Saturday, 27 April 2019


The Old Market, Hove, Sun 14th Apr

The man with a greater claim than any other to be called the Godfather of Minimalism now performs in a duo with his son, Gyan. While Gyan sticks to guitar, Terry shifts between different keyboards. The pieces are, I’d guess, semi-structured improvisations.

Though he’d often with instruments mid-piece, the best tracks for me were the one where Terry took to either the electric piano or melodica. Those seemed the moments where what you think of Riley came most to the fore, dervish chanting or some other form of eastern influence. At such moments Gyan’s regular usage of pedals and switches would become more abundant than the notes he was playing.

For the penultimate number, clearly unafraid of learning new tricks, he played some kind of iPad software. The results were quite different to everything else in the set - ambient, floating and free-form. And, to me, the highlight.

Unfortunately, at least for me, he mostly played the grand piano, And the traditional instruments seemed to rub off on the music. There was nothing wrong with it, it was just overly familiar. I found myself thinking more of Django Reinhardt than John Cale, Prandit Prau Nath or others from his actual list of collaborators. The result was a gig which, whenever it seemed to be taking off, would return to taxi-ing up and down the runway.

now seen Riley twice, and felt a little let down both times. I’d imagined part of the problem last time was the large ensemble, but was now little more impressed with a duo. Perhaps, after having transformed music at quite a fundamental level, we should leave him to doing whatever he wants in his later years. (He’s now eighty-three, let’s not forget.) But perhaps what he wants is not a thing for me.

From Paris, with melodica…

The Hope + Ruin, Brighton, Mon 22nd Apr

The name Rakta means passion or energy in Hindi. The group are a psyche band hailing from Sao Paolo in Brazil. Though a trio involving guitar and drums, it’s the keyboardist and singer who takes the lead. They can rely quite heavily on looping, but instead of layering sound they lay down a bass track to perform atop of. (I thought at the time the looping was effectively replacing the bass, though it seems they sometimes perform as a four-piece.) Vocals are distorted cries, chants and screams, past all intelligibility.

With the keyboards so dominant and the emphasis on full-on repetition there’s time where the sound borders on dance music. It takes the ceaseless insistency, but instead of evoking euphoria it instead goes for derangement. They seem ever-able to ramp tracks up midway, just when you though they’d reached peak psychosis they’ll surpass it. They run one track into the next, joining them together with more spacey interludes, which adds to the sense of urgency.

Perhaps the only drawback with them is, with everyone behind an instrument, there’s effectively no front-person. They smartly downplay any audience engagement, not speaking on stage and performing in semi-darkness. But it might gain an extra impact with an abstract filmshow, or similar.

Deaf Kids are also a trio from Sao Paolo, also run their set right through, also use distorted vocals and also marshall the power of repetition. Except where Rakta were spectral they got decidedly heavy,

They may have drawn the short straw going on second. When they couldn’t quite match Rakta it gave them a slight taint of ‘not as good as the support band’, though we should probably see this night as a double headliner. When, after a more archetypally average band, they’d have shone brighter.

They don’t just use riffs but the most pared down of riffs, as if broken fragments of longer musical pieces. The effect is similar to hearing just a few words from a sentence, you instinctively wait for the thing to be resolved, giving it a sense of anticipation.

And when not riffing, rather than retreat into something more conventionally ‘musical’, they’d assault their effects pedals directly - unleashing free noise. Like much modern music, the dispensing with conventional song structures is like getting to the birthday cake without having to chew your way through all the sandwiches. If Rakta were like some id-version of dance music, their clattering and echoey noise at times evoked industrial dub.

Both from Manchester, Rakta…

…and Deaf Kids…

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