Archive | August, 2014

Ian Dury – The Vinyl Collection

Tags: , ,

Ian Dury – The Vinyl Collection

Posted on 28 August 2014 by John Haylock

When Ian Dury sadly passed away in 2000, we lost so much more than some run of the mill, no-brain pop star. This bloke next door who looked like the local brickie was a bloody wordy genius, a man who rhymed Isle of Thanet with Janet, who looked more like Quasimodo than Robert Plant, who detailed the life and loves of everyman (and woman) in witty, often profound, often self-deprecating humour. He was a rock and roll star you could share a pint, a spliff and a joke with. There was not a hint of pretension about this guy, who was the Stephen Fry of post punk.

ian dury

After succumbing to polio at seven-years-old he proved to be a determined adolescent; getting into grammar school, art college and even studied under the legendary Peter Blake. Here was yet another creative, driven talent that would find an outlet in music. His first band Kilburn and the Highroads, who despite releasing two albums and even securing a support slot on a Who tour largely failed to make an impression. It was only in 1975 when he formed The Blockheads and signed to the burgeoning Stiff label, that the word eventually got around.

Their debut album New Boots and Panties came out in 1977 and immediately went platinum, with its ribald humour, echoes of music hall and dextrous funky musicianship it sounded like nothing else at the time; uncommonly literate and brimming over with wit, charm and lots of swearing, all delivered in Dury’s sonorous knowing vocal.

Subjects veered from a tender homage to his dad, saucy early morning mattress frolics, Gene Vincent and the tale of Billericay Dickie who:

Had a love affair with Nina
in the back of my Cortina
a seasoned up hyena could not have been more obscener
she took me to the cleaners
and other misdemeanours
but I got right up between her
rum and her Ribena.

New Boots and Panties remains to this day one of the most celebrated debut albums. A flurry of hit singles that followed  only enforced his position as the Noel Coward of punk, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, from What a Waste to Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.

Subsequent albums were no less enjoyable both lyrically, especially on This is What We Find, from the second album Do It Yourself:

Home improvement expert Harold Hill of Harold Hill
Of Do-It-Yourself dexterity and double glazing skill
Came home to find another gentleman’s kippers in the grill
So he sanded off his winkle with his Black and Decker drill.

Such cheeky wordplay is the essence of his work. You’ll smile, you’ll grin and you’ll probably dance as well.

There’s so many tracks to enjoy across these reissued albums. Dance for the Screamers is like a cockney Chic. Superman’s Big Sister, Pardon and Mr Peanut could all have made brilliant singles.  There’s the remarkable Spasticus Autisticus and the unfeasably catchy Trust is a Must from Lord Upminster (1981).

Ian_Durypic

Even later tracks from Mr Love Pants (1997) contain epics like Jack Shit George and the stupendous Mash it up Harry, not to mention the once heard, never forgotten Take Your Elbow Out of the Soup, You’re Sitting on the chicken!

Reasons to be cheerful? Here’s eight albums worth.

by John Haylock

Ian Dury: The Vinyl Collection is released as a CD box set and vinyl collection by Edsel Records on Oct 27.

Share

Comments (0)

The Smittens – Love Record Breaker

Tags: ,

The Smittens – Love Record Breaker

Posted on 20 August 2014 by Joe

Vermont indie popsters The Smitten’s last album, 2012’s Believe Me, left me exasperated. It was good indie pop, but utterly lacking in originality and leaving them sounding like yet another Magnetic Fields wannabe band.

artworks-000082013839-bz94ud-t500x500

What a difference a couple of years has made. Somewhere since then they have discovered an edge and thankfully their bubblegum pop has burst.

So what’s changed? They have an expanded line up now featuring Missy Bly on vocals. Her voice has clearly influenced the sound and it appears the band’s direction as well. Another change is for singer Dana Kaplan, who is undertaking gender realignment, making this the band’s last album to feature his pre-testerone female voice.

It may be that these two events, of a new member and a new gender, are nothing to do with the change in sound. Maybe they’d just got bored of twee pop. But whatever the reason it’s great to hear this band wake up from their generic indie pop slumber even if it actually starts a little too depressingly with the track Upper West Side, that features the repeated line “I don’t want to live at all.”

Next track Pants on Fire settles the album though into a sound that gets the pop and ‘life can be a bit harsh’ balance just right. The vocal arrangements sound great, the reverb 1950s guitar sound wonderful. There will be no dancing at the indie disco to this and its all the better for it. These Days is another where the production here helps create pop with an edge. Meanwhile the title track actually sounds like a credible single and there’s even a cover of the Indigo Girls Closer to Fine.

