Tuesday 29th May
@ Peerhat, Manchester
you can buy advanced tickets for this one here:
Tuesday 5th June
@ St. Margaret’s Church, Manchester £5-£7 on the door
Tuesday 26th June
@ Peerhat, Manchester £5 on the door
Tuesday 29th May
@ Peerhat, Manchester
you can buy advanced tickets for this one here:
Tuesday 5th June
@ St. Margaret’s Church, Manchester £5-£7 on the door
Tuesday 26th June
@ Peerhat, Manchester £5 on the door
“Young, rebellious improvised music from the very center of the United Kingdom, continued! Manchester in attack, not only in the football dimension!
A brave rule of DIY (do it yourself), gray cartons, compacts, cd-ry, vinyl single, freedom, freedom, anarchy, improvisation – how beautiful!
The tiny label run by guitarist David Birchall – Vernacular Recordings *) – was just sixth catalog item. We will look at it in detail, and then also on the previous items, and one will only recall, because it has already been reviewed in these pages.
Sam Andreae / David Birchall / Otto Willberg Live in Beppu (VR 006, 2018)
Beppu, Japan, April 2017; Andreae himself – alto saxophone, Otto Willberg – double bass, David Birchall – electric guitar; 1 fragment, nearly 62 minutes.
An improvised environment, three musicians, a bar, a yard next to it, children, adult voices. City sounds, trains, planes, instruments and everything that musicians have at hand. Microbiology of sound, the immensity of specific field recordings. In the purely musical aspect, a lot of individual, broken phrases, unfinished narrations, sentences finished in half a word. Improvisation of abandonment, punk dirt, anarchy of phonic decomposition, software nonchalance, the ethos of the contestant. 6 minutes, the first passing train, like a counterpoint to the rebellious story. A lot of humor, artistic banter. Equality of all sounds, each stage behavior. 9-10 minutes, a bit of psychedelia straight from the guitar’s neck, supported by a windmill imitating non-existent air conditioning, it does well to this collective play in unobvious phonics solutions. A narrative in which dissonance and the insistence of deconstruction are more important than making a coherent story (15 minutes, another train). 18-20 minutes, a bit more music straight from typical instruments, guitar, saxophone and double bass. When improvisation goes to play, what happens around within the sounds of the outside world seems to be even more interesting. 28 minutes, the musicians descend to the level of silence and everyone listens to the sounds that are created outside the stage. Waiting for what will happen there … Sounds of silence, children, voices, the roar of air (smog?). Music that is really concrete – crackles, abrasions, buzzing. 32 minutes – we regulate the watches, because another train passes by. A mysterious background is probably the intended effect. Dog toys to use! We love anarchy! Objects tremble, groan and whine. A real surf in the saxophone tube (35 minutes). After 40 minutes, there would be more music in our ears again, even a bit of noise. Andreae in spite of all conventions of saxophonists, Willberg, who likes to hang on a double bass, a Birchall seeking, tireless, it is from his side that the most interesting things come to us. 46 minutes, the narrative almost stops again. We listen to children. Noise and minor feedback. Waiting, lazy tension. Sonorism not connected to the power side. Fussy sounds. Forgotten love stories, onomatopoeia. Anarchy seems to dominate over improvisation. 57 minutes, microbiology returns, water drips from the ceiling of the sky, it’s probably an attempt to quell the ambivalence of the reviewer. Punk’s Not Dead? Indeed! We are looking for a punch, and life goes on. Another train, already on the last straight of this performance. We are left alone with the sound of the world around us. It’s probably not a concert, rather street street improvisation. Live in Beppu!
The previous album of this trio, studio A Hair In The Chimney (VR 004, 2017), was reviewed here.
David Birchall / Colin Webster Gravity Lacks (VR 002, 2016)
London, May 2015; David Birchall – electric guitar, Colin Webster – tenor saxophone; 4 fragments (two solo, two duet), 57 minutes.
Colin solo! Deeply immersed in the tube, dancing on its edge, jumping between the jets, screaming in the middle of the mouthpiece. Sonorism at the peak of development. A slim, inquisitive narrative, care for the quality of each embouchure. Tenor saxophone in a compulsive march after yours. Precision, technique, control over emotions – as usual with this music model. And these inborn tendencies to punk dirt in sound! Applause!
