EXPERIMENTAL/CLASSICAL Phill Niblock
Wee Red Bar, School Of Art, Edinburgh, Mon 5 Feb.
Twentieth century Minimalist composers are pretty thin on the ground these days. Or so you might think. Then again, maybe it’s just because you haven’t heard of them, let alone heard them. Cock an ear then, to next week’s rare British dates by Phill Niblock, whose lengthy, at times sludge-like sonic drones to the intimate confines of the Shcool. In Sensurround. For, rather than opt for traditional audience/player ratios, this sixty- something veteran of New York’s avant-garde, alongside two guitarists and a baritone singer, will amplify their musings at scarifying volume from all four corners of the room.
'I suppose what I'm trying to do with my music’ he says, down the phone from a round room facing the English channel in Ghent, Belgium, ‘is produce something without rhythm or melody, but using microtones that move very, very slowly.’ Which, unless you’re au fait with John Cage and LaMonte Young, two big guns of minimalism whom Niblock can be measured against, might not mean much.
Until, that is, you hear ’AYU' for vocalist Tom Buckner, ’Hurdy Hurry,’ which uses samples from Chicago omni- musician Jim O’Rourke on hurdy-gurdy, and 'Guitar Too, For Four,’ all of which are from recent or forthcoming CD releases. 'Basically these are works that exist on tape, thick multi-track mixes of micro-tonal stuff, usually for
instruments, but not always.’
Accompanying these works are Niblock's own documentary films. Far from video blip-vert style promos awash with jump cuts to ease up the attention span, though, these are painstaking studies of people working. Which, given the nature of manual labour, even Niblock concedes provides some kind of rhythm,
Despite a large 30-year body of work, Niblock has
ROCK Soulwax Garage, Glasgow, Mon 12 Feb.
And here come the Belgiansl Erm, sorry, but Soulwax are a rock band who hail from Ghent and they're whoppineg famous in their homeland. A rock band, we hear you cry? From Belgium? They'll be crap, Surely? Well, no. Despite their Benelux background (not a rock ’n' roll hotspot, let's face it) Socilwax are not only a great rock band but also daft as buttons.
Based around two brothers, Singer Stephen and guitarist Dawd Dewaele,
With Phill Niblock think minimal, but never think small
remained largely unsung until recent times, which have seen him embraced by a younger generation of musicians from more orthodox, though just as exploratory avant-rock backgrounds. As well as O'Rourke, Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore latched on to him through concerts at Intermedia, the self-explanatory foundation he is director of, and which has put on more than 1000 concerts in NY loft-spaces since 1968.
'I think things have opened up considerably since then’ he says. ’As for who I work with, I don’t think in terms of who or how old they are, as long as they're good musicians.’ Think minimalist, then. Where Phill Niblock is
concerned, though, don't ever, not ever, think small.
Loony tunes from Soulwax
Soulwax are about as far from the Current trend of dumb-ass rock sweeping the globe as it's possrble to be. The brothers’ dad, Zaki, was a fam0us DJ in Belgium in the 60s, and that mUSICal enVironment undoubtedly influenced the Siblings greatly. ’We grew up amongst thousands of records,’ says Stephen. ‘When we were getting interested in music we discovered amazing things in our attic, like the first Singles by Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles. My father was the first to receive things from Apple and EMI, and The Small Faces slept at our house?
Eclectic in the extreme, the band’s recent second album, Much Against Everyone's Advrc‘e, mixes up maSSive slabs of metal gurtar riffage wrth strings, jungle beats, daft bleepy keyboards, retro funkiness and Kraftwerk Vibes. But it’s on stage that the band really come into their own, unafraid to shoogle things up a bit. PreVIous shows have seen them covering everything from The Human League’s ’Don’t You Want Me’ to ’Children Of The Revolution' by T-Rex. When they supported Muse last year they did a version of a Prince song on a cheesy CaSio synth gurtar. Which had a beatbox burlt into it. On which they did a drum solo.
'It takes a bit of open-mindedness to get into Soulwax,’ says Stephen. 'I w0uld have a hard time making up my mind about us. Really, I wouldn’t understand it.' To add to the confUSion, the brothers are successful DJS in mainland Europe, mrxrng up the varied delights of Phil Collins, MotOrhead and Armand Van Helden. Oh, and they present a teIeViSion programme too. And direct films. Like I said, daft. But great. (Doug Johnstone)
FOLK Sharon King
Pleasance Cabaret Bar, Ednbtiigiw, Wed 14 Feb.
f.ltiSlc c citege,’ 'e'ne'r‘ee'» S'a'or‘ king, was a ’o‘. e‘ a's " about >\t least for "\e' supposed To be learning the sax ha: kids "ii‘.."t} too
good a t "i‘t’ So went oft to .\i.s:'aia and it \Mis'l t ill: came i‘cftk anti was
.l\.ill(} doc." in lititlii‘tl" that Shake The Shack, and read. got hat». into iniis.c again, but (“2s time as singei'
Brought up bi,
foik'e' parents near itls‘ic“ ‘" songs ‘l\ly inuni used to sing packing harmony to my dad, but though l was always Singing, it was songs I heard on the car radio, pop songs I would learn all the words, was good at that And remembering theni
Five years as a nocalis’. with good» time Village hall stornpeis Shake lhe Shack encouraged her songwriting skills us, all writing, all different And we all got our say, it was very dernocratic Over the years and we made tapes and a CD, our music appealed to everybody I mean we \‘.ere playing every style of music, and that became the problem - we didn't direction ()i we had many directions So I left in 1998 l suppose I broke the band up '
In the few years since then, Sharon has learned to handle guitar, and with fellow ex—Shacker and classy guitarist Al Jarnes i’lle's a complete ioi in they're on the road as a duo But she has a bigger band, saith bass, percussion, and 'possibly a lap—steel player’ up her sleeve for special occasions, such as the forthcoming Shetland Folk Festival
In last year's 24 Hours album of nine of her own compositions, she brought in a rake of musician pals, including Salsa Celtica fiddler Jenny Gardner and Anarn’s boclhran and vocal star /\rny Leonard, to reveal an eclectic, acoustic pop/folk/country lightness of touch 'When I'm writing I'm not thinking of public performance If I start to thinl; that way it tends to restrict where I can go With a song lwrite from the heart, really for myself, and it seems that's what people love to hear ’
‘lhere were five of
have a too
Out of the shack comes Sharon King
“M ' v m
l—lS Feb 2001 THE “ST 49