctuating his playing with random yelps. The twangs, rattles and unconventional tunings and repeated bursts of notes create an air of spontaneity which really sucks you in. It’s as if you’re hearing music created for the first time. It’s for moments like that which it make it worth dragging my virus riddled carcass out.

Preferred drink: Kernel's Porter

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