David solo! The strings and amplifiers draw a consistent, slow, delicate story. A pinch of onrism between the strings, the metallic charm of each … sound. Step by step, a touch behind the note. The narrative loops up and grows, brilliantly engages and grimaces. 5 minutes, a type of rock, somewhat noisy incidents. Shortly thereafter, a quick return to the original state. Much foni in a unit of time, as if we were listening to a duet or even a guitar trio. The real ferria of electric guitar colors in the arduous process of improvisation. David perfectly controls the instrument, including the emotions of the reviewer. Precise volt with a hint of Hindu ragi somewhere in the middle of the sound box, on the last strings of the strings. Filings of genius on the fingerboard! Perfectly! 12 minutes brings further scraps of noise, as well as particles of silence suspended between them. A real poem of improvisation for solo guitar! For the finale, the molecular display of the grille sliding on the grille that puts the strings in micro resonance. It’s like a guitar whistling! On the last straight dance dipped into the ears in the nanobiology of psychedelia. Strictly Wonderful!
Duo 1! Masqued, though slightly fuzzy sonoratics of the tube and strings. Shorts, kisses, guitar loops. Fast turn to noise incidents. Colin hangs on the nozzles, David as if he was continuing the excellent exhibitions from the previous solo part. The Siamese brothers fall into each other like butter. Routes of both musicians compatible with pain. Improve crazy noise, improve slow motion! What ever you want! Descent into silence is lost in lazy psychedelia, which catches noise like a flypaper. 8-9 minutes, a parade of somewhat inconsistent drones, but perfectly effective. Sonority of silence has similar parameters, and it rushes us around 13 minutes. Kisses from the nozzle straight into the face of the neck, almost from mouth to mouth. Body into body, breath after breath. Perfect identity!
Duo 2! A molecular game without grammar of the structure and principles of grammar. It is difficult to indicate the level of intenseness at which this duo merges into one body more effectively. With everyone! Here, another dense short circuit, kisses and bubbles. In this group, everything can happen! There is no shortage of imitation at a high level – the guitar sounds like a saxophone, and the saxophone gets a new strings. Sonic magicians! A show of tricks and fireworks! All this second duet episode spins like an idle snake. It is only at the finale that he wags his tail, which he does not have. A perfect, small escalation. Bravo!
Richard Scott’s Lightning Ensemble & Jon Rose Auslanders: Live in Berlin (VR 001, 2016)
Berlin, June 2015; Richard Scott – synthesizer, David Birchall – acoustic guitar, Phillip Marks – drums, Jon Rose – violin (only in the second part); 2 fragments, 40 and a half minutes.
Trio! Quite acoustic exposure despite the presence of a synthesizer. It turns out that a talented musician with such a tool can also run on truly acoustic expeditions. Rws the recording space incidents are definitely non sustained. An example of sophisticated electro-acoustics with a large portion of the imagination (Birchall on the guitar without electricity!). Watchful drummer – plates, percussion in more frequent use than snares and toms. Thick, extremely sensual, carnal improvisation. Narrow band, but good acoustics of the concert. Synthesizer hidden, non-invasive, dramatically intriguing. During the escalation, musicians with feline agility enter noise attributes, also in high registers. A lot of sounds per minute, at times you can get lost in the places where they appear. After all, the synthesizer itself has so many electroacoustic possibilities. It is worth underlining the drummer’s great job at every step. At the same time, Birchalla guitar drowns in the stream of innovations that its partners bring to the stage. Dramaturgically, however, we can not be sure of anything at this concert! Audio phonics are hidden in every alley. 16-17 minutes, a bit of long-lasting sounds. From the synthesizer, maybe also from the guitar, which somewhere caught a bit of amplification. A more peaceful fragment, which is, however, effectively devastated by the drummer’s activities! What a fire! The guitar boils acoustically, the synth sizzles and the plum, but the third instrument remains in the foreground! The rest seemed to levitate.
Quartet! The violin throws a pinch of constructive dissonance into the crucible of the narrative. More space, blows from the ocean. The guitar sounds like it has no strings. The synthesizer begins to care more about low frequencies, while the rest makes metaphysical allusions. A bit of a billiard display. The violins burning in the welcome song are flowing violently and explosively. Wartka, multidimensional improvisation. If we liked the version in the trio, what can we say about the quartet ?! Birchall in this part is definitely more prominent. It seems that everything can be played here! Now it sounds like a Russian balalaika! Again, the step towards the narrative sounding of the narrative dulls the instrumental perception of the reviewer. But this one has no shadow of a doubt! It’s a great concert! In the 13th minute, a kind of compulsive industrial! The acoustics of the concert at 4+, it is a pity that not 5+, perhaps even more narrative nuances could be found. However – electroacoustic bauble!