These Lips is another highlight. With the lyrics “I gotta keep these lips away from you – you better keep your hands from me” it almost goes back to bubble gum pop territory, but just about moves away in time, sounding saucy and actually slightly sinister at times.

It’s a short album, of just seven tracks plus a good remix of These Days but displays a crucial change to The Smittens sound, as if finally after five albums they are at last ready to be a band in their own right. Arguably their most important album to date.

8.5/10

By Joe Lepper

Love Record Breaker is released on Fika Recordings.

Share

Comments (0)

Green Man Festival 2014

Tags: , , , , ,

Green Man Festival 2014

Posted on 19 August 2014 by John Haylock

Prior to any festival, is it me or does every song you hear on the radio seem relevant to the possible weather options awaiting you? In the week before Greenman I unfortunately heard amongst many, Only Happy When It Rains by Garbage, She Brings the Rain by Can and Before the Flood by Bob Dylan.

Were these dreadful cosmic portents ? Or just unfounded climate based fears? Fortunately the latter, because apart from a little rain on Sunday morning it was unusually fantastic weather for Wales.

HGman

A sold out, grinning crowd of 20,000 descended like hippy bees to the musical honeypot that is the Greenman Festival, greedily anticipating the honey/music analogy I’m trying uselessly to express. Another line up of mind melting music awaited the faithful. Tent up, boots on, beer ready, let’s go.

Starting with some laid back beats from Babe in the Walled Garden, this act were kicked asunder by some kick-arse-moody-quiet-loud sonic mayhem from our Neonfiller.com favourite Happyness. They probably frightened a few of the more sedate members of the Walled Garden community, who were ensconced in deckchairs and seemed to think they were at the seaside.

Happyness

Happyness

Later in the evening Tuung were a revelation. They played a set of joyous, happy-clappy pop that was reminiscent of The Go Betweens. Tuung hadn’t played here for seven years, and were received mightily as they performed the the aural equivalent  of a chocolate box of love (minus the horrible coffee creams). Been here six hours, mind blown already.

Hailing from North Carolina, supercool skinny guy in shades, Jonathon Wilson and his band, cherry pick beauties from his first two solo efforts. Both albums of his proving conclusively that he’s one of the best singer-songwriters currently on the scene. Most impressive tonight were his rendition of Desert Raven with it’s lovely, lilting melody and his stunning lengthy version of Valley of the Silver Moon, complete with a staggering guitar solo that could have melted the South Polar ice shelf. Another name to be to added to the great pantheon of West coast, Laurel Canyon luminaries.

On the other hand Mark Kozelek and his band Sun Kil Moon, who’s current album Benji is the latest instalment in a body of work that goes back to the 1990s when he was the frontman for the Red House Painters, proved to be slightly disappointing. Kozelek writes confessional lyrics that can bring you to tears. It is unfortunate then, that where he usually surrounds himself with an acoustic backdrop in the studio, this afternoon the band want to be Metallica, the mix is too far in favor of the instrumentation when it should be the other way round, his vocals are barely audible in the sound man’s migraine of recorded sound. Oh well, let’s move on.

Toy only have one song. Fortunately it’s not that bad even if it feels like it goes on for five days. Better by far were the much lauded Policia. Access into the Far Out Tent for their set was impossible without a crane and winch. It was absolutely rammed and rightly so due to their polished and well executed happy Portishead vibe. The Augustines, however, are the polar opposite. Brash American, anthemic-punk, full of bravado but unfortunately not full enough to keep me from my bed as this correspondent collapsed from exhaustion and combined white wine overdose only to be awoken at 2am by what appeared to be The Ministry Of Sound next door, kids nowadays etc.

Angel Olson

Angel Olson

Saturday saw tremendous performances by the tiny Angel Olsen. Don’t be fooled by her demeanor, you wouldn’t get into a fight with Angel, not if her lyrics and psychotic country and western stage presence are anything to go by. Also covered by the word ‘riveting’ was Sharon Van Etten, slightly more rocky and atmospheric than Angel but equally fabbo.

My annual ‘ getting blown away by someone you’ve never of’ moment came at teatime as I strolled past the Cinema tent. Inside playing against a ludicrously trippy montage of images and films were a three piece called Thought Forms. If you like the Acid Mothers or Ride or Sonic youth or just the sound of out of control visceral guitars crashing into skyscrapers at 500 mph this was it. They’re from Bath, they’ve been going 10 years and are incredible.

