Boat-Ting – Zolan Quobble/Sylvia Hallett + Key Grant + Caroline Kraabel/Alison Blunt + Gianni Mimmo/Steve Noble + Alex Ward + Shabaka Hutchings – Bar & Co, Temple, 18th November

Shabaka Hutchings
Opening this Boat-Ting was the poet Zolan Quobble and his verse featuring angels on pins and dancing photons.  This was musical poetry set to an internal beat, rhythmic and absorbing, a perfect opener.  Performing next was a trio of Kay Grant (vocals + electronics), Sylvia Hallett (violin + electronics) and Caroline Kraabel (saxophone).  They played a set full of buzz  and shivering multiphonics; a group unity of Ligeti-like glassy spikes.  Kay’s vocals snarled and growled; Sylvia dunked her violin in drone, which was stabbed by short parps from Caroline.  There was a near-silence in places, modulated by  hiss, breath and humming electronics.  Kay distorted her voice through an effects box.  The calm was broken by the chaotic interplay of violin and saxophone.  The looped sawing violin coiled around the snapping density of the vocals.  A diffuse scatter of sound was difficultly marshalled, under seemingly the loosest of control, but hanging together reluctantly, like snakes of water leaking from cupped palms.

Sylvia Hallett, Kay Grant, Caroline Kraabel

Alison Blunt (violin) and Gianni Mimmo (saxophone) were a great pairing, meshed like watch cogs, a face with 17 hours working to forgotten moons.  They progressed through their sound like a machine computing something.  Less like an improv set, it resembled more a complex device moving towards some kind of resolution.  A beautiful folky passage by Alison was underscored by sharp whispers of sax.  The music became more violent as it progressed, the polite boundaries between them were stressed and tested.  Lushly lyrical, a rich contradiction of melody and chaos, a lesson in the creation of spontaneous sound; all you could ask for from an improvised performance.
Alex Ward, Shabaka Hutchings, Steve Noble
A trio of Steve Noble (drums), Alex Ward (guitar), and Shabaka Hutchings (saxophone) was an entirely different proposition.  It began with a thunderous opening, a salvo of furious intent, announcing the arrival of a fire trio fierce and biting in intensity.  A great rolling skull-cracking cloud of lightning with hailstorms as large as your head, rolling through deep broken grooves.  Raging torrents of blaring noise, each player a blur of pure signal.  An ecstatic fury.  Alex at one point bit the strings of his guitar Hendrix-style.  Shabaka was a piercing white-hot glow throughout.  The drums floating on endless rapids.  At the set’s mid-point was a lull as tense as can be imagined, before a rhythm was rebuilt in increments.  An amazing high-wire act then ensued, a section of exploded shrapnel noise-fragments was frozen, examined and rotated, beats, gongs, and tight guitar clusters were explored and incinerated.  This was music of sheer joyful abandon, an inferno of tempered molten soul eruptions and impassioned sonics, astonishingly beautiful.  An incredible performance, certainly one of the best I’ve seen at Boat-Ting.
Alex Ward

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