Dave Jackson / T.H.F. Drenching / Kate Armitage Shiny Windmill Bugs (VR 003, 2016)
Manchester, April 2016; Kate Armitage – vocals and various objects, THF Drenching – voice recorder, dog toys, voice, pipes, Dave Jackson: woodwind instrument, cracklebox, percussion; 1 fragment, 23 minutes.
Botanic garden in the summer heat. Toys in the service of improvisation. A multitude of micro sounds, cat heads, rich and multi-species sound. Wood ornaments. A lot of good interactions, lots of freedom, but also a specific self-discipline of all three musicians. A fluid, compact narrative, despite the use of many atypical items, not entirely familiar with instruments. After all, they do not have the slightest problems with intriguing the reviewer’s ear. The woman’s voice gives the play the taste of the onrism, a pinch of transcendence. After 10 minutes, the narration slightly calms down, we get more vocals and flute, as well as other, higher frequencies. Music tastes like Spontaneous Music Ensemble with Julie Tippets and Trevor Watts – but on light drugs. For the finale of this unusually short story, a bit more percussion displays. Filigree performance, yes improvisation, after all very successful.
David Birchall Light Rail Recordings: Manchester // Moscow // Tokyo 2015-2017 (VR 005, 2017)
Field recordings from various places and dates (see: title); David Birchall – electric guitar, composition, post-production. 2 fragments, 8 minutes.
Electric drone, post-guitar rhetoric, more than sustained with no doubt. A lot of electroacoustic dirt and fear. The title of this modest single suggests a field recording, certainly subjected to the post-production process. The other side is the continuation of the exposure. It seems that the most interesting happens around a lazy pulsing guitar drone. The power of post-electronic fireworks. The recording is quite unusual for Birchall, but it perfectly complements his previous artistic achievements. The reviewer would like to get to know the continuation of this style in the performance of the guitarist.”
You can read the original in Polish here http://spontaneousmusictribune.blogspot.co.uk/
All the releases that are still in print you can buy here https://davidbirchall.bandcamp.com/
So this is an LP made up of the remaining two cuts that were recorded with the quartet made up of myself, Otto Willberg, Colin Webster and Andrew Cheetham in December of 2015 at what was a mega session in 4A Studio, Stockport with Sam Weaver at the helm. The CD that also came out on Raw Tonk Plastic Knuckle also came out these sessions as well as some huge group stuff of Sam’s some duo recordings with Andrew that are also in the archive somewhere.
I’m going to have copies of it with me at gigs in March so:
4th March duo with Nina Whiteman @ Peerhat, Manchester
14th March MCR NYC improv Congress featuring (Kate Armitage: voice/guitar, David Birchall: guitar, Jason Blackkat: bass, Craig Flanagin: guitar, Fredrik Haake: drums, Richard Harrison: drums, Kelly Jayne Jones: flute, Ecka Mordecai: cello, Jer Reid: guitar,
Alexa Kruger: bass clarinet, Normandy Sherwood: vox & electronix & Matt Wand: electronics Manchester) @ Klondyke Club, Levenshulme, Manchester
17th March w/ Colin Webster @ Bråk, London
29th March w/ Andrew Cheetham & Alan Wilkinson @ Cafe Oto Project, London
You can also get it direct from Colin::
There has been some interest in reviews already which is always really nice. The first from Stewart Smith in his column in The Quietus I want to quote the overall intro at length as I enjoyed it so much!
“The music’s liberatory potential points to a better, more radical Britain, distinct from the rainy fascist hellscape of the Daily Mail and the 1997-forever banality of the centrist dads. From Stormzy’s Brit Awards excoriation of Theresa May to the widespread solidarity shown towards the university pensions strike, there’s a genuine sense that the old order is falling. In culture, grime is leading the charge, but jazz and improv are right in there too, suggesting new ways of engaging with art and life.”
:::and the review itself:::
“Raw Tonk, the label run by London saxophone wrangler Colin Webster, is a key node in the UK-Lowlands underground improv axis. Its latest release – their first on vinyl – documents a December 2015 studio session from Webster and his Manchester comrades David Birchall (guitar), Andrew Cheetham (drums), and Otto Willberg (double bass). As with much of Raw Tonk’s output, there’s a punky energy to Plastic Kneecap, but it’s much too weird and agitated to be a blunt exercise in macho blurt.
There’s plenty of rasp, fidget and clatter, but it’s brought together with a keen sense of form.
