Mr Clark’s fine tunes
/ Despite appearing on the ‘Ambient Auras’ album last month, alongside Aphex Twin, Bandqu and The Dust Brothers, Dave Clark, the sole member of Glasgow-based band State of Flux disclaims the ambient tag. Nor does he like being described as techno, as
he feels the music he creates has a bit ;
more melody in it than the usual hard- bashing techno.
‘Melodies tap emotions that you can’t even explain,’ he says. ‘Rhythm, on the other hand, can be explained quite easily: it makes you dance. But music is different. Three or four different notes can express so many
; different types of emotion.’
Although he’s played each and every techno club in Scotland, as well as
i London clubs Quirky and Club Dog,
he’s not entirely at ease with the forum in which his music is aired. ‘I don’t play the typical hard trance songs, so sometimes on stage one of my more melodic songs will come on and I’ll go, “Christ, this isn’t really going to work, is it?”, because it’s tunes rather than beats.’
in the past, he and former partner, Roger Elliott, would write songs specifically for gigs and these would inevitably be orientated towards the dancefloor. The music that Clark produces now, and the direction he wants to pursue in future, centres on the environmental universality of his music. ‘What I’m trying to do is
produce music that works all night on
the dance floor and then works at home too.’
What he aspires to, though, is not so much to educate the denizens of the dance floor, but to get his music into a sober setting too. ‘My ambition is to play the Royal Concert llall, to a seated crowd with a good light show, a bass guitar and a drum kit but still have that modern sound.’
Even if he does feel out of place on the dance floor, this may be precisely why he does so well. (Rory Weller) State Of Flux play Megadog at Queen Margaret Union on Fri 4. The new
3 single, ‘The Great Balancing Act’, is
released on Mon 7.
smu- Festival folk
Many current festivals prefixed by the word ‘folk’ have little to do with traditional song, but everything to do with having a good time and enjoying music that stands away from the pop mainstream. Intelligent, acoustic- orientated but no way divorced from electric or electronic, the programme will accommodate every taste from blues to bluegrass, soul singers, singer/songwriters, Latin bands and the odd crusty with bodhran and didgeridoo. Glasgow’s annual Castlemilk Folk Festival has just such a mixed bag over its three evening concerts.
Playing second fiddle, so to speak, to Steve Harley’s drumless three-piece, English acoustic diva June Tabor brings her regular musicians liuw Warren and Mark Emerson. Their packed concert was one of the highlights of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Tabor singing much of their recent ‘Against The Streams’ album with powerful, spare, imaginative and sensitive accompaniment on piano, violin, viola, cello and accordion. A humanised rather than political passion, an arresting, beautifully shaded voice and an ear for the marriage of lyric and melody make her concerts meaningful and memorable.
Also in a secondary'role, supporting llue & Cry on the Saturday night, Isaac
June Tabor Guillory is a world-class guitarist. The Cuban-born American has played with the top names in the rock world from Jagger down and teaches music occasionally at London’s prestigious Guild Hall. I wonder if he might give the Kane brothers some lessons? Glasgow’s own John Martyn has come a long way from 60s Gibson Street, and a simple fingerplcked ‘Cocaine Blues’. Love or hate his drawled delivery, he is a unique vocal and guitar stylist, a consistent creative energy, and the originator of some beautiful, and endlessly requested, songs. One of Scotland’s great musical talents on a rare solo tour, he is supported by young English songwriter Jay Fisher. (llorman Chalmers) John Martyn and Jay Fisher play on Thurs 10; Steve llarley and June Tabor on Fri 11; and Hue & Cry and Isaac Guillory on Sat 12; all at Castlemilk Community Centre, Glasgow.
As John Martyn plays in Scotland for the first time in, ooh, too long, Alastair Mabbott looks back over the history of this musical alchemist.
Although a few select and hardy souls from the late-60s folk-boorn found they could make a living out ofthat kind of music through the 70s. 80s and 90s. John Martyn isn't one of them. The rumbustuous Scot came up through the folk clubs, but always saw music in broader terms. blending elements of jazz and blues, and increasingly more disparate forms, into a style that became a genre in itself.
His name was appended to the writers’ credits for Wet Wet Wet’s ‘Sweet Little Mystery'. the namesake of a Martyn-penned track. but his eclecticism. and the single-minded pursuit of his own musical vision, has barred him from mainstream stardom. Certain of his records, though. like Solid Air and Grace Ami Danger. are to be found in homes that even the Wets have never reached.
By the time of his second album, The Tumbler. Martyn’s passion forjazz was writ large on a record many expected to be a fairly standard acoustic singer- songwriter outing. Then. a stay in Woodstock with his then—wife Beverly Kutner resulted in Stormbringer. Recorded with Doors and Crosby, Stills and Nash producer Paul Harris,
‘ I 1”” IV ‘8 r " '2 ,4. rue rmuw~
Siormbringw betrayed the roots-rock inﬂuence of The Band, to the extent that Levon Helm provided the drums. The artist-friendly climate of the times. the enlightened attitude of lsland Records and the commercial boost given his career by Solid Air meant that Martyn was allowed to continue developing in his own way. His eclectic approach reached its zenith in the free-
jazz-intlucnced Inside Out. but Martyn
was still open to new ideas. A trip to Jamaica in 1976 proved inspirational. He htrng out with dub pioneer Lee Perry (‘mad as a snake”. he recently commented. affectionately) and explored the rhythms, dynamics and sense of space in reggae. it left a mark on his music which remains to this day.
Mournful. poignant melodies. laid- back tempos. echo devices. the slurred. drawling delivery he credits to listening to bluesman Skip James: all his trademarks were in place by the Chris l3lackwell-produced One World. Every artist wants to develop his or her own style. and by drawing on diverse sources. Martyn had arrived at one that was completely unique.
He does. of course. have his detractors. critics who claim to have fallen asleep at his shows and accuse him of making some of the most
soporific music of all time.
(ldiosyncratically enough. this side of him tends to be indulged in more when Martyn plays with a full band than solo.)
Over the years. most of the occasions I've seen him perform have been at outdoor shows, where it‘s hardest for
32 The List 4—17 November 1994