Midwich/forgets/Chrissie Caulfield @ The Fox & Newt, Leeds

Posted by vibrations on 26-01-13

Sporting an array of effects pedals usually used by the likes of Matt Bellamy, Chrissie Caulfield opens with an abrupt barrage of pummelling noise partly, I suspect, to immediately dispel any ideas that she deals in in respectful tradition. After a couple of minutes, most of the effects drop out and on the top of an ululating throb of a residual pulsing noise, she begins to explore what her set up can offer. Problem is, she rarely sticks with one idea for more than a minute and the set becomes a succession of half formed or barely explored ideas, many of which would have benefited from more detailed exploration.

forgets is The Wind-Up Birds singer Paul Ackroyd’s spoken word and noise improv duo with guitarist mate Mitch. Ackroyd’s part improvised, part prepared recitation sounds like a glimpse into the less ordered back rooms and recesses of the creative urge that drives his songs. An improvised an increasingly surreal story around beer and breakfast at Wetherspoons is randomly interspersed with prepared poem-like pieces that at first offer some kind of stability but eventually amplify the queasy surrealism. Ackroyd is clearly still feeling his way, but if he sticks with it he may be on to something. And Mitch provides the perfect soundtrack – rarely obtrusive but adding telling emphasis where required.

Rob Hayler made the 90’s in Leeds a bit of a noisemongers oasis, what with promoting gigs and releasing stuff as Fencing Flatworm Recordings, and the recent revival of his performing persona Midwich is very welcome. With a minimalist, old school set up, Hayler sits behind a table with just one console and a couple of add-on boxes and plays two relatively short pieces that use grinding machinery noise, layers of distortion and sub bass throbs that build a thick but warm aural soup that fills the room. Hayler rocks in his chair and rolls his head, lost in the enveloping noise. The music has none of the harshness that drives so much contemporary noise, but has a natural, almost organic texture. Welcome back.

Steve Walsh




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