Early on, Webster brings the set into focus with sing-song alto phrases in the key of Ornette, encouraging his bandmates to mould their abstract scrabble into some kind of wonky, fragmented groove, as if Prime Time had come up through the post-punk DIY scene. From there, it gradually breaks down into a quieter, more atmospheric section, with tremolo sax tones and growling bass drones slowly surveying a landscape of pattering toms and spiky, creaking guitar. It all builds up to a ragged climax, with Webster’s alto reinforcing this music’s odd relationship with free jazz.
‘Split Halfway’ opens with plenty of squawk and squibble. In contrast to the fuller low-end tones of the previous track, Cheetham goes for higher, less resonant drum timbres, rapping his sticks against the frame and hitting the snare at its tightest spot. Webster comes in with some relatively tuneful alto licks, upping the energy until the group achieve a kinetic intensity that’s almost free jazz, but for Birchall’s glue-huffing biker fuzz riffage. It all breaks down into wonky guitar chimes and buzzing baritone sax, becoming increasingly agitated as they canter towards the finishing line.”
“Plastic Kneecap is the thirty-first edition of the British Raw Tonk label, specialized in free improvisation, free jazz and noise, but it is only the first on vinyl. The previous thirty releases were CDs, CDs and a single cassette. Label boss Colin Webster has chosen for this first album a studio recording of the quartet that consists of David Birchall (guitar), Andrew Cheetham (drums) and Otto Willberg (bass).
At the end of 2016 the CD of Plastic Knuckle was released from the same foursome on the same label and a year earlier a cassette was released from the quartet on Tombed Visions, entitled Night Streets Of Madness. The new album consists of two pieces that were recorded on December 13, 2015 in The Room at the 4A Studio in Stockport in the English county of Greater Manchester.
Anyone familiar with the Raw Tonk label knows that the label stands for raw improvisations. Polishing is not done; it is about the pure reproduction of the moment, of the unadorned version of the music as it sounded on the spot. Of course there is mixed and mastered, but not to smooth things, but to achieve the most honest possible reproduction. The vinyl edition sounds great, almost as if you are in the studio as a listener.
The English foursome does not do the introduction or a careful start. All four musicians apply directly at the start of ‘Plastic Kneecap’. Webster plays alto sax and his tone is light. Birchall is the most crude of the musicians here, not playing clean notes, but playing raw and contrarian. The rhythm section is not a rhythm section in the traditional sense of the word, but consists of two free spirits with a sense of musical color shades. Cheetham is often continually busy with rhythmic and a-rhythmic patterns, loose strokes and exciting work on the cymbals. Willberg shows his skills in a short plucked solo, accompanied by Cheetham. The quartet feels each other perfectly. Robust play is replaced in an instant by more subdued sounds and the players also know when to stop for a moment to give room to one or more other musicians. Webster’s sax and Birchall’s guitar are tuned equally hard, which makes the musicians that sing through each other very well. In any case, it is a quartet that has played through each other to a true art.
Very nice is the part in which Cheetham uses his mallets and puts a clear rhythm. Webster initially plays long notes over that, but gradually becomes more active. Birchall’s game is very experimental and Willberg plays a few ironed notes. The part turns into a subdued piece that sings from (restrained) tension. With vibrating long sounds of the saxophone, a new part is slowly being worked on. Birchall produces high tones and a drone further on. The drummer uses low toms and the bass sings over it. The intensity increases, until suddenly gas is taken back and side A is quietly and briefly sounded.
Willberg opens side B (‘Split Halfway’) with an abrasive bass solo and he is joined by the shivering alto sax of Webster and the Cheetham on small cymbals and snare drums. Birchall plays his inimitable free game and gets plenty of opportunity to display that game because Webster keeps quiet. Style characteristics can not be relinquished on the guitarist, who quickly follows his ideas. Webster chants later with his coarse-grained style, while Willberg plays bass lines. The four musicians find each other again in a wonderfully chaotic part. Because that is where the greatest power of the English lies: the interplay. Every musician seems to be exploring his own possibilities for expression, but in the meantime the gentlemen feel each other perfectly.
A duet by Birchall and Willberg follows, in which the high notes of the bassist parry the transverse guitar playing perfectly. Webster is now switched to baritone sax, with which he brings his typical sputtering notes. Cheetham uses his hi-hat and taps on the edges of drums. Webster’s game remains reasonably constant, but gradually he lets his sax vult more. The other three musicians circle around it with their free play. The volume and the activity of all four musicians increase towards the end of the piece, not because consciously a climax is worked on, but simply because the ensemble determines that the music goes in that direction.
