Those crazy Safehouse cosmonauts have done it again: a new collection of trios – including me, on three tracks – working long-distance on some free improv musical collaborations. (This is the third so far… I’m also on the previous album, D.E.F.*)
Hadn’t expected to update again so soon, with no gigs or anything like that on the horizon – of course – but hopefully this is a sign of life resuming… We’ll find out.
*It makes sense (read the blurb on Bandcamp)…
So what’s it like, doing live tracking in the age of Covid? Here’s some footage from Church Road Studios a couple of days ago…
Masks, hand sanitizer and tape on the floor – also, I’m not allowed to touch an amp or mic stand myself, which makes it feel like we’re filming at the BBC in about 1970 (quite fun, actually).
These are preliminary recordings for an album due out sometime next year… not yet clear exactly when… The first track featured is called Schooling, the second’s Derision (which is meant to be about 4min of freeform… we got nearly half an hour, so I look forward to the edit).
It’s a strange new situation all right – but not impossible, thankfully.
A surprise lockdown bonus, courtesy Safehouse… I’m on 3 tracks (10, 12 & 13 – guitar, synth and effects, respectively), but I’d recommend the full immersion. Here’s the blurb:
A system of 23 trios were created, whereby no one player could play with the same person more than once. Cards with the 23 players names on were shuffled and depending on the order they were drawn, each player was given a number. These 23 musicians sent in a recording of themselves playing, between 4 and 6 minutes long. This solo performance/recording was sent to the player “below” them to play along with. This recorded duet was then sent to the player “below” them to play along with.
Players were invited to record whatever they wanted, whilst listening to and accompanying the track “above”
The final trio of each unique group is what you are listening to here!
(Full list of personnel on Bandcamp… Thanks to Iain Paxon for dreaming it up/organising.)
This was lots of fun to be involved with – which, at the moment, is the most important thing: something worthwhile to focus on, and some form of connection, however remote. And it sounds marvellous, possibly.
As part of my musical sideline as a (novice) member of the Safehouse collective, here’s some video footage – and photos – from the 25th April gig supporting Shatner’s Bassoon & Bolide, once again courtesy Agata Urbaniak:
…photos on Flickr here
It’s good to branch out…
the venue (Verdict Jazz Club) in a quiet moment
So I’ve been going to Safe House here in Brighton for a while, and it’s helped keep me honest and open-minded musically (flexible, too). It’s a, well, it’s… right, this is off their site:
…collective that hosts two separate nights that focus on improvised and experimental music: Safehouse, on the first Wednesday of every month, and On The Edge, on the last.
[…] There may or may not be any rhythm, tonal centre or structure to the pieces played. The music is free in that sense. No premeditated ideas or constrictions. Any sound is valid. It is a sonic conversation, in which players respond to each other as spontaneously as possible.
It can be brilliant, terrifying and beautiful or absolute shit, depending on the quiddities of the moment. Some of the players are very advanced indeed, but I’ve managed to reach a point where I can hold my own onstage well enough as part of a free improv scratch ensemble – or at least not embarrass myself too often. One aspect of the gig nights is the Wildcard Quartet: four names are selected at random to go on as first support and improvise for about twenty minutes, no quarter asked or given. (They’re very clear about this… it’s not “jamming”, it’s improvisation. Start spamming out riffs by rote and they take you out back and shoot you. Horribly distorted electric guitars are permitted, however.)
Anyway, my name came up for the gig on 31 Jan. It’s exciting stuff, and will be entirely unique, which is kind of the point.
Graham Dunning, Colin Webster, Sam Underwood
In this trio Graham Dunning plays turntable, dubplates and dentristry tools, walkmans and amplified objects. Colin Webster plays saxophone and Sam Underwood the tuba.
In 2014 Graham and Colin released two albums of recordings on the Linear Obsessional and Raw Tonk labels. They also toured the UK and Switzerland – the video below is from their set in Zurich.
The trio performed a memorable set at Supernormal festival in 2015 and released a CD called Bleed on ADAADAT label – a track from which is below.
Fettucini Spicer attempt to provoke/shock each other into action by the application of a multitude of instruments and objects too numerous to mention!
…I have no idea what to expect, and trust me – neither do you.