Squarepusher and DJ Luke Vibert at Koko

Squarepusher (live set) and Luke Vibert (DJ set) at Koko last night. Meccano, Jazz, moshing in the setting of the glamour’s Koko theatre/club. It was a night of contradictions.

I last Thursday (17th Nov 2005) I went to see Squarepusher supported by a live DJ set from Luke Vibert at Koko. I was completely blown away by it all!

I went with Dean Chamberlain (thanks for all the pictures) who is a big Luke Vibert fan and manager to spot the man before things got started hanging around the sound mixing booth. We arrived lot long after doors opened. The que was picked at by the mixed carrion of touters looking to buy tickets and party promoters pushing the next gig. It was quite intense which set the mood for the intense evening to come.

meccano music

The first act up was meccano set. A table was set up with a meccano construction on it and a little Casio keyboard. Wheels and pulleys were set up to turn and hit little strips of plastic that were some sort of trigger for a drum sound. The keyboard was set up like a large wind-up music box which had a long black cylinder rotating over the keys. Little fingers stick out form this cylinder would press the keys down making the sequence of notes. There was also a busted up old toy record player that was playing making a recordy ambient sound continually. At first this set up was puzzling and it sat on the projection screen for the first couple of hours. Once its design was understood the novelty wore thin.

The ‘artist’, Pierre Bastien, made music with this sort of primitive, home made, sequencer drum machine set up which was at first curious and then amusing but wore thin after about 10 minutes. He also played a baby muffled trumpet over the top of this and did achieve a sort of blue melancholy sound for some of it. His sound reminded me of Nils Petter Molvaer but with less energy and sophistication.

Luke Vibert started his set completely unannounced. There was an obvious change in mood and track selection which ranged from some very nice down tempo drum and bass to funk, which was completely unexpected and yet another twist in the course of the nights musical meanderings. It was quite refreshing to hear rhythm and melody again after Mr Meccanos forays.

Squarepusher showed up quite late and the place was buzzing with anticipation by this stage. I was a bit annoyed at him showing up so late to his own gig. He finally appeared on stage at 12 and we’d been waiting since 8. None the less he pulled out yet another surprise: Jazz.

Tom Jenkinsonon bass

Tom Jenkinson (aka Squarepusher) started his set off with Paul Hession (drums) and Mick Beck (saxaphone). They did a half dozen psychedelic Jazz numbers mixed with some Squarepusher type bass playing. All the pieces were intense, full of energy and showed a completely unexpected dimension to this arts playing that had me completely impressed.

Paul Hession, drums

A sentiment not shared by all the audience who where expecting a more bangy start after a long wait and who probably weren’t into Jazz. This just helped to highlight the diversity in the crowd that ranged form nerdy weedy white guys to Camden style Goths to Punks to just average looking middle aged couples who were not used to staying up this late anymore.

Mick Beck on saxaphone

Once the Jazz men had taken a bow Squarepusher went solo and did a long hour and a half set with two laptops and switch between three electric bass guitars. He played along to drum sequencing form the laptops that was more the crazy distorted drums and bass you’d expect form Squarepusher.

bass cam

Up until this point I had never really understood where his bass playing was coming from but I realised as he held a fret down and beat out a sequence on the strings with his right hand that he was using the bass guitar as a percussion instrument! He has a background playing drums and Jazz (I assume) and so his music is not that far off modern Jazz percussion. He has changed to a more electronic instrumentation and is always chasing an intense vibe as found in modern dance music. The compositions are intricate and sophisticated. His bass playing technique is highly skilled and full if energy. An amazing performer and artist altogether.

Squarepusher

At this point the dance floor turned mosh-pit and I managed to get close to the front near Dean who as glued to the railing right in front of where Squarepusher was playing. Eventually I retreated to one of the upper tears of Koko.

Koko in Camden is a superb venue. Its huge to begin with and used to be an old theatre I’m assume as it still looks the part. The interior is all a deep red colour and is covered in intricate lace work. There is a 4 meter disco ball hanging from its high roof, the biggest I’ve ever seen, yet it is lost in the feeling of space. There are five or six balconies with two of them sporting small intimate bars (and DJ booths).

The visuals were very well thought out and the most impressive I’ve seen to date. Mostly for their simplicity and effectiveness. The composition during the Jazz set was brilliant. A combination of simple screen wipes and two angle switching of the same shot. There band was emersed in a red wash that didn’t change much and was perfect for the mood. After the Jazz was over they quickly tore down the projection screen which revealed a the second matching box that dominated the stage. Squarepusher was squeezed between these lager rectangles who’s purpose was mystery until he did his first sequenced number, then they lit up jumping with simple white LED lights making patters that rected to the music and wowed the audience.

