Shindig! at the Artful Lodge was one of the most enjoyable nights out I’ve had in years. The proceedings kicked off with Mr Jack(anory) “Landmass” Packer playing Krautrock twinged, breakbeat electronica and on the wall we had “Bill and Tony” and “Towers Open Fire” (Burroughs and Balch). There were moments of lurching breakbeat reminiscent of Haunted Dancehall (Sabres Of Paradise) crossed with a return to classic Tangerine Dream hypnotic syncopation.
After a short intermission we were treated to an improvised sound piece from Little Creature. “Le Tempestaire” (Epstein) showed on wall whilst Little Creature conjured waves of drone from an array of equipment that looked liked someone had steamrollered the contents of a tour bus and had left them scattered on the ground. We had actually run out of table space (fortunately Little Creature likes playing on the floor) The rewired and restrung remains of a smashed guitar were bowed and the output was turned into icicles of feedback. White noise washed back and forwards seemingly in time with the storm waves smashing on the cliffs in the film. As the young woman meets the meteorologists in the film the sound suddenly lurched into more obviously electronic sound perfectly suiting the artificial and wooden performances by the weathermen. And then a return to more magical drone and off kilter rhythms as the Storm Master is consulted and slowly as his and Little Creatures magic worked the storm abated and the sailor returns to his love. Video clips are here and here
After a short break and a visit to the smoky bonfire in the garden we returned to a room illuminated only by a large goose. Dogeeseseegod, and their goose, stood over the contents of a table which was covered with guitar pedals, candlesticks, cymbals, cassette players and homemade electronics. Dogeeseseegod wrenched howls and drones from their equipment, microphones and throat mics and at the mid-point the candlesticks were pushed roughly round the table punctuating the drone with odd arrhythmic patterns. Shortly after this a Pan Sonicesque pulsing of electronic noise took over bringing a more accessible form to the noise. Slowly the electronics were wound up to fever pitch and just as gently let go to the close of the set. There’s a short video clip online here.
Then we came to Mr. Heartfields set – played to his own film montage. As we have come to expect Si Heartfield’s is synchronised with machine-like precision to his images. The film and music for Shindig was culled from previous sets at the Lodge and A Thousand Plateaus. Si’s films are reminescent of Scanners reels and mix up woodland, urban, science and technical material providing the perfect background for the journey along which his audio mix travels. Starting off with soft pads and moving through ticking rhythms Si builds up an hypnotic, pulsing sound which morphs and twists. It’s often difficult , if not impossible , to actually tell when one track finishes and another starts – the same is true of the video.
Another swift smoky sub-zero break in the garden and we were into MC Grandmas set. Another modder and DIY noisemonger. MC Grandma (aka Rusty Sheriff) had decided that he wanted to inprovise a set to live visual and so, with yours truly at the controls, we embarked on a mish-mash disco set extracted from theremin, vocodor and modified record player. At such short notice, even though I’m normally play from an “unprepared” position I found there was a lag between ideas in both directions – either I was ahead of Rustys ideas or he was a head of mine. As we both agreed, the last time we were in this situation 3 years ago, that we really ought to make some time to , if not rehearse, then jam a set. Food for thought there.
…and onto Gasman who was set to play some new material. After an irksome and untraceable earth loop in the main room we moved Gasman to play in the shed outside. With his signature fractured breaks, jazz stabs and complex repetitive piano parts Gasman cooked the smoky garden into a frenzy. It was a pleasure to have the Gasman along and we both agreed that the Shindig was an ideal for him to play in Portsmouth , away from the posturing of the more typical club/pub environment.
the frenzy generated by Gasman hit a kind of plateau and at this point the baton was taken on by Mr. Foot and Basil at the decks. Playing their usual mix of jazzy detroit grooves the shindig carried us off into the early hours and for some, oblivion.
All in all , a splendid evening. Just as I like it, an unfussy informal arrangement amongst like-minded individuals and performers. No great egos , no posturing and a total absence of narrow-mindedness.
Ideas for the future include:
inclusion of local film and video artists, more live performance in the garden, more video in the garden, expanding the evening to a day, expansion into the park, invitations to higher profile artists.