Thursday, January 25, 2007

0° Of Separation (Juana Molina, Vetiver, Vashti Bunyan, Adem), ABC, Glasgow, Tuesday 16th January 2007

The idea behind the 0° Of Separation tour is one that is sadly relatively rare. There is no support or headliner and the lines between the artists are blurred, as musicians come and go in fluid combinations and collaborations, experimenting with old arrangements and new compositions.

That said, Juana Molina's solo sets were easily the highlight of the night. Alone on stage she created hypnotic rousing folktronica, starting from simple guitar lines, looped and layered, with beats behind, all driven along by her wonderfully strong vocals. Even with the snow that had started to fall outside, it was easy to get lost in the foreign warmth of her Spanish and be transported, at least temporarily, to a different place.

Vetiver's rootsy Americana was similarly able to bring energy levels up and to get even the seated crowd moving, and it is just a shame that neither act was given more of a presence during the evening, as, unfortunately, neither Adem, nor rediscovered folk songstress Vashti Bunyan, were anything like as entertaining.

In comparison to Juana Molina's strength and vitality, Vashti Bunyan's voice was weak and lifeless, a failing not helped by her apparent nerves and lack of confidence onstage, nor by her overly sentimental and uninspiring songs. Adem fared better in the bigger group collaborations, but stripped down, neither did his songs really have the strength to fill the hall.

Bringing like-minded artists together in an innovative way, 0° Of Separation is a great idea, but sadly there was too much distance between the strength of the performances that night to really do it justice.

Photos of this gig available here.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Birchville Cat Motel, with Alex Neilson & Richard Youngs and Opaque, 13th Note, Glasgow, Tuesday 9th January 2007

Sonic terrorism is probably the best way to describe what Opaque do tonight, as four sinisterly masked men, dressed all in black, stand motionless in front of us, their guitars screaming beautiful symphonies of feedback and aural desctruction in the darkness, building to staggering crescendos of white noise.

Though without quite the darkness and violence of Opaque, Alex Neilson and Richard Youngs give just as ferocious an assualt on rock's confines. Jandek's original rhythm section perform tonight as a free-rock drums and guitar duo, Neilson's driving percussion melding perfectly with Youngs' e-bowed and distorted guitar work, the highlight coming when they are joined by Birchville Cat Motel's Campbell Kneale on additional guitar.

With a table full of equipment and tangled nests of wires it's perhaps not surprising that there are technical complications before New Zealand's Birchville Cat Motel can start weaving his powerful layers of drone. Soon overcome, he masterfully balances beauty and violence, shreaking almost unheard through distortion over his loops and electronics, and the only thing that's missing tonight is the truly transcendental volume of 2005's Instal performance.

Photos of this gig available here.

Birchville Cat Motel