Overall an fantastic night out. My ears are still rigging and I’m happy to be in London!

Scrawled

Scrawled – Scrawling my thesis across the world…

Helped out Jamie the other night with his thesis project by doing what I like to call ‘Gorilla Web Development’. In the space of 2 hours I whipped up a page that takes a string of words and allows you to upload images for each word. Two pages of PHP.

Nice and easy and has fun results. Reused my FileUploader and Image class to get the files and resize them with minimum pain.

via revolution my web comrades!

Bombs again

More bombing action in London. Even closer to home this time.

Rode home today to find that my street had been blockade by the cops and they weren’t letting any one in. The 26 bus that had an attempted bombing goes right past my place. So tonight I’m at Jon and Neridas who live in Camden.

Poor Nerida had a horrible trip home from the city. The bus driver lost it when some people jumped in the back door and he turned off the bus, and then when he turned it on the let the people off he started revving it till people got scared. I guess the bus drivers are a bit stressed at the moment.

Nerida said she’s scared by the bombings. Jon seems indifferent. I’m reminded of the struggle that the rest of the world is going though again. It was very evident in East Timor, with the BBC beamed in via satellite reminding me of the rest of the worlds decadence.

Seems the third world is now making the decadence aware of it via the BBC.

Amateur media

As the media becomes more restricted by the powers that be independent amateur media might be the way forward for democracy.

I remember I had a long and ugly debate with Bernard and Sara one night over a couple of bottles of wine. I proposed that with the advent of cheap media devices, and internet community sharing sites, we would not have to rely on the commercial main stream media completely anymore for information on current events. As the media becomes more restricted by the powers that be independent amateur media might be the way forward for democracy.

Examples from the recident London bombing:

  1. The London Bomb Blast Pool
  2. Wikipedias ‘7 July 2005 London bombings‘ entry was up to the minute
  3. London Explosions @ Londonist

Update: Seems I’m not the only one thinking this way.

Multiple blasts paralyse London

BBC NEWS | UK | Multiple blasts paralyses London


Bit scary here at the moment
. The facts seem to be:

  1. 08:49 police called to Liverpool Street tube station after reports of a bang
  2. Blasts also reported at Aldgate East, Edgware Rd, Kings Cross, Moorgate, Russell Square tube stations
  3. 10:14 Reports of blast on bus at Tavistock Square

London bus destroyed by bomb blast

I dropped a friend off at Aldgate East last night and walked passed Liverpool Street just before. The cops dropped by the office, which is near queens park) and said to keep away from the windows and not leave the building.

I ride to work every day now, even though its cold and wet today. I don’t think I will be catching the bus or tube for a long time if I can help it. Guess more people might start riding.

Very weird to be in a city targeted for terrorist attack. With the G8 meeting happening in Scotland at the same time and all the shit Bush is saying about ‘pre-Kyoto era’.

Yesterday the olympics, today fear and lothing.

A turbulent day, inside and out.

Ugly UK

There sure are some ugly people in England

There must have been some serious in breading going on in England. I have found some evidence in support of this:

Boy George (again)

Bitches on the mic and the George laying down the tracks.

Young Richy coaxed me to go out last night with a few of the lads and one of Erika’s flat mates Kat. We went just around the corner from where Eir/Richy is staying, The Hoxton Bar. Richy used to work behind the bar and thus half price drinks all night. It happened to be Gay Night at the Hoxron Bar and the next thing I know I’m standing 2 feet from Boy George (who was fat, dressed in Black and had a black top hat. With sequins). He was going to DJ, but not before ’10 minutes with my dad’ did a short number.
'Ten minutes with my dad' flyer

‘10 minutes with my dad’ are a pair of young skimpy chicks with massive blond wigs on, teased to the point that they defy gravity and wearing bikinis and leather jackets and Zoro type eye band masks. The ‘act’ consists of them tearing/wrestling with each other while screaming lyrics, in early Beasty Boys style, about their apparent nymphomania and sexual preference for there fathers. They ended up on the ground in the middle of the crowd with most of the little they had on hanging from them. But I’ve seen them before. YAWN.

Boy George on the other hand was a freak. I saw him when he came out to Australia in the 80’s and I was dumb struck to be close to fame like that. OK he’s looking sad and pathetic but I was fascinated by the spectacle of fame, the idea of it, as I’ve never had much occasion to ogle at it. His DJing wasn’t too bad (I wouldn’t travel for it but it grindy house seem to fit the mood, which was some male stripper flashing it Jon Doe around a bit on the podium) but no he didn’t play any of the old classics so if I was till a fan I’d be disappointed.

Just an average Sunday in Hoxton