Lovely bit of video capturing a gig we did at ReNTReC in Beppu on our AIDF supported trip to Japan in April has surfaced here. Really shows some of the mix close detailed listening, movement/actions based things and listening in space that we dug into working with on that trip! If you ever find yourself in Beppu (and I’d totally recommend the seaside vibes combined with incredible 43 degree hot mineral water Onsen baths that are all over the town) do visit ReNTReC, its a great little shop packed full of stuff hidden away down an arcade under railway arches into the town’s station.
Also a thoughtful review of our ‘A Hair in the Chimney’ record featured in this months jazz column in the Quietus ‘Complete Communion’ written by Stewart Smith. Really nice to be featured among such excellent artists!
“Top-notch weirdo jams from the north of England. Featuring Sloth Racket’s Sam Andreae on saxophone, David Birchall on guitar, and Otto Willberg on double bass, Hair In The Chimney brings an underground sensibility to free improvisation, with the musicians using unconventional techniques to defamiliarise their instruments. On ‘Endless Blue Meander’ (nice Eno reference!) Birchall’s guitar is effectively a percussion instrument, as he taps the amplified body with drumsticks, strikes the strings behind the neck, and rubs objects into the pick-ups. Tap, ping, crackle. Andrae emits a few mouthpiece sputters, but much of his playing is textural or percussive, as he taps the bell with a coin, and removes the neck altogether, treating it as a high-end tin whistle. Willberg occasionally frames these abstractions with free jazz bass runs, but he’s by no means the straight man, as his outré vocabulary of snapped strings and growling arco effects attests. ‘Sockets Filled Up With Eyes’ offers Whammy pedal pitch wobbles and all manner of Cage-ian bass preparations, concluding with an insect ballet set to ghostly drones.”
Record is here::
First play the other night for ages in duo with Andrew Cheetham.
You can still, i think get our debut release from 2012 here:
We played alot together round that time so it was good to revisit the duo vibe. Recently we’ve more or less ended up playing together loads but within other groups: ABC Trio with Sam Andreae, in quartet with Otto Willberg and Colin Webster and in Desmadrados Soldados de Ventura. But here’s a slice of duo action”
Very happy to have been invited back for the second year running to the lovely Lume Festival in London. This year with these guys:
At this great venue Iklectic; its inside the grounds of an old school, a very cosy green spot tucked between Waterloo Station and Lambeth Palace http://iklectikartlab.com/
Last year at Lume was with the duo with Adam Fairhall
I’m walking repeatedly around a square of four underpasses, making an air recording with my trusty zoom while pushing my son in his buggy. Overhead you can hear the traffic at the junction of Chester Road and Edge Lane. These tunnels will be filled in soon when the junction is redesigned. The underpasses must date to the widening of Chester Road into a 3 lane highway and the building of Stretford Mall. Currently the underpasses are the only safe way across the road at this junction; after there will be a roadcrossing. They need a little love, some bulbs need replacing in the lights, murals made by local schools and Gorsehill Studios are not in bad shape, some of the paintwork elsewhere could be redone. When we first moved here I realised that the underpasses made me feel at home. This is to do with a specific memory of the underpass between Leicester train station and Granby Street. This is now filled in and replaced by a roadcrossing. This one was pure old school, stank of piss, often had buskers in it, always had a couple of homeless guys seeking shelter. It was the link between the city centre proper and the train station on London Road. As schoolboys we used to walk up from the clocktower where the 61a dropped us, down Gallowtree Gate, up Granby Street through this underpass, past the station then left down Conduit Street. There on the corner was Sheehan’s Music, a few doors down was Ultima Thule (a record shop specialising in prog and krautrock). Inbetween the two and about 5 floors up was our destination; Stayfree Music, where we would rent by the hour rehearsal rooms with huge crackling amps and flabby drums (we didn’t know you could tune drums til much later) to jam out the two chord structures and melodies we used as songs. At very quiet moments just before sleep and when I’m very tired I can hear a D in my left ear and one an octave lower in the other. In fact its quiet at home now in the daytime and as I’m thinking; writing about my tinnitus it comes into focus and I can hear the notes come into focus. Those jams at Stayfree were the beginning of about a decade of exposing myself to very loud music all the time. I’ve worn earplugs the last decade which has helped. I’m back at home now listening to the recording I made in the Stretford underpasses. What I thought I would hear which was the slight ebb and flow in volume of traffic on entering and exiting just isn’t there. What marks the tunnels is Alex doing baby shouts to hear the short reverb. He does it on entering each tunnel and then stops when we are in the brief bit of open air between.
Stretford February-April 2017
New release out today from myself along with Sam Andreae, Otto Willberg with art and design by Mio Ebisu. This was recorded last July with Shakeen Abu Hamdan at Ouse Studios in Leeds. It was a really nice session and we felt like we had began to crave out a very interesting space for improvising in a really wide range of modes while maintaining an overall coherence to the sound. We’re really pleased with the record and it proved to be a great jumping off point for the 2 weeks we just spent in Japan on our AIDF funded trip working with a wide range of really amazing artists.
Its a joint release through Vernacular and Heavy Petting in Manchester. You can also pick up copies at Ftarri in Tokyo.
Missed this at the time but I was interviewed by Robyn Williams for the science programme on Australian national radio when we did our residency at the National Media Museum in Bradford 2 years ago. Looking forward to working with the museum again over the next few months on a new project that opens in the summer.