Over Plastic Knuckle wrote Opufvel at the time that the music of Birchall, Cheetham, Webster and Willberg is full of musical inventiveness, intensity and fun. Exactly the same can be said about Plastic Kneecap. The previous paragraphs concern an inadequate description of what the album has to offer, because there is simply too much at the same time to be able to describe it properly. That also means that the music guarantees many spins of listening pleasure. This is a fantastic LP for those who love unpolished free improvisation.”
“Birchall! Cheetham! Webster! Willberg! Plastic Kneecap! Young Empire Strikes Again!
If you’ve read a fairly large, long Tonk on Tribune! Mission Possible! with understanding and due diligence, if the saxophonist Colin Webster is already a recognizable musician for you, it is a sign that the following review does not require any introduction.
If during the reading of the text referred to in the first sentence, you’ve come across the Plastic Knuckle album, realized by a quartet of young wolves British improvisation, then you are definitely already at home.
The same session – committed on December 13, 2015, in a place called The Room at 4A Studio, in Stockport – which gave three improvisations included on the above disk, today brings another two, this time provided by Raw Tonk Records in the form of black vinyl, under the twin, but not identical title of Plastic Kneecap.
The payroll is as follows: David Birchall – guitar, Andrew Cheetham – drums, Colin Webster – alto and baritone saxophone, and Otto Willberg – double bass. Two sides of the disc bring us less than 36 minutes of music. We’re looking inside!
Side 1. From the first moment, the narration is sewn with a dense stitch, with dynamic double bass walking, agile percussion, guitar and saxophone flowing in a very free, fast stream. Birchall and his plugged-in chord, which tastes good noise rock, it seems that they make the most of the wind here. Anyway, the whole story is soaked in the old, lover-loving post punk! In the quartet, we note very good communication, because the musicians are perfectly familiar with many improvisations and nothing is a surprise for them in such dramatic circumstances. 5 minutes brings a very jazz exhibition of Willberg, which is supported by Cheetham’s competent drumming. At the same time, the guitar sculpts, while the saxophone is remarkably … silent. The sound of the quartet is dirty, without acoustic fireworks (punk’s not dead!). The musicians play close to each other and rub their elbows against each other. In the 8th minute they give us a bloody, collective escalation. Bravo! Right after it, they are perfectly fast at a slower pace and are stalking autodhorpressive stories. A bit of oneiric guitar chants the meta ballad for bad children. The mantra percussion refers to the narrative path, and the rest of the instruments flows where their imagination will be. In the 13th minute the musicians decided to go down to the level of silence. Kings of slow sonore! The saxophone sends drones, the guitar is a deep ambient, like the fuzzy instrument of Dirk Serries, he also does not avoid flashes. A simply charming improvisation with a hint of remarkable psychedelia, a truly liberated trance!
Side 2. Double bass with a stuck, stuck between the strings, burrows the burrow in the ground. The saxophone snorts, the guitar polishes the strings, the plates resonate from wall to wall. Warm up on high C! Agile interactions – today’s question, today’s answer! Musicians catch a dynamic dribble without unnecessary delay. Maybe only a drummer does it with a slight delay. 5 minutes – Birchalla’s exposure to a rock note, and Webster’s viola, vigorous, with a brilliantly dirty sound, in an explicit commentary. Like a punk narrative, with a synoptic sewn into the spinal cord! Intriguing! The immediately escalated escalation that followed has, in terms of genre, completely eradicated formula. It is dynamic, ragged and indeed noisy. Bravo! The stop, after a short time, is attached to the guitar loop and double bass in the stage of trembling walk. The saxophone comes in as a counterpoint! There must be bread from this flour! As if David and Colin mutated the sound of their instruments at the same time. This story has a few threads, instrumentally smells of noise. A section of a delicate acoustic game. What a fantastic dissonance! The saxophone loop puts a stamp of excellence on this recording! Technical glitter on the final straight is also a guitarist’s part!
Tomorrow the premiere of this CD! We are on time!”
Nice capture of our Sheffield set from March at Bank Street Arts. Each of us labouring under our preferred descriptions. Thanks to Richard Moran for filming.
Nice recording from the Cafe Oto gig with Andrew, Otto and Colin from back end of last year. There’s a couple of recordings in the works too from the session we did with Sam Weaver during the same week as this tour.
Really excited about a couple of plays on the Sunday of this great looking festival. I’ll be jamming for an hour form 8pm with others as part of the Gizeh Records epic continuous 50 human 5 hour session on the floor and then at 11pm I’ll be performing on the Tombed Visions stage in trio with Andrew Cheetham and Colin Webster in a new combination we are really excited about.