Also on Saturday the beautiful Viv Albertine was interviewed in the literature tent, she has an incredible story to tell. An original member of the first all girl punk rock group The Slits, she recounted tales that were funny, frank, and touching of her formative years hanging around with the Sex Pistols and The Clash. She spoke of her band and all the shit they had to put up with over the years, her battle with cancer and 10 years of IVF treatment. It’s all documented in excruciatingly painful detail in her autobiography ‘Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Boys, Boys’. Go buy a copy of ‘Cut’ the slits debut as well, it still sounds fresh as a punk daisy. Just a lovely, lovely lady.

War on Drugs

War on Drugs

War on Drugs and Mercury Rev were a headlining double whammy of mellow psychedelia. The former have changed beyond recognition since their last appearance a couple of years ago, embracing a more upbeat, throbbing, euphoric guitar driven, Byrdsian vibe. But as good as they were though, Mercury Rev had the edge and were just stunning as they recreated their 1998 opus ‘Deserters songs’. Led by their enigmatic frontman John Donahue, they were uplifting and heroic, heartbreaking and delirious and a perfect end to a perfect day.

Sunday, and a sprinkling of rain slowly gives way to increasing sunshine, the phreaks emerge from their womb like tents, bleary eyed and dazed and confused we do it all over again, but everybody experiences the Sunday at Greenman slowly, in a haze, there’s no rush, take it easy maaan.

Mercury Rev

Mercury Rev

A lovely way to wake up was in the presence of an all Welsh band called 9 Bach. They sing in Welsh as well but it is no barrier, indeed it only emphasized the ethereal nature of the music. Think Clannad but a GOOD Clannad. In the afternoon Nick Mulvey drew down the ghosts of acoustic Gods John Martyn and Nick Drake with his lovely, delicate and often percussive guitar stylings. Rains in the Walled Garden rocked gently but with great aplomb, Other Lives from Oklahoma were perfect for a balmy sunny Sunday playing dustbowl folk blues with great passion.

I got attacked by Wilma Flintstone at teatime, said goodbye to Marvel comics next potential superhero ‘Incontinent Battered sausage woman’, got a slight migraine courtesy of Anna Calvi and her incessant screaming guitar, had some more crumpets, finished of the Bourbon, missed Bill Callaghan, had a go on Oxford university’s astronomical telescope in Einstein’s Garden, saw far too little of The Deep Throat Choir and for some apparent reason bought a tin of HP baked beans. Greenman you spoiled us (again), can you do it again next year please?!

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.

Share

Comments (0)

Causa Sui – Pewt’r Sessions

Tags:

Causa Sui – Pewt’r Sessions

Posted on 13 August 2014 by John Haylock

Are you looking for the missing link between early Grateful Dead and Ash Ra Tempel, with a sprinkling of Ozric Tentacles and Guru Guru ? Thought not. But please be assured you need to hear Causa Sui, a frighteningly talented band of musicians who like nothing better than spending their Dutch downtime jamming in spectacular fashion, creating complex and often lengthy guitar based instrumentals. Their power of intuitive improvisation is a thing of majestic awe.

duna_web

Last year saw the release of their sprawling studio masterpiece Euporie Tide and Pewt’r sessions 3 is the third (surprisingly!) in a bunch of studio improvs with guest guitarist Ron Schniederman from the Sunburned hand of man. It contains a mere three tracks, but one of which is a huge 25 minute pulsating behemoth called Incipiency Suite, a glorious trip, quite mellow and almost ‘jazz’ at times, really quite ear friendly. The other two tracks are more typically Causa territory, faultless brashy psych and atmospheric blue. They have amidst their number a secret weapon, one Jonas Munk, a young guitarist who displays great sensitivity, restraint and explosive power in his playing. My new favorite band.

by John Haylock

Share

Comments (0)

Indietracks Festival 2014

Tags: , , , , ,

Indietracks Festival 2014

Posted on 09 August 2014 by Dorian

When going to camp at a music festival there aren’t that many things you need to ensure a good time. Enough money for food and drinks (and any merch you might desire), a sleeping bag and enough clothes to last the three days. What you do need however is a tent, and discovering that nobody in your party remembered to bring one after you’ve already driven the 130 miles between Brighton and Northampton is a bit of a panic moment. Luckily we live in an age of convenience and a quick online search, followed by a trip to the nearest Argos, saves the day.

