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No mechanical elephant for me this weekend, but I did go to a strange Scanner gig in Bracknell...

So there was this Scanner gig on Friday night somewhere in Bracknell that timscience had heard about from a fellow music lecturer. He'd asked me if I wanted to go while I was in Glossop and beset by owls (for some reason, you got the best mobile phone reception under the owl mating tree) and I had said yes. Turned out it was a very exclusive gig, just a couple of industry contacts, some friends of the organiser, a lot of empty chairs and us, in a traditional upstairs recital room with the arched ceiling and chandeliers and a bizarre Italian street scene over a disturbingly cracked fireplace, and up in front, Scanner behind banks of knobs and a softly glowing powerbook, and Pete Lockett behind a wall of glittering, bewildering percussion.

It started out a touch worldy-beaty for me, the big beary percussionist dominating with his tabla chants and educational drums, while Scanner crouched tortoise-ish over his knobs, mostly making textures and backgrounds; but things improved after Pete Lockett slipped back for a track to chug water while Scanner built up his pings and mumbles, and then came forward to a virtuoso solo percussion piece while Scanner sat stock-still-profile as Whistler's mother behind his table, waiting ... and when they started playing together again it was a stunningly strange, underwater piece, full of drifting pale shapes and abrupt interruptions.

It continued in this underwater space for some time, bells and flashing tinny shoals of metallic percussion and blurred choral blundering out of dark deafening textures, like an uncertain transmission of someone drowning church choirs in the Mariana trench. Sunk down deep, before unexpectedly heading up, up, up and becoming hot, dry, and crystalline, quiet/fast as microlight progression through dry bright air, before crashing into whispering, grinding sandy spaces where the choir-sounds became heathen and templish, the beat and texture jewelled and dangerous.

Afterwards I exchanged a few awkward words with the world-famous percussionist while Tim got to natter to Scanner about the acoustic properties of churches in Norwich. I bought the CD. It has a track called Plush Insect on it, which I think I prefer even to Submarine and The darker the star.

Then we wandered down to a big shiny bar that had just been bought with lottery money, bought soft drinks, and drifted out into the grounds: it was a traditional country house, with terrace, lawns, ha-ha, formal garden, stone garden, fountains and woodland walks, but the whole was full of local teenagers, getting pissed and getting off in the shadows, showing off their short skirts and mountain bikes, all in view of this magnificent old stately home. The whole thing had a bizarre, after-the-revolution feel -- lord of the flies meets landed gentry.

The organiser spotted us on our way back in and invited us up for a drink, but that appeared to translate as necking stella while getting in the way of the roadies, so we went to meet the friend who'd told him about the gig, who was busy being DJ Jung collective in the shiny bar, which had about the nicest V-J-ing booth I'd ever seen.

A bit of a regret that we hadn't scared up a carful of people to come along but on the other hand sometimes it's nice to have a gig that's just for you..

I also went to a one-two-three-four-five? course dinner at the house of Paul S.'s new boyfriend Craig, whose collection of mad tat is mightly impressive and far better presented than mine, as he's a builder. I got to carve, being the butchest there. Butcher than a builder -- I should put that on a t-shirt. Except I already have an awesome t-shirt that says on it "boys love tanks".


( 6 worms — Feed the birds )
8th May, 2006 15:11 (UTC)
It does occur to me that although I've met Robin (clang!) several times, I've yet to see him perform...

Sounds like an interesting gig. I've been to the place a couple of times for Bracknell Festival (not sure if that still exists, to be honest).
8th May, 2006 15:21 (UTC)
shocking! you should go see him forthwith!
it's all looking very re-invigorated, so the festival might well be on. When he's with Pete Lockett I think I'm supposed to call them "The Parallax Beat Brothers" -- you'd like what we heard I think, although the gigs are semi-improvised (we got a very chilled set to match the lazy afternoon and posh room) so no way of knowing if you'll get similar if you go see them
8th May, 2006 16:42 (UTC)
Sounds more fun than when I saw him in Oxford
..indeed S Proffitt and I bonded on the shared notion that Scanner is a bit rubbish and overrated. Even though apparently he did manage to do several gigs across the world at the same time in the mid-90s.. though that was a while ago.

Sounds like a fun one anyway. I'm sure Parallax Beat Brothers played in oxford recently didn't they? The name's definitely ringing a bell.
8th May, 2006 16:49 (UTC)
Speaking of S Proffitt: just looking at his 365 photos page, haven't checked in a while. Have you seen his photograph of the mass grave uncovered after the soft toy massacre in Roath? I thought you should know, if you hadn't seen it already.
8th May, 2006 16:56 (UTC)
I've not looked at it for a while. A just reward for the overly sentimental bears.
8th May, 2006 16:52 (UTC)
an OCM gig last Nov.
I expect it was a bit more crowded than the Bracknell one ... which was much fun, yes. A very sunny evening.
( 6 worms — Feed the birds )