Not long after our fantastic evening at the Hope and Anchor, we are back in the basement of a London venue for yet another fabulous night of music.
This time, we are at Surya on Pentonville Road, an eco-friendly live music and club venue only a short walk from King's Cross station.
The night is organised by Kaparte Promotions who deal with anything that's dark, intelligent, original and arty.
Just my kind of thing.
It is reassuring to see that there are still a lot of very, very interesting things happening in London's creative underground, a continuous flow of deliciously mysterious and inventive creativity (this is something that I touched on lightly in my first novel I Am a Muse and I intend to fully explore in my fourth one, Anti).
Now that I have moved out of London, I can no longer attend as many events as I'd like, but a gig like this makes up for all the missed opportunities.
I am not going to do a full music review of the night - my days as a music journalist are well and truly over and I am getting distracted by my writing and my publishing imprint which now require my full attention - but you will find a wonderfully written and very detailed report on Adrian's Specs blog which I urge you to read.
I have posted below the best pictures I have of the night. There is a pesky recurring advert for Budweiser in the background and it kind of spoils the atmosphere, but I'm sure we can all try and ignore it.
I am not a musician and have never been, although music plays a very important role in my life (and inspires my writing, of course).
As an ex-dancer, I possess an excellent sense of rhythm, but that's about it.
Whilst most musicians would completely understand the creative process behind writing (as in writing words, poems, novels, essays, etc.), for me as a writer of words only, the creative process behind making a music track/album really is a complete mystery.
As I stand in the audience, fascinated, I try and make sense of the magic and somewhat occult powers behind the music.
I look, I observe, I attempt to focus and I try to understand. But in the end, the music always gets the better of me and all logic and reason dissolve as I let myself go and be seduced by the music. Resistance is futile...
Lloyd James from Naevus opens tonight's event with a solo acoustic set. He immediately commands our attention and prevents us from breathing entirely freely with some intense tracks that weave James's deep voice, his poetic lyrics and focussed guitar-playing. I cannot help but feel some kind of brooding menace beyond the minimalist setting. A perfect start.
Fear of The Forest is an intriguing offering and provides us with glimpses of a magical and mythical world. Led by singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kate Arnold on violin and hammered dulcimer, the band combines a variety of influences (folk, classical, medieval and Middle Eastern) and showcases an interesting range of instruments - in addition to Kate's, we have cello, percussions and hurdy-gurdy. This is music as storytelling and it is full of history, atmosphere and ordinary as well as extraordinary deeds, all beautifully executed.
From a crowded stage to a minimalist set-up: here is Matawan, a duo (Gareth Chapman and Barclay Brennan) who work with electric guitars and a assemblage of pedals which they use to create drone music. According to them, they "seek to portray an aural journey that often treads a fine line between brooding density and compelling ethereality."
I personally like a gig to have some kind of visual focus, and I think it would be great if Matawan added a screen and some projections that somehow illustrated their music and conveyed the concepts and ideas behind their creations.
And then I fell in love (again).
I've been looking forward to finally seeing Sieben live and tonight's been a revelation; I want to acquire Matt Howden's entire back catalogue NOW, because I feel like I've got quite a lot of catching up to do.
Genius is not too strong a word for Matt Howden's performance. It is truly, absolutely innovative and fascinating, and I think there's nothing like it out there.
The music and lyrics are staggeringly beautiful, original and inventive; it's intellectual, timeless and elegant with just the right balance of darkness and tension. Sieben's music is also undisputedly - if not obviously - sensual. Maybe this is inevitable if one considers the physicality of the performance and the relationship between the musician and his violin.
Because this is the unique set up of a Sieben performance: one flesh and blood human being, one violin and a loop station.
Matt Howden sometimes uses the bow, sings into the pickup or scratches his chin against it, uses the violin as a percussion instrument and everything is then processed live through the loop station... Layer upon layer of sounds and vocals are added, distorted, twisted, echoed; here it sounds like a guitar, there like tribal drums or electronic beats...
The performance is enthralling, compelling, and you just don't want it to stop. It is still with me as I type; I now know I am hooked.
Sieben will join a few of my favourite "writing companions" - music I play whilst researching my books and/or looking for inspiration: Jo Quail (with whom Matt Howden has worked on a project called RASP - writing, recording and performing an album in two days), PJ Harvey, The Eden House and Jordan Reyne.
As someone who "studies" the world of silent movies (Clara Bow has been my Facebook avatar since I signed up to the site and I have stolen Lillian Gish's name for my pen name!), how could I resist a gorgeous song called "Sleep, Clara Bow"?
I think therefore I write.
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