Owl

The combination of a tent diversion and a three hour traffic jam on the M25 means that by the time we get to the festival site we have already missed three of the four bands on offer for the first evening. The good news is that the weather is lovely, the owls are out, the bar is open and we still have Allo Darlin‘s set to look forward to.

Allo Darlin

Allo Darlin

I love the type of bands that play Indietracks, but I can understand why a lot of them are a cult concern. Allo Darlin’ on the other hand have everything it takes to be one of the few bands on the scene that deserve a big crossover moment. The new songs they open the set with sound great, but it is the favourites from their last two albums that the festival crowd want. Each band member does their thing perfectly tonight, bouncy bass (playing the slap bass interlude on a cover of ‘You Can Call me Al’ is particularly good), skilled guitar work and a captivating front-woman. It is ‘Tallulah’ sung solo that remains the high point of their set, magical stuff.

The following day has a  much more relaxed start to it with a visit to the train sheds, the obligatory owls and then some excellent music.

First up is Ace City Racers, a bit noisier than expected with some of classic rock and roll in their sound. There is even a touch of Australian veterans The Hoodoo Gurus about their early songs. Skeletal Shakes offer us a sunnier more acoustic set on the appropriately sun drenched outdoor stage. They are nice enough but a very limp cover of ‘Heatwave’ does rather expose the bands limitations.

‘Heatwave’ would have been an appropriate track as part of Bill Botting‘s set on a very hot and crowded train. It is a performance that shows he has good enough songs and a good enough voice to stand alone away from Allo Darlin. The intense heat and some obvious nerves lead to some mistakes and fluffed lines, but you can’t not feel positively inclined to someone who plays a cover of ‘God Only Knows’ accompanied by a woman, babe in arms.

Bill Botting

Bill Botting

Escaping from the train to some desperately needed fresh air we catch the end of Thee Ahs‘ set. They have  have a cute sound, not entirely dissimilar from Go Sailor, but with less immediately memorable songs. The Yawns follow and are a more interesting prospect. Although advertised as a five piece they seem to have lost two members on route to the festival. Their mixture of drones and feedback may not quite suit a sunny afternoon but they do make for a refreshing change.

Laura J Martin

Laura J Martin

In the church the change of pace continues as we are greeted by Laura J Martin. Starting out at a piano playing songs that sound like a more cultured Gorkys. When she gets to her feet to play a whole mix of instruments things get a lot more frenetic and experimental. Playing a mixture of solo, and accompanied, the musicianship is of a consistently high quality. The looped elements of the songs are complex and recall Andrew Bird, with some arrangements that evoke Sufjan Stevens. Pretty great stuff.

I first heard/saw The Spook School at Indietracks in 2012 and they sound just as much fun two years later. Good songs played with enthusiasm is a winning formula, and they have a pretty good pop sensibility. It is their amusing drummer that attracts the most attention on the stage with his between song interludes, but the song ‘Something’, sung solo,  is a powerful moment.

The Spook School

The Spook School

Despite being a Brighton band I don’t remember any of The Popguns’ songs, so it is hard to be nostalgic about them. They play a pleasant set and get a good reaction, but I think familiarity would have added a lot to my enjoyment. Your enjoyment of Dean Wareham, inside the train shed, also rests to some degree on how well you know his work. I know a bit but not much, and the stage performance is rather a dry experience. However, the quality of the show on a purely musical level is pretty exceptional, and he makes a pretty good noise with his guitar. There are a some pretty captivating moments and you can see why he has such a legendary status, among those in the know at least.

Dean Wareham

Dean Wareham

My Gruff Rhys experience is rather blotted by an incident involving my nose and a horse fly. I’ll not not dwell on this but suffice to say that it wasn’t a fun way to miss the first half of his excellent set. This gig-come-lecture is based on his American Interior album and divides equally between his ancestral story and the songs from that album. He is witty and engaging, the story is interesting and the songs are of the high quality we’ve come to expect from the former Super Furry Animals front-man. It is a lovely end to the evening (musically at least).

Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys

Axolotes Mexicanos bring some very enthusiastic punk pop to the stage to open proceedings on the Sunday. Officially the sweariest band so far, but in Spanish so I only recognised a handful of the colourful sounding phrases. Enthusiasm wins over competence through a set that is low on musical skill but high in charm.

