Languor, absurdities…

Prolegomena to an autopsy.

with 3 comments

Predictably enough, I’ve struggled to write anything in the aftermath. Over 36 hours, quite a bit happened, and putting the thoughts into anything like an order is difficult. We did get it recorded, so it’ll be interesting going through that later (very slowly, obviously). For now, I’m still kind of at a loss what to say – my abiding memory is still how incredibly difficult it was to keep my eyes open when darkness hit and the rest of the festival was entirely silent. We didn’t have any stage lights after hours either, which kind of compounded sleep deprivation issues.

Firstly, I suppose the thing that a lot of people are interested in: we struggled to all stay awake for the 36 hours. Some slept a bit, one managed a collapsed 20 minutes face down on a drum, and no-one made it all the way through without at least an agitated collapsing kip. The six of us are hopefully going to write some ‘personal feedback’ on Bangthebore, so consider this post (as suggested) a prolegomena to an autopsy.

Talking to people after the fact, it was interesting the response to the idea: a lot of people seemed to take it as somewhat of a marathon-type affair. It surprised me a little bit, as I (and the other players) were more interested in the affects of sleep deprivation on the aesthetic. We’re all competent improvisers, and while we were awake it wasn’t that difficult to bounce ideas off each other and keep things moving. What was perhaps more interesting (and the recording may bear this out) were the times when there was no-one listening, when everyone just wanted to sleep, and all we could do was make a sound, any sound, just to keep ourselves awake. Music shorn of intention, ideas, motivation, cognitive control and just pure incidence to function.

I’ll go through how I felt about the other player’s bits now, just to give this a bit of a shape. In alphabetical order:

Barn – turned up late with A FUCKING PIANO. Which made me massively happy, because IT’S A FUCKING PIANO in a field. Gave out some great ideas, pulled off some nice trap drum duos with Huw and did a great job of giving tips to the kid who joined us for a lot of Saturday (see Kelly’s pics, below). Also instigated some cool chorus things later on on Sunday morning.

Clive – pretty much sat there and did the same thing throughout. Wonderful textural/ noisey lap-style guitar. Had the odd foray into melodies, but mostly seemed content to just provide backbone content around everyone else. Easily the coolest temperament of us all (and everyone was pretty peacable anyway). Was compared to a Zen master the other day and I think that’s about right.

Huw – Besides being a shit-hot drummer, he brought a lot of elements that weren’t represented anywhere else. He went through a spell of doing interpretive dance, and he wrote some graphic scores and hung text around the space. Was very good at shaking things up from time-to-time, without ever being ‘bandstandy’. Was also very good at pointing out when we’d descended into post-rock slurry (and wrote me a note saying ‘post-rock must die’. Which is the correct sentiment.)

Jamie – Harmonic wizard. For all the sections where our brains were fuzzy and we couldn’t really extemporise around a half-formed chordal structure, Jamie did incredibly to continue to plough his massive resource of harmonic and melodic ideas. Definitely added a jazz element, but never over-did the jazzy noodling that was inevitable over that sort of length.

Seth –  Managed to pull in a lot of variations with a very limited set-up. Brought about probably the most harrowing moment of the weekend with the recordings he was playing on Saturday morning. I don’t know the legal status of those recordings so I’ll have to leave that elliptical. Was as happy sitting back and listening carefully as he was providing rhythmic pulse.

The music – I suppose one of the weirdest things was how easily it could descend into the worst of improv – by-numbers post-rock. Has to be expected, I suppose, but the big reason I want to listen to the recordings is because my over-riding memories are of the moments where the band locked into some really very dull, easy and unexceptional post-rock ‘jams’. I’m sure there were other good bits – and the recording that Karl A Band made of a section suggest I’m being overly harsh – but it’s difficult to get rid of that memory at the moment.

Was definitely a great experience – and while there’s been a lot of ‘never again’ type sentiments, I’ll definitely keep the idea but probably not for as long. I think I’d like to have more prepared stuff – of the graphic score/ framed improv type – to stave off the lazy jammy shit.

Another thing that will be interesting to get from the recordings – there were definite sections where the left side of the stage couldn’t hear the right, and people inbetween were acting as improvisatory go-betweens. There were definite moments of cellular improv – people unconsciously pairing off to play off each other, seemingly not listening to what’s going on around them. So in that sense, there’ll (hopefully) be moments of indeterminacy, three bands playing at the same time, chance operations and so on.

Basically, I can’t really remember what happened except how massively tired I was and how laziness seemed to inspire slightly shoddy group playing – not the fault of anyone or anything except sleep-deprivation. Definitely an interesting experiment – but I’ve no idea how successful or otherwise it was.

Mmm, yeah – so this doesn’t really explain much. I’ll come back with more. Soon…


Written by Hákarl

August 26, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. i have some regrets; as to not doing what i had thought to do.

    for me the greatest interest of what you all did, was exactly this: how you would react to lack of sleep*. i was thinking since it started that i wish there was a hidden camera, that you would know about , but would be able to forget its existence, capturing your face expressions and body movements or no movements in several moments throught out the performance.
    i regret:
    a) not continuing the notes i had started taking. it would be at least funny to read those afterwards.
    b) not taking more pics (particulary of your faces).
    c) not drawing you all.

    b) and c) didnt happen, because i didnt want to make anyone feel uncomfortable.

    therefore, you have to do it again!

    *on the other hand, the recording, i think it will show many of that. and even if some filming existed, i would listen to the recording first without any images.


    August 29, 2011 at 10:09 am

  2. I must have watched 8-10 hours of your set over the weekend. I’m sure you’re destined to analyse the performance far more intensely than the audience ever would, but from where I was sitting I was constantly amazed by both the quality and variety of the output.

    If any of you still doubt the value in what you did, I can tell you that you made the festival for me and my friends at least… even if you hated every minute of it.

    Not sure if Bandcamp will let you release a 36hour album but if you can find a way then I’d gladly throw a few shekels your way for a download.


    November 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    • Rich – thanks for the above. I’m trying to find a way to get it released as a DVD. Which is proving difficult, but where there’s a will etc. I’m trying not to resort to bandcamp for now (for obscure reasons) but I’ll let you know if it goes that way.

      Kev/ Hákarl.


      November 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm

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