The Thyme Machine have a front-man dressed as a leopard, offer a comedy description of their home town (Lancaster) and also sing about their favourite seabird. Sometimes that is enough. On top of that we get a set of amusing songs in the tradition of Half Man Half Biscuit, songs that are available to buy on floppy disc in the merch tent. Between songs they distribute Tunnock’s tea cakes to the crowd (I manage to catch one) and fire glitter confetti cannons. All in all it is a surprise highlight of the day.

The Thyme Machine

The Thyme Machine

The afternoon is spent wandering between stages catching bits of Bordeauxxx, seeing The Hobbes Fanclub playing to a very enthusiastic crowd and heading off for a train-ride.  Indietracks is a unique festival in many ways and it is important to take the time to soak up the atmosphere of the whole site and take enough time to enjoy the various (warm) alcohol on offer.

Back at the main stage Sweet Baboo play a sweet and melodic set that sits really well in the early evening sun. These are good songs played well and with a distinctive voice. There is something about Sweet Baboo that promises more, and I think future albums will demand some attention.

Mega Emotion‘s performance in the Church is something else entirely, starting out with all three members singing and playing drums to an analogue synth backing. Through the rest of the set abrasive post punk guitars sit alongside a very 80s synth pop feel. Early Devo springs to mind as does the sound of Sheffield in the late 70s/early 80s.

Withered Hand

Withered Hand

Each festival really needs an act that can play anthems and Withered Hand are that band. They play brilliantly and the songs sound great tonight, the crowd getting behind the big choruses and impassioned performance. Recent album New Gods is heavily represented and ‘Horseshoe’, ‘Black Tambourine’ and ‘Heart Heart’ all go down as great sing-a-long moments with the audience.

The Hidden Cameras

The Hidden Cameras

I don’t really know anything about The Hidden Cameras beyond having heard the name a few times over the years. One of those times being hearing how their set  was abandoned due to power failure at the Indietracks event in 2011. Technical hitches aren’t a problem tonight and the band look distinctive dressed in matching black kilts and gold sashes.

Their sound is full and has plenty of drama, with very nice arrangements, but my initial concern is that it lacks a little in fun. Like Still Corners last year they seemed to be overly serious for a final night headliner. But as they communicate more and the set progresses they relax and more humour and personality start to come through. I can’t confess to being able to remember one song they played, but they won me over with a strong and confident set.

The music finished there is enough time left to enjoy a last drink, an ill-advised burger and wish  a final farewell to the owls before heading back to our tent (which surprisingly survived the weekend despite a budget £20 price-tag). Indietracks remains a unique event in an increasingly homogenised festival calendar, and long may it continue. It is unlikely to ever be more than a cult concern but for those that choose this event to get their festival fix they are guaranteed a weekend to remember.

Top 5 acts of the weekend:

  1. Laura J Martin
  2. Gruff Rhys
  3. Allo Darlin’
  4. Withered Hand
  5. The Thyme Machine

Words: Dorian Rogers | Pictures: Nic Newman

To see more of Nic’s pictures from the weekend go to our Flickr page.

Share

Comments (0)

Womad, Charlton Park (July 24-27, 2014)

Tags:

Womad, Charlton Park (July 24-27, 2014)

Posted on 04 August 2014 by Sarah Robertson

Not only was the 32rd World of Music, Arts and Dance festival (Womad) one of the hottest, it was the first to sell out since it moved to its new site in Charlton Park in Wiltshire from Reading, attracting a whopping 40,000 revelers.

It’s popularity is with very good reason. As this iconic festival matures it continues to attract the globe’s best artists. Over four days, there were 184 performances by 106 musicians from 42 countries including Mali, Somalia, Ukraine, Iran, Malaysia, Turkey and Cuba.

20140803 Womad pic general2

But not only does the Womad brand do what its famous for, it is widening its offering, taking a more universal appeal. For example, this year saw the arrival of the Society of Sound stage, offering a dedicated area for late night disco beats with appearances from the mainstream dance world, DJs David Holmes and Beardyman. This late night offering was so popular the security struggled at times with the crowd, but remained typically Womad-polite.

This brings us to the message underpinning this most civilized of music festivals. When Peter Gabriel cemented the concept in 1980, he wanted to introduce audiences to artists for a reason that was about more than music. Providing an insight into cultures other than your own would, he hoped, bring people together. With music being a universal language, he wanted to prove the stupidity of racism. A message that appears lost in certain parts of the world today, which currently dominate our headlines.

The staple offering of Womad brings the most exotic performances to the leafy park that is normally the private and most probably tranquil home of Lord Suffolk. Womad organisers were forced to rethink who would headline this year’s festival after the sad death of the soul legend Bobby Womack in June.

Sinead O’Conner stepped up to replace him and dedicated her inspiring set to him. Other headliners included American export Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Kiwi reggae kings, Fat Freddy’s Drop and the phenomenal Malian group, Les Ambassadeurs.

Lucinda Belle

Lucinda Belle

Another highlight was Lucinda Belle, who appeared on the Siam Stage on the Saturday.  I can say with conviction that this harp-playing modern-day Ella Fitzgerald is destined to become one of the most influential female blues artists of the decade. Her voice sitting between Amy Winehouse and Madeline Peroux but with more power, she plucked her harp effortlessly with her neon-coloured nails, backed by a lively band, the whole act delivering a powerful punch.

The Siam Stage was on fine form at the event, also playing host to Trombone Shorty on the Friday. His overwhelming energy itself was spectacular, his performance the very definition of stage presence. If he wasn’t playing his trombone he was running across the stage or dancing with other members of his band. It is of course possible that I’m a sucker for an attractive man who gyrates in the direction of the
press pit. But let’s face it, everyone loves a celebrity who wants to be a little bit naughty.

Born Troy Andrews, this frontman took his nickname as bandleader at the tender age of six-years-old. Raised in New Orleans, Trombone Shorty has taken brass to the mainstream. And it seems so obvious. Why hasn’t anyone done this before? I’m told other brass crews have actually taken themselves outside their homeland New Orleans and had some success but none have done it so spectacularly as Trombone Shorty.

Trombone Shorty

Trombone Shorty

As well as the four stages in the main arena, a small intimate stage could be found in the chill-out area, the Arboretum. Named after its sponsor, the Ecotricity stage was one of the true delights of the festival. Space permitting only for a small audience in the much needed shade between the trees, listening to bands on this stage gave me, somewhat appropriately, the feeling of being somewhere extremely exclusive, as well as letting everyone get close to the performers. The most picturesque part of the festival, the Arboretum opened out into a series of pathways between the trees, stalls selling art or ideas and many massage and alternative therapies.

The BBC Radio Three stage in the main arena, thoughtfully called the Charlie Gillett stage after one of Auntie’s late but extremely influential music journalists, undoubtedly hosted some of the more unusual and interesting artists. The Beeb’s stage was bigger this year and has moved from the Arboretum to help it host its bulging audience.

Charlie’s fellow World on 3 founding presenters Lopa Kothari and Mary Ann Kennedy presented the artists and these included Monsieur Doumani from Cyprus, Su:m from South Korea (featured) and the extraordinary Iranian sisters Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat (featured).

Su:m

Su:m

Of these Su:m was among the standouts. South Korea is not exactly known for its exports, especially not those of a musical nature. And this is one of the many things that makes the two women who make up the band Su:m so astonishingly unique. Playing for the first time in their lives to an international audience, the poker-faced duo played the most unusual range of instruments, delivering an achingly beautiful and equally haunting sound. Swaying and often with their eyes closed, Su:m opened with an instrumental that I fell in love with. The item used most consistently all the way through the set was a large string instrument, that sat horizontally and was plucked with both hands, taking the form of something between a keyboard and a harp.

Some brief singing and many instrument changes later, I concluded Su:m’s music was similar to some of the soundtracks in modern martial arts films such as those by director Jet Lee. Meditative, peaceful and slow, the music conjured images of slow motion martial arts. One of the many instruments one of the women played deserves particular mention. Looking from a distance like a strnage creature from a science fiction film was attacking her face, the instrument looked like a mini-church organ with many metallic pipes. I could see she was activating sound not only by blowing through a mouth piece but by inhaling too, using circular breathing. Whatever this was, it certainly would not have been easy to play, never mind master.

20140803 womad pic general

It’s not just the extraordinary range of workshops and talks for children and adults that make this a family festival. Typically an older audience, the festival has a ‘safe’ feel about it. Many other larger music festivals can be such a logistical challenge but this offering feels so much easier. Everything is clean (quite a feat for the organizers). Cold beer is never far away with few queues for anything. And in temperatures in excess of 30 degrees this is a relief. I’ve never seen any problems or aggression and Womad is one of the very few festivals that retains a genuine feel to it. The audience here really cares about the music. Unsurprising really, as it features a range of the world’s very finest.

Words and pictures by Sarah Robertson

Share

Comments (1)

Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here